The Dreams of Christmas

from sugar plums to . . .

I can remember the dreams of Christmas. They started with the arrival of the Sears Roebuck catalog. Page upon page of wonderful toys stirred my imagination. I knew I couldn’t have all of them and I honed my powers of selectivity.

What one gift would I want? And as importantly, what one gift would meet with my parents’ approval? I would spend hours looking at the pictures, reading the descriptions, and trying to foretell the wonder of having that prized possession within my grasp . . . and I would dream dreams of Christmas.

As I grew a little older, I didn’t fully lose the excitement of “getting.” Let’s just be honest, I still get excited. But my desire has shifted to other things. And my dreams have changed, as well.

I remember the dreams of Christmas. Not just about toys and ties and tools and treats. I remember the dreams of Christmas trees with the smell of  evergreen and even that slightly malodorous scent of electrical magic coming from those bubble lights. I remember the dreams of candy dishes on every surface of my grandmother’s house filled with bitesize packets of sugar and chocolate that were mine for the taking. I remember the smell of my other grandmother’s “pie cabinet” and the incredible bounty of sweet goodness stored within. I remember the dreams of quiet times, lying on the living room floor amid the torn wrapping paper and bows, with family around and content swelling from every corner of the room.

I still have dreams at Christmas. But they aren’t quite the same. My subconscious bypasses the festivities and centers instead on the quiet times — the peaceful times — of being there and having family close by. I dream of having everyone present, even those who have passed on. I dream of having things to talk about, memories to recall, and visions to share.

I still dream at Christmas. Just less of sugar plums and more of why we celebrate.

Merry Christmas! May your dreams come true.




the best option

The last few weeks have been difficult. Too much travel. The loss of someone special to our family. A bit of anxiety. A real desire to unplug and let life pass effortlessly for a while. Then, I received my gift. Newness.

I fell asleep burdened, but woke with new hopes, plans, and goals. Indeed, one of the functions of sleep is to allow our brains to clean up the clutter, organize itself, and make connections that our forced consciousness can’t quite master.

And, so, I awoke . . . to newness.

If you’re struggling, look for that moment of newness. Call a friend. Get your name on a prayer list. Find one new thing to do today that brings you closer to who you want to be. You only have to find one. Other newness will pursue you.

Newness is a gift from God. Open your present now.

Surreptitious Sunrise

good times happen -- even when hidden

I seem to travel a lot these days. Unless I’m driving when the sun comes up, I often miss the sunrise. I suppose that’s why I take so much pleasure when the sun rises before me.

Arriving at my office early in the morning, I often groan a bit as I leave my car — a combination of age and perhaps that last set at the gym. But, being in West Texas and having a full view of the eastern sky, my breath is often taken as I stand and my minor pains fade as I’m surprised by the sunrise that is unfolding.

Following yesterday’s magic moment (captured above), today’s display was a little plain. No clouds to the east. No special color. Just sunlight beginning to lighten the sky and brighten the earth beneath me. As I entered into the artificial light of the building, I suddenly realized the power of a new day and the certainty of a sunrise. I began to feel a great deal of gratitude that — whether I could see it or not, whether I fully appreciated it or not — this day was a gift.

For those of you whose sunrises seem hidden, may you feel peace and comfort knowing that the day is waiting for you. And though it may not bring dazzling panoramas and warmth to you immediately, this day is important. The sunrise may be plain or covered by clouds. But a day is coming when a glorious sunrise will be made just for you.


All In a Name

I have to admit that I was entertained. One of my colleagues from the university posted on social media about an email exchange between him and one of his undergraduate students. In succinct form, he told how he had instructed the student on the need for him to address professors with their earned title, rather than their first name.

Now, I have an opinion on all of this and a preference, but I was genuinely interested in the responses. I found there was a mixture of everything from “I earned my doctorate and you will call me Dr.” to “I prefer you address me by my first name.” And what was extremely interesting to me was the fact that all of the positions were accompanied somewhere in the reply line by valid reasons for the position. “Valid,” meaning trustworthy, of value, supportable.

That was extremely interesting because, as I mentioned, I have a very clear position on all of this. Sort of. Generally, I tell my students — and others — what my preference is and then I let them do whatever makes them feel comfortable. So some call me “Dr.” (even though that is only appropriate in an academic setting when you have a juris doctorate), some call me “Professor,” some call me “Mr.,” while still others call me “Joey.”

All those names are good. I answer to them. In fact, I answer to just about anything due to some hearing loss and tinnitus.

But I long to be called by another name. And that’s one that can’t be set or earned by me. I have to grow into it.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” Matthew 5:9

Releasing Expectations

Freedom to Move On

For some time, I’ve been holding on to some expectations. I’m releasing a few of them as of today.

[Photo Credit: Artists in Christian Testimony Int’l]

When we coach people in leadership, we urge them to set expectations for their followers and to patiently assist them in owning those expectations. Sometimes what we fail to tell our leaders is that, after a measured degree of diligence, it’s okay to let those expectations go and to stop setting themselves up for disappointment.

And, if the leader’s heart is right, it’s okay to kindly, but firmly move on.

Moving on could mean a lot of different things. But when that time comes, the leader must own the consequences — both bad and good.

Are you facing an expectation that appears hopeless? Have you done all you know to do to help?

Then let go. And smile. You’re free of that one. It’s time to plant a new seed in fertile ground.