Giving Tuesday


It was a little red envelope, tattered with time and wear.  Into the pouch went as much as she could spare.  Times had been tough for a while.  Three kids in college — nothing like financial aid back then.  Some dreams gone awry.  Two more kids — lots of love but also more tuition.  But nothing to complain about, “just what we do.”  — and always with a whistle and a smile, maybe a tear now and then.  In the little red envelope went a dollar here, two there, five when she could manage it.  Periodically, a stop by the furniture store to make the payment.  “No one knows.”  she would say to me.  I knew better than to speak a word.

He stopped smoking.  Not for good.  Heart disease would take care of that later.  Temporarily, the Marlboro Reds didn’t get purchased as often.  He slipped the cash into the hidden well in the dresser made for treasures of a different sort.  He looked around like a kid stealing candy when he put it in there.  I guess he forgot I was sitting there on the bed watching. Saturday had a stop at the jewelry store.  “Not a word” he clearly instructed me.  Not a chance…I knew better.

Actually, it was years before I made the connection.  The dollars slipped into the red pouch.  The Marlboro Red money in the well.  I didn’t really connect that the pouch and the well were connected to the furniture store and the jewelry store.  Only that it was something that should not be spoken of – ever.  I just rode along in the car…and watched their eyes.

On the Eve of Christmas, one by one presents that had found temporary home beneath the freshly cut evergreen were opened. As things wound down, I watched their eyes and knew that something big was about to happen.  She danced with excitement as my older brothers were commissioned to the garage and my older sisters were sent upstairs — to retrieve the little red box — while I remained and entertained with a Christmas tune rather unrecognizable,  but they applauded like it was Carnegie Hall.

Through the door, my brothers labored to bring a large black chair into the living room — as he roared with booming exuberance — it was the one he had been looking at for months, but there was no way they could afford it.  Tears streamed down her face to see his joy, until my sisters placed the gold bracelet on her wrist, “What have you done. This is a month of groceries.”  I knew that look in his eyes.  It worked — he had finally forgiven himself for the engagement ring he couldn’t afford back then. Her joy in the present erased the past and opened the future.


Welcome to the Receiving Department

It is Giving Tuesday…and you thought today was going to be about giving things away.

There is no giving without someone willing to receive.

The Black Chair only found life because he dared to love it

The Gold Bracelet came to life because it surrounded the wrist of my her open hand

To be the Giver is to hold the power

To be in the position of need is to be vulnerable

One of my greatest life lessons has been the experience of being the one in profound need

And to learn the Grace of receiving — both the love and the gift

That’s the great Advent challenge for me — and perhaps for you…

To be willing to remain in the receiving department

I spend a lot of time getting ready to be ready to be ready to receive God’s gift

Rather than just receiving the gift God has for me…I prefer the hamster wheel of recitation of my limitations, imperfections, and the list of what needs to be done on the way to the receiving dock.

But then I remember what I learned from my mother’s red pouch and my father’s deep well — the giver needs the one who is willing to receive ….God needs us to do both.

Give and Receive

But in Advent…God wants to give

The question is — are we willing to receive….or…are you too busy for a miracle?


Cyber Monday


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​It’s all very simple…Just hard to do
Try doing what you are not supposed to be doing
without letting yourself know
If you know about it then you can’t do it​ because you don’t do that,
Because the person looking over your shoulder
isn’t the one on the outside
So get on line fast — before you know it
But, now that’s clear — just log in with your user name and your password.
Did you forget your username…?
Who are you — the one you used to be or the one that you are now
The person you are on the way to becoming by what you do–
 is that who you are?
Just log in as who you really are
Ah…good…glad you remembered
Now, the password…
Is it the one you used with the name of the address you would never forget
or the one with the street number that you want to remember?
Oh…remember, it was the gift you wanted…that was the password
right action
Still doesn’t work…then, try these security questions.
The answers will lead you to the password
1.  If what you have doesn’t make you happy, why do you want more of it?
2.  Maybe we should start from scratch.  Where is scratch?
3.  Is it really better to be safe than sorry?
4.  What would you do if you knew you could not fail?
5.  If you don’t have all the things you want, are you grateful for the things that you don’t have that you didn’t want?
6.  Is it true that you have to see it to believe it, or do you have to believe it to see it?
7.  What activities make you lose track of time?
8.  If life is so short, why do we do so many things we don’t like and like so many things we don’t do?
9.  If you push the elevator button more than once, does it make it go faster?
10.  It is possible to know the truth without challenging it?
Finally…the password — now just type it in …backwards
It works.
You are in — to that silent space where you know who you are
what really matters
what you care about
what it means to believe
and that little thing called love
The only thing, at the end of the day, that matters
So stay connected.
Light a candle — just one
single candle.ok
And answer one more question
If you had five minutes to live
and a cell phone–
who would you call
what would you say
what is stopping you?
It’s Cyber Monday of Advent….
CONNECT…not to the world wide web
but to the wide world within and let the light without lead you
Advent – Connect
Advent – Light
Advent – Faith
Can you hardly wait for Giving Tuesday?

Finally…It’s OPENING DAY!


opening day

It’s 84 days till Spring Training
But that’s just baseball
 It’s 341 days until the General Election
But that’s just politics
 TODAY is the real OPENING DAY
Today…we begin the journey
 Just a trip across the Welcome Mat
The one that God has put out for you
To Welcome you into who you really are
And we can begin
 It’s the Advent Journey
Through stories and traditions
And choices and cleaning out the clutter
and turning up the music of the heart
and turning down the white noise of the daily grind
 One trip across the Welcome Mat
to discover the decorations on the inside
and to discover that those little white lights make your own truth visible…
 Where the real gift is the one you have kept from others
because it might be risky
and someone might not agree
and it might require some assembly including
reading the directions
asking for help
and deciding not to take yourself so seriously.
 But the Welcome Mat is out
So…which one is it
welcome mat
WHEW! You Are IN!
Congratulations and Welcome to the Advent “Open for Business” Journey… a little bit of quiet … some stories for the road …
remembrance of that journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem that was marked by chaos, fear, judgment, terror, taxes, being numbered, friends, faith, family and love.
 It was about what happens when you love God and a child and one another and so you take the next step…without a 401(k or b), with no health care coverage, no access to internet and no strategic plan.  But, along the way…we are going to do a few things…
Remember Advents gone by
Tell a few stories (the ones my family might be tired of hearing)
Move the couch and see what’s under it –
– and then do the same within
Bake a few things
Laugh now and then
Be quiet for a minute
Make some room
Give away something you like
Not complain about the weather
Clear the obstacles
Write a real note with a stamp 
and a hand-written address
Create a community of those who have gone to the mat –
– and crossed it
Now that we have crossed the Welcome Mat..let’s enter this world we call Advent — the beginning 
— the Opening Day of our church year…but most importantly, of our lives
 My+Advent+Wreath (1)
And so, on this Advent journey — we are going to recapture some of the traditions underneath the Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday and reservations for New Year’s Eve.
During our journey, we will wind back a few of the clocks and remember what we inherited while we take the chance to reimagine in the present.
And so we begin.
So…sit back for a minute and place yourself in 1830…with the cold wind whipping through the prarie and the long nights before solstice with the power of fire honored in hearth and candle.  Around these dark nights are the hopes and dreams that will become the gifts hidden under our trees –ingenuity of creativity, genius of thinking, perserverance against all odds, courage in the face of terror, faith grounded in daily sacrifice, honest sharing around a candle.
Take a wheel off the wagon you can only use in the spring and summer and take some evergreens off the trees before winter captures them and weave them through the wheel so you won’t forget that spring will come.  And then, add the five candles — four around the wheel for these four weeks of journey and one in the center for the great Feast.
 single candle.ok
Today’s work is simple…take down the wheel of your own life and make it STOP…then, fashion evergreen around it in a simple circle without beginning or end of hope…possibility…promise.  Then, find candles –traditionally three purple and a pink, with a white one in the center, but the color is less important than the commitment to light them — to make light — to be light.
 Then, extinguish all else and light the candle, letting it be possible that the same energy that gave rise to the wisdom on those cold winter nights in the prarie might be ours this night…a bit of honest fear, a deep breath to inhale a dose of courage, the release of all that keeps us from living the faith we have received and a promise to take this journey .
Happy Wheel Covering!



Are you ready?

Advent start

let the mystery unfold you
opening tomorrow
at a heart-theatre within you
you have a reserved seat
just click and open
…then again…
you are always free to ignore or delete
but then 
what is promised
is not possible
Welcome to the Advent Adventure
Don’t forget to bring 
a snack of joy 
seasoned with gratitude
See you tomorrow
for the opening!