Thursday, December 31, 2015

Que Sera Sera: God Grant Me Serenity

Two things are currently freaking me out a wee bit.

One is a dull ache in my tooth. At my last visit, the dentist told me I need multiple crowns. This is no surprise to me - I have terrible teeth, chock full of silver. But, I hate the dentist. No, let me be truthful, I abhor the dentist. And, I really hate spending excessive sums of money on my teeth.

But it's hurting a bit more - and that isn't good.

Then, last night, I saw a weird little dark blob at the top right-hand corner of my laptop screen. It had dripping lines coming down from it.


I panicked. I googled. And, yes, it is probably a bad, dying screen issue. And it will spread and grow, and obliterate my laptop screen - the screen I use for work - every day - every minute.


I want to fight these things. I want to swish something in my mouth and make that tooth problem disappear. I want to download an app and make that icky dark blob go away and restore my computer screen to its beautiful newness.

But it isn't going to happen.

So today I dialed the phone number to our dentist...slowly. And I called our tech team at work about my failing laptop.

I am trying hard to accept these things that I cannot deal with what is smack dab ahead of me. But everything in my being resists. Like everyone else, I prefer my life to be well-ordered, smooth-sailing. Why do these ripples need to come?

Many of my friends are going through stuff that far surpasses my own little issues. When I'm feeling too morose about teeth and computer woes, I can't help compare it to the unexpected news that came to Mary - yes, the virgin Mary of the Christmas story. Suddenly she found out she was pregnant. And unmarried. And bearing God's child.

What if she didn't want it? What if she was completely and utterly freaked out by what was about to happen? She probably tried to blink her eyes and pinch herself and pretend the angelic visit was just a dream. But as her belly swelled, she knew it was real - inevitable - this was not going away any time soon.

She had to accept it.

In Luke 1:38 it records Mary's response: "I am the Lord's servant. May your word to me be fulfilled."

How do we exhibit that sense of serenity in the face of challenge?

There is an old song, made popular by the chipper Doris Day, that goes "Que Sera, Sera, whatever will be, will be..." She sings it in this nice lilting voice, but true acceptance is much harder.

Pushing past fear requires more, doesn't it? Perhaps this prayer- used by Alcoholics Anonymous - by theologian Reinhold Niebuhr says it better: "God grant me the serenity to accept what cannot be changed."

Serenity is realized when we acknowledge that we are not in charge. It is about coming to the end of us and the beginning of Him. It is understanding that we can't figure it all out, we can't control our lives, and that is okay if we take whatever it is we're frantically holding and place it in His hands.

Easier said than done - I know. But it's true.

So I'm praying today. I'm asking God to calm my worries and still my fears. And I'm doing what I know I need to do. I'm going to the dentist. I'm calling about my sad little laptop. I'll face these things and the next ones and the ones after that.

The good news is that I won't do it alone.

I don't have to be like Doris Day, skipping and singing. I can wince and moan and kvetch, all the while knowing that I have placed my future in God's capable hands.

My serenity is not something I can find on Google. It comes from praying without ceasing. Expelling my worries and breathing in His presence..

"Cast your anxiety on Him because He cares for you." I Peter 5:7

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Crying in Home Depot at Christmas

So, I had a slight little meltdown in the middle of Home Depot.

We were there to by a new kitchen faucet, a cement-spreader-thingy, and a Christmas tree.

My daughter and I have always held out for live Christmas trees. We would go to a nearby tree farm and chop one down. Or, if we were lazy, we would go to the Menard's parking lot. But, it was still real.

I didn't care that it was messy and left a trail of needles coming in and going out. I didn't care that I was terribly allergic so my hands and arms would be covered with a prickly itchy rash when I was done decorating (even if I wore gloves). I didn't care that it slopped pine-needly water all over our carpet or - one year - tipped completely over, ornaments and all, because I bought a tree with a wobbly crooked trunk.

I loved my real Christmas tree.

But this year I had a small dilemma. We had given away our rusty, inept tree stand when we moved. We thought we'd buy a new one. The new ones were $30 and the tree was at least $40 for a decent one. It made sense to buy a fake tree, right?

I circled the fake trees five times. They were all lit up and stately. There was not a crooked trunk among them. They even sold fake pine tree spray for ambiance.

My husband and I talked about it like grown ups. Maybe this was the year to do it. To buy a boxed-up, nicely portable tree. I could do this, couldn't I? It made sense. Perfect sense.

But I couldn't.

So we went and looked at kitchen faucets.

Then Milt had to find his cement squeegee thingy.

And then I sat down on one of those metal low carts used for toting lumber, and I started to cry.

It was okay. Nobody was there. And I was kind of PMSing. But I cried. Big sloppy tears. Because we've moved. And it's 80 degrees in December. And it doesn't feel like Christmas at all.

Milt was a wee bit concerned. He said I should go ahead and buy the real one. Either way. "Maybe you need it for your mental health"...said my loving husband.

But I didn't. I bought a $75 fake tree. When I got home I kept looking at it in that box. And I thought about Christmas. And I realized it wasn't all bad, this new way of celebrating. We went to a Christmas boat parade and watched lit up Santas and snowman glide down the River. We admired decorated palm trees. We put up Christmas lights without freezing - actually we got kind of hot. I went to church and sang carols, led by a bearded dude in shorts, wearing flip flops.

And I realized - like the Grinch - that Christmas is more than just a tree.

So last weekend we decorated our new tree - we are naming him "Wesley" as his boxed label says, "7-foot Wesley Spruce."

He is beautiful and kind. And he doesn't make me rashy.

Merry Christmas to each of you - no matter what your circumstance may be. Some Christmases fit our hopes and tradition and expectation. Some decidedly do not.

But, you know. And, I know. That Christmas is not about the right tree or the perfect cookie or the most beautifully wrapped present.

Love to you all this Christmas - as we celebrate our Savior who was born and the new life we have been given. As you hug your children and love on your parents. As you sing sweet carols and lick a peppermint cane.

Merry Christmas one and all.