Already Sick of Christmas Music? Yea, Me Too

Happy December! If Thanksgiving didn’t do it for you, maybe the first of December will put you in the holiday cheery mood? Though, I would totally understand if you’re still not feeling it. Our world is in shambles! The Southeast is on fire while California is actually getting rain, our U.S. government is once again at war with the Native Americans, Pat McCrory still won’t accept that he lost North Carolina because of HB2, and the radio stations have been playing the same damn Christmas music since the 50’s!

Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas music. I’ve been listening to it since that horror show that is a Trump election. But you can only hear “Let it Snow,” “Jingle Bell Rock,” “Sleigh Ride,” “Winter Wonderland,” Rudy, and Frosty, and countless other songs that have been around since my mom was a kid, so many times before you lose your ever-Christmas-lovin’ mind!

Every year, there are at least a few artists who drop a new Christmas record for the masses to consume. I loved Ariana Grande’s EP, Christmas and Chill, last year, and Trans-Siberian Orchestra is always my go-to band during the holidays, both their Christmas albums, and their original music. I attend their concerts faithfully every year, and this year’s no different. I can’t wait to see my sexy bass guitarist David Z, rock it out on stage next Sunday!

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via Pinterst

Unfortunately, the newer Christmas music doesn’t get much traction on the radio. For as long as I’ve been listening to TSO, I’ve only heard one of their songs played on the radio, and that’s their rendition of “Carol of the Bells,” which is actually titled “Christmas Eve / Sarajevo.” It is without a doubt their most popular song, and I crank up the volume every time it comes on, but they have three albums-worth—roughly around 60 songs—of Christmas music, and the radio stations can only play one?!

I guess I could just call in and request the music, but who wants to do that when we can simply create a Spotify playlist and fill it with all the songs we love to hear at Christmas. My playlist is nothing but TSO, with a little bit of Ariana Grande, a little bit of Kelly Clarkson, Pentatonix, Destiny’s Child, Mariah Carey, Kirk Franklin and the Family, and other artists whose Christmas music I love. I also have to add my Gospel tracks to the playlist, because you can’t have Christmas without first, the Christ.

Still, it would be nice to turn on the radio and listen to a Christmas song that I haven’t already heard 50 thousand times. Maybe that could be my next challenge, to write a Christmas song that would finally put a nail in the coffin of those oldies the world is so obsessed with playing. After all, I do write poetry, and what is music but poetry sung to piano, or guitar, or your favorite melodic instrument?

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Are there any Christmas songs you are absolutely tired of hearing? I know I didn’t name them all. Which are your least favorite, and which do you wish would completely disappear from the human ear and mind?

By the way, I’ve kicked off my 31 Days of Holiday Hooligans challenge over on my other blog, Lovely Curses. Check it out, and if you love creating stories like I do, why not join the fun? Some of the best stories are the ones told at Christmastime, starting with a little baby boy born in a manger in Bethlehem.

Holiday Temptations while Counting Calories

Everybody knows calories don’t count on Thanksgiving . . . or the day after, or Christmas . . . or the day after, or New Year’s . . . or the day after . . . Let’s face it, you can forget about sticking to your diet plan until at least January 3rd.

But if you’re like me, and you’ve been busting your butt all year (technically, I started this journey in June, when I disappeared from writing), you don’t want to toss all of your hard work down the drain by overeating during the holidays.

Then again, that mac and cheese sure looks scrumptious . . .

Via Steve Johnson -- Flickr Creative Commons
Via Steve Johnson — Flickr Creative Commons

Thanksgiving morning, I made the mistake of stepping on the scale. I wasn’t expecting to see a number I particularly liked, I just wanted to measure the damage I’d have to recover after feasting out later that day. Imagine my surprise when the number flashed and the ten pounds I’d been struggling to lose since September were wiped away! I had to weigh myself again just to make sure my mind (or the scale) wasn’t playing tricks on me. The number flashed again and it was no joke. I nearly screamed.

I am now only 2.5 pounds heavier than my skinny as a twig brother, who is about 7% body fat. Don’t know how that’s even possible unless all of his weight comes from his height and his bones, and his muscles are just denser than my fat, but I’ll accept that. I’ll probably keep this news to myself for now. My brother can be a total dick sometimes, and he is skilled at crushing a girl’s spirit when it comes to body image and appearance, even when he doesn’t mean to. That’s a man for you. Sometimes they don’t know when to shut the fuck up, keep a compliment a compliment without following it up with a backhanded slap across the face.

I went into Thanksgiving dinner with that number burned into my brain. I tried to be conscious about what I was putting on my plate. It wasn’t hard to skip certain foods. After all, our Thanksgiving dinner was catered this year, and half that shit I didn’t want (I’m very picky about foods other people cook).

The dressing looked like raw liver pudding with bits of egg white in it (we still don’t know what he used to make that shit, it was just gray mush). I heard the green beans were good, but the casserole on top was a lumpy, soupy, “don’t know what that white stuff is” mess, so I had to pass (I will never understand people’s obsession with green been casserole. I so much prefer my veggies cooked PLAIN). The ribs were more fat than meat. I skipped the gravy because he didn’t make it with the turkey giblets (Grandma has spoiled me with her giblet gravy). In fact, the turkey was actually bought from the Honey Baked Ham store (or so it tasted), along with the ham! On top of that, the man forgot the bread and pie. (may all low carbers dance and shout for joy!)

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So what did I eat for dinner? A little turkey and ham, mac and cheese, of course (though not as much, because it wasn’t Grandma’s mac and cheese), some sweet-ass yams that my brother didn’t think were sweet at all (have I cut my sugar intake that much?), some cabbage my mom cooked, some clean (meaning NOT seasoned with bacon grease!) black-eyed peas that I cooked, along with rice (because you can’t have beans without the rice, especially when the gravy ain’t Grandma’s giblets), my homemade tart cranberry sauce (that my brother kept calling “that pure shit” like I’d cooked him up a pound of coke. No, chile, it’s just fresh), and some turnip greens that were surprisingly delicious. I usually eat my leafy greens by pinching my nose and gulping them down, but these turnips were so good, I had to get myself a second helping!

I think I did pretty well keeping myself under control this Thanksgiving. But I was still stuffed afterwards, falling asleep like a Thanksgiving pro on Granddaddy’s couch while watching football. It’s going to be tough seeing that number again with all these leftovers in my fridge. Thankfully, my mom portioned out most of the food and put it in the freezer, and my food vacuum cleaner brother should take care of the rest before the week is out.

My sabotage actually came a few days after Thanksgiving, when my mom and I went to a church fellowship at a restaurant called Class E, supposedly fine dining (so it says on the door), but it’s really an overpriced soul food buffet. I ate more mac and cheese than I should have and had banana pudding for dessert. However, in my defense, it was $16 a person—I was trying to get my money’s worth!

Now that it’s back to the ol’ grind (it was so hard coming into work yesterday, I had to write this story for some comedic relief), I need to dive back into my normal eating routine so I can see that magic number again, and maybe one lower than that. But it is officially the holiday season now, and avoiding certain foods is only going to get harder. As long as I have a few “clean” dishes of my own to add to the potluck, I should be OK. Hey, maybe I’ll even share some of my recipes with you. 😉

Let me know if you want the recipe for these pumpkin spice pancakes!
Let me know if you want the recipe for these pumpkin spice pancakes!

Sunday Morning Word: Give From Your Heart

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7; NIV)

After my little rant yesterday about how a little old woman in the grocery store conned me out of $20, I knew “giving” would have to be my message today. For Sunday Morning Word, I usually take some inspiration from whatever sermon my pastor preached that week. If I already have an idea brewing, he usually confirms it with his sermon, and lo and behold, he did that again this week (I know it can only be the Holy Spirit aligning our hearts and minds to do His Will), leading us to Exodus chapters 35 and 36, when Moses asks the Israelites to give what they have to the Lord.

Then the whole Israelite community withdrew from Moses’ presence, and everyone who was willing and whose heart moved him came and brought an offering to the Lord for the work on the Tent of Meeting, for all its service, and for the sacred garments. (Exodus 35: 20-21)

With Thanksgiving finally behind us, it is officially the holiday season, which also means it is the season of giving. Yes, when the elaborate lights, decorative snowflakes, and Christmas trees come out, people start to feel just a little more generous than they do any other time of the year. If you shop at Food Lion, you’ve probably been asked at the register to donate a $5 hunger box to people in need. Any day now, the Salvation Army will be standing outside of all the major stores like Wal-Mart, Target, Macy’s, and others, ringing their bells. My local FOX news station sponsors “Give a Kid a Coat” and “Gifts for Kids” campaigns at this time, as well as a holiday concert where your only “ticket” is donated canned goods. My church even has an “Adopt a Family” program, where members give toward the program, as they feel lead to do so, during the offering, and the church uses that money to “adopt” a family in need and give them a Christmas they’ll never for get.

Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will repay him for his deed. (Proverbs 19:17; ESV)

Giving to the needy is such an integral part of Christianity. There are verses all over the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments, about how important it is to give. With Christ, we have the ultimate example. Jesus gave His life so that we all could live, if we just believe in him; “For God so love the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16; NIV). If Jesus was willing to die on the cross for little ol’ me, who am I to say I won’t give a dime to my brother in need?

The great thing about giving, and I’ve said this before, is that it feels so good, like the releasing of euphoria, when you do it. Remember, “God loves a cheerful giver.” However, if you don’t feel lead by the Lord to give, don’t do it. Don’t give “reluctantly or under compulsion,” like I did with that little old woman, but with compassion and an eagerness to help, and God will reward you. Going back to the scripture from Exodus, if you read through to chapter 36, you will see that the Israelites gave so much that Moses had to order them to stop giving because they already had more than enough (Exodus 36:6-7). We see this overflow of blessing again in Malachi 3:10. This is the only time God invites us to test him. “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house . . . and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Luke 6:38)

With that being said, don’t be boastful about your giving. God loves a cheerful giver, but he detests the proud (Proverbs 16:5). Jesus said in Matthew 6:2-4, “When you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men . . . But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Everything we have belongs to God anyway, which is why we tithe—“Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s (Mark 12:17)—so when you give to someone in need you are essentially giving back to the Father.

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me . . . Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. (Matthew 25:35-40)

Is there anyone out there today so generous? Would you sell all of your possessions to give to someone in need (Acts 2:45)? It truly bothers me when I turn on the news or login to social media and see so many of my fellow Americans act so cold-hearted towards people less fortunate than they. They ridicule people working minimum wage jobs—they call these people lazy, yet they work; they live in poverty, but they don’t deserve an increase in wages, they don’t deserve the wealthy’s increase in taxes to sponsor welfare programs that would put food on their tables to feed their families. These proud people sit on their high horses and look down their noses, they preach from their soapboxes that nothing is free when they themselves didn’t obtain their wealth on their own. “For what makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” (1 Corinthians 4:7).

Remember, God detests the proud, but blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are those who mourn, blessed are the meek, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, blessed are the merciful, blessed are the pure in heart, blessed are the peacemakers, blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness (Matthew 5:3-12). Blessed are not the proud, blessed are not the boastful, blessed are not the content with their own wealth. Jesus himself said that “it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:21), because “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). Don’t let your treasure be in your earthly possessions. Humble yourselves; give to your brothers and sisters in need.

Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors Him. (Proverbs 14:31; ESV)

It bears repeating— Everything you have God gave to you. Ecclesiastes 5:19 says, “When God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work—this is a gift of God.” Honor God with your gift by giving to the needy. This is as much a message for me as it is for you. God is very reciprocal. Serve your brothers and sisters, as you would serve the Lord (Ephesians 6:7). Treat them with love, respect, forgiveness, and kindness, as you would have your Father in heaven do unto you. Give of your heart this holiday season and see if you should not receive a hundredfold from God.

Happy Sunday.

Dial 1-800-Get-a-Damn-Spine!

I am nice. I am too damn nice. And I don’t know how to say, “NO!” to strangers. I don’t know how to say no period. Seriously, it’s a miracle I haven’t been knocked up yet.

*scurrying to knock on wood . . . be right back . . .*

What’s the number for SpongeBob’s abrasive side? Because I desperately need to order one. He was so mean and nasty, he actually made Squidward cry.

From SpongeBob SquarePants "The Abrasive Side" ©Nickelodeon
From SpongeBob SquarePants, “The Abrasive Side,” ©Nickelodeon

Because that’s what I need—to be more like Squidward. To be rude, disinterested, self-absorbed, uncaring of other people.

I want to make these con people cry. And not because they’re running a con, but because my growl made them quiver, because they peered into my snarl and saw the wrath of God, because they opened their mouths and I palmed their foreheads with Holy water, shouting, “GET THEE BEHIND ME, SATAN!”

Crazy Christian lady alert . . . take three steps back . . .

I know it was a mistake going to the grocery store the day before Thanksgiving, but I wasn’t getting that much . . . I wasn’t even getting “Thanksgiving” ingredients.

Well, I did buy cranberries to surprise my brother with some homemade sauce. Unfortunately, I didn’t put enough sugar in it, so it was extremely tart. But my mom and I love tart things, so we enjoyed it!

But back to my grocery store nightmare, where people constantly beg me for money. Do I look rich? I don’t think I look rich. Sometimes I walk up in the grocery store looking a hot damn mess. Maybe it’s my innocent face; I look vulnerable, like there’s a “Doesn’t Know How to Say No” sign flashing above my head the minute I step through the sliding doors. I seem to find the assertiveness to turn down my brother every time he asks to borrow five dollars, but don’t let there be a little old black lady turning the corner, wearing a hospital wrist band, saying, “Do you believe in helping people?”

Sucker!

I should’ve ignored her. I tried to, but the bitch followed me! I should’ve told her, “Leave me alone, I’m not interested,” and if she kept at it, a more aggressive “Get the fuck away from me!” but my voice sounds like a three-year-old child. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to get people to take angry you seriously when you sound like a toddler throwing a temper tantrum because mommy wouldn’t give you any cookies?

d83597ee0b6baf355fecee9254b655ba1d6658267208970715daa527cdfda744This is the main reason why I don’t shop at Wal-Mart anymore.

I’ll suck it up and pay Amazon shipping.

I’ll spend the extra 45 minutes walking circles in Harris Teeter (because that store is like a maze, and I can never find what I’m looking for, and when I do find it, it’s a dollar and a half more expensive than in Wal-Mart).

I’ll reluctantly pinch a penny and buy the Food Lion brand because Food Lion never carries the brand I really want, which seems to only be found in Wal-Mart, but I’ll do anything to avoid the Wal-Mart beggars who follow you to your car at night in the pouring down rain, who ask you for money to buy baby formula (because baby daddy skipped out on paying child support this month), and when you give them a twenty, they ask you to drive them home ALL THE WAY IN BROWN SUMMIT!

Bitch, I just gave you bus fare!

I thought I could get in and out hassle free—even on the day before Thanksgiving—at the grocery store closest to my job on the safer (see “white”—don’t get offended, we’ve all said it, we’ve all thought it) side of town. I’ve been approached for money there too, just not as often (the last time, it was a white couple sitting by the shopping carts, saying, “We’s poor. We’s so poor”).

I wasn’t so lucky on this particular day, however. I made the mistake of turning down the baking aisle (hunting ground for Thanksgiving con people), looking for some honey. She spotted me, followed me, started quoting scripture (“GET THEE BEHIND ME, SATAN!”), then wanted me pay her $40 motel bill.

Why didn’t I walk away?!?!?!

I gave her half. And it frustrates me because I had that cash in my purse specifically for groceries. I did not want to use my card. I spent that whole morning budgeting out my paycheck so I would not have to use my card. UGH!

I came home to vent to my mom (who was at that same store earlier that day), and lo and behold, she told me about the woman’s partner who was working the front of the store. I think he might have been that toothless guy who approached me when I first walked in, and said that if he had a penny for every pretty girl he saw, he’d be rich.

So when the con lady started her speech on Mom (“Do you believe in helping people?”), my mom simply said, “No,” and walked away. God, I wish I could be mean like her!

But I do believe in helping people. I’m a very charitable person; I give money all the time, and I’m usually happy about it—the Bible says God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7). One time I gave a man on a corner five dollars, and he was so happy—he already had three—he told me he was going to Subway, and right there at the stop light, we were laughing and talking and going on and on about how much we both loved the Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki Sandwich. Giving to people should always feel like that; it shouldn’t feel like a burden; it shouldn’t feel like your credit score just dropped 150 points because you handed somebody all of your pocket change.

There’s nothing I can do about it now. The money’s gone—I just pray I won’t miss it this week. The bad thing is, I didn’t even get everything I came for, because that grocery store never has what I’m looking for, it’s always in Wal-Mart.

I did get an idea for my next grocery venture, though. While perusing the shelves, I walked by this kid wearing earphones, rock music blaring, and it suddenly came to me! Plug in music! A tried and true method for ignoring bothersome people.

JJ Watt in Bose Headphones commercial
JJ Watt in Bose Headphones commercial

I think I’ll even go the extra mile and talk to myself. Maybe they’ll think I’m on the phone, or just bat shit crazy, either way, if they ain’t Salvation Army, or fellow Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki lovers on the side of the road, they’d better flee from me in seven different directions . . . IN JESUS’ NAME!

Food. Family. Football

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17; NIV)

I love Thanksgiving! I love being around family and friends, pigging out on good food, watching my Cowboys whip some Deadskin ass on my granddaddy’s big screen TV (because I haven’t met a grandparent or great aunt/uncle who didn’t have a big screen TV in the living room, as if they don’t only watch the news, Wheel of Fortune, and Jeopardy!).

This year, we’re having Thanksgiving dinner catered, so I don’t know how “delicious” the food will be, I just pray it isn’t canned. My mom and I have decided that we’re going to cook some extra sides to go with dinner just in case it’s not good—black eyed peas, wild rice, cabbage, sautéed zucchini & yellow squash, spinach dip (I’ve convinced her to make it with plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. Shhh, don’t tell my brother), and I’m going to venture out and make some homemade cranberry sauce for my brother who literally drinks the stuff, and try my second attempt at hot for food’s pumpkin spice muffins now that I have all the ingredients.

Click image for recipe
Click image for recipe

I actually wanted to make the muffins with fresh pumpkin instead of canned because 1.) fresh is always better, and 2.) I recently watched a YouTube video (Is there anything you can’t learn from YouTube?) on how to puree a pumpkin. It’s much easier than I thought (now that I know you don’t use Jack-o-lantern pumpkins)! For now, I’ll stick with the canned, but in a future “pumpkin” recipe (because it’s the holiday season, and I’m gonna be cooking pumpkin til New Year’s), I may use sweet potato or butternut squash (my new favorite vegetable . . . even thought it’s really a fruit) because they’re sweeter than pumpkin, and I won’t need to add as much sugar (but who’s really counting calories this time of year? 😉 ).

I have a food obsession—can’t you tell? Since changing my diet and focusing more on whole foods and made from scratch meals, I’ve discovered a new appreciation for food and fresh ingredients. I feel like an artist every time I cook now—combining all the ingredients, like paint on a canvas, the intoxicating fragrances filling the kitchen as the meal comes together. So this is how it feels to be Italian!

But before I gnaw off the inside of my cheek with all this talk about food, I want to take the time to remind you what this holiday is truly about . . .

Food. Family. Football.

Kidding! But seriously, guys, while the story we all learned in elementary school about Pilgrims and Native Americans coming together for the first Thanksgiving may have been fiction, the message is very real. Be thankful today. Eat with gladness in your heart. With the breath from your lungs, be appreciative of what you already have—the love of God, of family and friends, that you have a roof over your head, clothes on your back, a hefty meal in your stomach. Give your dinner time to digest before your break down the doors to Belk, or JC Penny, or Macy’s, or Wal-Mart for something you don’t need that’s really not on sale.

There are so many people in this world who aren’t so lucky. Even as I type this, Native Americans in this country are fighting for basic human rights, and they are getting shot at with teargas and rubber bullets, sprayed with water hoses in subzero temperatures, reminiscent of the attacks African Americans historically suffered while fighting for their civil rights (a fight that continues today).

Enjoy what you already have, and pray for those who have less.

The only plans I have for today are prepping for dinner (even though we won’t actually be cooking that much food), stuffing my fat face, enjoying quality time with my hilarious family, and trying to stay awake as I lie on Granddaddy’s very comfortable couch and attempt to watch the football games. Tomorrow, I’ll probably start my morning with a run in the park, come home and avoid the leftovers (hey, I have all week for that), and get to work on Christmas plans. It is the kickoff to the holiday season, after all.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:20)

“Sleeper, Awaken!”

As young as I am, I often dream about death. When I was a child, I prayed the Lord would take me in my sleep so I’d feel no pain. Mom said if you’re a Christian, it won’t hurt, but I wouldn’t take any chances. Let Him come while I’m lying in the grass, counting bunnies on clouds, blowing powdered sugar from picnic pastries into the wind.

We have so little control over what happens to us in our sleep, even less over what we do.

Do we snore (apparently I do); twitch or kick (I’ve been told I do that too); talk in our sleep (my dad once asked my brother to take out the trash and yelled for him to get off his motorcycle all while lying comfortably in his bed, eyes shut, drool collecting at the corner of his mouth); or do we sleep walk (maybe . . . at least once)?

I could blame it on being more tired than I realized, or being traumatized when How to Get Away with Murder revealed Wes, with half his face blown off, #UndertheSheet. (God, I was so sure it was Nate! Why, Shonda?! Wes was the main character, the first person we were introduced to in season 1, episode 1. I’m not used to this. I don’t watch Grey’s Anatomy or Scandal. I don’t know the torment your fans go through on a weekly basis!)

I guess I should’ve added a spoiler alert before that last point, but if you haven’t seen the How to Get Away with Murder winter finale by now, then too bad. It’s Tuesday, man.

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I used to date a guy who often joked about coming to my house late at night, watching me sleep through my bedroom window. He had a very dark sense of humor, and while some girls might have laughed (albeit uncomfortably), I found it extremely creepy. Especially since my ex before him used to stalk me, and going back to my very first job, I had a manager who texted me one night at 3AM wanting to “feel what it’s like to be inside you,” telling me that he was on his way over, and I needed to come outside when he flashed his headlights. I was sixteen. He was twenty-one.

This is the crop of men I seem to attract . . .

And most recently, the security guard at my job, who slowly looks me up and down before speaking to me, said, “I didn’t know you were a Dallas Cowboys fan.” I was not wearing my Cowboys jacket that day. Of course, he could’ve just remembered that I wore it the day before, but a more eerie thought crossed my mind . . .

That he was in my bedroom that night . . .

You see, Friday morning I woke up lying on the opposite end of my bed, on top of the covers, my bedroom door wide open, the overhead light shinning in my face.

That was not how I’d fallen asleep. I was under the covers. I’m pretty sure. I’d turned off my light. I remember making that extra effort of getting up out of my warm bed and walking across the room to flick the switch. It wasn’t a dream. And I always close my door at night. Always. Because I don’t like waking up and seeing shadows from the hall. Shadows of mysterious men creeping into my room . . .

I’m a writer, so my mind is working in overdrive churning off stories of what could have happened Thursday night as I slept. But I think I’ve finally figured it out.

I read a book before turning in for the night. A novel that completely spooked me. The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon. And at the end, the ghostly diary writer, Sara Harrison Shea, gave us the instructions for bringing a “sleeper” back to life.

It all makes sense to me now. I rose from my bed in a trance, gathered the ingredients I needed—a candle, a fresh heart, something that belonged to the deceased—ventured out into the night to find a portal between the natural and spiritual realms, chanted the incantation, and brought Wes back to me.

That scratching outside my door, like a small critter digging its claws into the frozen dirt, trying to escape from the chill of the air, it’s him, it’s Wes Gibbins, wanting to be let inside.

pexels-photo-147634

Sunday Morning Word: Be Kind to Someone

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
(Ephesians 4:32; NIV)

Good Sunday morning, my lovely new followers! (and potential followers—you know you want to click that “Follow” button. 😉 Go ahead, I’ll wait.)

I’m bringing back the series “Sunday Morning Word,” because with all that is going on in the world today, we need a good remindin’.

Since the Hair’s election, I’ve been hearing a lot of reports of despicable harassment. Trump supporters are painting swastikas on dormitory halls where Jewish students lay their heads. Others are wearing blackface, chanting, “Build that wall!” and “Go back to your country!” to citizens who were born and raised here and only know how to be Americans. A black veteran was denied a free meal at Chili’s on Veteran’s Day. Come on, guys, we can’t possibly this cold-hearted and evil.

Those who are kind benefit themselves, but the cruel bring ruin on themselves. (Proverbs 11:17)

I’d like to think there are good people in this country. People who don’t just hate because someone looks different, or speaks a different language, or practices a different religion. It is times like this when I am reminded of Jesus and the Samaritan woman. While the Jews would have nothing to do with the people of Samaria, the Bible tells us in John 4:4 that Jesus instead had to go through Samaria. That He had to have this encounter with this woman. This woman, who is clearly a sinner—five husbands, and the man she’s with now is not even her husband (John 4:18)—comes to draw water from the well at high noon, the heat of the day, when no one else would be around to judge her, or talk down to her about her lifestyle choices, and she meets a man, the promised Messiah, who tells her everything she’s ever done (John 4: 29), who speaks of living water, that she will never go thirsty again (John 4:13-14), and leaving her jar of water behind, she runs to tell the people about this man (John 4:28-29).

Jesus tells His disciples to “open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest” (John 4:35). There are people in this world who are thirsty for God’s grace. We can’t continue to be selfish and avoid them, dislike them from a distance, simply because they are different, or because they do things that we don’t like. God has sent us out into the fields to reap what He has sown, to evangelize and make disciples of His people. This life has never been about your or me, but it has always been about bringing glory and honor to our Father in Heaven.

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matthew 9:36-38)

Christ should be our example; “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:14-15). As followers of Him, we need to be that “light” in a very dark world. People are looking to us to be that example of Christ, and our actions will determine whether or not they will glorify our God in Heaven (Matthew 5:14-16). For God so loved that world that his sacrificed his only Son so we could all be saved (John 3:16). It’s time we showed that love to our brothers and sisters.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

I challenge all of you to be kind to someone this week, and to show them Christ’s unconditional love for them and every one of us. Happy Sunday!