Friday, December 30, 2011

Good Riddance 2011

Glad to see 2011 come to an end. It certainly hasn't been the hardest year of my life, but it sure as heck hasn't been the easiest.  And the last two weeks have been challenge after challenge, which snuck up on me after a great start to the month.

UPS and DOWNS...but just a difficult year. I learned a lot and grew tons...but growing is never more fun. As my roomie once told me, "Change and growth are supposed to hurt. After all, the Bible calls it a refiners fire, that doesn't sound like fun!"

Despite the several breakups - which suck even if you do the ending, the struggles at work, the constant growing in my faith (which is a fire like the Bible says), I had many blessings, my favorite two being my nephew Jack and the Auburn National Championship.

Headed out of town  for new here's wishing all of us a great 2012-- full of more ups than downs and many many blessings. But, if the year holds more challenges than blessings, I pray we all know God's presence and comfort in a real way.

I am trying to decide on my 2012 life verse. My 2011 life verse turned out to be perfect!
Rom 12:12 Be Joyful in Hope, Patient in Affliction, Faithful in Prayer.

Any good ideas for a 2012 verse?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Decapitated groom?

This picture makes my day -- and when I tell you the story, it will make your day too. Despite the broken groom, this story tells how loving my baby brother is.

I got this bride and groom and a church (for the Christmas Village) the year I got engaged.  The next year, when things had ended, my mom chose not to pull the bride and groom out. When I asked about it, she said that we would pull it out again the next year...that we all needed it to stay put up that year. So the church was put out, but not the happy couple.

However, the next year, my mom looked for the couple to put it out and couldn't find it. and we could not find it the next year. We thought it was misplaced-- until this thanksgiving when a picture was texted to me in Vermont -- of a headless groom.

Apparently, sometime between the "year off" and the couple making their re-entry into our Christmas village, my brother found it and expressed some stored up anger towards the poor ceramic groom.  He then hid the decapitated groom and his bride and we finally found it.

Its a few years later, and we all found it so funny that he didn't get in trouble. Yes he destroyed a holiday decoration, but he did it in defense of his sister? So can you really be angry?  In fact, I hope we keep this couple even when we buy a new one....because its so funny and so sweet, all at the same time.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

January, come quickly

I LOVE football season and I LOVE Christmas, but to be honest, I am actually happy to see both come to an end.  Life is too busy during those seasons.  And usually I hate January and February, AND I may kick myself for saying this in a few weeks when I am bored, but I can't WAIT for January to get here.

Besides a trip to New Orleans for my birthday, the month is fairly event-free. I love the idea of relaxing and getting things done for the next couple months.  I am also excited for movie nights and drinks at Fennians and dinners with friends not travelling, parties and football games. We all need a break :)

January/February goals:
1. organize closet and throw stuff out!
2. Make a fabric headboard and buy a bedframe. (My bedframe broke during moving so I literally sleep on mattresses....)
3. Pick out fabric to have new bedding made.
4. Start running again (I am going to train for another half marathon)
5. get my prints framed for my bedroom
6. organize bathroom
7. Paint a chevron rug

lazy things to do:
1. movie marathons
2. go to the movie theater
3. sleeping in on saturdays
4. wine nights with friends
5. crafts

I have one more fun filled weekend in Dallas for New Years Eve then a lovely month of doing hardly anything. Can't wait!

what are you most looking forward to in the lazy winter months? Projects? Free time? getting life back in order?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A few holiday notes.....

(1) Nothing is impossible with God  --- the author points out that this is a Christmas verse we often forget. Our salvation, Our sanctification, His provision, Healing, Forgiveness -- none of it is impossible with God.

(2) Also, isn't Jack so stinking cute? and so fat! LOVE those chunky legs.

(3) Also, if you are down this season (or even if you aren't), watch this video -- even in the midst of incredible trial, this family celebrated Christmas one last time

(4) Also, I am Christmas Party'd out. I had a bar association Christmas party last night and one last one tonight then home to Brookhaven for our annual game night/holiday get together with two other families and Christmas Eve/Christmas with our family. Its the first one with Jack so we are so excited, probably a LOT more excited than he is! 

With Christmas parties, I remind myself that this is a season. I love parties and after a few weeks recovering, I am going to miss the excitement! But towards the end of a long 4-5 wks, I am ready to spend a few nights on the couch in my pajamas!

(5) Here is the second post of the series I posted yesterday.

" Trying to bracket all we think we know about the coming of Jesus Christ, all that we have come to expect and demand, may very well help to open our eyes to the signs that Christmas has to offer. Might we have the courage to pray, really pray, that God with us might shatter our ideas and preconceptions, leaving us dazzled and more than a bit crazed? Do we have the hope to stand in the shattered ruins of our limitations? Can we pray that we might—beyond limits of what is possible for us—see the signs of Christmas, to really see them, as opportunities to notice what we may otherwise overlook, to hold what we otherwise would not touch, to love what we otherwise could not embrace? Might we not, in this way, begin to truly welcome God with us?"

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A God who never comes and God's "Favor"

Check out this post on waiting for  a God who never comes.  I am excited for the author to post parts 2 and 3 of this series.

Actually read all of the guy's Advent posts. Wonderful.

And this article challenged me a lot.....Mary was favored by God, but I bet being asked to have a child out of wedlock (or so others would believe) and facing the possibility of losing her fiance and her reputation PROBABLY DIDN'T SEEM LIKE FAVOR to Mary. But she had faith because she considered God faithful! So should we!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Love, Circumstances and Worship

**for those of you sick of all my links to Advent articles, don't worry, I will have to actually write stuff starting on the 26th, rather than just linking up to better written articles.  But, I can't help posting so much about advent. The more I study it, the move I love that God gives us these 4 focuses as we WAIT for HIM: hope, peace, joy, and finally love.

This final week of advent is the week of love. Essentially it all leads up to this-- the longing, the anticipation, the peace, the joy --- it all points us to the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

If we never had anything else, if no one else loved us, that single act would be enough.  If I never get married, If I never rock my own babies, If I do get married and my husband leaves me or my boyfriend breaks up with me, If my kids rebel, If friends leave me, If family doesn't understand or abandons, that is enough. Although it doesn't feel like enough sometimes, the fact remains that Christ's first advent and his future advent is the best act of love I will ever know and the main love that matters.  Not to say the others aren't good, but it is good to remember which love is essential.

My heart aches for so many this season. I know people who have had parents divorce or they have divorced. I know families who have lost children. I certainly have plenty of friends waiting for husbands or babies. While Christmas has been mostly joyfully this year (thankfully), I have known my share of Christmases that felt empty in some shape or form.  I'm sure we have all felt that way -- grumpy kids, family who couldn't make it, single, lost a family member -- whatever life threw at us this year made it hard to focus on how much we were loved by a Savior that became man.

I know how hard it can be to remember the God who loves us and should be worship when the circumstances are tough so that is why I loved this article on Christmas Perspectives.

In this article, the author talks about her aunt who was sick yet still showed up to holidays and her uncle's sorrow the year she was gone. She also talks about her own Christmases not going as expected.

An excerpt:

I remember the difficulty of lining up my expectations with what God was actually doing, and thinking, “This isn’t good, God. How did You allow this to happen?” And it took a couple of years, I can remember, of having Christmases that were good, they were ... good, but they were tough, too, where I would tear up and then put my make-up back on and go out and be with people, because it wasn’t exactly what I expected.
I could have sat down and said, “I don’t like this, God, and I’m not going to celebrate You, which is really an awful thought of self-pity—on Christmas day? That’s ridiculous!” Or I could say, “Why has God allowed this opportunity issue in my life? Could it be to turn my focus outward?”
I had never realized how many other people were in the same situation on Christmas day. There were plenty of people who found themselves alone for whatever reason, and it gave me an opportunity to think through, “What could God want with this, what could He be directing my gaze to?”

If God is love (as we know He is), then every circumstances is lovingly allowed by Him and can point us to Him. That is most important to realize this holiday season.  What we were waiting for was His coming and saving us, and Christmas, particular this week, is a focus on that act of love coming to its first stages. Also it challenged me to love on others who are hurting just as Christ loved me....because He was born, died, resurrected and sees me through each day- good and bad, then I am able to love others. In the interview she linked in her article, the author discusses using her hard Christmases to remind her to reach out to others (by throwing a Christmas brunch)

Loving others who are hurting and not just thinking of our own pain, now there's an amazing thought. Although I have reached out to some this season, not nearly enough....I will be thinking through the year, How can I focus on God's love and not my circumstances during advent? And how can I love others as well?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Advent: improper waiting

Love this post on how to wait during advent. I will for sure be reading that blog from now on. I love the portion of her post that talks about waiting improperly...My main struggle is waiting hopelessly -- believing that God won't provide, won't sustain, and won't be faithful.  I think we often times think He can't be trusted with our hearts, heartache, longings, prayers- but in truth, He is the only person that can be trusted.

As advent comes to its final week, I want to focus my attention just on waiting for Christ. The entire season reminds us to wait not only on Him, not only His return, but also His faithfulness in present times, but as Christmas day nears, I want to focus on how amazing it is that He came once and will come again --- that all that waiting by His people must have been discouraging, but then He came (quietly, with no big ordeal made) -- and while we wait, in pain, angst, SIN, He will come again. Let us wait on Him, and say "Come, Lord Jesus."

I wait impatiently, because the waiting is really only about obtaining my desire, so naturally I am angry and irritated when it does not happen.

I wait dishonestly, because in order to be angry and irritated about the desire not manifesting, I have to consciously ignore all the amazing blessings, undeserved kindness, and incredible favor the Lord has showered over me in the past year.

I wait with shriveled faith, because my God has become dependent on the gifts he gives, not on the fact that He is the great giver worth pursuing over any thing I could possibly receive.

I wait with shriveled trust, because I put more stock in my own logic and human projections that say, “Look at the facts, Dan. It ain’t gonna happen,” instead of a God that is above science, above circumstances, and loves me more than I could possibly fathom.

I wait hopelessly, for I start to convince myself that though God can do anything for me, he doesn’t want to do anything for me; like he is a stingy, car salesman father who takes some sick satisfaction in withholding.

And I wait selfishly, because when the heartbreaking reality of my own waiting dominates every thought this Christmas season, it automatically means that it’s ME that dominates every thought this Christmas season, not others around me who may be hurting and in need of care and comfort during this difficult time of year.

This year, I want Advent to teach me what it really means to wait humbly for the coming of the Lord. To celebrate His Kingdom come. To get beyond the toys and trappings and twinkling ornamentation that will be piled up at a garage sale five years from now. I want to wait patiently, rightly, boldly; with faith, hope, and eyes wide open to see those who suffer. This Christmas, I want to fall to my knees in trembling anticipation of meeting in the bruised, bare, and bleeding core of my heart the Son of God, Jesus Christ. He who was born in a manger, who lived a perfect life, who served the lost and broken and outcast, he who came to save the world.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Santa and Joy

First of all, even if you aren't a fan of santa, aren't you a fan of this little guy? So stinking cute!

Secondly, feel free to give yourself permission to have Joy this holiday season.

Also, check out this advent guide  my friend Alexandria sent me from Village Church in Dallas. I have no idea how she got ahold of it but its great. Its a family weekly guide for 5 weeks but I read through half of it last night and its great. I love that churches, even non traditional churches, are celebrating advent....and encouraging families to do so. I plan on celebrating advent with my family one day.

Finally, this doesn't have tons to do with the JOY week of advent, but a friend of mine read this quote (while celebrating advent) and shared it with me. I love it:

"When we demand satisfaction of one another, when we demand any completion to history on our terms, when we demand that our anxiety or any dissatisfaction be taken away, saying as it were, 'Why weren't you this for me? Why didn't life do that for me?' we are refusing to say 'Come, Lord Jesus.' We are refusing to hold out for the full picture that is always given by God."
-Richard Rohr
I hope everyone has a wonderful Friday/weekend. I plan on taking a break from being outgoing and doing some of the Christmas activities I have yet to do because of parties and work -- wrap presents, make holiday candy, mail cards....all while watching a Christmas movie! 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Pink Candle: Be Joyful

I loved this article on God's gift of Joy during advent....Here is an excerpt:

 Advent is a time in which we must make ourselves open to being humbled, to feeling our own limits. Three purple candles: three Sundays, one still to come, of serious humbling, of waiting.

But this is the interesting thing: God knows this is difficult.  He knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. And so, we celebrate the third Sunday—the “joyful” Sunday—with a pink, celebratory candle.......I think of this as God’s way of reminding us that we are not just slogging through a miserable existence because he asks us to. He wishes us to find joy here, now, as a taste of what we can expect—as a reminder of what we’re waiting for.

This is the beauty of the rose candle. It is a beauty that reminds us that even when we are to be repenting, even when we must feel the limitations of our humanity, there is something bigger under us, holding us up, holding all things together. I’ve come to believe that we can only experience joy—we can only smile, and celebrate—when we know that the good things are a gift from the one who sees the bad and still tells us, rest, delight, be joyful.

He wishes us to find Joy now.  We wait for Joy and rightfully so, because nothing in this earth will ever make us fully contended. We long for His return, and even daily we long for our circumstances to change. We long for healing or the return of loved ones. But, the pink candle reminds us that there is JOY to be had now, there is living in the waiting.  So while we spend this season reflecting, hoping, praying, repenting, longing, Let us also spend it enjoying all the many blessings the Lord has given us!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Advent: Fighting for Joy

This weeek on advent focuses on JOY (the pink candle) which I know can be a hard thing for a lot of people this time of year. Although my Christmas season is mostly full of blessings, I have even had a a few down moments....

So, how do we hold on to Joy - when the world seems to be falling apart? (I feel totally unqualified to answer this question since I know my dissapointments, my bad days deal with work and relationships and family -- not death or sickness or divorce. In no way do I want to sound condescending.."Just have Joy."..but I do know that there are some things we can do to have Christmas and other times of the year.

1. Count your blessings

I try to remind myself daily of my blessings. (Today my blessing is that my Jack Attack is coming to MS today for the holidays, love that baby boy!) The truth is as we count our blessings, we can see that our lives - though painful they may be - aren't empty of all goodness.  I've come to find that some of my toughest years are sprinkled with some of my favorite moments, memories, blessings. Rarely is life all good or all bad.

2. Remember God's past faithfulness.

The Lord has been faithful and He will be again. How quickly we forget His provision.  Focusing on what He has done reminds us that He can and will do good things in our lives, in our circumstances.

3. Rely on His timing.

Psalm 30 tells us that weeping may last for a night, but Joy comes in the morning.  We fight for joy during hard times, but at a certain point in time, we see His faithfulness and provision and Joy comes.  Don't give up too quickly. He makes all things beautiful in His time.

4. Take a time out.

Especially in the holidays, take a moment away if you need to. Skip a party and take time to pray, read scripture, sleep, cry, etc. I think we get so busy trying to be happy or trying to survive, that we forget to take a moment and grieve what we need to grieve and run to the arms of our Savior. Joy doesn't require happiness at every moment and Joy certainly isn't something you achieve on your own, so run to Christ, tell him your hurts, admit your struggle for Joy.  There is no better person to be honest with about your heartache. There is no better person to seek Joy from. When I lack Joy the most is when I feel I have to try to appear happy the most.  Instead, be honest that life hurts and ask for Joy DESPITE those circumstances (rather than Joy pretending those circumstances don't exist)

5. Praise and Worship

Count your blessings, remember Christ's faithfulness - and praise Him.  Worship quickly reminds us the Lord is in charge, He has done good things for us, and He is worthy to be praised.

6. Focus on others.

Concern for others helps take our focus off ourselves.

7. Ask. and ask some more.

The Bible verse famously says we should ask and it will be given to us, seek and we will find, knock and the door will be opened...notice how after asking, the person didn't give up? He increased his requests with more intensity -- he asked, then he sought, then he knocked.  Struggling with Joy? ask the Lord and don't quit asking.

8. Think on what is lovely.

I already mentioned counting blessings and remembering God's provision, but thinking on what's lovely includes a happy Christmas movie or song, remembering a funny joke from lunch, an inspirational quote, and encouraging word.  Think on things that make you happy -- happiness may not equal Joy, but remembering good things in your live helps cultivate a Joyful spirit.

9. Remember, its just one holiday & 10. The gospel remains true despite our circumstances.

It may not be the best holiday season or the best year. Your life story may not be a hallmark movie this year....but not every year will be this hard, not every holiday will be this hard.  Also, praise God that the gospel remains true whether we feel Joy or not. You may struggle to praise and worship Him for His birth this season, but it makes His birth, life, death and resurrection no less significant.  In fact, when we struggle the most to appreciate the significance of Christmas is when we need it the most.

My heart breaks for those suffering this holiday season. I remember my first Christmas after my wedding was called off. I remember my sweet family trying to make it a huge ordeal and being incredibly cheerful and having champagne and bending over backwards...and you know what? it still sucked..nothing was going to make it great (although there were good moments) No doubt about it, the worst Christmas of my life (thus far).  At some moments that holiday season, I fought for Joy -- tried to enjoy the holidays despite my circumstances, tried to laugh and do the "things" I had always done. (first round of law school finals didn't help me fight for Joy though haha) and sometimes I just gave in and was grumpy and ungrateful.  But, I know this to be true: Christmas meant something different to me than ever before. I had never felt alone on the holidays (although I truthfully wasn't alone), I had never felt so hurt and I had never before struggled to celebrate Christ's birth ...YET that was the year that his birth meant the most to me.  I didn't quit hurting, but I was aware that I had a Savior who gave up a throne to come to a sinful hurtful world and die so that I did not have to hurt for eternity.  If nothing else gives you Joy this holiday season, let that give you Joy, let that reality hit home....this pain is not forever...because there was a first Christmas, this lonely or hard Christmas is not forever...weeping may last for the night, but Joy really will come in the morning.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Practice what you preach

So far, I have been sharing about advent from the perspective of I learned about advent last year...and even from the perspective of I am learning these things this year, but so far its been pretty easy to practice what I preach. So I am haven't been speaking from the trenches, from the battlefields of holiday dissapointment and fighting for joy. So far having joy and hope this season has been immensely easy.

But this past weekend was discouraging for several reasons (mostly the fact that I was exhausted)...and unlike my previous advent posts, yesterday's post wasn't directed at encouraging others, it was directed at encouraging me. I needed the reminder that Immanuel means God is with me and is concerned about me and the small details of my life. I needed the reminder that hope is not silly. I needed the reminder that when exhausted or dissapointed or confused, Christ is right there with me.  That fact alone gives me hope.

Last night I was praying before bed and realized this is where the rubber hits the road, where I practice what I preach....Do I believe that the Lord is with me when the holiday seems overwhelming with parties, little sleep, letdowns, irritations with friends, disspointments in dating? Do I believe the Lord is soverign when things don't seem perfect?  Do I still believe the Lord can be trusted and we can have hope even when the holiday season, a relationship, a friendship, family, job,  circumstances, etc have let me down?

We weren't meant to have Hope and Peace when then things are perfect, Hope and Peace (during advent and year-round) are meant to sustain us when things aren't perfect.

I'm willing to bet I am not the only person feeling let down by the holiday season..there are those feeling overwhelmed by shopping, dreading family time, annoyed by shopping with a screaming 2 year old, feeling alone in a new town, dealing with sick family member, longing for a baby, etc.  But, at this time, more than ever, we are supposed to hope...when the world laughs at us for doing so, for believing that circumstances get better or atleast will be redeemed, for believing in healing and provision, for believing that waiting on God is a good thing.  It's okay, we know the ending....we know that He is coming, both in the present and in the future.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Immanuel (God with us) and what it means now

Feeling a bit discouraged this holiday season? (or anytime of the year?) Check out this article on Immanuel

I read it last year and I read it throughout the year but especially at Christmas on moments when I forget how much the Lord must love us to send his son.  Our Lord knows suffering and he is there with us in our suffering.  I tend to focus on Christ's second advent and how it affects me eternally --- Christ's return will usher in an eternity with Him.  But, I should also focus on how Christ's first advent affects me in the here and now.  How while we live on this earth, suffering fear, abandonment, grief, anger, heartache, we have a Savior who understands.... and hurts with us...because He was one of us....

an excerpt from that article....

"We can begin to assume that God isn’t interested in the light and momentary affliction we face.  We tell ourselves that He is not the kind of God that would be concerned with the details of our suffering.
And we would be wrong.
Jesus – in whom the fullness of God is pleased to dwell – wrapped Himself in skin and suffered like me and you so that in our worst pain and moments of suffering we would know the truth.  God doesn’t scoff at the smallness of our pain.  God meets us in the intimate details of our pain.  God is with us even in the smallest hurts.
In our deepest pain, lies creep in and lead us to turn away from the only source of comfort.  We listen to the whisper that God does not understand the pain of abandonment or rejection; that He is frustrated with our pathetic inability to trust in the bigger picture;  God can’t possibly know what it feels like to be tempted to doubt His goodness in lonely nights or when tragedy strikes.
And Christmas is the evidence that these whispers are lies.  Christmas is the great glowing ebeneezer that reminds us we don’t have a God who wants us to just ‘get over it’.  We have a God who understands how rough this world can be because He lived it.
We have a God who came down and suffered with us.  Our God is the only being who never had to suffer; He’s the only person who never had to experience any pain, and yet He willingly endured the most horrific pain imaginable.  Why? So that in the moments when we are most tempted to despair in the face of our suffering we can go to Him, messy and broken and confident that He can help.
We have a high priest who understands because He too has endured suffering.  He knows about lonely painful nights.  He knows about losing loved ones.  He knows about being rejected and abandoned and forsaken.  He knows about the moments when you look around and everything seems to be going wrong.  He knows about faces flung heavenward, begging for another way.  He knows about the weight of suffering.  Look to the Cross; He knows."
Or as CS Lewis said in the Chronicles of Narnia:
"But please, please - won't you - can't you give me something that will cure Mother?"
Up till then he had been looking at the Lion's great feet and the huge claws on them; now, in his despair, he looked up at its face. What he saw surprised him as much as anything in his whole life. For the tawny face was bent down near his own and (wonder of wonders) great shining tears stood in the Lion's eyes. They were such big, bright tears compared with Digory's own that for a moment he felt as if the Lion must really be sorrier about his Mother than he was himself. 
SO, while struggling, while hurting, while striving to get through each day,remember Christ's birth and what it means both eternally and in the present.  We will suffer, we will hurt, but as we do, He not only understands, He hurts with us. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

How Advent Saved Christmas and Mistletoga

READ ABOUT How advent saved Christmas

And, since I have been SO SERIOUS lately, sharing only articles and thoughts on advent, I wanted to share a couple pictures from last year's mistletoga...its one of MY FAVORITE parties of the year and its tonight!  I am lazy so I am wearing the same toga this year, just editing it a little bit :)

Christmas is about Christ, first and foremost, and I don't like how commercial it is, but I do think that celebrating good times with friends and family is a must. I am grateful for the men and women (especially my amazing girl friends!) that the Lord has blessed me with here in Jackson. They make life more fun and they hold me accountable.

So Happy Friday All, wish everyone was in town to come to Mistletoga.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Advent: watching (preparation)

Many people focus on preparation for advent during week 2. Waiting is watching and preparing. Waiting is moving forward, not sitting paralyzed.  We prepare for the Lord's birth, we prepare for God's answers and provision in our lives. We prepare ourselves for His return.

That is why I really enjoyed this article on watching and waiting from Intervarsity (a campus ministry).

Here's a portion of this article that hit home for me:

So – how to watch well?

•Being prepared. The women of the parable of the 5 wise and 5 foolish virgins (Matt 25) show us the importance of being prepared. The five wise virgins have enough oil to get them through the night. When the bridegroom arrives, they can arise, trim their lamps, and go out to meet him. As you wait, what “oil” do you need to stock up on to make it to the end?

•Expectancy vs. expectations. If we let them, our expectations might cause us to miss the very thing we are watching for! Our expectations make us believe that things can only happen in one way. When that doesn’t happen, we are disappointed. But chances are, we were looking in the wrong direction. Living in expectancy means that we believe that God will act, but we know that his action might come in a surprising way, so we are open to whatever it is that comes – not just what we expect. After all, who expected that God would show up as a helpless baby?

•Watch out! Be on your guard! As we wait, there will be things that come our way that we were not looking for, don’t need, and are not good for us. Jesus tells his disciples to “Watch out for the [teaching] of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Matt 16). We will hear things that are not true, things that are lies. We need to be prepared to reject those things! A lie we are especially susceptible to when we are waiting is the lie, “God doesn’t really love you.” Waiting for long periods of time tempts us to doubt that God does care for us. As you wait, be assured that God does love you and will fulfill his promises to you!

•Keep doing what you’re doing. It might be tempting to drop every thing, press your face to the window, and gaze into the distance waiting for that promise to arrive. You might be tempted to talk about nothing else. Every waking moment, every thought and effort, we may believe, needs to be devoted to the coming fulfillment. But it turns out that waiting and watching well most often means continuing to do what we were already doing. The shepherds were “keeping watch over their flocks by night” – that is, they were doing their job. Peter and Andrew, James and John were fishing when the call came. This is God’s modus operandi: He shows up in the mundane, the everyday, the unspectacular. Doing what you’re already doing – writing papers, waiting tables, going to class, feeding the baby, washing dishes – a whole host of boring, everyday tasks – could very well be the place where God shows up. Are you watching for him?

Isn't this true in life? That God often shows up in a way we don't expect??? at a time we don't expect?  I've had friends wait and long for a baby and then end up having one when they least expected to, or they adopted. I've known a couple different people who had plans for ministry that were changed...they still ended up in ministry but in a different group or on a different mission field.  God showed up, but not how they expected. But what they were called to do in the meantime is the same thing God calls us to do--- while we wait for Him to show up NOW and FOREVER, keep doing what weare doing. I love that the author says God shows up in the mundane.  Keep studying, keep working, keep worshiping, keep hanging out with friends, keep being involved in ministry, keep changing diapers, just keep doing.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Another Bonhoeffer quote

Celebrating Advent means being able to wait. Waiting is the art that our impatient age has forgotten. It wants to break open the ripe fruit when it has hardly finished planting the shoot. But all too often the greedy eyes are only deceived; the fruit that seemed so precious is still green on the inside, and disrespectful hands ungratefully toss aside what has so disappointed them. Whoever does not know the austere blessedness of waiting -- that is, of hopefully doing without -- will never experience the full blessing of fulfillment.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (from prison)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Advent: PEACE

Read this wonderful little post: Advent: Finding Joy in Waiting

This week of advent is focused on peace (and preparation) -- this author makes the wonderful point that PEACE isn't not having troubles, but knowing God's presence during those trials. So while we wait for the Lord's return, we will know trials and we will wait, but during the waiting, we are granted HIS PRESENCE.

From the article:

"Advent also reminds us that though waiting is done on our end, the appearing is His part. Many of us are waiting on God in different areas of our lives. Advent reminds us that He has a history of appearing. Yes, He appeared in Bethlehem more than 2,000 years ago, but He also appeared in your life and mine when we were in need.....He has come, and He is here… with you… with me. And no matter what we are waiting on — employment, healing, direction, money, a spouse, or your first child — He will surely come and deliver the need. He will advent. In the meantime, we wait in peace, because peace isn’t the absence of trouble, but rather the presence of God. We wait in faith. We wait in joyful expectation of Him."

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A prayer of hope at Christmas

For those who need hope  this Christmas or at other times of the year.... I read this prayer and thought of so many I know who need hope right now...those who have lost family members this year, who have faced sickness, who have endured heartache.  Such a beautiful prayer of feelings we have all had before.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Bonhoeffer on Christmas

First off, I love a good romance-- not cheesy romantic comedy love but real deep down put someone else's needs before yourself, concerned with their feelings, honest with eachother type of romance...and thats why I love this quote about Christmas that Bonhoeffer wrote to his wife from prison...because it expresses his concern for her and discusses the pain of being separated from her...but lovelingly points her to the gospel. God is the manger...even in the bad circumstances.

"Be brave, my dearest Maria, even if this letter is your only token of my love this Christmas-tide. We shall both experience a few dark hours -- why should we disguise that from each other? We shall ponder the incomprehensibility of our lot and be assailed by the question of why, over and above the darkness already enshrouding humanity. We are being subjected to the bitter anguish of a separation whose purpose we fail to understand. And then, just when everything is bearing down on us to such an extent that we can scarcely withstand it, the Christmas message comes to tell us that our ideas are wrong, and that what we take to be evil and dark is really good and light because it comes from God. Our eyes are at fault, that is all. God is in the manger."

Favorite line: And then, just when everything is bearing down on us to such an extent that we can scarcely withstand it, the Christmas message comes to tell us that our ideas are wrong, and that what we take to be evil and dark is really good and light because it comes from God. Our eyes are at fault, that is all. God is in the manger.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

You're not alone.

I know that I am focusing on Advent the next few weeks, and I plan on sharing more of what I've read about advent, but today I wanted to share the lyrics to this song my Meredith Andrews (which by the way, is only 69 cents on itunes...)

I was listening to a country Pandora station and this song (which isn't country)  came I shouldn't have heard it but I know the Lord meant for me to hear it.  I immediately downloaded it and shared it with a few friends. This year has been a long hard year for many-- due to problems with family, work, relationships, death, etc...  I hope these words encourage you as much as they do me.

"You're not Alone" by Meredith Andrews

I search for love,
When the night came,
And it closed in,
I was alone,
But you found me,
Where I was hiding,
And now I'll never ever be same,
It was the sweetest voice,
That called my name saying

You're not alone,
For I am here,
Let me wipe away your every fear,
My love I've never left your side,
I have seen you through the darkest night,
And I'm the one that who's loved you all your life,
All of your life
You cry your self to sleep,
Cause the hurt is real,
And the pain cuts deep,
All hope seems lost,
With heart ache your closest friend,
And everyone else long gone,
You've had to face the music on your own,
But there is a sweeter song that calls you home

You're not alone,
For I am here,
Let me wipe away your every tear,
My love I've never left your side,
I have seen you through the darkest nights,
And I'm the one who's love you all your life,
All your life

Faithful and true... Forever, For my love will carry you...

You're not alone,
For I am here,
Let me wipe away your every fear...
My love I've never left your side,
I have seen you through your darkest night,
Your darkest nights,
And I'm the one that's loved you all your life,
All of your life