Thursday, December 19, 2013

Frosted Window Panes

I can always count on a certain radio station to play the same Christmas songs over and over, year after year. It's not as nauseating as it sounds; Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas is You" has become more of a seasonal expectation now. 

When I sing along, I'm pretty sure I sound like her. It's even hard to tell whose voice is whose on certain parts - especially the beginning: "I-i-uhh-uhh-aye...don't wanna lot foh-orrr Christmasss..."

But nothing beats Frank Sinatra's "Frosted Window Panes," correctly called "The Christmas Waltz." Either name does it for me, for they both invoke feelings of wintry coziness and glee. And I'm no musician (just an amazing Mariah Carey-esque vocalist), but the pace and phrasing of that one part - "and this song of mine in three quarter time" - is genius.  

Actually, the only song that could possibly top "The Christmas Waltz" - or even come close - is "O Holy Night." It's ALL in there. Everything you need to know about frosted window panes, candles gleaming inside, and painted candy canes on the tree is basically found in "O Holy Night."

Check out some of these old school lyrics, broken down "Molly school" style:

O Holy night,
(A supernatural, set-apart time in all of history.)

The stars are brightly shining.
(Probably not a lot of clouds out.)

It is the night of our dear Savior's birth.
(Our Savior came as a newborn baby, which means he knows what it's like to sit in poopy diapers, which also means he knows what it's like to cry, to laugh, to fear, to celebrate, to grieve, and to enjoy food.)

Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
(People have been trying sooo very hard for sooo very long to meet God's standards - regretting this...feeling shame over that...) 

'til he appeared and the soul felt its worth.
(Not sure, but I think this means that once Jesus came and word got out, people were amazed at the love he had for them. And they probably said things like, "He really DOES think we're worthy of saving and redeeming after all! He might even kind of like us. Who knew?") 

The thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks, a new and glorious morn.
(At last! The exciting part! The "frosted window pane" part! The oh-so-tired-from-trying-so-hard-for-so-long WORLD finally celebrates by lighting cranberry-scented Yankee Candles and hanging candy canes that they may or may not have gotten on clearance at Target last year, before they got a REDcard and were afraid of identity theft because of the recent, nationwide computer hacking. Or perhaps, being that it was over 2,000 years ago, they probably celebrated in a different way, but was just as cool.)

And that's not all! The song continues on, speaking of how his "law" is now love and his gospel is peace. The whole song - both music and lyrics - is gloriously epic. 

And that, my friends, is why we celebrate this time of year. A time when HOPE finally waltzed (Christmas-waltzed!) into the world, changing everything.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Soul Tattoo

Eighteen (and a half) years of marriage is a good amount of time. We've passed that "seven year itch" thing you hear folks talking about. And we've survived money problems and kid problems (so far). And moving-across-the-country-and-back-again problems. Things are good.

And then there's the "do you still love me?" phase. Or phases. It's one of my go tos. Because I have a tendency to be THAT wife who, from time to time, says things like, "I just want you to love me. MORE. Like alotta lot. Pleeeez love me," in a snot bubble-filled emotional display.

But my husband does love me. I am now sure of this. You know why? Well, it wasn't the time he organized the pantry voluntarily or asked me how I'm feeling. Nor was it the time he went out to buy me over-sized, "I just pushed out a 10 lb 4 oz baby boy" feminine protection pads.

I was finally convinced of his love for me when he said, "I'm thinking about getting a tattoo. And I want it to have your name - MOLLY."

What? That's me! I'm her! ALL these years, and it took this! One little Molly tattoo and it's as if this whole "for better or for worse, 'til death do you part" deal finally becomes official. And he hasn't even gotten it yet. He doesn't have to! I'm all squared-away in just the knowing he wants to get one.

Fine, tattoos aren't for everyone. But I think I speak for all of us when I say: we girls have a huge appetite for love. And that sneaky bad guy Satan often tries to convince us we're hard to love, labeling us "unlovable" - a label he only wishes he could permanently tattoo onto our identities.

But no way. I would much rather believe in TRUTH and focus on the tattoo God has engraved onto my soul. His permanent LOVE tattoo.

Saddleback Church's guest speaker last weekend, Derwin Gray, even wrote a book about it: Limitless Life. It's about how Jesus removes old labels - addict, orphan, failure (kid-snapper-atter) - and tattoos new ones onto our souls - "soul tattoos." All of which help us to see ourselves as he sees us - lovable!

So before my husband gets all tatted up with Molly "sleeves," though appreciated (and perhaps a bit overboard), I'm already confident of the transforming love God has tattooed onto my soul.

"...His banner over me is love." Song of Solomon 2:4

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Handballs and Barbie Heads

Christmas 1983 was the year of the handball. A real playground-quality handball! I was 10 and couldn't think of anything I wanted more, except for maybe a Barbie head.

And I got both. A handball for my scruffy side. A Barbie head for my non-scruffy side. And all was right with the world.

Fast forward to age 15, and forget about playground-quality handballs and Barbie heads with seafoam green eyeshadow that never went on as dark as I would've liked. Didn't matter anymore. My own head was the Barbie head now, and I finally discovered makeup with staying power: black eyeliner.

And with that came a Christmas list that had "Lancome's Skincare Line" written at the top. I thought it was a very sophisticated thing to want (but still a toy), and I HAD to have it. It was an absolute MUST if that cute baseball player was going to notice me as we passed each other between 3rd and 4th periods.

So what is it with toys and Christmas, anyway? Just like this adorable, "I want a toy" video shown in church on Sunday, it's GOT to be a toy or nothing. (Click here to watch!) All hopes for having a spectacular Christmas are dependent upon getting a toy instead of a boring sweatshirt. (Or, Lancome instead of Oil of Olay.)

Now fast forward to age 40; has much changed? Are my hopes for Christmas joy still found in the perfect present? Not really. But let's be honest, I've replaced toys with other things now...year-round things...things ranging from shallow to very shallow to not shallow at all: new carpet, white teeth, adoring husband, tall boots that fit my calves, financial security, a car that works, healthy kids, healed relationships, a sound mind.

Anything short of getting all of that, and I find myself in "but I want a toy!" mode. It's not a very joyous and peaceful mode to be in. Not pretty at all. It's only "cute" when you're three.

But I'm a grown up now, both in years and in knowing my God has always taken care of every need. The "needs" of this world are false and fleeting. But what God offers lasts forever. So why not continue knowing him another 40-plus years? And putting my hope in his presence, not in presents.

"I pray that God, who gives you hope, will keep you happy and full of peace as you believe in him. May you overflow with hope through the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13