Tuesday, December 13, 2011

More Questions than Answers

Apparently, God is trying to teach me how to be an intercessor.  In fact, you might not want to stand too close to me or be my friend at all.  Over the past several years, I have been brought to my knees on behalf of several friends dealing with tremendous tragedies and burdens.  One friend lost her 5-year-old daughter to a brain tumor no one even knew existed.  Two friends are currently fighting to keep custody of children whom they have adopted into their homes and loved as their very own - providing homes infinitely superior to those from which the children have come.  Another friend has just lost her second pregnancy and is facing the realization that genetic factors may prevent them from ever birthing another child, all while dealing with multiple health issues in their one beautiful daughter.

There's just so much I don't understand.

If you are going through a tough situation that just doesn't make sense, or if you are in the midst of praying for someone like that, I would encourage you to read this post.  It did my heart a lot of good, and I hope it will minister to you as well.

Monday, December 12, 2011

When did holidays get so complicated?

No, I'm not talking about planning, traveling, budgeting, decorating, ... although all of that pretty much drives me crazy.

When I was growing up, we dressed up for Halloween (I even went as a witch one year - gasp!), the Easter Bunny brought baskets of sugary goodness, the Tooth Fairy made regular visits, and Santa Claus was a huge part of Christmas.  By the end of elementary school, Halloween had taken on a decidedly different feel.  I remember the first time I had to get my candy x-rayed at the police station before I could eat any of it (in small-town Hartselle, AL, no less) and none of us dared to bite into candy apples for fear of biting a razor blade.  Then churches started holding Harvest Festivals, either overtly or covertly declaring all Halloween celebrations to be completely evil.

My kids dress up for Halloween now, but I'm always in a bit of a quandary about it.  We've never done Easter Baskets with our kids, so that hasn't been an issue, and no teeth have been lost, so no Tooth Fairy at this point.  But Santa.

Good ol' Saint Nick.  I grew up believing in Santa - hook, line, and sinker.  In fact, even after I "knew" (Thanks, Blake and Paul Wright!  Grrr!), I still tried very hard to still believe.  It was magical, and I didn't want to give that up.  I do not remember at any point having any sort of difficulty in believing in/about Jesus related to also believing in Santa.  I never thought, "My parents lied to me.  I'll never believe them again!"

Somehow, I don't think my parents ever even gave a second thought to teaching us to believe in Santa.  As far as I know, no one was teaching/blogging/preaching that Christian parents shouldn't teach their children to believe in Santa.  (Well, they certainly weren't blogging since computers still took up entire rooms....)

But somehow my generation is conflicted about just about everything - especially those of us who are Christians.  I don't think it's just me because I've seen many conversations on Facebook on this very topic and been a part of a few of those discussions.

I was all set to defend my Santa-teaching position until reading this article.  Even after that, I still wasn't entirely sure what to do, so I prayed about it.  I think I got my answer.

This morning, my son came to me in tears, fearing that - because he hadn't "been good" all year - Santa wasn't going to bring him any presents.  Here's the trouble: he's right.  He hasn't been good all year.  In fact, he hasn't even been good all day.  So is there a "good enough" with Santa?  Where's the cutoff?

I am so thankful that this lead into a wonderful discussion of the Gospel.  No, Nathan, you haven't been good.  Neither have I.  We have both messed up ... a lot.  But whose birthday are we celebrating?  And why did He come?  He came because God knew we would mess up.  He knew that no matter how hard we tried, we wouldn't be able to stop messing up.  And God doesn't let any sin into Heaven, so that's a big problem.  But He died on the cross to solve that problem.  To fix those mess-ups.  To take the punishment for us that we rightly deserved.  But before He died on the cross, He was born in Bethlehem.  He left Heaven - where no one messes up, no one gets sick, no one hurts, no one gets hungry or tired and cranky - and He came down here into our mess.  He went through all of those things, just like we do.  I know He got tired.  I know He got hurt.  I believe He also got sick, skinned His knee, got frustrated, laughed, cried, got excited - all of it - but He did it all without ever messing up.  He knows how you feel.  The God who made the universe knows what it's like to be a 5-year-old boy, because He's been one.  And that's why we celebrate Christmas.  It's the best news ever!  Our rescuer has come!

So tonight, we're planning to take the plunge with the big Santa Talk.  I'll admit a part of me is sad.  But I see the Holy Spirit working in his little heart, and I don't want anything to interfere with that.  If he was still oblivious to the Gospel (as Megan seems to be at this point), it would be different.

Sigh.  When did holidays get so complicated?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Hello! Hello? Is anyone still there??

So, it's been over two years since my last post.  Looks like there's a lot that needs updating around here.  Guess I'll get to that later once I remember how to do all those things again.  Much of the process has probably changed.

Several people have asked about my blog and/or asked me if I had considered writing lately, so I thought I might try breaking this thing out again.  No promises.  I would love to say I will blog wonderful, thought-provoking, and insightful posts every day, but I know that's not going to happen.  In fact, one of the main reasons I haven't written in so long is because I think, "Sure, I have a little time today, but what about tomorrow?"  The pressure to perform is so heavy sometimes, even though it's self-inflicted.

What is prompting this today is the morning I experienced.  I'll spare you the gory details, but suffice it to say, it was NOT my proudest Mama moment - not by a long shot.  There was quite a fit thrown, and my son didn't act very well, either.

Anyway, in the midst of my sobs of defeat and regret, I posted a very raw and very real status on Facebook.  And the response was overwhelming.  Obviously, I was not alone in this experience.  So why did I feel that way?  Why did the other Mamas sometimes feel that way, too?

There's a great risk in being vulnerable and real.  There's always the possibility that someone will misunderstand or misread.  There's also the possibility that someone will think you're crazy, or in the case of this morning, agree with you that you are, in fact, a terrible Mom.  There's the voice inside that says, "Real Christians don't feel/act this way.  What's your problem?"

But there is also great reward in being vulnerable and real - the chance to really know and be known.  Sure most people like me (I think), but how many of those people really know me?  My guess is that many of my Facebook friends may have thought to themselves, "I had no idea she had that much to say.  She's always so quiet and sitting on the sidelines when we're together in person."

Instead of feeling rejected this morning, I ended up feeling supported, normal, and perhaps best of all, understood.

So anyway, that's what I hope to do on this here blog - be real.  Some days it might be posts on various thoughts I've had that I need to explore.  Sometimes it might be just a more personal log (it is short for web log, after all) of the goings-on in my family so I can remember later on.  I'll probably also post some of our homeschool stuff (which brings up another area where I fear being vulnerable to criticism - but that's another post for another time).  Still other days will be much more shallow - links to posts I've enjoyed, recipes I recommend, etc.

But no promises about the frequency of posts.  I'm tired of putting ridiculous pressure on myself.  Anyone understand that feeling, too?  If today is any indication, I'm guessing the answer is, "Yes!"
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