Tuesday, December 31, 2013

For my Future Daughter

As we get ready to meet another new year, and as our three sons continue to take purposeful steps into adulthood I decided to share with you what has been written in my heart for years. Feel free to share, if these thoughts have been written on your heart too.

A letter to my future daughter. Not a daughter by birth or a daughter by blood, but a daughter by love. As you prepare to begin your life with my son, there are a few things I think you should know. This man you love has had a life filled with prayer, teaching and observation. Matt and I have worked purposely to help prepare him for life, for love and for you.

From before the day our son was born, Matt and I have prayed for Gods hand to be on him and for Gods love to be rooted deeply in his heart. We have prayed that God would make him a man with strong Christlike character. We have prayed that God would keep his heart soft and sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit. We prayed that God would surround him with strong and Godly men and women who would love him, encourage him, hold him accountable and spur him on to greater and greater God centered things. We have prayed that God would direct his steps and bless the work of his hands. We have prayed that God would give him passion and purpose.

With the words we have spoken, and with the way we've lived out our faith and our love, we have been teaching him every day. It was our investment in him while he waited for you to arrive in his life at just this right time.

  -  We taught him about choosing and living out a relationship with God and not just practicing religious rituals.
  -  We taught him about investing in people in lasting and meaningful ways.
  -  We taught him about personal sacrifice for the good of another.
  -  We taught him to never be afraid of hard work.
  -  We taught him that the best and most satisfying things in life are very rarely "things".
  -  We taught him that seeking forgiveness is a part of life, and should not be delayed when necessary.
  -  We taught him that extending forgiveness is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves and others.
  -  We taught him that honest and deep friendship is where lasting love is rooted.
  -  We taught him to respect marriage and to value only God above his wife.
  -  We taught him that some things are only meant to be shared with his wife.
  -  We taught him that it always takes two people to fix a relationship when it's been harmed.
  -  We taught him that sometimes there is no "try" - only do, and do, and do until it's done.
  -  We taught him that lasting love takes effort, commitment, and forgiveness every day.
  -  We taught him that in marriage, your spouse is your best friend. It's been taught that he should always be your biggest supporter, your most trusted friend and your wisest counsel ~ and we taught him that you would do the same for him.
  -  We taught him to honor God and you, his spouse, every day - on purpose - with his words, his thoughts and his actions.
  -  We taught him that in a God-centered marriage there is no room for selfishness or pettiness.
  -  We taught him that in a God-centered marriage it isn't 50 -50  instead it is 100-100-100. 100% of husband and 100% of wife devoted 100% to God and to each other - always. Anything less that 100-100-100 will always fall short.

You should also know that from the time he was born we have been praying for you. We have prayed that God's hand would be on you and your family during your childhood, your teen years and in your adult life. We have prayed that you would be sensitive to God's direction and call on your life. We have prayed that you would come to know Jesus as your own personal Savior and friend. We have prayed that you would be treated with the dignity and respect that you deserve. We have prayed that you would be cherished and loved. We have prayed that you would see that beauty of how God created you ~ you are His creation and God doesn't make junk. We have prayed that there would be special parts of your heart that you saved to share just with our son ~ for the rest of your life.

We have been praying for your marriage for a very long time. We pray that God would be the center of your marriage and that you would each follow the example of love and sacrifice that Jesus taught. We pray that you will both flee temptations that seek to destroy your union.We pray that you would be stronger together than apart. We pray that strong Christian marriage mentors will come along side you in the early years as you learn what it is to not only be married, but what it is to stay happily married. We pray that you will seek God first in all things, and that you will be of one heart and mind when God does prompt you.

You are the one our son has chosen. You have his love and you have his heart. Our son is not perfect ~ but you know that already and you love him still. We are not perfect either - and it doesn't take long to figure that out. But we look forward to learning to be a part of your life. Be patient with us, and extend us a little grace; we are learning just as fast as we can. And now we know the name of the girl who has filled our prayers for so long. Welcome to the family...

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The New Years Resolution Pit

New Years resolutions are a great big lie, a deep dark endless pit ~ at least for me. Resolutions are those things that I know I need to do, and yet I know even as I say the words that I will fail.  I will never get the laundry done in one day, or be completely caught up at work or be reading all of the books on my shelves. I probably wont run 5 miles a day, and rice cakes will never taste as good as yeast rolls. I will never resolve to eat chocolate, avoid exercise and drink more coffee ...yet those things I would easily accomplish.

The failure with resolutions in my world is - well me! It's usually me deciding that I need to change something in some way. The problem with that is also me. See, at the heart of it, most things I would resolve to change are sin rooted and thus these changes are beyond what I can do. God doesn't call me to live a life of resolution, instead He calls me to be transformed. And transformation isn't something I can ever do on my own, it only comes from God. Period. The End.

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed" Romans

  • I would resolve to diet  ~ but what I need is for God to transform my attitude of laziness and mediocrity so that I can strive for excellence and healthy living that is pleasing to God. God created me and He doesn't make junk. I don't think He cares if I ever get back my size 5 thighs but I do think that God calls me to care for His creation and I think it breaks His heart when I don't treat myself well. 
  • I would resolve to be less of a people pleaser ~ but what I need is to get rid of the idol in my life that is "public approval" and replace it with obedience to my Heavenly Father. His opinion after all is the ONLY one that matters. This means sometimes when people ask me to do things, I should pray about it, say "No, but thank you for thinking of me" and know that me and God are still ok.
  • I would resolve to be less busy ~ but what I need is for God to transform my priorities and plans and bring my desires into alignment with His will. Busier isn't Better, especially if it leads me down the dark path of weariness, restlessness and burnout.
  • I would resolve to spend less and spend smart ~ but what I need is for God to transform my discontentment and my envy and replace it with contentment and gratitude.
  • I would resolve to speak well or be silent ~ but what I need is for God to transform the words of my mouth so that in all things I honor Him.
  • I would resolve to be a better wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend ~ but what I need is for God to transform my selfishness to His character of selfless love.
  • I would resolve to be less judgmental ~ but what I need is for God to transform my arrogance and my prejudice so that I can reflect both God's grace and His truth in ways that draw others toward Him.
  • I would resolve to be less stubborn ~ but what I need is for God to transform my pride so that I can submit to Godly authority.

God loves me enough to meet me every day right where I am, and He loves me TOO MUCH to let me stay here. In 2013 God did some great things in my heart and in my life. But I am defiantly a work in progress. I'm on a journey. Praise God I am not who I was. Praise God, He is not done with me yet! Thank you God for the way you continue to faithfully and patiently transform me. Amen

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Crappy Christmas?

So we are a few days past Christmas, and the typical conversations have begun to occur: How was Christmas? What'd you get? Was it everything you hoped it would be? Let the Post-Christmas Complaining begin. 

"I didn't get what I wanted." or "The gifts weren't even close to comparable"
"So and So didn't call or even send me a card."  
"I was stuck at home" or "I couldn't go home." 
"I only got one day off" or "I had to work for part of the day." 
"It was rush, rush, rush and run, run, run - the whole day is a blur."
"The kids were fighting, the kids were sick"
"The kids acted like such children!" 
"It was too hot", "It was too cold", "The food just didn't turn out right." 
"The kids where with my ex, and I was stuck with 
family that drives me crazy."  
"It just never felt like Christmas to me"
"I just couldn't get into the Christmas spirit"

If that was your Christmas it was probably crappy, you missed it completely, and it just might be no one's fault but your own. Congratulations, you've completely forgot what Christmas is actually about - and it isn't you! Seem harsh? OK. I'm not judging. I've been there - and I was wrong. If that's where you are stuck, and if you claim to be a believer and a follower of Jesus Christ, then you are wrong too because you chose to miss the joy, the praises, and the worship of the season. Christmas is a time to honor God for He is and for what He has done. It's a time to remember the day that changed everything. The whole Old Testament leads to the manger, the cross and the tomb. The New Testament points to them too. It's not the treasures under the tree, the treats, or travel to be with friends and family. It's joy and praise for what God did, and for what He continues to do.

The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for
 all the things they had heard and seen...Luke 2

What if it's just been a rough year? The death of a child  or a spouse or a friend. The death of a marriage or a friendship or a dream? Maybe you still don't have a job, or you hate the one you've got. Do you have toxic people in your life and unhealthy relationships that serve only to shackle and stifle you. Is there a chasm of anger, hurt and unforgiveness that separates you from people you love?  It might be that you're on the verge of financial ruin, or possible unemployment, Is your health is in shambles from a long term illness or chronic health condition? Have depression, anxiousness and worry stolen your joy? Is infertility and the shame and self loathing that often accompanies it your current cross to bear? Are you deep in the trenches of life with small children, or hormonal middle schoolers, or hot headed and drama filled teenagers? Maybe you face the challenge of being the adult parent of an emerging adult who is fearless, fiercely independent and sometimes clueless.  Perhaps your child is a prodigal or your spouse doesn't share your belief. This may have been the year that you became an "in law", an empty nester, a grandparent, or a retiree. Life might just be changing faster than your mind can process and harder than your heart can handle. If this is you, then cling my friend to the HOPE that is promised at Christmas. The manger held the promise of the Resurrection and the hope of a restored relationship with our eternal God.

Glory to God in the highest and on earth PEACE to men on whom
God's favor rests...Luke 2

Peace in the struggle, Peace in the storm, Peace when the night is it's darkest. Hold tight to Christmas HOPE. Hold tight to it all year long. God is faithful in His time to fulfill all of His promises. Christmas is a call to worship. And worship is about God, and not me.

Help me today God to hold on to the Hope that Christmas provides. Give me a heart of worship, and let my worship be found pleasing to you. Amen

Friday, December 27, 2013

Do I FaLaLa and Forget?

On December 26th the Christmas music stops, and so do the endless cycles of Christmas themed movies on the television, cable and nextflix. Many people are back on the job doing their 9 to 5 thing and looking forward to the next break from work - New Years Eve. By New Years Day most businesses and many homes have all the "Christmas decorations" boxed up for another 11 month slumber in the attack, basement or shed. A few Christmas treats still cover the front table; fudge, brittle and caramel bars are a sweat reminder of the laughter and smiles earlier this week. There's a stack of new clothes to wear (and perhaps a few to return) and a pile of new movies to watch.

Here in the Midwest we are settling in for for looks to be a cold and snowy winter. January and February are going to drag on endlessly for sure. Dark when I leave for work and dark when I get home; it'll be cold and snowy, cold and icy or just cold. It's the season of the flu and bronchitis. Leaves being blown through the front door have been replaced with sand and salt getting tracked through the house. And then there are the never fully dried mittens, lost hats and misplaced scarfs. The few houses that got lights up outside before the early November snow and ice are committed now - those lights are frozen firmly in place 'till we get a little thaw. For the most part, Christmas is over and the the Spirit of Christmas it seems is gone too. It breaks my heart, it makes me sad and it leaves me feeling - well embarrassed. As I read in Luke this morning these words seared my heart.

  "So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and the baby who was lying in a manger. When they (the shepherds) had seen him,  they spread the word concerning what had been told to them about this child and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.

They didn't keep quiet and they didn't forget. The shepherds were not like me at all.  Christmas morning changed everything and because of the manger, the cross and the empty tomb were possible.. Their Christmas Encounter changed their reality forever. Those shepherds did what I should be doing every day: telling people, showing people, sharing my life with people and loving people to the loving and open arms of God.  You see, I am different now. Jesus changed me ~ and it's amazing. So this year, I will not FaLaLa and forget. This year, I'm gonna be like a shepherd and I'm gonna share.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Sorry God - No Room this Christmas

Luke 2  ... because there was no room for them in the inn
In the winter of 1994 Matt was changing duty stations with the US Navy. We had been living in upstate New York near the Nuclear Prototype Facility, but Matt's training was done and he was being stationed at the Groton / New London Submarine Base in Connecticut for his first sea duty tour. In the early 90's several bases had been or were closing, so we were informed that there would be a long wait before we'd qualify for military housing. It's also fair to note that in the early 90's we were the young twenty-something version of the grown ups we try to be today; no credit card, no cell phone, no home computer and very rarely did we have
a detailed plan when it came to travel. We picked a convenient weekend, gassed up the car and headed down to the coast one Friday night after both of us were done with work. We pulled into the military town late. It was cold, I was very pregnant and probably a little bit cranky, and we were both tired so we began to look for a hotel. That's when we made the discovery...there was literally not a room available in the entire town. We finally found a dive of a motel with a desk clerk that took pity on us - there was one room reserved that had not been claimed...and at midnight if those people did not show up he'd give us the room. We went back to the car and I sobbed and we waited. At 12:05 we walked into the hotel room and said a heartfelt prayer of thanks. I remember thinking that night as I drifted off to sleep in that lumpy hotel bed "I wonder if Mary and Joseph felt as overwhelmed as desperate as we did tonight ~ back when they were young travelers, far from home pregnant and unable to find rest for the evening?"

A lot has changed since that winter 19 years ago. But as I woke up early on this Christmas Eve morning, my heart was stuck on this question: How often do I and the people I do life with choose to live like there is still "no room" for Jesus?  When I balance at my check book, is my heart hardened or stubborn to the financial principals that God calls me to honor?  When I evaluate my calendar do I find it filled with priorities that have 'kingdom value'? When I examine my marriage, do a see a relationship that is centered around God's holy standards for love? When I look at my children, do I know in my heart that I have equipped them with the knowledge of God's love, wisdom, grace and truth? When I think of the future, does my heart really say "not my will, but your will God?" When I look at my body, can I honestly say that I am behaving as a wise steward regarding my physical health and well being? When reflecting on my close friendships, do I see the good Christian fellowship, discipleship, encouragement and accountability that the New Testament describes? And what about all of those sandpaper people in my life; you know the ones ~ they are covered with rough edges and they sometimes rub me raw. Is there room in my life for God to use those people to shape and soften me the way that He desires?

Every day I have to decide if this is the day when there IS ROOM.
I can only choose for myself.
Every day you have a decision to make too...not just on Christmas Eve.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Christmas Blues

Today the snow falls steady and quiet. White majesty covers everything and I wait for the plow. I could have slept in, but alas I have been awake for hours. The children sleep. The coffee brews. One thing is clear. This will not be the day I had planned in my mind. Too much snow to drive to church safely, so we'll miss the only Sunday this month that we could have worshiped together as a family in our home church. Jay is back from college and Matt is off from work. Can't you just picture the 5 of us sitting together in clean coordinated outfits - with love in our hearts and smiles on our faces... Ok - so they would have grumbled about not sitting with their friends and we probably would not have sung Christmas carols for the 30 minute drive to church, but we would have been together.Yep, this isn't what I was expecting, but in a weird way this reminds me of another Christmas season 21 years ago. Matt was away at boot camp - and did not come home. My parents and my siblings went to California for the holiday and I was stuck at my parents home (which was completely un-decorated for Christmas) alone and sick with the flu! That was a long hard day, but it got better. Six weeks after that Christmas 21 years ago, I was engaged to my best friend. Six months later we were married and living in Florida.

For some people the Christmas season can be painful. The struggle and the sorrow of the last 12 months still happened and no amount of snow angles, chocolate fudge and "grandma got run over by a reindeer" will change that. This Christmas there is still sickness and illness. There are still people searching desperately for work. Homes are still for sale, and dreams remain unfulfilled.  The mail still comes, and so do the bills. Everywhere we look are reminders of relationships that are broken and of people who are gone. There are empty seats at the table - and the reasons why don't matter; the hole is still there. This Christmas there are still too many miles between me and some of the people I love the most. And every Christmas season it's the same thing -in big ways and small ways each of us makes a mental list in our mind - this list contains all the things that the Christmas season should be. Maybe it's the way it use to be, or maybe it's the way we wish it could be. Next we take a quick account of life as we know it, compare the the two and make a judgement about how things are going. That's when it happens. We lose the joy. We forget one of the first things that the angel said in Luke 2 “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you the most joyful news ever announced, and it is for everyone!" 

Jesus is the source of Joy and His joy is for everyone. As much as we are called to remember the joy of that first Christmas morning, we should not forget the joy that is yet to come. With the same measure that I invest in the preparations of this celebration, should I not also be preparing for the next one - that great day when Jesus will return for those whom belong to to Him? Can I for one minute, take a deep breath and look at things with eternal perspective? Can I choose joy - regardless of how I feel?

Dear God - Today I seek your joy. Give me clear eyes with eternal focus. This morning, as we eat french toast and worship as a family in the den, may our worship be found worthy in your eyes. May it bring a smile to your face and joy to my heart. Amen

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Christmas Crazy

These are the days where that little thing I call "Christmas Crazy" starts to set in. I have a plan and I will not be dis-swayed. Places to go and things to get done ... only 4 days 'till Christmas! I'm gonna be in my car and  just so you know, I am gonna be ridiculous - don't judge 'cause you are too. Driving aggressive, driving grumpy, playing leap frog with other cars to get one space ahead and "win", willing to thumb wrestle little old men and pregnant ladies for a closer parking space and praying things like "Lord help that stupid driver" or "Lord let there be a cop close by to see that moron please!" It's the mad dash to the mall for that one gift that I forgot or can't yet find. It's the rat race at the grocery store where I'll look for those last minute ingredients that will complete the menu of the next few days. And diapers...do we have enough diapers to make it until Dec 26th? Preschools consume half their wight in sugar every day, they skip naps and they stay up way past normal bed times. College students do not understand the concept that we are "saving" that food for later. In our neighborhood the elementary age kids are overflowing with Christmas vacation energy and trapped inside houses that are covered in ice and snow. And laundry, why do people keep wearing clothes?!?

Then there is the family. Not my family because we are perfect, and of course none of my friends families either - cause they are perfect too :-) It's spending time with people that we truly love. We'd move mountains for them, we'd drive thru ice storms for them, we'd sit through awful Christmas band programs for them. We love them fiercely, and yet sometimes they make us absolutely certifiably nuts! They think we can be 12 places at once. They show up late, they laugh too loud, they eat the last Oreo ball; their kids are crazy, they have picky diets, they think they know everything about everything all of the time and they love to tell you what you should do or should have done.

Christmas Crazy steals my joy. Last year at Church I heard someone say "this year I want Christmas to bring Peace on earth" and my without even thinking response was "Not me! I'd be happy with a little peace for the Wilson 5." In these moments I cling to Luke 2 The angel said, “Don’t be afraid! Look! I bring good news to you—wonderful, joyous news for all people. Your savior is born today in David’s city. He is Christ the Lord. This is a sign for you: you will find a newborn baby wrapped snugly and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great assembly of the heavenly forces was with the angel praising God. They said, “Glory to God in heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors.” Christmas is a time for wonderful, joyous praise - not crazy, cranky complaint. So I match up what the angels said in Luke with a few words from my Jesus as recorded in John " “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. I give to you not as the world gives. Don’t be troubled or afraid". Peace is a gift that sits wrapped under my tree. Like any gift I can choose to accept it or I can leave it unclaimed. God extends peace, Jesus offers peace, the real question is WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITH IT?

Friday, December 20, 2013

Memories from Christmas Past

Memories from Christmas past. As I look back, there are very few presents that I remember from the Christmas' of yesterday. Oh don't misunderstand - there were gifts for sure, but that's not what my mind remembers first or best. When I was a kid we would always get together with my mom's family on Christmas Eve. We would eat dinner and then visit until it was dark enough to go look at Christmas lights. We'd drive around town, looking and laughing and then return back to Grandma and Grandpa's house - where Santa had already come and delivered our presents because Gram's last name started with an A and thus we were at the top of his list :-) On Christmas Day we'd go to see my dad's family. We'd eat lunch, open gifts and then while the grownups had dull conversation, I would build forts with blanks and card tables. Then I'd see how many grown up I could get to come join me in some real fun.

I grew up, got married and Matt and I started our own family and our own traditions. Our first Christmas we almost didn't have a tree. We'd flown back to Arizona the week before Christmas and flew back to Florida on Christmas Eve. We didn't get a tree until about 4pm on Christmas Eve and we literally rescued it from the garbage truck in the Kmart parking lot. Christmas in Connecticut took all day. The boys would open a gift, stop and play. Then they'd open another gift, stop and play...they hated clothes...they'd just throw then over their shoulder and move right on to the next box. I remember in 2001 when we left the Navy and moved the the Midwest. It was the first year that our boys were able to go to Matt's families Christmas Eve gathering - there are tables full of food and yummy desserts. They always have a pinata and duck tape, and Santa always shows up with a bag full of gifts for the kids. In our home, everybody gets an ornament every year - usually it relates to something that's happened or some place we have gone in the last 12 months. On Christmas morning, we always open stockings first, have french toast casserole for breakfast and surf and turf for lunch or dinner, depending on Matt's schedule. We do a Christmas puzzle. We watch Elf and eat summer sausage, cheese and crackers. But things are changing. Time marches on. The boys are growing up. As I look back, there are very few gifts I can remember. But I'll never forget the moments. Decorating the tree together. The year the power came back on late on Christmas Eve after 5 long cold days. The laughing and grumbling that was shared when Matt and our brother in law put together all of the boys Christmas toys in the early years; the smiles we shared when we realized that our kids like the big boxes that stuff came in as much or more than shiny new stuff. Following snow plows down I74 late on Christmas Eve, as we made our way back to our home. Fervent prayers as we let the children hold real candles with real flames at Christmas Eve services (please Jesus, don't let a Wilson set anything on fire - Amen). Reindeer food and cookies for Santa. Reading the Christmas story.

But Mary treasured up all of these things and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2

Let's be honest, there are times when we all think that our special child is God's gift to the world. In Mary's case that was the real TRUTH. Her son would change everything - and she knew it. As my children grow, I have a deeper appreciation for this verse. Mary didn't miss it. She tucked away those first moments in a special place that she would be able to recall later. Did she think about that first Christmas morning when Jesus was a normal preschool boy asking questions, making messes, getting dirty and driving her crazy? Or maybe when Jesus was 12 and missing at the temple because He was spending time with the Biblical scholars of His time? I'm sure she thought of that day when she followed he son's footsteps to Calvary, when she followed His body to the tomb, and then on Sunday when the tomb was found empty. Sometimes I forget in the rush of this season that moments are what matter most, and I should not be wasteful with them.

God help me today to treasure up moments in my heart. Give me the wisdom to enjoy each day as You give it. And let me draw on the memories of these moments later, and find strength in the faithfulness of Your blessings and Your love...when life is hard. Amen

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The perfect Christmas that doesn't exist...or does it?

That perfect Christmas moment. We see them in our 30 minute TV Shows and our Hallmark Christmas movie specials and we hear it in the songs that fill our ears. It's the Christmas Family Picture where we all smile and laugh. Our clothes are clean AND ironed and we coordinated just the right amount. Christmas Cards are constructed from hand crafted paper, individualized of course, and are mailed out the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Tediously long car rides are filled with caroling, giggling and laughter. The fire is warm and glowing, and we all use our nice hands and our nice words all of of the time. Gifts look like they have been wrapped by Martha Stewart and food tastes like it came from the kitchen of the finest chefs. The house is decorated and everyone loves all of my hand made treats, place cards and this years version of decoupage ornaments on my Christmas tree. Is all of this too much to ask...just one Hallmark Christmas.

Let's be honest, it doesn't exist.

This is what it looks like at the Wilson house. The kids are - well kids. They touch each other. They annoy each other. They look out each others windows. Christmas Cards are sent, and any postmark that ends in 2013 is evidence that the card is not late. The presents are wrapped, most of the time - though it may be masking tape or duct tape that holds the edges together. And truth be told, gift bags may be the smartest invention ever! The tree is just the right mix of ornaments we love and ornaments that toddlers cannot eat, break or harmed by in the event that the ornament is removed from the tree and chewed on, sat on or dropped. All of our tasty Christmas treats come from ... Grandma or the grocery store. Our Christmas morning pictures always make it look like we just woke up! I never use place cards, and sometimes we use paper plates...

And you know what. It's ok. It's not what others may consider perfect, but it is exactly what is suppose to be, at least for now. Kinda like that first Christmas morning. God's people had been waiting for centuries for their savior to arrive - but when it happened they almost missed it completely.

Jesus was born in a barn.
His mother was a teenage girl.
His home town was a "nothing good comes from there" kind of place.
His first guests were smelly, dirty, and common shepherds.

And yet it was exactly what God meant for it to be. And this Christmas can be too. All I need to do is be ready for it. Instead of seeing what it "is not", I will seek God in every moment.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Christmas Crush

In the past few weeks, as I have begun to prepare my heart for Christmas, God has really called into accountability the ways that I sometimes slip into this holiday season. I must admit that sometimes I struggle to honor and exhibit the meaning and true focus of what this season represents. So in these last few days before Christmas I going to come clean and exchange a few things that were never meant to be a part of the celebration of the birth of my Savior.
This time of year it seems like a million things battle for my time. Baking, cooking, canning and crafting. Parties, concerts, pageants, dinners and drama’s fill the schedule. I call it the Christmas Crush. I can’t fit it all in. Something has gotta give. Who needs 7 hours of sleep when I can get 5 hours tonight and still get all of the Christmas cards addressed and ready to mail. Tomorrow I can exchange 2 hours of sleep for 5 dozen homemade cookies, baked, cooled and boxed up for shipping. And those gifts aren’t gonna wrap themselves, so look out Wednesday night – right after work, dinner, a basketball game and church you, me and some wrapping paper are gonna have a date!
It’s it strange that the first verse God used in this little series of lessons is from Luke Chapter 10 “you are worried and upset over many things, but few things are needed; indeed only one”  Jesus is talking with Martha in this scripture. Martha is  busy, busy, busy doing all the things that simply "must" be done. Yet in her busyness she has missed the one thing that really matters most. Martha had the chance to sit at the feet of her Savior; she could hear His wisdom, soak in His love and worship Him unobstructed. But she didn't. Instead she was focused on temporary things - and she let those things steal both the moment and her joy.
Ouch.  How often do I miss moments with my Savior this time of year simply because I am too frazzled or fretting to make time for Him? Is that why my personal study seems so scattered these days? Is that why there is so much noise in my head when my heart tries to speak to my Sovereign God? Does my attitude need a Jesus adjustment?  First I will choose to exchange the over commitment and misdirected focus that often leaves me feeling rushed and ragged and replace it with responsible refusal and selective involvement. Maybe this will allow me to relax just a little bit and refocus. I can’t do everything that I’d like to have done. But let's be honest and just say it out loud "a lot of that stuff just doesn't matter at all!" This is the time of year when I GET to honor my Saviors Birth. God loved me so much that He was willing to do whatever it takes to pave the way for our restored relationship, and that story had its earthly beginnings in a barn in Bethlehem. Glory to God in the highest. Peace on Earth. Good will to men. With the arrival of His Son, God once again extended His good will to me. Time for me to get my eyes back on that.