Welcome to my digital writing journal, or mydigitalclutter. What started as a family blog almost two years ago has morphed into my writing therapy. This is where I do a lot of free writing, mostly about my life with my family and the things that catch my interest. While nowhere even close to perfect, in each post I like to see how my writing is changing with time and practice. Most posts are left unedited for this reason, so if you don't mind, take the journey with me.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Candle in the Window

Many years ago, as a youth, one of my church leaders gave me a candle with a story attached to it as a Christmas gift.  It was a small tealight, not very large, and cost a few pennies to give.  The story however has lasted long since the flame of the candle died out and gave way to a tradition that I have honored every Christmas eve since that time, except for the time I spent in Uruguay, when my dear mother kept up the tradition while I was away, and placed a candle in the window of my room to remind her of me.  I give you my own variation of the tradition of the candle in the window.

Driving through neighborhoods in this day and age, you are likely to see a candle or two in the windows, many representing the light of Christ, or the love of hearth and home.  While this is a wonderful representation, it isn't exactly why, every Christmas eve, I put a lighted taper in my window for all to see.

I shall have to paraphrase the story that went with my little candle from so long ago.  The paper has somehow gone missing over the years, but the sentiment has been en graven in my heart, so I believe I can do it justice.  It may or not be a true story, as I can not verify it anywhere, but I think the message speaks to us just the same.

During World War II there were many in Europe whose homes were void of light due to the blackout restrictions.  This saddened that many residents, but many would still observe the traditions of placing a candle in their window on Christmas Eve.  One old couple, who lived on the outskirts of a small village had prepared their Christmas and were planning to retire for the evening.  Outside their small home, the wind howled and snow swirled in a blizzard of gigantic proportions.  The husband, placed a small candle in the window, and they both made their way to bed.  After a few hours, they were awoken from their sleep by a pounding on the door.  Standing in the snow, was a soldier, lost from his unit, and frozen to the bone.  The couple took him in and shared from their meager store, and set him by the fire to warm himself.  When asked how he found them, he answered, "I followed the light of your candle.  I knew there I would find God-fearing people who would welcome me in."

Since reading this story, I've placed a candle in my window every Christmas eve, to welcome any forlorn travelers, whether they are lost physically, spiritually, or both.  I want my home to be a haven for those seeking refuge from the storm of life.  Every year, the candle sits in the window, light flickering and reflecting off the pane, reminding me to be that light.  It has become something that I do for myself, to remind me of the true meaning of Christmas, to be Christ-like.  To serve others as He served, to bless others as He blessed.

Tomorrow night will be no different that any other Christmas eve.  I will find a candle, lift the blinds, turn out the lights and put a match to the wick.  The orange flame will cast a glow about the room and I will offer a prayer of gratitude for all I have and all I can share.  It is my Christmas tradition, not born from anything other than my love of the Savior and all He has given me.  Merry Christmas to you, and may you always have a candle in the window of your heart!

*Thanks to Google for the image*

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

My Holiday Plans

It’s snowing today.  Right now, tiny droplets, frozen into crystal facets, are falling gently to the ground.  The walks are barren, an eerie silence encompassing the ground.  It seems quite appropriate for the season.

I’m feeling that anticipation and excitement that comes every year about this time, when I start to count the hours to Christmas.  I’m very glad I found my spirit, because I’m sure without it, the barren walks and silence would cause some unease.  But to me, it is calm, almost like the pause before a great storm.

The storm I am anticipating is not unwelcome; it is of my own creation.  I am not quite sure how the storm will weather my life, but it will make choices clearer and the path more evident; at least that is my hope.

When I woke up this morning, the fog was covering the world in a heavy blanket.  The streetlight made only a small globe of light before being swallowed up in the dense gray.  What I would have done, to only sit at the window and create a character to emerge from the swirling doom.  But, the real world awaited and the day had to begin.  I left those thoughts in a corner of my mind, and they became swallowed up by the others who have residence there, a concoction of real and imaginary.

I put this out there publicly, perhaps to give myself the push to carve out time for what I love.  The urge is there, like a fist pushing between my shoulder blades, a constant pressure.  It isn’t an unpleasant feeling, but something that is my constant companion.  After many false starts and stops, deleting files, (I write digitally you know), ripping pages out of notebooks, and lamenting my perfectionist attitude, I am letting it all go.  I shall sit and write.  And write.  I will let the dialog flow as it may, and know that I can improve upon it another day.

I plan to sit in my chair, snow swirling out my window.  I may have a cup of cocoa, a cookie, and instead of curling up with a good book, I shall get lost in a story of my own making.  I refuse to let the voices in my head cause damage to my mental abilities other than what they have already done.  They are aching for a voice, and I have a story to tell.

So, for my few days of respite from the real world, I shall revel in my children and the excitement of Christmas, love my husband and share his joys, spend time with family and friends.  I shall also hide in a cubby hole of my own making and visit those who are waiting not so patiently for me to give them life on paper.  Those are my holiday plans.

What are your plans this Holiday?

*Thanks to Google for the image*

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Standing at the Precipice

Pardon me, as I mix metaphors today.  I feel as though I am standing at the precipice of something, a crossroads in my life. 

The other day, I read a blog by CK Bryant, where she talked about loosing her publisher for a novel.  I felt impressed to leave a comment about an article I had read years ago in a church magazine about the answer to a prayer when a father and son had been faced with a decision about what road to take when they reached a crossroad.  They chose a path that came to a dead end after just minutes of travel.  When the son asked why the Lord would send them down that path, the father responded that they would not have to wonder for hours now, if they had taken the right road.  I told her that she will never have to wonder if the publisher that let her talent pass by, if she should have gone with them.  Now she knows it wasn't to be.  There is another path for her to take.

After this comment, I have been musing about my own crossroads, the precipice of something great...or not.  My husband accuses me of being a climber, and to be honest, in many ways he's right.  I like to climb the ladder of success.  Up to this point in my life, I have had a very narrow, worldly view of success.  It meant that I was in charge, I was a leader.  My employment was centered on making that next step, moving up to the next rung.  Recently, I have had an epiphany of sorts and realized that my success is not really centered on the worldly definition.  I have two fabulous children, a husband who supports me, and a very good life, and wouldn't you define that as success?  I should, and do. But, in the back of my mind, I wonder if that climbing habit isn't gone for good.  Opportunities and change seem to crop up out of thin air and I wonder if it is a tempting path, making me stray from the right road I should be on.  Or is it the right road for right now, and the other way will be found at another intersection when the time is right?

I have watched the road dead-end a number of times in my life.  I can see in hindsight the Lord helped me get on the correct path by first letting me experience the dead-end.  The experiences are light and fun, deep and spiritual.  Some were heart wrenching, soul shredding, but I left the path stronger and wiser.  Am I about to face another faith inspiring journey?  It certainly feels that way.

Now back to my mixed metaphors.  I've talked about the crossroads in my life, but here is the precipice.  I feel as though I am standing, on my tip toes, right against the edge of that rock in the picture.  The air is thin, and I'm struggling to fill my lungs, the adrenaline racing through my veins.  I don't know where I will land when I jump, and I certainly don't see how far it is to my landing spot.  My dream has been in the forefront of my mind for a very long time.  I juggle it with the innate, almost primal desire to be on top.  It fights almost relentlessly for control, the chance to break free and create, but my alpha ego has a firm grip.

I wish I knew how to balance my life.  It seems like I rush headfirst into many a project, forgetting my perfectionist, idealistic personality.  My children are left to fend for themselves, although they do make a mean peanut butter sandwich, and the crumbs of bread are ground into the carpet from lack of domestic engineering on my part.  My husband throws his own shirts into the wash and all are left to the peripheral of my vision.  I worry that which ever way I jump, which road I end up on, I won't be able to balance the most important, precious parts of my life. Is this just another road, or is part of the right road I need to travel.

So, here I stand.  At the precipice of something amazing.  What it may be, I don't know.  All I know is that the Lord will not allow me to continue down a path that isn't right.  It will dead-end, and I can onward without doubt reigning in my mind.  As long as I have the three most important people with me, I will be on a journey that will rival anything else I've ever done!

*Thanks to Google for the image*

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I love the sound of bagpipes!

If you've been around my blog for a while, or just know me for that matter, you know that I have a thing for Scotland.  To be honest, I always have.  As a young girl I remember getting a couple of "international" doll for christmas one year.  Three, one Irish, one Swedish, and yes, one Scottish.  You can't imagine my favorite one.

To fulfill my love of all things Scottish, I am enjoying living vicariously through my daughter.  I'm grateful she enjoys it of her own accord, and that I may tag along for the ride as she learns the many intricate and complicated steps of various Scottish dances.  She is quite proficient at the sword dance for only dancing since July.  If you would like to see what one looks like from someone who has done it for a long time:

I like to pretend that the love of bagpipe music is in my genes.  I suppose it is.  My ancestors hail from a small town outside of Glasgow, not exactly in the 'Highlands' but it's a lot closer than Utah.  Perhaps that small portion of my make-up is why the music is appealing.  I get teary eyes when I hear 'Amazing Grace' or 'Scotland the Brave', and this past summer, I heard a gorgeous rendition of 'We Thank Thee Oh God for a Prophet' at one of the Scottish games we attended.  Imagine the goosebumps than run up and down my arms as the sweet notes filled the air.

Someday I'll visit Scotland.  It is at the top of my "bucket list" of things to do before I die.  I'll walk along the paths that I've yearned to traipse and hope to hear a bagpiper on the moor.  Of course it will be for the 'tourists' but I will feel like I'm home.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I'm Starting to Feel It! I'm Talking Presents!

It's amazing what happens when I sit down and start working on gifts.  I started working on some gifts for friends and neighbors when the spirit of Christmas slammed into my heart.  With the white lights on my tree casting a warm glow in the front room, and the red and white poinsettias gracing the kitchen counter, the ambiance was just right to feel the true reason for the season.

Every year I try to come up with a gifts for family and friends that gives twofold.  I receive joy in either creating or buying it, knowing that it is something they will love, and seeing family and friends' smiles when they open their gift, something that was selected just for them.

A couple of years ago, I decided to be crafty.  It's something I don't naturally excel at, so I was determined to do something spectacular.  While I don't know if my family and friends felt that it was spectacular, I felt the special feeling one can only experience when doing something for someone else.  I sat, night after night, in front of a sewing machine.  Oh, don't get ahead of yourself and think I actually sewed something, because I didn't.  It was actually my sister in-law's embroidery machine.  Ordinary blankets soon became a personal item, with a name and a picture, chosen specifically for the recipient by one of my dear children.  Monetarily, this was not an expensive gift.  In fact, it was rather cheap.  But the fact remains that there was joy in my home making the gift.  While my daughter helped tie festive bows around the blankets when we were done, I could see the giving fever had touched her too.  After all, isn't that what it is all about?  Giving?

This year I've been bitten again by the giving bug.  I think to myself about those in my life who have been so generous with either time, love, talents, and worldly goods to my family and myself.  I am crafting something in my head as well as physically, and I can't wait to share.  After all, isn't that one of the most important lessons we try to instill in our children?  That Christmas is about giving and not receiving?

*Thanks to Google for the image*

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Soundtrack to the Season

I really should get out of my funk....and I think, bit by bit, I am crawling out of that self-destructive hole of pitifullness.  Today, let's talk about my idealistic Christmas, and what role music plays in it.  No pun intended....

Growing up, I listened to Christmas carols played on a number of different record players.  The first that I remember was a huge console that took up half of the living room, or at least it seemed to in my infantile memory.  The sweet strains of Andy Williams' 'It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year' seemed to envelope the entire house.  This continued through the moves to different states, the graduation of high school, and a mission for my church.  Twenty-three years of the same records, Andy Williams, Tammy Wynette, Ray Conniff and his singers, Johnny Mathis, these were the staples I remembered.  My mother would stack the records on the player where a disc would spin and drop into place.  Over and over again, one by one, until the stack would finish and someone had the job to turn it over.

Many activities were done to the sounds of the carols.  They would be the ambient music as dinner was prepared, play a central part of decorating the tree.  From the moment we awoke on Christmas morning, to when we retired that night, the records would make their rounds under the needle and scratchy music flooded the day.

After my return home from Uruguay, the records made their last appearance at our Christmas festivities.  They were well worn and the record player was on it's last spin.  I remember slipping the vinyl platters into the sleeves, and the musty smell that is akin to old books and well loved journals.  They didn't make another appearance again.  Technology was progressing, and we couldn't repair the old player any longer.

As I have my own family now, I have a few of the same albums, but digitally, purchased online and downloaded to my iTunes and synced to my iPod.  I've added a few of my own favorites along with the classics of my childhood, Sarah McLachlan, Bare Naked Ladies, and some favorite piano classics.  I have created the perfect Christmas playlist for my days, and it is the soundtrack to my season.

What is playing right now?  O Holy Night.  It is one of my favorite Christmas songs.  I have several versions, sung from Harry Conick Jr. or Josh Groban....the fact remains, it puts me in the mood for the spirit of the Holidays.

What are you listening to this Holiday season?

*Thanks to Google for the image*

Saturday, December 5, 2009

I Totally Blame My Cold...for the Christmas Lights

I am now infused with Christmas cheer....not.  I've been out sick for a few days, and am just starting to feel on the mend. I have made terrific strides though, in capturing that wondrous feeling from my childhood, and find it elusive, but closer than my last post.  I loved the suggestions, commiserations, and honesty from those who commented.  I was surprised to see that there were many who felt as I do.  We should form a support group or something....

So, let's talk Christmas lights....do you love them?  Hate them?  Still have them up in July?  I have very strong opinions on the subject of Christmas lights, just ask my husband.

To me, Christmas lights should be hung by professionals.  I love the straight and structured white lights, where they are placed perfectly, with just the right amount of lights on each eave and stretch of roof line, with no excess trailing down the drain pipe.  Colored lights may work in a pinch, but white is the preferred color of the season.

There is something about haphazard placement that sets my teeth on edge.  You know the ones I'm talking about....where the tiny lights may be stapled to the edge of the roof every twelve feet, and the multi-colored bulbs twinkle relentlessly...but let's not talk about my pet peeve of twinkly lights...that is another post entirely.  It just looks messy.

If you were to drive past my house this Christmas season, you will not find lights.  No, we have forgone the traditional festive display because I can't be satisfied with the light placement.  I may say that we have little or no time in which to scale the roof to attach yards and yards of lights, but I would be lying.  I could also say that we don't have enough strands in which to do a credible job of lighting our home.  Again, false.  The truth is, I like to have my lights perfect, just like everything else when it comes to Christmas.  I would prefer to have my tree, with it's WHITE lights sitting in the window to show my festive spirit, than hanging a dozen strands of multi-colored mini lights around my porch railing.

Someday, when I don't have anything better to spend my money on, I will hire a professional.  Someone who will come, and bring a crew to decorate my house with lights. There will be the exact number of bulbs to line my roof, with nary a stray light to be seen.  It will all be done to my specifications, and my home will glow with Christmas cheer.  Until that time, I'll put a candle in the window. (Which I will explain in a post to come.)

*Thanks to Google for the image*
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...