Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year


Ten Thousand Reasons
Matt Redman
(slightly edited)

The sun comes up
It's a new year dawning
It's time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

Bless the Lord O my soul
    O my soul
    Worship His holy name
    Sing like never before
    O my soul
    I'll worship Your holy name

Monday, December 18, 2017

Two thousand years of wrong

It Came Upon A Midnight Clear

    It came upon the midnight clear,
    That glorious song of old,
    From angels bending near the earth,
    To touch their harps of gold:
    "Peace on the earth, goodwill to men,
    From heaven's all-gracious King."
    The world in solemn stillness lay,
    To hear the angels sing.

    Yet with the woes of sin and strife
    The world has suffered long;
    Beneath the angel-strain have rolled
    Two thousand years of wrong;
    And man, at war with man, hears not
    The love-song which they bring;
    O hush the noise, ye men of strife,
    And hear the angels sing.

    For lo!, the days are hastening on,
    By prophet bards foretold,
    When with the ever-circling years
    Comes round the age of gold
    When peace shall over all the earth
    Its ancient splendors fling,
    And the whole world give back the song
    Which now the angels sing.

Belleau Wood
Garth Brooks

Oh, the snowflakes fell in silence
Over Belleau Wood that night
For a Christmas truce had been declared
By both sides of the fight

As we lay there in our trenches
The silence broke in two
By a German soldier singing
A song that we all knew

Though I did not know the language
The song was "Silent Night"
Then I heard my buddy whisper
"All is calm and all is bright"

Then the fear and doubt surrounded me
Because I'd die if I was wrong
But I stood up in my trench
And I began to sing along

  Then across the frozen battlefield
  Another's voice joined in
  Until one by one each man became
  A singer of the hymn

Then I thought that I was dreaming
For right there in my sight
Stood the German soldier
'Neath the falling flakes of white

And he raised his hand and smiled at me
As if he seemed to say
Here's hoping we both live to see us
Find a better way

Then the devil's clock struck midnight
And the skies lit up again
And the battlefield where heaven stood
Was blown to hell again

But for just one fleeting moment
The answer seemed so clear
Heaven's not beyond the clouds
It's just beyond the fear

No, heaven's not beyond the clouds
It's for us, to find it, here

Sometimes, there's a single phrase in a song that catches me - and not necessarily something obvious.  From "Life has killed the dream" from "I dreamed a dream", MM #45; to "We became stepdads and soccer moms" in "Life Happened", MM#85.  And perhaps the most notable in our family's history was "Who brings my chaos back into order",  "This Is Amazing Grace", MM#96.

Both of these songs have a line that I haven't forgotten. 

"Beneath the angel-strain have rolled / two thousand years of wrong"
Living in A.D. 2017, over two thousand years since the Word of God became flesh...are things better...are we kinder to each other...has the command to love God and love our neighbor been better obeyed?  In some ways...a little.  But there's still so much distrust, so much fear of the other, so much scapegoating. 

"Then the devil's clock struck midnight"
It's horrible how so often we can discard our shared humanity - in some cases our shared heritage or our shared faith.  War is hell, even at times setting brother against brother.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Xmas Dose of Perspective

I've been sitting on this one for a long time, almost a year.  (Not as long as For Annie, but it's stewed for a good while, like a crock-pot meal.)

Irving Berlin wrote a song performed by Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney called "Counting My Blessings (Instead of Sheep)"

This song, along with many other songs performed by folks from earlier decades, was on a Christmas classics station, on rotation endlessly during the holiday season last year at Home Depot.   So I heard it.  A lot.  Along with Marshmallow Christmas.

Christmas is hard for me (see other blogs) in part because of the self-imposed pressure to do "enough" for Christmas, and being creative with a bankroll smaller than Jeff Bezos.

I can't keep up with the Joneses.  It's taken a lot of work, hustle and frugal living to get to probably the best financial position in our lives.

But when I look at my small bankroll, I think back to when I had none (or even when I was badly overdrawn).
It takes discipline, but remembering how far I've gotten (by the grace of God) is very helpful.

Take it away, Bing.

"Count Your Blessings"
Written by Irving Berlin
Performed by Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney

When I'm worried and I can't sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep
And I fall asleep counting my blessings
When my bankroll is getting small
I think of when I had none at all
And I fall asleep counting my blessings

I think about a nursery and I picture curly heads
And one by one I count them as they slumber in their beds
If you're worried and you can't sleep
Just count your blessings instead of sheep
And you'll fall asleep counting your blessings

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Really Big Christmas Tree

It was the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  I was driving back up the west side of the outside of the KC Metro on K-7.  I remembered that a particular sports player (Tim Melia, the brick wall in goal for Sporting KC) was going to be at a Christmas Tree Lighting at Legends - an outdoor mall in west Kansas City, Kansas.

My lovely bride was with me - I'd just picked her up from work.  Finally, a Saturday night with us together.  Go home, relax, peace and quiet.

But that player was going to be at Legends.
Heck...Ivy loves Christmas.  Big time.  And that tree lighting is a nice thing...
"Hey, baby, wanna go see the tree lighting at Legends tonight?"
"What?  You really want to go see a tree lighting?"
"Sure.  You.  Me.  Call it a date."

Yeah, Mr. Grinch took Mrs. Claus on a Christmas Tree Lighting date.

Found parking on top of the parking garage.  Complained about the cold weather.  Never found the soccer player.  Listened to live Christmas music.  Got Smores-on-a-stick and hot cocoa.  Missed the lighting while getting fries.  Got pictures in front of the tree.

It was great.

I don't hate everything about Christmas.  Honest.

Monday, December 4, 2017

The Anthem of the $eason

MM #106
Santa Baby

Going back to my description of Christmas as "the celebration of Immanuel, wrapped up in consumption and smelling of tradition", I find this song a very apt anthem to the spirit of December25.  It may be tongue-in-cheek, but I still feel like it describes the real spirit we're surrounded with.

Santa Baby, just slip a sable under the tree, For me.
Been an awful good girl, Santa baby,
So hurry down the chimney tonight.

Santa baby, a 54 convertible too,
Light blue.
I'll wait up for you dear,
Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight.

Think of all the fun I've missed,
Think of all the fellas that I haven't kissed,
Next year I could be just as good,
If you'll check off my Christmas list,

Santa baby, I wanna yacht,
And really that's not a lot,
Been an angel all year,
Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight.

Santa honey, one little thing I really need,
The deed
To a platinum mine,
Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight.

Santa cutie, and fill my stocking with a duplex,
And checks.
Sign your 'X' on the line,
Santa cutie, and hurry down the chimney tonight.

Come and trim my Christmas tree,
With some decorations bought at Tiffany's,
I really do believe in you,
Let's see if you believe in me,

Santa baby, forgot to mention one little thing,
A ring.
I don't mean on the phone,
Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight,
Hurry down the chimney tonight,
Hurry, tonight.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Drinking the eggnog - repost

REPOST from 12/24/08

In America, what is called the Christmas spirit should really be called "drinking the eggnog". Going along with the millions of fellow members of the economy and community.

American Christmas (which I will simply call December25) is not a celebration of the birth of Mary's boy child. It is a hodgepodge of centuries of tradition and American (consumerism / commercialism / materialism.)


From the day after Thanksgiving to December25, we are prodded by our neighbors, friends, and especially family, to 'be in the Christmas spirit.' Which means shopping and decorating and traditions, most of which have very little to do with a stable in Bethlehem.

It is a solemn time. It is time to think of our fellow man. And to that end...SHOP! SHOP EARLY! GET THE DOORBUSTERS! Keep your fellow man in business by buying tons of stuff. Remember, consumer spending is 70% of your nation's economy. (However, now we're just keeping Wal-Mart in business because everything's actually made in China! Japan! Mexico!)
Got more presents for Suzie than for Johnny? Well, I guess you're going back to the mall to balance the piles of presents!'s the holiday season. December25 is coming soon! And it's just not December25 without...(fill in the blank.... family!... in-laws!... the tree!... Santa!... Santa's milk and cookies!... Recording Christmas specials on tape!...)  Who cares why we started half these traditions...we did it last year, and by Montgomery Ward Rudolph's red nose, we'll do it again!

Oh, and no December25 is complete without the good Dr. Christian whining and moaning about the Christmas Wars...evil retailers who won't mention Christmas. Who cares that the only thought of Christ is a token midnight mass at the end of the December25 season. No...if the retailer's won't mention Christmas...boycott!

Monday, November 27, 2017

John Deere

MM#105   Big Green Tractor    Jason Aldean

Honestly, a song we sang from time to time, heard from time to time...

And, living in a rural county, we saw a lot of big green tractors.  (And international harvesters, too)

When I heard of the tragedy murder slaughter in Las Vegas, I checked the singer's list of songs...which song did this guy do...I know I know that name....

And honestly, I postponed this one several weeks after the slaughter in Sutherland Springs.  I'm setting this to post 11-27 regardless of future events.

I've already said everything I have to say about guns, mass shootings, violence...maranatha.

Big Green Tractor
Jason Aldean

She had a shiny little beamer with the rag top down
Sitting in the drive but she wouldn't get out
The dogs were all barking and a wagging around
I just laughed and said ya'll get in
She had on a new dress and she curled her hair
She was looking too good not to go somewhere
I said what you wanna do baby I don't care
We can go to the show or we can stay right here and

I can take you for a ride on my big green tractor
We can go slow or make it go faster
Down through the woods out to the pasture
Long as I'm with you it really don't matter
Climb up in my lap and drive if you want to
Girl, you know you got me to hold on to
We can go to town but baby if you'd rather
I'll take you for a ride on my big green tractor

I said we can fire it up and I can show you around
Sit up on the hill and watch the sun go down
When the fire flies are dancing and the moon comes out
We can turn on the lights and head back to the house or

We can take another ride on my big green tractor
We can go slow or make it go faster
Down through the woods out to the pasture
Long as I'm with you it really don't matter
Climb up in my lap and drive if you want to
Girl, you know you got me to hold on to
We can go to town but baby if you'd rather
I'll take you for a ride on my big green tractor

Mmmmm just let me dust off the seat
Mmmmm now put your pretty little arms around me

Climb up in my lap and drive if you want to
Girl, you know you've got me to hold on to
We can go to town but baby if you'd rather
I'll take you for a ride on my big green tractor
We can go to town
Or we can go another round
On my big green tractor