Saturday, November 30, 2013

Advent


ad·vent  (dvnt)n.
1. The coming or arrival, especially of something extremely important
       
a. The liturgical period preceding Christmas, beginning in Western churches on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and in Eastern churches in mid-November, and observed by many Christians as a season of prayer, fasting, and penitence.
b. Christianity The coming of Jesus at the Incarnation.
c. Christianity The Second Coming.
Advent.  I knew what it meant, just wanted to see how the dictionary defined it.
As I would define it:  the anticipation of Jesus' arrival -  the arrival of the celebration of His birth, the arrival of His Grace as we seek Him in repentance, and the 'someday-arrival' of His Second Coming.

Guess there is a whole lot of anticipation wrapped up in that definition.

I mentioned at one point how Christmas feels different these last few years.  I thought it had to do with getting older, but now I am sure it has to do with living here at Gateway.  I try to conjure up the joy of the season.  But often the wet blanket of 

broken families

entitlement

materialism
seems to dampen my spirits.  All of what Christmas shouldn't be, it's staring me in the face.  
 
It should be about families gathering together, finding joy in the togetherness.  Not the "what did you get me" but more the "it's so good to see you."

I don't want the wet blanket again.  But I'm going to have to fight against it.  So I am focusing on the Advent.  The arrival of something extremely important.
They can have their materialism and want, want, want.  I want to show them there is so much more to Christmas than getting all those things you wanted but didn't need.

Like Jesus.  He came.  He lived.  He died.  All for you.  All for me.

He didn't have to. We don't deserve it.  It was, and is, a gift.

25 days. And I wait in anticipation...


Thanksgiving at Gateway

For the first time in 12 years, I was with my family on Thanksgiving (we are usually with Paul's side of the family).  But, we were on duty.  So the only way to make it happen was for everyone to come out way (thank you!)  We missed my sis, her husband, and their two cute kiddos who couldn't make it.

But we still filled the table, and had a beautiful, thankfilled, tiring day.

 Our 22+ lb turkey, raised by Paul and the kids (but not butchered by us!)


 They're pilgrim hats...really.  Just ask my mom.










Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thankful

The Lord Is My Shepherd

A Psalm of David.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters. 
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.


So much of this Psalm is speaking to me right now.  Right where I am at.


There are so many things that I am thankful for.  And I know every single one comes down from the Father of the heavenly lights (James 1:17).  But  scripture says it so much better.  

And all of that typed up there, the 23rd Psalm...I am most thankful for all of that.

Happy day of giving Thanks.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

For when my vision is blurred

Paul tells us in Corinthians that now we see through a glass darkly.

So, maybe I will always have this skewed vision this side of heaven.  This struggle to see Jesus clearly.

But lately it's leaving me floundering, stumbling.

It's so easy to get our life's purpose out of focus.  It's so easy to think it's about us.  It's about my comforts.  My needs.

Tuesday night I have the joy of hearing this live.

rendcollective.com

And maybe it was the atmosphere.  Maybe being surrounded by the music, experiencing it.  But it's like I was hearing the words for the first time....again.

It was a great reminder for me, for when my vision focuses on something other than Christ.

My vision should be Jesus only.  Because only HE satisfies.  My best thought throughout any day or night is Him.  He is my wisdom and my truth.  My battle-shield and sword for the fight.  My shelter and strong tower.  I don't need money or human acceptance, because God has my inheritance set aside, waiting on me.  And when this earth is done, and the final victory is won, He will still be my vision, ruler of my heart. (paraphrase mine)

I need that song playing on headphones, attached to my ear all day long.  I fall back into self-vision so easily. 

I need Jesus-vision, all day, every day.  My days are guaranteed to be better, despite the circumstances, if I could do that.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Here's a Christmas gift idea!


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Gift in Honor Card for email

Monday, November 11, 2013

A thought on Veteran's Day

This was a post from last Veteran's Day, but it is still my thoughts today. 
__________________________________________________________

I don't know too many people personally that have gone to war for me.

Although I do have some family members who have served in the armed forces.

Cousins.

Uncles.

Grandpa.

My dad.

I think that is that one that strikes me the most.  Even though my dad didn't know me yet as he signed up to go fight a war.

To leave family and security behind.

To trade it for nightmarish reminders and medical affliction that still plague him today.

I don't know all the reasons behind why he signed up.  But I believe he was wanting to see freedom for others who did not have it.  Freedom that he enjoyed here in America.

He went, along with many, many others to fight a controversial war.

I don't know many details.  As one could guess, my dad doesn't share too many of the stories of his time oversees in uniform.  But that's OK.  I've seen him suffer physically over the last 20+ years to know that all things were not pleasant.

My dad was exposed to disease and toxic gases while serving this country.  Things that followed him home.

I know there are countless other veterans who have and are suffering like my dad.  Their sacrifice for this country did not end when their feet once again touched this American soil.  Their sacrifice continues, follows them around daily.  Physically, mentally.

I don't say all this evoke pity.  I don't think my dad, or other veterans necessarily want that.

But I want to stir appreciation.

I know there are some who do not always agree with all that Armed Forces are doing or have done.  But regardless, these people sacrificed their lives, then and now, for each of our freedom.

The least we can do is say "Thank you."



I love you, dad.  I so glad to be able to call YOU my Dad.........Thank you.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Another missionary goodbye

I have been thankful for the fast friendship that Hannah has made this year already in Kindergarten.

Almost from day 1 she has been coming home and talking about her friend Vivi.  She has talked about her daily and has even written numerous books in which "Hannah" and "Vivi" are the main character.  As more information has unfolded from Hannah, it sounded like Vivi came from a missionary family.  I wasn't sure if they were returning or going, and neither was Hannah.


Well, tonight there was an event at school and I got to meet Vivi's mom.  She told us that their family is in the process of going and are hoping to leave....the week after Thanksgiving.

A little bit of my heart ached right there for Hannah.  I know she is young, and there will be more friendships, but I was so glad to see Hannah make a friend. (I think I am projecting some of my feelings about my own past and the striving to make friendships, and how hard it was.  But this post isn't about me...)

As we were walking out to the car I said to Hannah, "Did you hear that?  They are going to be leaving soon?"

"Yeah.  That's sad....because Thanksgiving isn't that far away..."

Oh, I wanted to cry for her right there.

But I also want to see the good in this and how God works in all our lives, even little 5 year old girls. Because now this Vivi is going to have a little Hannah praying for her halfway across the world.  Hannah is our little prayer warrior, and rest assured, she will be praying (and wanting to mail letters every other day!)

Amazing that at 5 she already has missionary friends in several parts of the world.  Her world is so much more expansive than mine was at that age!

I know the girls will grow up and life will go on, but yet I rest on this promise: that God works all things out for the GOOD of those who are His, and are called according to HIS purpose (Romans 8:28 paraphrased)

There will be another good-bye for Hannah to make, but I pray that this gives her a glimpse into God's eternal plan, and that friendships made here, no matter how short, will be sweeter still in eternity.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

October Lookback



I think that I may have to vote October as my most favorite month.  I think the fact that Fall is in full swing and it's absent of the holiday bustle (although it threatens to encroach more each year).

The school routine has found it's rhythm.

You can still go outside some days with just jeans and a T-shirt.

The sky is a richer blue, the smell of burning leaves or bonfire on the breeze, bright sunshine and cool air.  Mmmmm, yep, my vote is October.

Looking back through the pictures I took, October kept us hopping.  A weekend visiting family in Ohio, running our marathon/ half-marathon, celebrating Owen's 7th birthday, relishing a visit from my newest niece (oh, and my sis and nephew too), and wrapping the month up with a Harvest Party.

Love you, October, see you next year.


 Falling asleep on the couch.  I don't know why, but it's cute every time.

 This girl cracks me up every day.  This time she was setting everyone up to "watch a movie."  Only, there was no screen, no movie.  She did all the voices and sound effects from her rocking chair.

 Loved staying the night at my sister's family's new home.  Lots of running around room for the kids - they enjoyed it too!


 Owen is 7!  Oy, he sure looks grown up.

 Running for Bryer.  Best reason to run - doing it for someone else.  Loved every minute of it.

 Some random "experiment" Owen made for Paul.  I think it consisted of vinegar, oatmeal, juice, salt, and few other things.  The smell was.....spectacular.

 Natalie.  Snuggling sweet newborns which I can then pass back to momma.  Love.

 Hannah's most recent creation: a queen made out of a Styrofoam cup head, chopsticks for arms and legs, and an empty roll from tinfoil for a body.

 Maddie's drawing of our family: from L to R Maddie, Owen, Hannah, Dad, and Mom

 For the Annual Harvest Party our house went as a rainbow.  Keep it simple is what I do.  Hannah and Maddie were the gold at the end of the rainbow, and Owen was their Leprechaun.