I didn’t attend church regularly while growing up, although I lived in the “Bible Belt” (and still do). I remember going to churches for weddings, as a guest of my friends on occasion, and with my Meema (my dad’s mother) when I would spend some Saturday nights with her but was never officially a member of any church until I was an adult. It’s not knocking my parents in any way; church was just not something we did.
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We were not a family that prayed before bed or said grace before meals. During holidays, other family members would say grace, and I would bow my head and pray along with him or her. I never had any doubts about the existence of God—He was all around me. Signs of His presence showed up often in my life as I dealt with the pain of losing my father at a young age and the deaths of other loved ones, including my grandparents.
During my late teens, one of my favorite phrases was, “I’m currently between religions.” It was usually met with laughter or invites to church groups, but it was true. I wasn’t sure which direction to go. Continue reading
I find myself identifying with Charlie Brown and Ebenezer Scrooge this year. For some reason, I’m just not in the mood for Christmas. Normally, I love this time of year: the traditions, the music, the food, and the family togetherness. I like seeing the lights and decorations, smelling the apple spice and peppermint, and reminding my children that it is better to give than to receive. I enjoy donating to charities that help children have a present because all children deserve that regardless of their circumstances.
My favorite part of A Charlie Brown Christmas is when Linus, asked by Charlie Brown if anyone can tell him what Christmas is all about, stands on the stage and recites Luke, chapter 2, 8-14, as translated by the Authorized King James Version:
8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.
12And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men.
It’s a beautiful story—one that some people believe as truth and others think is fiction. I can understand both viewpoints. Continue reading
“Beside Myself” Free Verse Poetry, Poetry Workshop, 2002
I’m amazed I didn’t cry
That night when I parked beside the lake
To talk to God.
I needed Him to listen to me
Because you would leave in eight hours.
I knew that fifty-two weeks
Would pass before I could see you or
Kiss you again.
Until you’re home, I’ll close my eyes and
Imagine you walking beside me.
It’s been forty-four weeks since
You left for overseas adventure.
Tell me, baby,
Am I still the only woman who
You can talk to for six hours straight?
More than I need the courage
I prayed for long ago, I need to
Hear your laughter.
It’s hard living without your soft brow
And your scratchy sculptor’s hand in mine.
-Brandi Easterling Collins