Merry & Bright.

 

                                 Erin Walshe,  circa 2009 

Wow. Christmas 2016. How did that come upon us? It has been a fast year indeed and as 2017 approaches, I will surely post about how this was one of the best years yet for me. As for this post, I simply wanted to update you readers that my calendar is quite full over the next fews weeks and that I might not get much time to write. The week before Christmas, this Friday in fact, I will be off to the lakes for Summer Camp with the teens. Yes, that means water tubing and skiing will fill the days and camping in tents will encompass the nights. It’s really weird to say that and so far removed from my winter traditions. But I will welcome the new things this holiday. 

It’s a busy time of year for all. I’m sure you have already been to at least one Christmas party, with work or with friends. The build up is espeically one of hustle and bustle and then there is a big sigh of relief Christmas day as you may sit with a full belly and heart. As soon as camp is over, I will be straight into leading the Christmas Eve Service and volunteering with a community Christmas dinner on the 25th! Busy Busy. I want to encourage myself and you, to enjoy all the social dues on your calendar. But please also, take the time to relax and remember the important things of the holiday too. 

In conclusion, you may find Christmas and its traditions changing over the years. I usually think of lights and dark evenings when I think of the words Merry & Bright. However, this year I will think of sunshine and sunglasses. Well, whatever kind of Christmas it will be for you, there is one light that is always constant. And that is the reminder of that very first Christmas, where Immanuel came in the form of a babe and now He is with us forevermore. For every holiday and for every ‘normal’ day in between. In the busy times of year and during the slow ticking of the calendar days too. He is with us.

The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel (which means God with us) Matthew 1.23

Here are some photos of the Mid-Winter Christmas dinner we held. July may seem like a strange time to celebrate the Christmas Season but that’s what we did down here as the southern hemisphere was in their full swing of winter.
   
    
      

    

  

   
  

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There’s no place like home.

As a child I was obsessed with the movie, The Wizard of Oz. It was often that I sat entranced by glittery red shoes and a scruffy dog named Toto. I even named one of my dogs Toto and as you can see from the photo, there was nothing that could peal my eyes from the screen when this was playing.

 
  

An iconic line is stated continously by Dorothy as a way of returning to her family. She repeats ‘There is no place like home.’ For me, I always get stuck on that last word. Home. I think it’s because I’m not quite sure where that is for me.  Perhaps, the years of hopping between the US and Ireland have created a sense of confusion in regards to this partcular subject matter, and I have approached this topic somewhat in the post, Third Culture Kids. 

There are certainly times that I feel at home. For example, I feel at home now in New Zealand and when I go to visit my parents and family, I do feel a little at home there too. I think it quite surprised me when I lived at my parent’s last year and felt out of place. Maybe I felt this way because it wasn’t my home but yes it is a type of home. I guess it can be a good thing that I don’t identify with one place being home, as it makes it easier to move to different places and countries. It probably doesn’t help that over the last few years, I have moved every year to a new place. But who knows, I might make this current spot stretch for another year. Either way, as I repeat the word home, it makes me think that perhaps, I am writing more about belonging than that of an actual place or four walls.

Home is your safe place, where you can sit back and relax within your space or with your loved ones. You belong there. In the wacky world of Oz, Dorothy was certainly out of place and longed to return to where she did belong. But what happens when sometimes you feel like you don’t really belong? When you are on the yellow brick road with some random people and strange circumstances? I think I can relate to this feeling sometimes. It can be confusing and out of place. Sometimes, I can feel like this when I don’t fit into the people groups around me. Yes, I have friends in them but cannot fully relate to any of them at times. Othertimes, it appears in what I do or where I go. I’ll always be different to the American. I’ll always be the girl with the funny accent in Ireland. And for now, I’m simply mixed up between the two. Yes, I don’t ‘fully belong’ here with a history of growing up in New Zealand, but for now I belong. It is home. 

It is comforting to read in scripture about Jesus preparing a home for those who love and follow Him. There will be no displacency or separation. We will belong and feel completely content and secure in the everlasting company of a God who loves us. Maybe the part of us that longs for this, keeps the here and now in perspective. That how we choose to live our lives can determine if we are building towards an eternal home. And in the mean time… that we can belong to God’s family. He calls us his own and no matter where in the world we lay our head, we belong to Him.

So until I have my own four walls surrounding me or a people group that I fully relate to, it’s ok. I still belong. I’ll always have a home. I’ll one day be a Dorothy, who will be swept up in red glittery shoes. And remember that although Dorothy wasn’t home yet, she met people that she loved and was loved by along the way too! Yes, ‘there is no place like home’, so let’s be intentional in how we view or make that.

And by the way… I’m super excited about visiting Ireland in February! Nine weeks today till I start the long journey! 🙂 🙂