Thursday, December 24, 2009

hope

Many of us are disgusted by the commercialism of Christmastime... on t.v, at the mall, you name it. Certainly the story of baby Jesus coming to earth is not the primary message presented. All the reindeer, elves, and snowmen probably take that title.

But I was struck with hope as I was completing some last-minute shopping at an over-crowded department store and I paused to listen to a favorite rendition of "O Holy Night" played for all to hear. The hope came from listening to the power and glory of those words blasted in a public place. The same words played across America for millions to hear and sing along.

Our culture has managed to remove God from most of our traditions. But at Christmas, it is still considered acceptable to sing about Jesus in a public location. We can still find Nativity scenes for sale, and the Christmas cartoons I get glimpses of still seem to promote the idea that giving is better than getting. Americans are a selfish breed of human, but I see people trying to be a little more selfless, this time of year.

Amidst the sea of Christmas commercialism and the frantic pace caused by the quickly approaching date of December 25, I still have hope that the true Christmas message is being proclaimed... well, maybe "proclaimed" is a strong word to use. The Christmas message is, at the very least, still being shared. Not everyone will listen, but the message is available.

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of Our dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world In sin and error pining,
'Til He appear'd And the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope The weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks A new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! O, hear the angels' voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born;
O night divine, O night, O night Divine.

Truly He taught us To love one another;
His law is love And His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break For the slave is our brother;
And in His name All oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy In grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us Praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,
His power and glory Evermore proclaim.
His power and glory Evermore proclaim.

My spirit shivers to hear the Truth in those words.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

the farm

Soon we will be moving to a farm in Corralitos. For the benefit of our "little" friends, it needs to be explained that this is not the kind of farm where animals live, but the kind where strawberries and apples grow. It has its fair share of dirt, and a barn, and one day we might have chickens. But, for now, this place is a work in progress.

Fixing up the farm has been a LOT of work... at times overwhelming. The smells of cigarette smoke and cat pee that used to greet us when we entered, are finally starting to dissipate beneath the layers of paint and new carpet. The yard is taking shape under Christian's landscaping skills. Door knobs and light switches once coated by grime are beginning to show reflections.

I have to admit that I was not excited to move into this place when we first bought it. The humble side of my brain wants me to be thankful that we have the resources to buy a home in this stressed economy, but the fearful side of me shies away from change. And the self-righteous side of me, that I try to repress, shouts, "This house is OLD!" It requires energy. Moving is stressful. I am happy where I live now... isn't that a good attitude to have?

Yes, we are to be content in our circumstances, but I think God wants to use this old farmhouse to teach me to be more like Him. Am I an old-house or a new-house kind of person? I recently read a quote from a book called Cold Tangerines that spoke to me. Shauna Niequist says:
"I thought of myself as an old-house person, a person who appreciates character over perfection, who likes the bumps and bruises of an old home... I walk around my house, looking at all the things that I should fix someday, but I don't fix them just yet, and I imagine God noticing all the things about me that should get fixed up one day, and loving me anyway and being okay with the mess for the time being."

I don't want to be the kind of person that only likes new houses. I don't want to be the kind of person that only likes new and shiny people either. I want to be a person who sees potential in a discarded house, or a discarded person, and commits to being a part of recovering it. I want to appreciate the things in my life for what they are; not spend my life wishing they were something, or someone, else.

To accept a person's bumps and bruises as part of their character is to give them a great gift. God gives me this gift each day in hopes that I will understand how to give it to others.

So far, we have fixed up a few things at the farm... turning this,

into this...


the "breezeway", into this...


the kitchen, into this...




It's still a work in progress, but then again, so am I. Maybe one day this type of restoration will happen in my own life.

Monday, December 7, 2009

on fear

Sometimes our worst fears come true.

As if by allowing that fear to be the greatest, we empower it in our lives. As if we breath it into existence by letting it dominate our thoughts, our actions, our words.

The Enemy lurks in dark corners waiting to capture us in our weakest moments. What better way to destroy a Christian's walk than by causing our greatest fears to be realized?

"Fear God and give Him glory,... Worship Him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water!"
Revelation 14:7

"Fear" of the Lord is the only fear I want to grant power in my life.

Monday, November 16, 2009

privacy

I remember the day I learned what the word "privacy" meant (which means I was too old to be learning it for the first time.)

An older twelve-year-old girl from church was at our house for the afternoon when I was about seven. She wanted to go to the bathroom without me. Shutting the door in my face, she told me she needed some privacy. I pictured some type of electronic device she was going to pull out of her pocket behind the closed door.

With 3 kids running around, the word was not in our household vocabulary. When I asked my mother what it meant, she said she had forgotten because she hadn't had any for years. I think I understand her now.

We no longer close doors in our home either. Using the toilet without my one-year-old launching a toy behind me into the bowl is as relaxing as it gets. My daughter will let me take showers if the glass door is wide open and she can splash in the water that makes it outside the tub. She much prefers getting wet to a closed door.

I wonder, how old she will be when she first learns the meaning of this coveted 3-syllable word? I wonder, how old I will be when I rediscover what it means?

Monday, November 9, 2009

my story

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the monotony of life. There is a prideful desire in me for my life to be something "important" or "great". It is often difficult to see greatness in the mundane tasks of day to day life... waking up at night with a baby, doing the dishes, picking up after the others that live in the house with me for the umpteenth time today.

I want to have a story to tell at the end of my life... not just a story about me, but a story about God and how I participated with Him in the work He does here on Earth. It doesn't all seem to fit.

It has impacted me recently that the Bible is full of ordinary people and ordinary events. They all piece together to tell God's story - the Great Story about who He is. God used women who did their own laundry and men who plowed fields to tell us about Himself. He used humble hearts. He used people that found joy in their humble day to day tasks.

God is writing His great story in the ordinary events of my life. It is tempting to try to write my own story of importance... maybe get my Master's degree, or fill my day up with social events and a job I can call my own (as opposed to the job of being a mom and a wife, which never quite sounds like a "real" job coming out of my mouth).

Ultimately, I know that God wants to tell His story through THIS life that I have now. He wants to tell His story through me finding joy in ordinary events.


"Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity..."
Ephesians 5:15-16

Monday, November 2, 2009

halloween

Halloween came and went. We live in a town that takes Halloween very seriously. Witches and magic aren't the same friendly versions found in a Harry Potter novel.

As an adult, I now see the danger that is present for my child in growing up in a culture that celebrates the dark side of the Spiritual world. How do we remain in the world without succumbing to it?

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God,..." Eph 6:12-13

I found myself thankful for the friends we have who created an appropriate venue for my child to celebrate via family costume party. It is fun to dress up, but we have to remember what we are celebrating. In our home, we do not give power to demons by honoring them; we celebrate deliverance from them.

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Rom 8:38-39

Here is a picture of our little American Indian



I thought it would be cute if she went dressed in the "full armor of God", but the truth is that we get to wear that costume every day.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

vaccine

Yesterday I waited at the County Health Office with my 13-month old for 1 and a half hours for a H1N1 vaccine.... only to leave because we were nowhere close to being called and my daughter was squirming beyond belief. She would only be satisfied if she was playing with the kids who had runny noses.

Today we went back armed with books and snacks and colors. Annike was pretty good for a one-year old who has to wait 2 hours over naptime for a shot. I can't blame her if she wanted to get down and crawl on the floor, or color with the other 7-year old girls.

After a total of 3.5 hours in a county health waiting room, I am left asking: Was it worth it? It is possible that we picked up something worse than Swine Flu in the crowds. We are an overall healthy family (thank You, Lord!) and a bout of the flu is not likely to kill us... but who wants the flu? And who wants their child to get it when it was possible to prevent the disease? We do what we can to stay healthy, but ultimately God has our lives in His Hands. This fact gives me peace and prevents the paranoia that media dictates from building unnecessary momentum in my head.

And then I thought... we do an awful lot to prevent an unfamiliar animal flu from becoming a public health crisis, but there is a Spiritual epidemic currently raging. I know the vaccine, and I should share it with others: a simple acceptance of the Truth about our Savior. There is no shortage, and no long line to wait in.
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