It’s That Time of Year Again…

I must admit it. I love the Christmas season. I love the lights, the trees, the smells, the goodies, the giving and receiving of gifts, the cold, the snow (if it comes), the Christmas movies, the time with friends and family, the delicious and usually huge meals, and so much more.

Yeah, I know. I sound a bit worldly, heh? No mention of Christ and his coming into the world. Well, I absolutely adore him and I am filled with gratefulness for such an act. But I believe I understand the importance of Christ’s incarnation on a regular basis.

But, with the holidays and Christmas time, well, that comes around one time a year for me.

Now, I know, it’s just the end of October now. There is still this ever-discussed holiday we call Halloween (I share my thoughts here), as well as the well-known American holiday of Thanksgiving. So why the rush?

Well, there is no rush. I just love the start of November as the days get colder, the leaves begin to change orange, yellow and brown, the wearing of warm clothes, and all things as we lead up to those beautiful holidays.

Actually, maybe I am in a rush. I listened to Christmas music for the first time this morning – ON 25 OCTOBER!! And now, writing this article, I am reminded to put on the music again.

Ok, maybe I am pathetic.

But really….I do love this time of year.

I think my parents made it quite magical growing up. We always had lots of lights outside and a big, beautiful tree with coloured lights. Yes, I prefer coloured lights over white lights. My wife prefers the white lights, so we make compromises.

At times, during the days leading up to Christmas, we would have friends over to make gingerbread houses. That always proved interesting! Graham Cracker houses, candy, gum drops, candy canes, white icing for snow and coconut for snow. My mom definitely makes the best snowman cookies in the world – little Hershey kisses for hats, mini-M&M’s for eyes and buttons, and the scarf made with coloured icing. Oh goodness, my mouth is beginning to water. I would enter these things in any holiday cookie contest!

White Christmas’ were really not an option growing up in Memphis. It would get down, at times, in the low 30’s or high 20’s F (or around just below zero C). But our colder days are in late January and February. So I cannot even remember if it ever snowed on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. But, nonetheless, the cold weather lets you know what time of year it is.

I love watching Christmas movies like Home Alone, Christmas Vacation, A Christmas Story (thanks to TBS running it 24 hours straight), etc. But my favourite two movies are A Christmas Carol (probably the Muppet version the best) and the newer movie, Polar Express.

When it is time to sit down at the table for the big feast, ohhhhhhh yes! The turkey, honey-baked ham, hash brown cheese potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce, dressing, gravy, deviled eggs, rolls, and a few other things scattered across the already full table. And then, whatever dessert mom had cooked up (and maybe a snowman cookie or two as well). Again, my mouth begins to water.

This Christmas, I will be able to visit my family in America. The past 2 years, we have celebrated with our British family in northern England. So this will be our first Christmas in the US since 2007, and my son’s first in America. Therefore, I look forward to it with much anticipation.

So, it’s not quite that time of year again, not quite the holiday season just yet. But it’s that time leading up to it, which is just as unique and amazing for me, as I am able to experience the longing and anticipation for that wonderful time of year. Hence, maybe it is that time of year again….. And I embrace it with all its wonder and anticipation.

Coffee, Conversation and a New Book

Yesterday, I was blessed to have the opportunity to enjoy a cup of coffee and conversation with Andrew Perriman, theologian, author and fellow blogger. Andrew has been working with Christian Associates church planting teams for quite a while and was in Brussels this week to be with my good friend, Carlton Deal, and his church, The Well.

It was good to ‘catch up’ with Andrew, or meet for the first time. We shared some of our backgrounds, talked a little of what is going on in the blogosphere, and discussed some theological issues arising in the world of today.

I recently purchased his book The Coming of the Son of Man: New Testament Eschatology for the Emerging Church. I hope to dive into it quite soon, as it is sitting on my nightstand. But I was definitely privileged to personally receive a copy of his newest book, The Future of the People of God: Reading Romans Before and After Western Christendom. I would have most likely bought the book before year’s end, but now I have it and I might actually read it before The Coming of the Son of Man. We shall see.

Music Musings

I thought I would post some music musings this afternoon. I’ve not done it much on The Prodigal Thought, actually only four other times that I can really remember (post 1, post 2, post 3, post 4). Maybe I can do this a little more in the future. But I wanted to share a little story about an ol’ favourite singer of mine, a song that has been stuck in my head this week, and a little story behind the song.

One of my favourite singers since I was a little toddler has been Kenny Rogers. Yes, Kenny Rogers! Now, I don’t listen to him on a regular basis today, but my ventures with Kenny Rogers all started when I was just a little tyke of a boy. I fell in love with his singing when he appeared on one of the Muppets episodes (not the Muppet Babies cartoons, but the real Muppet puppets). And my parents taped that one show (on a VHS tape) and I watched it constantly, continually, perpetually, even religiously. My parents regularly recall how I would always call out to them, ‘Mommy, daddy. Kenny Waagerrs and Mwuppwets! Kenny Waagerrs and Mwuppwets!’

I supposedly could not get enough. And I have vague memories of that one show with Kenny Rogers embedded deeply within me.

Well, interestingly enough, before I was to move to Brussels, Belgium, I had been involved with a guy’s prayer group on a weekly basis within our local church. A few weeks before I moved, the guys were specifically gathered around me, praying for my situation. I had shared how there were a lot of things going on with preparing to end out things in Memphis and preparing to head to Brussels. I was beginning to feel quite overwhelmed.

As the guys were praying for me, one of my good friends, Sam, spoke up and said something to the effect of: Scott, I don’t know if you know the Kenny Rogers song, The Gambler. But I really believe God wants to speak to you through the one line that says, ‘You’ve gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, know when to run.’
Sam went on to share how, in this time, there are things that I need to consider if they are worth holding onto or if it is simply better folding them and laying them down. Though you might laugh, and some might even mock at my suggestion that God could ever speak through such a song, it was quite a strengthening word given to me from a simple line from a simple song, a song from my favourite singer as a little tyke. I will always remember that evening as I gathered with a handful of guys for prayer. And who wouldn’t remember a time when God speaks like a two-edged sword into your life and situation?

So, lately I have been singing that song. And so, in tribute to my most-liked singer as a little boy, and in remembrance of that strengthening word before heading to Brussels, I post this video of The Gambler by Kenny Rogers.

Our Holiday in Tenerife, Canary Islands

Recently, my wife, my son and I were incredibly blessed with the opportunity to holiday-vacation in Tenerife, Canary Islands (which is just off the northwest coast of Africa). We had an amazing time, as I suppose one would only expect. It was beautiful, it was warm (one day it got up to 41 degrees Celsius, 106 Fahrenheit), it was relaxing. Not much else you could ask for.

We stayed at a beautiful resort centre – Santa Barbara – on the south coast of the Tenerife Island. Here is a picture overlooking the resort from our balcony.

We mainly spent time at the pool of the hotel, as the beach we were closest to was more of a rocky beach than sandy. But no complaints here. Here are some shots from the pool.

Though we spent most of our outdoors time at the pool, we went a couple of days to the beach – one time at the rocky beach near the resort centre and another day on a sandy beach in the north of the island (we rented a car that day and drove around the island). Here are a couple of pics of our son, Caleb, enjoying the beach.

On the day we rented the car, we drove up to El Teide, which is basically the volcano at the centre point of the island. The first pic is from our drive up the mountain, the second pic is from our drive back down.

So, there we are. A brief description and a few pics from our amazing time in Tenerife! Truly a provision of God for some time to rest and relax, and soak up some rays.