"If you’ve raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in thickets by the Jordan?" (Jeremiah 12:5). Our journey is intended to be more than simply "stumbling" through the days while the world "wears us out.” We are made to experience the thrill of "running with horses” and to navigate life amongst the "thickets." The RWH blog focuses on both the spiritual race of which Jeremiah speaks, and the physical act of running that I absolutely love. In short, it's where "the miles meet the Message" to provide insight, perspective & encouragement that might enable you & I to successfully run either of the races set before us. May our course be purposeful and may we be passionate in our pursuit of the abundant life He desires for us.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Runnin' Around the Christmas Tree

(Note: There is no exciting new running insight nor great theological truth in the following. Just some rambling “deep thoughts" of a nostalgic old man at Christmas 🎄 Enjoy).

When I think back over the many Christmas seasons past, I can’t help but realize that one of the more enjoyable holiday rituals has involved the activity of the tree. Whether helping mom and dad as a kid, or cranking up the carols and officially kicking off festivities with our own kids, there has been a unique consistency of good times and great joy around the tannenbaum. And when it comes to decorating the Christmas tree, I was thinking about the four approaches that seem to be most common. Each equally appealing, festive, and meaningful in their own way. Perhaps you and your family can relate. These four come to mind:

Throwback Traditional - Awesome!
The Traditional - A little garland, some colored lights, a topper, and "balls" (for the lack of knowing the technical term). If you are a child of the '70s, then you know this tree. You enjoyed hanging the garland, whether it was circling the tree with one long strand or draping the more strategically placed icicles. Good times.

The Old World - This is my mother-in-law's tree, one with large glass ornaments, a little baby's breath within the branches, a majestic angel on top, and a colorful skirt around the bottom, spread out well into the living room. As beautiful as this tree is, it was the source of much anxiety when our daughters were young, (think about "bulls in a china shop" type of anxiety!)

Old World class

The Themed - You've probably seen all kinds, right? A few that I have personally come across include: A Kentucky Wildcat tree, an Auburn Tiger tree, a Santa tree, a snowman tree, one filled with children's handmade "ornaments," a religious themed tree, a twelve days of Christmas tree, a Star Wars tree ... a blue one, a green one, a Jelly Belly Bean one (inner Seuss), and more. They are always eclectic, creative, and fun.
"These aren't the droids ....."

And finally, The Memory Collection - I save this one for last, because it is the one that has filled our home for twenty-five years. In short, we only hang ornaments that have a story attached to them. They are evidence of a past address, a special vacation, a season of life, a gift from a church party, a neighborhood exchange, or close friendship. Having lived in nine states, from Carolina to California, we cherish the relationships and memories that have made our journey so special. And as we decorate each year, we tell the story. In fact, a typical conversation goes something like this: "Hey look  - our trip to San Diego for Jill and Dave's wedding - I wonder how they are doing? - we should call them ..... oh, hey, the pickle, you remember when Barb Howell in Henderson introduced us to the pickle tradition - that was such a fun group - I wonder how ...." and so it goes, until over a hundred memories are carefully placed on the tree and their story re-told.

So the years go by, and the tree - thankfully - is filled with more and more memories. I sit here next to this tree and reflect on them all.  I’ve posted a few pics of some special ones below, and of course, 'running with horses' (shown above) is definitely one of the favorites. I realize they won’t mean nearly as much to you as they do to us, but hopefully they trigger some of your own ornament memories.

And as you ponder the decorations on your tree this season, we are hopeful it is a Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good .... slow, easy, long distance run to bring in the new year!

One image - Six previous residences

From our homes in Winchester, KY to Springboro, OH to Doe Lane in Henderson, KY to Graceland and our Memphis address, to the historic landmarks of Florence, SC and a reminder of our Reagan HS Teal and Black years in Winston - Salem, this one glance captures six of our ten previous homes. We’re especially fond of the Doe Lane ornament that came from a neighborhood (actually, a single street of homes some five miles outside of town) Christmas party our final year in Henderson.

Friends through the years

Jake and Cisco were our first four-legged friends, way back in our Memphis days (’93 - 96), then Cassie, our loyal wonder-dog was part of the family for over eleven years, helping to raise our girls. And now, Aladdin keeps the nest not-so-empty for Christy and I.

The most meaningful are our reminders of the Christ-child, the season, and the reason. From the Moravian faith of Old Salem to a wonderful church group gift in Florence, the prime real estate is always reserved for these.
And he shall be called Immanuel! 

And finally, it all started with a magical 26.2 miles! 

Merry Christmas and Happy Running All! 

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