Saturday, December 5, 2015

I'm so over Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!

I love Christmas.  It's always been my favorite holiday.  Even times when I have struggled with its meaning and been heartbroken over the worldly influence seen among Christ followers, I have always found myself celebrating.

It seems in the last few years, the phrase "Merry Christmas" has become a hot topic.  Stores have removed the phrase from merchandise only to add it back in the following season.  People have been bothered and quite vocal when a business that sells coffee decided not to have holiday cups this year.  You're going to want to put on your sarcastic ears for the next part:  Oh, what an dare a company that has never claimed to be Christian owned or operated not sell me something that is adorned with certain words that makes me feel better about the consumerism that dominates this time of year?  Shouldn't the world be forced to understand just how important "Merry Christmas" is?

No!  May it never be!  Of course not!!  The lost world should hear the message of Jesus and His gospel from Christians.  In fact, Christians are commanded to share and be prepared to share what we believe and why we believe it.  Jesus always addressed the lost differently than He addressed His followers and believers.  The same fruit expected in the lives of believers is not expected from the lost.  BUT, when Jesus addressed the lost during their conversions, He would tell them to go and sin no more.  In other words, make changes.  Be different because you are different.  Be a light, a city on a hill.  Jesus didn't address hypocrisy in non believers, but in those who claimed to be on His side but whose hearts were far from Him.  This is because there is no hypocrisy in the lives of those who are still blinded to the Truth.  

We are not to demand of the world to understand what we believe.  We are to share with them what we believe and why.  "Merry Christmas" should never be used as some battle cry, some self righteous banner to proudly wave.  Is there anything wrong with "Merry Christmas"?  Itself, no.  Of course not.  But anything that is neither inherently good nor evil can be used for either.   Do I believe that Jesus, fully God and fully man entered this world to save us?  YES!  I want to cherish that belief and message.  I want to celebrate it.  I want to shout it.  But only because I don't want to hide what I have and what I know.  Not because I am right.

I fear that there are many waving the banner of ideals of Merry Christmas, the display of the 10 commandments, prayer in school, and the like that do not even truly understand the God behind these ideals.  Sometimes it just feels good to wave a banner.  May we, as Christians, not join in these battle cries.  May we, instead, cry for those who are without understanding.  May we weep for the lost and hurting.  May we be on mission to share the gospel.  

Please understand I am not disrespecting our right of free speech (in this country, for now).  I am not disrespecting the battles, be they military or political, won by brave and sacrificial people so that we can have this freedom. There are times to fight for what we believe.  But there should never be a time when Christians demand that the world conform and act like believers.  That isn't possible and damage is done when we smugly capitalize the first 6 letters in Christmas, waving our banner.  Yes, God is holy and deserving or our worship and praise and one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess but it won't be because they will be will be because they will be stripped bare and confronted with the very presence of holiness of God and there is only one thing to do in that situation.  Yes, God deserves to be celebrated and His message spread.  He deserves much more than capital letters.  He is worthy of ALL glory!   Our battle cry is Christ and Christ alone and that is because we are compelled to share His love, to scatter the seed of the Word, and work in His fields.    How we do this will look slightly different in each believer's life because there are many parts to the body and unique callings and gifts.  

So, let's keep on celebrating.  Let's wear our shirts that say "Jesus is the Reason for the Season".  If He is the reason for the season (and every breath that you take) then let Him be the reason you do everything (Colossians 3:17-24)!  Let's hang our wreaths and, yes, our items that say "Merry Christmas".  Turn up the radio when Oh, Holy Night comes on.  Sing loud (unless it would scare the people with you, of course).  Say "Merry Christmas" to loved ones and strangers alike.  May we do these things with the same attitude shown when our very Creator lowered Himself, humbled Himself, and came to walk among us.  He is the Mighty Conqueror and will one day fight and win the last battle and said, Himself, that there would be division and not peace for all (Luke 12:49-53)Yet, because He is perfect and almighty, He did not lessen His power or message by standing silent before His accusers (Matthew 26:63) or by lying in a manger. Neither is it possible for us to diminish His power by putting down any self righteous banner we hold on to. 

Even as Christians we mess up.  We betray our faith.  We doubt God.  We turn away.  We become complacent.  We deny and crucify the very God who came to save us.  Personally, I am a mess.  A mess that He is faithful to.  He is patient with me.  He is loving towards me.  He loves me.  He loves me too much to leave me the way I am and so He prompts me to change, to purge the ugliness in my heart so I can become more like Him and, in doing so, hopefully shine a little light in the darkness.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

If we can fit 6 people and a dog into 550 square feet, why not add another?

Yes, that's right.  The title isn't a gimmick to say "made you look".  We really are going to be adding to our family in the spring.

We are expecting a baby!  Yay!!  Woohoo!!  April 14th!!

Let me first address some common questions, comments, and jaw dropping thoughts some of you might be having...

Yes, we know we already have 4 kids
Yes, we DO know how this happens (quite frankly, that's a bold question to ask and you might get an earful if you ask me on the wrong day.  Ha!)
Yes, we are thrilled!!
Yes, we definitely know that we are running out of room in 550 square feet
No, we aren't trying to form our own sports team (we aren't even sports-y people)
No, we aren't trying to have a bunch of farm hands
No, I'm not addicted to new baby smell (although nestle time with a newborn is heavenly)

We know that children come from the Lord.  He creates them.  He knits them together.  We have been overjoyed 4 times already now with the miracles He has given us to care for.  We have been heartbroken, yet comforted, when His knitting and timing aren't understood.  We have faced both "surprise" babies and those desired beforehand.  I do not pretend to know the ways of He that is higher than I.

I do not believe that it is the purpose of all Christian families to constantly have children.  I think we must be very cautious to draw a black and white conclusion from Scripture that simply isn't there.  The Bible says that we are to be fruitful and multiply (this is addressing married couples yet, we know that the Lord creates many lives outside of those perfect, intended boundaries He created).  The Bible says in Psalm 127:3 that children are a heritage from the Lord.  It says in Psalm 127:5 that blessed is the man whose quiver is full.  The Bible also addresses the cries of barren wombs...there isn't a blanket promise in Scripture that, once married, you shall have 1 boy and 1 girl and then your life is Disneyworld perfect.  Neither is there a promise in Scripture that if you have 15 children you have somehow attained holiness.

Scripture does not say that there should be a college fund available for each child you have or you're being irresponsible.  It also does not say that we should be lazy and not provide for our families (I Timothy 5:8).  Our differences of opinions come when we do not know what that provision should look like.  Well, here's the thing...what matters is our hearts.  Our hearts are always what matters.  My heart is certainly, as the song Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing says, ever wandering and I'm thankful for the patience and persistence of my Jesus.  God wants our hearts to be after Him...not perfect, not worthy...just after Him.  He promises to be found when He is sought.  So, I seek...

I seek Him when I'm confused, frustrated, discouraged, feeling indifferent, angry, devastated, and everything in between.  At least, I hope I do.  I often forget to seek Him first but He always gently reminds me that He wants me to seek Him.  I seek Him for wisdom, encouragement, and direction.  I certainly seek Him as a parent.  This parenting thing is crazy hard  (my 4 year old just thanked me for taking care of her...gotta love the Lord's reminders through His children). I don't have a clue what I'm doing most days and I have moments where I grow weary doing good, thinking my efforts don't make a difference.  But then the Lord reminds me that I am just to be an obedient vessel.  How my children wrestle out their faith is between themselves and God.  I am the initial trainer, teacher and one who points them towards Him.  I am the example, which is scary considering how often I'm the example of what not to do!

I am honored, scared, and humbled that the Lord has chosen Bruce and I to be examples to even another child.  I question whether He really knows what He is doing when He keeps trusting me but, you know what?  He doesn't put His trust in me ever.  He has a master plan that will come to fruition whether I'm obedient or not.  He trusts in His own strength and ability to bring beauty from ashes whether those ashes come from me failing as a mother or from the pain and destruction all throughout this creation that groans for its Creator to return and make it whole.

So, as we prepare to welcome another life into this crazy world, rejoice with us!  At the end of the day we are talking about a life that God has created and given purpose to.  Whether you have children in your home to love and train or you have spiritual children of all ages learning from you, remember to be after the kingdom of God and to seek Him and His righteousness first. And pray for my little one, even in the womb He is Lord.   Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place.  Psalm 51:6

Celebrate with us!  It is the year of Jubilee!!

Monday, April 6, 2015

A trip into the unknown

Much of life is unknown.  There are uncertainties and mysteries each day. 

Some mysteries can be fun surprises!  I have one such fun mystery surprise in my near future.

My husband, in keeping with our celebration theme for the year, has taken something I have longed for and made it happen.

All on his own, he has planned a belated anniversary trip for just the two of us.  Really.  He picked the destination.  He arranged childcare for our 4 kiddos with grandparents.  He planned what we're gonna do while we're at this mystery destination.  He made us dinner reservations (we're not eat-at-places-you-need-reservations-for kinda people) at a place where I am wearing a casual dress (I'm not a wear-a-dress kinda gal) and I had to go ahead and pick out my entree....ooooooo, ahhhhhhh...fancy!  He has told me that I'll pick out lunch on the way, what to have ready for lunches, snacks, and breakfasts but that I will cook no dinners while we're gone.  Okay, so I do love cooking from scratch and cooking for my family but I am a totally excited about dinners being planned and not having a baby spoon hanging off my plate.  :)

ALL I know is that we are borrowing a camper from family, staying at a campground, my kids are taken care of (We thank you, grandparents!), and we're gone for 3 nights.  One of the best things is that this isn't expensive and it was budgeted for thanks to a return from Uncle Sam.  :)

Now, I'm a bit of a crazy, obsessed planner.  I plan well and way ahead (because of all the not so fun mysteries and uncertainties that pop up).   Not knowing details would normally bug me to death.  But, after surviving my 3rd pregnancy not knowing boy or girl until birth, I'm a little more relaxed about the fun surprises.  Plus, this trip is a dream come true.  My man has thought of everything and I'm just along for the ride.

I'm excited about the mystery.  I'm excited about the moment we hit the road and I get to see if we're heading west, north, south, or east (I'm not riding blindfolded...that would be crazy).   But, I won't know where we're going until we get there.  And, then I'm gonna relax at a campfire.

I'm most excited about the time to cherish and celebrate my marriage!

Thursday, January 15, 2015


In general, I'm not a word-for-the-year kinda gal.  I think that has become trendy and I'm all about being non-trendy...hence my jeans-and-tshirt-wearing, tractor-trailer-living, didn't-even-know-chevron-was-a-pattern-until-last-year life!  :)

And, yet, here I am with a word for the year.  A theme.  A promise.

Towards the end of 2014 the Lord was pressing on my heart that He wanted to remind me what it feels like to really, really celebrate.  At first, I pushed the thoughts aside.  How silly...God telling me to celebrate...God telling me that a season of celebration was coming.

2012 and 2013 were filled with times of great sorrow, trials, death, and pain.  There were, of course, many wonderful things too and much to be grateful for but the reality is that much of the time was spent in the valley.  A valley where my sweet Jesus met me and held me and was SO. REAL to me.  So real.  So sweet.  So precious!  I don't necessarily want to run into any valleys any time soon but I wouldn't trade my time with Jesus for anything! 

2014 was spent coming out of the fog, grieving, moving on, trying to find my way and relationship with God on the other side of the valley.  And, yes, it did really take me a whole year to work through some things.  Between having a baby and moving, I was a little preoccupied.  :)

So, celebrate.  Celebration.   Many events, sermons, conversations, prayers, and scriptures have been pointing me in this direction.  God always affirms what He is doing in our lives and hearts.

I don't know what this year will bring.  We are only 2 weeks into January and I've already had days where I've wanted to hang my hat up.  This theme of celebrating doesn't guarantee that everything will be easy peasy or that there won't be heart-breaking moments this year.  It means that this year, my heart will sing.  I will dance.  I will pray.  I will rejoice.  I will experience joy in the little things.  My husband is calling this the year of jubilee for our family. 

I just have to get past the guilt.  I have been struggling with accepting this season of celebration from the Lord.   How can I celebrate??  How can I rejoice when there is someone out there in despair?  There is someone caring for a dying family member.  There is someone heartbroken over miscarriage.  There is someone lost, headed to hell.  There are marriages falling apart.  There are friends hurting. 

How can I get over being so wrecked for the past couple years that I can accept this season of celebration wholeheartedly?  I don't know.  I really don't know.  I don't pretend to understand the Lord's timing but He has told me that He knows what He is doing and this is my season to celebrate.  I. feel. so. guilty. just. typing. this.   I don't want to forget the valley.  I don't want to lose my growth and progress with Jesus.  I don't want my year of jubilee to be for naught. 

I don't want to flippantly run around happy-go-lucky.  I want to celebrate what God has done for me.   I want to experience joy in the many things He has given us here on earth that are just glimpses of what will be One Day.  

I would never have been prepared or appreciated the Lord gently ushering in this season of celebration without the previous season He walked me through.   So, if you are in a different season than that of celebration, please know that I know your valleys are real.  Jesus knows.  He is with you.  He will BE your next breath, your next step, the lifter of your head. 

For now, I am trying to embrace this promise.  I am trying to have the faith of a little child.  There is purpose in the valleys.  There is also purpose in the rejoicing.  In the celebrating.  Inside, I am giddy.  I want to smile so much.  I am looking forward to smiling more, to truly laughing more.  I could literally dance watching the sunrise in the mornings and fall on my knees praising the Creator.  He has created all the seasons.  The cold, dark, wet times and the fragrant, sunny, bright times and all the ones in between. 

The Year of Jubilee it is!!  Restoration, rejuvenation, and celebration.  For His glory and in His timing.