Tag Archives: Christian

A Letter to the 22 year old me.

A Letter to the 22 year old me.

I wrote this a few years back, and while revisiting it this morning, I tried to think of what I would add… I have a 22 year old daughter right now, so it makes it even more of a reality than just a post of reflection.  I think I will add just a couple; 🙂

 

I’ve seen some blog posts lately that were the letters from the authors to themselves at a much younger age… The, “if I knew then, what I know now” wisdom posts.  So, to be a “follower”, and to impart some learned lessons, I thought I would have a go at it too…

At this ripe old age of 44, I can look back at myself at 22, and see a completely different person.  I’m actually amazed at the work God has done in my life thus far! If I could write a letter to myself at 22, I would say;

Dear Jennifer;

I know you feel like you have the world on your shoulders, and you can handle it.  I know that you think perfection is expected in this life of ours, and I see how you strive for it in almost everything you do. You worry too much, and care too much about things that aren’t going to last…  You clean too much, and expect too much from everyone around you.  The time spent trying to earn approval and love is in vain my friend.  So, to save you a few wrinkles, and a couple of prescriptions, I have some advice…

God loves you. Period.  He created you, and cares for you like no other.  He really is all you need – I know that sounds silly, but when you spend time with Him, you will see… All peace, comfort and joy – as well as acceptance, can be found in Him… So, open that Bible more, and get on those knees… heck, start talking to Him all the time!  HE hears you all the time and He cares… Don’t be too shocked when He answers you either – expect it.

Humans were never meant to be “your everything”… No man, woman, friend, parent or even your children were designed to fulfill you completely.  The only person that will complete you is Jesus Christ.  The sooner you grasp that, the easier the let downs and heart breaks will be.  No one is perfect, and don’t expect them to be.

Marriage isn’t about warm fuzzies and romance all the time.  It’s about commitment. It’s about remembering that the word love is a verb, not a feeling.  Your marriage can be more than warm fuzzies and romance, if you have Christ in the middle of it.  Seriously.  When you can pray with and for your spouse, it takes the marriage to a new level.  When you share the spiritual, as well as everything else – everything rocks…  When conflicts arise – and they will – take it to Christ – It’s pretty difficult to harbour resentment and anger when you hold hands before the Lord together… Really.

The Bible is relevant! Anything and everything is in there!  It really has instructions for life, from the Creator of life!  Don’t ever think you know more than the one who created you… His ways may seem restrictive sometimes, but it’s really for your own protection! You’re greatest blessings will come out of obedience… I promise.

The grass is never greener.  Just water yours and plant some flowers… Then yours will not only be greener, but it will be prettier and smell good too.

Pets are a full time commitment.  Dogs are even a bigger one…if you can’t feed them well, afford the vet or have time to walk them, don’t get one… It’s not fair to them or to you.

Don’t wait till you can afford kids to have kids.  That will NEVER happen.  When you finally have the kids, your priorities will change, and you will be amazed at how you will spend your money.

Enjoy your children when they are little! Don’t rush the walking and talking thing!  (Potty training – you can rush) Don’t hurry your babies through, and wish for them to grow up fast… I know it’s hard in the middle of the night, but try to relax and just ENJOY it.  This all will be gone in a flash – and parenting young adults is WAY harder…

You really don’t know it all.  I promise, you will be embarrassed when you get older and see how much you really didn’t know, but thought you did… Really.

Don’t drink too much.  It’s really a waste of good money and brain cells.  It doesn’t make you cooler or more popular, and it can be pretty dangerous for you, and for others.  Money is better spent on clothes, books, coffee… missions…

Life is short and no one makes it out alive … Try to think ETERNALLY.  What kind of legacy are you going to leave behind? Stop thinking you have plenty of time to do those “grown up” things… NO one is promised tomorrow.

Cherish Every Day.  Every single morning is new shot. A do over. A brand new shiny opportunity to try again.  Actually, every minute is new too.  We never get one back – time is the one fleeting thing that can’t be bought, borrowed or stored.  You have been giving this minute right now…

Everything matters.  People matter most – more than jobs, houses, entertainment, technology, sports and even shoes… When the stranger in the coffee isle starts telling you her life story, listen, because she matters.

Self control, patience and humbleness are a few of the greatest qualities you can have, so strive for those… It will bless your life, and be a blessing to others.

Wear sun block.  Just do it. Trust me.

Communication.  This is the key to all relationships. Knowing when to be quiet, or share the truth… Don’t assume someone knows your intent.  They rarely ever do, even those closest to you.  Be clear or be quiet – always.  This issue has never been more prominent than in this age of texting.  A text message doesn’t convey emotion, no matter how may emoji’s you use.

Date Intentionally.  Whether it’s intentional for marriage or for just friendship… those are the only 2 acceptable reasons.  Know someone’s spiritual identity, friends, family, temperament and goals before you even kiss… saves you from kissing too many Mr. Wrongs.  Sounds near impossible in todays culture right? Well, you were made to stand out, not blend in…

Last, but not least, Pray. Pray as often as you can.  The more comfortable you are talking to God, the easier it will be for you to hear Him answer you.

Growing up isn’t that bad.  You’re going to like it. Really.

 

What would say to the 22 year old you?

 

 

 

 

Treasure Hunting

Treasure Hunting
Treasure Hunting

church-shoppingI’ve written about this before, but have always trashed it, due to my need to be politically correct… in a public forum anyway, but the time has come, and now I write once again…

Have you ever been “between” churches?  Ya know what I mean? For whatever reason, you are without a church “home” and are in the process of visiting different churches …

We are.  It’s not fun.  It’s depressing.  Last week we visited a church, and the family behind us talked through the entire service, except during a baptism.  They didn’t even whisper.  We just leaned forward a bit and tried to focus…

Maybe you don’t know what I mean, because you are one of those super cool, laid back, secure Christians, that can go just about anywhere and be confident that you will fit right in and all will be well.  Nothing bothers you – you probably wouldn’t have had one bad thought about those people behind us…

I wish I were more like you.  I don’t understand why I can’t just find a church that keeps it simple, keeps it biblical, and keeps it focused.  A church that puts more into discipleship then the sound system, and encourages and equips parents to parent, instead of wooing the youth into a Christian, socially relevant sub culture.  A place where there is community outreach 24-7… not once a quarter, or in the summer, or just those awesome Christmas shoeboxes…  Men’s ministry should be a priority, as well as the widow, orphan and the single mom’s…  Is it too much to ask for?  Have we forgotten that the #1 way people come to Christ and to Church is because someone invited them?

The early church grew because they were loving and caring for one another. They were sharing and eating and just doing real life together.  “Sunday Christians” were not even considered Christians.  Being a Christ follower was a way of life, not a weekly event… Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?  Are we all too busy with our own lives that we can’t see what has been demonstrated for us?  So, instead of re-focusing and setting our priorities within a Christian community, we spend time and money on programs, and impressive music sets and appealing decorations and topical sermons that are more like self help seminars to draw people in…

But guess what? All of that can be found a mile down the road in another church, but authentic community, now that’s a treasure worth finding and keeping.  Really. **

The Fellowship of the Believers Acts 2:42-47

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

 

 

** Obviously, this is a deep topic, that I have given a very short post for… I do understand the complexities of community, and I also don’t expect to find a “perfect” church… but  a girl can dream, can’t she?

 

Life Scales

Life Scales

Thinking about what to post this week was difficult.  There are so many things on my heart, but I never feel lead to share them – I usually write when I feel pressed upon – or pressured, whichever comes first.

I asked my husband what I should write about and he went off on the upcoming election… I just turned around and walked away.  I asked my college kid, and she said, “Broke college kids”… I said, no, so she said I should write about, “The increase of younger people getting married”… I responded, that I didn’t really know anyone that has done that recently.  So, then she told me to write about prostitution.  Really?  I then got a text from her, informing me that I was the blogger and I should figure it out myself.  My youngest son, in his obvious humbleness, told me to write about how wonderful he is….  I’m not going to ask anyone else.  I’m realizing that it probably wasn’t a good idea to ask them in the first place.

So, I figured it out on my own and here it is…

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my life “scales”.  One side being worldly, responsibilities, hobbies, entertainment, etc., and the other side, kingdom work.  Now, don’t go jumping on the “covered by grace” train, I know I can’t earn my salvation, (Eph 2:8) but I am called to participate in the work of the kingdom.  Wearing the Jesus Team jersey comes with responsibility.  (Rom 12) The reasoning for the work can’t be driven by the belief that your salvation depends on it.  It’s supposed to driven by the Spirit that you have dwelling within you, and your gratitude for salvation – and the love you have for your Savior.

I used a marriage as an example when I explained it to my kids.  If you marry someone, (enter into a covenant relationship) and you never spend time getting to know them better, (reading the Word) or doing anything they asked you to, (kingdom work), or even talked to them all the time, (praying), how good would that marriage be?  Makes sense, right?

Reading the Word isn’t as hard as it used to be.  I look forward to it.  I can’t describe the peace it has brought into my life…  Praying without ceasing (1 Thes. 5:17) has always been easy…If you know me, this shouldn’t be a surprise.  Sometimes I feel like that verse was put in there just for me, “Sure God! I will talk to you ALLL day!” I so got that one.

It’s the kingdom work that I stumble on.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to serve. But it’s more like, depending on my mood, or the need, time, location, energy level, schedule,  is it in my “gifting”?  Do I do it for the glory or for God’s glory?

I do believe that running our company with Christian values makes a difference.  Serving in our local body of believers is very important, (Rom 12) and just being pleasant, does shine a light for the most part. (especially while driving in the Atlanta area) I even try to scatter seeds by mentioning my faith often, and I offer to pray for those that seem to need it.  But do I do what Christ himself as asked me to do?  (Matt 28:18-20) Have I shared the gospel lately or served when it wasn’t so easy?  Ah… No.

It’s the going out and sharing the reason for my hope that trips me up.  It’s stepping out of the boat, when it’s not convenient, or easy, and maybe it’s even a little scary…But that’s when God will get the glory, because you couldn’t have done it without him.

We told our youngest son that he couldn’t have a fantasy sports team this week, because his scales were already too “sports heavy”.  You might think we’re mean, or too strict, but we are trying to teach him to manage his time wisely, and to be aware of the delicate balance of it.  As a young Christian man, he has the same responsibilities that I do in the Kingdom.  

We are never given a redo of time.  We will not wake up on Ground Hog Day, over and over again.  But even though days have passed, God, through His grace, gives us brand new ones.  With each tick of the clock, and breath in our lungs, we can adjust our scales (Pro 16:11) as often as we need to.  I’m putting sharing the gospel back on mine.

Do you know that Christ loves you so much that he died for you?

How do you make sharing the gospel a regular practice in your life?

Old Habits Die Hard

Old Habits Die Hard


Today I had an OCD day squared.  I haven’t had one of those in a long time.  My day consisted of paying both company and personal bills, going to the bank, getting my car serviced, taking one son to baseball practice, and lunching with another.  Then I vacuumed my house, dusted, windexed, straightened, mopped, did all the laundry, shopped, and cooked.

I call that an OCD day because I was totally anal about all of it.  My ADD kicked in as I flitted from task to task and even re-did a few things that needed it. (in my mind, anyway)  I really got a lot done.  Now I’m all tucked in my corner of the sofa with my laptop and remote control, waiting for Alcatraz to start.  I was reflecting on my day, and I am surprised at how obsessively productive I was, since I haven’t had such a full day like this in a long time…

I used to be intense about lots of things.  I guess you could say I was tightly wound, and had strong ideas and routines for everything.  I spent hours cleaning grout and hanging baby clothes on tiny hangers… I had to have the lines just right in the carpet when I vacuumed.  Everything had to have a box, or place… with a label.  Disorder and conflict were strictly forbidden.  Everyone thought my house was beautiful and clean. I had schedules, charts and lists.  It was a great front.  I worked so hard on things I had control over, because I couldn’t control so many other things that weren’t as obvious.  The insecurities were overwhelming but the appearance was close to perfect.

Those days are long gone, as I have submitted to the authority who really has control over everything.  It was an easy,
spiritual, and emotional experience to accept the One who has saved my soul, but letting go of the “control” that I thought I had, or didn’t have, is a different story.  It is a slow, painful development, which continues today.  Sometimes it’s hard to remember that this whole Christian walk is a process.  Thank God.

So how does that translate into a clean house?  I was productive, after all.  I guess it just reminded me of how psycho I used to be.  Have I regressed into my insecurities? Sure! Every now and then!  But now, instead of dwelling, stressing, and dusting 3 times, I say a prayer, praise my Lord and I let it go.  And it works…Really.

Do any of your old habits ever rear their heads in your new life?  What do you do?

An Award

An Award

The other day I was nominated for the Liebster Blog Award.  I was very surprised, and blessed… Thank you Thriving Despite Us.  Part of the deal with this award is that I too, need to nominate 5 blogs that have 200 followers or less.  Well, all of the blogs I follow have more than that.    Sooo… I had to head to my blog server’s “freshly pressed” and start reading blogs that looked …little.   What a good time that was!  I am now a follower of a few new blogs and am all the better for it.  My quest is not over, but this one I read caused me to pause and I wanted to mention it…

One of the blogs had a post about the, “er-beauty of peacocks”.  They are beautiful, but their sound is not.  The post was sweet and simple, and connected to faith.  You can read it yourself here.  It got me thinking about my sound.  It’s not that beautiful either… It’s one of the few things I have left to embarrass my kids.  Once, a few years back, they even asked me to stop singing so loud in church!  Which also got me thinking.  Because I did stop singing.  I stopped singing in Church, at least loudly, because I didn’t want to offend anyone, or more to the point, I didn’t want anyone thinking I sounded bad.  Which made me think about how often we conform to the patterns of this world, because we’re worried what people will think?  (Rom 12:2) We never mind showing our beautiful feathers, which are, by all intent and purposes, our appearance.  What we sound like when we sing? Well, that’s personal.  That’s not something we do for everyone.  Especially if we stink.  How does that correlate? I was thinking…again,  I don’t share the most beautiful thing I got going for me very often.  It’s not my feathers, although I do have a decent wardrobe.  It’s not my voice, as I’ve already shared, I’m doing everyone a favor…  It’s my faith.  It’s my knowledge of Grace and the Spirit that changed my life.  It’s the most beautiful thing about me.  That’s the reason I wake each morning and smile.  I praise the Lord who made me at the beginning of everyday He gives me.  Some mornings I even sing… Really.

Reading some of those blogs reminded me of that and I’m glad.  I needed it.

I still have not found 5 little blogs to nominate, but I will still acknowledge this wonderful award, and start with nominating HearingnSeeing… thank you for making me think.

 I’m still looking, so, If you know of a blog that’s worthy of an award that gives happy little blogs some recognition, tell me about it, so I can check it out!  And if you happen to see me in Church, don’t sit in front of me…cause I’m over that not singing thing…

Psalm 98

Sing a new song to the LORD,
for he has done wonderful deeds.
His right hand has won a mighty victory;
his holy arm has shown his saving power!
2 The LORD has announced his victory
and has revealed his righteousness to every nation!
3 He has remembered his promise to love and be faithful to Israel.
The ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.

4 Shout to the LORD, all the earth;
break out in praise and sing for joy!
5 Sing your praise to the LORD with the harp,
with the harp and melodious song,
6 with trumpets and the sound of the ram’s horn.
Make a joyful symphony before the LORD, the King!

7 Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise!
Let the earth and all living things join in.
8 Let the rivers clap their hands in glee!
Let the hills sing out their songs of joy
9 before the LORD.
For the LORD is coming to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with justice,
and the nations with fairness.

I’ve Done Some Reading…

I’ve Done Some Reading…

I have had a herniated disc.  It’s really painful and no fun at all, and I’ve spent over 2 weeks laying down.  One of the things I could do while suffering is read. You would think I could have blogged, but the discomfort and bad attitude messed with my flow… The pain meds might have been part of the problem too…  So, I read.  After finishing 6 books in about 6 weeks, I thought I would do a mini book review blog and see how it goes…

I spent the end of November and beginning of December devouring Ted Dekker Circle series.  Black, Red, White and finally to my frustration, Green.  I really enjoyed the characters and the descriptions of every detail.  The contrast between two realities, and the allegory of good and evil in the world and in our hearts, held my attention through all 4 books…

The intensity was hard on me at times, and I found myself thinking about the story line even when I was not reading.  I hadn’t done that with a series since I read the Hunger Games trilogy. (yes, I read it… and I read the Twilight series too..) Mr. Dekker made a valiant execution in making the books come full circle, and I can see the connection, but it didn’t ease my mind.  Coming to the end of Green and thinking that the cycle would repeat, left me with a sadness for the main character.  Bummer.  Besides the frustration of the actual circle of the series, I did find it well written, engaging, exciting and seriously thought provoking.  I was left with some unanswered questions, but it was definitely worth the hours it took me to read.  I do highly recommend this series.  I enjoyed it so much, I went and purchased the “younger generation” set and plan to read it soon as well…

The next book is one many have read.  My daughter recommended it, so how could I not  pick up this small, easy to read book called The Alchemist.  I was almost disturbed by the simplicity of it, yet it was as deep a book as any self-help book you could ever find.  I was completely caught up in The Boy’s quest, and taken in by his adventures.  I was truly surprised at the ending, and it make me smile so big, my husband asked me what was going on.  I loved it.  It was one of those books, that makes you think and then…smile.  I personally think everyone should read it, and with it being so short and simple, there is no excuse not to.  Trust me.  Really.

The last book I read is The Last Sin Eater, by Francine Rivers.  This book also falls within the allegory category.  I’ve always been a huge Rivers fan, ever since I read Redeeming Love and A Lineage of Grace.  Both of those were life changing and are on my all time favorite list…My personal belief is that everyone should read those too… but I digress… The Last Sin Eater is an engaging tale of a young girl named Cadi,  in a southern settlement, around the mid 1850’s.  The settlement in which she lives has taken on the practices of their Scottish fore-fathers, and has assigned a “sin eater” to take the sins of someone when they died.  The story is also loosely based on Leviticus 16:8-10.  It was another engaging story from Rivers, although I did not love it as much as the other two I mentioned.  Maybe it’s just me, but I did have a hard time putting this one down as well.  Rivers does a fabulous job getting you to start the next chapter, which got me through this book in just a couple of days.  The story was sweet, and thought provoking, and even a little intense at times.  This book does carry the Gold Medallion Award for good reason.  Another winner from Mrs. Rivers, just not a #1 for me.

So there you have it.  If you are planning on reading any of the books I have mentioned, I would start with Redeeming Love… which I didn’t even tell you about.  Really.

Here is my reading list from 2011; (If you would like a more in depth opinion on any of them, just ask!)

  • The Power of a Praying Parent Stormie Omartian(I read this all the time, because I’m a mom, and all mom’s need to read this all the time…)
  • Heaven is for Real, Ted Burpo (enjoyable – I was already a Believer)
  • Mocking Jay, Suzanne Collins (loved it – but a little too disturbing at times..I did read the series as well)
  • Weird, Craig Groeschel (awesome – although it was freakily like something I would write)
  • Crazy Love, Francis Chan (this was a re-read…cause it’s worth it)
  • Ordering Your Private World, Gordon MacDonald (another re-read…happy sigh)
  • Already Gone, Ken Ham & Britt Beemer (Wow. Just Wow.)
  • Hearts & Minds, Kenneth Boa & John Alan Turner (hard to finish…)
  • Same Kind of Different As Me, Ron Hall & Denver Moore (a hard start, but worth finishing for sure)
  • Captured by Grace, David Jeremiah (LOVE…5 stars)
  • In An Instant, Lee & Bob Woodruff (enjoyable..)
  • Lord, Change my Attitude, James MacDonald (another re-read – 5 Star – everyone who is breathing should be reading this one)
  • How Good is Good Enough? Andy Stanley (worth it)
  • The Short Life of Bree Tanner, Stephenie Meyer (yea, I read it.  Wanna make somethin of it?  Oh, and I liked it…)
  • Ashamed of the Gospel, John MacArthur (Very good, but sometimes redundant)
  • The Reason for God, Timothy Keller (Thought provoking – 5 stars)
  • The Jesus You Can’t Ignore, John MacArthur (awesome.)
  • Just Do Something, Kevin DeYoung (very good)

I also participated in a few group  studies –

  • R12 (Romans 12)- Chip Ingram
  • When Godly People Do Un-Godly Things, Beth Moore
  • The Book of Mark – Navpress – The Navigators

All 3 are 5 star studies and I highly recommend all of them…

Did you read something amazing in 2011? Tell me!! 🙂  Happy new year and happy reading!

Africa…Really?

Africa…Really?

My college student, and only daughter, will not be coming home this summer.   She has applied, and has been accepted, into a program through Adventures in Missions.  She will leave the first of June, for a 2-month mission trip in Swaziland, Africa.  Really…

My kids are all service oriented, and have experienced missions on local and national levels, and one of them has served in Mexico for 2 weeks… but none have ever traveled so far and for so long.  It is giving new meaning to “letting go” for me.   I thought sending her to a dorm was hard!  I think my, “Top Ten Ways You Know You Have a Child Going to College” list applies here for the most part… just substitute “college” for “Africa”, although I would add just a few…You know you have a kid going to Africa when…

  1. You dream of fund raising techniques …
  2. You spend excessive amounts of time googling common illnesses of the region. (not recommended)
  3. You get your own passport…just in case.
  4. Praying for safety has taken on a whole new meaning.
  5. You have mixed emotions of pride, humbleness, fear, and faith churning in your heart.

We have had a few folks ask why?  Why Africa?  There is so much need right here!  Spending lots of money and time to travel to a place that has no hope seems crazy!  The governments are never going to allow for real change, so why bother?  Well, that’s all true, but the people suffering in those places with no hope are still people.  One person can make a difference.  One life can be changed and we believe that one life is worth it.  Our faith tells us that Christ instructed his followers to take His message to the ends of the earth, even to the places that seem hopeless.  So, those that are called, go… My daughter has been called, and wild horses couldn’t stop her.

I share this with you for a few reasons; first, I covet your prayers.  For her, and those she will be ministering to…  Then, for her step-dad, and me, but especially for her father.  He carries enough worry for everyone.  Secondly, I want to share this experience with you, because that’s what good bloggers do… and last, but not least, I want to give you the opportunity to support her financially. (Refer to item 1 of my list)

You can click here to donate through Adventures in Missions.  She is going on the “Passport” mission and be sure to put Katie Moberly in the “Participant Full Name” space.

If you would like to know more about her, before you support her, here is her story in her own words…

Dear Family and Friends,

I hope you are all doing well.

 I am writing you this letter to share what has been going on in my life, and the new adventure that God has laid before me.

 Many of you know, two summers ago I went a mission trip to Charlotte, NC. I had several opportunities that summer to travel abroad, in which I was most excited, but as the time came for me to make my decision, I prayed that God would show me where He wanted me to go that summer and my friend invited me to spend a month in North Carolina. My heart was in Africa, so I wasn’t even worried about going to NC but God works in mysterious ways, and all of the doors leading me abroad shut, right in my face. So Charlotte was where I went. And that summer was the one that changed my life.

 Walking along side the children I helped there made me realize my passion is in showing the unloved, that they are loved, and not only by me, but by the Creator.

Now, I have started my first year in college and have been given the opportunity to, once again, go to Africa, and more specifically Swaziland.  And this time, the Lord as opened the door wider than ever. An organization called Adventures in Missions has welcomed me on a team traveling to South Africa, to help in an orphanage this summer for the months of June and July.

 I applied for the program, had an interview, was accepted, paid my commitment fee, and now I am in need of your help.

 First and foremost, your support in prayers is what I desire the most, but I am also in need of a little financial help. The total cost of my trip is $4,985. If you would like to support me, you can make a tax-deductible donation through the mail at: Adventures In Missions, PO Box 534470, Atlanta, GA  30353-447 and be sure put my name in the memo.               

 Thank you so much for your support, and I’m really excited to bring you along this new journey I’m stepping into!

 Swaziland Bound,

Katie Moberly

Acts 1:8

8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (NIV)

Have you had a child go off to Africa?  How did you do?

Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays?

Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays?

This seems to be an on going debate this time of year.   I’m a Merry Christmas person, because I am a Christian. This is the time of year designated for the celebration of the birth of Christ… for Christians.  But it wasn’t always that way…

Christmas, in it’s earliest days, was many different things.  It was a celebration of longer days for the Europeans, most commonly called the winter solstice.  It was a perfect time to celebrate  in Scandinavia because most cattle were slaughtered, so they would not have to be fed through the winter.  Folks had plenty of meat and, in addition, most wine and beer made during the year was finally ready for drinking.   The Germans were busy honoring their pagan god, Oden, during this time of year, huddling inside their homes in fear.  In Rome, a holiday called Saturnalla, in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture was underway.  They kept busy for a month with eating, drinking and turning the Roman social order upside down.  During this time they also celebrated Juvenalia, a feast honoring the children of Rome, as well as the birth of Mithra, the god of the unconquerable sun.

As far as Christianity had been concerned, the main holiday was Easter. Period.  It wasn’t until the 4th century that the church decided to celebrate the birth of Christ.  Even though it is most likely that Christ was born in the spring, Pope Julius I chose December 25th and it was first called the Feast of the Nativity.

By the middle ages, Christmas celebrations were primarily drunken, carnival-like parties, much like Mardi Gras.  Finally, by the 17th century, religious reform moved in and changed the celebration drastically… temporarily.  It was even cancelled for a time.

With the beginning of America, in 1620, Christmas was boycotted once again.  It had gotten so bad, that the holiday was actually outlawed in Boston from 1659-1681.  Then in 1828, NYC police responded to the first Christmas riot, which many think was the catalyst to reform of the celebration.  It wasn’t declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870.  Over the next hundred years, Americans constructed their own Christmas traditions.  It was built with bits and pieces of many other customs from many different cultures and time periods.

The bottom line is this; Christmas is an invented holiday, that means many different things to many different people.  For the Christian, it is the chosen day to celebrate the birth of our Savior, as the story is told in the Holy Scriptures.  For the Hebrew, it is Hanukkah. For the pagan, it’s the winter solstice.  Greek and Russian cultures are celebrating the Epiphany or Three Kings Day, which is the day they believe the wise men found the manger.  There are many other types of celebrations all around the globe… and around your neighborhood.

If Christians really want to keep Christ in Christmas, I think we should stop worrying about the well wishes of others and look at ourselves.  Instead of rushing the stores at 3AM with ill intent to the person snatching the last Elmo, lets visibly practice patience, kindness, self control and gentleness.  Instead of stressing through long to-do lists, let’s count every minute as a gift from God, and visibly demonstrate peace and joy.  Giving should be 365 days a year, not just though the holidays.  We should be donating clothes, food, and gifts frequently.  Let’s invite friends, family, and neighbors, to dinner regularly.  Send cookies to people just for fun a few times a year.  Tip your service people well – all the time, whether they are good or not.  Seriously.

The Word says,  “All the believers were together and had everything in common.  They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:44-47

The Lord added to their numbers because of how they lived, which was different than everyone else.  Being mad and offended is not being different.  Being stressed and rushed and consumed with shopping and decorations, is not different.  Christian’s can keep Christ in Christmas by being different – Galatians 5:22-23… Against such things there is no law…

Whatever your traditions are, stop worrying about what others are doing and saying and be at peace this holiday season… that is something I think we can all agree on.  Really.

So, how do you celebrate on December 25th?

Merry Christmas.

 

TV…What’s on Yours?

TV…What’s on Yours?

So. We are sitting here, again, watching a little television as a family.  This is an activity that is not as easy as it used to be.

We have a security block on our televisions.  If a show is rated “M”, we have to enter a code to see it.  We never had to enter it before 10PM, but now, at 8PM most shows are blocked.  What do you do with a 13 year old in the house – or younger?  You end up watching PBS, History or Disney Channel.

Tonight, we are watching a show called, So Random on Disney.  It seems to be a kid version of SNL.  It used to be a really funny show, called, Sonny with a Chance, until the star of that show went to rehab for some destructive behavior.  She is doing better now, and is pursuing a musical career. I miss her. Really.

Even Disney is not always family friendly anymore.  Now there’s even a show called My Babysitter is a Vampire.  It’s ridiculous.  Just about every show on Disney highlights stupid parents, really smart and good-looking kids, who are all dating, or consumed with the opposite sex.  Our family favorite is Good Luck Charlie.  The kids are usually lying about something, and the parents usually let them get away with it.  The mom always makes me laugh though and Charlie is adorable.  I do think about the kids that watch television  without any parental filters.  My prayer is that most parents are pro-active with their kids viewing habits.

Television is a hard call for Christian families these days.  We know that culture is wrong on so many levels.  We know that television is a huge influence on culture – and on people in general.  So what do you do?  Do you watch shows or movies that promote everything you know is wrong – biblically?  Man, it’s hard.

So, we just do our best.  We stay in God’s Word, and actually go days without even turning on the television. We have the “block” and we have a Clearplay DVD player. (www.clearplay.com) We discuss stuff that we do watch, and will compare culture with scripture when we need to. We do miss most of the popular shows and movies, which is sometimes frustrating.

There is a story I heard once, a long time ago, that goes like this:

Some kids came to their parents and asked if they could watch a movie that many of their friends had seen.  The kids said that it was not all bad, with only a little bit of profanity.  The parents said they would think about it and discuss it again the next day.  The next day came, and the parents set the kids down at the table in front of a big plate of brownies.  The kids were thrilled, and went to grab one.  The parents said, “wait, let us tell you what is in the brownies first”.  The parents then told the kids that the brownies were made with the best ingredients, and they even went and gathered some dog poop from the back yard and put in just a little bit for extra flavor.  They told the kids if they were OK with that, and could eat the brownies, then they could go to the movie.

Isn’t that the way it is?  The sad part about that story is that we have all been eating the brownies for so long, we don’t notice the poop and we don’t even care.

We are not a perfect family.  We have a hard time with the “Be in the world, not of the world” teaching from scripture.  So much so, we have an ongoing debate in our house.  I like to think that too much sports viewing is worse then TLC’s Sister Wives or Toddler’s & Tiaras.  My husband and son’s disagree. Either way, it’s all brain candy – and too much candy is not good for us, but it’s hard to resist.

So, what do you watch, with or without guilt?  How do you live out being “in” and not “of”?  I’ll let you think about that, while I go watch Sister Wives.  Really. Pray for me.

Yep… still a home school mom… Part 2

Yep… still a home school mom… Part 2

I started home schooling out of desperation, but I have continued out of conviction.

Right before I took my 7th grader out of public school all those years ago,  I had been substituting at a couple of middle schools.  My experiences in those schools were not pleasant. Things had changed drastically since my days of puberty, and it was not for the better.

I home-school because I want my son to learn without distraction.  I want his ears to be  sensitive to profanity and his heart to be soft to injustice.  I want to teach him that it’s God’s Word that matters most, not the most popular kids word…I want my son to know that God is in every single thing in his life, and it’s his very ability to learn that comes from Him.

I home school because I believe that all children deserve to learn in the way they were created and at the pace that their brains can keep up with.  I don’t teach to a test, and we don’t move on until there’s complete understanding.  The time will come soon enough when meeting the status quo will matter, but it’s not in adolescence.

I have learned that when you teach to a child’s heart, knowledge and understanding will follow.  Grades are just a way to see what we still need to learn.  They are not the defining mark of any child.  Their character is.

I have totally selfish reasons for home-schooling as well.  I love the schedule of it.  I love planning activities with my son, and going on field trips.  I love implementing life responsibilities in our education, and I just love being a part of the whole process… We rarely run out of time for the things that matter, because it all matters.

I believe that the public school systems do have the children’s best interest at heart.  I also believe, unfortunately, that their interest can only be diluted when you have the increased population in the classroom, and the varying, ever changing, opinions of those in control.  It is a government entity that has taken too big of an influence in our lives, in places where it has no business.

I choose to home school.  I take it seriously.  I don’t judge you if you choose not to, but I do admonish you to talk to your child about their day at school.  I implore you to be pro-active with your child’s studies. Get to know your child’s teacher.  They would probably appreciate your support!  Know what they are learning and be involved.   It’s your right as a parent.  You are your child’s best advocate, and their character development is up to you.

When all is said and done, and the diploma is hanging on the wall, the adult that your child becomes is really up to them.  We can only do what we can.  As I have said before…faith, hope, love and prayer will always be yours long after control and influence have expired.  Take comfort in those and know that God loves your kids more than you do. Really.