Friday, December 23, 2016

More Than I Asked For

Here are a few pictures spanning from Thanksgiving up until today. And a simple but profound thought from Liam. 
The other day Liam asked me "Why does Santa bring me even more than I ask for?" When I asked what he meant he explained to me that he doesn't understand how Santa gives more than just the few things he wished for and how he knows other things he likes, and anticipates things he may like that are beyond what he even knew existed for him to like!? And this idea got me thinking. I didn't grow up believing in Santa. He just wasn't part of the German traditions my family observed. When we had the boys I wasn't sure I wanted to bring the Santa thing into our tradition, it always seemed a bit odd to me. But when talking with a dear friend she told me how much her belief in Santa reinforced a very special part of her belief in God. Not the whole you get what do deserve naughty or nice, we sort of leave that part out. But Santa is the magical lavish gift giver! Who comes every year no matter the circumstances (like when we had hand foot and mouth last year), no matter the weather, no matter your mood. And he knows you and your likes and desires, and beyond. He not only gives the things you asked for but he lavishes gifts, big and small, and considers your individual longings. And more and more that is how I find God to be. He is the great blesser and giver of gifts. Not in the way I had always wanted or imagined. And I am not talking about hard lessons as gifts. I am talking about blessings, big and small, requested and unanticipated. He has blessed me in ways I never knew I wanted or needed or would even have known to ask for. When you look for those blessings that are all around, all the time. Nature is one of those great gifts I notice more and more. It is always there, ever present, ready to reveal bits of beauty and the story of new life and renewal, just go out and look! So my wish is that you would view Him that way this season. Feel the lavishing of his love and kindness and blessing. He wants to bless us no matter our current circumstances. 

Below are some lyrics from a song Andrew wrote for Advent:

In the midst of our longing 
Sorrows will cease
For the light of the Son
Soon shall we see
May the hope of the savior
Help you persist
May the dawn of His Kingdom
Be on your lips

Come, like a flower in the spring
Give us eyes that can see
May you fill all the earth with your beauty 
Come, with the Angels we'll sing
As we wait for the King
The redeemer of hearts is coming

The sun is upon us
So stand in its light
May the reign of our sin
Leave with the night
Make ready your hearts now
Let all people hear, as we wait for the promise
Salvation draws near 

Come, like a flower in the spring
Give us eyes that can see
May you fill all the earth with your beauty 
Come, with the Angels we'll sing
As we wait for the King
The redeemer of Hearts is coming

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

What We Carry

So at this rate it looks like I'm about a twice a year poster! Sad but true. Not that anyone is waiting with bated breath, but I really like this space so I don't want to give up on it. I have pretty much realized I am too sensitive for social media (and by that I mean Facebook and Instagram) and I'm ok with that. I am taking a break form it for advent to just refocus and eliminate distractions.  I don't think its bad for everyone, but it isn 't great for me. I listened to a Pod Cast the other day call the "Joy of missing out". It was so good (thanks Karin). It affirmed so much of what I feel about our modern age of technology, the endless internet abyss, and social media. I was always the kid who couldn't concentrate with the TV on. So that is part of the problem. But being a highly sensitive person and also a very empathetic (I mean that in the way that I can feel or imagine what other people feel), not always sympathetic, person I get very overwhelmed by the sheer mass of people information I am privy to through social media.  It feels like being connected to Cerebro, for those of you who watch X-men haha. So anyways, I think sharing through this avenue is much healthier for me.

And what has also been floating around in my brain lately is to continue doing a little blog series called "Lately I have been thinking about". I have already been doing this unofficially. This is largely driven by the bible study I'm in, books I'm reading, the conversations I have with people, or the podcasts I listen to.

But first a little life update. The kids are doing great. We are doing some pre-school home school type activities and also pre-school classes at the local farm. Liam loves learning and it is such a joy to teach him. Grayson is almost 2 and seriously such a handful! He's so verbal like Liam, and just so determined.  But he is also the cuddliest, sweetest, little guy with such a great sense of humor. He sings "Jinga Balls" (Jingle bells) all day long. We are home for Christmas and it is already freezing cold. Like 4 degrees freezing cold! Sheesh. But the snow is so beautiful and our house with our new kitchen is so cozy that being inside is no burden. Below are some pictures from the Fall months. 

I have been thinking about the spoils of war, the things we take with us. In the book of Joshua the Israelites take over Jericho (a story we probably all know) and the battle is won, the enemy defeated, but that is not the end of the fight. Yet, there is another place of concern that God instructs them very specifically how to handle. He tells them not to take anything from the city, that these things have been given over to evil. Which seems odd because they are just things. And the real threat has been defeated right? But he tells them they can take the gold, silver, iron and to burn the rest. And I wonder why, why those things? Why is it so important not to take things from places of evil? And why are certain things not taint-able? What do gold and iron and silver have in common? Those things can withstand the cleansing of fire. But the rest when set ablaze, disintegrate. The fire is cleansing and anything that can't withstand it must go. So my thoughts turn to battles I think I have won, crossings and pinnacles in my life where I saw victory, and in my mind walked away a victor. But what did I walk away with? Have I dragged unclean things along with me, chains linking me to the rubble, unaware. Those things can be memories, new ways of think, a victim mentality, fear of the next battle, bitterness and the wounds sustained. When God says take only those treasures that I can refine. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, self control. And let me not be fooled into thinking that just because God saved me there, delivered me the city, that everything I took was from Him. It's easy to think a sense of caution, or perspective that came out of victory is also good. We have so many ways of screwing things up. And if you have walked away with unclean things, build a fire, throw them in, and watch them burn. Let the word of God be the cleansing fire of your heart.