Honoring Mom…

My folks have been in town for the last two days. They came to attend the stage production of War Horse last night (the tickets were a birthday gift from my brother and I) and then celebrate Mom’s birthday with a family dinner this evening.

I’ve said this before, but I am incredibly thankful for my parents. Even when they arrive at my house with other things on their agenda, they still find ways to do things that help me out. Yesterday, they arrived around noon and I came home and visited with them for a few minutes. Then I headed back to the church for a number of meetings throughout the afternoon. Mom texted just before she and Dad were going to head to Toronto for the show, and I made it home before they left (I love living next door to the church).

I walked in the house to find that they had vacuumed, tidied up, and mopped the floor for me. To me this is one of the greatest kindnesses in the world. Especially on a week when I am feeling ill and don’t have a lot of energy for doing that stuff myself.

My Mom is awesome. She is my confidante, my cheerleader, my person to bounce ideas off of…if you’ve heard a sermon of mine that you liked, chances are that my Mom  helped me focus and form my ideas during one of our nightly phone calls. She is the person I call when things are falling apart and the person I call when things are falling together.

I know I am extremely blessed to have the kind of relationship I have with both my folks. But since Mom’s birthday is coming up in just a few days (Dec 1st…we never celebrate any birthday on its actual DAY in our family!), I thought it would be good to take a few minutes to honor my Mom today.

Mom, you rule, even when you drive me crazy, and I am blessed to be your daughter.

Honor your father and mother, as the Lord your God commanded you. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

Deuteronomy 5:16 NLT

 

Fear vs. Faith

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I am pretty tired right now and more than a little thick-headed. It seems I’ve managed to pick up my first cold of the season. I am hopeful that with enough rest (and perhaps a few prayers from those who read my blogs), I will be in the mend by the end of the week.

In the meantime, I have been thinking a lot about fear vs. faith. I love the above saying, because I believe it to be true. Personally, I find it easier to be fearful than bold or full of faith. I know this about myself, and so I am constantly battling my tendency towards fear. I battle it by reminding myself of what the Bible says and what I have experienced of God’s power in my life. I battle it by singing songs of praise and being in community with others who share my faith. I battle of by feeding my faith rather than my fear.

Sometimes the battle against fear goes well and I find myself amazed at the strength God gives me. Other times I find myself feeding my fear, and I need the reminder that there isn’t room for both fear and faith in my mind/heart/spirit.

Church can be tough. I love my church, but we are far from perfect. We make mistakes and we face difficult circumstances.

But we are called to be people of faith not people of fear.

So may you find new ways each day to feed your faith. May you know that there is not room for both to reside in you. May you tap into the Source of all hope and find that through Him your faith is growing and your fear is failing.

Plans…

Some people are good at living life in the moment. They don’t feel a need to plan the details and they love to do things in the spur of the moment.

I am not one of those people. I like to plan all the details. I like to have thought through the possible outcomes. I like to have back ups to my back ups.

But one thing that life has taught me is that though I may plan diligently, some things will not go according to plan. That’s the way it was in a meeting I had this evening. It did not go according to the plan I had made.

But you know what? I believe that it was one of the most significant and powerful meetings I’ve had with this group since we started meeting together. It may have not been my plan, but I have no doubt at all that it was God’s plan. He knew the conversation we would have tonight, and He knows what fruit it will bear.

And I am grateful for the reminder of this verse:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future…

Jeremiah 29:11

God is so good.

So it begins…

The weekend got away from me. There was so much to do and so little time, it seemed. And in the midst of it all, I never did find a quiet moment during which I could put out my nativity set. That quiet moment finally arrived tonite.

After all the hustle and bustle of the day was over, after I’d had my nightly phone call with my Mom, after the puppy had finally been fed, there was time. No plans, no emails that had to be sent, no chores that had to be done. Just time.

So I loaded my “Everything Christmas” playlist onto my iPhone and set it into its speakers. And as some of my favorite Christmas music began to play, began to unpack my set from its boxes. This is a favorite ritual of mine.

I first saw my nativity set in a store window in the Pickering Town Centre mall, when my parents and I lived in that city. It stopped me dead in my tracks and my Father (with whom I was running errands) had to come back to get me. And we spent a few minutes together, still in the midst of the bustling mall, marveling at how these figures told the story with beauty and simplicity. And how we could still be struck silent by the story these figures told.

A few Christmases later, my Mom and Dad bought me the first pieces in my set. For a couple of Christmases they added to it, until the whole set was mine. Every time I take it out of its boxes I am reminded of the reason for this season. And I am reminded of the faithfulness of my parents, who taught me the story of God’s saving love coming to earth in the form of a helpless baby.

This is the beginning of my Advent season. This is the beginning of all the preparations, all the decorating, all the little steps that will lead to the celebration of Christmas 2012. For me, in this quiet, worship-ful moment, it has begun very well.

The whole set (and stockings for me, Koski and Spot).
The centre piece.
The Wise Men.
A shepherd and some animals.

Anticipation…

I’ve alluded to the fact that Advent is almost here. Where I live, signs of Christmas are beginning to pop up all over the place. I came out of my house for choir practice this evening and noticed that some of my neighbors have put up their Christmas lights. We have begun practicing Advent anthems at choir. And there are signs on all of the streets surrounding my house warning that the streets will be closed this Saturday for the Santa Claus parade.

I always have a struggle at this time of year. Truth be told, I am sorely tempted this weekend to put up both of my Christmas trees, my nativity set and my lights and decorations on the front porch. I want to rush into it.

I have a problem with wanting to rush things before their time. I have a problem with, a lack of, patience.

But I am trying to take my time this year. I WILL put up my nativity set this weekend, but I will hold off on the trees and lights until the end of the month. Because it isn’t time yet. Advent is a season of anticipation. To anticipate you have to hold off a bit. You have to have patience. You can’t just rush to the good stuff, you’ll miss the anticipation entirely.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT) says:

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

I am trying to let things be beautiful in their own time. Instead of rushing them along. I love the thought that there is eternity in our hearts, but we still can’t see all of what God is doing. Is t that the truth about humanity? We have some sense of longing for – and even some understanding of – the things of God. But we can never fully understand them.

In the end, God remains a mystery. And for once, that is not causing me concern or anxiety. Instead it seems inordinately beautiful.

In December, in its time, I will begin my second annual Advent Blog. Until then, may we all find rest in the One who is the most beautiful mystery.

Something new…

If you visit my blog regularly, you might notice that I’ve changed the look of it today. It just felt like it was time for something new – some new colors and fonts and, of course, a picture of me and my puppy.

I was thinking how good it felt to return to blogging last night, and how positive I was feeling about this new season in my life. It just seemed that it would be good to acknowledge that in visual way. So I redecorated my blog space. For someone with my personality type, new often feels scary. But in this case, new is just feeling good.

The Bible promises that:

…anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT

Sometimes, in the life-long journey of faith, that is hard to remember. Sometimes it feels like everything is the same old, same old.  Sometimes you just have to change the way something looks to remember the deep and abiding truth that in Christ all things are being made new.

I hope you like the new layout and color scheme as much as I do (I know, it’s really girly…but then, so am I!).

Seasons…

I should know this by now, but I seem to have to learn it over and over and over again: to everything in life, there is a season (my own paraphrase of Ecclesiastes 3:1). For the past couple of weeks, I have been going througha silent season, in which I haven’t felt much like blogging. My energy has been lower than normal, the days have gotten darker and colder, and generally I have just felt too tired to write.

So, not the greatest season. But. BUT, the thing about seasons is that they change. From one to the next, they transform. And today, I truly feel like I have turned a corner. I am entering a new season. I feel words pressing against my brain, waiting to be written down and shared. I feel hope, like a warm glow in my chest, beginning to grow. I feel close to God in a way that I haven’t for a little while.

No one knows what tomorrow will bring, but for the first time in a while, I find myself anticipating tomorrow with a smile instead of a grinding of teeth. I am entering – I hope, and I pray, and I worry about even writing it out because, O God, what if I jinx it?! – a good season.

Advent is not far away (two more Sundays! YAY!) and I am anticipating this season of anticipation.

You know what? I am just happy and blessed and thankful and aware of all the things for which I ought to be thankful. It’s a good place to be, and I wish all seasons could be like this. Still, I know the tough seasons have so much to teach me, and they make the good seasons shine all the brighter.

My friends, whatever season you are in, may you know that God is with you there. May you feel His peace surrounding you in times of trial and may you sense His delight in times of rejoicing.