The B Team

Sunday mornings are my favorite. They have been all my life. Going to church and being around a congregated group of people who love Jesus is the best. Hearing God’s Word preached and explained elevates my relationship with God and draws me closer to Him.

But…on this particular Sunday morning I struggled to go. Adding to the struggle was that church would be a “B team” day. On this Sunday there would be a different Sunday School teacher and both our pastor and worship pastor were not there. And while I have nothing against the “B team”, it just wasn’t what I thought I needed. Silly me for thinking that worship was about me.

I figured that I knew which of the pastoral team would be preaching, and knew that he would bring a good message. Still, I fought with going. But I went.

Our Sunday School lesson was good and gave me some things to think about in my relationship with God. Afterwards, I went into service and quickly learned that we a had guest pastor preaching instead of who I thought. Great, I thought to myself. I don’t know who this guy is, but I now really wish I had stayed home. I know, I know. I’m so spiritually advanced (written with much sarcasm).

Well, let me tell you. I truly believe that God had that man come and preach just for me. It was as if he was speaking straight to me. Not only did I receive a clear message from God that morning, it has carried me through ever since. I’m so thankful that I took notes that morning instead of sitting back and only half listening.

The even greater lesson is that even if I didn’t get a single thing out of the service, someone did. On Sundays when I have left feeling empty, someone else left feeling full. And whether it’s myself or someone else receiving a special word, it is such a priveledge to be a part of it all.

Advertisements

The Style of Memories

I love to get the house ready for Christmas. But for me, it isn’t about the end result–it’s about the process.

Every box of decorations that I open is a time capsule of my life. As I slowly and carefully peel back the layers of tissue paper and newspaper of each item, I am greeted with a sweet memory of Christmas’ past.

The small church given manger scene from my childhood that has somehow survived all these years; the ornament Chris gave me the year before we were engaged, the many, many, many ornaments, cards and wall hangings my children made in preschool and kindergarten; the manger scene that belonged to grandparents, the angel ornaments that I collected year after year, one at a time; the kitchen items that were part of my family before I was; the crown for the top of the tree that took many careful hours for my mom to make.

I think about the traditions that were kept through the years. There were many years I would groan at the bringing out of the Advent wreath and the weekly out loud reading that came with it. But now I am so thankful that was instilled in my life. I remember the Barbie clothes that were sewn to perfection and the special homemade dress that was my Christmas Eve present to wear to church that night. This leads me to remember late night church services for Christmas Eve and how beautiful all the candles were. Taffy pulls, cookie baking, the fresh Christmas tree, a Whitman’s Sampler for my mom, secret Christmas reconnaissance missions of my brother and sister, and strings of bells around our bedroom door knobs to avert anyone who thought Christmas needed to start too early.

All of these memories and more are what decorating the house means to me. Merchants and social media try to have us believe that bigger is better, and everything must be done to perfection. I say otherwise. While I may not have a Pinterest-worthy style, I would choose the style of memories by far to be the best.

 

 

Thirty Years…and Counting!

What do you call it when two people, who are opposite in every way, who are both very independent and headstrong and who have all the odds stacked against them, fall in love and get married and, stay in love and married for 30 years? You call it God’s grace.

In a month, Chris and I will be celebrating 30 years of marriage! And let me tell you, we have both earned every single one of those years. Our story is not necessarily a “and they lived happily ever after” story.  But then again, whose really is? We have based our lives and our marriage on having God’s joy, instead of human happiness.

Don’t get me wrong, it has been a great marriage, but most of our years together have been an uphill climb. The secret to the longevity in our marriage? We have clung to God through it all. Plain and simple. Many times we have clung to God together, many times one has been stronger in their faith than the other. When the world has told us to call it quits, God has said to stay together. And we are so thankful that we listened to God instead of the world.

A Very Good Read

Don’t ask me why, but growing up I always thought that I was going to do something big with my life. Maybe it was due to my name or maybe it was due to circumstances in my life. I don’t know. But “big things” are not what God had in mind for me.

It turns out that my life and anything I have done of value has been built on the small things. In this day and time it seems so much like the small things don’t matter. Everything, including Christian culture, is expected to be bigger and better.  And when it gets bigger and better, it has to become even bigger and better than before.

Then I found the book Church of the Small Things by Melanie Shankle. This book confirms that the seemingly small things do matter, and that God is in it all. This book is not so much about small things in church, but all the small moments in life and how God uses them.  So many times, while reading this book, I wanted to scream out “Yes! That is it!” I have found community through this book.

Melanie writes in such a down to earth way. Even though you might not have had the exact thing happen to you, her recollections take you back to those times in your life when you realize how much something mattered that seemed so insignificant at the time. So many times while reading, my mind would wander back to my childhood and young adulthood. I remembered many of the little things that my parents did for me day in and day out. Then I thought about raising my own children, and how much the “consistency of the small” shaped who they are today.

Even though I was asked to do a blog review of Church of the Small Things, I would have done it without being asked. All of Melanie Shankle’s books are that good. If you preorder Church of the Small Things before October 3, 2017, not only do you get the guarantee of having a great book delivered to your door, you also get some great bonus items. All you have to do is go to ChurchOfTheSmallThings.com to claim your bonus.

I want to leave you with a quote from the book, but there are so many nuggets to choose from. So I’m going to leave you with parts of the ending of the book.

“I used to be a member of the Church of Big Moments….I learned over the years that it’s usually not the big moments that make up life as much as it is the small ones…I’ve learned that the best way to live is to look for God in the church of small things. The church of small things is where God does his best work. The church of small things is where the majority of us live every single day.”

 

 

My Tribe

I sat there and watched everyone around the table. It was a good day with good conversation.

These are my people. This is my tribe. They are who God gave me.

There is strength in our similarities and love in our differences. And it all works together for His good.

 

 

The Day Before

It’s the day before. The day before the rest of my heartbeats move on to the lives they are needing to live. I know that some tears will fall, but I am truly not sad that they are leaving. I am excited for what lies ahead.

I will miss these days, though. The days of being there first hand. The days of having all my little heartbeats around me. They were good days–even the hard ones.

But just as my heartbeats are moving to the next phase of their lives, I am also moving to the next phase of mine. Just as they are navigating new things, so will I.

And it’s all as it should be.

“It’s okay” Day

Every once in a while, it’s good to have an “It’s okay” day.  A day where you break your own rules and know that everything will still be okay. They might still be hard, but they will be okay.

Go ahead, eat that whole sleeve of cookies.

Let those dishes pile up. They’ll be there tomorrow.

Read all day.

Proclaim “cereal for dinner” night.

Go outside for the sheer joy of being in nature, and ignore all that yard work that needs to be done.

Watch a movie in the middle of the day.

Read Bible verses that reinforce that no matter what you’re going through, it’s going to be okay because God already has it figured out.

Just don’t go down the slippery slope of every day being like this.

 

 

 

The Blessing

Why are we always so quick to exclaim God’s blessings on our life when things are good? When we receive material gain? When we are delivered from a health scare? Where are all those exclamations when things don’t look so great from our end?

If we have given our life to God, through Jesus, then there is also blessing in the hard. In the lonely. In the questionable. Actually, that might be where the greatest blessing is. God loves us so much that He wants to teach us things so that we can be closer to Him. So that He can teach others through our situation. So that He can teach  the world all the more about His power and love.

But it’s hard. It’s hard to see the blessing when it’s not wrapped up in a pretty bow. When it’s not what we thought. When it’s exactly opposite of what the world around us teaches.

As a parent, if we only give to our children, they won’t grow. They won’t learn. They won’t persevere. It is by letting them go through the hard that they mature. That is how God works with us. In us. Through us.

We should find the blessing during the hard as well as the good, because God is showing us His love. He is showing us His power. He is showing us that He cares enough to let us go through it.

 

 

She’s Almost Here

You just left my house as a young married wife. The next time I see you, you will be a full-fledged card carrying member of the mom club. Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was getting ready to have you?

It has all gone by so fast. I know everyone says that, but you’ll see. Even though the nights can be terribly long. Even though the days of hardly any sleep seem never ending. Even though you could watch her sleep for forever. It will fly by.

So enjoy the hard days, for without them there wouldn’t be easier days. Enjoy the days where you forget to eat; you can eat later. And enjoy the new relationship you and your husband have as being parents.

As great as it all is, and as hard as it all is, one day you will look back and know that these are the greatest days of all.