Merry Christmas

Meditation. Reflection. Moments of Silence. These seem to me be growingly absent from the celebration of Christmas every year. It’s hard for me to stop and focus on the season of Advent and what the coming of Christ really means and how it should be celebrated when I’m living in a constant whirl of consumer chaos. And honestly, sometimes, trying to keep my imprint to a minimum is a challenge. I feel sorry for the frazzled employees, chewed out by customers, for the shoppers who feel they have to fulfill every item on that wishlist and that without it Christmas won’t be complete. And most of all, I feel sorry that some really don’t feel the meaning of the season, anywhere in their lives- relationships, workplace, or even spiritual dwelling places. So, I guess what I’m saying is, that not only do I need to slow down and give time to truly celebrate Advent- “son of God, love’s pure light,” I need to make sure that wherever I go and whatever I am doing people get that sense of joy from me. Not the joy that comes from a new video game or that knock-off designer sweater, but the joy of knowing that a Savior arrived- the most perfect gift in the world arrived so that I could be perfectly loved, forgiven, and invited into an unconditional love relationship with Him.

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Loving the sinner

I hate the expression “love the sinner, hate the sin.” It implies that you can cast blame and hatred towards an inanimate thing that the person is doing without acting like you are casting hatred towards the person. Jesus’s great message was NOT to love sinners and hate sin. It was simply to love sinners. Leaving the “hate sin” part out of the expression is not hurting anyone. In fact, it probably makes it easier to just think about and focus on the loving part. This doesn’t mean that we should be jumping for joy for sin or validating it in others lives. Rather, just validate others. Why do people sin? Most people sin because they are trying to make up for something that has been lost. A piece of self worth, a wholeness they lack. Jesus gives us this freely. So I think that in days and in moments when we truly believe this we are probably a lot less likely to sin. So what if we told of this grace and love to others and handed it out for free like popsicles on a hot day? I think we might get along a lot better than if we just keep saying “I love you, I really do, but I hate what you’re doing.” Jesus sat and dined with Zacchaeus in his home. Do you think he asked him to evaluate his sins whilst telling him how disappointing they were? I doubt it. I think Z came away feeling so loved and so whole in who he was IN Christ that he wanted to turn from his sin. Jesus didn’t have to tell him. Jesus just completed him. And in the completion he was compelled to give up his “collecting” and actually give back what he had stolen. When you are the whole that you were created to be in Christ, there isn’t the need for propping ourselves up on material desires or personal gain that hurts others. “God is love.” NOT God is love with religious indignation. He doesn’t desire sin for our life because He knows what we are and what we can be without it, but he doesn’t strike us down with lightening when we mess up either. Let’s take a lesson here from God and stop using rhetorical lightening bolts.

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Another school day

For me… In one week I will begin my Master’s program in Social Work. I am excited, scared, nervous, but most of all hope and pray I can continue to be the kind of mother and caregiver God has so blessedly let me.

Following in a path to care for people is one of the greatest peaces I have experienced thus far in my life.

We’re all called to a purpose and that purpose is giving a glory and name to a Savior who is so loving, so full of grace, that I could never be worthy. But still, we live and strive because we love Him. I hope that I am doing that, and today I hope you do the same.

More later…

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Sinners and Saints

My prayer at this moment: Search me Oh Lord, make me what you will. Renew my spirit, my soul, and make me aware of what you would like to do through me.

This morning I attended a service and the pastor spoke about the names God calls us. He taught with a LOT of scripture references, and while sometimes that can make for a jumbled mess of confusion, I thought this time it was nice because he was just using the different affirmations that Christ has for us and his followers from scripture. The repetition in the Word here is one of those things that not many a follower can take out of context. God “names us” time and time again. For instance, we are loved, we are his family, his children, his lights in the darkness, his witness. One thing that particularly grabbed me was when he talked about Jesus referring to his followers as a temple. A dwelling place for his glory and SATURATION in him. A few years ago I got a tattoo on my back that means temple, literal translation dwelling place, in ancient Greek. I got it because I wanted a tattoo. Yes, I thought the meaning was beautiful and artsy in a spiritual sense, but I don’t know if I actual believed it. Lately I have wanted to. I haven’t wanted to just live my life day in and day out but rather be saturated in Him so that I can give him glory and show his light in darkness.

I will never be perfect, nor am I defeated by that. Because who He created me to be was not a broken, lying, hurting, angry sinner. But rather a healed, truthful, compassionate, kind soul. A saint. Someone made right with God existing to be all those things that He says I am. It’s hard to believe, but I am spending time in faith and conversation, both with God and with others, to move in that direction.

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Beautiful Life

All of you who are parents out there know…life becomes all about baby. At least for the first few months. I’ve learned so far that you can’t prepare yourself for anything, immense love does come instantaneously and naturally, and it is imperative to keep trusting God.

You never know if you’re making the right decision, you just have to pray and follow your heart. Pretty much like everything else in this life.

It’s scary, because I see the world moving around you and it almost seems to be moving past me. There is nothing I can do or say to make it slow down and fit with the pace my body and brain seem to be permanently resigned to. However, I see some light at the end. I see my baby girl laughing and smiling more, and I know that eventually, not only will I be able to fully return to trying to live, learn, and give as Jesus called me to (not that I have “paused,” rather I have very little people interaction at the moment), but I will be able to bring another little person with me and show her how important it is to care- about people, the world around her, and most of all the God who blessed us with her precious life.

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Growing Up

I always wanted to…

Have it all together
Establish a career
Go back to school
Be financially stable

…first

However, don’t we all know by now God has other plans. I might have free will, but that doesn’t mean I’m always in control. Two days ago I saw the sweetest little face peering at me from the shoulder of another woman. He looked so peaceful, so tiny, so perfect. And I thought okay, I may not ever be ready, I may never have it all together, but this is something God put in my life for a reason. Not only can I give this child all the love I have but God has placed that desire in my heart. To pass on the immense love and grace God has given me, a purpose and a calling, onto another life.

Train s child in the way that he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.
Proverbs 22:6

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Reflections on Judgment

“You lie.”
“Beyonce’s video is better.”
“We are turning this nation socialist.”
“I want Obama to die.”
“He is a horrible person because he said X.”

I feel that somehow all of these are strangely connected. Based in a society that thrives on pointing out flaws and living on broken systems and never wanting to realize something better. In reality it seems that our plight for individual happiness has made us more upset, judgmental, and unhappy than ever. Our fringe groups bash other systems for having no control over their totalitarian terrorist government regimes then accuse Obama of being Hitler? Do they even know or realize that in these other countries the government bodies are actually the ones doing the raping and pillaging? And I’m not just talking money.

In light of all this it seems highly critical and narcissistic for so many people (Americans really) to be focusing on their own likes/dislikes, i.e. judgments, as the only approach to something. Showing no room for compromise or deliberation points to a God complex of being all knowing, which I can’t say I know of any one person who is even close.

Not only does individual effort have to be made to stop the judgments from coming from our own mouths, but a cry of prayer to our Father for intercession and a global softening of hearts towards others who may be different from ourselves. Sound like a big enough task? It is. But just asking God to change our hearts and looking at everything through the lens of our Father God is a massive start.

The deprivation of our world is only made more apparent by our autocratic need to look out for only ourselves or those like us.

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9 months up and 9 months down

Not only is there much to learn about pregnancy and becoming a mother, there is also that pesky weight gain. Whether you are a light gainer, a heavy gainer, or a moderate gainer, you think about your body constantly and notice the ways that it is changing- and there ain’t no stopping it! I think jiggling body parts are synonymous with expecting.

Everyone I meet or share a conversation with about this likes to remind me of the (apparently) old adage “Nine months up, nine months down. Don’t expect it to all fall off immediately!” Well, gee, thanks….?

I feel like God is trying to work with me though. Soften me to importance I have placed on physical appearance and perhaps still place on and lead me towards a place of more emotional, physical, and spiritual health. Balance. Finding beauty and peace in the absolute miracle (and pain) of bringing another life into this world.

So next time you are conversating with a woman, don’t try to argue away the weight gain, don’t try to share the lamest adage in the world, just focus on the wonderful, beautiful thing she is doing.

Okay, okay, you can remind her that she looks great for being a preggo, but don’t overdo it. We know we look different!

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Remember Who You Work For

As I get older I realize that life moves ever more quickly. Each passing day is a smaller percentage of our time here on earth. Still, each day counts. Each day gives us new opportunities and chances. In the past and present I have looked at my jobs more or less as means to an end (with the one very large exception of teaching). The truth is there are some positions where it is easier to remember who we are representing in the world. It’s simple, yes. But I hope that as each of our days passes and every time we clock in or out thinking we are being taken advantage of, that we remember who we ultimately belong to, and that any corporation or boss we have to deal with is not bigger than a God who can forgive us and love us and see through our entire being simultaneously. Regardless of our position, power, or job title, we aren’t working for ourselves or just a company, we are working for our Maker. Representing him in a world that often acts out of fear, rejection, or reaction. We can’t let our stories and our work say the same. What does it seem that our Savior has then saved us from? He has saved us (probably from even more than we would be comfortable sharing), and we need that to be evidenced in our lives.

We ARE Jesus to the world, in our workplace, every place where our identity is known it should also be known some of that identity: love, forgiveness, acceptance despite flaws.

My jobs might not be glamorous or even fulfilling in a worldly sense, but I am not there without a purpose.

Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way. Colossians 3:17, The Message

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Not Spiritual Enough

Most days I feel not spiritual enough. I look up from where I am and say, no, you don’t know what you’re talking about. You have not read your Bible in a week, you forgot to pray about that one thing you promised you would, you’re just not spiritual enough. You failed.

But it’s all a distraction. It’s all my head and my humanity taking me away from time I could be spending with my Savior. I really believe that there is no such thing as not spiritual or spiritual enough. There is only where your heart is and where you are allowing your heart to be led.

Are you consumed with the day to day mundane? The betterment of your personal situation? Or are you thinking of others, striving to reach out and love them in some way?

I have my good days and my bad days, as do you I am sure. But then I remember why I am here, why I have a hope, a certain peace, a joy, a sense of forgiveness for the all the wrong that I have done. The grace and love of Jesus.

And if I cannot take that and offer it back to others then it doesn’t matter what I’m praying or how much I’m reading. Somewhere along the way though, I have fallen in love with a Savior and now my life, my everything, is about making sure that others can experience that, that others can know their full worth.

So although there may be days where I am distracted, I am neither here nor there on the “spiritual scale.” And that is okay, because I have a purpose that rests in him, and I cannot imagine that anyone is perfect when it comes to their spirituality.

So, live out your calling in Him, and don’t get distracted by the little voice in your head that tries to point out all your shortcomings.

This is not a post to discount spiritual discipline, prayer, or reading the Word. Those things are important and I do very much enjoy my conversations with God and my times in scripture. But you know what? I have faked it too many times, you have faked it too many times. Let’s be honest about what we are doing, who we are, and why we are doing it instead of quoting a verse just to quote it or praying out of rote memorization. Jesus wants us- our lives, not just our empty words or actions, that yeah, to be honest… might make us appear really spiritual.

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