My new novel that was on the Amazon Vella’s favorite list for a number of weeks is now available in print at a discounted price. This is a emotionally powerful and epic fictional novel that may not be appropriate for everyone. Read with caution. It took me 10 years to write this story, and I’m thankful to finally see it in print. Enjoy, and be encouraged.
Tag: creative writing
Book Release on Amazon Vella
My grand novel, which is young adult literary fiction, is now finished and published on Amazon Vella. This was a 10-year project that I poured my heart into through the changing years of life. I truly came to recognize the notorious artist’s curse of having a calling to finish a seemingly impossible project, but I am now proud to share it with the world.
This novel is titled The Red Fairy’s Tale.
Its sequel is finished and published too, titled Big City Lights.
Please consider reading the first three chapters for free from the link. Any “likes” help get my novel recognized and shared to others, so I already thank you all in advance for being so supportive of my creative writing, my stories.
Adventure. It was a yearning that Shawn and I shared, and we would often take last minutes drives out of town. This time in life, Shawn was married with two little girls, and I was still single at age 34. I always thought I would get married at 27, but I was wrong.
Sometimes in life we are wrong.
I was in the middle of my masters in fine arts (MFA) in visual arts degree at Azusa Pacific University, and art was on my mind. There was an art show opening in Chinatown, which was one of the Los Angeles art districts at the time. Some of my APU professors were going to be there, along with two gallery owners who became friendly acquaintances.
Seeking last minute adventure, I texted Shawn, and we cruised down the 5 to Los Angeles on a Saturday evening catching up on all of life’s little details.
It was September 5th, and the fall season was introducing itself with the slight change of weather and the coming county fair with the anticipation of Halloween following shortly.
We decided to take a detour and check out a Halloween super store in Los Angeles. Shawn and I roamed down the towering aisles packed with all genres of costumes, yard decorations, masks, toys, etc. It was a world of make-believe awaiting the cooling season. We examined it all. I remember the swords. We took up the plastic weapons and wielded them in the middle of the aisle.
It was a short flashback to childhood.
And then we moved on to the couple’s costumes.
Examining all the different themes—some funny, some stupid—I told Shawn, “Someday I would like a girlfriend who would want to dress up with me for Halloween. Someone who I would want to dress up with too.”
Once again, I was 34, and I was beginning to wonder if I was being too picky about who I should marry. Some people would tell me, “You’ll just know when you meet her.” Others would tell me, “You can’t be too picky; nobody’s perfect.” I knew no one was perfect, but I still had expectations. I still had a list. And I felt that God told me to hold onto that list.
But I was 34.
I told Shawn, “Maybe I need to ignore a few items on my list and just get married already.”
I could tell Shawn was in a difficult place to answer; he wasn’t for sure what to tell me.
Back on the highway through the downtown city lights, we arrived at the art show. We viewed colorful art, ate authentic Chinese food, but mainly talked to a bunch of different people. I made some helpful contacts in the LA art community, and we called it a night.
At one point of the night, Shawn took a break from the gregarious groups of art enthusiasts and wandered around the area to capture some creative photos. Shawn had a deep passion for photography. Later, he showed me one of his photos and tagged me on Instagram. He titled it, “The Vagabond.”
Honestly, I had to look up that word: “A person who wanders from place to place without a home.”
I appreciated the photo.
It was me taking a break from the crowds.
The late drive back to our hometown was long and full of tiring thoughts: I need to just commit to a decent girl. I’m being too picky. I’m not going to meet a girl who fits every expectation on my list.
I wrestled with my newly found conclusion on my way to church the next morning.
I walked up the stairs to my Bible study life group.
I went in and greeted everyone with a smile, trying my best to be encouraging.
I opened up the Bible, and we started reading.
Verse by verse we studied and discussed the Word of God.
Then she walked in—the complete list.
I knew I was no longer a vagabond.
It was shiny, red, and new. Only two doors. Low to the ground.
It was Shawn’s Celica. I had a Corolla, and he bought a new Celica in the midst of the dangerous Fast & Furious craze that overtook the nation. After seeing that movie, every guy in some sort of running car thought he was a racer. I, myself, put a spoiler and chrome rims on my little Corolla and installed a sound system. But my good friend Shawn didn’t have to upgrade his car.
When he picked me up in it, we imaginatively transformed into Paul Walker and Vin Diesel.
Sitting outside at the Market Place during a bored summer night in Bakersfield, our inner youth yearned for adventure. A girl named Jayme was trying to win over our attention, but we weren’t that interested. As she smacked her chewing gum in mid sentence, Shawn interrupted: “Hey, we should go out of town. We should try to get lost.”
It was summer, and my tutoring job on my college campus had ended a few weeks after my classes. “I’m down,” I replied.
The next moment Shawn and I were speeding up the highway driving through rural farm towns in the late night with Jayme riding in the small back seat.
We eventually came to a little town and grabbed some youthful fuel—Taco Bell. We ate it in the parking lot because the restaurant was already closed. As Shawn swallowed down the last of his chalupa, he confessed, “So I’m not sure if we can get lost. It’s harder than I thought.”
I suggested, “Let’s turn off on one of these side roads. We’ll have a better chance then.”
Jayme asked, “So why are we trying to get lost again?”
Shawn replied, “Do you ever get tired of being in only places that you know? How cool would it be to be in some place where you didn’t know where you were?”
We tossed our trash and continued on with our half-full sodas. Old telephone poles flashed beside us as we moved down desolate roads of bumpy asphalt as we were deep in our conversations about life, literature, movies, and video games.
Then it happened.
Shawn yelled out, “Do you know where we are?”
I examined my surroundings and didn’t. I asked, “Wait, are we?”
Shawn pulled over, and yelled, “We’re lost! I don’t know where we are.”
We pulled out on the road again, and within only a few minutes, we saw a street sign that informed us we were only a few miles from the highway.
We were not lost; we were wanderers.
When I graduated college with a BA in psychology and a BA in English, I bought my own sporty car after signing my first teaching contract. It was a convertible. I wanted a custom license plate cover but couldn’t think of anything that would appropriately represent me. Then I read a quote from J. R. R. Tolkien: “Not all those who wander are lost.”
Being a Christian and a young, single adult in a valley of college classes and new teaching career would lead to a season of wanderlust.
Seeking out how adult life works while taking risks and even making mistakes in years of unyielding change identified me as a wanderer.
But I was never lost.
That’s how it is knowing Jesus. The road may be dark and desolate. We may be running on the junk food of life. There may be a gum-smacker in the backseat trying to steal your attention.
And for a moment, you may very well believe that you are lost.
Then you see the sign—you remember God’s Word.
You are not lost.
You’re just a wander in a land that’s not your home.
And you’re trying your best to figure it all out.
Hang in there, mighty wanderer. Eventually, we’ll all be home together.
To Think and to Live
Austere seat belt rules seemed to be less meticulous back in the 80s as I loosened up the tight restriction from my waist to lay my head against the boxy side window of the backseat. The telephone pole lines seemed to sway up and down with foothills blurred behind them as the car drove steadily on the two-lane road.
The Game Boy hadn’t been invited yet, and only the rich had televisions in their cars. My parents sometimes had the radio playing oldies quietly in the background on that enduring drive from Derby Acers to Bakersfield and from Bakersfield back to Derby Acers. And I simply sat in the backseat of our long, white car with maroon seats and Life Savors dried into the matching floor mats and stared out the window, attempting to avoid car sickness.
But I really did so much more than just stare—I thought.
I thought about everything a small child could possibly think about. I wondered if I could strain my eyes hard enough to faintly see the Statue of Liberty in the distance. I reflected on cartoons I recently watched. I debated with myself the possible birthday presents I might get months down the road. I revisited confusing feelings I had about that one special girl at school. I anticipated the next time my best friend would come over and how we would team up to fight off imaginary alien invaders or protect our castle from medieval soldiers and dragons. I analyzed the lyrics of the quietly played tunes and tried to make sense of what was being sung. I soaked in the notes and the melody and felt the music.
Those long drives were some of the best gifts my parents ever gave me because they gave me so much more than a ride from one point to another; they gave me time—free time.
Time to think.
Time to live.
There were no cell phones, email, or social media. Video games were only in 8-bit. And television was something watched with my mom and dad on the couch.
There was time to play. There was time create. And there was plenty of time to think freely.
All of those minutes of thinking added up to make me who I am today.
Someone who thinks.
I didn’t need programs and lessons on the practice of thinking. I didn’t need an educational mindfulness curriculum. I just needed time.
I hope I can someday give my children the same gift in this technologically packed society of today. I hope they can sit back and watch the telephone pole lines sway in the sunset and observe the mountains around them. I hope they can ponder what is beyond our visible sight. I hope that they can be still and know that God is God. I hope they can learn to hear that still small voice through the deafening static of our society.
I hope they can think so that they can truly live.
The Worst Job, Temporarily
My parents always had to work jobs in high school, so they missed out on the many common high school activities that are normally associated with the typical, American, high school experience. They made the most out of it with each other, marrying instead of graduating and starting a family a few years later.
They wanted my sister and me to have a different high school experience. As long as we were involved in school activities and earning good grades, we didn’t have to get jobs. Thus high school, for me, was some of the best years of my life, full of new experiences, unfamiliar adventures, and social challenges.
The summer after I graduated high school, my parents informed me that it was time to get a job. And when you’re an 18-year-old with no previous job experience and no employment connections, you don’t get to be picky.
I spent the early days of my summer as a high school graduate driving around in the increasing heat in a long sleeve dress shirt and tie, dropping off resumes at any and every place that looked tolerable.
I recalled my nanny and papa telling me how my dad used to make the best pizzas when he was a teenager working at a pizza parlor when dating my mom. He would bring them over on the nights he closed after loading up the pizzas with the best combination of cheese and toppings.
I can still hear my nanny say, “Best pizza I ever ate!” as she sat on his couch reminiscing back to the past as my papa nodded in agreement.
Following in my father’s footsteps, I drove to a pizza parlor near my house. After introducing myself to the manager and asking about employment, I was turned away with the common “We’re not hiring right now.”
After a few days of more rejections all around town, I decided to go back to the pizza parlor again to ask if they were hiring now. This time the manager said, “We’re not hiring right now but maybe later.”
A few more days went by with no luck on my job hunt, so I went back to the pizza parlor again. This time the manager asked, “Why do you want to work here so bad?”
I explained I thought it would be a neat job. And that’s how I got my first job. Or that’s how I got the worst job I ever had in my life.
I learned quickly that my dreamy idea of making pizzas while cracking innocent jokes with a new community of friendly faces was far from reality.
I was the joke.
The workers there were not what I would describe as people of high character, and I didn’t belong.
And they knew it.
And they wanted to make sure I knew it.
I seldom heard my name without profanity attached to it, and I was yelled at for questioning their disagreeable procedures, such as making salads with their bare hands directly after handling money and crushing the ice down with their foot when too much was placed into the soft drink ice machine tray. One of their favorite moments was when some kids set off a cherry bomb in the toilet, and they laughed hysterically as they watched me mop off the filth from the walls and ceiling.
The real humbling moment was when I saw my high school ex-girlfriend walk in holding hands with one of my old friends. I had heard that they were dating, but the moment of humility was when they saw me and uncontrollability let out a slight laugh of shock. My post high school life looked dim and lame as I stood there in a cheaply printed pizza parlor t-shirt with one of my managers staring down at me from the oven, looking for a reason to criticize me. When they had finished eating their pizza, my manager quickly yelled at me to clean up their mess as they were still walking out the door.
Now you might think one of the advantages of working at a pizza parlor would be getting free pizza every now and then. Not for me. I was allowed to buy pizza at a small discount, and when making minimum wage, I wasn’t about to spend an hour and a half of my wages on a pizza. During hungry evenings there was a real temptation to sneak a bite from unfinished pizzas left on tables. Being a rule follower, I would throw away half eaten pizzas that were still warm from the oven and leave work hungry.
It wasn’t long until I found a better job working at the bookstore on my university’s campus, which really was a breath of fresh air. My managers there appreciated my hard work and even rewarded it by increasing my responsibilities. I made friends there and got to meet many of the university’s professors before classes began. Plus, I enjoy books far more than pizza.
Eventually, the fall came, and a very special moment of my life happened.
I arrived on my university’s campus to be early on that first day of college, and as I stepped onto the white sidewalk and strolled over freshly cut green grass still wet from the morning’s dew, I took in a deep breath and exhaled in victory knowing that I had made it farther than anyone in my family.
I was a university student.
I was going to be the first in my entire family to graduate college.
And I did, and now I have a wonderful job.
The worst job was only temporary. And that’s something to remember when God has us walk through the valleys in life—or through the pizza parlors.
It’s only temporary.
Even the good career I have now is only temporary.
It’s all only temporary.
This is why our focus should not be on what can be seen around us, for all of this is only temporary. Our focus should be on the things that are not seen, for those things are eternal.
Not everyone is lucky enough to know their great-grandmother, but I was. Grandma Patterson is what we called her. From Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl, she and my great-grandfather brought their many children over to California for a better life. She spent her time working in the laborious fields and raising her 10 children.
When I knew her, she was already old. She wore her hair pulled back tightly into a brown bun that rested on the back of her head. She mostly wore long straight dresses that hung like giant t-shirts. She was overweight some, and she hunched over when she walked.
And her eye vision was failing.
Back then, people didn’t always wear sunglasses when working outside in the fields, and a lifetime of abuse from the unforgiving sun did a number on my Grandma Patterson.
When I was in the sixth grade, I was chubby with an acne covered face and a mouth full of metal. My undiagnosed OCD caused me to slick my hair straight down with a perfect part so not a single hair would ever dare go out of place. I was extremely shy, awkward, and my best friends went by the names of Nintendo and Sega. Needless to say, I didn’t have girls chasing after me, and I didn’t blame them.
For Christmas that year, I remember unwrapping a Christmas present from Grandma Patterson. I think it was the last one I ever remember receiving from her. It was a green bottle of spray deodorant.
Yes, underarm deodorant.
I opened it up not knowing how to react. I was still at the young age when body odor didn’t exist, but I didn’t want to be rude, so I forced out a “Thank you!” with a decent smile.
My great-grandma stood up and walked over to me hunched over. She leaned in close to me and said, “You spray a little of that here and there, and you’ll have to fight those little girlies off of you.” She motioned like she was spraying it on both sides of my neck.
It then made sense to me and my observing parents that my Grandma Patterson thought she bought me spray cologne. Like I said earlier, her eyesight was failing.
Not too long later, I visited her with my family, and she said to me, “Terry, I bet all those little girlies are after you now, aren’t they?”
I answered awkwardly, “I don’t know.”
She continued, “Well, this is what you do. You need to get yourself a baseball bat in one hand and a croquet stick in the other, so when the girlies come after you on the right, you can knock them off with the left, and when they come after you on the left, you can knock them off with the right.”
I thought she really must not be able to see the dorky looking kid standing right in front of her; the girls at my school didn’t want anything to do with me.
On our way home that night, I silently chuckled in the backseat of our family minivan. And after thinking about it some more, it was nice to have someone see something in me I didn’t see in myself, even if that person was going blind. It was encouraging that she saw something in me that she thought others would find attractive.
A few years later, my acne cleared up, my braces were taken off, and my hair hung more loosely and naturally as it grew out in a blond, suffer style. I lost weight and spent time outside swimming in my family’s new pool as my skin darkened into a healthy shade. With my newly gained confidence, I traded in my timid shyness for a gregarious, extroverted personality.
And the girlies started to chase after me.
My Grandma Patterson didn’t get to see me graduate high school or college. She didn’t live that long. But she didn’t need to see those events because even with her blind eyes, she saw me—the real me.
I pray to be a little more like her and see others not with my eyes but with something more. I hope to see their future possibilities. I desire to be a builder of people and error on the side of encouragement.
There’s already enough honest evaluation. There’s enough tough love. Even after the silly self-esteem movement in the 1980s and this crazy post-modern society we live in now, we still need people to see in us what isn’t there yet.
We all need a Grandma Patterson who will give us our own underarm deodorant.
Greater Things than These
Return of the Jedi hit theaters in May of 1983 when I was two years old. Not too many people remember much about being two. I don’t either, but I do remember when my great grandfather died—sort of.
I remember driving home with my mom and nanny after his funeral in Bakersfield sitting in the back seat of the small car. I remember my nanny saying to my mom who was driving, “He really wasn’t all that great of a daddy” as her eyes were wet with grief.
Being so young, I was confused. I didn’t understand why she was crying if he hadn’t been a good daddy; my child size capacity of thinking was very limited.
I also remember my mother holding me as we looked at the open land in Derby Acers where our mobile home was going to be placed. We had been living in a trailer a few blocks away for almost a year. I felt her excitement about moving into a new home and that made me excited too. I wanted her to put me down, so I could explore the wide, empty lot, but she said she had to hold me because there might be nails on the ground.
Out of all the things I could possibly remember at two, those are my main memories.
And there’s one more thing: Star Wars.
I remember sitting in a small movie theater with my parents in Taft watching Return of the Jedi. It’s where I first witnessed Ewoks fighting Stormtroppers on the planet of Endor. I can still recall where the theater was located.
Over 30 years later, I went back to that same place with my wife and looked at the building where I remembered the theater once was, and sure enough, we could see how the old building used to be a small theater. This was support for me that my memory was accurate.
Along with many of the totally rad kids who grew up in the 80s, Star Wars was my thing. There was He-Man, Ghostbusters, ThunderCats, Transformers, and The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but Star Wars stood above them all, maybe because it was a live action film instead of a cartoon, or maybe because it was just epic.
I can’t count how many times I acted out each adventurous scene in my childhood. I can still picture myself in my front yard walking to the end of an imaginary plank as Jabba waits for me to jump to my death. I nod to Lando and then signal to R2-D2 before I lever myself off the plank into a flip as I catch my lightsaber from R2 and save the day.
It was clear how Luke Skywalker was able to do all that he did—the force.
Being newly married, my wife and I drove out to Taft to watch The Last Jedi when it came out; it was sort of a trip down memory lane. We watched it in the ancient Fox Theater, the largest and now only theater in Taft.
The main theater screen has a classic early 20th century style to it with a velvety blue, oval shape ceiling that gently glows with mysterious lighting. The seats are small, the carpet is patterned, and the screen is on a stage with red curtains folded to the sides.
The reviews of the new Star Wars film were critical, specifically relating to how the force was used by the iconic characters. Recurring social media comments questioned how the force was used differently than in the original three movies. I was bothered by this too at first until I read a comment that explained how the force didn’t operate by a set of systematic formulas, and just because we didn’t see the force displayed in particular ways in the original movies doesn’t mean it can’t happen in the newer ones.
The force can be used differently by different people at different times in different situations, and yes, even in different movies.
Now I know the force isn’t meant to represent the Holy Spirit; George Lucas is not C.S. Lewis by any means. At times, we may in our own minds limit the Holy Spirit to only what we read in Acts. But keeping the Bible as the foundation, let’s be open to all the greater things than these moments the Holy Spirit is capably of doing.
Let’s not put God in a box.
Let’s not create formulas to attempt to predict his actions.
He’s so much bigger than us.
He’s not limited to the past.
And just how the use of the force in The Last Jedi surprised its audience, God can still surprise his followers today with how he uses his Holy Spirit.
We can’t even imagine the great things he can still do with us—greater things than these.
The First Guitar
I was wearing a vertically striped, white collar neck shirt tucked into white baggy jeans, hair sprayed into the perfect position that Vanilla Ice would have been proud of, with shiny braces and blue rubber bands around them on my teeth. It was the mid-90s, and I was a complete dork, but I oddly fit in with all my awkward friends in junior high.
I had just arrived with my family at my nanny and papa’s house, and they were showing us their prized purchases from yard sales that morning. My papa could really wheel and deal at yard sales, making permanent purchasing decisions over mere nickels.
This time he had purchased a red electric guitar with an amp that was almost as tall as me. He couldn’t really play it, but he thought about learning. He gently put the worn strap on over his shoulder and meticulously adjusted the amp’s silver knobs to a safe volume before he sat down to pluck out a few random notes on the higher strings.
Then he told me to try, and of course, I did—eagerly. I held the guitar in my lap and accidentally strummed the strings too hard as my entire family jumped a little from the powerful amp. I gave the guitar back to my papa.
Once the yard sale treasures were no longer the topic of conversation, I put on the retro red and sneaked away into the kitchen. I loosened the strap, so the guitar rested against my lower hip, and I looked into the reflection of my grandparent’s glass refrigerator.
There I was with such an instrument of awe. I liked how it looked on me. I liked how I felt holding it.
The guitar would eventually become the vehicle that would take me to many different stages in various bands up and down California and allow me to be a very small part of local rock’n roll history—the part that people enjoyed but seldom remembered after the bands’ stickers peeled off, t-shirts faded, and CDs became obsolete.
It would bring together different young personalities to form unique lifelong friendships and sacred memories between band mates and groupies.
It would be the tool that aided in countless private worship sessions in a teenager’s bedroom, attended only by a melancholy boy confused by a changing world as invisible angels observed quietly.
And as that boy grew, it would be the instrument that helped lead many different groups of people in holy songs until the Lord.
My nanny walked into the kitchen and saw me standing in the reflection. “You like the guitar?”
With wide open eyes and a mouth too excited to fully articulate an answer, I just said, “Yeah, I do” in a simple nod.
When my junior high graduation approached, my mom asked me what I wanted as a graduation gift. Of course, I told her a guitar.
Now that was an expensive gift for a young teenager to ask for, but my mom drove me all around town researching different guitars and prices and eventually found one used in the newspaper with a case and small amp included. It was in excellent condition and red like my papa’s.
That summer I was planning to get ahead and take a math class in summer school, but I ended up quitting halfway. I spent the rest of my summer watching Green Day, Deftones, and Collective Soul music videos on MTV, trying my best to mimic their blurry fingers flow up and down the guitar neck. My papa took me once a week in the evening to some beginning guitar lessons at the local music store.
Although my parents so selflessly bought me my first guitar and my grandparents generously paid for beginning lessons, I see music as a graceful gift from the Lord.
It’s a gift that creates a special connection with people—such a connection that it’s even used as a way to worship God.
It’s meant to be personal, authentic, raw—from the heart.
Play it passionately.
Listen to it fervently .
Sing it from within.
Use music, and use it well; it’s a gift.
The Christmas Star
It was the fourth of December—a wintry day for me as I walked home from my 6th grade classroom in my baggy stonewashed jeans and white Stussy sweatshirt. It was slightly foggy still from the morning, and on that stroll home, I remember observing the front lawn Christmas decorations of neighbors and the hanging lights waiting for the night, so they could shine brightly.
My cozy house was mostly decorated already by my mom, and I enjoyed the free time I often had as a child. I was lying on the couch in the living room with the television on softly as I observed the hanging Christmas carousel horses that hung over our fireplace and played music when you switched them on.
The home phone rang. I heard my mom cry out from my parents’ bedroom.
My dad came in and told me someone just called and said my aunt Lana was dead.
I looked at the nativity set on the curio cabinet. I walked over and picked up the baby Jesus figure out of the manger, held it up, and whispered, “Please God, no.”
My family decided it would be best to rent a cabin that Christmas up in the mountains near Frazier Park; it was too much being in a place filled with memories of Christmases before.
About a week after Lana’s death, I was at my nanny and papa’s house with my parents and sister. My nanny became overwhelmed with hurt and sadness and walked out the front door crying. My papa quickly followed. We then all followed her out into the cold.
We stood there for some time in the front yard. Hurting together. In the cold. With no words to say.
I just stood looking down, not knowing what to even hope for now—no light up ahead.
Then my Nanny pointed up and said, “Look at that star. It’s getting bigger.”
We looked up at it, and sure enough, it was getting bigger before our very eyes. Not a plane or helicopter—it was most definitely a star.
It continued to grow.
Bigger and bigger.
My family stood in awe as we looked upon the largest star we ever saw in our lives. My nanny said, “God just told me that Lana is with him in heaven.”
An unexplainable peace came over all of us, and all tears ceased.
The star then regressed back into its regular size until it vanished among the twinkling chilly sky.
We went back into the warmth of the house amazed by what we just saw—something supernatural.
I remember my nanny telling me she saw the star again about a week later in the same exact way, and with it, she had peace again.
A few days before Christmas, we were all at the cabin my family rented. My sister and I found a little snowy hill to sled down, and we even built a snowman with my dad as my nanny watched from the patio with my mom and papa all bundled up in warm clothes.
That Christmas Eve, the reality of my aunt not being there with us hit hard, especially for my nanny. Lana would never be with us again; Christmas would never be how it once was.
Dabbing her eyes with a napkin until it was rolled up in a little ball, my nanny eventually walked outside in the nighttime snow with my papa shortly behind her.
We didn’t know what to do; we were all hurting too. Then, in her serious voice, we heard my nanny call out, “It’s happening again! Come look, the star’s back!”
I was looking at it, but it was hard to believe what I was seeing—the same star growing right before our eyes again. Brighter and brighter!
And then… peace.
And our Christmas Eve was there.
In the snow.
With the Christmas star.
Looking up, my nanny commented, “God just said we’ll see the star no more.” It shrunk back to its regular size and vanished into the hundreds of other stars in the crisp, cold, Christmas sky.
We went back into the cabin, not happy, but not without hope either; we knew God was there with us in our sorrow.
Christmas is often a time of sorrow because the people in life change, leave, and even die.
The snowy scenes on Christmas cards no longer mirror the present. Our busy, unsure, messy lives don’t feel like the Christmas endings in Hallmark specials. The songs of the season are beautiful, but they almost feel out of place.
And that’s okay because there’s still hope because there is Christ.
There’s still joy because there is Christ.
There’s still life because there is Christ.
The shepherds understood this as they left their regular routine to worship a child in a manger. They spent Christmas glorifying and praising God.
With all the decorating the house and putting up a tree, driving around looking at wonderful displays of lights, and watching classic Christmas movies, let’s not forget to glorify and praise the one who brought us hope. The one who enables us to have joy. The one who promises everlasting life.
Remember those past Christmases. Cherish them. Even miss them. But glorify and praise God.
Praise him like the shepherds. Praise him like the angels. Praise him like the wise men. Hold Christ up high in this cold wintry season, and glorify his name, just like the first Christmas.