The 12 Days of Christmas & the Gifts from our True Love

Did you know that in many church settings throughout the Western World that the Christmas season extends beyond Christmas Day?  This post-Christmas period was popularized by the old song “The 12 Days of Christmas,” but truly there are twelve days of Christmas that are celebrated on an annual basis as part of the liturgical calendar.

12 Days of Christmas

The Epiphany

In Christian terms, the twelve days of Christmas are known as the season of Epiphany.  It starts the day after Christmas and ends with the Feast of Epiphany on January 6.  I’ve only become more familiar with it in recent years due to my relationship with my Spanish family and then later due to my adopted prayer times in the Catholic Church.  It is in celebration of the Magi’s (wise men’s) arrival to worship Jesus.

What is the significance of the Magi’s arrival (the Epiphany)?  Until that time, salvation was reserved for the Jews through God’s Covenant with Abraham.  The Magi were Gentiles (non-Jews) who followed the star in the sky from the East to worship Jesus.  They were the first Gentiles to worship him signifying that Jesus came to save us all.  We are also the Gentiles, and were excluded from the covenant.  In celebrating the Epiphany, we are celebrating our inclusion into God’s plan of salvation.

Spanish nativity scene (a Belen), photo courtesy of Pedro's family

Spanish nativity scene (a Belen) courtesy of Pedro’s family

Three King’s Day

In Spain, the Epiphany (feast day on January 6th) is called “Three King’s Day” (Dia de Los Reyes) and has traditionally been more popular than Christmas.  Spanish children look forward to this day and celebrate it with the receipt of presents, like on Christmas.  The giving of gifts on this day is a representation of the gifts given by the wise men, or “Three Kings.”

For children the fun starts on the evening of January 5, when the Three Kings are welcomed into the cities in a parade.  (Spain is known for its festive religious parades with ornate floats and statues.)  Children are rewarded with candies thrown out by the Three Kings along the parade route.  Similar to Christmas in America, children anticipate the arrival of the next day to see what kind of presents the Three Kings have left for them overnight.

Floats being prepared for a Spanish feast day parade, Toledo, Spain, June 2013.

Floats being prepared for a Spanish feast day parade, Toledo, Spain, June 2013.

Gifts from our True Love

Since Three King’s Day is celebrated by my Spanish family, I also make a conscious effort to acknowledge that day with them. This year, I’ve been making many observations since Christmas which remind me it is still the Christmas season.  It has been a deliberate slowing down of the season and watching how God is giving me daily experiences of His love, just like in the song, The 12 Days of Christmas.

It has been an amazing opportunity to witness God’s goodness in my life.  For instance, yesterday was the 5th day of Christmas and my True Love brought me three surprise encounters with friends.  The days before that, I was blessed with special family outings and meals, our annual family card game of Canasta, a wedding ceremony, a movie night out, and a Seahawks victory!

These haven’t been physical gifts.  They have all been experiences to treasure.  They are also reminders to me of how God wants to use me by connecting with others. That got me to thinking about the everyday gifts we receive from our Father in Heaven.

He is good; and yes, life is hard. 

With my ADHD, chronic fatigue syndrome, and other health issues, I seem to struggle with it every day.  But when I pause long enough to see the fruit of His love to me, I can see how faithful He has been to bring me through the ups and downs of it all.

Gifts from God

Farewell to 2014

2014 has been another monumental year for me.  I’ve had to normalize that my life keeps getting bigger and that the Lord has called me to go places and do things that I never dreamed possible for Him.

But with God all things are possible. (Luke 1:37)

So tonight when I celebrate the ringing in of the New Year, I’ve decided to celebrate the gifts from my True Love.  I eagerly embrace the coming of the New Year and what’s in store with arm’s wide open.

Happy New Year to my faithful readers, supporters of my writing, and to those who prayed for or donated to my call to share the gospel in Spain. You have all abundantly blessed me in 2014!  May you celebrate the 12 days of Christmas and the gifts from Our True Love every day in the coming year!

What gifts are you celebrating as you ring in the New Year?

HNY 2015

Giving Up Christmas?

We don’t watch much TV in our home. One of our favorite shows is “The Middle.” We love to laugh at the dysfunction of this family with 3 kids spanning from middle school to college. The holiday episode hit way too close to home as Frankie, the mom, decided she was “done with Christmas.” She decided she wasn’t going to decorate the house, bake cookies, and do a multitude of other Christmas expectations.

No Christmas treeToo Much Holiday Hype

“I’m not going to get sucked into all the trappings,” Frankie declared.

None of this was because she wanted to get in touch with the meaning behind Christmas. She was just overwhelmed by all of the work. What did she do instead? She followed the example set by Axl, her teenage son, and sat on the sofa watching TV with her pants off.

Although my reasons are different, I’ve felt just like Frankie on several occasions over the last several years, except for the pants thing. I’ve wanted to slow down, do less, and have more Peace throughout the season. It seems like a constant struggle to find the right balance between the Season and the Reason.

“No more Christmas,” my husband declared, one year after putting away the Christmas boxes for the season. He recovered though.

The Annual Holiday Letter

The one tradition I wrestle with every year is the annual holiday letter to friends and family. To do or not to do? After I turned towards writing as a fulltime ministry, I saw how the annual letter was one of many ways I was able to use that part of my creativity over the years. Our letters go back almost 30 years.

There were no sacred cows on this episode of “The Middle”, including the holiday letter. Brick, the youngest sibling, in 7th grade, became fascinated by the receipt of Christmas letters and decided to take on this task for his family too. The result was very humorous. When he read his honest letter of what was going on in their family to his father, the letter was quickly criticized.

Brick reads his rendition of the Heck family Christmas letter.

“Brick you can’t say any of that stuff…Christmas letters are just for the good things that happen in the last year,” his father explained.

“Oh, that’s going to be a lot harder, and shorter,” Brick responded.

I’ve been formulating our annual letter in my mind the past few days. Thankfully, we have the opposite of Brick’s situation.  2014 was a year of so many positive things happening that it struck me that any of my family members could write their own letter of activities. (All of this activity also brought with it a lot of challenges.)

How do I decide what to write? How do I choose which pictures to include out of all the travels we experienced? How do I summarize it all?

Blessed! Grateful! Blown away by God’s goodness! That is my summary.

A note on a birthday card I received last year said, “I know it will be hard to top this past year, but here’s hoping the next one’s just as fabulous!”  I remember thinking it would get better, not really knowing how, but trusting God to keep His promises in the New Year.

He did. 2014 topped 2013 in such unexpected and amazing ways. Will 2015 be more of the same? My calendar and my heart are open to more.  But my body and my mind are looking forward to entering a season of abide (John 15:4).

merry-christmas-1Making Room for Christmas

So how did the show end?  Did Frankie really give up on Christmas?

Late night on Christmas Eve, Frankie and her husband, Mike, were relaxing in front of the Christmas tree.  He reminisced about Christmas in his youth and realized that he never had holiday decorations until he met Frankie.  Enough said!  The next morning when everyone awoke, Frankie surprised them by having the entire house all decked out for Christmas Day.

Her final narrating comments on the episode:  “Every time you think you’re out, it (Christmas) sucks you right back in.”

Gotta wrap this up.  It’s time to jump on the annual holiday letter.  It’s not because I’m being sucked back in.  It’s because I’m making more room for Christmas (the season and the Reason) by celebrating His faithfulness and goodness to us this past year.  And that’s a gift worth sharing with all my family and friends.

How about you? Are you done with all of the holiday hype?  What are you doing to celebrate Jesus this Christmas?

Preparing Our Hearts and Homes for Christmas

I’m not sure why, but this is the first holiday season that I have looked forward to in several years.  I think that started five years ago when my brother, his wife, and me made a cross country trek to visit my mother just before Christmas.  As referenced in my story, “Walking My Mother Home,” in Journeys to Mother Love, it was our final farewell to her.  She survived another Christmas season and passed away in February the next year.  Those two Christmases were the hardest for me, still being in the waiting process.

On Santa's lap, 2001

On Santa’s lap, 2001

Holiday Transitions

It was also during that time our teenage sons were becoming more independent.  The feel of the holidays was changing.  There was no more Christmas wonder, no more believing in Santa Claus, and no more family holiday portraits.  It became harder for me to instill some tradition and holiday spirit into the season.

This year we are preparing for our next layer of parenting and holiday traditions.  Our oldest son Evan graduated from college earlier this year and moved out of state.  We haven’t seen each other since we moved him into his new apartment six months ago.  We already faced Thanksgiving without him.  It was a quiet day with my husband, my youngest son, Cameron, and me.  It was like a super-charged family meal with a small turkey and all the trimmings.

We made the most of it.  The highlight for me was when Cameron asked us each to share what we were thankful for.  He shared that he was thankful for understanding parents (in reference to the challenges he faced adapting to high school with ADD) and that his parents were still together (in reference to his keen awareness of how many of his friends come from broken families).

His response warmed this sentimental mother’s heart.  Even at 17 he gets it!

An Old Tradition

In preparation for Evan’s holiday visit, I am decking the house all out for Christmas, like in years past.  It is a big chore so I enlisted the help of my friend, Stacie, who has spent several holiday meals at our home. While digging through the boxes of decorations, I was reminded of a family tradition of sorts that was handed down from my husband’s father, Ray.

Ray with his new pick-up truck in 1969.

Ray with his new pick-up truck in 1969.

I barely knew Ray.  He never officially became my father-in-law, passing away over 30 years ago, a few months before we were married.  For the next several years though, we were fondly reminded of his sense of humor at Christmas.  Ray had a habit of making a note on the outside of some of the Christmas boxes, posting the year, and maybe what the weather was like outside or some comical tidbit of information.  My husband and I started doing the same, usually making a treatise about the weather or maybe a good-natured ribbing of the other’s holiday attitude.

Continuing the Tradition

Those boxes with their notes from Ray are long gone, but my notes have continued and took a new more ‘writerly’ direction in recent years.  I came across some of those notes while decorating.  Stacie and I had a big laugh over some of my notes and reminisced about how we met.

In a phone conversation a few days prior, we pondered what year we met…and there it was in black and white in my entry for January 12, 2007.  We met in one of the classes that I was leading at church, and I had noted that I was preparing the curriculum.  (It was my first class of this nature, so it was a big deal to me.)  We got quite a chuckle out of that.

Meeting Stacie in a spiritual growth class, 2007.

New and old friends from a spiritual growth class at church in 2007.

I went on to read my notes getting a glimpse into our holiday preparations.  Stacie showed up in my notes indirectly again two years later.  I wrote that I was preparing for the women’s retreat at church.  She was at that retreat and mentioned the significance of it to her.  I remembered it very clearly.  Stacie was in a period of transition and heartache at the time.  In a moment of divine intervention, a group of women gathered around her, and laid hands on her in prayer.  We witnessed the Holy Spirit minister to many women at that retreat.

Ministering to Others

Stacie and I worked hard tending to all the decorating details around the house this year.   We laughed and we got a bit teary eyed a few times.  We turned a chore into a celebration of God’s goodness to us over the years.  It all started with a simple holiday tradition of writing a short note to include with my Christmas decorations.  It ministered to us both that day, not only preparing my home, but also our hearts for Christmas.

Thank you Ray!  Maybe the grandsons whom you never met, will carry on that humorous habit.  If not, you left us a legacy through the notes that are tucked away in our Christmas boxes.  Some day when I pass those boxes of decorations on to my kids, maybe it will minister to them too.

What are you doing to prepare your heart and home for Christmas?

Treasuring Christmas in our Hearts

Thank you Lord for giving us the birth of your Son as a reminder of what You are capable of. May He give us His perspective so that we may treasure up all these things and ponder them in our hearts beyond this holiday season. (Luke 2:19)

Journeys To Mother Love

Christ-NativityAt this time of year as I try to set aside the holiday rush and connect with the real reason for the season, I find myself wondering what it was like to be a witness to what God was doing in the lives of Mary and Joseph. The Bible doesn’t say what their immediate families thought about Mary’s claims to be a virgin with child. The only glimpse of unbelief comes from Joseph when he considers divorcing Mary.

Looking at how Mary and Joseph kept their faith in the midst of such possible ridicule and shame helps me to see how God operates in our lives. Here are a few ways that God reminded Mary and Joseph what He was capable of:

  1. An angel told Mary she would give birth—as a virgin.
  2. Mary visited Elizabeth and received confirmation of what the angel told her.
  3. Mary carried Jesus in her womb as a…

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Imparting Christmas Traditions

“‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring not even a mouse.”  This first line of the famous poem “The Night Before Christmas” conjures up images of Christmases past when my sons were young and preparing for Santa Claus’ arrival was still part of our Christmas routine.  One of my favorite traditions was putting out a dish of fresh baked cookies for Santa and a carrot for the reindeer.  Right after that my husband or I would read to the boys from a pop-up picture book with that same name.  It was a time of innocence and joyous expectation.

Christmas Eve 1999

Christmas Eve 1999

My teenage sons are now well beyond those years and I’m finding it harder to cling to traditions that will last.  Gone are the days of cookie exchanges and visits to Santa Claus.  Sadly, the one last tradition of making annual ceramic ornaments was dropped this year too.  I contributed a post about the role mothers play in imparting Christmas traditions on  Click the link to read Imparting Christmas Traditions on that blog.

If your children are beyond the years of Santa Claus or your home is an ‘empty nest’, you may be asking, “Where is the wonder of Christmas?”  Don’t fret, because the WONDER of Christmas is still alive.

At Christmastime we are reminded that the wonder is God’s gift to us in the form of a baby in a manger.  Christ was born on Christmas Day.  It is the gift that is freely available to us each day of the year. As I long for some of the traditions and magic of Christmases past, I also delight in knowing that the message of Jesus birth on Christmas Day is the best tradition to impart in my family.

What kinds of Christmas traditions, past or present, do you impart with your children?

Thanksgiving Beyond America

Ever since working through my 12 steps for my recovery issues eight years ago, I have adopted an attitude of gratitude in my life—not just on Thanksgiving, but every day. One of the things I am most grateful for over the past few years is my relationship with Pedro and his Spanish family. For Thanksgiving (and as a gift for my birthday—also Thanksgiving day), Pedro has agreed to share his Thanksgiving thoughts from the perspective of a Spaniard.

Ardis:  When was the first time you came to America and what was your impression?

Pedro & his parents in New York, 2009

Pedro:  I came to America for the first time in 2009 for Easter. I went with my parents and some friends to New York, and we all had such a good impression of this country. I could not say why, but we all thought exactly the same thing: Europeans and Americans are different, but we have a lot in common.

Ardis:  And then you returned?

Pedro:  Yes, that summer I went to L.A. to spend a month learning English. My visit to L.A. confirmed that my first thoughts about America were true. This is why I decided to return the next year, and I had the good luck to meet the Nelson family: Ardis, Curt, Evan and Cameron.

We spent a wonderful month travelling through Washington State, and sharing our cultures in a wonderful process. In the next year, when I returned, they had an amazing present for my 18th birthday: a recording session in a studio. We shared another wonderful month and we have continued keeping in touch.

Ardis:  Yes, thanks to the internet, keeping in touch has been very easy. Why is studying in America or learning English so important to you?

Pedro:  Now that the world is globalized, it is required for almost every company to know English. In Spain there are hundreds of international companies which use English as their first language. I’m studying Law and Business Administration, so it is especially important for me to have a good English level. This is why I took English classes since I was 8 years old or studying abroad in Ireland, L.A. or Seattle.

One of the best things about studying abroad is the possibility to immerse yourself in another culture. You have a different experience meeting new people, new places…and when you return home, you start perceiving how different everything is. It is a strange feeling.

Ardis:  That sounds exciting Pedro! I can hardly wait to experience that for myself next summer when I visit Spain*. What about life in Spain? Americans hear in the media how bad things are with the economy in Spain and Europe overall. How does that affect you and your daily life?

Pedro:  Things are very bad here in Europe. Spain and Greece have the worse economy of all countries in the world. It is believed that we will not fully recover to our 2008, pre-crisis economy, for many years. Fortunately, I live in an area where the crisis’ impact is not very hard. In my family there are 4 people who lost their jobs. So, while I don’t feel the Spanish economic woes in my daily life, I notice its effect in my environment.

Ardis:  Does Spain celebrate a similar day of giving thanks?

Pedro:  In Spain this day doesn’t exist, but we all know it is good to remember what gifts we have received and their meaning.

Ardis:  Now that you have such strong family connections in America, how would you reflect on this American holiday?

Pedro:  Thanksgiving Day is a very special day where we have to stop from our daily life and look for what things we are thankful for. When I look back because of the Thanksgiving Day, I cannot say anything but how thankful I am. It makes me realize how lucky I am to be born in a wonderful family, to have the possibility to study what I like, to have met the Nelson family…there is a very long list, so I don´t want to bore the reader. This is why I thank God for giving me this wonderful life around wonderful people. I only can suggest that because of this day, everyone should try to be grateful.

Ardis:  Well said, Pedro.  Thank you for sharing your thoughts with America!

Pedro & Ardis in the recording studio, July 2011

I hope you enjoyed this interview with a cross-cultural perspective. I know my life has been enriched and expanded by having a relationship with a family 5,300 miles across the globe.

Last year for my birthday, Pedro wrote me a song.  I also celebrated my first birthday since my mother passed with friends who have prayed for me on my ‘journey to mother love’.  I will leave you with a music video from that day combined with Pedro’s beautiful song, Ardis’s Song (click link). Pedro’s music is just one of the many things I am grateful for.

Happy Birthday to me! Happy Thanksgiving to you!

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever. Psalm 136.1 (NIV)

*I did experience the cultural differences, food, places, and people that Pedro referenced in the summer of 2013. To read about my first-hand experiences in Spain, check out Adjusting to Life in Spain or The Spanish Lifestyle.

A Gift of Hope

When I think about the best Christmas gift I received as a kid, I immediately go back to the year I received my blue Schwinn ‘banana’ bike when I was nine years old.  I realize now that it must’ve been the last Christmas my family had together before my parent’s divorced.  
On that Christmas morning after the presents under the tree were all unwrapped, our parents directed us downstairs for a surprise.  As I entered the den, all I could see was the new ping pong table that was in the center of the room.  I didn’t even notice the new banana bike standing up on its kick-stand in the corner.  My parents had to point me in the direction of the bike.  Our Christmases were never extravagant, but I think this one was meant to be memorable for us as I suspect that the divorce may have been in the works.

Vintage Schwinn banana seat bike

Vintage Schwinn banana seat bike

That bike was my constant companion for several years.  It was the only real bike I ever had.  I never got a ten speed or some such fancy bike when I entered puberty.  My mother didn’t have money for things like that.  I had to be content with that two-speed bike with the normal pedal brakes—no handlebar brakes for me.  It wasn’t until I bought myself a bike at a garage sale a few years ago as an adult that I actually had a bike with more than two gears.
In today’s age of electronic games and gizmos, it is really hard to find a gift that has the ability to bring such vivid memories.  Today’s electronic devices become outdated within months sending us into our quest for the newest version or some type of upgrade.  That is why cell phone companies are so geared to their consumers signing up for long term contracts.  They want to sway us from leaving and hopefully create some brand loyalty.
Well, Christmas is over and my kids did score some of those electronic gadgets this year—a new Windows phone, ipod Touch, Nook and video games.  I, on the other hand, didn’t get any electronic gadgets.  I got some gifts that told me that my family was listening to my heart over the last year.  They knew exactly what I wanted—an airline ticket to Spain.  While I didn’t get that, one of my sons pointed out to me that I got a virtual trip to Spain.  I received a travel guide for Spain, a book to learn Spanish and a large suitcase for the trip.  It’s just a matter of time before that trip becomes a reality.  Until then I have my work cut out for me, learning Spanish and writing the story that has made Spain such an important part of my life this year.
While I’m hoping that my family’s Christmas gifts give them joy and happy memories beyond the next year, I know that my gifts will because they are an investment in a gift that is future dated.  Their gifts give me hope for that trip.  It helps me to focus on that goal and builds up the excitement and anticipation for what is yet to come.   Maybe that is what my parents wanted too—with that bike—to give me some hope or at least some temporary joy in the midst of the life-shattering reality that was to come.
Receiving these gifts of hope from my family, reminds me of what God gave us when He sent His Son.  It wasn’t a gift wrapped up under a Christmas tree.  It was wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manger.  When I focus on that gift and not my present circumstances, I’m able to get through the rough times.  It is a gift of hope.  I’ll take that kind of gift any day.

Has Your Christmas Gone to the Dogs?

              I just can’t seem to get in the Christmas spirit this year.  Correction, I just can’t seem to stay in the Christmas spirit this year.  I’ve had small glimpses of peace, but they’ve been very fleeting.  I can’t quite figure out why that is.  It’s not like I haven’t gotten things done.  Maybe my problem is that I’m not giving myself any grace.  After all, I did just write a manuscript and set up a website and online music sales for my Spanish son’s music.   

I guess what bothers me is that I had so much help to get some of those things done this year.  I’ve never needed help to put up the Christmas tree, decorate the office or buy and wrap the presents—even when I worked full time.  But this year it’s like I’m on some other planet—the one that doesn’t stop for Christmas.  There are no Christmas cookies baked and boxes of unopened Christmas decorations still sit in my garage.  My poor car moans every time I start it as if to say, “Why have you abandoned me outside in the cold?”  I want to apologize to it too and tell it I’m just too busy to make room for it. 
And then there is the writer’s block that I seem to be experiencing.  Or is it just that I’m too busy to write?  I’m not quite sure, but after reading a blog post from one of my favorite authors earlier today, I felt ‘unblocked’.  Her blog mentioned some of the same things that I am struggling with—the tension of what I’m supposed to be doing for the holidays versus the connecting times and also the writing ‘shoulds’.  It was a relief to me to know that I am not alone with trying to prioritize my Christmas activities and still find peace.  Her struggle gave me permission to write too.
This year has been a big transition year for me so it shouldn’t be such a surprise that I need to re-evaluate how I do Christmas too.  The rules and traditions that I’ve had in place in the past don’t have to dictate what I do this year.  I don’t need to put up every Christmas decoration I own.  I don’t need to bake cookies.  I do need to connect with my friends.  I do need to spend time with my family.  I do need to let people know how much they mean to me.  I do need to relax and let go of so many expectations to have it all together.
So with Christmas Eve less than a day away, I’m choosing to shake off the ‘shoulds’ and finish the season with an attitude of gratitude.  Even though we are dog-sitting for two other dogs over the holidays, that doesn’t mean I have to let my Christmas ‘go to the dogs’.  I do have so much to be grateful for—the three men in my life, my extended family in Spain, my friends, and that God wants to use me in bigger and bolder ways than I ever thought was possible.

  At Christmastime let’s remember that Jesus came to fulfill the law with grace and truth.  So shouldn’t we be willing and able to give ourselves that same grace this holiday season?  I don’t know about you, but I’m all in for that.  Woof, woof!  May His Peace be with you this blessed holiday! 

Leaving A Legacy

A neighbor passed away this week after a long battle against cancer. It is never easy to hear about someone’s life being taken from them at middle age or of their struggle with a terminal illness.

When I got the call from another neighbor, I was shocked, but not totally surprised. I wept, prayed and offered condolences and help. Today as I drove by his house for the first time since hearing the news, I was overcome with the memories of what this man gave to our neighborhood and our community.

Holiday lights 1

His name was David Parkinson and he was well known in Sammamish and beyond for his display of Christmas lights. Over the past 15 years Dave put up a massive display of lights that grew to 60,000 bulbs, assorted blow-up characters and wire displays. In recent years, Dave got the attention of the media and was listed in newspaper and television station reviews as an address to view his display of lights. After that happened, it wasn’t unusual for the cul-de-sac to get backed up with cars slowly driving by. Waiting behind a string of cars to pull into my own driveway was only a minor inconvenience. It was offset by the evenings I would sit in my living room and watch the cars go by. It was a reminder that these families were taking time out of their busy holiday schedules to enjoy some of the wonder of Christmas.

Holiday lights 02

Dave’s mission and passion was clear and simple–to create a special display of lights for people to enjoy. In order to achieve that goal in time for December viewing, he would start putting up lights on Labor Day weekend. He was very consistent and deliberate with his planning and creativity. Before he got sick, his family would host a neighborhood lighting party every year. It was always the highlight of the holiday season. And then there were the nights that I caught Dave outside monitoring the lights, doing some repairs or talking with the passersby.

Holiday Lights 03

Dave delighted in the lights. He delighted in giving this back to the community. But Dave didn’t just give us this talented display of lights. He also gave back to the community by putting up a drop-off container for food donations to Northwest Harvest. It was like his own mini-food drive.

Holiday lights 04

December is nearing and the lights were barely started this year. Now that he is gone will there be any lights? Will the family or community rally around to finish his work? I wonder what Dave would want.

So with the sorrow in my heart over Dave’s passing, I can’t help but also think about the legacy he has left. He has left a legacy of sparkling lights and holiday cheer. He gave a gift that lifted up our holiday spirits and reminded us to slow down and enjoy the season. My scrapbooks are filled with photos of his holiday lights over the years as a momento of this holiday tradition.

Thank you Dave for sharing your vision with us and leaving a legacy of lights that we will never forget.

Holiday Lights 00002

For a few brief minutes, Dave’s passing made me think about the legacy I am leaving. What do I want to be remembered for? Am I living in God’s will? Thankfully the answer is that probably for the first time in my life, I really believe that I am being missional and on purpose with the legacy that God has ordained for me.

Are there things that I could change in my life? Of course. Am I content in all things? Probably not as much as I should be. But if God took me tomorrow, I wouldn’t have any regrets about where I invested my time and my talents. It certainly hasn’t always been that way, but thankfully, God has been giving me a legacy worth leaving.

Dave's family did honor him with a light display in 2011 and beyond.

Dave’s family did honor him with a light display in 2011 and beyond.

UPDATE January 2022: Ten years later Lisa still honors her husband’s memory with the annual holiday light display. How fitting that her/his display won this year’s Sammamish Independent’s competition. (Lisa Parkinson puts up holiday lights to keep husband’s memory alive.) Congratulations Lisa and thank you for continuing Dave’s legacy!

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    I'm an author, writer, speaker, mentor & mom. I've struggled to find my voice all my life as I lived in the shadows of a mother with mental illness. Thankfully that was not the legacy that she handed down to me. It took a lot of recovery and deep healing work to rise above it.

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