Friday, December 28, 2012


As many of you know, my husband and I have anticipated moving for over a year. While we wait for God to arrange for my husband to receive a church call, we have been called to do many things.

Today I am called to move some furniture in our house, to make room for an additional person. No, we're not adopting again! We are delighted with our surprise adoption of almost 4 years ago, but we aren't looking to add to our family that way. And no, we're not moving our family to another location.

No, we are expecting my husband's mother to move in with us in a week or so. Her illness has left her unable to live alone for the time being. We don't know how long she will be with us, but we are shifting things around to make space in our home for her. There's always enough room for one more in our home and in our hearts.

The process of moving furniture did make me reflect on our situation, on our own waiting for a church call. Believe me, we have done our share of wondering in the past year. What is it that God wants for us? Why are we still here? When will we be able to move on?

But when I look back over the last year, I can't believe how much good has come. Our daughter has grown more confident, more secure, more capable in every way. We have been able to provide some financial support (because we sold our house and moved into a cheaper rental) to a family member who was laid-off for over a year. I was able to recover from my broken elbow and torn ligaments without having to work outside the home, which made it much easier. I've done more glass work (well, until the elbow deal). Both my husband and I have blogged, sharing God's work in our lives. We've been close enough to help my mother-in-law as she was ailing, and we've been close to my parents as they've had some illness, too.

God's timing is perfect. His plans are perfect, too. He knows why we're here and not pastoring a church, as we thought we'd be by now. Perhaps God will provide a church call sometime soon; perhaps not. Either way, we will continue to lean into God, to depend on His infinite goodness, to expect him to work miracles in our lives, here and now. He is in charge.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Perfect Day

Like most Christians with children, Christmas is a two-faceted holiday at our house. We try very hard to make it center around Jesus' birth, and God's great gift of love. The picture to the left is our Christmas art piece this year: It's a print done in three colors that our daughter chose; she also drew the design. She called it "The Best Gift."

But Gifts. Oh, gifts... She loves the gifts, of course! And even more exciting: Her birthday is December 26th. So gift-getting is high on her list of thoughts in December.

A favorite gift she received at Christmas was a Barbie guitar. It plays several songs, including "A Perfect Day," a song our daughter loves to sing. It describes the perfect day, and our just-six-year-old used this term to describe today several times. "It was a perfect day, Mom!"

It was a pretty perfect day for a six-year-old birthday. She had Cap'n Crunch for breakfast (not usually allowed), cake before lunch, pizza at Chuck E. Cheese's for lunch, followed by playing with her cousins on the games for a couple of hours (and gifts!). Cake before dinner (with more gifts!), chocolate chip pancakes for dinner (her choice), and more cake. Pretty perfect.

But when she said, "It was a perfect day," I couldn't help but think of the parents in Newtown, CT, who had a very different Christmas from us. And who won't celebrate a birthday with their wee ones ever again. And how the world is overflowing with grief and need and hatred and anger and poverty and desperation.

And, oh, how I want to protect her innocence! I want to keep "a perfect day"  within her grasp.

However, I don't want her to be insulated from knowing her own blessings. Or from comprehending the world's great need for her action, her caring, and her prayer. No, I'm not going to be explaining the massacre in Connecticut to our six-year-old, but we do sponsor a child through Compassion International (a terrific organization, by the way!). We do volunteer to feed the hungry and lonely in our community. We do donate our outgrown clothing and toys to The Salvation Army. And we do talk about all of these things we do and why we do them.

But even more, I want her to know that every, single day is "a perfect day" because we are redeemed people! Even on those days when seemingly everything goes wrong, we are the most blessed people on the earth! God Himself has already forgiven and accepted us as His Righteous Ones. We are assured of His love and His grace!

And on the days, like this one, where things are going really well and "life is good," I want her to remember where she belongs. I want her to enjoy her birthdays, and may they be many. But I also want her to know that her REAL treasure is in heaven.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Put My Heart Right

 It's been a challenge to "plan" Christmas this year: One adult child can't be here until almost Christmas Day; Another adult child has to leave early on Christmas Day; A grandparent is too ill to shop for an almost-six-year-old (who will feel rejected without a gift, despite our attempts to make her understand); A set of grandparents have plans on Christmas Day; Opening gifts late on Christmas Eve sets the stage for a wee one's too-tired meltdown..

I awoke early this morning with all of these thoughts running through my head, and I prayed, "God!  Please put my heart in the right place about all this. Help me to be peaceful in the midst..."

And God's answer was crystal clear and immediate: Put your heart on the Christ Child.


Here I am trying to find the right time to celebrate Christmas, to open gifts together, to keep a child from getting too tired to enjoy the process, and that's not what Christmas is. Christmas is the coming of the Christ Child.

Christmas is
the coming of

God WITH us.

Almighty God Himself
to become a
helpless human
in order to rescue us all from our small-hearted sinfulness.

When I focus on that, I feel no frustration, irritation, or worry. I feel blessed.

Father, help me to remember to put my heart on the Christ Child this Christmas.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Painful World

An empty swing.
An empty bed.
An empty house.
An empty heart.

I can only barely begin to imagine what it would be like to lose a child to such violence as happened yesterday. Or to illness, as two of my dear friends have done recently. Or to an accident. Or anything.

How could you possibly celebrate Christmas? How could you possibly rejoice in this season? This day?

If our kindergartner hadn't come home yesterday, how could I believe in the goodness of God?

Or... how can I respond to someone who has lost such a treasure without sounding trite or judgmental?

I think back to when I found out that I would never have biological children. Infertility is an enormous grief, as anyone who has experienced knows. One well-meaning person actually told me that God must not have wanted me to have children. Seriously?!!?  How could someone say something so cruel? I do not believe that God wanted those children to be slaughtered any more than God wanted me to be barren.

God created a perfect world and perfect people to live in it eternally. Sin intervened. Sin brought illness and death and violence and hatred and every other evil thing that we experience.

So, then, do we judge another way? Do we say something like, "Those parents must've done something awful to deserve this!" Absolutely NOT.  The blame is not on one person or a group of people; it is on all people. I am a sinner. I am selfish and irritable, greedy and self-serving. No, I didn't point a gun at children and pull the trigger. I didn't abuse my child. I didn't commit such violence, but I am far from the perfection God created.

So what can we do? How can we empathize, support, and carry those who are grieving such a loss? First, I can continue to beg God to work in me to make me more and more like the perfect person He created me to be. Second, I can look to the Bible and find that we are to A)Love one another (John 15:12); B) Serve as Jesus served (Mark 10:45); C)Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17); and D) Minister to those who are hungry or thirsty or naked or sick or in prison (Matthew 25:44)... and DO those things in this broken and painful world.

Therefore, I hold each of those precious children in my prayers, along with their grieving parents and siblings. I pray for peace that surpasses understanding for the survivors of the rampage, the medical and law enforcement personnel, and their families.

And I love them. Those grieving, those traumatized, those gone... and even those who have committed such horrors. Yes, even them. What pain is in a life that pursues such evil? It must be immense.

And I serve. I volunteer to feed the hungry. I donate to provide water to the thirsty. I care for the sick. I work to provide opportunity for the disenfranchised. I try to support those who work tirelessly to stop the school to prison pipeline.

It's never enough.
I can't make it enough. That is up to God. I trust Him to comfort those left behind by yesterday's senseless violence. I rejoice in the sure knowledge that, in the end, He will make it Right somehow. I don't have to understand how; it's enough that I can trust that He will.

And I do.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Turning Your Back

If you follow my blog, you're aware that my family is in temporary housing right now. You can read more about it here, if you'd like. But "temporary" is taking on a new meaning lately: You see, the holidays are upon us, and we're opening boxes which we never intended to have to open in this place. We thought we'd be moved into a parsonage somewhere by now.

But we're not. Evidently, God's plan is for us to be here for right now. And we're okay with that. Really. Although I must admit that opening these Christmas boxes pushes my buttons a little. However, we have an almost-six-year-old, and she deserves Christmas! So, I have located most of the decorations boxes, and we have put up my daughter's favorites.

You know the excitement of wee ones as you open the boxes of sparklies and shinies. My daughter was dancing about, grabbing each thing, setting them up in her own special way. We limited the decorations to non-breakables this year because we have a new kitten, but it was still thrilling for her. As you can see above, she even added her own toy horses to Santa's sleigh as "reindeer." (And you can see there are unopened boxes in the background!)

We have several nativity scenes among our decorations, but one in particular belongs to our youngest. When she found it, she looked all around to find the perfect place for the figures. She found a nook in the entertainment center and carefully placed all her figures. Here's how it looked:
I was a little surprised when I saw it because all the people were turned away from her, into the darkness of the nook.

As I continued to put up decorations and lights, I wondered why she would have the people turned backwards to the living room. Finally, I asked her, "Honey, why are all the people backwards?"

"They're not, Mom. They're looking at Jesus!" Like that's where they should  be looking. And indeed, when I took a closer look, they were all facing Jesus.

Looking at Jesus. Focusing on the Christ Child. Wonderful Counselor. Emmanuel. Messiah. Savior. King of Kings. God With Us.

Right where we should be looking. Focusing. Meditating. Instead of worrying about getting those last stocking stuffers. Or fussing about which side dishes should be served. Or wondering when we can possibly get everyone together.

It takes my breath away. How simple it is for her. How much she understands at not-even-quite-six. I thank God for her in my life, every single day. For the surprise blessing that she was, and for the enduring blessing that she is

Help me to come to you, Oh God, as a little child. Understanding that it's not backwards to focus on Jesus during this season. It's right. So right.