As Anton Ego put it in the movie Ratatouille, "... you know what I'm craving? A little perspective. That's it. I'd like some fresh, clear, well seasoned perspective. Can you suggest a good wine to go with that?"
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
eVotionals exhorts those who pray. It's the glass of water held out
around each month's turn for the runners who can use a quick and easy
quench in order to finish strong.
(Approximate reading time: 10 Minutes)
"Look what I got!" It was the first thing my daughter, Shirin,
said after returning from a fall festival with a friend and her
friend's family. She held up a canvas bag in one hand, it was bulging
out as if it was filled with rocks. "I mined and gathered so many
treasures, you won't believe it!"
After thanking her friend for
the fun day she dashed upstairs and spread all of her treasures out over
her desk. She spent the next hour separating and organizing her
treasures into groups and piles. I peeked in as I walked by with some
"Mom, come here and look at what I got. Here is one...and so many of these...and this one is so rare..."
stepped in, looked over her shoulder and expressed some general
appreciation for what Shirin found. I started to pick up some more
laundry from her basket as she explained the names of each find. It was
like her words went in one ear and out the other. I must have been
thinking about the things that needed to be done because I can't
remember even one stone she named off. As she held each stone up I gave
the appropriate, "That's awesome, no way, so cool," responses but not
really noticing any details. I couldn't tell you the color, shape or
texture of even one treasure. I knew they were pretty cool and that I
could probably enjoy taking a look at them when I wasn't so distracted.
I told myself that after I got done with the things on my mind that
needed to get done I would return to Shirin's desk to really take a
closer look. I told her that she could keep them on her desk until we
found a good home for them and made my exit to gather more laundry from
Now before I continue telling you about my 5% genuine
interest level in what my daughter was 100% excited about I have to tell
you that during this same week many of Shirin's molars decided it was
time to come out. The tooth fairy had a hard time keeping up, in fact
her stash of emergency tooth fairy gifts had been depleted. So when
Shirin came running into my room with the exiting news that another
tooth had come out you can imagine what was running through my mind. I
didn't even look at the tooth as I gave my appropriate, "Another tooth?
Wow, I can't believe it. You won't be able to chew your food at this
rate," as my mind raced through my options to get a little treasure
under her pillow before the next morning. She laughed. I thought she
was tickled by my humor. I didn't even look at her as I started to
brainstorm what I could do to help the tooth fairy come through.
"Mom, look at my tooth."
really looking up from gathering my clothes I said, "It's a molar
right? Go find your tooth fairy pillow so we don't lose it." The news
of Shirin loosing her tooth should have made me excited for her and
asking to see it. Instead it sent me into a series of thoughts barely
related to the joy of the event. Does the tooth fairy have anything to
give? Will she forget like the last time and have to redeem herself on
the next night? Does she have time to go to the store before it gets too
late? Since Shirin knows who the tooth fairy is should I even be
thinking in third person?
"Mom! Look at my tooth, it's so strange."
"It's strange?" I said as I held a bundle of clothes in my arms.
look." She held the tooth up in my face. I stopped. As it came into
focus I dropped my clothes. It was strange. It was long and pointy.
It didn't look like a molar at all, more like a fang of some sort. I
wondered what sort of strange thing just came out of my daughter's
mouth. It was dim as well, maybe rotten. A rotten tooth would not be
deformed in shape, would it?
Standing behind the tooth I could
see Shirin's big smile. She seemed to be amused by my expression and
was chuckling. Wait a minute. Was this some sort of joke? She
couldn't handle it and started laughing out loud.
"What is that?" I asked.
"It's a tooth!" She said.
"It's a tooth, but what kind of tooth?" I asked
a shark tooth!" She laughed, "I got it when I was mining." Of course I
started to laugh. It was a funny joke. Shirin explained that when she
was mining she had gathered about fifteen shark teeth.
shark teeth? I had looked at her treasures and didn't notice fifteen
shark teeth? I guess my daughter could tell how genuine I was earlier.
My automated and practically fabricated response did not connect me to
her in any way. She found an extremely creative way to get my attention
onto the details, to not just glance over treasures but to really focus
in and appreciate them in the same way she was. Together experiencing a
100% genuine appreciation and awe for what she had gathered. After
really focusing in on that strange pointy tooth and realizing that she
was pulling a fast one on me, I was sharing a real moment with her. I
had to go look at her treasures again to see what else I had missed.
what, when I looked at the treasures closer they really were awesome!
Each one told it's own story. Some were rough and others were smooth.
started to tell me all the names of the different stones. "Check out
this Quartz and this Turritella...oh I didn't know I had this, it's a
Sea Coin...oh look, a fossilized Sea Clam. Here is a Branch Coral...a
Crinoid Stem...a Chrysophrase..."
"Honey, how on earth do you know all of these names?" I asked.
showed me a pamphlet sitting out, "This pamphlet tells me all the names
of the treasures I could have found." It was so compelling. She
showed me one of the rarest specimens, an Obsidian Arrowhead, and
explained how she had found it.
I looked over and found a bumpy one, "This is a strange one, it looks like cereal."
"I know," She said, "it looks like oatmeal. It's called a Florida Fossil Stone."
"This looks like Fool's Gold."
"Yea, isn't it Pyrite? Yes, here it is, Pyrite...and here is a Citrine Point...and look at the Orthoceras..."
The moment was really special.
can't believe that I almost lost that moment all together. I can't
believe that I let my learned responses get in the way of really
engaging and finding out something new. How could I assume I could have
gone back later and had just as meaningful of a moment? I had seen
most of the stones before in my life, but I had never seen the ones that
Shirin had panned out. How could I just glance over it like it was
nothing to write home about?
It's so easy to respond the same way to Christmastime in
December or Easter in the spring. Along the way there are so many
treasures to behold. Maybe it's because I think I have seen it all
before or maybe it's the pile of laundry in my arms but moments can slip
by with nothing but a meaningless glance. Like the news of Shirin
loosing her tooth, every time I hear that Christmas is coming it should
make me excited for the celebration of remembering Jesus' birth.
Instead when a Christmas song starts to play in the store it makes me
think about what I'm to accomplish before that day arrives with a series
of thoughts barely related to the joy the Holiday brings.
can make us drop the clothes and focus in for a real connection? Maybe
it's a new ornament, a drive to look at Christmas lights, experiencing a
drive-through manger scene, trying a new recipe, providing a gift
wrapping service or singing in the church choir. Maybe it's a prayer
that God would bring the tooth...or should I say the truth...into
focus. What about a new Advent reading plan. (YouVersion
has some really good ones this year.) That we would not just glance
but experience new and creative ways to make us stop, drop the clothes
and really see what it is He is holding in His hand. Maybe it's a
prayer that what we see will not be what we think or what we expect, but
instead it's something that changes our view of, our connection with
and our response to Jesus.
There are treasures to behold if we
are willing to look up and marvel at them. There are different
textures, colors and shapes unique to this year of celebrating.
Something has to grab us out of those learned holiday responses that
have no connection to the heart of the season.
thing about the treasures that Shirin found are that they were not
stumbled upon. They were searched out and found. She picked up a pan,
dumped it in sandy water and sifted until treasures emerged. She did
not hide them away but she marveled at them and found a way to get
others excited as well. In order to find our treasures this season we
need to be sifting through the days as a miner would.
already starting to think as a miner. As we were getting down our
Christmas decorations this year my son, Frederick, asked me if he could
make a Christmas House. At first I sort of kept up with what I was
doing and said, "We are decorating so we will have a Christmas House."
mom, you know some people at Halloween time have haunted houses, but I
don't want to do something scary. I want it to be funny, I want to make
a Christmas House. People can come walk through and see all kinds of
things and laugh instead of be afraid."
You know what went
through my brain? Two things: First, what a fun idea. Second, what a
lot of work. I almost answered with a very sandy response, "Maybe, I'll
think about it." When I realized that it was time to think like a
miner. Here was a treasure of an idea that could connect us to
Christmas in a meaningful way instead of going along just glancing at
what the season is all about. I stopped and looked at my sons face.
With a bright smile he waited to hear my response. His genuine
excitement came into focus.
"Please mom." Would I just glance at the idea or would I really take a look?
this could probably happen." I said as I silently sifted the sand away
to allow this treasure to emerge. "Something different that would make
us really focus, marvel, explore and enjoy the details."
had a paper and pen and we were planning out what our walk-through
Christmas House could look like. "We could do it in our back yard..."
"Yes, and we could have puppets..." "We could have music too..." "We
could also have a narrator that has funny dialog along the way..." "The
fort could be an observatory where the wise men are gazing at
stars..." "Yes, and our gazebo-like awning could be an angel's dance
party with the shepherds near by..." "Our hot tub bar can become a
The ideas were wonderful. It excited us to sit
down and really think about the treasures of Christmas and how we could
put those treasures into a Christmas House. How we could help others
laugh a little bit like I did with Shirin's tooth joke and then stop and
focus in on the true treasures of Christmas.
save our mining for a single holiday day such as Christmas or Easter?
Put on your miner gear, let the sand of halfhearted glances, "'I'll come
back to that later" attitudes or, "It's too much work" responses sift
away. May we never over look what is special and unique about Jesus'
life on earth. As we open our pamphlet (Luke 1 & 2) that tells us about the treasures, may we be awed once again.
way to keep our sifting eyes alert is to get involved in an Advent
Bible Reading Plan. These plans take only minutes a day! There are
some really great ones this year. Find a non-traditional twist on
Advent, explore the humble beginning of the Savior, get daily
devotionals or receive song devotionals from popular Christian artist.
Check it all out by clicking here: Advent Bible Reading Plans.
December 25th will not only be the climax of the season it was meant to
be but it will also be a day that magnifies the joy we already have in
When Christmas arrives this year let's make sure we
have a canvas bag bulging with treasures to share with others. May we
hold up our bags and exclaim, "I mined and gathered so many treasures,
you wont believe it!"
...that you will live every day as a miner, sifting the sand away to uncover true treasures.
...that your responses will be 100% genuine.
...that you will focus on the truth and be engaged.
...that you will capture each moment, never putting it off for another day, week, or even year.
...that Christmas is not the same old thing, that even when you know what to expect you will marvel at it once again.
...that you will share your treasures, pointing out the rare and unique beauty in a captivating and creative way.
Rediscovering the Christmas Season
offers a non-traditional twist on Advent, with reflection questions and
action steps that help individuals, families, and small groups center
each day on Christ. From LifeChurch.tv. 25 days
The Christmas Story chronicles the humble beginnings of the Savior that the world had been waiting for. From YouVersion. 7 days
Good News of Great Joy
helps you adore Jesus throughout Advent, with short daily passages
directed toward feeding your joy in God. From John Piper and Desiring
God. 25 days
Our Daily Bread Christmas Edition
features daily devotionals specifically selected to help you find
encouragement, comfort, and true joy through God's love for you. From
Our Daily Bread. 10 days
The Songs of Christmas
highlights Christmas song devotionals from popular Christian artists
like Mandisa, TobyMac, Amy Grant, Colton Dixon, Kari Jobe, and Hillsong.
From Capitol Christian Music Group. 14 days
12 Days of Christmas with The Overflow
brings you stories about Jesus' birth through Christmas songs,
presented by such artists as Sidewalk Prophets, James Fortune, Jason
Castro, and Building 429. From The Overflow. 12 days