The Hoarder And Her Can: a mom’s lesson in worth and potential.

A month ago I was watching an episode of Hoarders: Collection (um yah, sometimes it’s the only thing that motivates me to clean my house) and my ears perked up during a conversation a counselor was having with a client on her porch. He brings out a bag full of empty cans from her house and sits down with her and her adult daughter.

The counselor asks her, “So what’s your thoughts about the cans?”

hoarder: “I see potential in everything. Lots of things you could do with tin snips, make flowers, all kinds of crafts…”

counselor: “Well you said you see potential in everything except yourself.”

hoarder: “Well I’m too old for potential anymore.”

counselor: “So theoretically this can has more potential than you.”

She nods and looks down.

Now I understand that the hopeless condition of this woman’s soul is a product of a painful abusive marriage that ended 20 years ago. My beautiful life cannot compare to her pain and loss but there was a part of me that could relate with what her counselor was getting at. I myself had just recently questioned my own worth and potential.

A friend told me about a writer’s conference called Jumping Tandem. I wanted to go so bad and I really needed to go. Seemed like it might actually work out until my husband said that he accepted an invitation to help some family members four hours away. Grandma and grandpa would be on vacation in Mexico. Fiona would need to go to a birthday party and Tony would have a baseball game. Who would watch my kids that needed to be in two different places at once! This was a logistical nightmare! And of all weekends why must it be this one?

My thoughts turn to…

“Looks like I’m staying home to hold everything together, like always, (very dramatically) and always will.

It gets worse though. Check out these other pity party thoughts I was entertaining…

“Serves me right, though. I don’t generate any income for our family so why should I spend it on improving me.”

“The family four hours away has a much more noble cause so why shouldn’t Jeff go help them.”

“Don’t be so selfish Bri”

But my heart was crying out! …”I’m home all the time! Everything I do is for the advancement of my husband and kids. Just this once I want to go and invest in me. Seriously my time away would amount to less than 24hours. Can’t I have that Lord? Am I being so selfish in wanting this?”

Then I thought of the hoarder and her can. And I thought of all the potential I see in my dear friends. If they ever came to me with such lies and an invitation to a pity party I would immediately tell them to stop it and do what ever it took to go to that conference. I knew I had much more potential than trash. My dreams, desires and talents are always worth fighting for. Pursuing dreams will usually be inconvenient on some level. Inconvenient for me and my family.

I felt like the Lord was saying, “Well how bad do you want this Bri, ’cause I’m not going to make it easy for you. Do you think it’s worth all this. Are you worth all this? Do you believe you are worth investing in?

The hoarder refused to have a vision for her life. I knew that I didn’t want to get stuck in that kind of self-depreciating rut – I wanted to get in my groove!

Ok you moms, how many times have you had those same thoughts?

…”Husbands and kid needs come first all the time. How could I ever ask them to bend over backwards on my behalf?”

Well picture yourself 40 years in the future and hearing the same words that our hoarder’s daughter told the counselor “It’s hard to hear my own mom say that there is more potential in a something that is trash than there is in her.”

I do believe that our kids and husbands take great pride in watching us pursue impossible dreams. Have you ever stopped to wonder that just maybe they would love to bend over backwards on your behalf the same way you love to do it for them? Seriously, we only need to ask. But we won’t ask if deep down we don’t think we are worth it.

The Lord was not making this weekend event difficult so as to cruelly dangle some unattainable fruit in my face. He really wanted me to see that I was worth fighting for. I think The Lord wanted my husband and kids to see me fighting for this dream too. I think He smiled in relief when I decided that I was. After all, He paid so much for me. With His very life He told me how much I was worth.

 -Here’s A Good Word-

Twice Paul encouraged Timothy to pursue his talents and invest in himself.

Do not neglect your gift…. -1 Timothy 4:14

…I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you… -2 Timothy 1:6

-Your Thoughts-

What are some dangers of having that pity party in front of your husband and kids?

I would never want my kids or husband to feel like they were the reason I never did the things I always wanted to.

Tell me about a time that the Lord did not make it come easy, whatever it was.

Is it easier for you to invest family resources into every member of the family except you? Why?

Tomorrow… I’ll tell you the rest of the story. Was I able to get it together to go to the JumpingTandem conference? How hard would I have to fight for this… and a special message from My Darling (husband Jeff)


Let’s Not Over-Think This

“Don’t you quit now, Bri! Finish it! Just finish it!”

This is me talking to myself while running on the MoPac trail this morning. You see I have this problem sometimes. I get kinda lazy. I see the finish so I think I’m done (even though I’m not there yet). So I stop and walk the last 15 yards to my finish.   I love running! Not competitively though. I do it for fun. It’s relaxing for me. The moment you tell me I need to beat a time or a person I promise I will lose all benefit from the exercise.

In 2010 I was diagnosed with depression. Really scary time.  Of course I was able to find a good course of treatment; medication and some time with a counselor.   Everything I read told how good exercise was for my mind. I learned about endorphins and all the great benefits of regular exercise.   Tragically, this added information took all the fun out of my running. It was no longer for fun but for “have to”. All the magic of being outside, the sounds, the smells, the peaceful rhythmic breathing, the zone… it was gone. Disappeared into doctor’s orders. I thought, “Oh I guess its nothing special after all…just endorphins.”

I can be stubborn that way. It has to be my idea and my reasons. I don’t like to do something just because someone told me to. I know, really mature. My eyes are rolling with you I promise. My dear mother who raised this stubborn child knows exactly what I’m talking about. I think my husband might nod his head here too.

Sadly the divine was taken from another life-giving part of my life. Prayer. I absolutely loved praying. I believed in what I was praying about. I believed that God heard me. I believed that He would answer my pleas for people.

prayer

And I need to be anchored.   But then counselors and journal articles all told about the benefits of meditation and prayer. These experts told how good it was to sit quietly and clear your head. All good things. But with my depression/anxiety it is hard to sit alone, quietly and feel like it’s doing any good for me.   And there was no talk of the divine spiritual perspective of prayer. It became a time out and it became all about me. Already, my depression had me squarely focused on me and the last thing I needed was more me time.

It’s been five years since I’ve come out of the dungeon. And I’ve got to tell you, I am taking back my running and I am taking back my prayer. I’m so glad that exercise helps my mind, but I want the mystery. So I run like a child -before the battle scars of depression and before it was all about me.  I enjoy the sounds, smells, the rhythm and the zone once again. I don’t think much about what I’m getting out of it. I try to not think much at all. I just enjoy it. And when I want to burst with joy and praise my God on the running trail, I will!  And just be thankful and enjoy Him.  Even when other runners on the trail are thinking “I’d like to have those kind of endorphins”… I’ll still believe.

Think with me – but not over-think it 😉

Like me, was something stolen from you at the hand of depression?

What would you like to take back?

How did “over-thinking” it take your enjoyment out of it?

The counselor I saw years ago was not a believer. As I began to come out of my depression by telling her of the hope that Jesus gave me, she dismissed me – awkwardly.  Thank goodness the Lord had given me the confidence in that moment to realize that I was not a lunatic for my faith. The gospel is foolishness to those who don’t believe.   But I wonder if some of you came out of depression believing that your faith was just a crutch and not the very solid ground that your life stands on?

Lets cry out to God and claim it once more!

Dear Almighty God, We believe that you care deeply for us and long for us to be close to you. Help us Lord to cling to that. Let us not grieve the lost years and the lost fruit and instead look forward to what you have for us now. Lord we want to lavish in Your mystery and acknowledge Your power in our lives once more. We come back to you Lord, like little children sitting at your feet. All this in the sweet name of our Savior, Jesus. Amen.

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure… –Hebrews 6:19

Let the little children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them. –Mark 10:14-16 (NLT)


Restoration of home…and heart

I am the Lord, the God of all mankind.  Is anything too hard for me?

Jeremiah 32:27

I have been pleasantly packing up my little home.  Boxes filled and sealed.  Destined to be opened in a new strange place. A place that will soon be our home as we begin to fill it with our presence – for that is what home is.

The afternoon of March 29th Jeff and I set eyes on this old house for the first time.  Like some eternal nurturer always looking for a broken or wounded soul to heal, so Jeff and I tend to be that way with old broken down and tossed aside things on the brink of death.  Whether it is an old rusty bucket like the one I just resuscitated last week or a piece of furniture by the curb on trash day.  We see not the trash heap it is, but what it once was.  What it can still be.  We have a vision of “new life” for things others would put in a grave.  So it is with this old school house.

We came early that day to snoop around before our realtor arrived to unlock the house.  We enjoyed guessing the purpose of each out-building and deciding right there how we would use it.  We knelt down and prayed in the driveway. Asking the Lord to make a way for us to be the new care takers of this lonely place.  Our realtor arrives.  She struggles with the lock.  The door opens and we look, we see, we imagine…we plan.

With Jeff armed with all the capabilities of a construction crew and me (as I’m told) the patience of a saint – we know we could take on this patient.  Though dirty, violated in some areas and slightly ill equipped to shelter our family, we knew we could provide the care that was necessary to bring her back to life.

I snooped through every door.  Like a curious kid wondering where it would lead.  One door took me into the bathroom.  As my head ducked under old dusty spider webs I turned to look in the mirror. There I found a treasure.  On a yellow post-it note was a bible verse written with a woman’s hand, stuck to the mirror and left behind.

I am the Lord

I snatched it down.  Who was this woman?  Our realtor spoke of rumors of divorse.  I knew we were looking at a property in a foreclosed status.  These walls could tell of hard times for sure.  Like scanning a crime scene and trying to put the pieces together I looked for evidence that told their story.  A teenage girl once roomed here.  They had a moving sale.  Unwanted items were simply left for the next occupants.  I wondered how they were all getting along now.  Had their wounds healed? I will never know.

But I do know this – that nothing is too hard for the Lord!  The Lord explained to Jeremiah in Jeremiah chapter 32 that He was about to hand the city over to the Babylonians – to destroy it and burn the houses down.  His people had ignored Him and turned away from the One True God.  They were in trouble and their lives were falling apart.  The Lord allowed the Babylonians to come in and destroy it.  He intended to show them just what life would be like for them, without Him.  And it was a nightmare.  But our Good God would not allow that to be the end.

In Jeremiah 32:37-39 the Lord says that He would also restore it and bring it back to life.  “…I will surely gather them from all the lands where I banish them … I will bring them back to this place and let them live safely.  They will be my people, and I will be their God.  I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me for their own good and the good of their children after them…”

I have also turned from God and His tender care.  Each time, He never withheld the sure consequences of living in such disregard to His goodness and mercy.  When my life would cease to worship Him he showed me exactly where that would lead – an exile of sorts.  But He always welcomed me back when my heart returned to Him.  He would not shame me nor allow me to live in the disgrace I deserved.

This is the God that Jeff and I worship.  He loves to make things new – to breath new life into something on the brink of death.  The Lord has done that in our marriage when it was destined for the trash heap.  A bond so broken by sin and selfishness that only the Lord could bring us back with a singleness of heart and action…for our good and the good of our children.  Nothing is too hard for the Lord!

This is so much more than fixing up a house.  Anyone can come in and do what Jeff and I are doing- the painting, cleaning and repairs.  It would be all for nothing if we didn’t love the Lord.  Because He is the one that breathes the breath of life into our souls. It is His presence that makes this broken house a home!

pray with me

Oh Lord, you are so good to us. Thank you for stretching out your arm to us. Restore our hearts. Make them new. Breath life into our homes. Give us the singleness of heart and action that we long for. For our good and the good of our children. -Amen.

think with me

When have you found something or someone that you thought was beyond repair? Sometimes you see someone so ravaged by selfishness that you think there is no hope for them. Do you find it hard to have compassion and mercy for those in need of the Lord?

Take some time and think about what God has made new in your life. What has he rescued you from?

It’s one thing to put some screws into an old shaky chair. It’s an entirely different thing all together when you find a broken person.  Only God can see into their broken places and apply the healing touch of a creator.


Stop Picking That Scab!

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.   –Psalm 147:3

I’m a picker. It is not uncommon to see me hovered over any of my family members looking for a pimple to pop.   Evolutionist could try to use me as evidence that we evolved from monkeys! My dear Fiona has inherited her mom’s grooming habits. She loves to pick off her rough, scaly scabs. And when she does they start bleeding all over again, exposing a wound that has not fully healed. I have warned her so many times…

“Fiona, if you don’t leave that alone it will never heal. The scab helps it heal and every time you pick it open you have to start that healing process over.”

Sometimes I am so struck by the things that come out of my mouth to my kids.

You see, I can get to picking at scabs too. Not the kind of road rash scabs from falling off a scooter but the kind of scabs from hurt feelings.   A cut from some harsh words. Or the scrape of a cold shoulder. A bruise of betrayal.

It’s good to talk things out. We need to process painful events, get things off our chest. We forgive. And then we live.

But later on something reminds us and we look down and see the scab. We get to thinking about how it got there. Then we start talking about it, reliving a painful event that has left a mark on our heart and mind exposing a wound that had not fully healed and the blood beings to ooze out again.

Wait, I thought I had settled this issue! I thought I had already resolved this! Why am I reliving this all over again? That was so long ago…

Its time to apply some more balm, cover it and give it some more time. Soon the scab forms again and the wound can begin to heal back. My little girl is learning to leave her scabs alone and let her body do its thing. I remind her…

“Honey, the more you pick on that scab the worse the scar will be.”

 …Next time a word about scars.

Allow these scriptures to encourage you

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” -Isaiah 43:18-19

“Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth…” -Isaiah 54:4

…But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. -Philippians 3:13

think with me

Here is a new word I learned… recrudesce (re-kroo-des´) v. – to become raw again, worse, bloody.

So here’s to not rehashing past events. Here’s to not dragging people through “court” again after the matter has been settled. And here is to making new memories!

pray with me

Dear Lord, we are so thankful that you hear our cries when we are hurting. Please help us leave our “scabs” alone so that they can heal.  Let the healing balm of forgiveness cover over anything that we scrape off.  Help us to be understanding to other peoples wounds and always encourage them toward healing and not scaring. In Your Name we pray Lord Jesus – Amen.

 


Let It Go!

 Come to the “Brave” Ladies Retreat April 25-27

I’ll be teaching a workshop called Stop Shoulding On Yourself.

Half Poster3

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. –John 8:36

We all watched the movie Frozen at home together. The kids had seen it with Grandma and Grandpa already and did what their mom has taught them best—quoted movie lines!

The kids favorite character?…Olaf the snowman. “I don’t have a skull. Or bones.” “Watch out for my butt!”

Mom’s favorite character?…Elsa of course! “I don’t care what they’re going say!…Here I stand in the light of day!…”

This has resulted in many a dinner table rendition of the song Let It Go. As well as the various theatrical living room versions put on by the kids and I. So much fun! (and so annoying to Jeff)

Seriously, that scene where Elsa throws ice and builds her frozen fortress while singing her heart out is so moving (never mind the eternal winter mishap).   Finally she didn’t have hold back any more and could just be herself. No more “conceal, don’t feel, don’t let it show”. Didn’t you just love how happy and free this beautiful character was!

What was holding her back? Why couldn’t she be free? She had always carried this load of guilt around for injuring her sister as a child. It kept her locked in her castle and left her sister alone. Guilt will do that to a person. It is like locking yourself in a cage. The shame that we feel will cause us to hold back and not feel the freedom of just being comfortable in our own skin. So what takes away the guilt? What makes us free? Well if I had it my way, I would have marched into that animated movie and introduced Elsa to Jesus!

You messed up bad. You feel really bad but the damage is done. You take your place on the bench and watch the game from the sidelines. Then Jesus comes in. He’s not afraid to be seen talking to you. He’s confused as to why you are not playing.

Jesus, you don’t understand what I did. Now I can’t play my part.

Jesus smiles and says, “Well I own this team and I say you are forgiven. Now get out there and play the position I made you to play.”

But what about the other players? What will they think?

Does it matter? I have the ultimate authority here and I say you are forgiven!”

 Let these scriptures encourage your heart today.

 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened by a yoke of slavery. –Galatians 5:1

Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe. –Proverbs 29:25

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. –Psalm 30:11-12

If you are weighed down by guilt don’t go another day without making it right. You must come out into the light. And when you do Jesus will cover you with His forgiveness and clothe you in His righteousness. No more shame. Just you… set free!


 Come to the “Brave” Ladies Retreat April 25-27

I’ll be teaching a workshop called Stop Shoulding On Yourself.

Click here Brave Poster to view the details.


When I kept silent,

my bones wasted away…

…Then I acknowleged my sin to you

and did not cover up my iniquity.

I said, “I will confess

my transgressions to the Lord”—

and you forgave

the guilt of my sin. Psalm 32:3-5

 

 


Finders Givers

And now, Lord, what do I wait for and expect? My hope and expectation are in You.  Psalm 39:7 (AMP)

Our kids have provided Jeff and I with some funny and memorable quotes.  I try to write them down before my aging memory loses them forever.  “finders givers” was one of those quotes. “You know when you find something and you say “finders keepers”.  Well, its kind of like that. Except you don’t keep it – you give it away.   Finders Givers!” they told me.  For some reason I’m inspired use this expression as the title for this post about expectations.  Maybe when you read to the end you’ll be able to make the connection also.

What kind of expectations do you have?  Always for the best, the way things should be, were meant to be…everything fair and right.

Here’s a good quote.  “An expectation is just an offence waiting to happen.”

Are you ever disappointed or offended when someone does not meet your expectations?

-Expecting my husband to be as expressive as I am.  Should he not be giving with his thoughts and feelings, especially about me?

– Reciprocation.

-I went to all this trouble and they didn’t even say thank you!

-I’m leaving this organization since I’m not getting the recognition and appreciation I deserve.

It’s easy to feel shortchanged and shafted at times like this.  Why? We expected to get something and didn’t get what we wanted.  The expectations I listed above reveal just how much I expect people to meet emotional needs. Sadly it’s also an example of giving…to get.

Here is an interesting thought.  Sometimes people do meet our expectations. Sometimes they give us what we want…and we take it, gladly.  Then since we have found a reliable “source”, we may go back to it and fill up again; like a thirsty person to a well.  But then later on we may complain that the water isn’t as cold as it once was.  Or maybe the water is dirty and we are not as happy with this “well” as we used to be.  This reveals that we are not interested in the person at all, only in what we could get from them.

So large are the demands I put on the poor souls that surround me!  My Jeff can attest to many a desperate cry from this little wife.  Give to me! Give me assurance, give me affection, give me intimacy! (Do you hear the neediness…the desperation?)

There is a still, true voice from inside me that says, “Take some time, go pray.  Only God can help you reconcile this.  Your soul cries out for something that Jeff can’t give.

“But I want him to give it to me!”

In John 4:4-26, Jesus approached an old well and there he met a woman drawing water.  In their conversation he tells her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.”…

She replies, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

He says, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

Reading on from here we learn that this woman was very thirsty and has been trying to quench her thirst from the wrong source.  Men.  I can only imagine what her soul cried out to those men, give me affection, give me security, give me direction, and for crying out loud give me a ring!

We mistakenly expect so much out of poor human beings and expect so little from all-powerful God.  Unfortunately my attitude toward God can be that I’ll just take whatever comes from Him.  This can sound very healthy and mature.  It shows that I know He is really in control and that I am just content with what He gives me.  The sad part about this attitude is that I have no need to get too excited about asking Him for anything nor do I cry out to him in desperation.  He will just do what He will do.  This is not the relationship that my heavenly Father wants to have with me.  He wants me to ask, seek and knock.  I am convinced that there is no sweeter sound to Jesus than a desperate cry to him for help.  He wants active communication with us. Not just a passive relationship.  He has so much He wants to give me and show me, if I’ll just seek him for it instead of my husband.

And when I find my thirsty heart quenched by God’s living water, then I can give to Jeff.

pray with me

Oh Father how needy we are for You today!  Forgive me when I ignore you and look to my husband, family and friends to be what only You can be for me.  We need Your help to make us full.  Teach us to expect great things from You and let people be human so we can really give from an overflowing heart.  Amen.

In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.  Psalm 5:3

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. Psalm 62:5

They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed. Psalm 22:5

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,  Ephesians 3:20

think with me

This truth has allowed me to enjoy people more fully, and experience a truly genuine exchange and peace in my relationships.

Has God revealed to you any “wells” that don’t satisfy?

Is it a “well” that you need to walk away from?

Or does God simply want you to start coming to Him so that you can relate to this other person in a different way?


Do You Hear What I Hear?

I love all the sparkle and glitter of Christmas time.  My tree is up ASAP after Thanksgiving.  Bringing out the special decorations that have been in the basement for a year is such an event for my kids ages 6 and 7.  I love the mistletoe.  I love my nativity set with the baby Jesus that comes out of the manger.  He is no bigger than an almond.  Christmas with kids is just so much fun!  I remember when I was a young girl and I would sneak down from my bedroom at night.  It was so silent and still and the glow from the Christmas tree just warmed my heart.  I would sit on the couch and watch and listen.  I knew that Santa Claus wasn’t real but I loved the thought of a jolly caring man coming into my house to leave presents for my siblings and me.  It made me feel special that someone I didn’t even know would be so kind.

Now I have kids of my own.  Jeff and I have always explained that Christmas is a celebration of our Savior coming to live with us, being born as a baby.  We also talked to them about Santa Claus.  We explained that Santa is a mythical character that is based on a man from long ago who was very kind to those in need.  He is a very nice man, but not real.  Even with all our efforts to teach our kids the true meaning of Christmas they are still prone to want this fantasy!  Other dear mother friends of mine tell me that even after all their efforts to educate their children the kids have suggested that they leave cookies out on Christmas Eve just to see what happens.   Kids want to believe!

Santa seems to be a permanent part of the American culture so it is necessary to talk about him.  There are many Christmas movies that try so hard to convince young kids that they should believe in Santa Claus.  They are touching, inspiring and full of hope in a man that is not real.

My son loves trains so we have the movie The Polar Express.  A wonderfully computer animated movie staring Tom Hanks.  A magical train stops at the homes of “doubting” children; some doubting the existence of Santa, some doubting themselves.  One by one the kids get on board and have a thrilling ride on this train headed for the North Pole so they can see Santa.  An adventure filled with tiny miracles along the way all giving evidence to the magic that makes Santa possible.  Oh their faces when they finally get to the North Pole!  The elves are real!  The reindeer are real!  Time does not exist! All doubts about how those millions of presents would ever fit on the sleigh and how in the world could Santa deliver all those packages in just one night are suddenly gone as they witness the magic that makes it all happen.   A special boy gets the first present of Christmas handed from Santa himself – a bell from Santa’s sleigh!  It has the most beautiful ring!  After returning home he and his sister listen to the bell together.  Sadly, his parents could not hear the bell ring, (obviously because they don’t “believe”).

This movie made me think about some doubters I know.  How could the bible be real?  How could God make the entire universe in just 7 days?  How could all those animals fit on that boat?  How do we know if there really is a place called Heaven, or hell for that matter? How could a baby be born to a virgin? Was she artificially inseminated?  – well, sort of.  Did dead Jesus really get up and walk out of the tomb with out a scratch on him?  – well, only a couple scars.

Our train is life and we are on our way to eternity.  Some of us have witnessed miracles, answers to prayer all pointing to evidence of God’s power, love and existence.  And oh our faces when this earthly life stops and we arrive in eternity!  “It’s real!” we’ll say with joy when we finally see our Gift with our own eyes. The Gift we held in our hearts all this long ride – Jesus Christ himself!  Or the terror when we realize that we declined the gift over and over again, because as we can now clearly see… it is real.  We won’t see Tom Hanks punching our golden ticket as we enter eternity.  We will see The Lord and he will look for one thing, the blood of His Son.

I want my kids to know that Christmas is not about doubting if Santa Claus is real.  Christmas is about understanding the reality of heaven, what it cost to get us there, and that Jesus is the one wearing a red robe.  (Read Revelation 19:13)

Christmas is not the happy feeling knowing that even the poor kids get a Christmas present. It is the peace and security knowing that every person has been given a gift – the gift of life, the gift of reality, no longer this pointless existence, but purpose, and knowing that you have a place.  I want my kids, family and friends to all believe…  and hear what my ears hear.

In your Christian home, what do you tell your kids about Santa Claus?

(sounds like a teen awareness commercial – “Talk to your teen about drugs, or someone else will.”… “Talk to your child about Santa, or someone else will”)

Santa is not a bad guy and yes, a temporal trinket can soften a heart to the real meaning of why we celebrate Christmas.  All good things, but do you have a hard time with cultural traditions that steal attention from our Savior?


Finder of Lost Things

So I’m taking my son Tony to school late on Monday morning and I have his little sister Fiona with me.  The tardiness was intentional – we had late nights and early mornings this weekend and he really needed the extra sleep.  I knew his teacher would thank me.  Fiona, my pre-schooler, walks down the hallway with us to Tony’s kindergarten classroom and is carrying her show-and-tell toy; a small doll with matching cradle that has a small purple mobile hanging on it -very cute.  Once Tony is settled in his kindergarten class, Fiona and I walk back down the long hallway, out the door and into our car.  Then we drive to pick up one of her pre-school classmates before taking them both to pre-school.

Soon we are in the pre-school parking lot and the two giggly girls pile out of the car. Presently, Fiona cries out in distress, “Mommy! The mobile is gone!”  Yes, her sweet mobile hangs very loosely over the small toy cradle. It must have dropped off during our travels this morning. It is dainty plastic, lavender in color and is about the size of a quarter.  I tell my daughter with confidence, “Hey Sis, don’t worry. Mom will find it.”  After Fiona and friend are settled in their pre-school classroom, I walk back to my car murmuring to myself, “I can’t believe I’m going back to search for this tiny piece of plastic.”  But I smile because that is what moms do, especially this mom. You see, I’m The Finder of Lost Things.  My family has given me this nick name.  I remember digging through the big dumpster at Amigos in college because I accidentally threw my small clear plastic retainer away – I found it, in the dark.  That happened a few other times.  I’ve searched my neighborhood for my small, sly Rat Terrier appropriately named Fox.  Missing keys, trinkets, legos, tools, shoes, toys – you name it, my family knows I’ll find it.  My OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) helps tremendously when it comes to keeping track of inventory! Many times I’m more excited to find the “lost thing” than anybody else.  I want the set complete, all the pieces to the puzzle, and every penny accounted for in my ledger.  This OCD clearly has it’s benefits. But to go find an insignificant piece of plastic for my daughter is much more than OCD.  It is my daughters love for the plastic accessory that makes it valuable.

When ever I’m looking hard for something I always think of The Parable of the Lost Coin from Luke 15:8-10.

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one.  Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?”

I am that lady!

“And when she finds it she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’  In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Read Luke 15:1-7 to get an even better idea of what Jesus does when he finds someone who was wandering off.  He uses the example of a shepherd who leaves his whole flock to find the one sheep.  And oh the scolding that the shepherd gives the sheep once he finds him.  He smacks him with his staff all the way home. Then he makes an example of the sheep and shames him in front of the whole flock. Hey wait a second, that’s not how His story goes!  No just the opposite, the shepherd “joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home.” Then he gathers everyone together to honor the found sheep.

Praise God that he seeks us out when we wander off.  Life can be hard on a lost sheep.  All sorts of danger is out there when we are not staying close to our Shepherd. He searches and even puts people in our path to guide us back. He puts up road blocks that will force us to turn around and take the way back home.  Though we may think, “I’m just one little coin, or just one of a hundred other sheep, who is going to notice me?” This attitude makes it really easy to go off the path.  Sometime we want to see what we can get away with. Sometimes we want to get lost.  But our Shepherd is a good parent who loves us too much to see us go the wrong way. He sees our value.  All of His effort to find us and bring us gently home is worth it – and everyone in heaven hears about it!

pray with me

Dear Lord, I am so glad you are my Shepherd. Thank you for finding me whenever I wander off from your leadership and protection.  Sometimes I do not think I am worth very much but clearly Your words in Luke 15 tell me that I am very valuable to You!  Please help me to look at myself through Your eyes.  Grant me the blessing of a repentant and steadfast heart when I do wander away.  And then bless my humble heart to hear the praises of heaven and feel Your smile upon my soul. Amen.

I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands. Psalm 119:176

Oh, I did find the small plastic accessory for Fiona.  It was in the hallway of Tony’s school.  Did you doubt my nick name!?