We can do all the right things and bad things still happen. We can plan things out perfectly and those plans can disappear in an instant. There is something about uncertainty that clarifies our priorities. When all the excess things are stripped away, we find ourselves grasping for what we value most. And sometimes we can’t discern those things any other way…
Waiting for Hope
As I think back on the beginning of the Christmas story, I am reminded that God’s people had been waiting for what must have seemed like forever for the promised Messiah to appear. Hundreds of years had gone by since the prophets proclaimed God’s message of the One who was to come. Their land had been torn apart by savages, their government overthrown, their people scattered among the nations. So much time had gone by that the stories of old were just that… ancient stories, passed down through generations, of a time long before when God had favored their people.
But it was clear that God must have changed His mind and turned His back on them.
Their great-great-great-great (you get it) grandparents had let Him down one too many times, trading long-term loyalty for a fast-food faith, and they were left living the repercussions. Sure, even in the midst of their betrayal, the Father had promised the Messiah, the One who would change everything. How they longed for Him to come!
But that was a long time ago…
Perhaps they forgot what it was like to hope.
Preparing Your Heart for Christmas
I love the holidays like the next girl, but I’m not going to lie- I can easily get overwhelmed with ALL THE THINGS.
Cookie swaps and class parties.
Teacher gifts and family gatherings.
Stockings and garland and Christmas lights. (Oh my!)
On top of all that, or maybe hidden underneath, is the meaning of what we’re celebrating. And if I’m honest, as much as I love baby Jesus, He often gets left in the manger while I’m busy trying to do everything else. So I’ve learned that when it comes to the holidays, preparing my heart is so important…
The Lies We Believe: How Comparison Robs Us of Community
“Don’t compare what you know about yourself to what you don’t know about me.”
These words were spoken over 20 years ago by a prominent speaker at a National Youth Workers Convention I attended. His comments were intended to humanize himself, a reminder to the rest of us that his life was not any easier, nor was his ministry any more effective, than ours was. This is a lie we tend to believe- one that often robs us of the community we were created for.
He mentioned the temptation for us to think he was somehow better than us simply because he was standing on a big stage, when in reality, his students bemoaned his “boring talks” and “stupid programs” just like ours did. Sure, he had wisdom to share, but he wanted to make sure we understood it was gained in the trenches, not by some royal edict or heavenly proclamation.
He was “wise” because he had learned from his mistakes. He was “seasoned” because he had travelled long, difficult roads and persevered. He was not speaking to us because he was somehow “holier” than us; he was simply more experienced.
And experience is not something you gain on the sidelines.
I have kept his statement tucked away since that day. Occasionally, I pull it out to remind myself that “perfect” people (or jobs or children or marriages) are rarely what they seem on the outside, and if I take the time to investigate, I might find that their story isn’t all that different than mine.
Fast forward to this weekend…
The Gift of Hope
It is two days before Christmas. A stack of presents sits on the bed waiting to be wrapped. There is laundry to be done, food to prepare, and a half-dozen items still left unchecked on my to-do list. Yet, I…
The Investment of Listening: How to listen so teens will talk
Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room
Last weekend, my husband and I took our oldest daughter to visit Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky (but that’s another blogpost entirely!). Before we left, we stopped by the campus bookstore and I purchased a devotional book, This Day with…
I woke up this morning considering how the disciples must have felt on this day in between. The shock. The emptiness. The broken dreams. The loneliness. This isn’t how it was supposed to be. And betrayed by Judas? He was…