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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Blessings

LOL.  ROFL.

These acronyms come into play a lot in our internet world, usually to mark something as laugh-out-loud funny (LOL) or roll-on-the-floor-laughing worthy (ROFL).  Sadly, in reality, neither one happens with great frequency for me.

But then sometimes it does.

Like this morning, when I had a little snafu that I wanted to share with my family via Facebook, and I decided to share it with my whole Facebook circle, because it was a little silly and funny and I thought I’d brighten someone’s day with it.  My toaster, which I consider my favorite household appliance and that we got from my brother and sister-in-law for a wedding gift thirteen years ago, went belly up as I was helping my son fish his English muffin out this morning.

I took a picture of my dearly departed and posted it, with a little description of how I felt about its passing.  It was a minor inconvenience for sure, but thought I’d make a much bigger deal out of it, especially since everyone in my family knows it’s my favorite and everything. 

And also because I tend to like to make a bigger deal out of everything that is silly or funny.

Facebook friends played along, giving tongue-in-cheek condolences and expressing sympathies.   My family members chimed in too, offering up remembrances as if the toaster was part of their lives as much as it was a part of mine.  In ten minutes, ten people had responded.

Then I realized that the GFI switch on my outlet had tripped.  The toaster hadn’t died; the outlet it was plugged into was protecting us from an electrical fire.

I swiftly presented the information to the Facebook crowd, who I envisioned would be shaking their heads and wondering why I am so stupid and being thankful that they aren’t.

Then it happened.  As the goofiness of the whole scenario hit me, I LOL’d, and R’dOFL.  Seriously.  I fell out of my chair.  There was nothing for me to do but roll.

Tears streamed down my face as I typed “IT’S A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE” and my brother responded “I hear the trumpets of Angels! Blessed be thou, Dualit toaster!  One by one, the Facebook thread filled with exaggerated blessings and I was overcome with giddiness, embarrassment, and sheer joy that I didn’t have to get myself another toaster this close to Christmas.

All this on a morning where I sat at my kitchen table, tired and in pain from a particularly serious neck tweaking I did the day before and that had me up since 4:30 am, the stress of having only a few days before Christmas and the days and nights are filling up with things to do and places to go and WHERE AM I GOING TO FIND THE TIME TO WRAP MY CHILDREN’S GIFTS? and our nation’s collective sorrow steadily undulating about the senseless murders of 20 schoolchildren and 6 of their teachers.

God knows when I need to LOL and ROFL.

And for that, I’m thankful.  

Christmas miracles are everywhere.  You just have to know where to look.



Thank you, God, for your many blessings.  For the birth of your son, for encouragement from friends and family, and for laughter that you supply in so many creative ways.  My I never overlook the places where your blessings might hide.  Amen.

 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Fear Not

When I got serious about God I was a new mom.  My kids were babies, and I was searching for something to hold onto, something that gave life more meaning than spending most days trying to wrangle babies and a work-from-home job that was swiftly slipping through my fingers.

Those early days of Bible study were nerve-racking for me.  I sat in a circle of women who had been serious about God for a long time, some since their teens, some even during early childhood.  I felt grossly ill-equipped to talk about God; I didn’t want to share that just a few years back I was making jokes about God and questioning his presence in my life.  I didn’t deserve to be in this group.   Mostly, I stayed quiet and listened.

We talked about our fears.  My fears at that time centered on the loss of my children, of something happening to them that I couldn’t control.  I feared abduction, disease, house fire, injury.  I had nightmares about leaving my kids in the grocery store.  I would wake up in the middle of the night to see if they were still there and hold my hand under their noses to make sure they were breathing.

As the years went by, my relationship with God grew and I spent more time learning about his gift of Jesus Christ and how I could stay close to him every day.  I learned to pray about everything.  I opened up in Bible study about what I thought about God and how he helps me.  My understanding of his gift deepened.  We still talked about our fears.  I started to regularly cast my fears to God so he could take care of them for me.  My fear of an unknown tragedy befalling my children still lingered, but it did not paralyze me.  

All over the world, tragedies happen.  Too often, they happen to children.  Some are abused; others perish in fires; still others are lost to disease.  And then some are shot and killed.  I find that my fears about these things happening to my children resurface with each event that I hear about, some stronger than others.  I give the fears to God anew.  I pray for victims and their families.  I pray for people who commit crimes against children. 

It is easier for me to do this, I suppose; I am not a vengeful person.  I have experienced tragedy in my life, and I know it does no good to dwell on what could have been prevented, nor hate people for what they do.  I know that hate only serves to tear me down and tempts me to take the role of judge, a role which I am not qualified to take.  Certainly people do terrible things, myself included.

It is also easier for me to pray for people who commit crimes against children because I have not lost my child to one of their crimes.  They are not abused.   They were not abducted.  They go back and forth to school safely each day.  My children sleep safely in their beds at night. 

It scares me to think this.  My fear tells me that those fears, the ones that I have so openly given to God, are exactly where the evil in this world will threaten me and attempt to break me down.  The superstitious part of me, the one that still takes up space in my mind where God should be, tells me to hurry up and cover those fears with prayers.

But I am slowly learning that along with everything else in my life, my children are not mine.  They are God’s, just as I am his.  My trust that he has his hand in our lives and our larger world comforts me more than the fears have ever scared me.  His everlasting love, the love that never fails, has surrounded me, and surrounds my children.

In a world of so much fear and tragedy, I am comforted by the fact that he is so good.



Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10 (NKJV)

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Following the Rules

I am a rule-follower.  I like knowing what’s expected.  Give me a set of guidelines to follow where I don’t have to think about what to do, and I’m pretty comfortable and content to act, all thoughts and decision-making left to the parameters outlined.  Usually rules are pretty easy to follow and I get along pretty well.

There are a lot of people who resist rules.  The mostly rebellious question every rule that comes along.  Sometimes people don’t follow rules because they feel they are silly, or that rules don’t apply to them.  I have trouble understanding why people feel this way.  We are all unique, but not so different.  Most rules apply.  I know that sometimes they don’t, and some rules can be stretched or broken, but it’s not in my nature to do so at first glance.  I have made a life out of adapting myself to following the rules of the road, marriage, common courtesy, the law.

On the few occasions where I have chosen not to follow the rules, I have suffered.  Usually I suffer from guilt; my conscience gnaws at me.  The knowledge that I did something against the grain blinks its warning light at me until I fall in line again.

I acknowledge that my general rule following can be dangerous in the world today.  Not all rules are for everyone’s good, and there are some situations in which we find ourselves in more trouble just for following a set of faulty, out of order, or even malicious rules.  I need to be careful about blindly following rules made by untrustworthy sources, or rules made to benefit only a certain few.  When we follow these guidelines we run the risk of inadvertently harming other people that the rules were designed to exclude.

The only rules I trust to follow blindly are God’s.  His rules always supersede any rules that the world has to offer.  His ways are not always the way the world works, but they have never failed me.  When I fail him, I know that I have overstepped, or stumbled over his will, choosing instead to follow my own.  Each instance of my crossing God’s line ends up with me facing the consequences of my own actions. 

I should remember that God’s rules are made only for my good, for my benefit.  They are appropriate not just for me, but for everyone – each one of us will do better when we follow God’s lead and look to him for guidance.  His ways, his rules, are designed for our ultimate perfection; they will never fail us.


I'm thankful that God's rules are easier to follow than these ones.

The law of the lord is perfect, refreshing the soul.  The statutes of the lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.  The precepts of the lord are right, giving joy to the heart.  The commands of the lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.  The fear of the lord is pure, enduring forever.  The decrees of the lord are firm, and all of them are righteous.  They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb.  By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.  Psalm 19:7-11 (NIV)

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Fa La La La Lord, Help Me

Every year at Christmas I go into a frenzy.

If you think you've read something like this here before, it's because you have.  I wrote about his very thing a month ago.

Frenzied is not my ideal state of being.  I prefer to do things simply, slowly and deliberately.  I lose track of things when the pace of life speeds up and I overlook a lot of important details, and overlooking details stresses me out.

We decorate the house with twinkle lights and evergreens, buy and wrap gifts, write Christmas cards, attend holiday concerts at school, celebrate with friends and co-workers at parties, and bake cookies. We live out of town from our loved ones, so we also have family get-togethers at home and we travel to visit family during the season.  We always have at least two Christmas celebrations each year with our families, and sometimes three, depending on where December 25 falls on the calendar.

And we do all of this Christmas prep and Christmas celebrating with Christmas music playing in the background.

We Wish You A Merry Christmas.

It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year.

Joy To The World.

O Holy Night.

Do You Hear What I Hear?

It’s the noise of the Christmas season, which can be a little screamy.

But this year my attitude about Christmas is a little different.  This year, I decided to be in a good mood about Christmas.  I decided not to let the activities and their attendant worries of Did I do this? Did I buy that? and OH NO, the bills! get to me.  I decided to acknowledge that there is a lot going on, and I prayed about it and asked God to help me out.  I even told my husband that I was doing this.  I needed the accountability.

It worked.  I still feel the busy-ness.  But along with the busy-ness is the peace of Jesus, Jesus who we celebrate this year and every year.  The pace hasn’t slowed, but my heart feels better about it.  And my mood has improved.  I know that this is the work of God.  I know that he won’t allow me to overlook the most important thing about Christmas this year.  I am so grateful for that.  I’m sure my husband is, too.

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.   Matthew 1:21 (NIV)


 
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