Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Tonight I'll be participating in one of my favorite Christmas traditions of watching It's a Wonderful Life (on DVD commercial free). Although it's not directly related to advent this is certainly one of the ways I slow down, consider my life, and prepare for the wonder of Christmas. If you haven't seen this wonderful movie from start to finish you certainly must. It's appropriate for all ages and I assure you it will only add more meaning to your celebrations. In the spirit of that fabulous movie The Resurgence has shared a great post on the qualities of a good wife as seen in Mary Bailey.

I'll be taking a blogging break this Christmas season. I pray that you and your will find time to slow down, breathe, and focus on the babe in the manger and the implications of the God of the universe coming down to earth.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Secret

You want to know a secret? Until recently I hadn’t been in a corporate worship service in a long time, about two months actually. I didn’t realize it had been so long until my husband vocalized the time frame to a pastor we met. Although actively pursuing community, we hadn’t attended a worship service for a while due to my husband’s new work schedule. Usually he doesn’t get to bed on a Saturday night until at least 4:00 AM (I guess that would technically make it Sunday morning). 

As opposed to other times in my life this difficult season has not pushed me away from God but drawn me closer to him. It has caused me to be more intentional about seeking true Christian community. It has also caused me to ask many questions about the role and function of the church (meaning Christ followers not necessarily a building or service on a Sunday). It has also made me wonder why so few questioned our absence.

Additionally we have been seeking a new local faith community to be a part of. That search has been an interesting, difficult, exciting, and sometimes scary journey. What I can say definitively is that being away from corporate worship for a season has taught me how important it is but certainly not a determination of our spiritual standing with God.

Thanks for letting me share my secret. Do you have any thoughts on the role of corporate worship in the life of the believer? Have you ever been away from the ‘church’ for a season of your life?

129. Worshipping with other believers at New City
130. Hard eucharisteo: not getting what I want
131. A walk Downtown with the hubby
132. An unexpected trip to the farmer’s market
133. Weather cool enough for a caramel apple cider

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

When Trusting is Tough

Today it’s hard to trust. I have spent months even years, being uncertain about the direction my life is going. Today it all came rushing at me. I’m scared. I don’t know what’s going to happen next. Is my husband going to start working on his Master’s degree? Will we move? Will we buy a house? What does our job future’s look like? What is our ministry and family future going to be?

Most importantly, why is it not easier to trust the God of the universe? He is God! I should have no problem  trusting him. I wonder if there is some great sin in my heart that gets in the way of me trusting him fully. I know I do not like uncertainties. Should it even be easy to trust God? Does it perhaps strengthen our faith to struggle to trust him? Is the fact that trust doesn’t always come easy good for us? I know I don’t have the answers to any of these questions.

Are there areas where you’ve struggled to trust God? How do you seek to trust him more even when it’s hard?

Monday, December 12, 2011

He is Inescapable

I used to be one of those people who hated any talk of Christmas before December 1st. I didn’t like seeing the decorations in stores before the Florida heat had dissipated or hearing Christmas carols before my Thanksgiving turkey. But several years ago I read the quote below and God started me on an journey of embracing Christmas all year long.

“In the month of December, he strikes both the secular and sacred spheres of life with sledgehammer force. Suddenly, Jesus is everywhere, his presence inescapable. We may accept him or reject him, affirm him, or deny him, but we cannot ignore him. Of course he is proclaimed in speech, song, and symbol in all Christian churches. But he rides every red-nosed reindeer, lurks behind every Barbie doll, and resonates in the most desacralized “Season’s Greetings.” Remotely or proximately, he is toasted in every cup of Christmas cheer. Each sprig of holly is a hint of his holiness. Every cluster of mistletoe is a sign he is here.” -Brennan Manning, Above All

That quote by Manning is by far one of my favorite Christmas quotes. It reminds me of the triumphal entry in Luke 19 where Jesus admonishes the Pharisees that if Christ followers won’t praise him then even the very rocks would cry out to their King. 

Let us remember that we need the Christ child all year long, maybe even more so than at Christmas. We need him in the spring to remind us of the suffering of the cross and the brutality of humanity. We need him in our darkest hour to remind us that God is not a stranger to human pain. We need the child even in the bounty of the fall to remind us that the God of the universe humbled himself and came down to earth with nothing.

In our comings and goings, wrapping and unwrapping, baking and eating, let us remember Jesus. Let us truly live like this season is about his birthday. May we remember that every Christmas light, every wild shopper, and every poinsettia exists for his glory alone.


115. Answered prayers
116. God’s grace through family gatherings
117. My little brother getting married to a great girl
118. A new sister-in-law
119. An hour with a special friend
120. A free hairdo for the wedding
121. Hard eucharisteo: an unexpected financial crunch
122. Extra time with my wonderful husband

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Preparing for the Savior's Birth

One of my favorite ways to reflect on Christ during Advent is to read Nancy Guthrie’s Come, ThouLong Expected Jesus. My husband and I started reading it together in 2009 and it’s by far my favorite part of celebrating the Christmas season.


The book is a collection of writings from the likes of Charles Spurgeon, Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Piper, R.C. Sproul, and Joni Eareckson Tada, just to name a few.   The daily readings aren't for the faint of heart. They're lengthy, meaty, and require some time and consideration to absorb all the riches they have to offer. Our favorite thing to do is grab the book after dinner, snuggle up on the couch, and quiet our hearts with the Christ child.  

Because of it's intellectual wording this book would not be appropriate for small children but it would be suitable for family devotions with teenagers. It would also be appropriate for a small group or missional community as long as everyone has their own copy, again due to the loftiness of the wording.

How do you prepare your heart for Christmas during Advent? I would love to know what resources you use.