Love God. Love people.

Love God. Love people.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Have You Prepared?




“Are you ready for Christmas?” 

It’s a small talk question that gets tossed around a lot this season. In light hearted fashion, it is a question of- “are your gifts bought, wrapped, and ready to give? Have you shopped til you dropped and gotten the best deal on all you purchased?”

Here is a similar but very different question to you as well...

“Have you you prepared for Christmas?” Meaning— are you excited to celebrate Jesus? Have you pondered his story— which is our story? Have you drummed up excitement with the kids for the Savior of the world? Amongst the trees, decorations, and music, are you living out the Good News of Jesus?” 

I have become much better at this in recent years.... I hope to become better at it in the years to come. I very specifically remember last December 25th around 10 pm... our living room and dining room were much too cluttered with bags and boxes, and unwrapped things from a day’s worth of journeying from gathering to gathering with our little ones. We were tired and the kids were in bed.  I shook my head in disbelief at what the day was to me. I journaled the following passage last December 27th:

In true Charlie Brown fashion, on Christmas night, I was disgusted by the amount of STUFF in our dimly lit living room. It was shameful, and I all I could think was,  “This will all be in Goodwill, a garage sale, or the garbage in a number of years.” Why the guilt? It was a lovely Christmas Day, but I could not shake the thought of this holiday is Americanism at its worst. We have big debt, big waistlines, big houses, and big vehicles. We say ‘no’ to very little and indulgence is a way of life for most. 

My own grandma’s childhood was spent during the Depression, and she and her siblings visited the local dump to get their shoes. I have heard that story recounted many times, and it makes me wonder how much the course of America’s consumerism has gradually spiraled to exponential proportions because of a majority of families struggling all those decades ago. 

Alas, I realize this will happen year after year, as gifting is what we do, what grandparents do, what aunts and uncles do.  In our home, I am trying very hard to minimize the “Santa and stuff” of the day and magnify the Savior of the day.  Although we aren’t completely minimal, we do try to be practical in the gifts we choose.  So with a little less hum-bug and guilt, I will ride the waves of gifting this year... as I will be “prepared” for what the holiday truly means.

I just finished a reading that talked about anyone who is a Christ-follower knows that Christmas doesn’t end because December 25 is done. We cannot limit the joy of God-coming-to-Earth to one day of gift giving. We hold that joy daily for the next 365 days.

Let me leave you with the author’s final thoughts, “This Christmas is different because you are different. You are a child of the Light. You are walking in the Light. Yes, you can still blast the holiday songs, binge on Hallmark movies, go crazy getting gifts, eat way too many sweets, and turn your home into Santa's Wonderland. However, this Christmas, for you, isn’t fixated on those things because you are choosing #LessChaosMoreJesus. There won't be a "so this is all?" feeling after the last gift is opened because it's not over; you are just getting started. 
God is everywhere, and He has called you to walk in the Light and shine it everywhere you go.” 

Merriest Christmas to all my friends and family. Shine on, long after the day of celebration!

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Weekends

In the past few months, I have realized just how much stock I put into our weekends. Because we both work, like many other families, we try to fit in some extras in the time between 5 pm on Friday and 7pm on Sunday to round out our weeks.  Carving a little time and purposefully planning family togetherness is worth the effort.  It can be draining, though. Especially when our daughter is just two, and can’t quite hang as long as the rest of us. It can also be unnerving when any event doesn’t turn out to be life-changing like I somehow always dream it up to be.

Do you do this??? I can’t be alone, right? Those hashtags of #makingmemories and #blessed along with the idea that each of my family members is going to appreciate the event just as much as I will sets me up for failure almost every time. 

Not that we are not making memories or are not blessed, by any means.... I simply am trying to relay that many things do not live up to the preset standards I have already in mind. Somehow, I have “lived up” the event before it begins, and then nothing can really compare to what I have imagined.

 Like, going out to dinner (that is NOT Wendy’s or Subway) sounds delightful until you get there and your son chokes on some chicken and your daughter wants nothing to do with the high chair.   You leave the restaurant sweaty and still hungry.  At that point, it would have been safer to make grilled cheese at home. 😂We will get there, I know...it may take a couple more years.

We are set to go to a Jurassic World Live show tomorrow in Pittsburgh, but the truth is, I am waiting for the other shoe to drop here at home.... we had 2 bouts of stomach flu here this week, and I am so nervous that my son and hubby are going to contract it before we hit the road tomorrow. And you know what? There is not a darn thing that worrying about it will do. Yes, it has been planned for a couple months. Yes, it would be some quality time for us and just Colby (Hope is headed to grandma’s).  Yes, it was a nice chunk of change.  If, by chance, we don’t go— I need to make amends with that and move on. That one event will not make or break us. It will be okay. (By the way, my husband cannot identify with this “emotional value” I put into everything.)

For the time we do have our babies at home, I so want them to feel invested in, valued, and even occasionally pleasantly surprised by what mom and dad have planned for them.  But more importantly, I want this “mom commander” in me to let life play out without needing to plan and control it all to fit my expectations because it is a maddening and impossible task. Perhaps this goes further and deeper than weekend planning...

In the end...

my God is God of my weekends, my Tuesdays, my late nights with a sick child. 

My God is God of all celebrations, heartaches, and mishaps. 

In Him, we make it through all circumstances (Phil. 4:13). 

I say it loud and clear here, and I hope to feel it just as clearly within my self. Weekends are wonderful, and can be a time of rest and fun...but in the event they might be riddled with some illness, disappointments, or the like, my God holds us. He loves and delights in us.  Our imperfection does not put boundaries on His goodness. And chances are, as disappointed or disillusioned we may feel sometimes, life has a way of allowing us to look back and blur a bit of today’s reality. We move on, forget, and mature. Praising God for reigning in all our moments.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Walking Reggie



Recently, I have been back in the routine of taking our spunky, 4 year-old pup, Reggie, on walks after dinner. It’s a time for me to decompress, exercise, and give him some well-deserved attention.  

Tonight, as we started out, we came upon a few deer, and got quite close since they chose to stand still and we had to pass by.  I whispered some encouraging words like, “Stay with Mama”, and, “Good boy, Reggie!” To my surprise, he maintained a composure I have not yet seen.  It was like the deer were simply part of the scenery, and not creatures to be tempted to chase. It is not unusual for him to pull relentlessly on my arm only to get a few feet away before the deer dash away into the woods. 

Tonight, however, the rest of our walk was very calm, and it got me to thinking about my guidance with Reggie, is a lot like God’s guidance with us—-With one glaring difference: there is NO leash between God and us.  

As we walked, my words directed him, and my pulling forced him to keep moving where I wanted him to go....... 

In our lives, the parallel I saw tonight was that God is a God of free choice. He never forces His love on us.  Instead, once we choose to love Him, we determine how “tethered” we become to Him. You are the only one who determines the depth of your relationship with Him. 


This free choice means we also choose for ourselves what gets our attention, our money, and our time.  

For me, personally, being in a relationship with Jesus means it is a growing and developing relationship...through regular reading and studying of the Bible.  As I have matured, I have heartily embraced(although imperfectly at times) the following verses:


“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭4:23-27‬ ‭NIV‬‬

It does matter what you read, watch, consume, and say——especially if you are a Christ-follower.  In my life, I have felt the need to simply restrict myself from watching anything rated R. Not because I am a goody-two-shoes or “Holier than thou”. It has been a refining process for me to elicit some self-control all with the purpose of guarding my heart. Along the way in that refining process, I have cut ties with much of the current Top 40 radio and eating an entire bag of sour cream and cheddar chips in one sitting.  At times, I have retreated from Facebook- as it can become a comparison trap.  None of these things will condemn you to hell, but chances are,if you are not carefully consuming it, you may be mindlessly consuming it.

Likewise, with my children a captive audience, I need for them to see that just because something is available doesn’t mean it needs to be automatically taken in. I hope they will have enough scrutiny some day to ask themselves some valued questions: “Will this be good for me?” “Will this bring me closer to Jesus?” “Do I believe this?”

Listen —-just like Reggie and the deer he encounters, there will always be an instinctual temptation for him to chase after them.... we will always have things of this Earth that seem to have their grip on us (I still hold a certain affection for chocolate cake and People magazine.)


My prayer for you is that you, just like me, go through some refining to guard your heart. Sometimes that can be difficult or even pain filled, depending on your hang-ups. 

Take heart, friend, Psalm 37:4 reads, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” 

Another gem of truth is found in 1 John 2:15-16:“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”

 After all, if you profess to know and love Jesus, your life should reflect just that—openly and behind closed doors. 

Sending much love to you this evening. ❤️