Seen & Heard: Bad Christians

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This Christmas has been an odd one for us. We haven’t broken out an advent book, haven’t lit a candle. We set up a tree in our living room, threw a bunch of ornaments on it, discussed at great lengths what star to put on top and called it Christmas. There have been no trips to look at lights, or to any festive places.

I suppose we aren’t very christiany Christians.  Certainly a pastor and his family must live more spiritually than this?

Last night, the kids and I watched Bedtime Stories. Tony asked how it was later in the evening. I told him it had crude humor, “You know, so that’s always funny.” I rolled my eyes as I said it, remembering the reason I didn’t let the kids see this movie in the theaters.  He asked, “Were there a lot of people slipping and falling down like Home Alone?”  “No. There was a guy named Butt-kiss. They loved that.”  We don’t do this.  There are countless children’s movies my kids have not seen. Last night, they watched Bedtime Stories. There. I said it.

I think they’re going to be ok. I really, really do.

We haven’t done anything Christmasy and we’re watching movies with crude humor. Great.

My friend asked me about children’s bibles yesterday, what’s on your bookshelf? We’ve read all of ours. Umm… The Action Bible? We had the Lego bible but it talks about rape and kids way to young were asking about that so we put that away. We have children’s books on Augustine and great leaders of the faith… surely that counts for something?

I used to be so strict, so careful. I haven’t lost that, but now that I’m the ripe old age of 33, I’ve loosened up a bit. You know how the babies in the family are always allowed to do more than everyone else ever was? Yeah, I think we’re there. I don’t plan on watching more crude humor, but if my 3 year old says Santa is bringing her a candy, I don’t sit her down and give her a good talking to.  She plays with Barbies. I know, it’s wild around here.

There hasn’t been a strong feeling of Christmas cheer, but there’s been something else. There’s been a distinct feel of family, relationship, connection.  We’ve had friends and family in, we’ve talked, laughed, shared life together. My friend showed up at my door the other day and a few days later, I sat down in her kitchen. We laughed, we talked, we shared hardships. The other night, I had the opportunity to go out for dessert with a group of women very special to me. Another group of believers talked and guided me through a difficult test in my life. The kids, all of them, have been hanging out together. Meeting each other in the halls, in bedrooms, on swingsets and spending time together.  There’s been laughing. Lots of laughing.

I had the opportunity to sit down to talk for 2 hours with my 14 year old the other night.  He just kept talking, sharing his heart, his dreams. I just kept staring straight into his eyes, asking questions, smiling, laughing.  What’s more merry than that?

We’ve been praying for people. People who are visiting our home, people we hear about, people we care about.

We actually filled up an Operation Christmas Child box this year! Two of them! That is an accomplishment for this family! 🙂

That’s 13 days of real life in December in our household, it’s not much, but God is here, alive and moving among us.

Happy Friday!  or Merry Christmas if that makes you feel better! 🙂

Celebrating Christmas in Books

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I know I’ve written about books recently, but I just love them.  I’m not supposed to be using this arm and typing, but I can’t stay out of the game of life forever.

I’m gearing up for Christmas and that means checking out our Christmas Book Basket.  We like to spend time each day, as often as we can in December, reading from a selection of good books. I think it’s a great way to keep the season focused on the right things and a great way to disciple our children. Have you discovered that yet? Things that can’t be retained through teaching and lectures can be gently formed in minds by reading a book. Don’t overlook this powerful tool in the lives of those around you.

Here are some books I’m looking at for this season, as well as some that we already have and love.  I wish Amazon (or anyone) would cooperate and allow me to show book covers here, but they do not. So, I’ve linked to them on Amazon for your convenience below and also made a page on Goodreads.

Considering this Year:

The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas: I’ll be reading through this book in the month of December.

The Women of Christmas: Experience the Season Afresh with Elizabeth, Mary, and Anna: Ann Voskamp recommended this one, we shall see if I buy it.

The Christmas Thingamabob: Looks like an easy read, written by Mark Dever so it should be quality content.

A Better December: This is what caught my eye about this one: “A Better December is an ideal gift book for non-Christian friends and neighbors with a gradual, non-threatening introduction to the gospel.” That could be taken for good or bad.  Great to have a gospel gift to give to unbelievers, although I’m not always concerned about the gospel being non-threatening. What is more threatening than hell fire? This one will take some looking into.

Why Christmas? – We have the Why Easter? book in this series. This one is $1.99 in Kindle format!

Family Books

Christmas Tapestry: My good friend Linda gave us this book last year and we LOVED it. Read it more than once and made sure Dad read it too. Great book!

Jotham’s Journey: A Storybook for Advent,Bartholomew’s Passage: A Family Story for Advent,Tabitha’s Travels: A Family Story for Advent: We love all of these, we’ve yet to finish any of them, but they are a family favorite every year. We like to read this right before bed in December. We light candles, read a chapter and the kids take turns each night lighting and blowing out the candles and praying for the family.

Elementary Books

Silent Night: The Song and Its Story

A Christmas Carol (picture book edition): This is a beautiful copy of this story, that we really enjoyed.

Mortimer’s Christmas Manger: Bright and cheery, we had fun with this one!

Books for Olders

Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas A daily advent reading that my Jr. Highers read through last year. This would be good for any adult too.

C Is for Christmas: The History, Personalities, and Meaning of Christ’s Birth: Great informative book on various topics of Christmas, kind of like a Christmas dictionary.

The Battle for Christmas (Vintage): This one also discusses various Christmas traditions, more history book than dictionary. Go to Goodreads with this one, it’s an interesting read about the puritans, but some didn’t make it to the end. 🙂

A Christmas Carol: A classic!

I’m sure there will be many more when I pull out all of our Christmas stuff, but this is enough to get planning. Josiah had a big chest that said Merry Christmas on it last night at Hobby Lobby, he wanted to buy and I said what for? 🙂 This might be just the thing.

Do tell me, PLEASE, what books your family enjoys at Christmas?

Remember the Reason for the Season

Remember the reason for the season
That’s what they tell me
So, I’ve been thinking hard – about the season

This season – It now begins on an October day
Revs up on black Friday
Comes with a flurry every December Day
This holiday – that is somehow supposed to transform into a Holy – day

You see, I’ve been mulling over this baby come down
Why have Jesus come as a baby anyway?
It seems such a simple way
Christmas doesn’t strike me like Resurrection Day
You’re a scrooge you might say

Another thing that makes me wonder about this season – And it’s reason,
Is Life.
Life isn’t a respecter of seasons
I’ve attended birthday parties and spoken at a funeral.
I’ve prayed for hurting, aching people
And cried tears of joy at a wedding
-All – in this season

Is this birth an event?
A reason to have a season?
or is this birth a means to an end?
Why send him to the womb if he fate was a tomb?

My mind can accept that propitiation for our sins before a holy God
Requires Jesus to be fully man
Yes, my mind and my head can nod,
but my heart still wonders, if there’s a deeper plan

The mama in me,
Longs to hold this savior child close
To feel his soft skin
To look into the depths of his glassy eyes
Eyes – that have seen the depths of my sin and yet never despise.
To hold his delicate hand
A hand that will bear scars for me and still care to reach out to me.
To smell tiny feet
Feet that will one day be pierced through for me – And for you.
To put my hand on his side and snuggle him close – A side that holds me close, even when I doubt.

As I think of the first season
Mary and her encounter
Joseph decided not to discount her
Mary all pregnant with the Son of God
Stuck in a barn,
Wallowing in the sod
The pain of the labor,
As heaven comes forth from her.
The wise men coming and throwing them selves down
Bearing gifts, before they all rush out of town

Maybe this season isn’t so hard to understand
It reminds me
That I have a God who understands man
And knows what December is all about
And has a plan
To mend hearts and heal pain
To bring light to this dark world
God’s son,
Grace come down, wrapped plain
Soft and tender, not yet slain

As we humble ourselves before this This tiny baby so frail and small
Let us remember the reason for this season
Jesus – God’s Love, sent in humility to save us all

Merry Christmas

(December 2011)

Imagine the Wonder

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A thought that astounded me today is the thought of shepherds, grown outdoors men, visiting baby Jesus.  A baby holds wonder and joy and heartwarming, but this was different. I don’t think this was a cooing, oohing and ahhing about his tiny size or cuteness.  This baby, this small, God come down to earth child, held so much promise, so much history, prophecy fulfilled,  Love come down, life changing, worship changing, freedom bringing, LIGHT OF THE WORLD. From the scriptures, it almost seems that these shepherds are going out of curiosity:

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”(Luke 2:15 ESV)

Whatever their motives or even knowledge of exactly what they were witnessing, just imagine the breath taking feeling of knowing that you are in the presence of God almighty, in the flesh. That you, you of all people on earth, in time, were given the opportunity to see him, to touch him, to wonder at him.

Imagine that.

I imagine tears.

Astonishment.

Waving of arms and eyes to heaven in thanksgiving.

Murmured prayers.

Bowing of heads, hearts and bodies before him.

The bible says they went away from that place “glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen.”

May we also come to this Christmas season of celebration glorifying and praising Him. Speaking to others what we have seen and heard. Proclaiming this gift come down.

Jesus, what a wonder you are!