Wreath Squared

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No matter what a wreath symbolizes for you, I have not seen very many which are square and full of unusual flowers and grains as in this beauty. Some very creative person(s) created this for a small boutique store in midtown Kansas City. I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to snap a pic with my cell phone.

Generally, we consider wreaths with Christmas, although a few enterprising folk will display all manner of wreaths throughout the year. This particular wreath was presented specifically for this holiday season. It is certainly festive and well done. So, why write about wreaths, and reveal this wreath in particular? Symbolism, as well as beauty and appreciation, for that which we admire (at least I do).

There are many symbolic interpretations for wreaths, but the main idea is that the circular (or square) shape without beginning or end reflects the full circle of life. In Christianity, the wreath was introduced through the Lutheran Church in the 16th Century and was a visual tool to understand the advent and birth of Christ. The evergreen branches are the most common of wreaths at this time of year because they represent life throughout the full year, regardless of how difficult the conditions may be to survive.

I see a bit more when I view a wreath, regardless of its shape, materials or when it is presented. I see beauty and creativity. Over-simplification some may say. Droll say others. But why must a wreath be about a specific occurrence or have a particular look each year? I believe that God created all that is natural and beautiful, including giving mankind the ability to create and enhance beauty. Of course, no one can outdo the Creator, but we can certainly strive to honor Him by imitating His creation. I fully understand that one’s interpretation of beauty is extremely subjective and is a topic I choose not to tackle in this post!

What I believe and what I know are very personal, yet I select what content I wish to share and some which I don’t. Such is my prerogative of creating and supporting this blog. However, let it be known once again that I am blessed to see, touch, hear, and emotionally feel the beauty God has given mankind each and every day I live. I sincerely hope you are given (or make) the opportunity to slow down long enough to experience such sublime beauty this holiday season. Thanks again for visiting and encouraging me. Also, I am grateful for your own unique beauty! Share it…please.

 

 

Lost and Found

Carson 10-12-12 Recently, I found myself in a real pickle. One cold and rainy evening I was alone with Carson, our five-year old Westie. Cheryl left for an outing and I decided to leave the gates open to our back yard because I wouldn’t be letting Carson out-unless he was on a leash-on such a poor weather evening. Carson likes wet weather, and he loves to dig, which equals a muddy mess of a canine. Our garage is in the back of our house which is why we have gates to block off the back yard for Carson. Well, as I was multi-tasking (yes, men do this, contrary to what is often stated against this possibility) I forgot that I left the gates open (consequence of multi-tasking). Carson was really bugging me to go outside and the rain had let up a bit so I let him out. I had resigned myself to the fact that he would need a good dip in the tub after he came in. Herein lies the problem…Carson didn’t come back in a reasonable amount of time so I stepped outside to see where he was. Gulp. I saw the open gates and knew that Carson was long gone. I didn’t panic, but I was pretty upset. I immediately went into action, donned my coat, and grabbed my super spotlight, leash and car keys. Off I went scouring the neighborhood with spotlight illuminating every yard, fence, doorway, tree, etc. It’s a wonder someone didn’t call the police on me for voyeurism! After about a half hour of searching from the car I decided to go home and walk the area closer to our house; the more familiar locales. Much to my relief, as I pulled into the driveway, the Jeep’s headlights illuminated my bright white pooch grazing under our neighbor’s pin oak tree. I jumped out of the car with the leash, fully expecting a chase to ensue. Rather than run away which he would have done two years earlier, Carson actually came to me. I cannot adequately express the relief I felt at the moment I saw him and then held him. I was overjoyed! I actually rejoiced. And, yes, he needed a dip in the tub which I gladly provided. However, by this point I was exhausted so we just chilled together on the couch which was a rather satisfying end to this affair.Jan. 1, 2012 Is There a ProblemI recall another incident many years ago which involved my son when he was a toddler. We had taken a driving vacation throughout the Southwestern United States and stopped in Winslow, Arizona to spend the night. After checking into the facility we unpacked the car of luggage and necessities for the night. It didn’t take long for an inquisitive little boy to stray from us, and before we knew it, we couldn’t find our son. The hotel was relatively close to the highway which increased the urgency to find him. Our imaginations ran wild. Did someone grab him? Is he near the highway? Will we find him in time?  I panicked. The emotional angst I felt was horrible. I have little doubt that all who have raised a child have had this type of experience at least once, and perhaps many times depending on the child! Fortunately, we found our little guy exploring near a rear door which was walled off from view. I snatched him up and hugged him tight. I’m sure I did the usual parent thing wherein I scolded him for leaving us, but inside I knew I should have kept a better watch over him. I was overjoyed to have found him okay and in time before something bad could have happened. I rejoiced that I found Jared alive and well.Carson's View 4-6-12

Perspective is everything when it comes to life. While contemplating these incidents, I was reminded of a story from the Gospel of Luke which speaks of the lost and found. The story in Luke’s narrative (chapter 15) focus’ on a lost sheep, a lost coin and a lost son. All three were found and there was much rejoicing. I love rejoicing! It is the opposite of despair and gloom. I have an observation about being lost, and I see a parallel between my stories and those told in Luke’s gospel. In the incidents where Carson and my son were missing, they didn’t know they were lost. The sheep, the coin (if it could reason) and the wayward son didn’t know they were lost. In the case of the prodigal son, he eventually realized his dilemma, but clarity only came about after great trial and failure. So, if they didn’t know they were lost, were they? Objective reasoning tells us, yes, they were lost even though they weren’t aware of it. If that is true, how about you? Are you lost in your life? I used to be, but I didn’t know it. I suspect most will say, “No, I know exactly who I am and where I am going in life. I’m not lost at all”. Remember these examples. The missing didn’t know they were lost until they were found. I was found (rescued) many years ago by a man named Jesus. Once I understood what he had done for me by giving away his life for mine, did I really comprehend how lost I was-all the time not knowing it. You may be confused, lonely, hurt, depressed, exhausted, poor or overwhelmed…in all circumstances, Christ knows you and your situation. If you accept his invitation to join him then you are no longer lost. That’s great news for all to hear! As we prepare to celebrate Christmas (which was meant to revolve around him, but actually resembles more of a consumer festival without the guest of honor), I ask that you search your heart and be honest about your state of being: lost or found. If lost, turn to Christ. If found, thank Christ. Either way, he is the answer and the true reason for the season we call Christmas. May joy be your hallmark this winter and in the coming year. Merry Christmas, and peace on earth, good will toward all people.751

Coffee Shop Observations

Tuesday's CoffeeWhile visiting a well-known-chain coffee shop during the Christmas holiday, I decided to sit for awhile and enjoy my drink rather than scoot out the door to my next destination.
The cacophony of sounds which embellished this locale reminded me of an orchestra tuning their instruments prior to a performance. At first the sounds seemed like unorganized noise – and could even be considered annoying if in a grumpy mood. But since I slowed down that morning, I heard instead, a strange harmony.

As I listened, I heard eclectic Christmas music playing through the overhead speakers; steamers making hot milk and froth for lattes and cappuccinos; employees taking and repeating orders; a middle-aged man talking with a younger man about weekly events and faith (there was a Bible on the table); two men sharing stories at a perimeter table; the gentle clicking of a young woman typing away on her laptop; the shuffling of the morning newspaper; and the constant stream of people coming and going while exchanging pleasantries with the staff. Did I mention texting? A lot of that.

Most of the customers were in a hurry, but a few not so much. They seemed to be the frequent visitors known by manager and employees alike. There were somber-looking people and joy-filled souls. Some ordered regular coffee, but most selected specialty drinks, custom made to their particular tastes. Many of these specialty drinks are rather expensive, too, but this is an affluent community and the average customer wants for little materially. Nevertheless, there are needs.

To be sure, many a fine author has studied and written about the topic of human needs. There is little, if anything, I could add that would cause you to take notice. Suffice it to say that there are a variety of needs among these coffee lovers that long to be met. Some are on the verge of a collapse – emotionally, relationally, career-wise, health related or possibly financial. Most struggle with something. This much I know…everyone has a story. Some are tragic while some are remarkable and inspiring. Most fall somewhere in between. Perhaps this is why we are drawn to the exceptional, the heroic, and the inspirational.

If we are honest, the majority of us see ourselves as average – and we probably are. There is nothing wrong with that, for without average, we wouldn’t have exceptional! Those who are exceptional – who excel above most -are flaunted and often placed on precarious pedestals of admiration. To be considered the best at something is alluring. Haven’t we all thought what it would be like to be the best athlete, musician, surgeon, writer, race car driver, entertainer, etc.?

And yet, if we actually achieved this vaulted status, we would become susceptible to a host of potential problems, such as loss of privacy, inflated ego, self-absorption, detachment from average people and average lives, and the list goes on. We’ve all read stories of celebrities who still struggle to find love and acceptance, despite having achieved fame and worldly success.

I can’t speak for you, but I want my life to count for something more than a weekly paycheck, a vacation now and then, acquiring things, offering a helping hand on occasion, or enjoying the fellowship of family and friends. These are important, no doubt, but there must be more. Why is it that we feel so empty at times? Why do we dream of fame and success?

I think most of us try too hard in just about everything we do. Whether at work, at home or at play, we push-push-push until we have nothing left to give. Life becomes a balancing act, and peace and contentment seem like foreign concepts. We miss out on the single most important aspect of our earthly existence: God’s unconditional love for His children. Oh, sure, we sense it and pledge it, but do we absorb it? Or do we instead allow obsession with worldly success to take the place of our soul’s deepest longing?

When was the last time you invited the Lord to wrap His holy arms of love around your soul and let Him embrace you? Please be honest with yourself. I hope you can say, “Today I sat next to my Savior, and we enjoyed each other’s company”. But if you haven’t been embraced for awhile, let me refresh your memory as to how wonderful that reality can be.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23 (KJV).

As you rest in the loving arms of an Almighty God, I pray as did Paul, that you will “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:18 & 19 (NIV).