Monday, December 10, 2012

Listen & Remember

Listen to Christmas

I don't know why it is, but Christmas often makes me melancholy.  It has nothing to do with the hustle and bustle of the season...although I can't imagine that being tired helps.  I am prone to sit and think, and over think, and regret all that I neglected to do in years past.   Lot of good that bit does. 

This morning, as the boys left for school, or maybe it was in the shower, or maybe it was even earlier when my alarm was so quiet that I could hardly make out that it was ringing at all, I remembered a letter I wrote about 14 years ago.  At the time I had three little boys, the youngest of which was only a few months old.  Both he and I had ruptured ear drums.  I dug it Christmas letter from 1998....think of it as a gift from me to you.

CHRISTMAS....does any other word evoke as large a response from so many people?  There are people who start planning the holiday celebration on January 1st, and there are people who would just as soon be rid of the whole thing.  People celebrate Christmas, or not, regardless of religious convictions, regardless of whether they believe the ancient story of a babe in a manger, regardless of whether there is love in their lives.  Most remarkably, how one may feel about Christmas is irrelevant.  Christmas comes anyway!  And so I find myself thinking about friends and family, about gift giving and the annual ritual of letter writing - exchanging bits and pieces of our lives.  This is the most precious gift I give every year, this short glimpse into the lives of my family and I.  My letter is intended as a gift from me to you on this most special of holidays.  I hope that it finds you well.

1998 was a very busy year in our home.  We sold our house in Coppell.  We built a new one in Frisco.  We moved.  We had a baby boy - Benjamin Walker Sharp was born on June 26th.  And Noah started school.  Through it all the march of time continued, unabated, unconcerned as to whether we were in step with it or not.  The nerve!!  At any rate....

My house 2
Our "new" house - We still live here.
Our new home is much better suited to life with three boys.  It is much bigger - they can each have their own room and there is a large game room for them to play in.  (In Coppell they had a 6' x 8' rug in the living room where they played all of their games.  In the game room that rug looks like a postage stamp.)  Our yard also grew.  It still isn't big enough to play baseball in - Noah and now John are adept at hitting any ball over the fence - but it takes more than a few steps to go from one end to the other.  The best improvement, however, is that we traded a busy street and no front yard for a quiet neighborhood and a front yard made for playing.  In short - it is not the country, but it is a great place to raise a family.

Noah circa 2012

Noah started school this August.  It doesn't seem like he should be old enough to be going to school...but he is (he turned six in September) and he is loving every minute of it.  It is thrilling to watch his mind awaken.  For years his dearest toys have been paper and pencils and books.  He'd play with them for hours without really knowing what it was he was playing with.  Now his doodling has real words in it and his books have come alive.  His brilliant blue eyes blaze each evening as he reads Daddy a bed time story.

Johnny Ho, Ho
My Johnny - December 2012

John misses his big brother, yet he too is enjoying the revelations that school brings.  Without Noah to make up games for him, John is discovering that he can be his own person.  He can make up games, and make animals talk, and have things of his own.  One of his favorite games is "I'm Johnny."  In it the idea is for someone to say, "Hi --," and no matter what you call him he says, "I'm not --, I'm Johnny!"  Then he will go on to list his favorite things, "I got Kitty.  I got Noah.  I got Ben.  I got Dragon.  I got Dog."  The list goes on and on until he flashes his dimpled grin at you and insists, "I'm Johnny!" and laughs.

This is what my  14 year old boy thinks about having his picture taken.
Ben, as I mentioned earlier, was born in June.  He has dark, dark blue eyes and a forehead not unlike Noah's.  His dark hair and cheeky smile shout John.  His diposition is quiet and thoughtful - again like his oldest brother - but where Noah is apt to brood, Ben is more likely to laugh.  I've never met anyone who seemed so much like his brothers, and yet so different from them at the same time.  Ben is a joy to have around and a welcome addition to our growing family.  (I suppose it should be noted that both Gilbert and I suspect that he will be the last - thus his name.  He is named after the last son of Jacob and Rachel.  However, just because we probably will not have any more children, don't imagine that our family has stopped growing.  Our grocery bill will prove that much!)
DH helping in the Studio
Gilbert doesn't like his picture taken I snuck this one.

Gilbert is still working for PageNet.  He is a systems developer for executive information systems.  When we moved to Frisco the plan was that he would be closer to work (about a 10 minute commute rather than the 30 minutes from Coppell).  As it turned out his office moved  about one month after we did.  They are now located in downtown Dallas and the commute takes 40 minutes.  On the up side it wouldn't have been any better from Coppell and our new home is really much better suited to us.  Additionally, PageNet, aware of the potential blunder of moving into the city, instituted a telecommute program.  Gilbert now commutes 2 - 3 days a week during flex hours - so he is usually home by 4:00 and works from home the rest of the week.

Jan, our keyboard player on the worship team, warned me on Wednesday that worship would be wild and anointed come the weekend.  I asked her for a heads-up so I could get a started.  She said, "fire and water!"  

Hmmmmmm, so I am in this angels-as-a-hedge-of-protection mode and during the warm-up Saturday night I painted this angel of fire and water.  Several years back during a prophetic meeting someone identified David as fire and me as water.  They went on to say something about fire and water together creating steam; and steam is a powerful source when harnessed.  I don’t know.  They started out the prophetic session saying to David, “You are tall.”  WOW!  They nailed that one!  (David is 6’4”)   

This angel might look soft and sweet, but stand back when it gets the release!  Steam is powerful and if you stand too close you can get burned.

The drawing for this painting was done with a tjaunting tool, paraffin and bee's wax utilizing the same process used in batik clothing. The chemical components in the wax are very similar to those used in the sacrificial fat offerings in the old testament.  I love utilizing this process.  Control is tricky at best.  There is no correcting mistakes.  The wax forms a significant resist that allows for an abandoned application of paint.  This is about as much fun as can be humanly experienced!
"Cumbustion" by Gwen Maharg
When you hold the camera you have no pictures of yourself.
Lastly I come to myself.  I am surviving.  I do enjoy our new home.  It is big and sunny and has room for company (hint, hint).  My family is healthy and for the most part happy.  I am content.  However, in all honesty I have to admit that I am not well.  In the wee hours of November 1st I awoke to the clatter of shifting pressure within my left ear.  The sick headache I had gone to bed with was gone...but so was a portion of my eardrum, and with it a good deal of my hearing.  I guess the sinus ick that I had finally settled in my ear and the drum ruptured to release the pressure.  It doesn't hurt, at least not very much, and my doctor assures me that my hearing should return to normal in 6 to 8 weeks (please pray that it is so).  In the meantime I am somewhat deaf.  It is from this perspective that I find myself contemplating Christmas.
The sights, the sounds, the smells...
So much of the Holiday is in the sounds that surround it.  The crunch of wrapping paper behind closed doors, the crackle of a well built fire - a Yule log, the sizzle of roasting turkey, the pop of cranberries as they are cooked into relish...all of these remind me of the holidays.  The most blessed sound of all, however, is the sound of voices, voices raised to tell the story in song, young voices, old voices, high voices, love voices, quiet, loud, soft, harsh - all of them singing and laughing for the joy of it.  I often wonder a the number of people who join in the singing.  How many of them have sung carols for years, know the words by heart, and yet have never heard them?  They know not of what or Whom they sing...and yet they sing and their voices are heard and the beautiful story is told anew.
Christmas Carols

Dear friends, beloved family both of womb and God, listen for me this year.  My ears do work, but there is a great deal that I do not hear (as of today the sound is something like listening through a wall).  Listen for me this year.  Close your eyes, and put away your feelings about Christmas.  Pack up the tinsel and lights and gifts and set them aside for just a little while.  Crate up the disappointments of a lifetime of holidays and the fear of disappointments yet to come.  Stick them in a corner.  Stifle the excitement and busyness.  Sit quietly and listen.  Listen with your heart to the voices and know that the story they are telling is true.  It is not fiction.  It is not a history that is dead and buried in dust.  It is the truth, alive and waiting for all who have ears to hear.  Listen for me this year and may the beauty of the songs linger in your heart for a lifetime.

A lot has changed since 1998...but the carols are the same.  My favorite is "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen."  Listen to them again.  Really listen and enjoy them with me this Christmas and always.

1 comment:

Lynne said...

Dearest Cindy, that was the most beautiful post. Thank you for sharing it!

Just in case you want to know, my current favourite carol is "Mary Did You Know?" written by Mark Lowey.