Each Advent I re-read certain books... "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens...."The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" by Barbara Robinson...and now I'm going to add another...
"God is in the Manger" by Dietrich Bonhoeffer...
Here's one of my favorites from a letter he wrote from prison to his fiance Maria von Wedemeyer in 1943...
"Be brave for my sake, dearest Maria, even if this letter is your only token of my love this Christmas-tide. We shall both experience a few dark hours - why should we disguise that from each other? We shall ponder the incomprehensibility of our lot and be assailed by the question of why, over and above the darkness already enshrouding humanity, we should be subjected to the bitter anguish of a separation whose purpose we fail to understand...
And then, just when everything is bearing down on us to such an extent that we can scarcely withstand it, the Christmas message comes to tell us that our ideas are wrong, and that what we take to be evil and dark is really good and light because it comes from God. Our eyes are at fault, that is all. God is in the manger; wealth in poverty, light in darkness, succor in abandonment. No evil can befall us; whatever man can do to us, they cannot but serve God who is secretly revealed as love and rules the world and our lives."
Powerful stuff, eh? And that was only part of one day!!
I had the MOST wonderful morning. My super special neighbor came over to watch my coughing kiddo...so that I could be free to jet out for an hour to hold...Mr. Scrumptious. Little Jack came home just yesterday. He is SO tiny and perfect!
I held him almost the entire time I was there! *SQUEALLLL OF JOY* I even changed a poopy diaper! Tee hee!! God is so amazing! That's what I think every time I see a newborn...and a preemie is just a whole other level of God's awesomeness!!
Oh, Jack...you are a delight! We prayed so hard for you...and will keep praying!!
I am spending quite an elongated period of TIME solo. It's one of the "burdens" of marrying a brilliant man; I share him with the company sometimes! I need to stay proud and supportive and remember that he's missing me just as much as I'm missing him.
As I swallow the fact that this holiday will be...lonely without him different...I am still thankful for so many things. One of those things is TIME! First off, I've been most comforted by the realization that God holds and controls all my TIME...til death! He knows...He cares...none of this is a surprise to Him.
I'm thankful...because my sweet Loverbrains is willing to work so hard and so well, I am able to stay home and focus my full attention on the love and care of my children. I have the TIME to slow down and play games, watch cartoons, snuggle on weekends. While I'm at it I also have TIME for myself...sewing, reading...blogging.
I'm thankful for the things that occupy my TIME during the days and nights...activities, friends, gym memberships, bible studies, playdates, ministries...When sad and upset I generally tend towards being an isolationist. I want to pull back and away, hole up and have a grand pity party for myself. BUT...that's just what Satan would like me to do...so, I'm not. I'm going to get out and do things and be THANKFUL...cuz He's worthy of my praise!!
I'm thankful for the TIME I live in...where technology is full of helps...Where would we be without phone calls and SKYPE!? I try to makes those TIMES of connection special. We gather things throughout the day that we want to show DadE! How special...I've never really considered the blessings of technology in my marriage til now!
A comforting thought came to me only recently...I realized that this stressful TIME is just a drip in the bucket
of our marriage. We will look back at it...and barely remember it.
Even if it feels HUGE right now...It'll be but a snippet in our future. We're gonna grow old together...I'm not old...yet...so, we've got TIME ahead!
Grow old along with me
The best is yet to be
When our time has
We will be as one
God bless our love
God bless our love
old along with me
Two branches of one tree
Face the setting sun
the day is done
God bless our love
God bless our love
our lives together
Man and wife together
World without end
Grow old along with me
Whatever [God] decrees
will see it through
For our love is true
God bless our love
bless our love
by John Lennon and Robert Browning
(I changed the word fate to God...cuz it bugs me. Why would I be saying God bless our love...if I don't also acknowledge that God puts any and all decrees on my life. Duh!)
To begin with, I should say that I'm not usually one of those chiccas that eats raw cookie dough. I've been taught that you can get salmonella from the raw eggs and I don't even let my kids lick the beaters.
BUT...this low GI diet and my sweet tooth don't always go together. So, I was seriously craving something sweet...anything sweet and gooey goodness and then I saw IT while cruising Pinterest...I HAD to try it! Chocolate-Covered Katie really has something good going! It's eerie....
Fuax Cookie Dough
1 1/2 c. chickpeas ( 1 can. garbanzo beans)
1/8 + t. salt
1/8 + t. bkg soda
2 t. vanilla
1/4 c. nut butter (I used almond butter)
2/3 c. brown sugar (I used 2/3 c. Splenda and 1 T molasses)
2-3 T. oats
Blend in food processor while slowly adding up to 1/4 c. milk or until dough like consistancy.
Hand mix 1/3 c. chocolate chips
REMEMBER...all things in moderation. Eating the whole thing of faux cookie dough still wouldn't be good for you.
BUT...a few spoonfuls when you really need it is pretty awesome!!
I've mentioned before (HERE...and
HERE)...the gap I see among Christians between forgiveness and reconciliation. Often, we only say we forgive someone...and nothing in our attitude proves that it was a fact. If our only form of proof is that we don't yell at them in the church hallways or say nasty things about them to others...well, that's pretty lame.
Seriously, the church is a BODY...it has to work together. I was recently very much convicted by this fact. A family I'm not particularly close to...and have been hurt by in the past...extended love to me very unexpectedly. As I accepted their love to me and my children, I realized that I had been holding back from them. I hadn't been rude...not even close...but neither had I treated them like someone I called my brother and sister in Christ. I'd kept distant and silent...aloof from my family.
I read a blurb from my Real Simple magazine...that I thought would be a good idea for those of us struggling. In the life lessons section a Dr. recommends focusing on something good about your criticizer. Her research showed that if you are anticipating hurtful comments you relay fear or dread with your eyes and/or body language---which generally led to more negative things happening. Finding something positive about that person...even as simple as their pretty fingernails or nice laughter...changes you. It changes the warmth and demeanor you give off. If that criticizer feels respected...odds are they will reciprocate. And honestly, what have you got to lose?
Well, WAIT...I know the answer to that question...after my experience I'll tell you what there is to lose...UNITY! I realize that I've been missing out on closeness and fellowship. I've missed out by not knowing them well enough to give ultimate, detailed prayer support! I hope to learn from this mistake...I want to work out my faith...Talk the talk and walk the walk alongside of my friends.
I'd stop here but the truth is...my heart feels most broken about this in connection to dealing with those outside of church. John 13:35, "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if
you have love
for one another." They are to know us by our LOVE...our love should be a reflection of GOD'S love...and His is PERFECT LOVE! No grudges, no holding back...praying for blessings on our enemies. If I'm not showing that...what kind of testimony do I really have?? I need to be pointing to GOD...all the time...in every way...
‘But what is the ultimate
good in the good news? It all ends in one thing: God himself. All the
words of the gospel lead to him, or they are not gospel.
salvation is not good news if it only saves from hell and not for God.
Forgiveness is not good news if it only gives relief from guilt and
doesn’t open the way to God.
Justification is not good news if it only
makes us legally acceptable to God but doesn’t bring fellowship with
Redemption is not good news if it only liberates us from bondage
but doesn’t bring us to God.
Adoption is not good news if it only puts
us in the Father’s family but not in his arms.’
I tried to site this quote...but had a hard time. I think it might be John Piper's from his book "50 Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die"...but I'm not sure.
After studying on Acts 15 today, I was reminded how very prone I am to subconsciously add requirements to salvation. There are certain important changes that do need to happen after salvation...but they have nothing to do with the power of God's saving grace.
Those baby Gentile believers were SO different from the Jewish believers..it was a leap out of the 'ole comfort zone to welcome them. And we all like our comfort zones. I cracked up today when I heard it compared to a city girl going camping...hahaha! The Jews were really worrying needlessly though because when someone gains new life in Christ, they then have new desires. The Holy Spirit changes our outlook. 2 Cor. 5:17, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."
Some Jews seemed to be missing a bigger point however...that faith in Christ is sufficient for salvation. His sacrifice is undeserved, Acts 15:11, "We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace
of the Lord Jesus."...Jesus paid it all!
I think this has become a most twisted thought among people today..."God loves me in my sin (immorality, homosexuality, addictions, etc.), therefore, I do not need to change...everyone else needs to accept my lifestyle" seems to be their premise. Rom. 5:8 does say, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet
sinners, Christ died for us." True, Christ loved us while we were sinners...but once we are that new creature...and the Holy Spirit dwells within...our desires dramatically change. Romans 6:1-2, " What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By
no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?" People can't have it both ways...if you are truly saved your life will reflect it.
We suddenly see our sin for what it is...It's anything we think, say or do that does not please God! We find His standard in His Word. And, oh how it breaks our hearts to grieve him.1 Jn. 3:9, "Those who have been born into God's family do not make a practice of
sinning, because God's life is in them. So they can't keep on sinning,
because they are children of God."
The more I ponder this...the more I have to ask myself...How am I
limiting God's grace? Who do I consider to be most unlikely to come to
Christ? Oh, Lord...help me see them with new eyes...with Your eyes. I've written it several times here...hate the sin, not the sinner...
For nothing good have I
Whereby Thy grace to claim;
I’ll wash my garments white
In the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb.
Lord, now indeed I find
Thy pow’r, and Thine alone,
Can change the
And melt the heart of stone.
And when before the throne
I stand in Him complete,
I’ll lay my
All down at Jesus’ feet.
Jesus paid it all,
Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as
"More than fine, more than bent on getting by.
More than fine, more than just ok." ~Switchfoot
With news of Loverbrains trip being elongated...I needed an attitude change yesterday. I took a page from the Jewish phylacteries idea...and carted verses around in my pockets, purse, etc. I know verses like...2 Cor. 12:9, "But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made
perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my
weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me."...but I often don't "own it" in my attitude.
Recently, I was deeply convicted by the following, "Do you believe and depend on your Lord so that He alone is sufficient for you in your present circumstances and need (Acts 14:35) Is He so sufficient to you that you do not even need to complain and seek sympathy and pity from others."
Now, at first I struggled against this teaching. I believe that sharing our burdens is essential within churches. Galatians 6:2, "Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." But when I scrambled to look it up I realized that the same passage talks about not boasting and bearing your own share of burdens too.
Then, as I was trotting along on the treadmill...the Switchfoot lyrics above came buzzing through my head. It made me think of how I become irritated by greetings among Christians. We ask how the other is doing without really caring about the answer. We don't have time...expect the answer to be "fine"...I need to slow down and take my time with my brothers and sisters.
That being said...I also realize that in Christ I'm "more than fine...more than bent on getting by...I'm more than just OK!" I'm not suggesting we should be annoying on this point. It always makes me grit my teeth a bit when people answer, "Better than I deserve." Although it's the truth it's sort of like "socking it to ya!" The truth is I should be saying, "I'm great, blessed..." with a joyful (JOY FULL) demeanor. Even though I'm missing Loverbrains terribly...I really tried to share my blessings through this trial. He loves us...He is working hard...He will be home soon.
God provides more than I need...God is more than enough for me. Because I believe that is true...I was able to put a smile on my face and act out Eph. 2:10, "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance for us to do."
My Mom taught me to cook. Then, she went back to work when my brother was learning to cook. My Dad took over most of the cooking so he taught him to cook. Therefore, as a newly married gal I would call the house for cooking advice and ask to speak to Mom...my brother would say, "But it's a cooking question...don't you want to talk to Dad??" LOL...both are great cooks...and I still call often.
2. Have you been
told you think too much? Are too much of a perfectionist? Are too
sensitive? Were they right?
Wasn't it Ralph Waldo Emerson who said, "Our strengths grow out of our weaknesses." Yeah...I think it's a vice versa sort of situation.
3. As a child
did you have a favorite blanket or toy? Tell about it.
I had lambie and silky blanket. Lamby came from an older lady that lived in my parent's apartment building when I was born. He came sitting on a plate of brownies. Now he is smooshed flat and has one fadded blue eyeball. The fuzz is worn off of his ears. Silky blanket is a patchwork pinks quilt that my mother made (I think?)...it has a strange backing...Not silk...but sort of crepy and light weight...It always felt cool on my face! I have them in a box (along with my husbands lovies)...I should find a way to display them somehow.
What 'institution' do you have the most faith in?
I love burning bush...so bright when everything else seems to be fading and dying.
What superpower do the kids in your neighborhood seem to posses?
The ability to cram into my van on a chilly morning at the bus stop. This might be more of an ability for circus clowns...hahaha! I say "bus" and they all pile out...and out....and out...
Are you a fan of the cranberry?
I like them dried in nut mixes...and I like a little dallop with my turkey at Thanksgiving. Ooo...and I love those Ocean's Spray commercials with those guys in the bog!
your own random thought here.
Yesterday my van broke down...and I had to walk to the mall and feed the kids in the food court...due to nerves or the few pieces of halloween candy I had consumed I experienced intestinal woe and had to use the mall restroom. This song was blaring...and it gave me a chuckle.
At first I thought about how there are always little "private eyes" watching me in the bathroom...and then I thought about how they were watching me handle this stressful situation...and how God was watching too! Interesting...how the Holy Spirit used a totally secular song to grasp my attention and change my attitude...pointing me back to Christ!
And yes, I'm
going to answer the burning question I've been asked multiple times this
go trick or treating?
My kids do go trick or
treating. After some
prayer and consideration we decided that it would be effectively
slamming the door on any evangelistic attempts with our neighbors to
turn off our lights and pretend we aren't home. We pass out candy bags
and tracks (cute ones)...and we get to know our neighbors.
even had some great conversations. Some were shocked we let the kids
go, too...they said, "Aren't you religious?"
That was a great opportunity to say that we aren't religious...we have a personal relationship with
Jesus Christ...and "please, let me
tell you what that means."
friendships...and they come to us with their prayer requests...cuz they
know we pray...and that we believe
in prayer. How neat is that? It makes me soooo happy that I open my
mouth and ask how they are...and take the time to listen to their
problems...and tell them about the power of prayer in my life because of
my ALL POWERFUL GOD.
I do have opportunities to
express my concerns with
Halloween (evil, Satan, scary, etc.) but I have countless more
opportunities to share about Jesus Christ. Remember, it's like I said
When talking with sinners the issue is not
their present sin but their need of a Savior!