Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas !

I finally got my tree decorated!
Still missing the topper...I have 
both a star and angel someplace.
My favorite ornament....
Halley's Comet

My office tree with bits of my
favorite things I added throughout
the year.

Merry Christmas
and peaceful wishes
 for your best year
 yet...2013 !

This is one of my favorite

Keeping Christmas
Henry van Dyke

It is a good thing to observe Christmas day. The mere marking of times and seasons, when men agree to stop work and make merry together, is a wise and wholesome custom. It helps one to feel the supremacy of the common life over the individual life. It reminds a man to set his own little watch, now and then, by the great clock of humanity which runs on sun time.
But there is a better thing than the observance of Christmas day, and that is, keeping Christmas.
Are you willing to forget what you have done for other people, and to remember what other people have done for you; to ignore what the world owes you, and to think what you owe the world; to put your rights in the background, and your duties in the middle distance, and your chances to do a little more than your duty in the foreground; to see that your fellowmen are just as real as you are, and try to look behind their faces to their hearts, hungry for joy; to own that probably the only good reason for your existence is not what you are going to get out of life, but what you are going to give to life; to close your book of complaints against the management of the universe, and look around you for a place where you can sow a few seeds of happiness—are you willing to do these things even for a day? Then you can keep Christmas.
Are you willing to stoop down and consider the needs and the desires of little children; to remember the weakness and loneliness of people who are growing old; to stop asking how much your friends love you, and ask yourself whether you love them enough; to bear in mind the things that other people have to bear in their hearts; to try to understand what those who live in the same house with you really want, without waiting for them to tell you; to trim your lamp so that it will give more light and less smoke, and to carry it in front so that your shadow will fall behind you; to make a grave for your ugly thoughts and a garden for your kindly feelings, with the gate open—are you willing to do these things even for a day? Then you can keep Christmas.
Are you willing to believe that love is the strongest thing in the world—stronger than hate, stronger than evil, stronger than death—and that the blessed life which began in Bethlehem nineteen hundred years ago is the image and brightness of the Eternal Love? Then you can keep Christmas.
And if you keep it for a day, why not always?
But you can never keep it alone.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Peace, interrupted

Has everyone heard of
Mattie J.T. Stepanek?
If not, please check out his
website for more info.

Just thoughts -- on interrupted peace.
by Jeni Stepanek, Ph.D.
On behalf of the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation 

Peace is possible.

I do not understand why handfuls of people - those handfuls representing diverse races and religions and economic and education statuses - reach a point in life that a choice is made to destroy or diminish other lives in calculated or cold or careless ways.

I am at a loss for words and explanations right now. There are no good reasons or justifications for senseless acts of violence, or discrimination, or hatred, or revenge, or whatever. I do not know why some people, and I honestly believe it is 'handfuls of people' make the choices they make, because most people are, as Mattie said - 'generally and genuinely good'.

What I do know is that every moment in every life holds the opportunity for peace - not just as a possibility but as a reality. It comes down to personal choices.

Peace involves good judgment, not judging others.

Peace involves just choices, not choosing justice or revenge or retaliation for others.

Peace involves some level of personal sacrifice - in resources and time and mediation - not self-sacrifice or the sacrificing of others.

Peace involves education and communication and collaboration, not assumption or hearsay or force.

Peace involves understanding. Understanding our own needs that will enable us to survive, and that will also allow us to thrive and know hope and happiness.

Peace involves understanding our neighbors' needs and not assuming that all people have the same preferences or priorities in needs.

Peace involves balancing and tending to the needs of all people in a fair and just and good way.

Peace involves recognizing that the needs of humanity include not only access to food and water and safety and education, but also respect and hope and happiness and the nurturing of resiliency - so that natural burdens may strengthen us rather than harden us.

Peace necessitates a realization that mental and emotional health needs matter as much in the balance as physical and medical health needs.

Peace grows from a feeling that "we matter" and that we "have purpose" (or as Mattie called it, a "Heartsong") - despite differences or hardships or preferences.

Peace involves honesty and accuracy in story-telling and news reporting, not sensation or fact-angling.

Peace involves responding to realities in a balanced way, not reacting with emotion or political agendas.

Peace involves balancing privilege with responsibility.

Peace involves compassion and kindness, and patience and respect, and trust.

Peace is not about agreeing with or even liking our neighbors around the block or around the world; peace is simply about being with our neighbors - without judgment and with purpose. A good and gentle purpose, which is peace.

Peace is for all people, and peace is possible, if we learn and teach and understand what peace is really about.

Peace does not begin with ending wars or controlling or condemning or hating people we do not know or like or agree with or understand.

Peace begins within each of us when our needs are met, and we are enabled to make responsible choices in thought and attitude, and in word and action - in our homes, in our schools, in our places of work and worship, in our communities.

Peace grows as we support our neighbors in their needs, and in realizing that they matter and have purpose, even as we matter and have purpose.

Peace involves so many, many worthy basics, and truths.

Peace involves commitment to such basics and truths.

Peace involves role models, who exemplify all the necessary choices and truths that will create peace, despite natural burdens and differences and disasters.

Peace involves planning, and practice, and work. Hard work. Not just a commitment to ideals, but also negotiating and collaborating and creatively considering so many multi-faceted issues that interrupt peace.

Peace involves faith. Faith in Goodness, for this moment, and every next moment, and eternity.

We cannot always choose what happens to us, or to those we love and care for. But we can choose how we reflect any reality onto others, into the world, and unto the future. Peace involves a reflection anchored in hope, and nurtured by others, and strengthened with faith.

As we begin to recover from yet another tragedy, it becomes our choice in how to move "forthward" as Mattie would say - not pointing fingers, but joining hands and tending to those things that need to be fixed, and truths that need to be embraced, for our world. And I am certain that Mattie would encourage us to move forthward with a careful response that will support peace beyond the initial emotional reaction. He would say that hope is real, even in the darkest of moments, and that life is worthy of celebrating.

Mattie would remind us that peace is about fostering resilience and rebuilding the mosaic of humanity, and not about furthering revenge or retaliation. He would implore us to consider the truths of peace, and then to reconsider how we are balancing needs and rights and privileges with securities and responsibilities and protections. And I believe that my son would continue advocating that peace is possible and that it begins with a choice, but that peace also relies on reviewing and updating policies and laws and attitudes and habits that move peace from that ever-present possibility to a reality.

We must seek peace, and embrace peace as an attitude and something that matters in all times, not just when things are going our way.

We must make peace, and nurture it as a habit, and offer it to others through our words and actions.

We must bring peace, and share it with other people - people who look and live and think and pray much like us, and people who look and live and think and pray very differently from us.

We must choose peace as something that matters for ALL people, because peace IS possible, if we make peace our choice.

-These are just thoughts on interrupted peace, and on moving forthward, from "Mama Peace" - who has been crying with too many others in our good world in response to the latest tragedies.

Closing thought for this statement:

"We have, we are, a mosaic of gifts,
to nurture, to offer, to accept.
... and now, let us pray,
differently, yet together..."
    -Mattie J.T. Stepanek
"For Our World" poem excerpt in
 "Just Peace: A Message of Hope."

For more information about Mattie J.T. Stepanek or the mission and work of Mattie's Foundation, please visit Thank you. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Oh Christmas Tree..........

We got our Christmas tree 
the night (the 27th) before the
 big storms here in Northern
 California, but here it sat for a week....

.....and now it sits here !

I hope I can get at least the
lights on it  (might have to
get new ones) ......

....because I don't know how I will 
get through all of the boxes of
decorations that have been
stored for years.   :o)  I had
plans to get this all done in
November after I put everything
away from our Halloween party, but ?
Have you gotten your tree and 
decorations finished?