Friday, December 31, 2010

Ode to the West Wind

Ode to the West Wind
by: Percy Bysshe Shelley

I
O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being,
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,

Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,
Pestilence-stricken multitudes: O thou,
Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed

The wing├Ęd seeds, where they lie cold and low,
Each like a corpse within its grave,until
Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow

Her clarion o'er the dreaming earth, and fill
(Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air)
With living hues and odours plain and hill:

Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere;
Destroyer and Preserver; hear, O hear!

II
Thou on whose stream, 'mid the steep sky's commotion,
Loose clouds like Earth's decaying leaves are shed,
Shook from the tangled boughs of Heaven and Ocean,

Angels of rain and lightning: there are spread
On the blue surface of thine airy surge,
Like the bright hair uplifted from the head

Of some fierce Maenad, even from the dim verge
Of the horizon to the zenith's height,
The locks of the approaching storm. Thou dirge

Of the dying year, to which this closing night
Will be the dome of a vast sepulchre
Vaulted with all thy congregated might

Of vapours, from whose solid atmosphere
Black rain, and fire, and hail will burst: O hear!

III
Thou who didst waken from his summer dreams
The blue Mediterranean, where he lay,
Lulled by the coil of his crystalline streams,

Beside a pumice isle in Baiae's bay,
And saw in sleep old palaces and towers
Quivering within the wave's intenser day,

All overgrown with azure moss and flowers
So sweet, the sense faints picturing them! Thou
For whose path the Atlantic's level powers

Cleave themselves into chasms, while far below
The sea-blooms and the oozy woods which wear
The sapless foliage of the ocean, know

Thy voice, and suddenly grow grey with fear,
And tremble and despoil themselves: O hear!

IV
If I were a dead leaf thou mightest bear;
If I were a swift cloud to fly with thee;
A wave to pant beneath thy power, and share

The impulse of thy strength, only less free
Than thou, O Uncontrollable! If even
I were as in my boyhood, and could be

The comrade of thy wanderings over Heaven,
As then, when to outstrip thy skiey speed
Scarce seemed a vision; I would ne'er have striven

As thus with thee in prayer in my sore need.
Oh! lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud!
I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!

A heavy weight of hours has chained and bowed
One too like thee: tameless, and swift, and proud.

V
Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is:
What if my leaves are falling like its own!
The tumult of thy mighty harmonies

Will take from both a deep, autumnal tone,
Sweet though in sadness. Be thou, Spirit fierce,
My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one!

Drive my dead thoughts over the universe
Like withered leaves to quicken a new birth!
And, by the incantation of this verse,

Scatter, as from an unextinguished hearth
Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!
Be through my lips to unawakened Earth

The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?

I Do Not Love Thee

I Do Not Love Thee
by: Caroline Elizabeth Sarah Norton

I do not love thee!—no! I do not love thee!
And yet when thou art absent I am sad;
And envy even the bright blue sky above thee,
Whose quiet stars may see thee and be glad.

I do not love thee!—yet, I know not why,
Whate’er thou dost seems still well done, to me:
And often in my solitude I sigh
That those I do love are not more like thee!

I do not love thee!—yet, when thou art gone,
I hate the sound (though those who speak be dear)
Which breaks the lingering echo of the tone
Thy voice of music leaves upon my ear.

I do not love thee!—yet thy speaking eyes,
With their deep, bright, and most expressive blue,
Between me and the midnight heaven arise,
Oftener than any eyes I ever knew.

I know I do not love thee! yet, alas!
Others will scarcely trust my candid heart;
And oft I catch them smiling as they pass,
Because they see me gazing where thou art.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Heavens

The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows His handiwork. 

Psalm 19 poetically describes the heavens and their purpose, but in our day and age we are blessed with the good fortune of hearing and seeing Psalm 19 through the poetical lense of advanced technology. 


Is that an incredible image or what?!

NASA's Picture of the Day site is one of my absolute favorites and leaves me astounded every single time I visit it.  Check it out. 

He Knows Our Frame

Are you ever tempted to think how much easier it would be for us to put our faith into full practice if only Christ were here with us?  Not just in our hearts or by His Spirit, but visibly, audibly, tangibly present.  If that were the case, how could we possibly fail to trust, love and obey Him?

A stroll through the first few chapters of The Gospels should quickly cure us of that delusion - that is, unless we somehow set ourselves above the disciples.  Take Peter, for example.  You know...that world-reknowned rock on which the apostolic church is built...yeah, that Peter.  He had Christ's literal, physical presence.  He heard His voice, felt His touch, looked in His eyes, and was an eyewitness of all manner of miracles - the casting out of demons; the healing of the lame, blind, deaf, mute, and leprous; the stilling of the storm; the RAISING OF THE DEAD!!  Well no wonder he had faith!  Unfaltering, unwavering faith!!

Well...there was this one time...

Peter had just witnessed His Lord feed a crowd of more than 5,000 with a mere pittance of fish and bread.  He must have been on an emotional high after such a spectacular experience!  In fact, he was so filled with faith that, a few hours later when Christ came walking across the water toward the disciples, Peter asked to join Him!  By faith, and at Christ's bidding, Peter climbed out of the boat and walked toward his Master.  HE WAS WALKING ON WATER, PEOPLE!  With his whole mind, heart, and senses, he was observing and participating in a tangible miracle! 

Yet, in the very midst of this experience, he saw a wave coming and was filled with terror.  Christ was right there with him...in the flesh...and he was overcome with doubt and fear!  How can this be?!  I suppose you and I would be foolish to imagine we would have done anything differently than Peter did.  Apparently, a clay vessel is a clay vessel.

But you know what the BEST part of this story is?  When Peter, filled with doubt, began to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!"  And how did Christ respond?

"Where is your faith, Peter?  You had it just a moment ago!"

"C'mon, Peter!  I'm RIGHT HERE!  Pull yourself together, son!"

"Aw, Peter.  I'm disappointed.  After all you have seen and experienced, you still don't trust me?  What's it gonna take?"

No.  Christ could have lambasted or skewered him with any number of honest and well-deserved rebukes, but He didn't.  He didn't shame him or lecture him for his lack of faith. 

Instead...He immediately reached out and took hold of Peter and brought him to the safety of the boat.  Even then Peter received only the gentle rebuke of a compassionate parent, "Little Faith, why did you doubt?"

When we find our own faith is small...smaller than we thought it was...smaller than it ought to be based on our knowledge and experience, we can lose heart, or we can remember this: the Triune God has revealed Himself to us in the person of Christ.  This is what our God is like!  Compassionate.  Longsuffering.  Ready and anxious to take hold of us as soon as we call out for deliverance!  Even when our hearts condemn us, He knows our frame and remembers that we are dust.  By His grace He will keep us calling out, "Lord, save me!" and confessing, "Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief!" 

Believe this and be at rest. 


SaveSave

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wordsmith Wednesday

It's been a while since I've put one of these together, but the high-strung emotions of the moment are urging me on! 

You know how people casually use the word "hate" about things they really don't hate...it's merely for dramatic effect?  Well...there is one thing in my life for which this word is completely suitable: airsoft pellets.  Oh, yes.  I HATE airsoft pellets.  Not because I have the slightest aversion to weapons or ammunition.  No, no.  I have not a pacifistic bone in my body.  I'm all about guns and shooting things and killing things...totally good with that.  It's their distribution throughout my house at cleaning time that has elicited such profound hatred. 

They are EVERYWHERE.  And when I sweep, they roll here there and everywhere, lodging themselves in the most obscure and inconvenient places from which I have to retrieve them!  Ach!! 

So...the word of the day is HATE.  How many synonyms can you generate for the word hate?  I could only come up with 5, which seems like precious few:

Hate - a strong feeling of dislike or ill will
Despise - suggests a looking down on with contempt
Loathe - implies utter abhorrence
Detest - implies vehement dislike or antipathy
Abhor - implies great repugnance or disgust
Abominate - implies degradation and offensiveness

Come on, all you moms of boys.  I know you feel me on this one.  Reach down deep and give me some more synonyms.  They're there just waiting to come out...I know it. 

Non-edible Spam

My system is fairly adept at catching bogus emails and the great majority of them go straight to my spam folder leaving me completely out of the loop.  I like that.  However, said system does 
allow a handful of these ads to get through, causing me to wonder how marketers determine who will receive which ads. 

Some of them are surprisingly appropriate.   Have I  inadvertently activated a webcam? I mean...these are much too relevant to be random!

Anti-aging cream (but maybe I LIKE my crows feet!)
Remove dark circles under eyes (hmph...)
Flatten your abs in 30 days (at least I know they haven't seen THESE on the webcam or the offer would be 120 days!)
Maid service (I could seriously go for this!)

Then I receive some which indicate their marketing profiles are seriously skewed:

Brain games (me?  yeah...not so much!)
Smokeless cigarettes (and what would be the point of THAT?)
Bark-Off (surprise!!  I already found a way to stop my dogs' barking!)
Senior care (perhaps they know I'm married to an older man?)

And somehow these ad maestros have determined that I'm "on the market" so to speak, because they LOVE to send these:

Match.com
Singles in my area
Dating singles over 50
Christian singles
Black singles
Find 7 new flirts

Alrighty then.  I suppose they think I'm looking for a flirtatious, black, elderly Christian from St. Louis??  How ever did they know??

But my ALL-TIME FAVORITE has to be this one which comes through at least once a week:

Hip Implants Recalled

Are you kidding me??  How in the world can you issue a recall on a permanently-installed BODY PART??!!!  I can see it now...you just nonchalantly walk into the orthopaedist's office and say, "Hi there.  I have this piece of paper from the internet.  Yeah...I'd like to make a quick exchange on the bum hip ya'll replaced my bum hip with...if you don't mind."

I guess it's a good thing that the system fails to catch a few of these along the way.  Otherwise, I'd miss out on some good laughs...and who among us can't use a couple extra laughs?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

But What Will I Wear?

Those of you who know me well will automatically hear that post title in the voice from one of my favorite comedies, but this question, as I am asking it today, couldn't be more serious.



"What is his problem?" I wondered aloud.  But that fleeting remark wasn't enough.  Nope.  Not for me, the All-Wise-One.  I couldn't let it go and had to carry it over into car conversation.  I asked my son, "What is So-and-So's deal??  Every time he loses a match he gets ridiculously angry and cries!!  I mean, c'mon!  If you're gonna be a high school wrestler, it's time to cowboy up already!!"  I kept some of my ugliest thoughts to myself.  What kind of parents and coaches allow that to continue?  Sheesh...glad MY kid doesn't do that...how embarassing!! Ya-da, Ya-da, Ya-da...

Next meet, it's So-and-So's turn again.  I wince, roll my eyes, then lean over and whisper to my dad about what a big baby this kid is..."cries when he loses," I say, my voice thick with condescension.  Suddenly, I realize that I don't know all the moms sitting around me and hope I was quiet enough not to have been heard by anyone...especially this kid's mother.  I was worried enough to ask my older son, "Do you know what So-and-So's mom looks like?  Are any of these her?"  His answer: "No...he doesn't have a mom...his mom died."

And there I sat.  Exposed.  Naked.  Clothed in nothing but a finely-crafted, lavishly-adorned Robe of Foolish Arrogance which I have spent years creating...and which everyone else can see right through. 

Immediately I confess.  I repent.  And...I cry like a baby.  Will I never learn?  Will I never stop playing The Fool?  Will I never stop passing harsh judgement on people and circumstances about which I have no knowledge or understanding?

As my emotions and sense of shame settle, I give thanks to God for the mirror that has just been set in front of me and plead with Him, no matter how painful it is, to keep putting that mirror in my face...until I no longer walk away and forget what I've seen...until I loathe my pride enough to throw that Robe of Arrogance in the fire...until I have adorned and clothed myself instead in a robe of Humility, Grace and Compassion.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Better Late Than Never

Like the rest of you, I was a little bit busy on my mom's birthday...too busy, in fact, to write about her.  You see, she, like her own mother, was born on Christmas Day.


I don't often write about my mother.  Maybe it's TOO personal (yes...there are things I DON'T tell y'all!!).  She and I have a very close relationship which has morphed over the years through all sorts of mountains and valleys.   Here are a few of the things I appreciate most about her:

UNSELFISH:  Mother is a multi-talented woman, but while we were growing up, she directed all her talents toward our home.  We were often without monetary resources because she and dad gave up the luxuries of life in order to provide a Christian education for us, but she never complained about what she didn't have and she worked to make the most of what she did have.  She was an excellent housekeeper (clean and organized).  She was a  creative and frugal cook.  She was a hard worker.  She was artistic.  She was hospitable.   BUT...she also had an active, intelligent mind...and gifts that lay dormant because all her energies were directed toward her husband and six children.  After  we grew up and left home, we began to see facets of her that we never knew existed while she was cooking, cleaning and carpooling!  We had only known her as mom...not as entrepreneur, or student or teacher or writer, etc.   I appreciate that she willingly and sacrificially set aside her own agenda for our sakes.

TRUSTING:  I graduated from high school and left home 2 weeks later to head to Chattanooga...a place neither I nor my parents had visited and where we had no connections.  At the time, I didn't think it was strange for my mom to let me go without much ado...nor did I realize what it must have required of her to hear me talk about my adventures in Chattanooga...or to know that I was driving back and forth from STL alone time and time again.  But she didn't hold me back, she didn't insist that I stop taking risks, and she didn't lecture me!  We've talked about these things in more recent years and I realize that every time I went rapelling, or made that drive, or entered a new relationship, she had to exercise a great deal of faith and "give me back to God" over and over and over again.  She had to let me go and trust Him with my life.  And she's had to do that in many ways since then!

RESPECTFUL:  Over the years, my system of beliefs has undergone significant shifts, and this may have been the most troubling of all circumstances I've put my mother through.   She has always been a student of God's Word and so it mattered to her what I believed.  And think about it.  As a parent, you pour your beliefs into your kids with an expectation (or at least a HOPE) that they will "buy into it" and follow you.  When it matters immensely, any variance can be a hard pill to swallow.  I gave my mom LOTS of hard pills to swallow.  BUT...she stayed with me...never rejected me...and listened to me with respect.  We eventually came to see that our commonly held beliefs are the most significant ones, and are sufficient to keep us in unity.  I appreciate that she didn't reject me for my difference of opinions and that she loved me enough to foster that mutual respect.

WISE:  Mother has been a wise counselor for me and a godly sounding-board throughout the years.  I have navigated some fairly rough waters in my adult life and she hasn't left me to sink, nor has she spurned me when I've entered those storms by my own choosing.  She doesn't "tickle my ears" by any means - that woman calls a spade a spade - but at times when she could have thrown up her hands and walked away because I am too stubborn or because I have brought shame upon her or for a dozen other reasons, she hasn't!  She has remained close and has patiently guided me through.

I thank God for my mother.  I haven't intentionally set her up to sound perfect.  She wasn't/isn't.  BUT...she recognizes, admits and confesses her faults, as any good Christian does.  And she really did - and continues to do - so much RIGHT.  I am blessed by her and I am thankful for the way her birth and life have changed the world.  I love you, Momma. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Christmas Carol

Everyone is familiar with this Dicken's classic, so I don't need to review the story itself.  But I thought I'd share some of my favorite illustrated versions (I collect these).

An adaptation by Stephen Krensky with illustrations by Dean Morrissey:


Another abridgment...illustrated by Carol Heyer:



A young reader's edition illustrated by Christian Birmingham:



Full story edition illustrated by Everett Shinn:








 

The Hallelujah Chorus

Check out this acapella TRIO version by The Roches.  It is, admittedly, a little rough, but c'mon...it's 3 voices and no instruments...LIVE!


This Radio City Music Hall version will please the traditionalists among us:


And finally, here's a slightly jazzed-up gospel rendition from the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir: (The Chorus itself begins at about 2:20, if you want to skip "Worthy is the Lamb")


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Wind in the Willows Christmas


This picture book is a slightly abridged version of Chapter 5 from Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows.  The illustrations by Michael Hague are splendid, as usual (he is one of my favorites). 

The weary Mole also was glad to turn in without delay, and soon had his head on his pillow in great joy and contentment.  But ere he closed his eyes he let them wander round his old room...He saw clearly how plain and simple - how narrow, even - it all was; but clearly, too, how much it all meant to him and the special value of some such anchorage in one's existence.  He did not at all want to abandon the new life and its splendid spaces...the upper world was all too strong, it called to him still, even down there.  But it was good to think he had this to come back to, this place which was all his own, these things which were so glad to see him again and could always be counted upon for the same simple welcome.

A delightful story of the deep joys that spring from the simple pleasures of faithful friendship and the comforts of home.

Baby It's Cold Outside: Willie & Norah



Sunday, December 19, 2010

This Little Babe

Our pastor introduced us to this hymn last Christmas, though the tune we use is much more conducive to congregational singing than the one in the video!  The lyrics were penned by Robert Southwell in the 16th century, while the most popular arrangement was not composed until the 20th century as part of Benjamin Britten's Ceremony of Carols.  I have posted the lyrics underneath the video as they are hard to understand.


This little babe so few days old
Is come to rifle Satan's fold;
All hell doth at his presence quake,
Though he himself for cold do shake;
For in this weak unarmed wise
The gates of hell he will surprise!

With tears he fights and wins the field,
His naked breast stands for a shield.
His battering shot are babish cries,
His arrows looks of weeping eyes;
His martial ensigns Cold and Need,
And feeble flesh his warrior's steed.

His camp is pitched in a stall,
His bulwark but a broken wall;
The crib his trench, haystalks his stakes
Of shepherds he his muster makes.
And thus as sure his foe to wound,
The angels' trumps alarum sound.

My soul with Christ join thou in fight;
Stick to the tents that he hath pight;
Within his crib is surest ward;
This little babe will be thy guard.
If thou wilt foil thy foes with joy,
Then flit not from this heav'nly boy.




Friday, December 17, 2010

The Advent Book


Each page of The Advent Book offers a door to open, behind which an illustration and simplified text reveal the next event in the narrative of Jesus' birth.  We never used this book in the way it was intended by opening one new door each day, because once we started, we never stopped. 

A fun book for youngsters to explore.  It encourages that sense of wonder, awe and anticipation into which children are easily drawn and into which we adults too often must labor to enter!    

Merry Christmas Baby: Ray Charles



Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Birds' Christmas Carol

Little Carol Bird was born on Christmas Day into a family of great means.  Even though Carol is a sickly, bedridden child, she maintains a cheerful disposition, bringing light and love to everyone around her.  She understands the significance of Christmas Day (Christ's birth, not her own!) and she delights in sharing some of her wealth with the poor neighbor children. 


The Birds' Christmas Carol is written by Kate Douglas Wiggin, whom you might recognize as the author of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.  It's a lovely short story that I recommend...especially to families with girls.  I never could entice my boys to endure to end!

To give you a "feel" for the book, I have included below a portion of a letter that Carol's beloved and humorous Uncle Jack sent her, announcing his holiday plans:

Wish you a merry Christmas, you dearest birdlings in America!  Preen your feathers, and stretch the Birds' nest a trifle, if you please, and let Uncle Jack in for the holidays.  I am coming with such a trunk full of treasures that you'll have to borrow the stockings of Barnum's Giant and Giantess; I am coming to squeeze a certain little ladybird until she cries for mercy.

Please drop a note to the clerk of the weather, and have a good, rousing snow-storm - say on the twenty-second.  None of your meek, gentle, nonsensical, shilly-shallying snow-storms; not the sort where the flakes float lazily down from the sky as if they didn't care whether they ever got here or not and then melt away as soon as they touch the earth, but a regular business-like whizzing, whirring, blurring, cutting snow-storm, warranted to freeze and stay on!

I should like rather a LARGE Christmas tree, if it's convenient: not one of those "sprigs," five or six feet high, that you used to have three or four years ago, when the birdlings were fairly feathered out; but a tree of some size.  Set it up in the garret, if necessary, and then we can cut a hole in the roof if the tree chances to be too high for the room.

Tell Bridget to begin to fatten a turkey.  Tell her that by the twentieth of December that turkey must not be able to stand on its legs for fat, and then on the next three days she must allow it to recline easily on its side, and stuff it to bursting.

The pudding must be unusually huge, and darkly, deeply, lugubriously blue in color.  It must be so stuck full of plums that the pudding itself will ooze out into the pan and not be brought on to the table at all.  I expect to be there by the twentieth to manage these little things myself, but give you the instructions in case I should be delayed.

Christmas Waltz: Frank SInatra



Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Nutcracker


I have yet to see a performance of the ballet based on the story by E.T.A. Hoffman, but I have read the book aloud to my boys 3 times!  The first time I read it to them, I thought it was extremely bizarre, but the boys LOVED it!  Thus the multiple readings.

Roberto Innocenti's illustrations are equal to the whimsy of the tale.
  

Hark the Herald Angels Sing: Take 6

This comes from one of my most-listened to Christmas albums by Take 6, a group of acapella male voices.  This live recording has imperfections, but is still pretty good and gives an idea of how good these guys are.



Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas In Verse and Prose

Finally, a Christmas book for grown-ups (Donna)!

I reference this book often throughout the Christmas season.  It's full of stories, poems, sermons, legends, and reflections about the meaning, origin and significance of beliefs and practices surrounding our celebrations.  Some of the entries are entertaining, some sentimental, some uplifting, some bizarre and some devotional, but enough of them are good, that I recommend owning this one.

Adam Lay Ybounden: Kings College Choir



Monday, December 13, 2010

Baker's Dozen



This successful baker maintains honest weights and makes sure he gives people exactly what they pay for...no less and no more.  Through the challenge of an old woman, he learns the joy of generosity and experiences that being generous is more profitable for everyone than being exact.   A good legend accompanied by excellent illustrations.

Blue Christmas: Elvis



Sunday, December 12, 2010

Time to Celebrate

Everyday:


Christmastime:



Everyday:

Christmastime:



The Truth From Above: Kings College Choir


This is the truth sent from above
The truth of God, the God of love
Therefore don't turn me from your door
But hearken will both rich and poor.

The first thing that I do relate
Is that God did man create
The next thing which to you I'll tell
Woman was made with man to dwell.

And after that, 'twas God's own choice
To place them both in Paradise,
There to remain of evil free
Except they ate of such a tree.

But they did eat, which was a sin,
And so their ruin did begin,
Ruined themselves, both you and me,
And all of their posterity.

Thus we were heirs to endless woes
Till God and Lord did interpose
And so a promise soon did run
That He would redeem us by His Son.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

I wonder if Theodor Geisel had any idea what an enduring phenomenon he had created when he wrote this book.  I suspect he hadn't a clue that "grinch" would become part of the worldwide vernacular, or that it would be as common a literary reference as the Bible's "forbidden fruit" or Shakespeare's "pound of flesh."


As you already know, if you've read my blog for any length of time, I adore the recent movie adaptation starring Jim Carey, but really...can the original storybook be surpassed?  Probably not.  I still enjoy reading it aloud to anyone who will listen! 

If you happen to be the nerdy, intellectual type, be sure and check out this version as well:


Mr. Grinch: Boris Karloff



Friday, December 10, 2010

The Light of Christmas

I have spent years being suspect of anything purported to foster the indefinable "True Spirit of Christmas,"  while cynically attributing this spirit to sentimental reflections devoid of substance, and an intentional, or at least a shallow distraction from "what it's really about."

Perhaps I've become weak in the knees in my old age, or maybe...just maybe...my perspective is maturing?  I don't know.  But what I do know is this:

Underneath much of the sentimentalism stands a foundational truth.  The coming of Christ into the world changed everything...forever.  And the effects of that coming are far-reaching and assume a million different forms!  Artists, musicians and authors often set this reality before us in unique ways that cause us to meditate on The Incarnation afresh.



In years past, I would have mocked Richard Paul Evans picture book, The Light of Christmas.  What I see in it now, is a child who selflessly lays aside the thing he wants most in order to "entertain an angel unawares" (in a Good-Samaritan-like act).  By so doing, he seemingly forfeits that which he longs for, yet, in the end, he gains exactly what he desired precisely because of his sacrifice.

Yes...this is a "feel good" story, but truth be told, it springs from the thoroughly Christian idea of exchanging present glory for lowly service in the hope that one day all will be set right...the proud and mighty will be humbled and those of low degree will be exalted.  This is a story of death and resurrection...the kind of reversal we take for granted, but which is made possible only as a result of The Incarnation!

So...if you're like me and scoffing at sentiment is your default mode, go ahead and force yourself to seek the Truth behind the sentiment.  Who knows, you may even discover a slight flicker of joy in your soul from the experience!

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year: Andy Williams



Thursday, December 9, 2010

Frosty the Snowman

In 1997, Barnes & Noble republished this storybook version of Frosty the Snowman, based on the song which was born and became popular in the 1950's.



The illustrations by Corinne Malvern are reminiscent of the Dick & Jane series, and logically so as the original illustrations were pulished in a Little Golden Book version back in the 50's!   The B&N hardcover reissue was timely, as it has special appeal for parents of young children whose first book "friends" were Dick & Jane and who probably read the Little Golden Book version when they themselves were children!

Let It Snow: Dean Martin



Wednesday, December 8, 2010

12 Days of Christmas

Don Daily's fanciful illustrations of this traditional Christmas carol bring a unique perspective to leaping lords and dancing ladies! 

A Partridge in a Pear Tree



Two Turtle Doves


Four Calling Birds


 

12 Days of Christmas: Relient K