Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas is Over

Journal for Christa—

Untrimming the trees, taking down garland, grading the papers I’ve put off until the last few days of break…Christmas is over. And so we leave, historically, Mary and Joseph to raise the baby born in a manger in silence and unwatched. In the length and dailiness of raising children, I wonder how often they wished for an angelic visitation. Did the years grind by ever so slowly that all those incarnation events didn’t even seem real?

We, too, raise our children in much the same way. After all, Joseph and Mary were just ordinary people. It seems to take so very long, and we feel that people don’t know the work we’re putting into it. Kim asked the other day while we were Skyping if our kids were “as bad as Breck and Helen.” I kind of laughed because it just takes so long to raise kids—a lot longer than 4 to 6 years.

Even though it was long after our children were grown, in devotions one morning our principal shared something he’d read on a blog from a pastor he follows. I don’t remember at all who he said it was, but I thought at the time he’d captured the essence of childrearing clearly. Though not a direct quote, here is basically what he said:

There are two things we need to make sure we teach our children: (1) that they are not the center of the universe and (2) that you and God love them more than they could possibly imagine. 

I believe that is true, and I believe that takes a long time. Babies do come into this world thinking it should revolve around them. I also don’t think the method in how we teach them is so important. Maybe that’s what it means to “train a child in the way he should go.” The key is that they get it. The happiest, most contented people I know are those who are unselfish and know that God and others love them.

With only one brief glimpse into Jesus’ childhood, we again pick up His story after He is a grown man—at a wedding, celebrating one of life’s happiest events. The day after Christmas, our niece, Anna, posted on Facebook a picture of a shiny diamond ring embedded in a red rose.

So, as we close the Christmas story and the last few days of this year, we too look forward to the next year with weddings and joy. We look forward with hope because we know that God is the center of the universe, and He loved us so much He took on humanity to bring us salvation.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Time is Out of Joint

Journal for Christa—

At the end of Act I, Hamlet states that “time is out of joint.” That’s kind of how yesterday seemed to me. We had a big Christmas this year with children, grandchildren, my mom, sisters and their families. We did Christmas early—on Monday. Then, after the cars were packed and the kids left yesterday, Jay and I went to Target to get out (and avoid cleaning). At Target everything seemed wrong. The toy section was packed, Christmas music filled the air, and we kept wondering: “Where are all the after Christmas sales?” Things did seem out of kilter.

It made me wonder how Joseph and Mary might have felt on the real Christmas. Bethlehem was crawling with people, mostly descendants of David. They were there for a census; Joseph and Mary were there for the birth of the Savior. The masses were probably a mix of people: some excited to see relatives, some just perturbed for the inconvenience. People everywhere, but Joseph and Mary didn’t totally fit in.

I suppose Christmas really should be a reminder to Christians that life is supposed to be a little out of joint. We walk with our feet squarely in this world, but we should also be quite aware of another. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Godly Girls

Journal for Christa—

Tomorrow is “Tasty Tuesday.” That's what the Godly Girls (aka: The Making of a Godly Woman class) decided to call our end of the semester party. It’s our last regular class period before the final final, literally—right before Christmas break on Friday.

Someone suggested we invite the godly men, but we nixed that right away. It crossed my mind to invite our guest speakers we enjoyed, but in the end—it seemed right to share a meal together, just ourselves.

So, I took in the sparkling cider today to stick in the refrigerator before I left. And, if someone forgets to bring something tomorrow, it won’t matter—we’ll make do. As that’s kind of how we’ve often stumbled through this semester—girls sometimes seeking what they knew not—with a teacher often at a loss in so many ways. Some days were boring; some ran smoothly, and some days God showed up. Those were the best.

Tomorrow, we’ll spread a tablecloth over desks we’ve shoved together, slap paper plates on silver chargers, and dine on lasagna and enchiladas with plastic utensils and cloth napkins. It’ll be kind of eclectic—kind of like our class—kind of like life.

I hope the girls have decided that godly women come in all shapes and sizes. That they all have gifts unique to each individual—gifts to honor God and to encourage each other along life’s way. I pray they’ll value God’s word all their days—that they’ll always remember the ear of God is only a prayer away—

As for me, I’ve gained a new appreciation for those who attempt to teach us what it is to be godly. The task is far harder than any English class I’ve ever taught, because it’s far more important than writing a good paper.

There’s something wonderful about eating with people. So often it’s where we laugh, where we share, where we love. So tomorrow, I’ll sport a skirt and arrive laden with silver chargers and cloth napkins in glass rings. And, we will party—the godly girls and me.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Blind Man

Journal for Christa—

An interesting story takes place in John 9 after Jesus heals a man from blindness on the Sabbath day.

They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.” Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others asked, “How can a sinner do such miraculous signs?” So they were divided. (vs. 13-17, NIV)

They were divided—caught up with their rules…disputing whether or not to discredit the miracle because of their rules. Wouldn’t it seem that people would just be impressed with the miracle? After all, the man had always been blind—“from his birth.” Can you imagine his wonder? To see, really see, all the things others had described to him over the years…his hands, his feet, the sky, the mud on his fingertips as he washed in the pool. What would it have been like to see him? But, the Pharisees were focused on the rules and missed the miracle.

I wonder how often I’m focused on traditions—my daily activities—and miss the miracle when it’s right in front of my face.

Now, I ask: Just who really was blind?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Reflecting Today

Journal for Christa—

When our kids were little, I never thought life would ever change. Each day was a seamless continuation into the next, and often I was just weary. But, we weren’t far into April when I knew that change would be a theme this year, at least for me. And as the year comes shortly to a close, I’m reflecting on some of the changes in me—and the people I love:

My friend of over 20 years fell in love with her soul mate. (Some things in life are worth waiting for.)
Joel and Kim’s Germany assignment took us to Europe for 3 weeks last summer. (Some things in the world are just fun.)
Joy is pregnant. (Sometimes God answers our deepest prayers.)
Friends have found new jobs. (Sometimes good comes out of pain.)
We got a new grandbaby! (Some things you just can’t get enough of.)
I’ve taught a Bible class for girls. (Sometimes God uses you in spite of yourself.)
I think I’m finally starting to quit just learning about God and starting to listen to Him. (Sometimes wisdom does come with age.)

And then for the things in life that haven’t changed:
—a God who’s always good, even when we don’t understand Him
—a family, which I love and loves me back
—seeing you, often from a distance
—and Jay, a dance partner who’s never let me fall

I hope you can find a little time to reflect back on your life this year as well. Christmas is coming—when God changed the whole world forever.