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Monthly Archives: December 2013

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A Christmas Wish

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May your heart know the depth of God come to earth. May your spirit sense the joy that He came to give.

May your home emanate the grace of real peace on earth. And may heaven and nature truly sing.

Merry Christmas!!

 

 

When Overwhelmed Paralyzes

The overwhelmed screams loudly as the crazy of the season catches up with me.Merry Christmas focus

I can’t shake it.

Even in the midst of a freed-up morning, I feel paralyzed by all I have to do.

I get my kids to school and return home to the dishwasher full of clean plates and bowls and silverware and the sink that overflows with their dirty counterparts. Where do I start? I ask myself emphatically and literally spin around in my kitchen hoping for a sign.

I have so much to do I don’t even know how to pick where to start.

It’s like trying to find the end of the Scotch tape roll. My mind spins, too.

But somehow even in the spinning, I hear a sort of whisper in the deep places where my thoughts form.

I remember the quiet Almighty God offers. I want the peace He gives.

I see my Bible on the table, but I don’t reach for it. Not yet.

I go straight to my knees instead. Face to the ground, and I bow before Almighty God Who thought up Christmas and knew about this very day before He even started time. He knew the crazy overwhelmed I would feel. The stress and the busy and the too-much-to-do list.

So right in the middle of the minutes I have to get something crossed off my list, I lay on the floor and tell God He is Lord. Lord of the whole earth. Lord of my life. I know He knows, but I need the reminding.

The loud overwhelmed quiets as I ask the Lord of my life to show me what to do. Let me know how to do it. He reminds me that this is His plan even today. It’s His hand that’s brought me to right here.  His hand that’s pointed me straight into this season. Jesus Focus

Then right there — in the middle of my living room floor — the Living God breathes air into the lungs of my soul, and He whispers away the paralysis. He reminds me Who He is as I exhale my desperation.

I get up off the floor and find my dishes still undone.

But their effect is quite different now.

No almost-swearing or hopeless burden of busyness. Somehow now I can think clearly.

No longer paralyzed by overwhelmed that had me frozen just minutes ago, I check my list and start on what’s easy. I notice a hope suddenly restored.

Maybe, just maybe, I’ll get something done today.

Do you feel paralyzed by the overwhelmed of life right now? Why not take three minutes to hand it over to the very God Who already knows?

Can I pray for you?

Almighty God, thank You for knowing already our stress. Thank You for the quiet You promised to bring even when it feels like we’re stuck in the spin-cycle of life and Christmas parties and shopping and crowds and laundry and life. Lord, I pray right now for my friend reading this. Will You let her know Your peace like she’s never known it before? Will You take his overwhelmed and turn it into hope? And, Lord, please don’t let any of us forget that You’ve got this. Every detail. In the Name of Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen

The Real Christmas Dream

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I wasn’t sure when I grabbed it off the buffet table that morning at my daughter’s class party. I decided to try.

Sesame-seed-topped feta-cheese-filled Turkish doughiness from Ismael’s mom. She’s from Turkey.

I’d never tasted anything like it. And I would likely never taste anything like it again. So I enjoyed every bite of that unknown deliciousness. Savored the foreign flavor while it was mine to be had. Before it was gone from my life forever.

The party activities began soon after, but there was plenty of Turkish amazingness left for me to eat another. Which was awesome.

Even though I was full, I could certainly make room for more.

I knew I shouldn’t eat it because this was something I needed to conquer.

For reasons that had to do with the real life I told Jesus I wanted to live, I could not let the temptation to overeat sneak in and steal the true satisfied that has nothing to do with feta-cheese or Turkish doughiness.

It’s a physical temptation that has become spiritual, too. As in, I don’t need more, but I crave the flavor of amazing. I love to fill my belly with delicious. I cannot get enough when something is good.

So I sat there convincing myself I didn’t need more of the Turkish awesomeness. Like a cartoon with a little me on one shoulder, clad in white, halo shining. The devil version of myself on the opposite shoulder trying to justify the one little piece I did not need.

I would have experienced no immediate consequence had I taken another piece. No lightning strike for not heeding God’s wisdom that reminded me

one portion of His great is way better than two portions of just good.

But it was the principle at stake. The chiseling away, one tiny piece at a time, of the foundation of wisdom about my appetite for what is good.

You see, my taste is flawed. My taste for what is excellent. What’s worth chasing after. What’s worth filling myself with. What’s worth spending my time on. My money. My energy. It happens at Christmastime. It happens all year.

So often I let the pull of the momentary good pull me away from the focus of what is worthy. What is better. The truly amazing that God wants to watch me chow down abundantly.

It’s the real and living water Jesus offered to the woman He ran into in Samaria. Better than pretend-intimacy with men and their empty promises. More filling than the satisfaction of knowing she’d landed herself a man with a name.  Longer-lasting than the few nights she shared with each one of them.

Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again . . . (v13)

The real life Jesus came for is deeper than the cozy fire and the beautiful bows and the super yummy Christmas cookie Yankee Candle I just bought. It’s even better than the ipad mini I hope I get. (But know I will not.)

That Samaritan woman had been drinking from the wrong well just like I do. She kept coming back to the water that did not quench her true thirst. Her method of quenching looked much different than mine. But make no mistake, we both got it wrong.

Maybe you’ve had it wrong too. We keep looking for more of what will not satisfy rather than taking the only thing we will never need more of. Especially at Christmas, when there’s so much to consume. So many treats to behold.

Perhaps you’re like me, and you want the real dream of Christmas. Want to shake up the Christmas dream and go back to the One Who has always held real life, even in teeny tiny little hands swaddled in Mary’s clothes.

Let’s remember together the real dream of Christmas. The reason the angels exploded at the first mention of His arrival.

Question: What have you found to be helpful to keep yourself focused on what’s real at Christmastime?

 

An Invitation To Dream About Christmastime

Every December, we decorate our house and put up a tree and remember with our kids what it means that Jesus came. We talk about it all year, but Christmastime is different. The whole world takes pause for the God Who was a baby and lay inside a hay holder because of His extravagant love for mankind.

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For several years, I have considered not sending out Christmas cards because I get all deep and wonder why we even do that in the first place. Then I remember how much I love getting Christmas mail and I think I should do the same for all the people I have ever met. So I settle for eighty of our closest friends and order them anyway.

Then I get all bi-polar as I vacillate between the I-want-to-buy-gifts-for-everyone-I-know spirit of Christmas and the Scrooge in me that starts to forget the point of it all.

I want to live deeply at Christmas more than any other season of the year. I don’t want to just do the stuff of Christmas because it’s what is expected. I want every part of it to mean something.

The gift-giving. The celebrating. The singing. The bells. The manger scenes and Christmas cantatas and gingerbread houses.

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I want more wonder in my heart and in my home at Christmastime. I want it to be set apart for telling more Jesus. Living more love. Knowing the True Light that gives light to mankind and what He does for the darkness in my soul.

So I have been thinking . . .

What would it be to actually live like the best part of Christmas is the heart all aflutter at the miracle of God touching earth with feet that got dirty?

Oh, I love the magical lights and the big, pretty bows. I like getting Christmas presents about as much as I love my afternoon coffee. Maybe even more. But the truth of the matter is, I tend to forget the why of Christmastime and just muscle through the what without stopping to wonder at the W-O-N-D-E-R of true Christmas. I think most of us do.

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But the reality of Christmas and the month of December makes me consider the secret dreams. The ones that hide behind all the cozy and the cute of Christmastime. Somehow those dreams seem to settle for an obligatory nod while the inevitable craziness takes over and convinces me that this is good enough. Getting through to-do’s and the Christmas schedule mix-ups and the wrapping paper that floats from living room floor to dining room table to master bedroom and so forth.

Today, I’m letting myself dream Christmas altogether differently. I’m getting brave and admitting the dream of my perfect Christmas.

Because what if the Christmas dream God wants me to live is the kind that has power to change the world?

My dream is full of sacred moments. Lots of laughs with my husband and kids. Egg nog with my friends. Showing Jesus to the grumpy lady at WalMart. Telling Jesus to my friend who doesn’t know Him. Sharing turkey with a family who has nowhere else to go.

It’s laughing and singing and playing with toys. It’s intentional quiet with true prayers to the God Who invented the season. Wrapping presents all pretty because I love to give gifts. Giving stuff away to people just because I can. Crazy gift-giving because of the supernatural extravagant love of Jesus Christ.

I dream of one day spending our entire Christmas budget on someone who wouldn’t otherwise get to have it. Like decorating their house and bringing them beautiful packages and eating cookies with them while we talk about Jesus and drink afternoon coffee together. (Told you I like it.)

I dream of Christmastime that’s more than what I’ve always known. One that doesn’t clamber to cross of lists but delights to show Jesus to all who will see. Looks to tell His story at any given moment.

As I dream, I also wonder what might happen if you join me. What if we admit those deep down dreams to each other? What if together we envision the excited pieces of our souls that want to soar inside the depth that is Christmas and December and Jesus Christ Son of God come to earth with real life coursing through His veins?

What’s your Christmastime dream? I tend to believe it’s bigger than pretty presents and squishy Santa bellies.

Tell us in the comments. And together we will dream of Christmas.

How To Have A White Christmas {German Snow Revisited}

It’s been snowing here these last few days, and I keep thinking about this post I wrote last December. During one of the first snowfalls we endured enjoyed in Germany. So I thought we could re-visit it today. You know, to remember the amazing that is truly White Christmas.

God shook the snow globe yesterday. It fell hard and beautiful, and we watched with wide eyes and gave updates through the day. Look outside! It’s still snowing!

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It’s called Schnee in Deutsch. As in Let’s go build a Schneemann. And Wanna’ have a Schneeball fight?

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The snow falls through the night, and the globe keeps shaking through the morning commute. I watch in the dark from the bus stop. See the different trajectory each snowflake follows.

I get soaked on my way home, even from inside the hat and scarf and gloves and warm winter coat. But I’m walking, so I’m not that cold. The little tiny snowplow attacks the parking lot across the street. And the sandwich vendor on the corner’s shoveling hard when I pass by. Trying to keep up with the falling snow. Trying to stay ahead of it.

But nobody can keep up. The snow just keeps piling.

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Huge snowflakes hit my eyelashes and my cheeks, and pieces of my hair are soaked, poking out from my hat. All I can think is how fast the snow falls. How nobody can get ahead of it.

Then it hits me, that verse I read at the beginning of Isaiah.

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This piling snow, it’s grace from God. I cannot keep up with the clean forgiving He lavishes. My sins, oh how dark like scarlet they are. As red as the blood that flowed down Jesus’ face from His thorn-crown-covered forehead that Friday we call Good.

But His snow-piled grace turns them white even now. I walk in the snow and I am clean in my heart. New. Because He’s turned the dark red stains of the sin in my soul into snow-white piles of undeserved favor. Unmerited grace.

And this is the white of Christmas. I realize it as I traipse through the slush and into my building. The gift of the snow white clean for which Emmanuel arrived.

I don’t have to dream of a white Christmas. I live it every year.

But, it’s nice to have the snow piles outside to remind me.

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