Tag Archives: wonder

As the New Year Unfolds, Humans Face a Choice


A mother sits in the bed holding her sleeping newborn infant. She looks down at him in love and wonder and in awe at such an amazing miracle of God. And she wonders. She wonders who he will be and what he will become. She wonders about his joys and his sorrows. She wonders about the shape of this little one’s life journey.

Mary sits holding her sleeping newborn infant. She looks down at him in love and wonder, in awe at such an amazing miracle of God. He is the most amazing child ever born and his is the most amazing birth. The angel has told her who he is and has given her his name, but Mary still wonders at all the angel has not said. She wonders who this little miracle called the Son of God will be and what in God’s miraculous power he will become. She wonders about his joys and his sorrows. She wonders about the shape of this little One’s life journey. This little One who flung the stars across the canvas of the universe. This little One, this Almighty One, who has chosen to become small and weak to make us strong.

And so even Mary, the mother of God, joins mothers in all times and in all places, and the rest of us as well, as we gaze at the known and we wonder about the unknown. As new parents, we hold the little answers to a nine-month-long question in our hands, and the reality dawns on us that, though now we see the little one whose coming we had longed for, this little sleeping answer to our prayers brings more questions than answers. We thank God for what is, that the great I AM has called into being one more little human being, one more wonder. But we wonder what will come.

And what is true of our little ones, and what was true even of Mary’s little One, is true of this new year we’re just beginning. And it’s true of every new year we’ll ever begin; every one of them an adventure because life itself is an adventure. We don’t know, we can’t know, exactly what the new year will hold.

2015 will bring for each of us some wonderful and surprising joys. It will also hold some deep sorrows. Such is the patchwork of life. I have experienced more blessing and joy myself than any 1000 people have any right to, and yet I know how easily I give in to fear and anxiety, how I tend to focus on sorrows and not joys. I need so badly what we all need—God’s help to face the future with a faith-born depth of peace and joy and gratitude that only comes from learning to trust the Author of life.

Writer Kenneth Wilson tells of living as a small boy in a big, old, dark, multi-story, creaking and rattling house in Pittsburgh. At night the old dwelling could be a scary place. One evening his father read him a bedtime story and then asked, “Would you rather I leave the light on and go downstairs, or turn the light out and stay with you for awhile?” Wilson says, “I chose presence with darkness, over absence with light.”

It was a very good choice. In the face of an unknown future which sometimes seems dark because we see with weak and human eyes, choose to trust God and live daily in his presence.


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Copyright 2015 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

“Where Does the White Go When the Snow Melts?”


Ah, we’re snowed in today, and I love it! Image

I am a snow man, no doubt about it. Not the abominable kind, I hope. Just the very ordinary kind. (“Snow person” might have been clearer, but that would be dangerously close to the politically correct ravaging and neutering of the English language evidenced by such atrocities as “chairperson,” a term that should be relegated to bad science fiction movies.) 

I just love snow. Whoever said that “there is nothing in all of nature more beautiful than snow” was right. I never get enough of it. Of course, we never get enough moisture of any kind these days, so I’m even more thankful for the frozen kind that’ll melt and seep right on in. 

I grew up in Amarillo, Texas, where we had really fine and frequent snows. Minnesotans wouldn’t be particularly impressed, but by Texas standards, our Amarillo snows were noteworthy. (As I write, my grandkids are snowed in there with 11 inches thus far and a possibility of 18! I wish I was snowed in with them!)

But the snow we got last night in the Greater Muleplex was significant, and pretty much all of our townsfolk who can stay home ARE home today. The kids and teachers were treated early on today to the special joy that comes when you see your school district’s name scrolling along the TV ticker tape-ribbon list of cancellations. Seeing what you can do with snow is plenty educational (a few years ago, I built a snow dragon!), and, as Mark Twain wisely said, “I never let my schooling interfere with my education.” 

Lubbock, to the east, got half as much snow as we have, and they’ve pretty much shut down everything. That’s smart. 

When the good Lord dumps that much white stuff on us the best thing to do is give thanks, stay home, and enjoy it! Or, better, if you’re blessed enough to be in the mountains when the white stuff is falling, strap on the sticks and head down the hill! 

We’re way short of mountains here, but the snowdrifts covering the little hill upon which I live are doing a good imitation. Snow is good at that. It makes the ordinary wonder-full! 

Alas, I thought I’d prepared for today by lugging in some firewood, but, when I started lighting the fire, I soon was treated to billowing evidence that blowing snow has stuffed my chimney shut! I was tempted to try a couple of Tim Taylor-like approaches to fixing that situation, buy my wise wife intervened, so no fire yet. 

Once this column is written, I’ll be starting to cook some stew which will be enjoyed, as the good Lord intended, with milk and cornbread. (Clam chowder, chicken and dumplings, tortilla soup, chicken pot pie, and a number of other things would also make nice main courses for a snow day like this. 

Someone asked on the Internet, “Where does the white go when the snow melts?” Hmm, I dunno. I just know that I thank the Lord for snow!



Copyright 2013 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

“Know You What It Is To Be a Child?”


“Know you what it is to be a child?” asked the poet Francis Thompson. “It is to be so little that the elves can reach to whisper in your ear; it is to turn pumpkins into coaches, and mice into horses, lowness into loftiness, and nothing into everything . . .”

I love that! But the words that follow are musings from a rather bummed out magic pony. That would be me. You see, my four-year-old magic faerie princess (who took time out on Sunday morning to be an angel in our Christmas pageant; she’s amazingly talented and versatile) had to go home yesterday (and my five-year-old princess and 18-month-old dear little dwarf were unable to come).

At first, I told Her Little Highness that, as her magic pony, I’d consider it my duty to take care of the magic castle while she was away, but she didn’t think that would work, and now I see that she’s right. Air Force One is a really cool airplane even when the president is not aboard, but it’s not Air Force One unless he is. I like my shed/greenhouse/man-cave, but when the little folks aren’t there, neither is the magic.

The magic faerie princess christened me her “pony” early on in this weekend’s adventure. She doesn’t like it when I talk about it much to outsiders, but I’ll just mention that we started the journey on a trampoline but soon found that some orcs and trolls were carrying on their mischief in the area. (Black birds are, we discovered, on their side, but white birds are our friends.) If we spotted a party of orcs, we road as fast as we could, and, if they got too close, we found that her magic could transform her pony into a magic unicorn (magic because it could fly; your run-of-the-mill unicorns can’t), and we’d fly off to a magic pool no orcs could reach, the water of which, if you drink it, renders you invisible.

I’m giving too many details here. Suffice it to say that if a magic faerie princess has a broken wing, the good dwarfs who work the caves have among them a dwarf doctor who is good with such things.

We ended up back in her magic castle where she rules and makes the most delectable soup for her magic pony and other subjects. The castle comes complete with chimes that announce her arrival, multi-colored stars that twinkle, a Christmas tree and a couple of stockings, and cacti (cactuses, you know) near the window which are beautiful but have thorns through which orcs cannot pass without dire consequences to their sorry hides.

The joy really is in the journey. On this one, I realized yet again how pure and magical and deeply sweet are such moments, even more precious as we know they are fleeting here and can’t be captured or held except in memory.

January follows December. It’s not a bad month, inherently un-joyful; it’s just easily greyed out and bludgeoned into boredom by bean-counters and bureaucrats too insensible to know how deep is their loss as they trod roughshod over diamonds of delight and don’t even see the sparkle.

Adulthood follows childhood. It frightens me to think that though we want our magic faerie princesses to grow, well, the human adult can be one of the dullest and most insensible creatures imaginable. It often takes years to pass through that valley and then God uses something wonderful, like a magic faerie princess or two, and a delightful dwarf or a few, to bring back the magic.

No wonder our Lord was pointing to children when he said, “Of such is the kingdom.” Ah, that’s a kingdom worth loving!

And, I keep reminding myself, a Lord who can turn a stable into a palace and a manger into a crib fit for the King, can be trusted to perform the miracle it takes to keep the hearts of magic faerie princesses and dear little dwarves, and, much more difficult, even us adults, open to His joy.



Copyright 2012 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

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