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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

National Treasure...wow...

Do not go to National Treasure:Book of Secrets.  I repeat, Do not go to National Treasure:Book of Secrets.  It's a debacle in the most potent sense of the word.  Asinine. Complete inane rubbish through and through.  Some will say, well, there was no swearing...which is great so long as you don't mind that there is no plot, no acting, and no script to speak of either.  

Allow me to be your cupbearer this time and swallow the poison for you.  Visualize me convulsing on the floor as the poison infiltrates my bloodstream and attacks everything living inside my compromised body.  Think to yourself, "Self, maybe we shouldn't drink that cup of what appears to be perfectly fit wine.  Maybe we should enjoy another cup of fine spirits on this holiday vacation."  To that I would say as I breath my last, "At least I have not died in vain."  And with a final gasp and a choke of fleeting life, I would smile knowing that I served a purpose.  I was the one who ate the fatal mushroom.  I was the mate who took one for the team.  I was thrown under the bus that others may live.  

Gasp...ugghhh...I...I...agghhhh (eery silence)

familial...

We're over in Detroit with family.  We had a sweet time yesterday watching children open presents, talking about old times, watching our favorite YouTube clips, sitting around and chewing the fat until the wee hours of the morning, sleeping in...ahhh.

Today, the boys are heading out to a movie and a day on the town.  The girls are taking the kids and doing some shopping...which is not considered a girls day out considering the fact that carting around 6 children under the age of 8 cancels out the idea of recreation altogether.  But I pray for their souls as the shop with living blobs of Attention Deficit Disorder.  May God grant them immunity from the groans and murmurs of the mob.

I'm not sure how much time I'll have to rehearse the journey in the days ahead, but I'll give a valiant effort to that end.  I just love spending some time away from the familiar and with the familial.

Familial...that's right.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Our 2007 Christmas Letter...

our Christmas letter...

A Holdridge Christmas Chronicle

I hope this letter finds your mailbox cozy and free from icy build up. It’s traveled a great distance to get to you enduring many hazardous weather conditions, vicious manhandling, and claustrophobic conditions that would make even sardines second guess their often loathed plight and wise up to the fact that it could be much worse. This winter-cooled letter you are holding in your hands is an uproarious attempt to condense a years worth of life onto an 8½ by 11 piece of parchment. Since I’ve already used more than an inch of that space, I best move on to the actual grounds for this letter.

Kami Rose is now 8 and is currently sitting across from me at the dinner table eating a bowl of cereal with her mouth open…this is something Heidi has been trying to break her of from the beginning, but she is our incorrigible barbarian who refuses to be tamed into a prissy little American doll. She is in 3rd grade and loves to dance. When I say dance, I’m not talking about ballet or the waltz, I’m talking about hip-hop-shaking-your-booty-thrashing-your-head-flipping-around-like-a-hit-squirrel type of dancing. She came out of the closet with this gifting during church one weekend when the children’s ministry performed a couple numbers, one of which was a borderline rap of “To God be the Glory”. She was bustin’ moves like M.C. Hammer on steroids and throwing down her hand like a rapper when he exclaims, “Throw your hands in the aiya like ya’ really don’t caya. From the front to the back and the back to the front. Like this y’all, like that y’all.” You get the picture. She was in her glory; front and center leading the kids in a hip-hop hymn that would make my mother roll over into her grave. Not bad for a little Caucasian kid from the ‘burbs of Lowell, M.I. I was just reading a letter she wrote to Santa at school about what she wanted for Christmas and it reads like this: “Dear Santa Claus, What I want for Christmas is for my mom to be pregnant. If she says no, I will take a dog. Love, Kami”. This is literary genius! For the record, neither of those requests is an option due to the fact that, first, I closed the fertility shop this past summer; and second, because Heidi doesn’t want to add dog hair to the list of things that she already is neck deep in cleaning around the house. Kami will once again be disappointed for Christmas…at least for 15 minutes until she forgets about it and goes and makes a new friend in two seconds at McDonald’s Playland.

Aly Grace is now 6 and is currently playing Barbie’s upstairs in her room. She is our artisan spirit in the household, always detecting subtle shifts in someone’s emotional climate or pointing out historical discrepancies with our stories or bringing to our attention every “bad thought” she has had in her mind that is torturing her sensitive little heart. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that she confesses her every little immoral/amoral secret to her mother/priestess, Heidi, each and every night before drifting into R.E.M. sleep. She confesses everything from thinking someone is ugly at school to making her Barbie’s kiss each other for “a long time” to admitting that she sometimes says in her mind, “I hate my parents!” when we discipline her for some tiny transgression. She bursts into tears in movie theaters when characters are lonely, sad, or lost. This is how touched and touchy her little heart is at the sights and sounds of human emotion. She is in first grade learning to read all by herself, something she has been dying to do since she saw her big sister bringing home books and polishing them off. She still has some trouble with the pesky “R” sound. She was singing the song, “Whoodolf the Whednosed Whaindeewh” in the car this last week and one of her favorite books is about a character named “Baby Beawh (Bear)”. It’s the kind of book that says the word “Beawh” a thousand times just to help them learn to read. Sometimes I just hide behind a wall in another room and close my eyes smiling with God at the beauty and splendor of the child-heart. She needs to be kissed systematically every night by her mom, “I (kiss) love (kiss) you (kiss) because (kiss) you (kiss) are (kiss) lovely (kiss).” It’s impossible for her to function unless these unwritten rules are adhered to and carried out with unadulterated precision. This is our second born, and we love it. (most days)

Taylor Hope Lena’ is now 4 and is currently watching Santa Claus 3 in her sister’s bedroom. We spent the day together playing domino’s at the coffee shop, navigating our way around PBSkids.org, and then coming home and building a campfire out in the snow. She helped me collect sticks in the woods and we had a blast throwing snow in the fire and watching it sizzle and melt away. She has her mother’s captivating smile and is always making us laugh with her over-the-top personality. (I don’t know where she got that!) She is in pre-school and hasn’t met anyone that doesn’t become her best friend in less than 5 seconds. She loves to make up songs and sing them to our family. We literally cram our family onto the couch and let her entertain us with song and dance for as long as her little heart desires. She coined the phrase, “I la’ you” several months back before bed one night as we were tucking her in and it’s become a regular part of our vocabulary. She has been brainwashed by her mother into being absolutely deathly afraid of bugs and harmless vermin called mice that peacefully cohabitate our house with us. She is paralyzed by the sighting of a ladybug and will literally sit on the toilet trembling until I slay it with my bare hands. She brings a joy to our home that is rivaled only by the presence of God himself. There are times when I wonder if there is any difference to begin with. A night with Taylor around our house would make you wonder the same.

(I left this letter for three days and am now just returning to finish it…)

Heidi and I have just celebrated 11 years of marriage on Nov. 30th and 15 years of knowing of each other’s existence on Oct. 20th. Heidi invests massive amounts of energy into our three girls, the kind of energy that reduces your life expectancy by 5 years at least. Because there are no boys in our house other than myself, it increases the responsibility for Heidi to disciple, model, and bestow femininity. I’ve tried to bestow femininity over the years, and always hit an invisible wall for some reason I’ve yet to unearth. In fact, just today Heidi had to take Kami out to answer some of her persistent questions regarding males and females, and the variety of things that make them so very different and yet so drawn to each other. Heidi went to our local shopping mart last night to pick up a book on how to explain all of these profound mysteries to an over-zealous eight year old. I’ve yet to see my daughter since that conversation…I’m not sure that I’ll be able to make eye contact for at least the first few minutes of our reunion. These are the days I’m glad that we have 3 daughters, ‘cause Heidi’s the one that gets thrown under the bus and I can sit on the sidewalk and watch her get run over. Ok, so maybe that wasn’t the best word picture.

All in all…family is really good. Ministry is very good. Life is wicked (meaning unbelievably) good. God has brought us through another year and I’m stoked about the one that is to come. I’ve never been more in love with the life I live and the family I get to live it with. I hope this letter gives you a small sense of that reality.

Merry Christmas y’all…


Jason, Heidi, Kami, Aly and Taylor

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Kami's Christmas wish....

Dear Santa Claus,

What I want for Christmas is for my mom to be pregnant. If she says no, I will take a dog.

Love, Kami

_______________

We live in a world where the difference between babies and dogs is ever diminishing, much like Santa and Jesus...















Merry Christmas, everyone.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas "Evil" leading to "Scary Christmas"...

So we're in the middle of the December series called, "the Nighmare before Christmas" and I'm just looking at the genealogy of Christ and the battle against as well as the brokenness within his bloodline of Jesus. It's fascinating really. This week, I'm going to be looking at the birth of Christ through the lens of Rev. 12. Specifically wondering what it must have been like to emerge from the womb of Mary only to be eye to eye with the "dragon who was waiting to devour" you. What a "nativity" scene that is. One character that gets left out of the nativity is the dragon. It makes me wonder about childish little renderings of the Christmas story like "Away in a Manger" and "Silent Night". I decided to rewrite those little jingles to depict the reality of warfare surrounding the birth of Jesus.

Here's my rewrite of "Away in a Manger"...I call it "He lays there in Danger."

He lays there in Danger
Satan wants him dead
The little Lord Jesus
Is Hell’s greatest dread.
The war in the sky
Goes on while he lay
The little Lord Jesus
Is saving the day.

The battle is growing
the poor baby shakes
One look at the dragon
reveals what’s at stake
The combat was raging,
As Jesus arrived,
While young boys were slaughtered,
this baby survived.

The clamor was vicious
Surrounding the child,
Just under the surface
Hell’s angels were riled.
With Infinite power
Lord Sabaoth fought
and with armored angels
our freedom was bought.


Here's the rewrite of "Silent Night"...I've titled it "Violent Night"

Violent Night, Gory Night
Angels poised for a fight
Demons circled ‘round the child
All of Heaven broke loose and went wild
Warring for Heavenly peace.
Warring for Heavenly peace.

Violent Night, Gory night!
Bethlehem filled with fright
Fury streamed from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts shout “Fight, Jehovah!”
Christ, the Warrior is born.
Christ, the Warrior is born.


Violent night, Gory night!
Son of God joins our plight
Valiant dreams for humanities race
Brings the dawn of accessible grace
Born again at Thy birth.
Born again at Thy birth.


I just sometimes feel like there has been so much censorship in the story of God. Stories in the Bible can so easy be abducted from their context and air-brushed to be kid-friendly. I wonder in the long run what this does to the gospel. I think it makes for a pretty boring story when you eliminate the dark side in hopes to compel people with the bright side. I'm sick of the bright side. I want the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help me God. If the truth is fraught with danger and speckled with brokenness and checkered with salacious details that would get an NC-17 rating at the local theater...bring it on...with some popcorn and sour patch kids ta boot! Anyway...that's my two cents for the day.

Hope you enjoy my "morbid" Christmas carols.

It's my sorry attempt to blend Christmas Eve with Christmas Evil. Both are real. Both are true. And I don't think we do the gospel justice until we learn to sing both.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

the sky is falling...

The snow is gently falling outside my office window. There something so relaxing about watching snow fall and alight tenderly on shrubs, overhangs and windshields. I remember waking up and seeing piles of snow drifting in my driveway and begging my dad to cancal school (he was the principal). He would check around and see what the local schools were doing and eventually I'd hear him call into the radio station and say "uncle". The funny thing about that is that I would be so tired up to that moment, but instantly awake once I knew that I didn't "have" to wake up. I would put on my winter garb and trudge through the drifts as the first human to tamper with the virgin snowfall.

Branches would be bending under the weight of the crystalized water. The woods were pure and white...kinda like I imagined heaven to be minus the numbing temperature. I would stay out until I couldn't feel my toes. Then I would come inside, take off the layers of garment draped over me, and plop down in front of the woodstove basking in the pure heat of burning lumber. I don't care what anyone else says, woodburning heat is by far the most penetrating pleasure after coming in from the bitter cold. My toes would swell under the pressure of thawing so quickly...sometimes the pain would be so excruciating, I felt like I wanted to slice them with a jack-knife to relieve the expanding pressure. But eventually, like a brain freeze after too big of a bite of ice cream, it finds relief and tingles with a sensation that lets you know that you're alive...truly alive.

Hot chocolate only doubled the pleasure as the warm, brown liquid made its way into my bossom and eventually into my veins. Water was pooled on the linoleum floor making mom a little perturbed, but it was all part of the rigors of surviving the winter season. I would stoke the fire leaving the door open to just gaze at the blaze with a woolgathering stare of wonder. Something about fire and ice just balances out the human spirit and revives the dead places inside with feeling again. The extreme fringes are where reason and meaning dwell. I loved those places growing up.

So as I look out my window at the falling sky, I'm transported back to 319 Tug Hill Rd. where life was arresting my affection and I didn't even know it. I wish I could go back...oh wait, I guess that's what I'm doing right now.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Daddy/Daughter Dance...

The time of year has rolled around
to join my daughter's world,
out on the dance floor of her school
where her heart comes unfurled.

She'd talked about it for a month
dreaming of the night,
wondering what dress to where
and whether to where tights.

The night before the big event
she asked, "Are you excited?"
And with her hands upon my neck
it felt like I was knighted.

Taken back to yesteryear
where princes went to balls,
to find the dance inside their dreams
with hopes in love to fall.

And as I gazed into her eyes
I said, "You've no idea
How much this night pounds in my heart,
I 'bout got diarrhea."

Her machine-gun giggle filled the room
with joy beyond compare,
I pushed her head down on her bed
and stroked her thick brown hair.

She said, "Dad, I love to dance
and hang out with my friends.
I just hate when it's all done
and all the dancing ends."

I could tell that it'd be hard
for her little mind to calm.
I hoped a little bedtime prayer
could be a soothing balm.

And as I snuggled with my girl
I talked to God above,
I thanked him for the times to talk
and for my daughter's love.

And as I exited her room
I whispered, "Nighty night.
She looked at me and quickly said,
"Don't let the bedbugs bite."

That was the last I saw of her
until the early evening
just before the Daddy-dance,
where seeing is believing.

Things you wonder if are real
you see before your eyes,
it not just Disney fairy tales,
this stuff is still alive.

Her mother curled up her hair
with spray and spritz and spice,
She dabbed some blush upon her cheeks
and rubbed it in real nice.

At first she cried and didn't like
the tighness of the curls
I thought as Heidi dolled her up
"I'm glad I'm not a girl."

Finally the weeping stopped
and we were on our way
Heading to the restaurant
with Heidi, Al and Tay.

We scarfed down food like animals,
and paid the hefty bill
Kam' and I hopped in the truck
and headed for the thrill.

Arriving at the lively school
Kam' hung her furry shawl;
they took the cafeteria
and changed it to a ball.

With softened lights and disco balls
the atmosphere was set,
the Dj flipped the wax for us,
our appetites where wet.

At first we stood and scanned the crowd
looking for her pals,
and when her eyes caught one of them
she ran to join the gals.

I watched her jump around with friends
and shake her little bum,
She danced footloose and fancy free
rev'ling in the fun.

Every now and then she'd look
to see if I was gazing,
beyond the lights and sights and sounds
to find her heart amazing.

I'd smile at her from 'cross the room
and she would smile back,
I watched her dance with all her might
while nibbling on a snack.

Every now and then there'd be
a song for a slow dance,
She'd find me in the teeming crowd
and join me for romance.

I pulled her tight against my chest
and kissed her silky face,
we swayed so gently back and forth
with otherworldy grace.

A tear was coming to my eye
while Bryan Adams sung
"Everything I do for you."
as to my girl I clung.

I held her fast within my arms,
the time was flying by,
it won't be long before these years
will pass before my eyes.

I'll wish that I could travel back
and have just one more chance,
to share an evening with my girl
and lose ourselves in dance.

I soaked up every little sight
absorbing every sound,
And as the final song was played
I saw my princess crowned.

Adorned with beautiful affection
streaming from my heart,
pouring over all her being
and filling every part.

She looked at me on the way home
and said with tender tone,
"Thanks for dancing with me, Dad
I don't want to go home."

I grabbed her hand and held it tight
I wished that time stood still,
but I didn't want this wish to steal
this moment's unique chill.

That moved so warmly down my spine
leaving me entranced,
cause on this special winter's night
I grabbed my girl and danced.

I love you Kami Rose.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Getting lost...

Tonight is the Daddy/Daughter Dance. Kami showed me her dress that she wants to where last night. She said that she loves how it fans out when she twirls. She asked me if I'm excited to go with her. She has no idea.

Feeling the ache in my back as I lean ever so slighty toward her 8 year old body swaying back and forth with her on the dance floor is one of the best dull pains in the small of my back I ever experience. I love the slow songs....the ones that let us hold each other without something pressing for us to get to. But I also love the fast songs that make us both sweat we're "bustin' so many moves". I love starting a soul train with all the daddies and their daughters. I love watching her dance with her friends in a cute little circle. I love getting punch and sitting at the table waiting for just the right song to go and "express ourselves".

So it's the big night. For Kami, there's nothing else happening in the world. No war. No hunger. No death. Nothing but a ball for the princess and the king to go to and get lost in. And in intend to get as lost as I ever have.

Monday, December 03, 2007

big fat lies...

this is monday...it is exactly a week since my last post. Mondays are strange days for me. For one, it is actually my Wednesday, my hump day so to speak. And yet it feels like a good ole' fashioned Monday regardless, because for everyone else I'm interacting with it actually is. So I'm caught betwixt two realities. A place that has become somewhat of a home for me.

The reason why this has become somewhat of a norm for me is that I'm always living in the middle of what is real (the seen world around me that I'm intersecting) and what is more real (the unseen world around me that I'm trying to intersect with everything I've got). It's like both are real and depending on the hour and who I'm sharing that hour with, I flop back and forth like a fish out of water, or a bird under water. Either way, I'm a cohabitant of two distinctly real worlds, but real in their own way. I must admit, the tangible/tactile world makes it difficult to pay attention to the inaudible/unseen world that, by faith, I believe surrounds me.

I feel drawn to thrown myself into both of these worlds. I love being a human on this planet. Sure, it has it's drawbacks and pitfalls, but all in all, I love culture and nature, and very much enjoy the opportunity to be alive in such a ripe age of history. And yet, I love the world that pulsates under and over and around and within what I see...so much so that I talk by myself (pray) and sings songs toward it (worship) and talk to others about it (preaching) and try to get other to order their lives according to it (discipleship). It's kind of crazy.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm a client of the product I'm selling. It's a wonderment that can be quite unnerving. Days and weeks and even months can go by without second-guessing my infatuation with the unseen world, and all at once, I'll be struck with a pesky little thought..."What evidence has there been recently that I'm not just weaving a clever spell out of nothing (ex nihilo). Am I using the product I'm selling or am I mindlessly contributing to the glut of propoganda that comes from untested, unquestioned auto-pilot theory?" I've learned that I can sell something that I don't use or own over the years. It's not just possible, it's quite likely if I don't catch myself being a talking head or a lifeless sounding board to regurgitated so-called truth. I'm nothing more than a parrot, a puppet on some days. I've completley forgotten or discarded my "responsibility" to strain, filter, process, distill, and discern. These self-checks serve to keep my life and my ministry and my marriage from becoming different comparments in a scitzophrnic existance. I never want to get used to living an unquestioned existance. I actually would rather lived out an unanswered one if given the option. An unaswered one can at least be chalked up to mystery and glorious unknowns, something I'm getting more comfortable living with. But an unquestioned life leaves me feeling quite fearful that I'm actually living out a life that is nothing more than a big fat lie.

And I hate big fat lies.