December 7th, 2003


It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Conviction of sin is one of the most uncommon things that ever happens to a person. It is the beginning of an understanding of God...The wonders of conviction of sin, forgiveness, and holiness are so interwoven that it is only the forgiven person who is truly holy. He proves he is forgiven by being the opposite of what he was previously, by the grace of God. Repentance always brings a person to the point of saying, "I have sinned." The surest sign that God is at work in his life is when he says that and means it. Anything less is simply sorrow for having made foolish mistakes— a reflex action caused by self-disgust.

Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest (7 December, "Repentance")

Chambers' words this morning place meat on the bones of a thought living_water shared in her journal a while ago. Need the Puritan's "gift of tears" more often.

Find myself undaunted and even looking forward to the long day ahead: work and worship until around 14:00, Gathering of Prayer from 18:00 to around 20:00. Wonderfully funny how days which are objectively similar can feel like burdens to be borne or treasures to be discovered. Today, discovery.

Made travel arrangements to return to Iowa for Christmas. Was a bit fearful that my lateness would cost a bundle, but Priceline was most cooperative: leaving on Monday 22 December and returning on Christmas Day for just over $250. That should give me plenty of time with family, and particularly with my new nieces (whom I haven't yet met). Shopping is the next challenge, probably a doozy.

In light of my possible move, elected not to haul out Christmas decorations, a decision I may revisit at a moment's notice. My favorite is an ancient, cheesy (pun intended) Hallmark cardboard cutout of a mouse wiearing a Santa hat stuffing a green stocking (remember it from my door as a boy). Victrola is nicely decked in garlands and lights. Traditions I still need to indulge this season include listening to Patrick Stewart's rendition of A Christmas Carol and the annual viewing of the Christmas classic The Long Kiss Goodnight.

You know, back when we first met, you were all like "Oh phooey, I burned the darn muffins." Now, you go into a bar and ten minutes later sailors come runnin' up. What up with that?

—Mitch Henessey, The Long Kiss Goodnight
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