Thursday, December 31, 2009

Questions about Suffering?

If you go to this link and scroll down to the first sermon listed by John Piper called "Subjected to Hope" it will blow your mind. In it he unpacks why we experience suffering even though our hearts have been freed by Christ and explains what was part of the curse of our sin verses how God uses suffering for His purposes. It is well, well worth 45 minutes of your time. I have three little kids and a short lunch "break" each day and I am so glad I sat here on the couch, listened to this and took notes. This sermon was given to the Matt Chandler's church, The Village, in Texas.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Part 2: Our Two Yr Olds are Dating

I mentioned in the last post that our daughters are not going to date, at least in the terms most of us think of, until they move out. I was completely serious.

I hear the initial criticisms flowing so I’ll just list them because five years ago they would have been mine too: 1. You are sheltering your kids. 2. You need to give them independence to make their own decisions. 3. You can’t protect your kids forever. 4. If you do that, when they move out, they will rebel against your strictness and be worse than if you had let them date earlier. 5. They will just do it anyway.

Well. There’s a lot stacked up there. I understand. However. We’ve got to dig deeper and not live in fear. We also don’t want to make a list of rules and regulations for no reason or because we want to be controlling or to show that we're in charge and they’re not.

If you peel away all the layers and intentions, there is a passionate, deep love for my daughters under there that Jesus himself put in my heart for them. THEY ARE NOT MINE. I have been graced with the infinitely wonderful responsibility of being their mother. But I can’t hold them too tight. And I also, more importantly, we cannot withdraw from good, intentional parenting which comes from listening to the day to day decisions from the Holy Spirit. I have someone to answer to for their little hearts, their little lives, and the things I give them over to. I answer to a God who MADE them! Who knit them in my womb and wrote their lives into existence. He has intentions and plans for them and His ways bring life and peace and hope and joy and FREEDOM.

So with that in mind and with that as the deepest layer on the bottom of this regenerated heart, Jason and I make decisions like this one…our girls are probably not going to date at 12 or 15 or even 17. We don’t know exactly how this is going to work. We don’t know what we’re going to do when they like someone and they come home angry with us that we don’t get it. I don’t think it’s all going to work out perfectly. I know there will be some struggles and some misunderstandings. I know that our children may not know our hearts until they are forty. I know their hearts might rebel from our parenting. But we do not answer to them. We answer to the Lord, whose hearts are His. And after a number of conversations over the years about raising girls, I just don’t have a peace about the world’s ways of dating. It seems pointless and futile and selfish and lustful and ultimately wounding…and a lot of recklessness for a parent to endorse willingly.

I had a friend who once said to me that she didn’t regret having many many dating relationships with men because it taught her what she did and did not want to look for in a husband. I do not buy the lie. I believe that lie led her not to wisdom, but to a long walk through wounds and scars and visually cruel memories for her to sort through over years to come.

I used to have a bumper sticker that said “Kill your television.” Now I laugh about it because I love the food network and the Disney channel. I know that sometimes as Christians we go to extremes and say things like “If you smoke or use curse words you must not be a Christian.” I’ve been wrong and legalistic about countless things. This dating issue with our girls might sound like another one of those things like the television where we throw our hands up and say – There are so many evil things on tv! Let’s ban it! You may hear me saying about dating – There are so many evil things that can happen! Let’s ban it! I’ll just say your thoughts before you think them.

What we really really, from the heart, are trying to do is not just accept cultural norms for our family. What we would like to do with everything lately is to step back from the ever-rushing movement of culture, which is stumbling towards who knows what. We want to be intentional about the ways we are choosing to go and how we decide to live our lives as individuals and as a family. Sometimes the easiest ways are not the wisest ways but the world likes to criticize a step outside normal bounds.

Jason loves kayaking. There are these little pools on the sides of rivers called eddies that you can “catch” and you are completely out of the rush of the current. You can sit there to rest or wait before you pull back out into the river. Jason would tell me about how he would catch the eddies right before he was about to go into the next segment of the river so that he could rest before a more difficult rapid or maybe even pull his kayak over to the side to scout out what was coming up by walking along the river. Certain more difficult class rapids require knowing exactly where to take the rapid, otherwise you can end up caught under a rock or in a “hole” or something else dangerous. It’s the perfect picture of pulling out for a time from what everyone else is allowing themselves to be carried along by, even most Christians, in order to wait and pray and consider what God might have for our family. We know that what is coming down the river is going to be difficult and it would be foolish to make rash decisions in the midst of the rapid.

We know that Jason “dating” our daughters is part of us scouting out a rough rapid ten to fifteen years down the river. We also know that the way that most people take that rapid is the same – let teenagers choose who they will date, how they will date, where they will go and how late they will be out. Um, no. I actually remember being thankful for my curfew (sometimes – he he) because when my friends wanted to take me places that I was scared to go or scared to be a part of, I had a safe “out” and could go home. I was mad at my mom a lot for her rules but I also know it provided a safe house for me and ultimately I know her rules saved me from a lot of wounds that I would have willingly taken.

I think what we will probably be “about” will be our girls building relationships in the context of groups and community. We will make our home hospitable, a place they will want to bring their friends, and although I am well aware our “coolness” will have worn off by then (probably already has!) I will pursue our kids’ friends as much as they will let me. And although I don’t know the details of how this will work, if a boy does take an interest in one of our girls (undoubtedly) then he will certainly have to get to know us and he can expect that we will want his friendship with our daughter to be in a community context and to be within our eye sight. I don’t the exact convictions we will have for them but I know it won’t look like a 16 year old boy showing up at our door, barely telling us his full name, and then watching my daughter get into the car with him to goes who knows where with him for hours on end and then coming home at midnight. My girls can forget that. That makes me want to bite off all my fingernails and toenails.

As far as we can scout out the teenage years now, we are. Mostly by treasuring our daughters, loving them well, and pointing them to an identity in Jesus Christ – who created them by love and for a love relationship with Him first and foremost. In this rooted identity they will always know who they are as they enter womanhood and look towards marriage. Our great hope for their sweet futures is that they create sincere and deep relationships with friends, that they are mentored by older women in their community, that they experience healthy relationships with young men in the context of friendship, and that they grow in wisdom and maturity in their relationship with the Lord so that they would know what He would have for them in regards to being a wife and a mother.

You can either believe in testing out your life with trial and error to find what is right or you can be led by wisdom and maturity when you cannot give yourself that gift. I pray that my girls will allow the second path for their lives and that their hearts would be submissive to the wisdom they do not yet possess for their own hearts and lives. In the meantime, I recognize continually that I, too, need to stay submissive to Christ. I do not know or see or understand or have anything apart from the Vine. I am just a branch. I will abide in Christ and ask and pray that my children choose to abide in Him as well. This is not about me and my great wisdom or plans for our children. This is about Jesus. He loves them and his best for them is greater than mine or theirs. Thank goodness He loves them. He will show us what to do. We will open up our hands, where they rest, and keep surrendering them.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

My Two Year Olds are Dating

My two year olds are dating.

Since about the time they were born we have been saying that they are not going to be allowed to date until they grow up and move out of our house, but lately we’ve decided to make exceptions. No, they didn’t meet any three feet tall perfect gentlemen who’ve won our hearts for our girls. (Sorry Elias, Caleb, Hudson and James – maybe one day but you’ve got a lot of proving yourselves to do buddies). No, I’m talking about the girls going on sweet, special dates with their gentleman of a daddy.

Jason has been taking the girls on dates for a while. He takes them to Starbucks and Top Pot for doughnuts and chocolate milks and they do stickers or color or play with their little calico critters. But this time of year they get a very special Christmas date and I will just let Jason tell all the details of what he planned for them and all the curious and cute details of how it all went down. Please definitely visit his blog for that.

About two months ago, Jason and I spotted the perfect Christmas date dresses for them at Costco. I was so excited because they have the most beautiful little girl dresses there for like $16 and they start in size 2T, which the girls can wear now. Kanah picked out a shimmery blue one and Grace picked out a pink one with a great big bow. They would not keep their hands off of them throughout the store and they hung up in their closet waiting for the special day.

I got them ready before each of their Christmas dates and after about a hundred pictures, sent them off with their daddy, who had also dressed up in something just like what he wore on our Christmas date.

What’s unique about my angle is that I am the mama of these gorgeous little beings. I love them with a mother’s heart that knows the hearts of women, knows what we long for, what we look for and treasure and desire. I know that even my little two year old girls desire to be captivating, to be honored, to be noticed, to be treasured, to be known and to have time spent with them. They are little, but they are little women nonetheless.

And God designed us to look to God for all of this. It’s a God-relationship desire in their hearts, and God has called Jason to take care of those little hearts as He would and to pursue Him as the Father in heaven will pursue them all their lives. Jason will be teaching them that God wants to know their hearts as he sits across from them over pancakes and stares in to their little faces, forgetting to take a bite. He will be teaching them God wants to know their thoughts and concerns by taking their hand when they walk and asking them little questions like “Do you want to bring Ella with you? Do you want Daddy to carry you?” He will be teaching them that God sees their getting up and their lying down and all of their happenings in between when they prance around in their dresses and Jason says, “Grace! Kanah! You are so beautiful, I can’t even believe it! Daddy is so blessed!” They will know their Father in heaven’s heart because their Daddy’s heart is becoming more and more like HIS for THEM daily. God is making Jason’s heart more and more loving as Jason keeps giving his life to Jesus.

Isn’t this beautiful? My daughters, my little crowns, my delights, are already getting to know what God is like because of Jason loving them well. What a gift to a mommy who has known the joy and hope and delight and gratitude in my heart to get to follow Jesus, my Savior, and to see that my children are understanding the GOSPEL because her husband is putting it on display daily: That God loved us so much that he sent his Son Jesus into the world to love us and die for us and resurrect from the dead so that we would be free from sin and be free to live in a love relationship with the Lord and to have eternal life with him. This gospel is seen as Jason constantly enters my little girls’ worlds, caring about what they care about and spending time with them on their level, giving his life away for them so that they can enjoy relationship with him.

And in all of this he is pointing to our Father who has done this on a grander level, with a greater love, pursuing us so that we can enjoy a life with him both now and forever.

What is also beautiful is that we live in a community of belivers, mostly from our Mars Hill church, who also believe daddys should “date” their daughters and love them well. I love hearing about our friends’ kids daddy dates because it gives me such great joy for all of these children that they are being loved so well and that through the love of these mommys and daddys, we hope that these children will see that God placed a love for them in all of our hearts that is FROM GOD and that it is a demonstration that they are being pursued by a loving, gracious God who made them for a close relationship with Him. What a community!

Check out Jason’s blog in the next few days for pictures and all the hilarious and adorable details for Kanah and Grace’s dates. And hopefully by next year we will also be posting about Salem’s mommy dates! He’s got to work a few more months on opening doors and Jason has got to buy him a wallet and I’ll be ready to be picked up for MY date! More to come…

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Intercessor's Heart for Matt

I can’t stop thinking about them.

I don’t know them. I have seen pictures only a couple of times. But the daughter’s face sticks in my head like no other this week. I cannot get them out of my mind ever since we heard the news about Matt. I was devastated to hear that his tumor was malignant and not encapsulated. But I don’t even know him.

Probably a year ago some friends told us about Matt Chandler, a pastor from Village Church, in Texas. They were listening to his sermons online and I joined in on the hype to see what he was all about. Recently Jason and I were driving to Cannon Beach for the second year in a row in the month of October and as we came along a certain stretch of highway I said to him, “Hey, this is where we were when I first heard a Matt Chandler sermon last year.” He must have made an impression. Because my memory is atrocious.

Why am I so attached to this family’s story in their struggle? Because I have three children too? Because we are about the same age? I know there’s more. There are a handful of influential pastors in this country who I respect with all my heart because they are first and foremost in love with Jesus and the authenticity of the Bible. I wish I could replicate who they are and how they teach and place them in every church in America.

I was also struck by the truth that the gospel has so become the central love and gift of my life that anyone who raises up the gospel of Jesus with all sincerity and truth is a hero of mine. Matt is one of these. Though I don’t know him. Many withhold true words about the gospel and Jesus. But he does not. And I treasure his ministry for this, just as I treasure our church and our Pastor Mark Driscoll. This is a testimony to the gospel, the truth that Jesus came to save me, and that this is what I believe with all my heart and what matters to me most. And out of this comes a gratitude unsurpassed for the pastors in my life, including my husband, who speak truth into my life and point me to Christ to find my identity and all of my hope.

I was so consumed yet again this morning with the faces of his family. I was praying for his children this morning, as they had asked, that they would know how to process and that their hearts would not become embittered. I especially prayed that their little daughter, whose face cannot escape my mind, would be a great joy to them because of her naivity in being able to comprehend what is happening to her father.

I couldn’t help but ask the Lord why in the world he would have this happen to this particular man. I still have some false theology in my heart that rises up when things like this happen and say, “But HE is one of the GOOD guys out there!” I want to convince God of Matt’s goodness and that he doesn’t deserve this. I think of countless other pastors who I’d rather this happen to. (I know, I didn’t say these thoughts were godly). But the truth remains that none of us were righteous without Christ, not one. Romans 3. But with Christ we have all been made right before God and are in perfect standing with him. And even if someone does not know Christ, He is patient with them for salvation (2 Peter 3:9) and he still pours the rain/blessings on the righteous and unrighteous alike because of his loving common good. “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matt 4:45). And he allows trials to come into our lives for purposes we may not be able to understand. “In this (the living hope through Jesus) you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:6-7)

It’s so crazy to read that last verse because that is what Matt talks about in his video. He held up one fist and said praising God when life is good is one thing. Then he held up his other fist to represent his new life, saying that it’s a whole other thing to praise God in the middle of something incredibly difficult. And he counts it an honor to praise God in this. Ah! Who says that? Jesus you have made this man a new creation, a glory for your praise. It’s crazy wonderful.

My soul is settled with these verses somewhat though I am sad and prayerful and ALSO HOPEFUL for a miracle. I am praying that God’s purposes are to display him for his glory in this trial but to sustain his life for ministry and for his sweet family.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Like a Dance

I read a post recently by Wendy Alsup (the link for Practical Theology for Women on my list to the right). She was talking about what to do when her children were having trouble obeying and she finally realized that she could literally help them obey when they had no idea how to even begin how to do that on their own.

I related as a parent but I instantly also related as God’s child. I have the most difficult time obeying God sometimes. It feels like a literal impossibility! Ask me to open the door for an elderly person and I’m on it. Ask me to be kind when the other party isn’t treating me perfectly, and I’m dragging my feet like weights. I literally need God’s help to obey! He moves our hands and feet and mouths towards obedience when we cannot. I have to believe he can do that. That he can cause me to do what I simply cannot without the will and determination and pure heart of the Holy Spirit. In the moment of my aggression or fleshly tendencies I need to believe. Cast my faith on him. On his stronger arms. His stronger will. Psalm 51:12 says “Restore to me the joy of your salvation AND UPHOLD ME with a WILLING spirit.”

When Jason and I got married a great friend of mine gave us dance lessons so we could learn something more than a slow dance sway at our reception. It was a little daunting but also well worth it to have a choreographed routine. But throughout the lessons Jason teased that I was hard to lead. I was too tense or wanting to be the decision maker for what move was next or trying to give him cues. I needed to be a little looser with my limbs and more willing to wait for what cues he set forth so I would know what we were doing next.

Geez, it couldn’t be a more perfect word picture for my problem with obedience. I’m tense with what I am determined to do and I’m not leaning on the Holy Spirit and I’m certainly not waiting for any leadings besides my initial promptings. If you put a tag line on my behaviors, unfortunately it might look like “follow your heart” more often than “follow the Holy Spirit.” Yikes. Because Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things; and desperately sick.” Uh oh! Doesn’t seem like a good compass to follow.

After pondering that wise post on how Christ can help me obey, I was continuing to read Ephesians in my time in the Word and it gave such great instruction but again it all felt so out of reach so I began to read it more as a prayer for his help. Reading and praying Scripture this way gives me hope, increases my faith in what Christ can do in me and helps me to ease into this dance with the Lord, which he leads. Here is how I prayed:

Ephesians 4:22-32 selections

Jesus HELP ME put off my old self.
Jesus HELP ME to be made new in the attitude of my mind.
Jesus HELP ME put on the new self.
Jesus HELP ME believe that this new self was created like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Jesus HELP ME to only let come out of my mouth what will build others up.
Jesus HELP ME to know my family’s needs so that what I say to them will benefit them.
Jesus HELP ME to not grieve the Holy Spirit by sinning.
Jesus HELP ME to get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander, and all malice.
Jesus HELP ME to be kind and compassionate to my family, forgiving them just as you forgave me.

I had lunch with a dear friend yesterday. I’ve known her since I was fifteen, which is really sweet to my heart. She made me a homemade Christmas card and on the inside, in a handwriting I would recognize from a thousand different people’s scribbles, she wrote Zephaniah 3:17 from her Bible’s translation which said, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior.” I cannot think of a better word of encouragement to my fragile heart as I contemplate my heart’s deepest, most true desire to live the life worthy of the calling I have received, but feeling the vast impossibility of it without the HELP of Christ all at once. I must allow my spirit to be encouraged:



Monday, December 14, 2009

Traditions not to stumble on

I love feeling Christmasy. I know it’s not a word. Yep, there goes Microsoft Word’s red squiggly line beneath it, reminding me I need to fix my spelling. Really it IS the most wonderful time of the year. The smells are glorious. The pictures from families and friends on my fridge make me feel all happy. The music is lovely (although I am glad this aspect is not all year long). Having the nativity out is a constant reminder of exactly Who I want to always have on my mind. I just love Christmas and more and more my heart has been growing around the passion that I want to create traditions for our little family that point to the beliefs that we hold, treasured in our hearts about Jesus Christ and his coming into our lives.

When we first got married we bought a Christmas tree about two feet high. I’ve got my fingers crossed I can dig through and find the photo of us next to us and I can post it right here. We didn’t do much those first two or three years besides show up for our families’ Christmas get-togethers for whatever they had planned for us to do. It took us a good chunk of time to realize that traditions are not just things you fall into or show up for, but that traditions are expressions and celebrations of what you hold close to your heart that you repeat year after year.

I think sometimes at first I fell into other people’s traditions wanting to replicate what looked like good things to do. Nothing in particular is wrong with this because there are so many godly people paving the way for how to have godly traditions around Christmas (please read Traditions by Noel Piper), though a lot of times for me the root issue was either competition or laziness (not listening to what the Lord wants us to do but instead just replicating others’ habits). I found that it was important to find out how others are “building their houses”, in other words how the Lord has instructed them to celebrate Christ. And it was also important to take those ideas, and instead of trying to replicate all of them right away, to then pray about how Jesus would use our family, with our particular community and personalities and giftings to glorify him. In this way, the laziness and competition can be rooted out.

Pastor Mark Driscoll was preaching on Sunday about John the Baptizer. Many people came down to the Jordan river to add one more “tradition” to their religion so that it could be added to their holiness. John called them a “brood of vipors” because they were being baptized, not as a display of what Christ had done in their hearts, but as a display of one more holy thing they had done to make themselves look exceptionally religious. This was a disgust to John.

My wheels were spinning in my head about homemakers and stay at home moms and wives and women and general. We compare. A LOT. We see what other women are doing and if it makes them look good or right or accomplished, we either praise what they did and want to compete by doing the same or else we despise them in our hearts.

I was thinking of this in regard to Christmas traditions. I originally was just going to write a little blog post about how we formed our traditions over our eight years and then list our traditions we currently like to celebrate. And then I got this thought in my mind during the sermon that many women are tempted to turn their traditions into religious “credits.” Just like Mark said as he stood in the Jordan river, there is a tendency to let religion creep in to what is a good act in and of itself. But add the heart to the matter and then there is the possibility for religiosity and not for it ALL to point to Jesus and what he has done.

Here’s the big point in case I am rambling: I DO NOT mean for this to cause any other woman, wife, mom, whoever, to stumble. As women, whether in person or on blogs or through watching each other’s lives, we share what Christ is doing in us and what we are doing in response with the purpose of encouraging each other and displaying the glories of Christ. Period. And in all of that, we MUST be careful to not cause others to stumble by taking any glory or by putting on display a false sense of our own greatness. I am guilty of this in times of weakness. But because of Christ, we are able to REJOICE in the evidences of God’s grace in other women’s lives and ENJOY the works of their hands, which are meant to bring glory to Jesus, not themselves. And personally, I GET to glory in Christ by saying, “Look! Christ has changed my heart! And this is how we GET to celebrate him as a family! I am blessed indeed.”

So, with that word from my heart to yours, here are some of our traditions, some simple and some more involved:

Christmas dates. Jason always takes me, Kanah and Grace on separate dates. We all get a new dress and we all have A BLAST. For the girls, part of their dates are to go pick out a children’s Christmas book. The purpose for Jason is many fold but certainly to show Christ's love to the ladies in his life and to show Kanah and Grace specifically how a man should love them.

Advent. I am 31 and have been married 8 years and I have never understood or celebrated advent until about three weeks ago. Call me clueless. It’s a mystery but it’s true. Anyway after reading Noel Piper’s book I learned that Advent simply means “coming” and it signifies the days prior to Christmas, which was the coming of Christ into our world. We look back, at the prophesies pointing to his coming, we look to the present and how he has come into our lives, and to the future when he will come again. We do this the five Sundays prior to Christmas, one of which we did an Advent dinner party with friends.

Family dinner and ornament shopping. Each child gets to choose one ornament each year with hopes that I can box them up one day to give them for their own family tree.

Christmas letter and picture. Usually Jason writes a letter to our friends and family to tell them what we are thankful for that year and some of our family happenings. We usually write something that has struck us anew about Christmas that year or something the Lord has put on our hearts to share with believing and non-believing friends and family alike. Also, this is the only one I completely hassle other wives into doing. You have got to "make the fridge"!!

Treat bags to neighbors. The girls help me make and put together treat bags for the neighbors and then we load up the stroller to go deliver them and say merry Christmas! Truthfully I am not the best at loving my neighbors. I am hoping to grow in my love for them and to be more about missional community.

Kids’ Christmas Craft Party! The girls have become so interested in doing activities at home, particularly crafts, and so it was easy to realize that having their friends over to share this fun with around Christmas would be the best! So we did it and I think everyone had a great time. My mom read all the kids two Christmas stories and we had a few crafts to choose from and each mom brought a plate of treats to put in the dining room so that the mom/child could make baggies for neighbors or teachers or the homeless or whoever.

Homeless Bags. It has been difficult to figure out how to get OUT of my house to serve with my difficult pregnancies as well as these days with three little ones under the age of three. It seems like it has been light years since my days of showing up to do this or that for the community. However, slowly with grace, I feel like the Lord has shown me little ways to stay missional with the poor and the community. So this year he impressed on my heart to put treats, socks, $5 McDonalds cards, and a card with 2 Corinithians 8:9 written in it. We finished them so we’re going to keep in them in our car and if we see someone, I can give it to them. *I’d like to say to other moms that with precious little ones in my car, whom have been entrusted to my watchful care, I am not intentional driving into areas that would put them into danger. I am waiting and watchful to see who the Lord puts across our paths, even if it takes weeks of errands to give them all away.

Kids nativities. We bought the girls a nativity for each of them that are kid friendly and that they can act out Christmas with. They have been their favorite toys lately.

Ladies Craft Night. Sometime prior to Christmas, I try to do a soup dinner and craft night for some ladies in my life. This year I invited the women from my community group but next year I’d like to open it up again to all women from walks of life so that I can use this for missional living to display Christ. Most women make something around Christmas, at least Christmas cards, so it’s a way to do it together and further community.

The POOR. Remembering the poor at Christmas and throughout the year sometimes seems like the most daunting choice. There are so many needs. This is why we have to listen to the One who sees all. Psalm 68:19 says, “Praise be to God, who daily bears our burdens.” If God bears all the burdens and needs, then certainly he knows best how to take care of all of them, by using the body of Christ, if we will only pay attention to how he places these burdens in front of our eyes and on our hearts. That’s a beautiful thing. This year we continue to be loving on our foster girl in Spokane. And we joined in with our community group’s desire to care for a local family through the Food Bank.

Yearly Scrapbooks. One beautiful gift of Christmas I’d like to start incorporating this time of year is a family book from the year to give glory to God for who we have become individually and as a family. Psalm 78 says, “Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth! I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old, things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but TELL TO THE COMING GENERATION the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done…(vs 6) THAT the coming generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God…”

Little mentionables...tree cutting, tree decorating, Christmas eve service, Jason and Kelly Christmas wrapping on the eve to a movie, helping kids shop for each other, etc. (More to come on a future blog about the things we don't celebrate...)

Lord may we be faithful to honor you this season, not puffing ourselves up with “goodness” or reputation or religiosity. I know my heart Lord. It is true that it is deceitful beyond all cure besides your touch. Lord, let your name and YOUR RENOWN be the desire of our hearts this beautiful Christmas season. We love you and hope with all sincerity that many will SEE you this season and glorify you with their mouths and hearts and ways. Thank you for coming Lord. It is actually amazing you did that.