Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Year Mom Ruined Christmas

They say "Confession is good for the soul" so I picked 2011 as the year for purging.  There has been a deep secret in my heart for years now, one that has brought me angst every year, starting around mid-November and doesn't end until December 26.

I loathe it.  I dread it with every part of my being.  It has been an inner, personal battle raging in my soul for so many years and finally, this year, I couldn't take the battle anymore. 

And I spoke it out loud.  

I announced to my family that Christmas Day would be different this year.  And then I told them I didn't like the tradition of Gift Giving and exchanging presents during Christmastime.

Yes...their mouths gaped just like yours.

I have tried to analyze "why" this tradition causes me such angst.  Here is what I came up with:

1.  The amount of time it takes to accomplish all the shopping, wrapping, and exchanging.  When I count ALL the gifts needed, it is an unbelievable amount of time involved.   For years, I have carried the majority of this task alone making the job even more stressful.

2.  The amount of money involved for ALL the gifts.  Even if you shop "smart", meaning with sales, discounts, coupons, etc, it still involves money.

3.  The amount of time and money to RECOVER from spending time and money preparing to exchange gifts.

4.  The kicker for me.....the point that causes me the most distress is this -----  it takes me away from serving others....from giving of myself and my resources to those who are in need.  


For I am reminded that my Savior, who we celebrate at Christmas, He came into the world to save those who are in need.  He didn't come so I can inundate my family with gifts.  He came so I could serve my family, so I could love my family sacrificially, and also so I would reach out to a lost and dying world as well.

BUT, if I am so stressed and tied up with having to purchase gifts, when to do I have time to serve?  when do I have time to share Christ with others?

So this year, our Christmas Day WAS different.  No waking up to stockings, gifts, breakfast casserole.  Instead....

After about 3.5 hours of sleep (due to baking cookies late on Christmas Eve), we got up early (5:45 am) and went downtown to a local center to help with breakfast (and bring those cookies we stayed up late baking!)  They had one other volunteer scheduled for this morning plus our familiy of 4 to help serve.  My kids jumped in and served (even wore hairnets!) as we were reminded that Christmas is about God coming to earth in the form of a man so that ALL can be saved.  The ground at the base of that cross is level.

 In other words, it could be our family on the other side of this serving line.  

And we would want someone to help us, to reach out to us, to love us.

After church, we celebrated Christmas in a much different way then the previous 17 years.

And it was good.

Will we do this next year?  I don't know.

But this year, it was right.  It was what we needed to do individually and as a family.

Maybe I didn't ruin Christmas after all....maybe I just tilted it a bit?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Review: Heaven is for REAL for kids

About the book:

Heaven is for real, and you are going to like it!
Colton Burpo came back from his trip to heaven with a very important message: Jesus really, really loves children. In effort to reach even more families with this eternally significant story, this runaway bestseller is now told from Colton—kid to kids! Children will receive the same comfort and assurance that so many adults have received from the trade book.
Beautifully illustrated, under Colton's direction, this book is uniquely written from a child for a child. Colton tells of his experiences in first person and comments on things that will be important to kids. A letter to parents is included to guide them in talking to their children about heaven. Scripture along with Q&A section with answers from the Bible are also included in the book.
My thoughts:
I had heard so much about the adult version of this book that I was eager to read the kid version.  True to the hype, the book did not disappoint.  I did read it several times though, just to make sure that I did not skip over any thing!  Colton speaks directly to what another child would want to know and the book reminds me of the beginning of 90 Minutes in Heaven.   The illustrations are beautiful and the use of Scripture on each two-page layout would be helpful as you talk about each point with a child.  I think this book would be beneficial in helping children understand about heaven when they have questions, especially if they have recently lost someone they love.  
4 stars
I was provided this book by Thomas Nelson Publishers through the BookSneeze program in exchange for my honest and fair review.  As always, my opinions are my own.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Teenagers still need Object Lessons

So we have been having this ongoing discussion around our house about purity in every speech, in thought, in deed.  If you have been around this blog for a few weeks then you have read the post where I realized that my family had become comfortable with RoadKill (see that post here).

Well, all of this talking led to our oldest sending me an ad for the TV

TV Guardian is a filter for the filthy language that you don't want to hear or want your children to hear.  Supposedly, it will filter sexual innuendos as well.  Not sure exactly how it can mute "tone" but it must have some kind of sensors?  Who knew technology had become so advanced?  (sarcasm totally mine).  But the idea is that you can install this filter and BINGO - no more foul language in your home! will even substitute the language for you and insert a "more appropriate term" in its place.  



So I posed this analogy back to dear daughter.  

If I made brownies, but mixed in dog poop, would you eat them? No way. But what if I sanitized (like TV Guardian) the dog poop? Would you still eat the brownies? I mean, I sanitized the poop, shouldn't be anything in the brownies that is harmful for you, it won't taste like poop, matter of fact, you wouldn't even know it was in there unless I told you. Would you still eat the brownies? 
 It is sorta the same way I feel about "bleeping" out the offensive part of the show. Why would you watch the other parts? It is made by the same people who had no problem putting the offensive parts in there. You wouldn't trust me ever again to make brownies if I served you brownies made with dog poop, sanitized or not.

Are we not called to more than that?  I mean, really....I guess it just struck me as odd to be asked to just "bleep the offensive parts" and consider that the rest is ok.  But the rest is not okay because what about the intent, the motives, the desires that are not necessarily written in "filthy language" and cannot be bleeped but are there...are filling our hearts and minds with things that are in direct opposition to the Word of God. Why would you want to listen to and/or watch the rest?  

Just like brownies made with dog poop, the poop touches every part of that cannot separate the poop from the chocolate.  And I don't know about you, but I prefer pure chocolate!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

It Really is a Small World After All...

Apparently, as a starry-eyed newlywed in 1987, I would meet (and work with) someone who would go on to become famous one day.

The place... Euless, Texas.  (That is a city between Dallas and Fort Worth in case you are wondering.)

The setting....Euless First Baptist Church.

I had the privilege while in graduate school to work as staff at Euless First Baptist Church.  I worked as the Assistant Director of the Crisis Pregnancy Center.  While in that position, I was mentored by the Director, a young Godly woman whose husband was a seminary student.  Jane was a delight to be around  and she always kept her sense of humor with her.  She was ministry-focused but business-minded.

We left Euless in 1989 and moved to Shreveport.  Jane and I kept in touch initially but you know how life goes.

We moved to Birmingham in 1999.  Somewhere in the 2000s....maybe 2006, I saw a news article on Jane and her sister in the Birmingham News!  She was here!  So I called her and we had a "catch-up chat" and it was good.  We finally saw each other at a Christmas church event and realized we hadn't changed (nor aged) one bit.  It was a refreshing time of reconnection and to see each other's children.

But how does this connect to meeting someone famous?

Remember when I told you Jane was ministry-focused but business-minded?  Well, you are not going to believe who Jane is.....she is the co-founder and creator of  I don't know how many members E-mealz has but it has almost 50,000 fans on Facebook.  That's saying alot.  But the goal of E-mealz is to help you "make time for family".  What a great goal!  You can check out E-mealz by clicking on the banner below.  It truly is a revolutionary concept!  And remember, you never know who you know that will go on to do something revolutionary or become famous!!

Emealz - Easy Meals for Busy People!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

When we grieve the Holy Spirit.....(AKA Roadkill part 2)

Part one can be read here.

When I was wrestling with concept of "grieving the Holy Spirit," I began looking deeper at the "how" we grieve the Holy Spirit, what happens as He is grieved, and how do we alleviate that grief.  This post is about the "how."

It is always a dangerous thing (especially to your pride) to ask the Lord to reveal your sin.  Ask me how I know.   Be honest many times have you thought you have confessed all your sin only for the Lord to reveal more? So you confess more.  And then He  reveals some more.  And you confess. And then there is still more.... until you are broken and the pride you started with is shattered and you realize you are nothing but a sinner saved by grace and the pride your started out with is gone and replace with deep gratitude for what Christ has done for you.  Yep.  Been there.  Lots.

Well, that is where I found myself in talking with the Lord about grieving the Holy Spirit.  I asked Him a simple question and my prayer went something like this:

ME:  "Lord, it must be difficult to grieve the Holy Spirit.  He must be able to bear alot.  I do know that your Word tells us that His job is to convict of sin, reveal  truth, and to comfort. So, I am not really clear on how we can inflict deep sorrow (definition of grieve) on Him.  Really?  Can't He bear it?"  

As I sat and listened and search the Scriptures, I began to write in my journal and below is what I recorded:

"Quite frankly, it is very easy to grieve the Holy Spirit.  It is easier than you think.  His "first name", if you will, is "HOLY" and He cannot tolerate sin anymore than I (God) can."

And I began to weep as I came to understand, yet again for the upteenth time, how the HOLY Spirit dwells within me (us) and EVERY sin causes Him grief.  

Think about these things and see if any hit close to home:

*Inward sin - those no one sees but we know about (our thought life, our hearts)
NOTE:  Anytime our heart is set on anything other than Christ and pursuing Him, we grieve the Holy Spirit because Christ wants us and our affections.  Anytime we set our minds on earthly affections...Col 3..the Holy Spirit knows that worldly affections will damage our souls and He is grieved.

*Outward acts of sin

*Forgetting God/Neglecting God 
- what about when we never pray?  really pray?  (I am not talking about grace at meals but deep prayer.)
- rarely read His Word?
- never seek to do good in His world
- living for ourselves

*Does not the Holy Spirit grieve when we choose novels over Scripture?  Facebook over Prayer? friends over missions? 

* Would you be grieved if you should write letters of great importance to some beloved family members (spouse, parent, children) and they ignored them? 

We can say we have no time for God but the Holy Spirit sees us as our fingers surf the internet.

We say we have little time for Bible Study or reading the Bible but the Holy Spirit sees how many hours we spend in relaxation and amusement.

AND He is grieved.  He knows you and me have chosen the world over the Lord.

What would we be doing with our time if the Almighty God was physically present in the room with us?   

Stay tuned for Part 3....