Monday, November 24, 2008
I don't know about you, but this video was a "must see" favorite of my family as I was growing up. As a child this is what started my Christmas season. I knew it was but a few days until the tree would go up, and presents would start appearing!
Almost every year there was a Christmas play of some sort that at least one of us kids was involved in! Sometimes we would drive around and look at lights, we would attend church for all the Christmas specials. At school there was excitement about the time away, but also the fun things we were making to take home as our own gifts to put under the tree! The big brown UPS truck would be watched for daily, as packages would come from others that couldn't be with us at Christmas time.
Ahhh, the worry free days of childhood. The biggest stress I had was hoping that what I had made for mom for Christmas would get a big smile and a hug. I had no need for money, I had no where to be, no time schedule.
I remember watching as some grown ups would sit there with no presents. I remember asking my grandpa once why he wasn't sad he didn't have anything. Smiling, he told me that he already had his gift, and that was the time with us. We would play board games, and if there was a new toy, Grandma and Grandpa were the first ones to show us how they worked.
I remember thinking that I didn't want to grow up because Christmas without presents would really stink! But you know, as an adult, I've discovered that the best Christmas gift is that time with friends and loved ones. There are many that will not be with us this year, and for that I'm sad, but it will make the time with those still here all the more precious.
The time with our families. Sitting in the floor playing dominoes with the boys, or dressing and redressing a Barbie doll with a niece, making a dish with grandma.. listening to the men folk talk and share stories. This is what I want for Christmas this year!
Our family was blessed enough to have some time together this weekend just us. We went to see the new Madagascar movie. While waiting for it to start we settled into our theater seats to watch the previews. Seems there are a lot of puppy/dog movies coming out. Let’s see there are Bolt, an animated film, Marley and Me, and some movie about kids rescuing strays and hiding them in an abandoned building. Everyone likes a good dog movie/show/cartoon. With 101 Dalmatians, Lady and the Tramp, Marmaduke, Odie, Scooby Doo, Rin Tin Tin, Lassie, Shaggy D.A., Benji, Beethoven, and Old Yeller to watch growing up it seemed that having a dog was just what a family did.
We were parents of the year when little Sasha came home. Dogs are pretty great to have around once you potty train them, get past the first big vet bills, and they recognize the house rules. Ha! Sasha loves to play fetch, and she is great about bringing it back. She has the energy to take a walk or two, run around the house and back yard with the kids, yet she also loves to climb up into a warm lap in the evenings.
She is such an excitable little thing. For instance, when any of us gets home at the end of the day, you are greeted like you have been gone forever. She wiggles in a half moon arch all around your legs, until you thrill her with a good scratching behind the ears, or better yet, pick her up! Since she is all of 5 pounds on a heavy day, she is toted around quite a bit!
Which leads me to my point…wouldn’t it be great if we all treated one another with that same adoration?
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
It's hard to believe that next week is Thanksgiving! Ya know, most of the time I love Thanksgiving more than Christmas! At Thanksgiving we all get together, those of us that can, and some odds and ends of us too.. and we all bring a dish to a wonderful feast. There are no big decorations for this event. No major lines to stand in to purchase our turkey for .10 cents a pound if we are the first ten in line at the grocery store.
Its a time to catch up on the latest family news; a time to be thankful. A day to just overall, relax.
Usually I spend part of the Thanksgiving day perfecting my strategy for Black Friday. I must admit in the past, it was a ritual. Friends/family and I would get together and plot and plan. Who was going to stand where and what treasure was the goal?
I'm wondering what it will be like this year. The news spills nothing but doom and gloom for our economy. However, the soldiers are back with heavy wallets. I think here in Clarksville, it will be a good day for local retailers.
I'm not sure if I will go out early this year. Right now, the idea of staying home in the warmth of my pj's with family around me sounds really good.
Maybe we will all be able to focus more on the relationships we have formed, are forming, and continue to nurture this year. After all, what matters most is the time we spend together. Those priceless memories that can conjure up a smile on the dreariest of days - that is what I want to work on this holiday season.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Today I’m reflecting on hearing the news of an acquaintance that died yesterday in his home. He was 53. He was in church Sunday. We even spoke to one another.
Would he have lived his last Sunday and Monday differently if he knew Tuesday he would no longer be here? He wasn’t old. This man was a godly man, I’m positive he is even now, worshiping at the feet of our Lord. It’s another reminder that life is so short.
Growing up, I remember hearing from the adults around me of how fast the time was going. Yet for me it seemed that time drug on! The school week was exceptionally agonizing. I was always counting the days/weeks/months until the next chunk of time school was out.
I yearned for 16, experienced that, however, it wasn’t a big deal for me. Eighteen was the next biggie. When I turned 18 I already had two semesters of college behind me! All I knew about turning 18 was that somehow I was legal. Now I could be put in jail, I was able to vote. I was driving, had pledged into a sorority and honestly still, time moved rather slowly. 21, wow, I’m planning to be married, school and work are still taking up a big part of my life.
25, hmmm seems like just yesterday. My sweetheart joined the USAF, and we are expecting our first baby, we’re away from home; experiencing colic, diapers, and sleeplessness. I'm 27, baby number 2 is on the way, my sweetheart is on tour overseas. Time is now picking up pace with potty training, and a brand new baby in the house. First day of Kindergarten, now I’m expected to respond to Mrs. when my name is called out? When did that happen? Yes, I mean I know that I’m the parent, but wow; am I really one of those adults I just didn’t understand growing up? When did that happen? I’m still cool: I think.
All I know is once you have children; your life is never the same. Time and money are spent differently than before. Somehow it is more important to see that crooked little smile than it is to have that designer bag.
I’m 36 now; both boys are in school, our oldest started middle school this year! Between work, PTA meetings, recitals, practices, homework, and their social schedules time is moving even faster today. We are actually going from event to event. Our days of the week are marked more by activities than the actual date. This is why all of the sudden when I exercise the lost art of writing a check I honestly have to look up the date!
It is already the eleventh month of 2008! Where has the year gone?
Spring consisted of my sweetheart having appendicitis, a visit to our friends in Germany, a new puppy, my sweetheart earning his Bachelor of Science degree. Summer, uggggh all the politics, summer camp, soccer camp, VBS, and mission trips. Fall, another school year, the puppy with a cast on her back leg, adjustments to middle school, a new president, and preparations for Thanksgiving are now underway! Where has the time gone?
We’ve all read the emails, or seen the poems about appreciating one another as we don’t know when they will no longer be with us. Taking time to do the little things that as we grow older we find out are the big things of life.
Today, I’m taking a moment to take an inventory of my life so far, my family, my friends, my church, and my commitments. If I am to not be here tomorrow, would anything I do today have any impact on the future? Would I do anything differently?
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
How about this one? Have you ever been guilted into going too; or being involved in church? There are many today that fall into this category. What's up with that? Can't you be a Christian and still have a life?
I accepted Christ at a young age, I've been in church my whole life. The older I got, the more involved I got in church, some of my own doing, most at the urgency of others. This turned into being involved everywhere, on committees, as a chaperone, as a volunteer.
Ya know, when I asked to take some personal, family time, guess what I got? One of the pastors gave me a book on how to have a servant heart. A SERVANT HEART? Can you imagine? I thought it was enough that I was working extra, that I was pulling more than my own weight around the church. When I was not a vital part, then I worked behind the scenes. This is where I started to experience burn out.
When I went to the pastor to ask what was going on with me, it was all attributed to spiritual warfare and how I needed to get back in touch with my servant heart. (more on spiritual warfare later) He told me that if we are physically working for the church, yet our heart is not in it, God sees and doesn't reward. MORE GUILT! He reaches over to his shelf, mutters and pulls out a book.
"Read it and get back to me" he says. I complied. (feeling guilty I even opened my mouth). I left his office feeling very guilty, very selfish. This book was all about the sacrifices of modern day Christians and how there is no way no matter what we do, that we can ever make up for what Christ has done for us. Doesn't that seem hopeless to you? I'm sure it was meant to inspire a struggling Christian, but it had the opposite effect on me.
Rules, there are so many of them. If you follow all the rules, and are seen on Sunday morning, you are a "good" person. hmmmph. Being a "good person" exhausts me!
I brought the book back and was asked what did I think? Now, I know the 'Sunday school answers" to give for such a question, and to keep from being made to feel worse, I just gave the one the pastor was looking for. Inside however, I was searching.
As I was going through this 'struggle' our family started visiting other churches. I wanted to experience church like I did on the mission field. (where people were worshipping, serving, and where people came because they wanted to.) The God I fell in love with, the One who spoke quietly to me, the one who taught rest, that is the One I was searching for. My God didn't care what people wore, or didn't for that fact, where they lived, or what they could put into the offering plate!
At the time I was not happy to be going through this trial. But because I did, our family has found a church where yes, we serve, but with others! There is no guilt! No one there expects me, or my family to be there every time the doors are open. If we miss a week, yes, we are missed lovingly, not guilted next time we are seen. Due to this.. the church is growing, with growth comes more volunteers!
In all truth, God never left me, He merely moved me, our whole family into another church where if you feel lead to serve, serve. If you don't, come in and rest. It was okay! What a concept! Yes, there is such a church! And it's here in TN!
Personally, in my Bible I searched desperately for some verse, something tangible that I could hold on to that would let me know that God is not glorified by guilt, He doesn't move through guilt.
John 16: 33, " I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world."
Matthew 6: 34, " So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today."
Romans 5:1, " Therefore, since we have been made right in God's sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us."
Colossians 3: 15, " let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts."
I believe God is not a god of discord, of restlessness, of guilt. Even God rested on the seventh day! God rested! He is a God of rest, peace!
I don't know where or what time in our culture we figured that he/she that is the busiest has the most fulfillment out of life, or is the better Christian. I challenge you to find that in the Bible. I haven't been able to.
God is calling all of human kind to Him. He has given us free will to either commit or turn from Him. We love our church family and pray for God to change hearts so that all churches can be a place of healing, of grace. God does want us to serve, but not when it is a detriment to ones self. If, and I believe He did create me, then I am a holy creation. I need to take care of myself by eating right, exercising, and yes, rest.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
What fun our family has had so far! There are 16 different instuments that one can "play". There is a timer on the bottom that ticks off the rythm so you keep in sync with your online character.
Both boys have taken their turns on their own and together leading an orchestra, and making thier own music video. Building up a band, and choosing which sound they want to achieve by selecting different instruments allows for many possibilities. They even get to design a CD jacket for their new video! It seems that the further along you go by mastering different songs you earn new ones! Hooray!
I thought about waiting until Christmas to read the reviews on this newest Wii game, but glad we now have the advantage over those who don't have this neat game as of yet!
Monday, November 3, 2008
Puppies are grand aren't they? Little critters so full of energy and eager to please! Our family adopted such a pup in May of this year. A little rat terrier. Black and white, sweet disposition, determined little bugger. Sasha ( Russian name that means " little fox"), is the name my sweetheart gave to our newest family member.
Our boys have begged for a dog for years. Well, the time had come. We looked at all sorts of dogs. Colors, breeds, disposition, ect. It's hard to walk away from a puppy. But I did. Lots of 'em.
See, I prayed over this. "Lord, let me know for sure which one is the right one". I thought I found such in an adorable lab puppy. No, I remembered how big they get. Cute as can be, but not the right one. I looked at cute little jack russel terriers! That almost got me. But, I remembered how hyper they can be! And so on, and so on until a day I wasn't even looking.
One of my best friends and I went up to KY to purchase our annual flowers. Amish land. After looking around at some flowers and choosing our favorites, the gentleman who owned the place told us of some puppies that had been born a month ago. I humored him and went looking for them. They were holed up in the barn. Rat terriers (short hair) he said. 5 of them. Three boys and two girls.
My friend and I loved all over the two girls.. why the girls? Because in case you haven't noticed.. I have a hubby, and two boys at home already. I needed to get another girl involved, and having another child is out of the question. Knowing I would be the primary care giver, I felt I got the choice! ha!
The first one was brown and black and white, prettiest little face you have ever seen on a dog. Gorgeous dog. Second one was black and white and all over the place. This cute,little gal had a stump of a tail and was considerably smaller than her older sister. When asked about this, the reply was, "oh that's the runt". She climbed all over her brothers and sister to make it to me. Little booger had determination! My dear friend liked the little one best as the oldest managed to pee all over her! I loved her spirit. This little girl was all over the place! She needed to be if she was going to survive our boys!
I didn't take her home that day however, as I still needed to let her get weaned from momma dog and do a little research and prepare for this little bundle of joy.
I found out that rat terriers are great family dogs. Ours is going to fall under the catagory of "Teddy Roosevelt Rat Terrier". Which basically means she is short legged and will not weigh more than 7-10 pounds. Right now our vet thinks she will not even hit 7.
She came home a little while later and she is now irreplaceable! What a great little dog! She is a content little bugger as she frequently can be heard sighing. Yep, such a deep and profound sigh of utter contentment.
She is a long way from her "days in the barn" scrapping for food!
For myself, today at least; it is in reference to God's timing. In Mark (Holy Bible) chapter 6 we find Jesus waiting until the "perfect time" to go out to the boat to save his disciples from the storm. He knew they were struggling, He didn't rush out to save them - He came to them in His time.
I took a step of faith in leaving my job when the economy is in recession and jobs are hard to find. What was I thinking? Have I found a job yet? No.
I will... in God's timing. The Bible is full of God's promises to take care of those that love Him. Is it a struggle? Yes. Especially when I get tempted to go back. Likewise, I'm commanded to have faith and trust God's "timing".
Matthew, Chapter 6, verse 34 " So, don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today." NLT
Today I will have faith that He has not forgotten me, and He will come through according to His Perfect Timing for my life!