Dear Bob, here are some photos of my life here on the campus of Concordia Seminary. I love kids, working with the grounds crew, swimming, playing with my dog friends, and especially my own family people.
Over the past ten years, Dale has built various buildings for an outdoor Christmas Tiny Town. We place the church, parsonage, store, barn and farmhouse out in the side yard sometime after Thanksgiving and add lighted Christmas trees and spotlights. This year we placed a few tractors and a cow by the barn and cars at the store.
Also, we loaded up the Amazon Echo which has a great speaker with Christmas Carols and filled Tiny Town with music. Tiny Town has become a place for local parents to walk through with there small children and we've gotten a kick out of how the kids gravitate to the barn and the toys. They play with the tractors, pull the cow and move the cars to different places. In the morning we put them back and wait to see what happens the next night. It's pretty fun to see how much enjoyment they're getting. Last night when I let Ferdie out for the last time I noticed someone had put all the toys on the roof of the little store.
We've always believed being bored wasn't such a bad thing, even allowed our kids to be bored without feeling we had to entertain them all the time. Boredom teaches you a bit about yourself and gives you time to think.
Right now, 2 days before Christmas, I'd welcome a big dose of Boredom.
My sister gave me the Amazon Echo device for my birthday this year and I have used it for fun stuff like questioning it about the weather and sports scores and listening to KMOX. But now I am loving the Echo while I've used my Amazon Prime account to stream Christmas music, music which I stream for free through the house.
I plan to take it outside and plug it in by our Christmas Tiny Town display and shoot music out into the dark. We have had many parents and kids walking through our tiny town this year and staying for a long while while the kids played with the tractors and cow we have out there by the barn. The speaker is really good so I'm hoping it works.
All I have to do is say, "Alexa"! Play Classic Christmas Carols" and it begins. Cool
Christmas is coming. I love Christmas but don't love all the lead up to it, things get exhausting which is why I never ever watch Chevy Chase's Christmas Vacation before the day. All that madness in the movie is funny after it's over not when we're going through it. This year, to add to the stress our kitchen sink faucet blew a gasket or something. Water underneath the sink, water spewing out of the faucet head.
You may not realize how much you use a kitchen sink until you can't.
Dale was in New York City this week and took a walk through the famous St. Patrick's Cathedral. While inside he noticed the church's Nativity scene included a Golden Retriever and just had to take a picture.
For church workers-pastors, music directors, choirs, church secretaries, Christmas brings a huge amount of work what with special extra services. While most of us will attend one service, those people will have to be a part of all of them and this year will be especially tiring.
Christmas is on a Friday which means multiple Christmas Eve services Thursday night and Friday morning. With many churches having normal Saturday night services, these church leaders will be back again and again on Sunday. It's a beautiful time in the worship year, but give a prayer to all those who will be working to bring joy during so many days and nights.
Iceland's Jolabokaflod (book flood) is a Christmas tradition which sounds wonderful, also news to me. Everyone receives a book on Christmas Eve and spends the rest of the night reading. Iceland publishes more books per capita than any other country and new books are published only during the Christmas season.
"The Book Flood tradition, according to The Reykjavik Grapevine's Hildur Knutsdottir, dates to World War II, when strict currency restrictions limited the amount of imported giftware in Iceland.
"The restrictions on imported paper were more lenient than on other products, so the book emerged as the Christmas present of choice. And Icelanders have honored the tradition ever since."
This is wondrous. Getting books was my favorite Christmas present in past years but I would never have conceived of an entire country settling down to read on Christmas Eve.
The seminary has so many people from all over the country who care about our students and are extremely generous. But this generosity kicks into high gear at this time of year. Our students aren't well off financially, they have seminary tuition/living expenses in addition to whatever undergraduate debt they arrive with. Many have little kids and babies to provide for as well. So what we've experienced this year has been so gratifying and wondrous.
On Monday Dale and I walked into one of the campus buildings and came across a room filled with wrapped presents. These gifts were all tagged with the names of students, their spouses and children if they had them. Each year scores of Lutheran churches from around the country participate in buying gifts, wrapping them, and sending them here.
Yesterday I went through the hallway in the basement of the dining hall and saw boxes and boxes of fruit which was brought by a man who volunteers throughout the year. So much fruit, everyone will be able to have as much as they want.
One of our former students wrote, "We were always overwhelmed with the amazing generosity of people. I hope to pay it forward one day soon and have our church be a donor church. That first Christmas you always feel so strange because you don't have a cent to your name, but as usual God takes care of every little detail."
Someone else wrote: " I was so amazed at how thoughtfully they are and they go above and beyond."
Others graduate and remember these gifts as such a blessing that they encourage their new congregations to be a part of this.
Generosity accepted, generosity returned. This is why I love the seminary so.