Thursday, November 29, 2012

{merry Advent}

New year resolutions are generally made at the end of December/beginning of January.  I'm not sure why, but this year a bunch of {resolution} type thoughts hit me right after Thanksgiving.

It strikes me as odd I have come to think of the precursor to Easter season as important.  We have a name for it, Lent, and many of us give up something or make allowances during it.  Yet, what we've named the {holiday season} rolls around, and I don't change my lifestyle for the better.  On the contrary, I often stress out when faced with gifts to purchase, goodies to bake, and the general rush-about the holidays bring.

Lest you think I'm being a bah humbug........I'm really not.  I'm simply coming to realize this season, the supposedly happiest time of the year, has a name:


There's a formula to follow if one desires.  There are significant scripture verses to study.  There are definitely ideas to ponder.  And I'm hoping this year to make it important like I did Lent in February, March and April.  

I came across this prayer the other day:

Lord, just as your love knows no bounds and finds endless ways to reveal itself, so help us to express a gratitude too deep for words. Help us to learn to reveal our thanksgiving in the countless ways there are to love others, to provide for those in need, to serve where service is rare. Amen.

As I navigate between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I want to make this my daily prayer.   I want to meditate on these words.  I especially want to:

serve where service is rare.

Where is service rare?  Probably not too far away from where I'm at.  I'll let you know when I find it.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

thanks and/or muchas gracias

I've noticed people on Facebook mentioning one thing each day they're thankful for.  It's a nice gesture and reminder.  It's the time of year when we focus on thankfulness.  I happen to prefer the Thanksgiving holiday over many of the others.  It's simple.  It revolves around a meal.  The color scheme is earthy.  What's not to like?

This year I'm trying to be less general with my thankfulness, and really focus.  In other words, I'm trying to not just list out names and things.
For example:  husband, kids, house, cars, food, job
Yes, I'm thankful for those things.  But why?
Sure, it's nice to have a husband.  But what about him am I particularly thankful for right now?
My kids, sure they're great.  But what hits me right now, today, about them that makes me grateful they're in my life?
Get the idea?

My husband
Chip has taken an extremely focused approach to helping our son pick out a college.  Chip has emailed university professors, attended open houses, and arranged his schedule in order to assist Jamie as much as possible.  Because Jamie's college major will be very specific, not every school offers what he needs.  Chip has investigated options and walked along with Jamie the whole way.  I'm glad they've had the experience together.  I'm glad Chip has kept up with it all.  It would probably be overwhelming for Jamie to do alone.  Tomorrow they head to the University of Louisville to meet with a classical guitar professor, as well as a jazz professor also.  No matter how it ends up, I'm so happy they will share the time.

My son
I'm thankful my son is who he is.  In other words, he's comfortable with himself and confident in his abilities.  There are people much older who are not.  They pretend to be something or someone they are not.  He is who he is.  He's not a faker.  He's his own person.  He has some interesting habits and points of view and ways of doing things. I'm thankful for his uniqueness.

My daughter
My daughter has the strongest will of anyone I've ever been close to.  And I wouldn't trade that quality in her.  She can take charge and she can get things done.  She is stubborn and unrelenting.  And I believe these qualities will take her far.  She might hack a few people off along the way, but she wants the world to be fair and don't we need more people like that?

I'm thankful for today because this is the last Thanksgiving before the homecomings begin.  Next year Jamie will return home for holidays.  The following year Allie hopes to be in England, where I doubt Thanksgiving is celebrated.  I'm thankful for a few days away with my husband and kids.  I'm thankful I'll get to see my grandmother, because she is 87 and has dementia and you never know when the end will come.  I'm thankful for the opportunity to visit with my mother and father, sister and family.  I'm thankful for time to read in the car, laugh at our beagle, and eat my mom's German chocolate pie.

I'm thankful that God is faithful.  It's one of my favorite characteristics of God.  Whether I have health insurance, whether I live on the south side of town or the north, whether I'm afraid or sad or happy, God is the same.  He's faithful and that's a pretty cool concept in a world where most things are 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Doing the Right Thing

Last evening my husband Chip and I watched a movie, Nothing But the Truth.  It's the story of a female reporter who writes an article for the Washington DC newspaper she works for. When ordered by a judge to give up her source, she refused.  I won't give away all the details, but basically it came down to this:

She decided doing what she felt was right was the most important thing.

She ended up jeopardizing her relationship with her husband and son.  She stressed and inconvenienced others who fully supported her.  And in the end, she still adamantly held onto her belief that she should under no circumstances give up her source.  It was a really good movie.  I recommend it.

It left me wondering about Rachel's [the main character] reasoning and decisions.  How far should I take the right thing?  At what cost does one draw the line?  While I'll most likely never come across information pertinent to national security like she did, I have been involved in situations where I or we [as in our family] have given up instead of pushing for what some might construe as right.

Ministry can come down to that.  What personal cost are you willing to pay in order to minister to others?  While something sounds biblical and appropriate to those wanting to uphold the gospel, I've found that often little long term change is made in other's lives, while meanwhile, one's family is left in a quagmire and/or mess.  I shutter to think at the number of people I've witnessed do this, in the name of ministry, and am grateful that although sometimes contrary to my ideals, my husband pushed to free our family from this lifestyle.

This national election period has brought to light how staunchly some support the idea of black and white, all in or all out way of seeing the world.  In many people's eyes, there seems to be a right way and a wrong, allowing no compromise or in-between.  Recently, our family's dinner conversation went to talk regarding pro life issues and various politicians' views on whether rape was a valid reason to acquire an abortion.  Mind you, I worked in pro life ministry for many years.  And I'd come to the conclusion that taking a life is wrong.

Yet, one's ideals can take on a different pattern when sitting across the table from your 14 year old daughter.  She didn't ask in so many words, but I know her thoughts were of this nature:

So, if I was raped and became impregnated, would you expect me to carry the baby?

Oh gosh!  That's horrible to even consider, and God help us if we ever have to.  But I had to explain that, though I've believed for years it's wrong to take a life, I could not possibly make her suffer in this way.  Not against her will or against what we might surmise would be best for her life as a whole.  I told her way more details than she probably cared to hear, about how the police handle such incidents and hospital visits and basically the nitty gritty of this type of situation.

I'm not a [Hey! Let's all take sin lightly] kind of person.  And I believe that Jesus is the way, truth and life.  But I've grown tired of people declaring the correct outcome of difficult circumstances, simply because it's their opinion, or they're in a place of leadership and believe they've been given the wisdom [by whom, I'm not sure] necessary to make sure declarations.  It seems these folks are often males speaking about female bodily processes or people who have financial resources beyond the average and have no clue or care of what it's like to live in financial struggle.

Someone reading this might come to the conclusion I've become a relativist.  My response would be that I don't think I have.  Or actually, it might be that really we all are to some extent.  Maybe?  Answers to impossibly difficult questions don't come as quickly when I'm considering the people I love with everything I've got.