Christmas busy

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‘Tis the season to be busy. Fa la la la la la la la la.

I ran into a friend at my daughter’s piano recital. She asked how I was and I replied “busy.” That is my standard answer these days. She said she is working hard to wrap up their homeschooling so they can enjoy 3 weeks off for the holiday season. Wow. She didn’t want to be busy this year. I applaud her intentionality. I want to follow her lead.

We have already finished the orchestra Christmas concert at the junior high and now the piano recital. All that’s left is shuttling kids to Christmas parties and events. However, that is an endless list of random events on various nights up to Christmas Eve. How can I slow down with 3 teenagers? I don’t want to rob them of attending the fun things planned for them by their friends and church. We are even hosting one of these Christmas parties. Saying no just doesn’t feel like the answer. To me, the answer is presence not presents.

I will be present with my kids when they are home. We can play a game, watch a cheesy holiday movie or bake something. I can even sit in the room with them while they study for finals next week. We can just be in the presence of one another. Since they each have so many things to go to, I will get 1-on-1, or 2-on-1, time with them. That will help a lot too. I have found with 3 kids, just changing the mix from 3 to 2 changes the dynamic.

So I will be intentionally present with my kids. I don’t plan to cut our events but to savor the in-between times. I love the season and the joyful events that surround it. I don’t want to say no. But I can say yes to being available in-between. So savor the season and the things you love about it. Attend the Christmas cookie exchange, go to the last-minute party that popped up and when you are home, be fully home. Be attentive to those in your house. Be intentional.

‘Tis the season to be present. Fa la la la la la la la la.

Dream Big! Pray Big!

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Christmas Music

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I must confess, we started listening to Christmas music before Thanksgiving this year. Thank you KOST 103.5. My eldest daughter and I love it. The house is decorated except for the tree. We still get real trees so it’s a bit too early to buy it. The lights are hung outside. The blow up nativity is puffed up. It’s Christmas time.

I love walking through the mall or Target or even Albertsons and hearing songs about our Savior, Jesus and His dad, God. He is being proclaimed in public places. Truth is being heard. People can learn about God just by listening to Christmas music. What a joy that these songs are still being played every year. Obviously Jingle Bells isn’t going to lead you to Jesus but O Holy Night or even Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (if they use the line “If the Lord allows” not “fates allow.”) will. When you hear His truth being played, say a prayer for your fellow shoppers. They may be hearing about Jesus for the first time. You never know.

The other part about Christmas music is how inspired it is by the Holy Spirit. I had the pleasure of attending the Bonner Singers Christmas Concert this year. I sang in this professional choir over 20 years ago. It was a powerful experience. Sitting in the audience, seeing old friends in the choir and watching the amazing conducting of Doc and Judd Bonner touched my heart. Yet the music – it touched my soul. I wept through a lot of the songs. These singers, who love Jesus, are able to convey the true message because the spirit is in them and in those who wrote the music. When performers know the Lord, the music is elevated to a higher level and reaches to a deeper part of us. I am sad to say that I had forgotten the power of music until this concert. Thank you Lord for the reminder. I was changed by being there.

Let the truth of the season soak in – Jesus came to live as a human in order to relate to us on our level and ultimately to pay the price for our sins through His death and resurrection (Easter). Let the music of the season seep into your soul. Be changed by the lyrics. Find the message in each song. Let His Spirit invade your heart this Christmas. May the music, inspired by the truth of Jesus, be your guide this holiday.

Dream Big! Pray Big!

Grateful vs. Thankful

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In a recent Thanksgiving email from Axis.org, they discussed the difference between thankful and gratitude. I looked up the definitions in Webster’s dictionary online and found the following:

Thankful is defined as “conscious of benefit received.”

Grateful is “appreciative of benefits received.”

Do you see the difference? Conscious implies you don’t do anything about it. You just have an awareness of something you are thankful for.  You are thankful but may not communicate it. However, grateful implies action.

Appreciative is “having or showing appreciation.”

Appreciation is defined as “a feeling or expression of admiration, approval, or gratitude.”

Let’s act on benefits we receive in life. We have a ton. I’m sure this past week you took time to think of things you are thankful for. Some families even go around the table and share what they are thankful for. With those ideas in the forefront because of Thanksgiving, I encourage you to act on it. Be grateful. Express your admiration, approval or gratitude.

If you are a note writer, send a thank you note. Send one to your friend who brought flowers or a pie to your Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving meal. If you are a texter, text a thank you or a picture from your gathering. If you are a talker, call your friend. If you are a baker, drop off some cookies. Express your conscious awareness of the benefit received.

Thanksgiving may be one day a year but expressing thanks should be every day. Take the warm fuzzy feelings from Thursday and apply them every day. Let’s make our lives one of expressed thanks.

Dream Big! Pray Big!

Christopher Robin

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Who doesn’t love Winnie the Pooh? He’s a “tubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff.” So when I finally got to see the movie Christopher Robin, I wasn’t at all surprised I would love it. However, I not only loved it but I recommend it to everyone with the highest rating. It’s not just a movie, it’s an experience.

My 17-year-old daughter and I watched it together on our couch at home. We both snuggled up for a good movie night. When you first see a non-animated Pooh Bear, you squeal with delight. (OK, we squealed with delight but I’m sure a few of you are squealers too). Piglet (my favorite), Eeyore and the gang were just as incredibly cute. They were puppets of some kind and I’m not sure how they did it. They walked and talked and looked incredibly cute. Every time the stuffed characters came on-screen, it was a delight.

Cuteness factor aside, the message of the movie is powerful. Predictable story: Christopher Robin is all grown up with a family and a workaholic. He’s forgotten what it’s like to be a kid and is ready to send his daughter to boarding school to raise her properly. Then Pooh shows up. Reluctantly, Christopher returns to the 100 Acre Woods. After some extremely hurtful words to Pooh Bear, he finds his inner child. Even though the show is predictable, it hits home. It reminded me of what’s important. Do I stop enough to spend time with my kids or keep rushing from event to event? Do I savor my friendship as much as I should? These stuffed critters were Christopher Robin’s best friends. They love him unconditionally even after years of not seeing him. We need to value and cherish those friends in our life.

Another takeaway in the movie for me was vulnerability. Christopher had never told his wife about these friends from his childhood. Why not? They shaped him. They helped him. They were his world. Once he let her into this part of his life, it reenergized their relationship. When we keep a part of ourselves from those we love, we rob them of fully knowing us. Let’s strive to be vulnerable, even in our silliness. Share that you love eating just the middle of Oreos. (That’s one of mine). Trust a dear one with your love of all things Snoopy. (Another one of mine but it’s obvious to those around me.) Reminisce about your childhood to your sweetheart.

The movie had us in tears. Not for sadness. They were tears for how heartwarming this show is. Both of us needed Kleenex. Tenderness, friendship, love, simplicity, cute stuffed animals and good old-fashioned kindness are the hallmarks of this movie. Enjoy it this holiday with your family and those your love.

Dream Big! Pray Big!

His Word

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 For the word of God is alive and active. – Hebrews 4:12 NIV

Do you believe this? I do. Just this morning I was listening to the sermon from Christian Assembly. I learned something I never knew before. He was sharing from 2 Samuel 9 about Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, grandson of King Saul. David invites him to the palace and restores the land of his grandfather to him. I knew that part but what I didn’t know was that he became lame in both feet as they were fleeing. When King Saul and Jonathan died in battle, Saul’s family fled the region. Mephibosheth was only 5 years old and was dropped by his nurse and became lame. This is found in 2 Samuel 4:4.

I have heard this story many times. I even reference in when I teach about David and Jonathan’s friendship. I never knew how Mephibosheth became lame in both feet. God’s word is alive and active. It still teaches. It breathes life into my day.

Have you ever reread a familiar passage but it hits you in a new way? Have you felt stuck and powerless but remember a verse from scripture and suddenly you are empowered? God’s word is alive and active.

If you have never experienced His word in this way, I challenge you to dive in this week. Read the Bible every day this week. A verse a day. A chapter a day. Whatever works for your schedule. See if you can find the passages you read in your daily life. Maybe they will return to you when you need a pick me up in the day. Or you are praying for someone and the verse you read pops into your mind as an offer of hope. Possibly you are going about your normal routine and you feel convicted over something you do regularly. You now see it in a new light because of what you read.

I don’t know how God is going to reach out to you in His word but He will. I know this because God’s word is alive and active. Let it be so in your life.

Dream Big! Pray Big!

Disneyland at 50

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Let me set the scene. Standing in line for a ride. Three friends are chatting away oblivious to the fact that there are small children with light sabers standing a few feet away. Eager to catch up on life as we spend the day at Disneyland. The topics range from menopause to our crazy teens to other health issues that face late 40s early 50s women. I can’t imagine what questions we made a few moms answer over corn dogs later that day. “Mommy, what is meno plause?”

Disneyland turned 50 in 2005. I turned 50 this year. Our relationship has changed greatly now that I’m 50. Rides that used to entice me are on my no list. Foods that tempted my palate are no longer even a consideration. Shady trees and benches make me happy.

I went to Disneyland yesterday with 3 incredible friends. One of our dear friends has the ability to sign us in so we get in for free. It’s a real treat. So at least once a year, sometimes twice, we grab whoever is available and head out to the Happiest Place on Earth. I must say, Disneyland still brings joy at any age. The feeling you get when you walk onto Main Street is exhilaration. That has never changed for me.

We headed to our first ride – Star Tours. Because I have had vertigo and get motion sickness, I passed on the ride. I just hung out in line with my friends until the last moment then I exit. I don’t mind. I just want to be with my friends and talk and laugh. We did a lot of that. As we considered the next ride, a few were immediately denied due to neck issues and low back problems. The easy go to is Small World but it’s closed.

We venture to Buzz Lightyear next then onto the Tea Cups. Again a no for me due to vertigo. A no to our other friend who was still recovering from Star Tours. Disneyland is not for wimps. The best part about the Tea Cup ride was watching the two who went on it. They obviously had gotten into a deep discussion in line that continued during the ride. The sat facing one another, turning the wheel to spin the cup and had looks of deep concern on their faces. Their intense conversation lasted until the cup stopped spinning.

As the day progressed, all of our concerns, cares, joys and delights were shared. We never stopped talking. It is the best way to spend a day catching up with a friend. Between the deep conversations there were loud bursts of laughter. We went on nostalgic rides because they didn’t trigger any of  our aging issues. The rides were cheesy but hysterical. We laughed at everything.

The magic of Disneyland isn’t the rides. It isn’t the parade or the fireworks (even though they were awesome). The magic of Disneyland is the shared experience. Not only did I get to be a kid and laugh and giggle. I got to divulge my deepest pains and struggles with three amazing women over the course of an entire day. Disneyland as a child vs. Disneyland with kids vs. Disneyland with dear friends are worlds apart. Each season is precious. I am grateful for this season I am sharing with companions who get me and are going through similar life experiences. Thankfully, we got in free due but even if we didn’t, the $150 (or whatever crazy number is it now) would have been worth it. The conversations were invaluable, the laughter brought healing and joy and the memories are forever.

Dream Big! Pray Big!

 

Missed Opportunity

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The senior pastor at our church quit. His last Sunday was this past week. He hadn’t preached in a few weeks due to the reason behind his quitting. The tension could be cut with a knife when he approached the pulpit. He stammered over his words which is not his style. You could tell he was nervous and uncomfortable. Of course he was. He’s leaving his church of 15 years. I am not him nor do I fully understand the depth of the pain he must be experiencing. However, I hoped for vulnerability in his sermon. He gave a regular sermon. At his benediction he said “I normally say I’ll see you next week but I won’t.” He’s a bit of a comedian and has a dry humor so it fit who he is. To me though, it was a missed opportunity.

I wanted to see a man of God admit he was hurting. Share a bit of his woundedness with us and how he’s leaning on God to get through this season of pain. We didn’t get that. Again, I am not aware of the depth of his pain nor the full story behind his leaving. However, this was a missed opportunity.

Two weeks ago I had a chance to face my own vulnerability. I got angry at a few friends and even used a few choice words. The next day, I hung my head and apologized for my outburst. I truly was ashamed by my handling of the situation the night before. No one wants to be humbled. No one wants to admit they are human and have failings. No one wants to be the one who has to apologize. Each friend responded differently to the apology too. One commiserated (that one felt good), another just received it and another received it and comforted. It’s hard to be humble.

Is there an opportunity in your life right now where you can model humility and vulnerability? Do you need to apologize for something you said or did? Do you need to acknowledge an attitude or thought life that no one would know was even going on? When we step out in humility, we may be rejected, comforted, empathized with, or treated with ambivalence. It’s tough but necessary. Why? Because the world doesn’t live this way. They hide, blame, shame and sue. As believers in Jesus Christ, we need to be open, humble, grace-filled and forgiving.

If you are the one needing to be humble or you are on the receiving end of someone’s humility, be gracious. Make this opportunity of vulnerability a positive one. The more we share from honesty, the stronger we become and the more glory God receives.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. – Colossians 3:12 

Dream Big! Pray Big!

P.S. I am sorry I missed last week and am a day late this week. With almost 3 teenagers, my house is crazy. Some weeks I am going on fumes. I hope to stay on track for the rest of the year. Thank you for reading my blog faithfully. I appreciate you.