All I Want for Christmas…A Christmas Wishlist

All I Want for Christmas…A Christmas Wishlist

Christmas and Thanksgiving mark the beginning of a holiday season supposedly centered on selflessness, contentment, and service.

However, this season often does not “feel” particularly happy or religious. In fact, with Black Friday hordes, Christmas to do lists, and advertisements of perfectly primped and styled families, it all feels very pressured, backwards, and stressful. I know that’s not how I want to feel. Nor is it how I want to act. So this year, as I look forward to holidays, I am making my own wishlist with a personal agenda.

What do I want for Christmas?

Time over Gifts

When I look back over the years, I don’t think, “Wow! What a great Christmas–that was when my grandma got me these shoes that were the very latest fad!” I think back on times when my family spent time with me. Basketball games played with cousins, hymns sung as we all crowded into the living room, sharing and passing and laughing at an overcrowded table.

These are those precious moments, those things that you store up in your heart.

It is a blessing to receive and to give gifts. But one gift doesn’t cost anything and means so much–the gift of your time. This year, I want to give that gift to my family.

Less Activity

Sometimes we get the idea that just because an activity is a “good” activity, we should do it. Well, I am only one person. And I’m pregnant and a mom and a wife…the list goes on. I can only do so much. Doing fewer things and doing them well not only helps me to be less hectic (my family will thank me later for not being so snippy and grumpy!). It also helps me to actually be present and enjoy the activities we choose to do. Less truly is more: more patience, more attention, more grace.

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The Strength of Will to Focus on the Godly

There are many wonderful things about Christmas. For instance, there is no other time in the year when even the lost and the worldly are thinking about Jesus! What a great opportunity, not just to share goodwill and gifts, but to share the best gift ever given: the story of the Christ, His cross, and the salvation it brought.

Yet somehow, it is easy to “fudge” our focus. To be distracted by the hubbub, the travel, the rush of the holiday season.

It’s easy to say to myself that I’m still doing good things. That what I am doing still “counts.” Dashing around to six different stores to buy presents, filling gift sacks and stuffing fruit baskets for the elderly, signing and addressing envelopes to loved ones and friends–they can all be good things.

But they may not be the necessary things. In the craziness that is our lives, I think it is especially important that we be a Mary and not a Martha. We need to realize that the “better part” is to pause and take our gaze upward: to sit and listen at the feet of Jesus. It may mean saying “no” to some things or  losing sleep some mornings. It may mean giving up on having the “perfect” house or the “perfect” schedule. But, as we gaze upwards at the cross, at the face of our Father, we will find not only peace for our hearts but wisdom for our actions.

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And we will find that everything is better after looking at Him.

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Thanking my Husband, Even Though He Does Things “Wrong”

Thanking my Husband, Even Though He Does Things “Wrong”

My husband is a man.

And as such, he does manly things.

He likes sports and to grill out, and he enjoys wrestling, throwing, swinging, and other very physical activities with my son. He is a provider and he is a leader, albeit sometimes a quiet one.

My husband has always been happy to do things around the house–but here is where things get a little hairy.

You see, he doesn’t do household things like a woman. He does them–well, the way that a man would.

I realize this may come as a shock. My husband does not load the dishwasher like I do. He does not fold and put away the laundry like I do. He doesn’t even clean the bathroom like I do.

Is there a “right” way to chop an onion?

Well, even if it’s not the way I would cut it, it will still flavor the soup and still be able to be chewed once we eat it.

Is there a “right” way to load the dishwasher?

Well, perhaps if you didn’t put soap in it, but otherwise, the dishes will still get clean. And isn’t that the point of a dishwasher?

Is there a “right” way to fold the laundry?

Well, as long as all of us get clean underwear and towels, wasn’t that the point?

It’s easy to get into the slump of “he didn’t do it my way.” But–maybe I didn’t do it his way. And you know what? He probably didn’t complain about it. He just accepted it because it’s who I am.

Sometimes, I think we lose sight of the big picture.

Is it more important to get help around the house? To share the burden of budgeting and finances? To let someone else take a turn watching the baby?

Because I guarantee you–it won’t be done exactly how YOU would have done it. And yet, if we let go of that control, of that “need” to have things done a certain way, we may find that our lives are richly blessed. We may find it easier, in fact, to follow 1 Thessalonians 5:18:

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Instead of, “Why did he load the dishes this way!” perhaps we can say, “Thank you, Lord, for giving me a husband who helps clean up supper!”

Instead of, “Why can’t he find a matching set of clothes to put on the baby!” perhaps we can say, “Thank you, Lord, for granting me time to rest while my husband made sure the baby is warm, clean, and dry.”

Instead of complaining, perhaps we can learn the not-so-easy-as-it-sounds task of saying “Thank you.” To God. To our families. To anyone around us.

And that may make all the difference.

 

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To My Unborn Child

To My Unborn Child

Dear Small One,

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Each day brings us a little closer–not to meeting (I feel we have already done that) but to meeting face to face.

I loved you before I knew your little life was blooming inside me. I loved you before I knew logically you could be a possibility. And I love you even more fiercely today.

Each time I hear your heartbeat or feel the flutter of your movement, I am filled with awe. It’s not unexpected. I knew it with your brother. And yet, it never seems to grow old. The wonder and the excitement and the awe-inspiring beauty of you being formed inside my womb.

Before I knew you were here, I prayed for you. For you to come, for you to join our family, to make it one person bigger, and one person richer, I have prayed. I prayed for you to be healthy and to grow, not just physically and mentally inside me but also when you grow outside of me, that you will find the best the world has to offer: the Lord and His people. I pray for you still. And I pray for me to be the kind of mother that you need, the kind of mother that God needs.

And though I have not seen your face, though I have not held your tiny fingers, though it is only on the inside that you are being held and not by my arms, I know a little bit of you. I sense your curiosity and strong will as you push back when your brother leans against me. When I take the time to be still and lie down, I know your joy and energy as I feel you swirl inside me. I hear your fluttering, pounding heart and I know that you are made deftly, creatively, uniquely by the strongest and gentlest fingers there are: the Lord’s.

And dear small one, I am so glad that I know you. You are an answer to prayer.

For this Child I Prayed

I love you, always and forever,

Your mom

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Communion, Children, and Concentration

Communion, Children, and Concentration

Generally, when one has a kid, there is an understanding that worship will be different. You may not be able to listen to the sermon as well (at all?). You may miss some of the songs (discipline issues? Poopsplosion?). You may only get to hear the first half (or third?) of a prayer.

But, following the wise advice of an older mom, I have found that one area has improved for me. I have been better able to focus during communion.

Now, please don’t misunderstand me. I have stood and bounced, rocked, nursed, cuddled, and cajoled a fussy baby. We have our days. We have our weeks sometimes. Sickness, stubbornness, and silliness can all be a challenge on occasion.

But stay with me.

Communion might even get better after you have kids. Here is what my friend shared with me.

You might think of the Lord’s Supper as another high pressure point–after all, it should be at least somewhat quiet, just like in the sermon, which of course means that your kid is much more likely to cry, talk, giggle, etc. Toss goldfish, puzzles, and books in their direction until they find something to occupy them, right?

Maybe not.

What my friend did was something a little different. And of course, not every Sunday worked out like this. But the ones that did were amazing.

First, she would hold her two little girls in her lap. In an intimate whisper, she would tell them the best story ever told. She would tell them of Jesus. Of his life, of his great love, of his sacrifice, of his undeserved pain, and of the wonder of his resurrection. She would tell of the Last Supper. Of what the bread and grape juice symbolized.

And she told them how very special this was–and that some day, they too would participate in these special moments focused on the Savior. They too would get to take part in Communion. That they too would be a part of the greatest, blood-bought family there is: the church.

And in telling them that precious story, she herself absolutely focused on the most important subject there ever could be: Christ and his sacrifice. She was focused, not just in bringing herself closer to Christ but teaching her children to do so as well.

Today, her kids are grown. These beautiful, Christ-like women each have talents they use for God. And now, they each participate in the best supper there is–the Lord’s Supper. They give me hope and renewed energy. Their very lives and examples encourage me to keep on doing this tough but rewarding job of motherhood.

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May you be encouraged to do likewise.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

 

Hebrews 12:1-2

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Do Your Rocks Fit Your Jar?

Do Your Rocks Fit Your Jar?

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Rocks in a Jar

Have you ever heard of the teacher who put rocks in a jar?

He asked the students if they thought the jar was full. They answered, understandably, that yes, it was full.

He proceeded to pour in handfuls of gravel. He asked again if the jar was full. This time, suspecting what he was hinting at, they responded no.

He then poured in sand and asked the same question: Is the jar full?

The students agreed that it was still not full.

Finally, he proceeded to pour water into the jar so that each space, truly, was filled.

What’s the point?

That we can always add something to our schedule, no matter how busy and hectic we are?

That we should always make time for every appointment that comes our way?

That even when we are exhausted, we must feel immense guilt unless we say “yes” to anything else?

No, not at all.

The point is–you can only fit the rocks in if you put them in first.

What are the rocks?

The central, biggest rock should be God, of course. But connected to Him, we also have some important areas of stewardship (God-given, I think, in many regards). Our families, our church families, ourselves, our work (whether that be at home, a paid position, or both), and our influence on those around us.matthew-6-33-34-pinterest-1

If we don’t intentionally make time for these “rocks” in our lives, often the “urgent” supersedes the “important.” Deadlines, phone calls, emails, and outside pressures can sometimes make us feel guilt and stress and worry–for things God has not actually called us to do. What has he called us to?

Matthew 6:33-34 says:
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But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Our first job, in all things, is to seek God first. If we don’t get that one priority right, we will find our life feels hectic, out of control and imbalanced–because putting God first is always the right balance.

May we each seek Him first in all we do, in every hour.

I found the inspiration and analogy for this blog post from Nancy Eichman’s book “Keeping Your Balance.” It’s an excellent read! You can find it here.

 

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