Friday, December 21, 2007


Foyer Sukkah

This is our little Sukkot* tent. On Christmas Eve, under its shadow of red, its sparkle of gold, we'll eat challah bread dipped in honey. To remember that once we were hungry wanderers, but now we've found nurture and rest in the tent of our Beloved.

May you too find nurture and rest this season. Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year.

* L.L.'s Festive Gifts and Meal

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas: Choosing My Scars

When the people over at High Calling asked their network participants to share a "Christmas past" story, I thought, "Uhhh.... you don't want to hear mine." Because my old stories pretty much have the same punch line: scars.

There are single moments that stand out. Moments of courage, like when I spent two hours in the dead of night, crawling on my little kid belly to retrieve my stocking, holding my breath, so as not to waken my stepfather from his sugar plum dreams. He lay on the cot in front of the Christmas tree, breathing, shifting, snoring. The cot was a yearly ritual. Kind of like the star on the Christmas tree, but a bit more ominous, as it was always the climax of a shouting spree... his carol to welcome the season.

One Christmas brought a shameful gift in my stocking... a present from my stepfather, given in front of the whole family, simply to humiliate me. The gift delivered its intended impact.

There's the general blur of Christmas after Christmas when we were assailed with insults, curse words, and threats for celebrating the birth of Christ. A stupid celebration, in my stepfather's opinion. I have this picture of my mother, her bottom lip stuck out in something akin to a pout. But I realize now she was probably trying not to cry, trying not to ruin the joy we mustered despite all the bah humbug.

To this day, I bear the scars of these Christmas pasts. Indeed, I literally bear a permanent scar in my left pinky. I crushed it once, trying to help my mom close the cot. She always closed it during the day when my stepfather went out hunting, or drinking, or whatever he'd gone out to do. Even as recently as this week, I couldn't sleep, for the sharp pain in that pinky kept stabbing me out of my dreams.


Last Sunday, we were singing "From Heav'n You Came". And around verse three, I suddenly lost my voice. "Come see His hands and his feet," it says. "The scars that speak of sacrifice. Hands that flung stars into space, to cruel nails surrendered."

It is so easy to let the scars of a difficult past define us. Make us needy. Angry. Selfish. Afraid to sacrifice. I don't fault myself or anyone else for this. Scars will always point to the pain that created them. Still, in the middle of that Sunday song, I thought, "If these are the only scars we bear, then we've allowed ourselves to remain the victims."

So this season, I want to choose my scars. Jesus scars. That heal the past, and embrace an outward life of sacrifice. Thinking this way, well, call it the star He's just now flung on my Christmas tree.

"Lantern" art by Gail Nadeau. Used by permission. Seedlings Invitation: If you write a post related to this post and Link It Back Here, let me know and I'll link to yours.


L.L.'s Cry

L.L.'s Festive Gifts and Meal. A post on a brighter note.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

We Interrupt this Program

I hope we'll continue to interact over the Advent post below, but I wanted to interrupt for just a moment to say...

You can hear me on the radio tomorrow morning at 6:40 and 8:40 a.m. U.S. central time, talking about blogging with Jason Crosby.

Now, back to our regular program...

GO HERE TO LISTEN TO ARCHIVE. Note that there's about a 20 second pause before the audio kicks in, if you click on the L.L. Barkat link to listen.

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Friday, December 07, 2007

Come to Call

The other day, my spouse and I were joking about the prospects of a certain important person coming to visit us. "Can you imagine?" my husband laughed. We'd be calling, "Watch out for the big step!"

We have old stone stairs. They are different heights. One is actually three inches higher than the others. So we always subject our guests to a hearty shout, "Watch out for the big step!" It's a point of amusement by this time. But we realize it would actually be a source of embarrassment, if we had to shout such a warning to a very important person.

This got me thinking about how we act when we want to impress someone. We go around and clean up. We hide certain things. We might even tear down a staircase and erect a new one with proper step heights (depending on who was coming to call!).

In the book Austerlitz, one little ghetto experienced this clean-up act to a point of uneasy ludicrousness. Here were imprisoned Jews, suddenly treated to parks, window boxes, a new theater, and all other manner of loveliness and leisure, just because some important European government officials were going to make a visit.

And so it goes. The more important our visitors, the more we put on airs. Hide. Clean up.

In Isaiah, we are told to make way for the Lord of all creation. An important visitor. The most important visitor of all time and space. How do we make way? By cleaning up? By hiding? By rearranging?


"Watch out for the big step!" we must call. And invite the Lord of All to ascend the crooked stairways of our souls.

Garden Fire artwork by Gail Nadeau. Used by permission. Seedlings Invitation: If you write a post related to this post and Link It Back Here, let me know and I'll link to yours.


LL's Peace Candle
LL's Unfolding
LL's Speak

At Tina and Friends: Prepare.
Charity's Advent thoughts

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Monday, December 03, 2007

Brand New Kind of Blog

Nail in the Ground

Not too long ago, I developed a brand new kind of blog. After all, I wanted to provide an avenue for feedback on my book, without significantly impacting the nature of my existing blogs. I also realized that I didn't want to spend a lot of time managing yet another blog, as important as a book blog might be from a promotional standpoint.

I've seen promotional blogs before and I knew they weren't for me, for a host of reasons. Still, I wanted to give my book and its readers their own special place on the web. What to do?

I decided to create a hybrid. Not exactly a website. Not exactly a blog. Let's call it a "wog". Because the post content will stay mostly the same, like a website. But the established posts will be open to comments, like a blog. Additionally, I'll be putting blog links in the sidebar, based on reader activities. (Check out the top post there to see what I mean.)

In March, I'll be teaching blog workshops* at Mount Hermon, and I promise to talk about the "wog". I might even give your opinions, if that's okay. So that together we can discuss with the world a brand new kind of blog. A wog.

* Yours truly is going to help present too, which I'm pleased about.


Marcus' A Wog by Any Other Name Would be as Sweet

Photo by J Barkat. Used by permission. Seedlings Invitation: If you write a post related to this post and Link It Back Here, let me know and I'll link to yours.

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