Sunday, November 29, 2009

Christmas In Real Life

Ah...Christmas. I love everything about it. I love the beautiful glow of a tree covered in ornaments that all have a special meaning. I love the Nativity scenes I have displayed around the house. I especially love the music of the season...singing along at the top of my lungs. I love snuggling under a blanket, reading a Max Lucado book, listening to the City on a Hill cd that a friend "loaned" to me about 5 years ago.

Sounds pretty idyllic, doesn't it? I realize, too, that it sounds pretty self-centered. And that, friends, is the struggle.

Today, I (subtly) chased my husband out of the living room where he was watching football so I could decorate the top of the entertainment center with my Willow Tree Nativity and listen to Christmas music.

Today, I yelled at my kids for breaking the heads off two of the wisemen in their $10 nativity that I knew would get broken sooner or later. I was trying to tell them who was who in the story, and they were clinking their heads together. So I yelled.

Today, I told them to look with their eyes not with their hands at the Santa display that sits on the roll-top desk. (OK, I am serious about that one.)

Today, I yelled at them for mimicking a song while I was getting my praise on...with a capital "P". If they could just behave so I could worship God properly...Christmas is about showing Jesus that we love Him, and if they could just be quiet, I could love Jesus better.

I am fully aware of how fully aware of myself that I am. Therein lies the do I teach my kids to love Jesus and discover the true meaning of Christmas if I am busy yelling at them for getting in the way of my "experience"?

Help me, Lord, to express my love for You in a way that invites, rather than excludes, others to join in. You served God through the people, not in spite of them. Help me, Lord, to get over myself so I can make room for everyone else. Especially in this season that honors You. Amen.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fear Factor

"Follow Me."

Two simple words.

Two simple words that Jesus said to His disciples.

No problem, right? But how far is too far? How far am I willing to follow? It's cool when the warm fuzzy Jesus is telling me to follow Him. It's like, seriously, You want me to follow you? Even though I...You still want me? Cool...I'm in!

But how about now, when life is hard sometimes? When following Him means giving up what I think, what my selfish nature demands, and following Him means making choices that don't come naturally?

Just for the record, I don't like deep water. Or high places. I could never take a cruise, or stand at the top of the Sears Tower. I like to be able to touch the bottom, to know what is under my feet and that it isn't going anywhere.

The other night I had a dream that I was about knee deep in water, but waves were crashing in front of me. I kept trying to dive into the wave and swim really deep, but salt water filled my nose and burned my eyes, and I would struggle back to the top, gasping. I really, really didn't want to go under there.

But, all through my dream, this is what I heard: that you would know how deep and how wide and how long and how high is the Love of God. It's Romans 8:38-39. I would hear this in my struggle to try and stop coming up. But I couldn't make myself stay under the water. In my dream I was missing the chance to see just how deep and how wide and how long and how high the Love of God is.

In my waking, analytical hours, I think God is trying to tell me that I am not fully trusting in Him yet. Yes, the salt water will sting my nose and make my eyes burn. But, in the depths of whatever is out there, I will find God more deeply, more clearly than ever before.

But the question is, will I follow Him, even to places I am afraid to go?

Will you?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The River

I was jamming to some old school music in my kitchen today, making some potato soup and banana bread. It was Jars of Clay "Redemption Songs", which, if you are not familiar, are Christian classics with a bluesy spin. There is a song about going to the Promised Land, and it got me thinking about the Israelite's trip through desert, crossing the Jordan, and all of their challenges on their way to their destination. I was wondering to myself why they had so much trouble when they knew what God had promised them. I mean, seriously, they were in rough shape.

You know what's coming, don't you?

God spoke to me and said, "What makes you so different from them?"

I started thinking about my life compared to the Israelites, and the fact that we are all on a journey towards a promised land. I might not be wandering a physical desert, but sometimes life seems pretty barren and lonely, much like a desert might be. Sometimes I feel like I am wandering in circles, passing the same landmarks repeatedly, not quite sure how to move to the next oasis. But, like the Israelites, I have the promise of something better. I was gently convicted today to persevere, to trust, to find joy. I was reminded of my imperfection by a Perfect God, and shown what loads I am carrying that can be put down.

I love the feeling of honest, Spirit-led conviction. You know it is Spirit-led because you don't feel ugly, dirty, or guilty. You feel loved enough to be shown that there is a better way, and that He will take you there.

Monday, November 9, 2009


Life is good. I have no deep thoughts; I am just living my life. Making cookies, babysitting, serving in various capacities, and recognizing that it isn't about doing huge things for God every day, but looking for Him in every nook and cranny of a busy life. Seeing that the people I come in contact with are often sent specifically by Him, with a message or conversation that eases a burden, or gives me a chance to help carry their's. Helping my kids to see, and seek, God in the ordinary. Praying for the people who receive our bag of Wacky Mac Macaroni from the school food drive. Learning the virtues in KidStuff and applying them. Sporadically, maybe, but it's a start.

I'm learning, again, that life is lived one day at a time.