Story Monday: The Story of Christmas

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The first Monday of each month I focus on story. Today, I am focusing in on the story of Christmas.

It is hard to miss the fact that it is Christmas season. Decorations have been put up, party inventations are being sent out, Christmas music is playing non stop in the stores. Beyond all this glitter is a deeper story. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy all the glittery aspects of this time of year. Watching my favorite Christmas themed films and specials. Spending time with family and friends while enjoying the tastes of this season. Perhaps a bit too much at times.

In all of the hustle and bustle of this month, running from one event to another that this is also a season of waiting and anticipation. Forgetting the story and reason behind all the glitter.

It is a story of God choosing to reconcile us to him. Leaving behind the security of heaven to come down to earth in the form of a human. To live and suffer amongst us. To experience all the joys, happiness, sadness and struggles. All the while knowing we would betray him, misunderstand him, and forget. Yet, he still chose to rescue us.

As I consider and savor the story of Christmas. I keep running into that word, chose. God chose to reconcile us with Him. He chose all that would follow.

This is my reflection this advent season, as I read through my devotional, as I ponder the gifts to make and decorate. I find myself stopping moment to moment to simply ponder. To stand in awe. God chose to come down to us. To meet us in our mess and sin.

How wonderful is that? This is a story of hope being delivered to us. A time of anticipation and reflection. In the midst of the busyness of this season, don’t forget the story behind Christmas.

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Being Forgotten and Then Remembered

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In conjunction with the release of Sarah Bessey’s new book Out Of Sorts, I am participating in a synchblog. If you haven’t read her blog or her previous book, Jesus Feminist I highly reccomend you do. Her voice is often breath of fresh air on the interwebs and I look forward to reading her latest book!

I used to thinkthat I was forgotten, but now I think I am beloved.

When I was a child, I went on road trips with my parents. My dad enjoyed looking at historical sights, often this meant graveyards. Graveyards filled with headstones whose names were well worn off. Lives that were now forgotten.

It saddened me, that lives fully lived could be forgotten. It struck me that, my life would also be forgotten. A fear was born. I feared that this would become my fate. My life here forgotten once all those who loved me leave this world. I can’t say that this is exactly when this fear began but it sure didn’t help it.

And this fear grew as I entered my teen years. As I grieved the loss of several family members over a three year span. As I tried to fit in but didn’t. Becoming jealous when hearing of others going out and I wasn’t invited. I began to feel that being forgotten was simply my lot in life.

Then I met Jesus. I began to read the Bible and I learned something crucial. That the Lord doesn’t need me, but instead that he wanted me. He had never forgotten me in all the time I felt so. He had pursued me as I pursued friendships and approval.

He is my creator, he brought me to life. I felt so forgotten and hopeless because I didn’t know of the amazing love Jesus has for me. How this truth that I am his beloved, royal daughter squashed this fear of being forgotten.

Those moments of jealousy and anger can still crop up from time to time. But I am quickly reminded of who I am Christ. I will never be doomed to being forgotten.

An Idol of The Heart

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I am learning about this thing called the Purity Movement. This idea that if we just do or do not do certain behaviors then we will therefore be pure. That somehow, because of the way I behave or dress this in turn makes me more pure. It is a concept to wrestle with, this idea of pureness. That somehow we can achieve it if only we do not do this or that.

This shows a belief that what we do outwardly cleanses what we struggle with inwardly. Instead of what God does inwardly working outward. I see this idea becoming more of idol. That one is only worthy because of their actions and not because of who they are in Christ.

But none of us are pure, without sin. In fact, the more Christ like we become, the more our sin is revealed to us. I know this to be my journey as a Christian.

Lauding this concept of purity is in part saying that we have no need for Christ, for the work only He can do in us. That others who perhaps do not dress or abstain from the same things as others are not as worthy of him. Or in turn saying you more worthy because of your outward behavior.

But what of the heart? The deceitful heart? Or the mind or spirit? We can all look put together on the outside. Say all the things, do the right things but still be a mess on the inside.

It does not say we are made pure, but we are made new in Christ. There is a reason for this, for only Christ was pure. We are made new, leaving behind our old selves.

We are to strive for Christ. Always for Him. I think it better to be careful of our use of such words. To perhaps rethink what we are really saying when we say these things. How exclusionary it can seem to others. When Jesus calls us to be inclusionary.

How To Pray For Singles

This is a repost

Lately, something has been bugging me about praying for the marriages in our churches. Not just because it is yet another reminder of my singleness. A question formed in my mind, Why aren’t singles in the church as specifically prayed for? I don’t believe that this is because we are thought of as less than marrieds. This may have more to do with the mentality towards singleness. Even from those of us in the midst of it. That somehow our lives and struggles are not as important as those who are married. Or that this state of being is more private to be prayed about so publicly.

It is of course important to pray for marriage. It is hard, challenging, full of trials and blessings.  It is a beautiful example of Christ’s love for us.

But so is singleness. Being a single in the church today is more of the norm than not. A pew poll from 2012 found that this group is in fact growing. For a number of reasons people are waiting longer to get married. Or are recovering from past relationships. Or like me have never been in a relationship.

In fact most churches are having to adjust how to minister to us.

Which is why it is just as important to remember to pray for us. Singleness can be challenging, full of trials and blessings. Pray not only for our potential, future marriages but also for our lives right now.

The majority of us are searching for our spouse. Pray that we be discerning in pursuing a spouse .  Pray for us as we try online dating and get to know new people. Pray for us as we pursue our dreams and establish ourselves. Keep in mind too not necessarily all of us are looking for that in our lives. Marriage, like college may not be for everyone.

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Hope in the Midst of Grief

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My mother died when I was thirteen. I
remember thinking that I should be crying but no tears came. Those came later, during the funeral and later during the burial. So began my journey in grieving.

My grandfather died a few years later after a battle with thyroid cancer. Then at sixteen my estranged birth father succumbed to lung cancer.

I walled myself off emotionally, physically numbing my pain with food.

I did not know God. To be honest, I did not want to know Him. I was too busy finding comfort in being angry. And listening to my Cranberries CD over and over. This was the nineties and their music spoke to my soul. In fact I still have those songs seared into my brain.

I was lost in a world of pain and grief.
Then I started to get to know God. I began to unravel all those years of pain and grief.

This year has been tough. I have personally been to at least three funerals. The difference between grieving now and back then is simply hope. I have have hope in a Savior who makes all things whole.

Hope as we hurt.
Hope as we question.
Hope as we learn.

I have had the privilege to witness God working in this with members of my church. First to see them fully trust in what God has in store. Not their plans but trusting in His. Second Glorifying our Lord in the midst of their pain. Of being willing to allow our church family to gather around them, instead of folding inward.

To mourn together.
To rejoice in the promise of the Resurrection as a family.

Grief will always be a part of my life. But what has changed is my hope and trust in my Lord and Savior. To understand the greater story beyond my own plans and desires. That in the midst of such pain can also be such Joy.

This scripture at the top keeps coming to mind in this season. His plans are greater than my own.

Again & Again

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It has happened again
It will happen again

None of this new

Desperate for safety
Fleeing across treacherous waters
Trusting strangers to get there

Not welcomed
Feared
Ignored

All this has happened before
All this will happen again

Present comfort clung to
Past forgotten
When ancestors fled
Desperate
Feared

Again and again
Again and again

All this has happened before
All this will happen again

poem inspired by news events coming out of Syria and Ecclesiastes 1:9

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again ; there is nothing new under the sun.