Tag Archives: SoCS

Christmas without Trimmings

When I was a little girl, we would often have hot dogs or boerewors rolls for supper. We could choose whether to have it with trimmings or without. The trimmings usually consisted of fried onion and tomato, sometimes with grated cheese, or maybe mustard. Quite often the trimmings made the hot dog more messy but added to the enjoyment of it. However, the fried onion and tomato were never a substitute for the meal.

When I got old enough to start making my own clothes, I learned to use paper patterns. The pattern guide would list how much fabric to buy for each size and then at the end it would list the trimmings:- buttons or lace, ribbons or embellishments. These added to the satisfaction with the final product but lace and buttons can never be a substitute for a dress.

Christmas has trimmings and they vary from culture to culture. Some are universal. Time with family is often considered non-negotiable. The media has contributed to this belief that Christmas is not Christmas without family. However it is no more true than the fact that Christmas trees, cakes, crackers and presents are essentials for Christmas.

These Christmas trimmings add to our enjoyment of the celebration. Families forge their own traditions for Christmas. For some it means going to church together on Christmas morning, for others, having waffles for breakfast.

Some of us have had to do without trimmings this year, perhaps because of Covid lockdown restrictions, or geographical distance or the absence of loved ones who have passed away. Some have faced financial difficulties and can’t afford presents in wrapped boxes, or trees, or crackers.

Just as fried onion and tomatoes are not the meal, nor lace and buttons not the dress, Christmas trimmings, as enjoyable as they are, are not Christmas.

Christmas celebrates the fact that God, the Creator and Master of the universe, set His love upon us. He moved the line between infinite and finite so He could be with us. Forever. So that we can be with Him. Forever. He became flesh and for the joy set before him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame (Hebrew 12:2) so that He could remove the barrier of sin that kept us from being able to be with Him, where He is, forever.

No wonder the shepherds left their sheep and raced to Bethlehem, no wonder eastern astronomers followed a star that foretold a king.

The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel (which means God with us.” Matthew 1:23 NIV, quoting Isaiah 7:14)

God with us. That is Christmas. God with me, warts and all, because that’s where He longs to be.

Let us never confuse the Christmas trimmings with the real thing.

This post is part of Streams of Consciousness Saturday.

The Nails

What kept Jesus on the cross? As He said, He could have summoned a thousand angel armies to release Him. What kept Him there? Was it the nails?

Yes, it was the nails, but not physical nails. It was the nails of my sin. I heard it brilliantly described recently by Tod Burpo as “attitude.” We all recognise it in our teenagers, the attitude that says to a parent, “You are stupid; you don’t know what you are talking about; I know how things should be done; I can make my own decisions; I don’t need you to tell me what to do!”

That’s how we treat God. We regard His values as old-fashioned and outdated. We think we can run our own lives and that’s what we do. The Bible calls it sin. We might call it human nature. Whatever it is named, it constituted the nails that kept Jesus on the cross.

Image by Marc Pascual from Pixabay

This post is part of Streams of Consciousness Saturday

Lockdown Day 9 Deep

It has been raining all day and it’s an ideal day to settle down with my computer and write a blog.

This is part of Stream of Consciousness Saturday and the challenge for today is to use the word, deep.

Two things come to mind when I see this word. The first is a bible verse. I hope it’s not cheating to look up the whole quotation.

“Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.”(Psalm 42:7)

I am not sure what it means. It seems like the psalmist is feeling overwhelmed. Sound familiar in these times? Nevertheless the phrase resonates with something deep within me and I almost feel its something like God’s Spirit calls to my spirit.

The second thing I think of is a song – How deep the Father’s love for us.

“How Deep The Father’s Love For Us”

How deep the Father’s love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the man upon a cross
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom (azlyrics.com/lyrics/selah/howdeepthefathersloveforus.html)

The Deceptive Christmas Jingle

Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay

What is Christmas about? If we believe the media, it is all about family. Family togetherness. Feel- good-movies perpetuate this deception. “I’ll be home for Christmas,” the ideal father says to his ideal family before going off to war, or to save an emergency situation, or…

The movie ends on Christmas day when the hero, after battling horrific odds, arrives at the front door to be greeted by his adoring idealized family.

“I’ll be home for Christmas,” sings Frank Sinatra in heart-warming tones.

But that’s the deception. Christmas is not about family. Sure, it’s a wonderful time to get together with family because the kids are on school break, parents don’t have to work and, moreover, it’s traditional.

It only works if you have an ideal family. A father, happily in love with a mother, and two or three well behaved children. No fights, no squabbles, no “Which family are we going to visit this year” discussions. A perfect family. Except there is no such thing.

It doesn’t work if you are homeless, like so many people in South Africa. It doesn’t work if your children have all grown up and moved to other countries. It doesn’t work if you have lost your life partner. It doesn’t work if you have a job that requires you to work on Christmas Day and you feel guilty because you can’t give your family the ideal Christmas that the media portrays. It doesn’t work if you are divorced or estranged from your children’s other parent. It doesn’t work unless you are a perfect person with a perfect family.

I love this song by Casting Crowns.

So what is Christmas about then? Christmas is about Christ. That’s why it’s called Christmas. It saddens me when some churches, especially in the Southern Hemisphere, don’t have a Christmas Day service. Because it is our Summer holiday season, most people go to the coast over December. That leaves the volunteer group decimated and, after all, they want to get home to their families. I understand it but it still saddens me. I wonder if it is the same in the Northern Hemisphere.

The first Christmas was not about family. I am sure Mary’s mother would have loved to be part of the welcome ceremony for her daughter’s new baby. There were no fancy hospitals in those days. Mothers and female relatives were expected to help with the birth. Mary’s family wasn’t there. Neither was Joseph’s family. The people who celebrated the first Christmas with the family were strangers:- perhaps the innkeeper and his wife, a group of shepherds and later, a group of foreigners with a different culture.

Christmas is not about gifts. It is about a gift. God’s gift to a world enslaved by its own human nature. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

Is Christmas about love, then? You bet! God so loved.

Because we are loved we can share love with others and then we will be known as Children of our Heavenly Father.

May we all be givers of love this Christmas.

Book Worm

SoCS badge 2015

This post is part of Streams of Consciousness Saturday. This week it must highlight the word  “book”. Even though it is late on Sunday night, I can’t resist posting for this because, you see, I am writing a book. That is to say, I have started a book. I have finished two chapters this year. This is where the worm comes in. Worms progress slowly. Earthworms progress in curves and spirals and that is how I feel my progress is going.

I was encouraged to start a novel when my short story, “They call me Nothing“, won first place in the SA Writers Circle monthly competition. This is no great honour because only about 20 people participate. Nevertheless the judge commented that some of the stories would make good novels so I thought I’d give it a try.

It has not been easy fitting writing into my schedule but if I can consider a chapter as only a short story which I have been trying to do once a month, it is attainable if I just keep going. So you won’t see my book on the bookshelves soon, if ever. Chapter Three is almost finished and school holidays are coming up so I hope I’ll have time to finish chapter three and maybe chapter four by the middle of July.

Everyday Inspiration, Day Six: The Space to Write

Where do I write?

Usually I write in my study with a small netbook. I use a wireless mouse because mouse pads drive me crazy. In fact my netbook has a quirk that unless I specifically press Fn and F1, it feels free to jumble my letters whenever it feels like it. You can tell I am slightly technologically challenged.

On occasion, I might take my netbook to the lounge or outside to write but my concentration is not as good. If ideas hit me suddenly, I write where I am, either in a notebook (the old fashioned kind) or on  a scrap of paper or somebody else’s computer.

At the moment I am trying to get into the habit of writing regularly according to a schedule but it is still in the very beginning stage and I  tend to be erratic.

Ideally my writing space would be a quiet room with no distractions, preferably with a beautiful view with free access to cappuccino and the occasional snack for when I need to take a break.

I decided to combine today’s assignment with Linda G Hill’s Streams of Consciousness Saturday. I hope that is allowed.

Is there anybody else out there who is just a beginner?

 

“Egg”sperimentally

This post is part of Streams of Consciousness Saturday.

Here are the rules:

1. Your post must be stream of consciousness writing, meaning no editing, (typos can be fixed) and minimal planning on what you’re going to write.

2. Your post can be as long or as short as you want it to be. One sentence – one thousand words. Fact, fiction, poetry – it doesn’t matter. Just let the words carry you along until you’re ready to stop.

3. There will be a prompt every week. I will post the prompt here on my blog on Friday, along with a reminder for you to join in. The prompt will be one random thing, but it will not be a subject. For instance, I will not say “Write about dogs”; the prompt will be more like, “Make your first sentence a question,” “Begin with the word ‘The’,” or simply a single word to get your started.

4. Ping back! It’s important, so that I and other people can come and read your post! For example, in your post you can write “This post is part of SoCS:” and then copy and paste the URL found in your address bar at the top of this post into yours.  Your link will show up in my comments for everyone to see. The most recent pingbacks will be found at the top.

5. Read at least one other person’s blog who has linked back their post. Even better, read everyone’s! If you’re the first person to link back, you can check back later, or go to the previous week, by following my category, “Stream of Consciousness Saturday,” which you’ll find right below the “Like” button on my post.

6. Copy and paste the rules (if you’d like to) in your post. The more people who join in, the more new bloggers you’ll meet and the bigger your community will get!

7. As a suggestion, tag your post “SoCS” and/or “#SoCS” for more exposure and more views.

8. Have fun!

 

This week’s challenge is to use the word “egg”, which brings up the question of which came first, the chicken or the egg? The egg is therefore a symbol of life although depending which species you are looking at, it could also be seed, spore, or embryo. In any case, it is a very good symbol of Easter because Easter is all about the new life in Christ because of the Crucifixion and Resurrection. I have always preferred buying Easter eggs rather than chickens, bunnies or the like. May this Easter be a blessing and a start of new life in one way or another for you all.

Unexpected

This is part of Stream of Consciousness Saturday. The plan is to just write what comes – no editing although typos may be corrected.

SoCS badge 2015

I am normally a very competitive person. I don’t enter a competition if I don’t think I have a chance of winning. An exception has been the South African Writer’s Circle monthly competitions. I joined the SAWC as one of the avenues to explore when I felt God was calling me to write and I didn’t know what exactly to write (I still don’t know so I am doing blogging and writing for the SAWC monthly competitions) The first one I attempted for the end of August was to write a travel article. The best thing is, once you have entered, the judges give you a very detailed report on what you did well and what you could improve on. I was told I used too many cliches (especially “stunning”) and that my ending needed more oomph. Fair comment.

For September the  task was to write a short story in 3000 words where someone has a 180 degree turn around. This one I spent more time on – In fact I rewrote it after I had asked my son to read it and comment. He nearly killed himself laughing at the extremes I was going to to avoid cliches! Anyway, I rewrote it in the first person changing from the present to the past for flashbacks (of which there were several). About two weeks ago I got a newsletter with interesting articles in it, one of them being on writing short stories and how one should avoid flashbacks. Sigh. Too late. The day before yesterday i got the email enclosing my report from the judge. ‘Congratulations,” it said, “You have won first place in our short story competition” That was totally unexpected but very exciting.  I still can’t take it in. I don’t know how many people entered this month – maybe there were only three and they placed us first, second and third. I don’t care. it is encouragement and we writers need all the encouragement we can get.