Receiving the gift of Christmas

 3-6 How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son. Ephesians 1:3-6  (The Message)

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I had to give hug lessons this morning.  I’ve given hug tips before, but this was more intense instruction with examples and non-examples of an acceptable hug.

The lessons were for Rylie. She’s ones of the world’s greatest huggers.  Her and Hayden are both in the top three.  I call them our “Space Invaders”.

I had to tell Hayden when he was little.   "Hugs don't hurt".
I had to tell Hayden when he was little.
“Hugs don’t hurt”.

Hallie, on the other hand, likes her space.  She gives those diagonal hugs where you give the hugger two quick shoulder pats and then you stop patting, indicating you want the hug to be over.  It reminds me of wrestling or boxing, whichever it is, where one guy is holding the other on the ground and the officiant slaps the ground ten times and then the wrestler (or boxer or whatever) releases the victim. Hallie’s the victim in a hug and it’s only two pats and then she wants the embrace to cease. I think I used to hug like that.

Hallie's first sentence as a babe? No lie... "I need my space"  We taught her to say that.  It was more polite than her grunts at unwanted embraces.
Hallie’s first sentence as a babe? No lie… “I need my space” We taught her to say that. It was more polite than her grunts at unwanted embraces.

 

Rylie’s hugs are relentless.  She will hug you ten times a day if you’ll let her.  She’ll hug you if she doesn’t know you.  And she doesn’t. let. go…

I can’t remember what sparked the demonstration this morning, but Rylie and I had the hug talk again.  I usually tell her to “Hug and release.”.  But this time I showed her something about hugs.  There are huggers and huggees (not like the diaper, but the person who receives the hug). The hugger needs to be sensitive to the huggee.  I reminded her to pay attention to the person she’s hugging.  When they are no longer willingly receiving the hug.  Let go.  Be done.  We practiced and she was off to a day of Christmas partying at school.

I hope she gives short and sweet hugs today.  But I also hope that her hugs will be well-received too.  (They’re not always.)

At Christmas time we seem to be all about giving, which is swell.  But I have to mention, after having reflected on the morning’s lesson, that being on the receiving end is not only nice, but I do believe it’s part of the Christmas plan.  For everybody.  We get so caught up in being do-gooders that we forget to stop and receive Christmas.

We’re so frazzled from giving that we often forget to let the gift of Christmas swell in our hearts

like the beautiful Christmas cards that hang in my window

and the pecan pie from a church friend and banana nut bread from your neighbor

the memories of Christmas past -how your parents left one of your Christmas presents in the fireplace like it dropped from Santa’s sack

-and years later when your snaggletooth kid and his cousin read the Christmas story to all those gathered around in your mom and dad’s living room

Acknowledge the guy who stopped in the doorway at Walgreens so you could go first because he noticed you hustling and bustling.

Be thankful for what you receive even when it wasn’t what you expected (like the time at your Meme’s Christmas when you ate a bath oil bead because it was in one of the plastic tubes like the M&Ms come in and you thought it was candy).  Someone spent time and thought on you, and or money.  Spend time letting your heart not only be gracious, but be grateful.

Be humbled at how year after year we drive ourselves crazy trying to be a Christmas Saint and yet nothing we can do holds a candle to the birth of a baby in Bethlehem more than two thousand years ago.  Short of the cross, that event will forever be un-toppable.  I forget to REALLY think about that.

So go hug somebody. But be ready for what’s coming at you too.

Receive the gift of Christmas.

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Writing Wish List: A Guest Post about Santa

Hi y’all! I am Tamara Menges and my oh-so-darlin’ hubby and I own Tamara Menges Designs! Today I am sharing my thoughts on Santa Claus, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to write a guest post for Kristi!

I hate to admit this, but I am easily influenced by other people’s opinions.

Enter a Santa discussion with a couple friends from a few years ago.

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I had no idea there were parents against teaching their kids about good old Saint Nick, absolutely no judgment at all, I simply just had no idea! My mind was blown when this topic came up.

During this conversation I felt more and more guilty because I knew Santa would be part of our Christmas traditions when we finally have kids. So on my drive home I called K (aka Kason, the darlin’ hubby I mentioned above) and unloaded on him about how we simply can’t allow Santa in our home or in our kid’s minds. That “he” will ruin them, and it’s our responsibility to guard their hearts and minds…

Let’s just say this didn’t go over well.

Once I got home and we discussed further he made me realize there is nothing wrong with Santa and the meaning behind him if it’s done right. He pointed out that we both grew up in homes and knew who Mr. Kris Kringle was, but we were also both taught that he was just a teensy “part” of Christmas, and the true meaning of Christmas is the incredible gift God gave us in His son Jesus. He also pointed out that while we did grow up with Old Saint Nick, we both turned out ok, and we truly love the Lord. So the chance of him ruining our kids was just silly.

Jump ahead to last week, I was at Bible study with other ladies and we began discussing how we were going to be intentional with celebrating Christmas from the Christian perspective. One mom mentioned she was having a hard time finding the balance between Jesus being born and it’s importance and the secular “fun” of Christmas.

Another mom mentioned that they teach their kids about Saint Nicholas, the real man who the “Santa Claus” we know today was inspired by. He was a man of God and made his life’s work telling others about Jesus.

(here’s a website for more info: http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/who-is-st-nicholas/)

Again my mind was blown because I didn’t realize (maybe I did and just forgot) that the white-bearded red-velvet-wearin’ jolly man, that every kid screams at at least once, was inspired by a real man who loved the Lord. How incredible!

So the consensus is, for our family, yes Santa will be a part, but our version will focus on the real man, Saint Nicholas, a man of God.

Some other fun traditions we plan to start when we have kids is celebrating Advent with scripture reading and a fun activity, story book reading (there are some great picture books at LifeWay Christian Book Store!) and throwing Jesus a birthday party!

Lastly, the one I’m most excited about (that I’m stealing from another mom in my Bible study group!) is we will only be giving 3 gifts to our kids. The “big” gift will represent gold, something for their spiritual growth will represent frankincense, and something for their body (clothes, etc.) will represent myrrh. We will explain why they are getting three and what each means with its significance and showing them in scripture that if it was good enough for Jesus it’s good enough for them! J

Prayers for a blessed and intentional Christmas to your family from ours!

About Tamara:

I met Tamara at church.  She’s unfairly talented.  She’s a successful wedding designer/coordinator. Her work is breath-taking AND she loves what she does.  So you’d think she has a character flaw or something.  Nope.  She’s extremely sweet and wise with seemingly boundless energy with which she uses to serve.  Her love for her husband is evident as is her love for the Lord.

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Why I’m Wearing the Same Shirt

I’m going to wear the same shirt I wore yesterday. I’ve already decided it.
This morning started out with schedule miscommunication between the parents and several reminders to one certain kid to put on deodorant.  The first shift of the morning ended with Rylie sharing her displeasure with the colored pushpins I bought for the Christmas ornament they’ll be making in class today.
I bought the ornament supplies at Ace Hobby. Much to my delight the friendly employees, prior to my arrival, had put together the ornament supplies and placed them in a small brown paper sack secured with a staple.
I didn’t check the sack. And now Rylie wants clear pushpins. She’s not going to get them.

Details in life are unsure.

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I haven’t Christmas shopped yet. I’ve picked up a few things but the enormity of my list remains. I don’t know what I’m going to find. For many of the people on my list I don’t know what to get.
We haven’t nailed down Christmas plans yet either. After almost twenty years together Jason and I have still never come up with an easily doable Christmas intenerary.
I’m really not sure what all we’re supposed to be doing this weekend either. It’s a lot of stuff. I know that.

I have several friends waiting on test results these days. So much waiting. So many are wondering how they’ll get through Christmas without their loved-one.

Jason is taking Hayden and a friend to check out Sam Houston State University today. He’s unsure of where he wants to go to college. I’m unsure of whether I want him to GO- if it means going.

That’s why when I walked back in the front door this morning I automatically decided to wear the shirt I wore yesterday. I’m tired of the magnitude of unknown variables. I want there to be something I don’t have to think so hard about (It’s sad that what I’ll wear is ever one of those things I have to think much about). So I’m wearing yesterday’s shirt (that I like very much) in protest of the all the unknown and all things going on right now that I don’t like. With all the details-

I’m glad that we don’t have to worry about the main idea.

Christmas drives me crazy. I have a love-hate relationship with the hustle and bustle.  But Christmas will come with or without the scotch tape and wrapping paper.  Christmas will happen without the toy, bound in the box by plastic wire and brackets; nearly  IMPOSSIBLE to open. Christmas, real Christmas is the reality that God is with us. I said that like two posts ago. But I need that reminder in all that is unsure. God is with us offering Christmas calm in the midst of the unknown.

This is the part of Christmas I want early.

 

Noel     Noel
God with us, Emmanuel
You’re here,

I’m holding you so near…
I’m staring into the face of my Savior
King and Creator
You could have left us on our own
But you’re here

-lyrics by Francesca Battistelli

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Writing Wish List: A Guest Post on Christmas Perspective

A Guest Post

by Erin Keenright

“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

Luke 2:19

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This has always been one of my favorite verses in regards to the story of Christ’s birth – especially since Morgan’s birth.  If there’s one thing I can remember, it’s everything about the day Morgan was born.  I won’t bore you with another “how my child came into the world” story…I’m sure just about every one of us has heard more than our fair share.

What got me thinking about this verse is how God’s tremendous grace gives us all, whether mothers or not, things to ponder in our hearts…and He is not stingy with them, either.  When I think about the life that God has given me, He has not held back one little bit.

We are by no means wealthy or even overly comfortable, but we have a roof over our heads, food in our bellies, clothes on our backs, and people who love us.  It’s hard for me to feel sorry for myself even one little bit when I think about those who don’t have even that!

  I’ve seen beautiful sunsets, heard beautiful music, I’ve had a hand to hold when I was scared, friends to laugh and cry with…yet, I know there are PLENTY of folks who can’t say that.  Kind of puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?

What about those who have never heard of Jesus and God’s unfailing love and unending grace?  They’re out there, you know…no hope, no peace, starving for what we have every single day of our lives and somehow take for granted.
I remember when I saw “The Passion of the Christ”.  For those of you who haven’t seen it, I HIGHLY recommend it.  While none of us were actually there when our Lord was crucified, from what I can tell, it gives a pretty close description of the torture and physical, mental, and emotional turmoil Christ suffered on our behalf.  After the film was over, my eyes were filled with tears and I never wanted to sin again.  The thought of it made me physically ill.

Have I sinned since then?  You bet…countless times.  Thankfully, my Father never rolls up the welcome mat…no matter how badly I mess things up and, trust me, I’m pretty thorough at making a mess out of things.

I guess what I’m saying is this:  don’t think something in the Bible does not apply to you because you’re not in that exact situation.

Even before I became a mommy, I tried to remember how good I had it and ponder THOSE things in my heart.  God would then remind me to do what I could and take every opportunity to share them with others.  Not just the tangible, monetary things, but the ones that are REALLY important:  a smile to someone who needs it, a pat on the back for a job well-done, an ear just to listen, praying with someone who needs it, patience when others are impatient, compassion for someone who maybe doesn’t deserve it…this is how God uses us to reveal Himself to others.

Think about when you’ve needed those things and someone was there to fill that need.  That was more than just that person…that was your Heavenly Father putting His arms around you and saying, “I love you…no matter what…” :)
You may be thinking, “What about the people who DON’T have that…who’ve never had the opportunity to experience that???”  Those people are out there and it’s up to us to be God’s hands and eyes to those folks.  After all, we are the body of Christ.  Some of us are the legs and feet that go places, the hands that comfort and soothe or the eyes that see the need.  No one’s job is too big or too small.

Because of the chronic disease of sin in this world, life is hard and cruel at times and God knows this.  He gave us the cure for the disease and the tools to share and spread the cure wherever we go.  I say this to you as much to myself…don’t worry what others will think.  Think about the gratitude of the one you are helping.  You may not see it now, but if you ask God to give you His strength and wisdom, those seeds that are planted will bloom in a mighty way!  I am so grateful for the people who have helped me:  family members, friends, pastors and teachers.
Those moments are worth pondering.  Look back at your life, at the times when, no matter how small they may have seemed at the time, you were genuinely grateful to be in that moment.  On occasion, you would go back to those moments and relive them in your mind over and over again, like a favorite movie.  Can’t you just see Mary doing that as she watched her Son grow to be a man?  Can’t you just see her thanking her Father for His birth every single day of her life?

Like childbirth, there are countless times in life where we think it’s too much to bear.  We think we can’t go on and we want to give up.  I know I have and I still do at times.  Then, I look back on all the other stinky stuff God has not led, but CARRIED me through and I’m so grateful for even those most difficult of times.

Your Father is with you in everything…blessing you with the good and carrying us through the bad…and He always will.
I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas.  Look for ways to share what God has given you, what He has poured out for you and your family…someone needs it, needs to see it, needs to hear it…and it will cause you to ponder and smile for years and years to come.

About Erin:

I got my first ever pedicure with Erin seven or so years ago.  She called me and said, “I want to take you somewhere.  It’s a surprise”.  We went out to eat and got pampered.  It was perfectly-timed, much needed encouragement.  Erin is a caretaker and her laughter is contagious.  She’s a deep thinker and I’m so glad she thought to write this for us. She’s also written a book. 

Click HERE to check out Erin’s book: For the Love of God

 

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Saying Yes to God

Jason asked me about two weeks ago to do a Christmas-themed Children’s Message for the Sunday morning service. I despise being in front of large groups of people.  Microphones? They’re a tool of Satan.  (Kidding.  But how else to mention the degree to which I despise them).

When Jason asked me to do the message, I thought I said no….  He thought I said yes.

Another week and a half went by. And then Friday, two days before “the message” was supposed to take place, Jason brought it up again in the context of my doing it.   Seized with terror, I told him that I hadn’t agreed to do it.  He calmly said he’d take care of it, being the guy that he is, always “taking care”.  And then being the guilt-driven person I am, I relented and agreed to do it.

I say guilt made me do it, and that was probably part of it.  I know Jason has a mile-high list of things to do this month and I’d be darned if I added another thing to his list.  But it was more than that.  When Jason asked me to do the message I got an all-too-familiar feeling; the one I get when I know I’m supposed to do something and I DON’T WANT TO DO IT!!!

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When Hallie was about two when I’d tell her to do something and she’d say “No thank you”, like I’d simply suggested it rather than said “Get your shoes”.

My reply to her polite refusal was always, “Yes thank you”.

The thing is Jason asked me to do the message but I felt in my spirit that God was telling me to do it.  I get the feeling God doesn’t make suggestions.  He doesn’t say “I’m just throwing this out there…..you might want to……”

Nope.  When God puts something on our heart to do, he sees our response as either obedient or disobedient.

It makes me think of how disobedient I am on a daily basis.

I’m glad I at least reluctantly obeyed. I have to tell you though, obedience and its surrounding story can be funny.  When I obey, I expect to be made much of.  I’d really like for God to honor my willingness (to do what he says).  And I’d like to be honored in the way that I so choose.

I agreed to do the message, but secretly, I had a list of things I expected to receive in return.  I thought He owed me:

First of all I expected to hear a voice telling me exactly what to say Sunday morning.  I wanted a smashing message that would make known the mystery of Christmas.  I switched what I was going to say numerous times and finally settled on something. And I had to practice what I was going to say over and over….and over. Frankly, now that it’s over, I have no idea what I said besides saying the word “prepare”…..a lot.

I wanted a good hair day the day of the message.  That was apparently too much to ask.

I wanted a smooth Sunday morning.  You’d want to do that for your servant, right?  Not dealing with a kid who went back to sleep after you’d gotten them out of bed to get ready.  Nobody trying to wear a warm-up top to church.  And especially, I did not anticipate I’d have to deal with a kid that had an asthma/anxiety episode while she was on stage singing with the choir, right before I got up to give the message. (Coincidentally, that was the same kid who miraculously had the breath to interrupt me during my message to insist that I had skipped a page in a story I was reading)

I also prayed for, and expected, that I wouldn’t be nervous.  Instead stress-sweat poured from one of my armpits.  What does that even mean?

I’ll tell you what it all means.

We’re supposed to obey.  No strings attached.  No list of demands.

-And maybe scariest of all not knowing what will come of our decision to do what he says.

The “obedient ones” in the Bible have tremendous stories- Gideon, Moses, Daniel, and one of my favorites, Ruth. We like to know that our saying yes has a favorable outcome.

That’s not always the case.  Obedience is usually seriously inconvenient.  It’s uncomfortable.  Often times it brings about real hardship. Sometimes our obedience will be misunderstood or cause us to be rejected.  The disciples’ obedience lead to their death.

Still we ought to say yes

Because

Obedience brings God glory

And

Sometimes God works THROUGH us when we obey

-He’s always working IN us

Teaching us.

Molding us. ( Your hair was not the important thing this morning child)

Growing us. (See? With me, all things are possible).

Anne Sullivan was the teacher and companion of Helen Keller.  She penned these words.

I have thought about it a great deal, and the more I think, the more certain I am that obedience is the gateway through which knowledge, yes, and love too, enter the mind of a child.

Look for another guest blog tomorrow that will give great perspective to your Christmas.  You can still send your guest blog to

kristiburden@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Writing Wish List; A Guest Post on Decorating your Christmas Tree

I asked.

How do you decorate a Christmas tree without it looking like you have twelve years of different fads hanging on boughs?

She answered.

A Guest Post

by Karyl Horn

We are that family.  

We have a skinny, pre-lit tree that we dutifully set up each year.  Unfortunately, a section of the pre-lit lights has gone out.  And I mean GONE OUT.  We have pulled every bulb in a futile attempt to resurrect the missing lights, but to no avail.  And, of course, the section that has gone out is in the MIDDLE.  So each year, we put the tree together and then add a string of colorful lights to the middle.  Crazy…I know.  I decided this year that we would replace this pitiful tree however EVERY skinny tree I find only has clear lights – no color!  We just can’t do that.  MUST. HAVE. COLOR.

After rigging our tree into a usable state, we begin the journey through life that our decorations represent.  Whether a star that we found somewhere on a family trip or a colored handprint on a simple string that one of the ladies at church made with one of the boys when they were young – they ALL go on the tree.  Now keep in mind…this is a skinny tree for a reason.  We don’t have a huge den and we like to be able to see our tree at night, so it must go in the den.  We tried one of those great big trees long ago, but after having to relocate most of the furniture in the room to another location in the house – just to get the tree in place – we changed to the skinny model and haven’t looked back. But, I digress…on to the ornaments…so many ornaments…

We have had the blessing to know a sweet young lady that for many, many, years gave us “family” ornaments each Christmas.  We have everything from a fireplace with stockings to a family of teddy bears.  Each one special in its own way and each one personalized with our individual names and/or family name.  There are so many of them that they cover the top layers of two large boxes!  Year after year, it became a guessing game of what she would find and every time it was a joy to gather together and open up the box.

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And then it happened.

Our sweet friend became ill and – before we could even take in the seriousness of her illness – she was gone.  It was November, right before Thanksgiving.  And then as the weeks progressed, we came to Christmas – a time we always enjoyed with her.  How were we going to do this?  We were barely learning life without her.

To try and move us in a healing direction, I asked my husband to get the tree out.  He dutifully pulled it out, rigged the extra string of lights, and had it standing in its appointed spot.  And then came in the boxes of ornaments…and we couldn’t open them.  We knew that the top layers of those boxes held all the years with our sweet friend – each one a memory of its own. What I thought would be a help for our family’s grief became a glaring reminder of the loss.  And so, we took the boxes back to our garage.

A beautiful thing happened that evening.  While sitting, staring at our bare tree, watching the lights twinkle within the branches, I noticed something glimmering.  It was a snowflake – a single, clear hard plastic snowflake that my mom had given me years earlier.  Where did it come from?  No clue.  (Obviously our ability at taking ornaments off of a tree pale in comparison to our ability to slather them on.)  Seeing that snowflake was a comfort as my mom had passed away just a few years earlier.  It was a dear reminder of all the times we had celebrated Christmas together.  It was in that moment that I realized we didn’t need to be afraid that the ornaments in the boxes would make our grief harder to bear.  Rather, they were going to serve to help us remember the moments, the times together and all of the joy we had shared with our dear friend.

No, we didn’t go running to the garage to grab the ornament boxes.  We let them sit out that year, much to the dismay of another dear friend.  She couldn’t bear the fact that we didn’t have ornaments and ended up leaving a large case of them on our doorstep.  This becomes more intriguing when you learn that she allowed two of her young adult children to pick them out.

 

They were SPARKLY.unnamed (128)

And GREEN.

And ZEBRA striped.
That just makes me smile thinking about it.  Of course, we put them on the tree.  That year and the next.

Proverbs 17:17 –“A friend loves at all times…”

 

This is the year though.  I have already announced to the family that we will be unboxing all of our ornaments.  ALL OF THEM.  Our tree this year will be a journey like never before.  It will contain the memories of our children growing up, all of the fads that have come with the seasons of our lives, the many years we had with our friend Crystal, and the intermingling of sparkly, green and zebra striped ornaments…all overflowing with love.

Oh – and my mom’s snowflake will be there too.

Now go decorate your tree…and use EVERYTHING!

About Karyl:

Karyl is probably the most-level-headed person I know; just the kind of friend a girl needs in her life.  Her boy and mine have conquered many worlds together through the years via gaming.  I treasure their friendship and I treasure mine with Karyl.  Calm and sure-footed, she’s such a woman. She’s a led by the spirit kind of lady.  Besides all that she’s crazy about Jesus.

If you’d like to write a guest post for my Christmas Writing Wish, send it on over to:

kristiburden@gmail.com

You’ll be glad you did.  I’ll be even gladder.

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Writing Wish List: A Guest Post on Aging Gracefully

Aging Gracefully by God’s Grace

A Guest Post by Cindy Laird

I wish they sold bubble bath that magically gracefully aged you in department stores. If you were to look in my bathroom cabinet you would see a hodgepodge of lotions, face creams and masks. None of which I have found work better than the other if at all. I am really not just talking about my outward appearance. I need a formula for aging gracefully in all areas of my life!

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Too many times I find myself distracted by life and my busy schedule. When this happens I find that I don’t focus on the important things. I went to Walmart one time and forgot my contacts and reading glasses. I needed some conditioner for color treated hair. (Today is a day of secrets!!) I squinted, read the labels, grabbed what I needed and got home. Once home, I grabbed my cheaters to read about my new conditioner. To my shock and surprise I had not gotten condition for color treated hair. I had gotten conditioner for Women of Color. By the way, if you have dry hair, you should try this for deep conditioning. It works really well!! I think this lesson works well in our Christian walk too. If we are not focusing on God we can’t see clearly and we may grab or reach for the wrong things.

Matthew 6:33, But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

I am also trying not to be so quick to judge. One of my more painful lessons happened at work when I was speaking to vendors regarding a new product I wanted to introduce to the school district. The first vendor was young and had a Bluetooth ear piece on his ear the entire time. I was distracted and turned off by this. I judged him by this. The next vendor came in and the first thing I did was look at his ear. I noticed what I thought was an indent from where a Bluetooth piece had been prior to his arrival. I praised him for taking it off and I told him about the previous vendor. He told me that was not from a device. That he had been mauled by a dog as a child and those were scars.  I was quickly humbled and put in my place for judging.  I recalled Matthew 7:1,

Judge not, that you be not judged.

Life brings many changes. I have experienced so many joys and I praise God for each and every one. Those are the easy ones. Life also brings sadness and pain. Those are the times we may question our strength or our new path in life.  Where is the comfort? How does one manage? I have learned through the years that I am not alone.


Matthew 28:20, And lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.

About Cindy:

Cindy graciously agreed to write this post as I sought advice in making forty fabulous.  I love Cindy.  I’ve never seen her without a smile on her face.  She has an awesome singing voice.  Glad she decided to use her voice in another way through this post. I found it encouraging.  With God’s grace, forty may be fabulous after all.

If you’d like to write a guest post, send it to

kristiburden@gmail.com

 

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Writing Wish list Guest Post: On Worry

unnamed (125) A Guest Post-by Karisa Glenn So I guess I should start by saying after having lost my mama,daddy and nana (my mom’s mom who helped raise me) in 24 years that I DID my share of worrying with good cause.I worried about everything….about my marriage, husband, kids, job and the list goes on.

So what happened???

Well, of course prayer is always my “go to”. But we are ALL human and succumb to the sin of worry if we are honest with ourselves. Eventually though, something happened. I discovered that I really worry for nothing. Me using time and energy to worry over things doesn’t change the outcome of the situation at hand. I mean, just because I worry about how the results of my kids blood results are going to turn out, doesn’t mean I will get positive results??? Right????  And just because I pray for positive results doesn’t mean I’ll get them either. unnamed (123) I remember the night I got the call that my daddy had had his heart attack. I was 24, married with a little one that just turned 3 and scared to death. I was “next of kin” since mama died when I was 11. I didn’t know what to do. I had some tough decisions to make. I worried and cried like crazy. I sat in the floor of the ER and prayed and begged God to not take my daddy. But…He did. Ultimately, the worry was in vain. But what I discovered was the praying and talking to God wasn’t.  I knew my daddy was a Christian, I knew he was no longer in pain and I knew God needed him more than I did. That in turn caused me to need the Lord even more. I can pray about it…and I do. But what I now do as I’ve grown older and wiser and stronger in my faith is let it go…yes, the famous song from Frozen. I pray that God’s will, not mine, be done. It doesn’t mean I’ll like it. It doesn’t mean I’ll EVER understand. It means my worrying WON’T change the outcome. It’s hard not to worry. When your child is sick or hurt, it’s almost instinct. It happens. But I have to remind myself quickly, it uses time and energy and takes away from time and energy that is BETTER spent with the Lord. When I get to that point…I tell him ALL about it.

I mean I give it all to Him.

I tell Him all that is on my mind and heart and how I feel…I have found it’s ALWAYS the better choice. Again, I’m not saying it’s easy, it’s not. It’s something I’ve learned to do through life experiences …and I KNOW I’m now a stronger wife, mother, sister, friend and person because of taking so much worry out of the equation. About Karisa:

I had the pleasure of teaching with Karisa a few years back.  She was Hallie’s first grade teacher and we attended church together.  I was astounded by her maturity and strength but even more by her faith. She has suffered tragedy after tragedy.  But she has a ferocious spirit.  Her tireless energy and determination makes me both exhausted and overwhelmed with admiration.  I’m blessed to call her friend.
 
I had trouble downloading the picture she sent of her sweet kids so I had to take a screen shot of the picture I got to instagram.
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You have an invitation to write too.  Click on yesterday’s post.

Writing Wishlist

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Writing Wishlist

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I’m constantly thinking of things I want to write about. Some ideas become nine-hundred word posts. Some ideas don’t become.  ……
I have gobs of titles with no words to follow. Some float around in my head.  Other titles flood my “Notes” app on my phone. These titles stay just titles for a couple of reasons. Sometimes it’s because I end up getting too busy and lose passion for the topic; other times I lack creative energy.
But more often, I have a title that begs an answer I don’t have. Answers often come with experience which brings about perspective. Sometimes I’m inexperienced.  Sometimes I’m just a slow learner.
That’s where you come in. I’m serious. There are burning questions for which I need answers (and I’m probably not the only one). So I’m looking for guest writers… (people who can type words).  Really, that’s all you need to be able to do.

Or maybe you have your own “dying to share with the world” topic.

In either event type it up in the next week or so (or tonight). Send the response to one of these titles or a self-inspired guest post to me in an email. Pretty please.  It’s my Christmas wish.  I’ll make you a Christmas treat.  Or maybe I’ll buy you one.  (Read on. I can’t cook.)

Here are the titles:

How to get your dog to stop barking at the mailman

Griffin and Ashlee, our canine friends, bark ferociously and incessantly at the mailman every day for about twenty-five minutes.  This, and the fact that we’re terrible at taking care of our yard, makes us the worst neighbors on Memphis Avenue. How do we get them to stop? Someone help.

One of the Yippers -She's not as sweet as she looks
One of the Yippers
-She’s not as sweet as she looks

A Christmas Story

Relay a Christmas story from this week or when you were a kid. With pictures. I love stories. I love pictures too.

When you Know you Shouldn’t Worry; How Not to

I know the anti-worrying scripture (Cast your cares on the LORD….) but I’m still a ball of worry. Worry, worry, worry.  What you know and what you feel are two different things.  How do you live secure when so many fragile things are perched about you? Give more advice than just pray, but that’s good too.

Foolproof recipes for Christmas

I’m not shy about telling this. I can’t cook.  I guess its really more of a warning. The kids once mistook my burritos for lasagna.  I need a couple of recipes and maybe a short story about where you got the recipe or a story about something bad you’ve cooked before (to make me feel better).

How to decorate a Christmas tree without it looking like you have twelve years of different fads hanging on boughs.

One year I loved all things black and bought black Christmas balls and felt ribbon to go on the tree.  The next year it was all those bright hues- hot pink and turquoise… I bought some antique looking ornaments at our youth garage sale not too long ago. Then there was burlap. I never buy enough to fill the tree.  I simply add things that have no business sharing tree space.  Suggestions?

Why forty is fabulous…..or is it?

Twenty four days is all I have before I hit forty.  I hear it’s fabulous.  Is it true?  What does it mean if you’ve felt forty for the latter part of your thirties and it was more flabbergasting than fabulous?

Your Thoughts About Santa

I have many thoughts.  And they fight each other.

Things to get a Man for Christmas

I drew the name of two of my brother-in-laws for Christmas (or would it be brothers-in law-that sounds so weird).  I have no idea what to get them and quite frankly I never have any idea what to get Jason or Hayden for that matter.  Men are hard to buy for.  I would love to hear from a man on this.  Any ideas (in addition to gift cards)?

How to prepare for your kid going off to college (both emotionally and all the other stuff)

I have a lot of friends, and I mean a lot (because a lot of you are older than me) that have already went through this traumatic event they call “the Senior year”.  I need help in knowing how to sit back and enjoy it when there is little time and so much to do, including moping.

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Why it’s ok to wear the same pair of socks several days in a row if your feet don’t stink.

Jason recently realized that I’d been wearing the same pair of black and gray socks for several days.  I know that sounds bad.  But I think the litmus test for sock changing should be based on smell rather than the number of days. My feet don’t stink. What are your thoughts on sock changing?

Not all feet are created equal
Not all feet are created equal

Meant to say “All feet are not created equal”.  I should stop now.

Wait.  Did I mention I love guest posts?

Send your post response or your thoughts on another matter.

kristiburden@gmail.com

 

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I Wonder as I Wander (The Christmas Debacle)

unnamed (120) There’s no other time of year that we’re so busy and frankly so distracted. December starts off with “good will towards men” in the form of charity like the Angel Tree and Operation Christmas Child. We pencil in parties where we’ll get the chance to chat with seldom-seen friends and try a new chocolate dessert. We add “something red to wear” to our shopping list for our nine year old in the Christmas program. We buy gifts doing dizzying math making sure to spend a near equal amount on each family member. We fight crowds in stores only to go home to bake and wrap gifts and bake some more. The entire month of December, which now November is now trying to cash in on, is busting at the seams leaving me to wonder if there is really “peace on earth”.

Christmas is a challenge.

For Christ is born of Mary

And gathered all above

While mortals sleep,

the angels keep

Their watch of wondering love

(O Little Town of Bethlehem)

We do so much good in our busy-ness. We give. We share. We love. But if we’re not careful we get caught up in the busy and, like sleeping mortals, we miss out on the entire reason for Christmas-celebrating Emmanuel,

God with us.

When I have family come in, I do my best to clear the schedule. I want to spend time with them. I want to talk with them and enjoy their company without the interruption of a thousand other activities. God with us.  He’s here with us always, but Christmas is the time we’ve set aside to celebrate his humble coming…….and his presence with us. It’s hard to do with so much going on.

I like prescriptions. Like when the doctor says take one of these every day and within a week you’ll probably stop coughing. I don’t have a prescription for the December debacle. There’s so much need in the world for servanthood and I’m glad December gives us the charge to go out there and love on people. But there’s not enough of us to cure all the ills, even in hyper-kind mode, as we are in December.

Maybe the overwhelming nature of it all has purpose.

Some of us are already decided on the second day of December that we can’t do it all. We know that all our doing is but a drop of water in an ocean of need. And on the flip side, we know that so many of the things we’re doing aren’t really needed at all (Why did I buy that Elf on the Shelf? ).

It all causes me wonder.

There’s a song written by John Jacob Niles. He writes of his inspiration for writing the  song

A girl had stepped out to the edge of the little platform attached to the automobile. She began to sing. Her clothes were unbelievable dirty and ragged, and she, too, was unwashed. Her ash-blond hair hung down in long skeins…. But, best of all, she was beautiful, and in her untutored way, she could sing. She smiled as she sang, smiled rather sadly, and sang only a single line of a song.

Based on the line the little girl Annie Morgan sang, Niles wrote the song “I wonder as I wander”.

We’re all Annie Morgans.

….all of our righteous acts are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6)

We spend much of December singing in an untutored way.  Still we sing.  And our song is beautiful if only we sing with wonder in our hearts.

I wonder as I wander out under the sky

How Jesus the Saviour did come for to die

For poor on’ry people like you and like I’

I wonder as I wander out under the sky.

Make time this December to wonder.

 

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