Slow Spin ( by Carley Evans )

When I was a little girl, my days seemed to drift into a slow spin, seemingly lasting close to forever. I remember my mother complaining that she didn’t have enough time in a day to get everything done she needed to do. Huh? She laughed at me, and said, “You just wait and see.” Sure enough, time rushes by. The days still seem long enough, but the years fly by in a whirling slew of events I recall but not in proper sequence or time location. Big events, like the year my family learned to ski in Colorado, are easy to locate along the time continuum, but others are not.

Christmases blur together, but one or two stand out like huge statues of chocolate and eggnog deliciousness. My eighth year of life — Santa Claus gave me a bicycle and a chemistry set. My fourteenth year, he gave me a record player and a Monkees album.

Before you protest, I believe in Santa Claus and I love the Monkees. You could argue my choice of the Monkees is lame, since the Beatles are obviously more talented musicians. But, I do not accept the argument that Santa Claus “will take you to hell” as I observed related in a disgusting, idiotic online video the other day. And I truly feel sorry for the children I saw in that same video, children who have learned at such a young age to hate an ideal they do not and now never will understand.

Saint Nicolas is an ideal figure. He is not Jesus Christ. I do not worship him. But I admire the bishop who began the tradition of giving gifts on Christmas Eve to honor the Christ Child and to bring some much needed joy to poor children.

For me, several Christmases of my own and for my children are memorable milestones in a blur of time. I remember my son’s first Christmas: as I carried him into the living room of my parents’ home, his eyes widened when he saw the small pile of toys on the floor. He knew these were gifts for him; and he was happy. He was only twelve months old, but he knew this mark in time.

Father God, thank You for Your many gifts. May we always be grateful. In Jesus’ Name, amen.


A Winter Evening ( by Carley Evans )

I love winter.

Winter is wonderful primarily because of the excuse to start a fire in the fireplace any time the temperature outside drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. As a matter of fact, the ideal temperature for a fire in the house is around 45 degrees; that way less cold air rushes into the room when I open the glass fire screen to place kindling and logs. The comfort of a fire is hard to fully grasp, but its peacefulness is palpable — yes, warmth but also quiet calm. I love to sit, watch the flames, and relax.

Add a glass of red wine and several small pieces of dark chocolate, and a winter evening is complete.

Thank You, Creator God, for the four seasons — for winter, spring, summer, fall. Thank You that each time of the year brings special moments of great joy. I, for one, am so happy to celebrate Your Son’s birth at this particular time of the year — a time of comforting fire, delicious dark chocolate, and the fruit of the vine. Your winter is lovely, dearest Lord. Thank You for coming to earth for me. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Under the Stairs ( by Carley Evans )

Living in a home with unbelievers is not necessarily as bad as living in the cupboard under the stairs is for Harry Potter. Unbelievers don’t always treat you with contempt or take advantage of your differences like Potter’s aunt and uncle and cousin do to him. Much depends on your family’s own upbringing. For example my parents were raised in Christian homes; my mother even attended Bob Jones University back in the days when the school was openly hostile to both unbelievers and Blacks. My father was raised Methodist while my mother was Southern Baptist. As I grew up, I got a bit of both. God seems to have pressed His finger on my heart from a young age. I remember being aware of His presence early in life.

Under the stairs I find a safe place to read His Word so I might understand Him better. He talks so clearly in His Word, and so indistinctly in places of worship, in shopping malls, in movie theaters, in people. For me, it’s like the difference between looking at the sun and looking at the shadows the sun forms. The shadows do, but I prefer the direct light.

I take my children to a Christmas eve service. We are almost horrified at the opening song. For me, the Lord confirms again this is not a place of worship as much as a social gathering place for Christians. I do not say it is as bad as being stuck under the stairs in a spiritually dark home, but it is not the same as a true place of worship — for me, anyway. The second song is not much better. Eventually, the music shifts to more traditional hymns reflective of Christ’s birth. But the first two leave a sour taste in the mouth of especially my daughter. I am hurt. For some reason, we are here. But I know not why.

I feel very much like I am under the stairs. At least my Bible is with me.

“Merry Christmas” at U.S. Post Office

I was astounded this morning to find a placard placed in front of the East Bay Street United States’ Post Office in Charleston, South Carolina which reads “Merry Christmas.”

What a surprise! The United States Post Office, “a branch of the United States federal government,” (as the young lawyer says to the judge in the movie “Miracle on 34th Street”) recognizing the reason for the season. I wonder if the Postmaster put the sign near the front steps of this large post office, or perhaps one of the postal workers thought it’d be nice to say “Merry Christmas!” to the customers.

At any rate, how wonderful it was this morning not to read “Happy Holidays!”

Swinging Holiday ( by Carley Evans )

One of our local radio stations plays Christmas music from the beginning of November. Starting in December, the station features local choirs — community, church and school choral groups. This morning, on my way to work, I heard a middle school choir sing “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” except they sang “We Wish You A Swinging Holiday.” Every mention of Christmas or Christ was expunged from the song; at first I didn’t even recognize it, but the tune was definitely “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” with the familiar “and a Happy New Year” tagline.

I found it offensive.

Now, the radio station is not the problem. The very next song was “Do You Hear What I Hear?” which includes references to Jesus as “The Child” who will bring us goodness and light. So the station is willing to recognize the reason for the season, but the school system is bogged down with worry over offending other religions; so worried, in fact, that it forgets that it offends Christians when it changes “Merry Christmas” to something so banal as “Swinging Holiday.”

Comfortable-at-Home ( by Carley Evans )

Nothing makes me feel so ‘comfortable-at-home’ than a roaring fire in my den fireplace — nothing except that fire and a Christmas tree lit and decorated in the same den, and perhaps a M*A*S*H re-run on the television. The combination exudes relaxation and a complete ease with self and surroundings.

I actually live in my house; it doesn’t remotely resemble a magazine. I’ve seen those homes and if yours is one, more power to you. I’m impressed and a bit intimidated, too.

I like to imagine Jesus being really comfortable in my home. I’m not terribly embarrassed to have Him living here with me. I think He loves my coffee — it’s very rich with half ‘n half and organic sugar or even honey if He prefers. He sometimes glances at the books on my shelves. Some He’s read more than once; others He knows enough about that He’s got no desire to read them again. He especially avoids looking through my DVD collection; I doubt He likes many of my favorite movies. I wonder. Maybe He likes one of my Christmas favorites, It’s A Wonderful Life. I’m certain He understands why I love Ordinary People.

I love dark chocolate and red wines. I’ve never received any indication from Jesus that He disapproves of my choices in these two culinary delights. Sometimes, He scolds me for eating more salt than is healthy for my body. I always apologize and try to eat healthier the next day. He gets on me sometimes for not getting enough exercise. I agree and walk the stairs at work. At home, I write so much… well, excuses are easy, aren’t they?

The only place I find I’m really wary of having Jesus along is in my car. I have little patience for rude drivers, and sometimes my behavior in my car surprises even me. Often I get an awful feeling Jesus isn’t even riding along, but that’s not possible so I must be ignoring Him completely. Later — and I mean moments later — I am ridiculously sorry. Why the car is that one place I’ve yet to figure.

At any rate, at this moment, I am enjoying His company. He’s sitting here watching me write this and laughing at Colonel Potter and Radar. Oops, Radar just took His Name in vain. Jesus turns to me and says, “Nobody’s perfect.” Then I see the twinkle in His eye. “Of course, that doesn’t go for Me, does it?”

And that’s the question for you and me: “Is God our older brother and very best friend?”

[Hebrews 2:11 “Both the One who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.”]