December 27, 2010

Resolved, Part 1...

I heard someone randomly say this week that New Year's Day is like the first day of school-- a chance to start fresh.  I have always loved "fresh starts."  Sometimes I even see Monday as a fresh start.  I think, okay, here's my chance to begin again, to meet my goals, to do better than before.  And that's how I feel about New Year's Day.  Most of the time whatever half-brained resolutions I've made never even make it past MLK day.  But once in a while, a resolution or two will stick.

Some balk at the idea of resolutions.  After all, if the resolutions are things we should be doing, why are we not resolved to do them anyway, without the formal title of "resolution"?  I agree, but everyone needs a kick in the pants now and then.  And for me, New Year's Day is that kick in the pants.

This year, I'm actually doing something for New Year's Weekend.  More on that later.  And this year, I'm actually thinking about resolutions early.  I haven't thought them out in detail yet, but so far, here's what I've got:

1.  To memorize more Scripture and apply Deuteronomy 6.
2.  To exercise three times a week, without fail.
3.  To lose 15-20 lbs.
4.  To be entirely transparent.
5.  To remember to trust God, no matter the situation.

I will have more and I will have details, but it's a start.  I encourage you to think about yours early this year, and truly resolve to stick to them.

December 24, 2010

Christmas Thoughts...

'Twas the day before Christmas, and all through the house rang the sounds of old Christmas movies as the inhabitants moved about.

One such inhabitant sat typing away at her computer as the snow fell softly out the window.

It was idyllic. 

This is one of my most favorite days of the year, the day before Christmas.  It's got all the anticipation of the entire year resting on it, and there is a soft, magical feel that is almost tangible.  And every year I try not to build it up too much in my mind, so as not to be disappointed.  But this year, I am not disappointed, for there is snow-- lots of fat falling flakes.

I am disappointed about one thing, however: BF isn't here with me.

Despite that sad fact, however, I am enjoying Christmastime.  Is there any way to put the joy, magic, and mystery of Christmas into words?  I think not.  Call me childish, but I think I'll always feel this way about Christmas.

And yet I had a startling discovery this morning.  I had allowed myself to forget the one important thing about Christmas.  Buried under the "joy, magic, and mystery," the gifting, the parties, the decorations, was the one thing we must never forget, and I had so easily forgotten: the greatest gift of all-- Jesus Christ, our Savior.

As I awoke on this day before Christmas, these words came to mind: "Nail, spear shall pierce Him through, The Cross be borne for me, for you; Hail! Hail the Word Made Flesh, The Babe, the Son of Mary!"  And isn't that what Christmas is truly about?  Snow or no snow, magical mysterious feelings or no magical mysterious feelings, gifts or no gifts.  The Word made flesh to dwell among us and sacrifice himself for our salvation.  That is not only what Christmas is about, but what life itself is about.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Let me leave you with some Christmas in Chicago snapshots:

December 20, 2010

Tastes of Chicago...

It seems as though I am off the blogging wagon.  As I've alluded to in the past, I have no problem blogging all about my inmost thoughts, but when they involve another person, that just seems not okay.  So I'm still trying to figure out what my new blogging role is... but until then, let me give you a few snapshots of Chicago.  I'd been away from the dear City for six months or so, which means my senses have been sharpened and I now see Chicago-ness more acutely and can pinpoint what is so beloved more easily.  For example:

The morning after I arrived in Chicago, my family went out for breakfast, as we often do.  In the summer we walk to The Diner, but when it's 18 degrees, we drive.  I had just rolled out of bed and wore no makeup.  I proudly sported my glasses and raccoon hat (thanks to BF), and settled into the tiny restaurant.  I was overwhelmed with a sense of Chicago-ness when a husky young man in a White Sox shirt brought us some water, and a sassy old woman in a Santa hat and other Christmas paraphernalia took our orders and ordered my brother to smile.  She's the same woman who, when the meal is through, asks if we need anything-- maybe coffee, maybe a kick in the a**...

I went shopping at Jewel with Mom, where the accents were thick and the Bears bric-a-brac abounded.  There were lots of moms with kids who were looking to make the same Chicago-y Christmas treats: pretzel Rolos.  And there were burly men in the parking lot sporting White Sox coats, even in December.

And then yesterday.  I picked up Portillo's for dinner (only the best beef sandwiches in the entire universe), and my favorite worker was handing out the orders.  Tonya always wears a smile and makes up a rhyme for each customer.  "You ready to get out of here, number 1-4-0?  Here you go, little hero."  Then she asked me if I dipped the onion rings in ranch or Caesar dressing.  When I responded in the negative, she waved her hand at me, grabbed some packages, and told me not to get addicted.  I left with a big bag of beef and a smile on my face.

Today I wandered the city by myself and encountered more friendliness than I would have ever expected given the bitter cold.  But that's Chicago-- strangers are still strangers, but they're strangers with smiles, because everyone knows if you're a Chicagoan, you're family.  And people from Chicago love Chicago.  They take joy in their city-- they sport the skyline and the sports teams with pride.

There's a taste for you.  As I sit here with an afghan around me (the kind made by my grandma, not the kind from Afghanistan), staring at the snow that's falling and the neighbors' Christmas lights, I just wanted you to enjoy what I'm enjoying. :)