O Lord, I’m sure You remember my griping to You about road construction last summer. Griping out LOUD. OMG, I’m so glad You—and the workers—didn’t listen.
Some welcomed 2023 with the same enthusiasm as author Jerry Spinelli: “I love beginnings. If I were in charge of calendars, every day would be January 1.”
Contrariwise, author Roald Dahl would “remove January from the calendar altogether and have an extra July instead.”
Thankfully, neither works for a calendar company. But their clash illustrates typical debate.
My highly scientific poll, based on Walmart eavesdropping, suggests that in January, most shoppers wilt like post-Christmas poinsettias.
Snow-lovers gripe because The Weather Channel sent only flurries. Snow-haters grouse because blizzards lurk behind every cloud. Kids hate January because they return to school. Babies, imprisoned in snowsuits Grandma gave for Christmas, raise loud protests.
Besides, everyone’s broke.
We’re all on diets.
Many people really hate January.
My mother, a pastor’s wife, loved it. Her Christmas responsibilities ranged from distributing food baskets to ensuring no shepherd in her pageant picked his nose. Plus, we children assumed Mom would make Christmas dreams come true … without money.
Though she loved Jesus supremely, Mom thanked Him when His birthday party was done.
I, too, savor January’s serenity. Time for unhurried worship of the Christ who dared enter our crazy world. A hot-soup-homemade-bread aura helps us settle down and settle in to savor good books. For Hoosier authors, January’s excellent writing weather. (How do unlucky novelists in the Bahamas finish anything?)
Mom and I have passed January preferences to my Michigan grandson. He, however, loves shrieking forays down the highest sledding hills.
My husband and other sports fans welcome January because they wallow in basketball. Mourn losses. Decimate January peace with insane celebrations.
January also gave the world distinguished citizens: Martin Luther King, Benjamin Franklin and Joan of Arc. Betty White, James Earl Jones, Elvis and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Hopefully, their birthday presents weren’t wrapped in leftover Christmas paper.
If this January sends snow, I’ll welcome snowflake kisses. Swish snow angels. Sled with my grandson, shrieking all the way down, “Jesus … he-e-e-elp!”
Then do it again.
Sorry, Roald Dahl. I’ll never vote these days off the calendar.
John Steinbeck reminds us: “What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness?”
Though, Charles Spurgeon offers even better advice: “Let January open with joy in the Lord.”
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Why do you like or dislike January?
Father, thank You for a church who can turn a business meeting into a warm, loving family affair. Though, OMG, two tables of desserts probably sweetened things.
Have you created a bucket list? I’ve considered it.
Instead, I recorded what I’ve done and would rather not repeat:
- Buy stupid shoes. At 20, I wore platforms with heels so high they gave me altitude sickness. Repentant, I then purchased “healthy” earth shoes — hideous footwear with nonexistent heels and built-up soles that tilted me backward. Either way, I risked possible surgery.
- Attend the Indianapolis 500. Amazing, but the cars’ incredible speed and incessant roar made me crave 30 quiet seconds inside a refrigerator, away from sizzling heat.
- Tour France without knowing the language. My French, limited to “bonjour” and “french fries,” invoked eye rolls, especially on Petite Street, where shops sold clothes that fit only Tinkerbell.
Other remembrances make me shiver. I never again want to:
- Camp next to someone a sheriff greeted by name.
- Read Ku Klux Klan recruitment posters.
- Lodge in a Honduran hotel room with broken locks.
- Accept rides with strangers.
Nor will I:
- Endure red and orange shag carpet.
- Allow a closet-sized kitchen whose fridge froze lettuce and melted ice cream.
- Sample saki. It tasted like turpentine.
Finally, I won’t challenge anyone to a doughnut-eating contest. Ronnie, a street kid who attended my Bible club, claimed he could outeat anyone. I devoured twice as many. Humbled, Ronnie went home, sick. Humbled, I realized the Bible didn’t recommend this form of evangelism. I called Ronnie’s mother to apologize.
Silence. Then laughter. “Glad you called his bluff.”
Still, I couldn’t look a doughnut or bathroom scales in the face. God, either, but soon I realized He’d forgiven me and had taught Ronnie and me to engage brains before mouths.
God isn’t limited by clueless mistakes. Amazingly, the kid still attended Bible Club. Decades later, I pray doughnut disaster memories have faded. That Ronnie clearly recalls Jesus loves him.
In reviewing my once-but-never-again list, I realize God’s protected me big-time. I never fell off my shoes. I haven’t been abducted, joined the Ku Klux Klan, or worn French Tinkerbell clothes.
I now can look doughnuts in the face.
Scales? Still working on that.
And God’s bucket list for me.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s on your once-but-never-again list?
O Lord, what a wonderful way to celebrate the New Year with these little guys, dancing to fun music, blowing squawky noise makers and bopping lighted balloons! OMG, thank You, too, that their parents counted down the “final” seconds of 2022 at 8 p.m. so the boys — and we — could go to bed.
This post first appeared on January 24, 2018.
Today, we’re experiencing a brown winter.
Typing those words makes me quiver with fear. Do I dare mention the weather to neighbors, coworkers or friendly convenience store clerks? With a few unguarded words, I may jinx the entire Midwest!
Despite brown winter’s dreariness, some consider it a gift, especially after enduring Snowmageddon. Anyone who mentioned “global warming” then was sentenced to shoveling the town’s driveways with a teaspoon.
No one battling the notorious Midwestern blizzard of ’78 had ever heard that term. If a foolhardy soul had suggested such to brides whose winter weddings were postponed indefinitely, they might have strangled him with tulle bows and buried him in uneaten wedding cake.
Others who survived that months-long whiteout not only stopped driving, they gave up finding their vehicles until spring.
Brown winter, by comparison, seems good.
- Midwestern weddings should happen on schedule this weekend.
- Cars start. They move!
- Even if buckets of rain fall, we don’t have to shovel them.
- Lower heating bills and fewer frozen pipes give cause to celebrate.
- Mothers rejoice. Their offspring won’t need the 25 pounds of clothing required on snowy days. My son rated snowsuits along with vaccinations and boogeymen. Every outing resulted in a mother/son smackdown, the loudest always occurring at either the library or church.
- A thaw dramatically reduces the likelihood of mistaken identity. Government statistics state that due to warmer temperatures, 77 percent fewer parents bring home the wrong kid from school.
To be sure, skiers and resort owners long for the white stuff. Ice skating rink owners anxiously await frigid temperatures.
No town wants its snow and ice festival to morph into a Sleet and Slop Spectacular. Nor do cities that have busted budgets, buying snowplows and stockpiling mountains of salt, look kindly on brown winters.
Worse, snowbirds cannot bear photos of friends back home visiting mailboxes in their shirtsleeves.
Yes, brown winters remain unpopular with some.
Me? I’m a coat-hater from decades back. (My son’s snowsuit antipathy is no surprise.)
Still, I welcome whispery snowflake kisses on my hood as we walk to church. Thousands of priceless diamonds glittering in my sunny backyard. Wind-carved curves of snow defy human artistry. …
I should’ve kept my mouth shut.
The Weather Channel predicts snow’s soon return. Do these scientific drama kings and queens truly know their stuff?
Brown or white winter today?
Stay tuned for our latest paranoia.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Which do you prefer, a brown or white winter?
O Lord, You recall that when we got married, Steve was a freshman medical student. I didn’t have a job. We hadn’t seen each other in five months. Father, You could have had us committed. (Our parents thought about it.)
Instead, OMG, You have walked with us, every step, for 48 years. Thank You that our crazy love grows crazier — and better — every year.
What do you mean, it’s 2023? Didn’t we just change millennia?
But if we’re going to be delusional, let’s take it all the way: Didn’t The Beatles just arrive from Britain?
Unfortunately, reality refuses to go away. I should believe the mirror and get down to the important — and now, bearable — business of making New Year’s resolutions.
Years ago, I revolutionized this prickly process by making only resolutions I could keep. A 100-percent success rate has confirmed my process’s validity. So, with confidence — and not a little smugness — I present:
Rachael’s Resolutions for 2023
First, I resolve not to embrace the Liver Diet.
I will add another size to my black pants collection. Probably not a smaller size.
Continuing the clothing theme: I will leave ink pens only in wash loads that include my husband’s best shirts.
I will lose 23 of my husband’s left socks. And zero of mine.
In 2023, I promise not to buy a Tibetan mastiff puppy for 1.9 million dollars, as one dog lover did. Hubby, not a canine devotee even when it’s free, breathes easier.
His mood improves further when I resolve to root against the New England Patriots, LA Lakers, Kentucky Wildcats, and St. Louis Cardinals during 2023. Forever and ever.
I will not attend Punxsutawney Phil’s arrival in full ball dress — even if he and his groundhog buddies are wearing tails.
Next summer, I promise to eat three cherry Popsicles® with real sugar.
I will clear the dining room table in 2023. When in-laws visit.
However, I refuse to disturb dust in my living room. Why disrupt an archaeological wonder in the making?
Ditto for four nonfunctional boom boxes and the garage bulging with 1980s computer equipment.
I resolve to pray for drivers who cut me off: “God, please bless my interstate enemy — and protect everyone in his path. By the way, could You also dismantle his transmission?”
I resolve to yell at my computer more than I yell at people.
That smile crinkles will outnumber frown wrinkles.
Whew. That last goal appears impossible.
Unless I also resolve to ruin someone’s bad day with kindness. Every. Chance. I. Get.
Together, those final two resolutions may blow my 100 percent success record. But don’t you think it’s worth it?
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What resolutions will you make for 2023?
O Lord, wasn’t it just yesterday when we were shaking in our shoes, hoarding batteries and drinking water as the new millennium loomed? Yet, You brought us through, as You always do. OMG, thank You that new possibilities don’t scare You. And because of that, we can celebrate 2023!