star of wonder

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The boys wanted to do something different this year and I thought to myself, “Well why the heck not?”  The first year we moved here I found a Rudolph train to be running around the tree for them on Christmas morning.  To my delight they loved the train, and while we were putting up our tree this year, they asked if we could set the train up now.  Is there not plenty of delayed gratification here for all of us?

God truly does provide joy for us in the now.  I know we don’t always feel it, and I’m not saying if you’re not feeling it then you better figure out some way to find joy.  So many times I think joy finds us.  He shows up the next morning after a night of feeling sad.  He shows up in the Toys ‘R Us train with a home.  He shows up in the hungry cats looking for food.  I’m certain there’s a Christian world version of fairy dust.

I remember one time my grandma and I were talking on the phone about happy things that had happened in our days.  I must have been sounding like this was some strange and random wild sequence of events, for she exclaimed, in what felt like a fountain of joy out of nowhere, “Oh Honey, let’s give God the credit!”  My dad scolded me once for the very same thing.  “Why do you keep saying that it all “just happened”?

I’m not trying to compare my parenting to God (HA!), but just for a minute, you can think about all the ways God answers prayers, in the “yes” the “no” the silence and “not yet”.  But then how many times,  when God was creating the world for mankind, did He laugh out loud at the thought of a whale, or a star, and then think to himself,

“Well, why the heck not?”

None of this has yet a thing to do with Jesus.

Jesus, boundless love, I do not wish to leave you out.  For what greater gift has there ever been than You?  Every whale depicts your greatness, every star declares your glory. You were daily the delight of Your Father, the bitter and sweet piercing sword of Your mother. What joy did you see when You came to the earth? Who’s face did You seek when You carried the cross? In what language did the Bethlehem star hear Your voice?

the old way

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Something in the old way isn’t working anymore.

There is too much pain, too much grief in my heart.

I’ve been running too long on the faith-fumes of elders, and I’m in this strange place of trying to refigure where it is I stand, on what it means to be a woman, on what it means to be a wife, to be a mother, to be a Christian when he says “to live is Christ”.

There’s a guy named Derek Webb.  He used to be in a Christian band.  He’s an atheist now, divorced from his wife.  I read his words, the ones he claims are the truest and free. It doesn’t sound like the old him at all.  He sounds like a new man who no longer lives, but might yet hope to live again.

The time for grief is over he says.  I get it. You can’t remain in the sadness forever. But how did Christianity wound us so badly? Who’s fault is it we missed what it meant? No sex before marriage. No divorce once you’re married. Go and let your light shine before men.  This is nowhere near the point of what it means to be a Christian.

The spirit of the age out there wants us to spill, but there still remains a right and a wrong way to speak.  There’s not a clearer writer in the Bible than Paul. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is wholesome in building others up, according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

There’s a deep and gnarled cynicism threatening my heart, like a vampire poised to sink his teeth into my neck.  Every tear is like a poison to my faith, and yet, AND YET, how much greater then the HOPE when I hear the words of glory, “He will wipe away EVERY tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death, or mourning, or crying, or pain.”

Rejoice, dear friends.

The former things are passing on.

a little Christmas

“Nothing lasts forever”, I said to my grandma.

I wasn’t even thinking about Mary and Joseph or the first little Christmas there under the star.  There existed no animosity between us, only pondering of lifetimes, changes and truths. The words we exchanged found a soft place to land, and it seemed like my point had in breaths been well-taken.  Grandma waited for a moment, and then she made hers.

“Salvation does”.

turn your eyes

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It hardly feels like Advent here, and I find myself annoyed with all the tender reflections. I remember reading a blogger once, one who tends to be tenderly reflectional, and he said he could not bear to read one more meaningful paragraph of introspection.

I don’t want to know why my soul has been hurting, why negative thoughts have been creeping in slow.  The reasons are endless and pain has no answers. It doesn’t need to be this way-or that is what I tell myself.  I don’t want to feel this.  I don’t want to be this.

The kids and I read from Luke 5 today.  There were five sections, so I had each child narrate back to me a story.  After Jesus healed a paralytic and called Simon and friends to be fishers of men, I had them take out their journals and meditate on this sentence:

“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”
~Luke 5:16~

I imagine Jesus sitting in a desert on a rock.  Crowds had been coming to hear Jesus teach and find healing for their sicknesses.  People use verses like this as examples how even Jesus Himself practiced “self-care”.  Some people have adverse reactions to this term.

It’s never really bothered me.  I think “self-care” is really just the concept of a “sabbath”. God gives people the gift of His rest.  Even people who don’t know God eventually figure out you can’t just continue on and on without stopping.  People need to take breaks.

Jesus doesn’t withdraw to kick back and watch tv.  He doesn’t withdraw to go spend time alone.  He actually withdraws to spend time with His Father.  I wonder what they talked about.  I wonder what he cried about.  I wonder and smile for what Jesus prayed about.