The Zero Tradition

So it’s been Christmas. I think that’s a part of a song lyric actually. Never mind.

980x.jpg

I love Christmas. My parents instilled in me a love for the traditions and the holiday and as a child: The presents!!
Once I got older, I remember their annoyance as to why I was so keen on keeping all the Christmas traditions every year… They wanted to change things. I disliked change. A lot!
Don’t mess with my Christmas mister!

But life happens… all the time. Can’t really stop it even though it sucks and cuts deeply at times.

My mom died suddenly. Then Christmas had to change.
Then I got married and Christmas really had to change.
Celebrating Christmas in Japan without the goodies I was accustomed to from Denmark. They simply couldn’t be bought… So I made the best of it.

Then I met Jesus and had the most wonderful Christmas of my life: The one where traditions mattered absolutely ZERO.
By then though, my husband had gotten a taste of my traditional Christmas and so did my daughter… all those lovely presents!

Then my dad died. I blogged a lot about the journey toward the end of his life. Goodness – that was hard!

This was my third Christmas without my dad in my life. The first year I handled really well. Keeping up appearances. “It was the best thing for him to let go of life” etc. I did good.
The second year was not that “easy”, but I thought I made it through alright. It felt harder and I thought I’d make up for it by putting more presents underneath the tree. Maybe it would help. Boy, was I wrong!

SONY DSCTHIS YEAR.
Oh dear. Total emotional breakdown in the middle of cooking Christmas dinner. I had to run out of the home… So I took out the trash. Well, in more than one way. All through December I had heard my dad’s voice in my head so often it nearly made me deaf. The pain of remembering! I wanted to scream and run away. His voice might have brought comfort, if I wasn’t so keen on running away from it.

In the parking lot area of where we live, I let the tears run… Nobody and everybody could see me. The mail guy came on his little motorcycle with letters and postcard. He looked at me with such compassion but couldn’t do anything.
I had to get myself together… and made Christmas happen.

The one thing I want to get back to, is to celebrate the Christmas where tradition matters ZERO. They’re good to have, granted. But the main thing isn’t that. It’s JESUS!

And New Year is rapidly coming my way. New Year used to be champagne at midnight. That was life pre-marriage, pre-grey hair, pre-I-need-my-sleep-at-night, pre-wrinkles… You get the idea!

In Japan, New Year is January 1st and spending the day with family. We drink a special sake, so thick with sugar it screeches in the ear canals. The Buddhist bow before their ancestors in front of the family alter… I usually need the bathroom during that time or I shrink and blend into the background. Never knew I had “chameleon traits”…

Then we eat. The food is great – “Osechi” they call it. Well, some of it is tasty… Ahem. Some of these traditional Japanese dishes aren’t my favorites! It used to be the big cooking spree for the Japanese housewives, but these days the New Year dishes (can!)  come ready made and packed from the supermarkets in Japanese, Chinese or Western styles… yeah.


The best food though is the “Ozoni” soup! Yuzu flavored soup with mochi. Yum!

Then we watch (those who can keep their eyes open) the annual “Ekiden” – relay run from Hakone to Tokyo. The TV is utterly boring but the atmosphere is good.

To the whole Blogosphere: I wish you and your loved ones a Happy New Year 2018. May this be the year of love, joy and laughter – even through the tears. Because tradition matters ZERO ; And Jesus matters all! 

240_F_159627687_yem5MViPzImgMrWWFPoFqFMXphW27fBw

Love Stuck #2

This is part 2 of “Love Stuck” – a novel-like writing so, please make sure you have read part 1.

——————————————————————————————————–

bigstock-Sun-Through-the-Blinds-75865586The morning after, Liz woke up and gazed at the white shining light streaming through the windows and blinds. It was another cold day outside, but the winter light was unmistakably the purest and clearest of all the seasons. She loved the colors of her bedroom. The rented apartment came with cream colored walls and a build in closet. The room was small but big enough for a double bed, bedside tables and a dresser. After all, what else would be needed in a bedroom. She had gone to great length to make the bedroom feel peaceful and relaxing, so she had purposely picked bedspread, cushions and wall art in dusty and pale colors of lavender and green.

After yesterday’s non-coincidental chat with Joy and her evening in tears, she needed God’s love to shine. As she was taking in the beauty of the light, she remembered the verse in the Bible that said “joy will come in the morning”. She found herself looking for a rainbow there, in the light, in her bedroom. Just like the Lord had made His promise solid of not flooding the earth again by giving His people the rainbow, so Liz was longing for a promise from the Lord. Liz shook her head when realizing how ridiculous it was to be looking for a rainbow in her bedroom.

d48fd6a46a4ffaf4e76eda061aba2464--knitted-slippers-natShe got out of bed and went straight for the heaters in the living room and turned them on to warm up the apartment. The floors were strikingly cold and she tiptoed in her slippers and pajama into the kitchen. She kept telling herself that the next place she would live would have heated floors! The house was quiet. Her husband was away on a longer business trip. He would often be gone for months. Travels and production trials at foreign factories was a part of his job description. Her daughter was still sleeping. She was reaching her teenage years and with that, her body just needed more sleep. It was great for Liz because it gave her silent mornings, which was something she vividly cherished.

In the kitchen, which was old but functional, she put on the kettle and watched the steam as the water came to a boil. She reached for her tea mug. A handmade ceramic mug she had bought on a market on a holiday. It was a beautiful grey and dark periwinkle blue mug with a tree on each sides of the handle. Like the tree of life from the garden of Eden. The sweet aroma of her morning tea, a mild blend of Earl Grey, filled her mind with smiles. She snuggled up in her rococo chair by the window with a blanket and her tea in hand. She enjoyed the silence and the little green birds outside the window dancing on the tree branches. A beautiful morning and the room was beginning to warm up.

As she sat there in the silence of the morning, she found her thoughts swiftly circling back to Joy. Only the Lord knew the answer to the puzzling questions that her mouth whispered to Him. Talking to Jesus was much more simple than talking to anyone else. She was always understood! Tears filled her eyes as she listened for His answers, but this morning no answers came. She got up and went to get her Bible, opened at a random page while her heart was pleading for something to hang on to. The Lord surely would relieve her of this hurt inside, from a love desperate to get out, but had to be under wraps.

1102013263_univ_sqr_xl

She was jump reading. First how Zechariah doubted the angel when told he would become a father and then how Mary believed, though couldn’t understand how, when told she were to be the mother of the Son of God. Both had to be patient, both had to trust God with their lives. Liz had to do the same. Be patient and trust God. There was a reason for this love she felt for Joy. One day she would learn why.

She wiped the tears when she heard her daughter was up and with a sigh of relief she whispered, that it was time to begin the day.

The Card Season

61UDu4XgN7L._SL500_AC_SS350_

No’b, not poker…

T’is the season… for Christmas cards, because quite frankly it would be odd to send out Christmas cards any other time of year!

I do so love receiving Christmas cards! But one thing I have noticed in the past 5 to 10 years; The amount of cards I receive are increasingly decreasing. In fact I’ve gone from about 20-25 down to 5 or 6!!
Alarm bells ringing!

In the little duckpond from where I roam, also known as Denmark, the whole card thing isn’t the most popular thought known to man. In fact, in Denmark these days the postman only comes around twice pr. week…

23672897016_37d8014b4a_b

I can’t say that I understand that, because I love cards! Perhaps we’re more interested in the food..?!?
So I figured that my American friends would save my Christmas card decorative display, in a matter of speaking… because I see “them” always writing “thank you” cards, “get well soon” cards or a “just to say I’m praying for you” card. So maybe my Christmas card display during the festive season would increase.

Photo on 12-7-17 at 09.21My display of the cards I receive are a part of my Christmas decorations and I love, love, love watching those cards all throughout December, reminding me of the warm and loving people in my life and of course – the One True Savior I’m celebrating!

But no.

What has increased are email greetings where people write long and more detailed about the whole year. While I love those emails, most of it is something I have learned already via social media or emails throughout the year. Stationery Greeting Cards For Mac - Free Download And Software pertaining to Free Christmas Card Email Templates MacBut the saddest part for me is that I can’t hang an email – or e-cards – as Christmas decoration.

I know it’s a commercialized tradition which began in the UK around 1840 with the opening of the first post office (it wasn’t called a post office back then though), but by the 1900 had spread to Europe. I suppose I just find it sad that electronics, which hurts our eyes and lures us away from family time, has taken over a very nice tradition of spreading the cheer…One the kids can actively participate in too. Preschool-Christmas-Card-Making-Station-2

There is something to be said about someone who sits down and handwrites a card and sends it to you. It makes you feel important somehow to that person. A long email greeting sent out to all the friends surely took time to write (and time to read), but it doesn’t make many feel particularly loved. In fact, I’m just a name on a list.

2F5D15C900000578-3355689-image-a-14_1450093375220

No, not soaking in self-pity and I am trying not to judge and I do so humbly see the ease and time saving aspects of the email greeting – I do!
But it isn’t a personal greeting and I think we need to make more of an effort of making things more personal with each other.

That’s love – and that is what Jesus commands us to do. He may not command us to write Christmas cards, but those are an obvious choice of love language. Remember why He came down…

lovecamedown

Morning of Christmas eve. An effort to conquer depression.

It’s not Christmas morning and since I’m not American my family do not celebrate Christmas morning with presents. I’m Scandinavian and we celebrate on Christmas eve. I have no idea why we have the tradition, but I’m imagining that the lights of Christmas eve lit up the darker time (winter daylight is from 8.30 am to 4 pm or just about) while Christmas morning most people would sleep in. Or maybe it’s just a time zone thing.

Either way, I’m experiencing a wave of depression.

christmas-sad-tree-400x400

I was going to post a Christmas greeting on facebook, and that had me thinking about the year and especially the past few months… and have you by the way seen this year’s “facebook year” on facebook? I don’t even want to look… it’s filled with great stuff but so far from the reality of my life this past year.

I woke up to a mail this morning from my brother who wished us a merry Christmas and told us that dad is not doing well and that the treatment is life extending, but that they have all more or less come to the understanding that this is the last part of his life. Sigh… it’s just very hard to be far wanting to be close and yet knowing that either way, I can’t do much.   — I have mails in my inbox which requires me using my non-existing communication skills… and it really really makes me feel so incredibly sad to know that much of what I say and do (communication wise as well as culture wise) are misunderstood. — Last night my husband returned from China and we had to have a talk about our daughters possible dyscalculia and why the school isn’t picking up on it. I’m actually afraid of taking it to the school (since the meeting where I was cut off from communicating with her teachers).

Reflecting on the past year isn’t something I usually do until new year, but this year, I’m pretty sure I don’t even want to. Not much good has happened in this year and I say that fully knowing that of course good things has happened, but in the big picture, a lot – a lot! of big bad stuff has been showered upon my family and me.

— But I resumed writing this blog and I have met some pretty wonderful people here and I just love you all. How easy it is to get whirled downwards by those negative thoughts. So I’m asking the Lord to bring me some peace of heart this day and evening and help me focus on the birth of the Savior – and make that my facebook Christmas greeting…

I can cry another day.

Finally! – It’s the season and Frozen is still a good movie

Last day of school was today and it was a half day – meaning from 8.30 to noon and the program of the day was Christmas party and then Christmas concert. My girl was gorgeous looking in her Queen Elsa of Arrendale dress and matching shoes and hair bow. Well, she’s 7 and loves everything princess and dressing up. And personally, I think “Frozen” is about the best movie Disney has made. The Norway I know shines through in the images they drew and even the distinctive art of Scandinavia is vividly present. And of course the act of true love, the self sacrifice to save those loved ones who doesn’t know which way to go displays the love of Jesus in an incredible way. Though Disney may never have had that thought in mind, but surely God did.

image_228381_3-476717

I have longed for this day for a long time: Finally, it’s vacation time. Finally I don’t have to struggle with a girl who doesn’t want to go to school or have worries about this, that and the other all combined into one lovely punch-bowl threatening to fall on both our heads. Finally, I can relax in the mornings and have my coffee in peace while my girl relaxes doing what 7 year olds feel like doing when they wake up in the mornings.

Oh Finally!

Not so long ago a friend came to me and told me that God had shown her a word when she prayed for me. The word was “loneliness”. At first I nodded because I understood. Little did I know that God was going to bring “loneliness” to a whole new level within me.

Those of you who read my posts regularly will know most of this already, but just in case:

My dad is terminally ill with advanced prostate cancer that has spread to the bones (spine) and 2 new metastasis has appeared, leaving him paralyzed from waist down. I know that it can spread to any organ at any given moment… and though I try to have an eye on the suitcases, as he is after all 10.000 km away, it’s as if I can’t imagine the day will come. But I realized that once he is gone, there is very little left for me in my birth country. It’s a lonely feeling I can’t really share with anyone, least of all my husband as he has never lived abroad.

My husband, being a nonbeliever, doesn’t understand the importance of having a church family. For me having a small group is essential to my well being, but forming one takes time and it’s hard. Recently our church has been without a pastor and a candidate has appeared, yet my husband who usually has joined me in church, hasn’t taken a liking to him and has said that he won’t go anymore. The prospect of going without him is rather dark, but the outlook of changing church feels even darker. The decision is mine… and that’s a lonely feeling.

I made a friend recently – well, some months ago actually – and I just love her! She’s an active seeker and was placed in my path as an angel sent from the Lord himself! Before I knew it though my friends was making friends with her and one thing lead to another. Amazing how the Lord is drawing her closer and I’m thrilled, because wow! I wanted to give her a Bible for Christmas and told a friend. The friend was placing an order and asked if I wanted the Bible from there. I declined because I had something else in mind. Next thing I know I speak to my friend whom then tells me that my friend had ordered a Bible for her, but she felt wrong taking any more (she already got 2 NT in 2 languages) so she wanted to pay for it. I asked my friend if she had ordered a Bible for her and she just said yes… I thought; Hang on a moment – I wanted to give her that Bible and she knew that, so why on earth did she go ahead and ordered one for her… Well, I have to forgive obviously, but it makes me real sad that the, precious to me, act of giving this special girl in my life a Bible, was taken away. I know it’s ridiculous because it’s my own pride and selfishness standing in the way. And that’s a lonely feeling.

Just to top it all off, we have been given notice that we must move this spring. At least we have more than a month to find something else, but with my husband living 8 hours drive away, it’s going to be tough to get a handle on this. I’ll be doing all the moving work and he’ll be doing all the paperwork. Marriage can be a lonely place when circumstances parts the couple.

Just the other day I was praying and words just flowed out of my mouth. I didn’t think too much actually – but I said “Lord, I know I am in this tunnel and it’s a hard and lonely place to be. But help me remember that You a-r-e the tunnel and in the tunnel and the light in the other end, is the hope”

Hope – it’s a word easily spread around during Christmas season. But really, the Hope IS the light and the light IS the Lord and the Lord IS the Christ and Christ IS God.

I may have loneliness in my heart. Sometimes overwhelming. But I also have hope.

Clinging to the Hope who is the God of Peace.

Christmas time… wait… again?

All my life I have so loved the Christmas traditions

As a child I gazed at the stocking, decorations and food in addition

Growing up, the traditions was kept with a great deal of care

Starting a family, across the globe, I continued to share

Though this year, somehow, it seems Christmas is early…

Taking me by surprise and now, making me swirly

I suppose the daily life and to-do lists took over and December took me by surprise

Now I must focus on presents, decorations and all the foods in quantity and size

If you’re busy and worried and concerned, the Joy of Christmas is hard to find

So I’m changing my to-d0 list and adding the 4th commandment,  to keep Christ in mind!

Christmas again