Christmas Hands

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Last week we had our annual Christmas party for the ladies’ fellowship in our church. Many volunteered to be table hostesses, which meant they brought a Christmas centerpiece and table settings for a table of nine. I have no idea how many tables we jammed into the room we rented, but my guess was at least twelve or fifteen, and each one was decorated so entirely differently, reflecting the culture and joy of each hostess.

Then everyone brought an appetizer to share, so we had five or six long tables spread with all kinds of delicious and beautiful appetizers. It was fabulous! We ate, we sang Christmas carols, we visited, and we listened to three lovely speakers.

But here’s what struck me. With the room full of over one hundred women, I thought we should have all lifted up our hands to view the tremendous force for good represented in that room. These are the hands that are going to make Christmas “happen” for hundreds of people. These are the hands that will shop, cook, make lists, buy, wrap, bake, decorate, stuff, give, and stay up way too late doing it all. These are the hands that will sew and stamp and Continue reading ‘Christmas Hands’

Christmas Kindness

photo(62)When we think of kindness, we think of generosity and sympathy, friendliness and tenderheartedness. Of course, kindness is all those things and more. But I have noticed another angle on kindness. Kindness is often connected to mercy, and mercy is connected to forgiveness. Look at these three examples.

Psalm 117: Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples! For His merciful kindness is great toward us, and the truth of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord!

Nehemiah 9:17b: But you are God, ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abundant in kindness, and did not forsake them.

Ephesians 4:31-32: Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

At Christmas much of the world is thinking of ways to be kind, giving gifts and making generous contributions to needy causes. My suggestion is to do all this, yes, but to include mercy in the gift giving. In other words, use this opportunity for some Christmas kindness that extends forgiveness.

Forgive your family members that you are not on speaking terms with. Forgive your parents. Forgive your children. Forgive your friends, your coworkers, your husband, your neighbors, your adversaries. This is merciful kindness, the kind that God has extended to us. Imitate Him. If He gives sunshine and rain to Continue reading ‘Christmas Kindness’

A Joyful Advent

photo(61)I have a fondness for German advent calendars, having spent four happy childhood Christmases in Germany where my dad was stationed. This calendar pictured above is much like those I remember. We opened a little window each day, and the culmination was the church doors opening Christmas Eve to a manger scene.

This is a great metaphor for our own Advent celebrations. Each day should open onto a happy scene, looking forward to the big event, the appearance of the Christ child Himself.

Since this is obviously true, we should determine that all our Advent celebrations will be about joy and with joy. Look at your list of things to do each day, and determine to do each one with joy. If fact, if you can’t do it with joy, scratch it off the list. Joylessness is out of place. It would be like opening a window on the Advent calendar to find a troll.

It’s easy to excuse a lot of fussing over the massive pile of gifts to buy and wrap, cookies to bake, cards to mail, trees to put up and decorate, and all the rest. But pause for a moment. Each day opens up looking forward to the appearance of the Child. Joyful anticipation should be building.

Take joy with you in every task. Bestow it on every preparation. And remember, if you can’t do it with joy, don’t do it at all.

 

The Thanksgiving Feast

photo(59)I’ve been rolling a Thanksgiving post around in my mind the past few days, and I happened upon one I wrote for Credenda in 2009. So why start over? Here it is.

Thanksgiving is a mysterious American feast day, buried in the month of November, on a Thursday, of all things. It requires several simple things of its celebrants: a turkey, some trimmings (called side dishes), and several kinds of pie, preferably using pumpkin, pecans, or apples. (And don’t forget the cranberries.)
At a certain moment in the late fall each year, the grocery store workers dutifully lay out the ingredients for the pies and the side dishes, and the butchers offer turkeys, fresh or frozen. Other shopkeepers provide tools for preparing the required dishes: meat thermometers, basting bulbs, measuring cups, and gravy ladles. Some sell dishes and platters decorated with turkeys, pumpkins, or leaves, all for the splendor of the Thanksgiving table.
The American citizens file in to the vast grocery stores, searching for the required elements for the feast, and they transport these ingredients home in paper or plastic bags, to be stored until the day of many preparations.
Some of the side dishes, like cornbread stuffing or marshmallow topped sweet potatoes, are only prepared and eaten once a year, at the Thanksgiving Feast. But each holds a treasured spot on the Thanksgiving table, and some even have their own serving dish just for the annual occasion. (Don’t forget Grandma’s silver gravy boat.) Continue reading ‘The Thanksgiving Feast’

Funner, Part 4, Mess Investments

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Our children are in the middle of what is well and truthfully known as the “formative years.” This is the time in their lives when it is still hard to tell the difference between nature and nurture. They are learning all the important lessons about God, love,  family, life, purpose, joy , and sacrifice right now – and they will carry these things with them for life. We know this to be true! How many of us spend years trying to unlearn things that were taught to us incidentally when we were children?

Even though we know this, we think that our children will hear what we say and learn from that – and never think through what kind of belief system we are acting out for them. They learn far more from our behavior than they do from our words – and ideally those two things act as one. Continue reading ‘Funner, Part 4, Mess Investments’

Let Us Do That For You

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If being a stay-at-home mom to raise your own children is such a demeaning, unfulfilling, and unimportant job, then why is our government so eager to take it over for us? I will tell you why.

Because the sooner they can get their hands on your children’s minds and hearts, the sooner they can shape their thinking and mess with their faith. Everyone knows (whether they admit it or not) that the mother has the most important job in the world: bringing up the children God has given her. The hireling does not care for the sheep the way the shepherd does. The shepherd lays down his life for the sheep just like a mother will lay down her life for her children all day long. The hireling does not and cannot love the sheep the way the shepherd does (John 10:11-13).

Apparently K-12 is just not enough time for the government to indoctrinate the kids, so the push is to get a hold of them sooner. It sounds so thoughtful: let us take care of the little ones while you go Continue reading ‘Let Us Do That For You’