The Surprise Party

I just had a birthday yesterday and now I’m 28. My sainted mother decided it would be fun to throw me a surprise party. I had absolutely no idea it was coming so it was a very successful surprise. I came home to a house full of loved ones and ample embarrassment. It was a great day.

And it has been a gift that keeps on giving because the party that evening shed my day in a whole new light. My mom going to get groceries. My sister insisting she take me out to get our nails done. What were relatively ordinary things were actually part of a larger plan to do something lovely for me. While I was at the party I found out more about the plan how there had been a secret Facebook group and how just that afternoon my brothers had cleaned the house from top to bottom. Everyone was thrilled with themselves for going about business as usual for weeks while all the while knowing this was in store for me. And I can’t help but think that that’s what heaven is going to be like. The moment we get there it will all make sense. We’ll finally understand all the pieces of the plan and how it all came together for our good, the sorrows as well as the joys.

But until that marvelous day comes here’s wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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A Christmas Carol

So as we are in the midst of the Christmas season (Christmas begins rather than ends on December 25th!) I wanted to share something I remembered recently before it was no longer topical. And since today is also, in fact, my birthday I’m thinking you can humor me.

The past few months have been really busy for me and things were moving at such a steady and uncompromising pace that I felt like I barely had time to get in the spirit of Christmas. Work especially had been really crazy. And I began to notice that the things that used to make me feel very full of Christmas spirit, like ornaments on the tree, setting up the Nativity, and even hearing the Advent scriptures weren’t really hitting me like they have in the past. I don’t know if I was simply going through the motions and not giving these things my full attention but I felt like something was missing interiorly in my preparations and I did not know what it was.

Fortunately, one night when I got home from work my family had been watching A Christmas Carol with George C. Scott, and I finished my dinner right around the time the ghost of Christmas future showed up and sat down to watch.

I saw a scene of pleading, of a man who realized the horrors of who he had been and what he had done (and not done) and who desperately wanted to try again. He begged to be given a second chance. What was the point of seeing the light, he reasoned, if he was not given the chance to put the new truths he had discovered into action?

It’s a great scene. He gets the second chance he asks for and as he realizes that he is not dead but alive the lines that come out of his mouth are amazing. He runs around the room and he doesn’t waste a second in sharing his joy, his gratitude, his love, and even his money with everyone he sees. When his old acquaintances see him they are amazed because they know they are seeing a thoroughly changed man.

At last, in watching this movie just days before Christmas, I knew what I had been missing. I finally caught the significance of the coming of Jesus that I had been trying to capture in my preparations for Christmas but which had been alluding me, and the sudden clarity hit me like a truck.

The birth of Jesus is significant because it is the beginning of salvation. It brings the love of God into the world which makes a conversion of heart possible. It means sincere repentance can be met with mercy, forgiveness, and second chances rather than what we deserve. But perhaps most of all it’s the love that makes us one, because when I saw Scrooge running around ready to live an entirely new life than the one he had been living I remembered my own conversion and the subsequent euphoria of realizing that it’s never too late for Love to prevail. And I confess, ironically, that the only thing that makes me happier than experiencing that Love for myself is watching others experience it too.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 

The Force Awoke a Long Time Ago but I’m Just Writing About It Now

So May is a very exciting month for my family because my youngest brother and my mom have their birthdays literally one right after the other. Naturally, the atmosphere is very festive and there are ridiculous amounts of cake even by my own inflated standards of what is acceptable.

And in honor of my sweet youngest brother’s birthday, I thought I would dedicate a blog post to his favorite thing on God’s green earth: Star Wars Episode VI The Force Awakens.

Most bloggers have already gotten it out of their system but I haven’t!

I absolutely loved it. Could have cried with happiness to see some decent screenwriting for the first time since the seventies (that should definitely be interpreted as a slap against the horrible prequel trilogy. When Ewan McGregor can’t save your film you know it’s beyond saving.) But J.J. Abrams does not disappoint and the film is so well done from start to finish.

I would add that there will be SPOILERS past this point but honestly if you haven’t seen the film by now what are you doing with your life? Time to re-examine your priorities.

Anyways, to keep this thing easy to read and reignite some passionate controversy among fans I’m going to list reasons why I think Rey and Kylo Ren are siblings and NOT in fact cousins, which I hear a lot of people say.

  • Luke Skywalker is a Jedi and super in tune with the force. What part of that screams “has a baby mama” to people?
  • Luke does not strike me as the type of guy to go back on his Jedi vows/code. He was only willing to die rather than turn to the dark side and when they find him he is living as a solitary hermit…
  • Maz asks Han what’s the deal with the girl and then the film cuts to a different scene before he answers
  • Han acts as a father figure to Rey
  • It makes logical sense to me that if Kylo Ren had gone bad Han and Leia would have hidden the existence of their other child in order to protect her
  • The Millenium Falcon was on the planet where Rey had lived her whole life
  • Leia and Rey share force sensitivity and have a moment when Rey sort of wordlessly informs Leia of Han’s death
  • Rey and Kylo Ren are well matched in terms of force ability.
  • It would be soooo much better for future storylines

So maybe they are, maybe they aren’t. I suppose only time will tell.

But now that this silly tribute is at an end, wishing the happiest of birthdays to the franchise’s biggest fan who turns SIXTEEN today! Too bad we have to wait until December for the next one…