Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Gifts

Christmas is coming very soon. Are you ready? Have you shopped? Did you buy local? Thank God for Christmas... so we all have a reason to boost the economy!

Truthfully, I'm not much for shopping... but I do love giving gifts... not just any gifts though. I think gifts should be useful, have meaning or both. For instance; every Christmas I go to Costco and buy each of our kids their own box of gum. It's the perfect gift. I know their gonna love it, chew it and not fight over who took the last pack. It's a gift that means something and serves a purpose.

I wonder... of all the gifts my husband and I have given our kids over the years... the bikes, the game systems the Barbie Hotel... what if anything of that... will they remember?

Maybe our son, Alex, will remember the year we bought him air soft pistols... yeah that was a great idea... until he and the neighbor kid shot the mirrors out on the car. I hid those air soft pistols so well that day ... I can't even remember where I put them.

I wonder... what do I remember?

I remember general things about Christmas when I was a kid... like;

Christmas meant a lot to my mom. She loved to decorate, still does... and she's very good at it. I remember her making so many cookies and and all of us getting into trouble for eating them before we were told we could. I remember the parish priest who came to get his package of Christmas cookies and... as I remember it... always had a little too much to drink. I remember my Grandma, my mom's mom, sending a box from Minnesota. In it was always... a popcorn cake, homemade frosted molasses cookies and a new pair of crochet slippers for me and each of my five brothers and sisters.

I remember those kinds of things about Christmas growing up but had to focus really hard to remember an ACTUAL Christmas present given to me by my parents in my childhood. I know they must have spent a bunch of money every year on us kids... and would probably be disappointed to learn that I can only remember one gift.

The only gift I can remember receiving from my parents growing up... was a stuffed animal. It was a frog about two and a half feet long from nose to flippers. It was actually more like a toad with spots. It had long legs that dangled when we walked. I called him Froggie and as strange as it may sound he was a good friend to me. I was probably seven or eight when I got him. I told him everything and took him everywhere possible. In the midst of some difficult times in our family he was always there for me. He was not spectacular... to anyone but me. I doubt he was HUGELY expensive... but he really meant something to me and obviously still does.

As we count down these last few days to Christmas, I feel inspired to pray;

Dear God Please keep our eyes, ears and even our hearts open for gift ideas. Help us to listen closely to what the people around us are really asking for. (Amen)

Shopping is fine... and certainly good for the economy... but if we think deeply and creatively we just might find a very special something which doesn't have to cost a ton of money... or even any money at all... but will be remembered and treasured for a lifetime.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Down With Stupid?

At church this morning our pastor posed a question I know I have asked myself from time to time. Do those who perpetrate evil get to heaven? He was referring to the terrorists of 9/11 who believed with all their hearts what they were doing was right.

I wonder what the final moments must have been like for the passengers and crew of each fateful flight. They probably thought about their loved ones. I'll bet they were afraid, in shock and disbelief. If they had faith in God, I'll bet they prayed. If they had children I'll bet they held them close.

I thought about what I might say If I knew my last moments on earth were near. Perhaps it would be something like this, "O God, forgive me for what I have done and what I have failed to do. Please take me in your arms and care for all of those I leave behind." But who knows, right?

I prayed for the helpless victims whose planes were turned into weapons. Then I thought about the terrorists. They were passengers too. I wondered if they had any change of heart or if they died shouting, "I do this in the name of God!" Could they be in heaven... with the God they claimed to serve? Surely the God I love would not appreciate such a sadistic gesture. Did they know what they were doing? Did they really think it was right? Had they been brainwashed into thinking 9/11 was their destiny? Did they buy into a stupid idea and just stay there too long? It happens all the time on so many levels. I know this... a bad idea grew in that group of terrorists and nobody stopped the stupid. Did they brace themselves before the end and realize their wrong doing... or did they go down with stupid... believing to the end there was no other way?

Is heaven for humans like that? It's not for me to say.

(You can read Fr. Tim's homily on his blog, From My Side Of The Altar)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hard Work And Beauty

Our neighbor grows roses. There are other flowers in his yard too... but his roses simply blow my mind. Every bloom is perfect and I never see them wither. He must maintain them regularly, but I never see him doing so. Maybe he works on them in the night while the rest of us are sleeping. The fruits of his labor are beautiful. I reap the benefits of what must be hard work every time I walk by.

Wouldn't it be great if everything we're just beautiful all the time... and we never had to see backstage where all the messy hard work happens? I think not. It is nice though to have some things perfect every time. For example; I like it when I first check into a hotel and the toilet paper in my room is folded just so. Somehow that little effort makes me feel like I'm the first one EVER to use it. I like not seeing the room get cleaned... but the truth is... somebody had to do it.

If something is nice. Somebody made it that way. I thank God for all the people who make things nice. When I witness things that happen naturally... like the beauty of nature or human kindness I thank God for that too.

It's the pruning back that makes good stuff happen, right? I can say that about nature and plants, about life and especially about me. I want to be more beautiful. So, God, whether you work in broad daylight or while I sleep. I'm yours. Prune away. Make me so beautiful that people wonder how I got that way.

Monday, August 22, 2011

What Do I Do? Part 2

My name is Julie Hoy.

What do I do?

I'm a wife and a mom. I sing. I play guitar. I write. I tell stories. I create. I help where I can. I make good soup. I clean house. I raise my voice sometimes. I've been known to swear on occasion.
I laugh a lot. I cry sometimes. I worry more than I should.
I live with my eyes open and my heart on my sleeve.
I pray.
I trust God.
I have hope.
I dream.
I seek to do as I was born to do.
I encourage others to do the same.
I am a published songwriter, author and public speaker.
My list might grow longer... or perhaps you know me and wish to add something.

Friday, August 19, 2011

I Thought It Was Over

I spent the first four days of this week at an incredible writer's conference. I learned so much, met wonderful people and got to hang out with others I already knew. I left the retreat center feeling so affirmed in what I do. I am an author of stories and songs, I am a performer, a public speaker and somewhat of an inspirationalist.

If you read my blog you know I took a summer job at a local cannery to supplement our household budget. This ministry stuff I do just doesn't pay regularly enough. The writer's conference left me so encouraged. I just know my financial viability in ministry is going to increase. Even with that in mind... I knew I had to call the cannery and see if I was to report for work the next night. I was reluctant but knew calling in was the right thing to do. I might of done a cartwheel, if I thought I could, when the woman in the office told me, "No work tomorrow. Things are really slowing down for the summer and in fact we'll call you if there is any more work to be had."

I put away my lunch box and threw out my earplugs. Such a relief. I'm done with that. I fulfilled my promise to God that if I got the job I would work it to the best of my ability. I finished well, I thought, and will be asked back next year, if need be, and I won't have to go through that awful application process again. It's all good news!

Well, the phone rang about an hour ago. About took the breath out of me when the voice on the other end of the line said, "This is Ana at the cannery, any chance you could work the three to twelve shift today?"

I have about a dozen other things I'd rather do. But I will go, lunch in hand and a smile in my heart because I made a promise to God.

Just when you think you've gone as far as you have to. God might ask you to go a little bit further. I'm counting on the fact that there is a reason for me to be at the cannery on THIS night. Maybe it's just for the money. Maybe it's for something more.

Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho...

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Moses Called... It's About The Eleventh Commandment.

At some point in our lives don't we all lose a wallet?

When I was 19, I left my wallet on the trunk of my car one day after I got gas. Figured out it was missing late that night. The next day I went back to the scene of the incident and found my wallet in the middle of the four lane highway in front of the station. It was empty. Then I noticed my driver's license on the side of the road. Not far from that was my Social Security card. I walked for about half a mile... into a neighborhood... picking up my personals. I got a little uncomfortable thinking I might actually end up at the tosser's home. Almost as quickly as I became concerned... the trail went cold. I was down $50.00 but had everything that meant anything to me back in my possession.

About two weeks ago, on a Friday, my son Alex lost his wallet. He had no idea where it might be. It wasn't till the next day that he realized it was gone. It wasn't until I got an email saying someone was attempting to transfer money from Alex' bank account into their own that I realized we could have a real mess on our hands.

As the drill goes... we cancelled everything and come Monday morning were at the Oregon DMV getting a new license for Alex. The sad part... was the loss of the wallet, a gift from his Grandma.

New license: $28.00
New Wallet: $24.00
Time together: Priceless
The whole thing: A good life lesson and a bummer

Two weeks later, while I was at work, I received a text message from my daughter, Maddie.

It read, "Moses called... He found Alex' wallet."

Yesterday afternoon, Moses came by the house. He had the wallet in hand... and everything was still in it... even Alex' $10.00 in cash. When we tried to offer him a reward he wouldn't take it. What a guy!

Moses came to our house and delivered an eleventh commandment:

XI. Thou shalt do good things and expect nothing in return.

I was thinking...

VIII. Thou shalt not steal.

Made me wonder... who tried to transfer the money?