Thursday, November 18, 2010

Christmas is for ALL God's Children

There was a rather scathing letter to the editor in our newspaper this week from a woman who decided she needed to scold society for their lack of focus on what Christmas is really all about. She was really upset at anyone who puts up their decorations early and stores that begin their holiday sales prior to Thanksgiving. Somewhere in the middle of her tirade she lost me, a fellow Christian. I mean, I do understand. Christmas is about the birth of Christ. There would be no Christmas had he not been born. Her message is correct but her method of delivery could use some polishing. She states that anyone who does not celebrate Christmas the proper way are greedy, pleasure-seeking hypocrites who do not deserve time off with their families for Christmas. "Christmas is only for Christians" she states. I’m not sure what she wants everyone else to do.

She was upset at the lack of reverence for the Christmas season. Well I have news for her. There is lack of reverence for Jesus all year round, not just at Christmas. There is lack of reverence within our own Catholic church, but not by all. It’s wonderful to try and spread the good news but when you resort to name-calling and disrespect then your message is going to fall on deaf ears. It’s best to lead by example and do it with charity. I am not offended, as the writer claimed I should be as a Christian, when someone says “Happy Holidays” to me. Why in the world would I be upset when someone is wishing me well? Do I wish that everyone knew Jesus? Sure I do. But I don’t hate those who choose to not see what I see. What right do I have to give up on them when God will never stop searching for his lost sheep?

Yes Christians are under attack, but they have been since the time of Christ. Thankfully Jesus chose those non-Christian hypocrites to spend time with. Where would we be if He had told the Apostles to only minister to the baptized followers instead of seeking out the Gentiles, the sinners and the hard-hearted?
As for me, I have embraced the Christmas season already this year. I am completely ok with seeing lights and decorations. The stores are full of color and the excitement is building. I refuse to let anyone put a damper on a time of year that is full of wonder and awe for children and adults alike. For some this is the one time of year they get to see their loved ones. Maybe they won’t go to church. Maybe they aren’t walking with Jesus right now. But they are still God’s children. He still loves them. He is a patient Father. And God is at work in their lives through the love they share with one another. He chooses to bless them even when they can’t hear him. For me the anticipation of Christmas must mirror, in a small way, the excitement that Mary and Joseph must have experienced at this point in her pregnancy. The birth of our Savior was still weeks away but she knew what was coming. She knew a miracle had occurred just by the fact that she was pregnant and a virgin.

It’s easy to look at the Christmas holidays as over-commercialized, secularized and exploited. It’s all of that but not limited to it. God does not want us to walk around angry and bitter at a time when we should be celebrating. As Christians we are called to show love, compassion, and understanding. He never promised it was going to be easy. In fact he assured us it would be hard.

God Bless

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Military wife's thoughts on Veteran's Day

Today is Veteran's Day. For some, it's a day off of work. For my kids there will be a special program at school in honor of our military. In many cities across the U.S. there will be parades and celebrations. And a lot of stores will have Veteran's Day sales this week. With a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye, I will read tributes to our soldiers on Facebook or blogs and read words like hero, sacrifice, honor and freedom. This is how Veteran's Day is honored every year in our community and in our country. It's good to have a day set aside to remember and pay tribute to all those who sacrifice so much to protect us every day.

For me, Veteran's Day will be much like any other day. I will clean and cook, do laundry, check my email, drop off and pick up kids, and run errands. My routine isn't too exciting and doesn't change much. But those are all the things my husband is missing the most. He longs for our mundane life. He would give anything to be here unloading the dishwasher or fixing me one of his famous omelets. He would love to sit here at the kitchen table tonight helping my daughter with her math homework. He would be more than happy to be here right now fixing our toilet that is broken. But mostly he just wishes he were here instead of there. He is in a foreign land living a life that I can't even imagine. His daily routine involves never leaving his quarters without strapping on a gun. He works 13-14 hour days, 7 days a week in a room without windows. He rarely gets a full nights sleep because the deafening noise of the fighter jets taking off outside his building wake him up. In his world the squeal of mortars in the distance is a daily occurrence and when they are closer than comfortable he stops and listens to hear if they land. He's always on guard, always aware, and never has the luxury to just relax and feel safe.

And yet my husband would say that he's luckier than many of his fellow soldiers. He's not out in the field facing the elements. He has a private room with heat/air, a refrigerator and Internet service which allows us to Skype daily. He gets 3 hot meals a day and free laundry service each week. Most days he gets to go to the gym for a quick workout and he's able to attend Mass on Sunday. All of those things make it bearable for him to get through each day. And each day he is one day closer to coming home.

I am so proud of my husband. He has given up so much over the years to train for a job that is so important. As much as my heart aches to be apart from him each day, I know that they need him. It's a small comfort on the days when I just long to remember how it feels to have him here. I want to hear his car pull in the driveway or be able to pick up the phone and call him whenever I want. I want to feel his touch and look in his eyes. I want to hear his voice when he's standing near me instead of through a crackled poor Internet connection. That day will eventually get here. We can get through this. The days will become weeks, the weeks will become months. Eventually he will come home and Life will return to normal.

May God Bless all military families today and every day!