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.
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