Thursday, December 29, 2011

Intentional


While it is hard to wrap my mind around the fact that we are about to say goodbye to another year, I am convinced that time begins to move at warp speed the older we get. I have always found it an interesting phenomenon that days that sometimes seem to take SO long actually move so fast when you string them all together.

Since the end of a year can cause one to do some introspection about the highlights and lowlights of the year, I have found myself pondering all that transpired the last 363 days of my life. This year was amazing, fun, overwhelming, heart-wrenching and worthy of much thanksgiving all at the same time. No wonder I am tired these days! That's a lot of emotion to experience in such a relatively short span of time.

I am a part of an online community and one thing we do every year is prayerfully consider a word that we hope to help define our coming year. I felt very strongly last December that my word was to be INTENTIONAL. Little did I know how necessary that word would prove to be as the days wore on.

If you know me very well or have ever read my blog, you know that after 21 years in full-time sports ministry Tim took a job as lead pastor for a local church with his first official day being January 1, 2011. The date was really my idea since I do the taxes and a clean end-of-the-year transition was sure to make the paperwork less cumbersome, but I digress!

It is a fairly large church and has a lot of amazing people who make it up. One thing that people who know us well have always commented on was the large number of relationships that we have had to maintain. While that is actually a wonderful problem to have, it can be wearying at times. We had a couple stay with us once who said they were exhausted after just a few days seeing how many people we interact with on a daily basis. Well, add to these numerous relationships about 1,100 new church folk and there were days that I didn't even want to get out of bed. My introverted ways were being wrenched slowly away from me and I was finding it necessary to step tentatively and surely outside of my comfort zone.

In order to merely survive, I had to learn to be intentional. I had to be intentional at home with my family and with my home-schooling and home-keeping duties. I had to learn to be intentional in getting to know the people we were now providing leadership for and simply learning their names and their stories. (I was excited one Wednesday night early in the year when I realized I could actually name a whole row of people!) I had to learn to be intentional when I chose what to be involved in at church and in the community and I even had to learn to be intentional with my free time.

As always, Papa was reminding me that His ability to see ahead to the things I could not see was the reason the word I felt impressed to claim as my own seemed to fit so perfectly. There were days when I felt an exhilaration and excitement about our lives that I have never felt before and then, almost simultaneously, there were days that I would cry for no apparent reason other than the fact that I felt grossly overmatched. That was usually when He gently whispered in my ear and reminded me that without intentionality and a purposeful and willful focus on Him and His Word I would surely not survive the journey.

One thing that I think the Lord has instilled in me thru this choice to live intentionally is the fact that without the relationships we have worked to build the words we speak are merely just that...words. The saying that people don't care how much you know til they know how much you care has been lived out in a very obvious way this year before us. We have been reminded that everyone has a story to tell and it is in the sharing of that story and the way it is tenderly handled by the hearer that relationship and trust is built. It is the difference in being an uninvolved story-teller or a come-alongside story-weaver who helps to tie the threads of experience and divine providence together in the lives of those who have been placed within our care.

While the journey is infant in its progression, there is peace in knowing that the intentional way we have tried to approach it has helped to lay a strong foundation on which to build in the years to come. We are not naive enough to think that the road ahead will be free of bumps and bruises. Some of the deepest heartache comes from wounds inflicted by those in whom we have concentrated our most sincere efforts...yet we continue to invest in an intentional way.

So as I look back on 2011 laid bare for me to see from start to finish, it prompts me to look forward to 2012 and the promise it is wrapped in. I am unsure of my word for 2012, but know there will be a purpose to it beyond what my finite mind can comprehend and that the truth of living intentionally will continue to be woven into the fabric of my life in the days to come.

Thank You, Lord, for the intentional way you deal with me every day and for the way you have shown me the need to be intentional in all I do. I thank You for the amazing journey you have us on and the amazing people You have chosen as our traveling companions. May we, when it is all said and done, be been found faithful with all you have entrusted us!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Milestones

When our children are born it seems that life is one milestone after another! First smile, first tooth, first steps, first words...the list goes on. As they get older there are milestones, but they are spaced further apart.

Today is a milestone day for Benji. He is getting a truck! My baby will have his own vehicle and it is blowing my mind!! Not sure why? He is big as a donkey and old enough to drive, but it just doesn't seem like we should be here already! How did he go from a little boy playing in the yard to a young man with his own truck?

We are buying Tim's dad's truck so it will have sentimental value, too, which is cool. It fits Benji and it fits a fishing pole so that makes him very happy. My redneck boy is making it official...he is going to be sporting a truck!

Thank You, Lord, for providing the way You have for Benji! Thank You for giving him the desire of his heart and for reminding him that he is the apple of Your eye! Our hearts are truly full of gratitude!!

Saturday, December 17, 2011


I stared at you the other night
As so peacefully you slept,
With thoughts of another mommy
And the tears she must have wept.

Her newborn babe she held so close
As she whispered in His ear,
"You are this promised Jesus,"
And she wiped away a tear.

She watched Him grow in wisdom,
Found Him teaching those that taught,
She heard He fed five thousand,
As He healed all those that sought.

And all the while she waited,
For she sensed with a mother's heart
That sooner than she'd ever want
He must fulfill His part.

So it came to pass that final day
That she watched, as pain engulfed her,
For there He hung, her little boy,
Who had now become her Saviour.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Let It Go!

I have just recently started the Beth Moore Bible study on James. I am excited to be digging into the Word again and know the Lord has some amazing things to show me! One thing that really stood out to me in the first video session was when Beth said she did not want to be identified solely by what she was delivered from, but moreso by what she was delivered to which is a resurrected life in Christ.

2 Cor. 5:17Anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person. The past is forgotten, and everything is new.

I have taught a couple of retreats over the last few months and one of the topics we cover is shame. I am always amazed at what a struggle it is for women especially to overcome the shame of their past. Sometimes the shame is a result of things they have willfully done, but many times these women were innocent victims at the hands of skillful predators.

One thing we do in this session is have everyone write down one or two of their most predominant shame lies they have believed about themselves. While I knew some of these women really struggled, I was truly shocked and deeply saddened by the words many chose to use to describe themselves. Ugly, stupid, unloveable, dumb, unforgivable, unworthy...devastating words like that. All of them based on a faulty belief system that they would never be good enough to overcome these labels because they just didn't think Jesus could really do anything with them.

If God can look at us as a new creation, why can't we? If God can forget our past, why can't we?

I used to struggle with that word...forget. Was God really unable to remember what we had done? Was it really possible for Him to get spiritual amnesia? After deeper study, I came to understand that the word actually means to no longer be influenced or affected by our past. It is actually the ability to remember what happened without getting that pit in your stomach or feeling the need to hang your head in shame.

Each of us have this opportunity open to us. If we have surrendered out hearts to Christ then we are made new. Not because of anything we did or did not do, but because of His wildly extravagant grace that He lavishes on us. It is like a spiritual Cinderella...He removes our old, tattered rags and clothes us each as a beautiful princess!!

During this session I teach, after the lies have been exposed we look at the Truth of God's Word and what HE says about us!! We replace our faulty belief system with scripture that speaks to who we now are in Christ. We allow ourselves to be released from the grip of shame and from being identified by what we were saved from and focus on what and Whom we were saved to!!

Lord, please allow us to set our old way of thinking about ourselves and allow us to see ourselves through Your lens. Allow us to own that the old things have passed away and behold we are new creations in Christ...robed in His righteousness as surely as royal heiresses! We have an inheritance, Lord, and it is eternal life with You. Would You help us live up to our potential as Your girls!!




Friday, December 9, 2011

Traditions



a: an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior (as a religious practice or a social custom) b: a belief or story or a body of beliefs or stories relating to the past that are commonly accepted as historical though not verifiable
2: the handing down of information, beliefs, and customs by word of mouth or by example from one generation to another without written instruction
3: cultural continuity in social attitudes, customs, and institutions
4: characteristic manner, method, or style


My husband was asked an interesting question one day and it has been on my heart. The question was this
..."Does God love tradition?"

Makes you think, doesn't it? No other time of the year is as rich with traditions as this one. Christmas trees, nativities, carolling, hot chocolate, family gatherings, stockings filled with goodies, cookies made from recipes generations old and Charlie Brown with his unimpressive Christmas tree. What's not to love, right?

Okay, I realize we are pondering God's love/hate relationship with tradition, but in coming to any semblance of a conclusion we must consider this...Whatever God thinks about tradition, I am confident of this one thing ~ God loves
us and we love tradition!

Now I realize some traditions truly can steal God's glory and His Word says He will share His glory with no one, Santa Claus included! We have to be careful that in celebrating our traditions we are not inhibiting the ability of those around us to embrace what it's really all about! But I don't think traditions are inherently bad.

I hope that traditions will remind my kids when they are older that they came from something special. As they decorate their own Christmas trees with ornaments from long ago, I hope they'll share the stories of their origin with their own little ones. When they bake the pumpkin bread and snowball cookies that we've mixed side-by-side each December, I hope they will be comforted by the familiar smells. As they giggle and laugh their way through
Elf and Christmas Vacation, I hope they'll remember all those nights snuggled by the fire with pillows, blankets and Daddy's popcorn. I hope mornings filled with lighted candles and shimmering Christmas trees will remind them how Mama used to get up early so those were what they were greeted with as they awoke.

For you see, traditions are the stuff that we are made of. Those bowed heads around the table speak to that! The reading of the Christmas story and the birthday cake for Jesus...the basket of Christmas books and the home-made snowflakes hanging from the ceiling fan over the kitchen table...Santa Mouse and Angel Trees...shoeboxes sent to those without and plates of goodies shared with neighbor friends. Are they rituals mindlessly performed or the result of hearts filled with giddy expectation?

Don't you see it? Traditions can be the very things that prompt our thoughts to focus heavenward for
He created families and our traditions are the threads that bind us all together! Our familial fingerprints, if you will, that makes us distinguishable from all the others.

Now some may ponder this question and arrive at a very different conclusion, but as for me and my house...
we're going to embrace our family traditions!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Friday, December 2, 2011

Santa in the Manger

We got a card the other day

A Christmas one, in fact,

But it really was the strangest thing

And showed such little tact.


For laying in the manger

Was Santa, big as life,

Surrounded by some little elves

And Rudolph and his wife.


There was so much excitement

That the shepherd’s saw the glow

Of Rudolph’s bright and shining nose

Reflected on the snow.


So in they rushed to see him

Followed by the wise men three,

Who came not bearing any gifts ~

Just some stockings and a tree.


They gathered round about him

To sing praises to his name;

A song about Saint Nicholas

And how he came to fame.


Then they handed him the lists they’d made

Of, oh, so many toys

That they were sure they would receive

For being such good boys.


And sure enough he chuckled,

While reaching in his bag,

And placed in all their outstretched hands

A gift that bore a tag.


And on that tag was printed

A simple verse that read,

“Even though it’s Jesus’ birthday,

Please take this gift instead.”


Then I realized they really did

Know Who this day was for

Though by every indication

They had just chosen to ignore.


And Jesus looked upon this scene,

His eyes so filled with pain ~

They said this year’d be different

But they’d forgotten Him again.