My kids have Colby Caillet's "Christmas In the Sand" memorized from start to finish. The adult innuendos are above their head--"you look naughty but I'm sure you're nice..." Okay, I can sing this little Millennial Christmas Classic too; it's a catchy tune and who doesn't want to spend Christmas in the sand?

Growing up I remember wondering if I would receive coal in my stocking, fortunately I never did. I suppose my levels of naughtiness varied from year to year (especially between the 14-23 years). Once age 24 I realized my parents actually knew what they were talking about. Despite my grandiose perspective, they blessed me at Christmas. My dad always saved up for a trip and mom had the gifts perfectly wrapped. My four children all have their levels of naughtiness and  too have never found coal on Christmas morning (though one is getting the brown play-Dough Poo-Poo mold kit--this is considered encouraging for a near 7 year old boy.)

As we grow into adulthood, we experience guilt in a deeper more profound way and try to bury it with our vices--booze, shopping, religious practices, work...you name it. These behaviors exacerbate at the holidays. My December retail budget triples and I know it's not all gifts. I have several friends in in a self inflicted social isolation, sorting out the personal baggage of a failed relationship or job situation. Our country is experiencing the salting of old racism wounds this Christmas, the rage and guilt of our ancestors seems to have an inherent quality. Despite our tragedies and warranted or unwarranted guilt, God rises the sun for us all, sending rain and doesn't discriminate in love. Naughty or nice, God loves you and loves all. This Christmas, and everyday, let's choose to be like God and love the undeserving. We might just make the world a little less naughty and a lot more nice! Merry Christmas!

I remember looking out the backseat glass of my mom's moving station wagon, watching cornfields move by. Sometimes the cornfields would turn into soybean fields and then back to cornfields again. The perfect alignment of their rows created alignment in my thoughts. The rows looked different when planted on a hillside, this required different thinking.

Periods in the car are great opportunities to sit in stillness. Sitting in stillness brings wisdom. With hotspot wifi, xm radio, built in DVD players and more in our cars, it's easy to continue the cycle of business and stimulate ourselves with gadgets. Without the radio, we can usually resist the urge to sing and participate in quiet observation. Our family observes a quiet time on our way to church each Sunday. I'm not sure what my kids are thinking between the "Are we almost there?", "Stop hitting me!" and "________took their shoes off" interruptions. I know their lives are lived in a constant state of distraction and I want them to see the cornfields as I once did as a child. 

In rare moments I have the opportunity to sit in silence in my moving van, on a road trip without children. At these time, I once again, I feel like myself, my true inner child self with thoughts aligning and wisdom budding. I've even written a few songs on my road trips! (see post "What Gives Me Faith"). As the landscape changes out the window, I discover my inner-landscape. If you are searching, I encourage you to get in the car alone and drive without radio or cell phone. The quiet observation out the front pane will bring you wisdom. You might find God brings a song to your heart too!

Being uprooted from my home for a few days and living in the aftermath of a violent tornado that literally destroyed my neighborhood, has required a new degree of flexibility for myself and my family.  Lets face it, nobody likes change.  Now back at  home, my neighborhood is a square mile traffic jam of bulldozers, front loaders, dump trucks, and other  machines that I will likely never drive in my lifetime.  I'm not real concerned about the piles of rubble lining the streets or that the school bus isn't servicing the area for my children.  The United Way volunteer team cleaned up the mess of shingles, fence and who knows what from my yard;  our family and church friends decided to give back and clean the neighbor's yard.  My friend lost her house and scavenged her personal belongings along the roadside for all to see...how humbling.   When bringing her family a meal at their new rental home, the children had an especially flexible view on the situation:

Kid:  "Hi Mrs. Galles (hug) our house blew away so we get to live here now."

If it were only this easy, but maybe it is this easy?  According to his mom, immediately after emerging from their basement closet bunker to find their house destroyed, this child was overwhelmed about not having Thanksgiving, and is now VERY excited to be in a new home to celebrate Thanksgiving in tomorrow.

“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?   

It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. 

Luke 14:34-35.  

This scripture has always intrigued me because Jesus is literally saying that losing saltiness is like being a rejected piece of crap that is not useful to be included with the pile of bull crap that is at least useful for something!  The Bible translators didn't make it so crude (and in my opinion lost the saltiness) for our tender over righteous politically correct ears...shoot!   I'm glad to have a home this Thanksgiving.  I'm grateful my family is safe and all of my community miraculously survived this storm.  My schedule is careening all over the place and I'm bending over backwards to keep normalcy.  Good thing I practice back bends in yoga!  I'm keenly aware of the pity party I've had in previous Thanksgivings during this "difficult time of year".  Another friend of mine just lost her young niece to a car accident and was lamenting how it always takes a tragedy for her to realize how grateful she needs to be in life.   Seasoning our gratitude with saltiness requires pain, or at least a bit of inconvenience and flexibility.  As you sit down to feast on Thanksgiving tomorrow, bend over backwards to season your gratitude with some salt.  Salt on a wound never feels good, though does sterilize, which is better than being a lonely piece of poo-poo!