Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Picking up the Pieces

I've been picking up the pieces of life lately.  Poor choices, less-then-stellar advice, learning curves and out-side influences have taken stabs and jabs at pretty much everyone in our household.  I thought coming in out of full-time missions work was hard... this ranks right up there with it.

Somewhere in the  midst of all the mayhem and mess I lost something:  Spark.  Passions and drives which once boiled inside have simmered and settled.  At first I thought it was just a new phase of life, however, I have since realized it is something more.  Thumbing through Pinterest to pass a few slow minutes, I saw this article: Rekindling Joy by Pursuing our Passions.

I want to say I am not needing to rekindle Joy, rather, I miss pursuing my passions... yet the more I thought about it, I believe a lack of pure joy is zapping the life out of my passions.  Sure, life is in pieces right now, as a matter of fact, it seems there is a daily crisis lately.  The kind of crises which make a SAHM like myself dream of a part-time telecommuting job so I can save for mission trips across borders just to serve the Lord in peace... and get some distance and simultaneous perspective on life and it's issues!

It isn't just the domestic dim-drum which drives me down though, it is also the general undercurrent of society and our country as a whole.  Debates over who really won the election and resulting social injustices which make me ashamed to be a human...  Arguments for the last 2 months over whether or not you can call yourself a Christian AND celebrate Christmas...  The blurring lines of humanity when gender changes name and it isn't so simple to even ask "boy or girl" while big-money-movie tickets pay our favorite stars to be the mouth-piece of these movements.

Life is too complicated these days.

Christmas 2016 shoved that very truth onto center-stage in a much more personal role.  I no longer have little kids.  It is strange.  And with all the complications which have persisted these past few months, HOW we celebrated Christmas had it's tweaks in order to accommodate the shifting situation.  Through it all I reflected, not just on Christmases past, but on life past as well:  The simple things which use to mean so much to people... the ways we use to be able to speak and reach and share and love.  Even this blog came under scrutiny when I considered old topics and the early simplicities of being a mommy blogger.  Now we are a dime a dozen, a virtual market flooded with us... do I really matter in the great big ocean of 1's and 0's?

I thought of all my little tips, simple recipes, heart renderings, homeschool sharing and Biblical beseeching... is it all a buzz? Old knowledge? Wasted space?


... I picked up a Woman's Day in the grocery line just after Thanksgiving.  It and Family Circle were the woman's Bible of how-to-be-a-housewife before FlyLady, Family Fun and Rachel Ray hit the scene.  To this day I use many-a-tried-and-true recipe I've held tight to.  One flip through my holiday journals reveals carefully removed magazine pages from by-gone issues sharing organization advice and food-prep tips I still find priceless.

So, after groceries were nestled in my cupboards with care, I curled up with hot cocoa (yeah, I'm a big kid) and the fresh-pressed magazine across my lap.  I was leery... it had been years since I last read one of these prints... would it be liberalized too?  Did WOMAN's Day still apply?

Well, the issue I held was like a tall glass of fresh water.  So many things I missed about those early years of housewifery came flooding back.  I lamented, I laughed, I looked forward to trying some new recipes... and I dreamed.  Passions were sparking.  Like an engine that wants to die but won't sputter out because there is still enough juice left... if only the right spark could fully fire it up.

That holiday issue of Woman's Day tugged in my mind all month amidst the many other reflections.  Some, at times, admittedly resentful that life was no longer so peaceful and simple anymore.  But as the season drew to a close, other memories began to spark...

So many times I will talk with women or post tid-bits here and I feel like what I am saying or typing may be redundant, the information recipient is secretly rolling her eyes and thinking 'duh, everyone knows that'... yet instead I get overwhelmed with messages of 'really? I never thought of that!' or appreciations for encouragement. I realized... knowledge doesn't become common unless it is shared.

Once upon a time I was the doe-eyed, wet-behind-the-ears, new pup on the block.  I didn't know the easy way to boil an egg or how to improvise ingredients.  I once was clueless to managing multiple kiddos and conflict resolution that fosters Spiritual understanding amongst them.  I didn't always comprehend the value of joint history lessons metered to grade or the value of tiered learning... oh, the list could go on but you get the idea.

So, tug and pull came to shove and I read Mandy's blog today, not because she shares my nic-name but because the title grabbed me, perhaps God shoved me... whatever Divine tugging was at work, I gave it a read and I was moved.

God has gifted me uniquely and individually... and in a life, and a world, gone a-muck, perhaps my passion towards the simple true things in life is just what God wants popped out there right now.  I don't need to fear debates or disputes.  I don't have to worry about redundancies... even Woman's Day is still publishing content I remember them publishing 25 years ago!  They know readers will cycle through and need knowledge which becomes common... or just need the reminder and encouragement of simple things in life.  Why would I choose to deny God's call to revive the un-common, common-ness of my knowledge base which He has blessed me with and grown in me so that I might share it with others?

Am I someone special to say and share all this? Not particularly.

But I am Chosen for a purpose and a time and a place.  I may just be picking up the pieces of life around me right now... but I can put it all back together with Purpose in mind.  I can submit myself to be used by God, to glorify God... even in the simplest things.  I will NOT put my light under a basket in the midst of the broken pieces around.  Let that spark rip into a roaring blaze that springs forth passion, purpose and (most of all) the One True Light that drives it all.

I pray, wherever you are today, whatever challenges (or joys) you face, that God is ministering to your heart through His Word to bring you to a place of purpose in Him because you are Chosen for a purpose too!


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Advent Fun 2016

"It's the most wonderful time of the year..."  Oh how I LOVE Christmastime.  #1, my Lord and Savior's birth is celebrated with gusto for an entire month!!!  #2, the hope and love for a full season pours out from even the most unexpected places springing life which lights a path well into a new year.  #3 gift giving, I LOVE giving gifts for any reason or occasion and Christmas is my favorite.

Even now that all my children know who is eating the cookies and stuffing those socks, they (and I) relish the timeless tradition of waiting for Santa.  My Parable in Modern Form article touches on my heart in this matter.  Part of this tradition includes a count-down to Christmas, something I shared in depth about last year in the article here.  I prepared a new advent calendar for this year and thought of you, my faithful reader, in the event you might like to join me!  You can click on the image below to download and print.

There is a second page with directions included in the download.  Last year we colored the bells yellow as we did one activity a day.  We did not follow the list top-to-bottom, rather, we picked an activity we had the ability to do on each day.  We used stickers placed in each square of the calendar to count-down to Christmas. This advent calendar balances the holiday fun as a family with holiday fun in serving and thinking of others; something my family has come to look forward to most during advent each year!

Also in the article from last year, referenced above, is a link to a Bible advent I developed on our old ministry website.  Walk through scripture as you count down to the celebration of Jesus' birth!

I pray your Christmas season is full of Christ and hope and joy that comes in knowing a baby in a manger paved a path that we all might meet Him in heaven one day!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Forgiveness and a Path to Gratitude

There it was.  This GREAT BIG opportunity, a choice, to give grace or condemnation after a HUGE disappointment.  Not to mention, it was on the heals of a month filled with opportunities to express deep-heart forgiveness for others in our circle in moments when demands and expectations could have legitimately been made.  The crooked form sitting before me, afraid to look at me, expecting what was always expected and received from others in the form of ridicule and berating... my heart broke and gushed and the cross never felt so close as it did at that moment.


What I thought would be difficult to give, simply flowed out.  How could I not give it and spread it abundantly.  No wrong was so wrong that I couldn't.


The hardest simplest thing to do in our lives is to forgive, especially issued to the worst in a situation. Among the biggest most powerful concepts, right up there with love and grace.

As I look ahead, after a month of roller-coaster heartache and unbelievable travesty,  I can't help but see the tie between gratitude and forgiveness.  Like the blinding brightness of light when one has sat in dark, is the paramount of gratitude once forgiveness has been gifted and graced.

God through Paul commands:
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
- Ephesians 4:32

Jesus himself provides a staunch warning which should make even the most devout, shutter and take stock:
For if you forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive yours. 
Matthew 6:14-15

How do we do this thing called forgiveness?  Don't we have every right to be hurt, to feel betrayed, to want to hold on and expect reconciliation or recompense?

Sure, but, didn't Jesus also?  He was lied to and about, he was betrayed, he was mistreated and deceived, he was beaten and tortured for crimes he did not commit and, ultimately, he died a gruesome and tortuous death he did not deserve.  His only response? 

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” 
- Luke 23:34a 


So, what exactly has any one person done to me that I just can't forgive?  Um...... yeah, I can't think of a thing which deserves my time, energy, or heart to harbor.  Suddenly, forgiveness and grace become much easier.

I love how God puts it through Paul:

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 
- Colossians 3:13-15

After forgiveness we get dressed!  We put on love and we let peace of Christ RULE and then?  Be thankful.

We may not be thankful that we were hurt or betrayed or let down or... pick your verb.  However, we can have gratitude in lessons learned, gratitude things weren't worse (they can always be worse), gratitude Christ teaches us grace and forgiveness, gratitude that we are just sojourners and this is not our home, gratitude that suffering and hurt will not last forever.  If you have put on love and LET the peace of Christ rule in your heart, you will find gratitude for something!

I pray, no matter what you are walking out today or may be walking out ahead, you will find deep-heart forgiveness for any and all actions which may have taken stabs at your heart and that in the practice of forgiveness, you find deep gratitude you can live in and walk out.