What is Christmas all about again?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is going to sound a little crazy.

I’ve set up a beautiful Christmas tree, I’ve shopped for my kids and extended family, I’ve baked Christmas cookies, and I’m kind of excited to find out what’s in the package my husband put under the tree for me. (That wasn’t the crazy part.)

While a big part of me gets on-board with traditional Christmas cheer each year, I remain a little conflicted.

Why?

Well, because there’s just nothing glitzy, fancy, and self-gratifying about Jesus making the epic sacrifice of being born in a stable, all for the purpose of growing up to die on the cross for me.

In light of such astounding love, where should my heart be right now?

Join me at The Better Mom where I talk about how feeling conflicted about Christmas leads us to what Christmas is all about.

Christmas Confessions Day 4: “Worried and bothered about so many things”

picmonkey_image

I’m just gonna throw this out there and make an assumption that I’m not the only one who is “worried and bothered about so many things” today (Luke 10:41b).

There’s the basic workload – work, cook, wash clothes, parent…

Then there’s another layer of responsibilities – Christmas shopping, mailing packages, deep-cleaning the house, baking…

And on top of that is extra socializing – Christmas programs, get-togethers, parties…

By the end of the day yesterday, I’d nearly forgotten about God.

All that mattered was a bunch of clutter and a persistent odor in the bedroom carpet. As I rug-doctored, heaving furniture to and fro, my thoughts centered around how very much work children are, how small our house feels with seven people in it, and how appalling all our “stuff” is.

Things like “I’m never going to have time to write again!,” “Who has been training these kids anyway?,” “I can understand the benefits of having only one child,” and “If our house burned down I wouldn’t have to sort through all this mess” danced through my head. You know, visions of sugarplums…

When an obnoxious crate-style metal shelving unit broke for the umpteenth time, the lottery ticket line I inadvertantly stood in to rent the rug doctor came to mind… Hmmm, if I won the lottery, I could buy some real shelves. That’s every lotto player’s dream, right?

And then, after I ditched the crates, dumped the dirty rug-doctor water, cleaned the toilet, started another load of laundry, tidied the kitchen, and tiptoed past my sleeping husband to get ready for bed, I saw a facebook message from a sweet lady asking if I could have lunch with her tomorrow.

I want to, but… I… have… so… much… to… DO!

And then the God that I’d nearly forgotten showed me who I was.

“Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary…” (Luke 10:41-42)

His Word…

Time at His feet…

Investments in relationships, in matters of the soul…

My confession today is that all my fleshly heart cares about is my own agenda:

  • I want my house clean.
  • I want my own time.
  • I don’t want my kids to pester me.
  • I want to finish my to do list!

My sinful nature doesn’t want to sacrifice.

My worried and bothered heart doesn’t have time to sit and listen to Jesus!

As if my agenda is more important than His.

As if He doesn’t know what it’s like to sacrifice and obey the will of the Father.

I need Him to open my eyes, my ears, my heart.

I need Him to “make me lie down in green pastures,”  to sit at His feet, to do the one thing that is necessary.

Lord Jesus, thank you for stepping down from Heaven and pursuing our souls. Help us today as our schedules and responsibilities overwhelm us; help us yield to Your Holy Spirit instead of our selfish, sinful hearts. Enable us to see what really matters and what doesn’t. Please give us grace to do the mundane for your glory.

*I know many of us are in the same boat today! And some of you are facing the kind of battles that make cluttered houses and smelly carpets look like a walk in the park. How can I pray for you today?

Christmas Confessions Day 3: [Mis]Judging my Husband

ChristmasConfessionsDay3

My third confession is that I’ve judged my husband.

(What? Judge not that you be not judged?)

I’m married to a hard worker, a wise parent, a dedicated Christ-follower, and a caring, sensitive husband.

And for the record, I’ve read tons of marriage books, I’ve learned about the pivotal issues of love and respect, and I’ve enjoyed a wonderful marriage for fourteen-and-one-half years.

Yet, in my heart of hearts… how much I’ve judged.

When he’s working too hard — He’s becoming a workaholic.

When he relaxes on the couch — Doesn’t he care about all the work I have left?

When I need parenting help — I wish he would handle this.

When he steps in to handle something — That is NOT the right approach for this situation.

When there’s not time for family devotions — He just doesn’t see the spiritual needs in our family like I do.

When he creates a routine for family devotions — Why does he have to be so rigid?

Oh yes, from my lofty vantage point, I have [mis]judged him to be selfish, uncaring, and decidedly less spiritual.

Well, God dropped a book in my lap last week that I now highly recommend — What Your Husband Isn’t Telling You by David Murrow.

And… Wow.

I’ve gained a profound understanding of the why’s… the working, the parenting, and the spiritual leadership, just to name a few.

I look back (at um, a few days ago) and am horrified that my goal has so often been to conform my husband to my “godly,” feminine way of life.

The God-given instincts to protect and provide, the differences in the male brain, the changes in society, especially since the Industrial Revolution, and the way we Western Christians “do church” provide significant answers to the great mysteries (and in the female mind, the CRIMES) of men.

I am truly grateful for fresh insight into the various aspects of my husband (and sons), but even if I hadn’t been provided with the results of such incredible study, I would have been accountable for my judgmental heart. Some other profound words have been around for quite a while…

 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Maybe you can relate. Will you pray with me?

Jesus, I’m sorry for my own self-righteousness. I’m sorry I’ve so often assumed the worst about the incredible husband you gave me. Thank you for creating him in your image — for creating him to be so different than me. Help me to honor and respect him, to understand him better, and to love him – not puffing myself up, not assuming evil, but bearing all things, believing all things, and hoping all things. I admit again how much I need YOU to change my heart. In Jesus’ name, Amen

*Don’t forget to check out David Murrow’s book. Maybe you can add it to your Christmas list! I promise you will learn something you’ve never learned before!

But before you do, let me know… what are you learning these days about loving, respecting and believing the best about your husband?

Christmas Confessions Day 2 — Thankful or Discontent?

Day2ThankfulorDiscontent

I celebrated Thanksgiving a few short days ago.

How thankful should I be? Infinitely.
How thankful am I? Pathetically.

My confession today is my discontent.

I thank God for all the good with my lips, but my greedy heart clamors for better

  • A better couch
  • A prettier face
  • A heftier bank account
  • A cleaner house
  • A more successful blog

On and on it goes.

Anyone on the face of the earth could find reason to envy me… that’s how blessed I am. But am I truly grateful?

Only sometimes.

In my ebook Take Courage: Choosing faith on my journey of fear, I wrote about giving thanks even in the midst of darkness:

More than a distracting mantra, thanks-giving is a sacrifice. We lay down
our rights for “more.” Yes, we realize our neediness, and we remember
that God knows too; yet, in the middle of suffering we take our eyes off
ourselves and acknowledge all we already possess. “I will offer to You the
sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the Name of the Lord” (Psalm
116:17 NKJV).

Furthermore, we are told that giving thanks “in all circumstances” is
indeed “God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (I Thessalonians 5:18 NIV).
Gratitude is an act of faith; we are telling God we remember what He has
done, we see what He is doing, and we trust Him with our future.
“Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6 NIV), and
without gratitude, it will be impossible for us to recognize God’s hand at
work.

Our enemy knows the transformative power of gratitude. Think about how hard he works (or doesn’t have to work) to stir the discontent in our hearts — especially at this time of year.

I used to be surprised by the inclusion of “ungrateful” in this list of sins, but as I look at the world around me (and the deceitful heart inside of me) it makes more and more sense:

For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power… (2 Timothy 3:2-3)

My discontent, my lack of gratitude denies the power of God in my life.

Lord Jesus, I confess to you my ingratitude. Please forgive me of this lust for more, for better. Turn my eyes away from “greener pastures” that are only the enemy’s mirage, and turn my focus instead to you and the blessings I often ignore. 

For my friend who is struggling because her burden is so great today, please show her your relentless love — the love the changes everything and merits our eternal gratitude.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

*How are you battling discontent and keeping a thankful heart today?

Christmas Confessions Day 1: Not perfect

ChristmasConfessions1

Every time I share with you, my blog friend, I long to be perfect.

I want to express myself clearly, share just the right amount of struggle, and come to an encouraging conclusion.

What happens when I’m not thinking clearly? Experiencing too much struggle? Not yet at my encouraging conclusion?

Silence.

But I shouldn’t be writing to impress.
We’re friends.
We’re pilgrims traveling this rough road together.
You don’t need me to have all the answers. In fact, I may need the answers from you.

We’ll never stop needing to point each other to the One, Only Answer.
Jesus.

Lately, I’ve been realizing afresh just how imperfect I am.

My sinfulness trips me up, shuts me up, and leaves me wondering what could I possibly be qualified to say?

But though the enemy whispers that I’ll never be perfect enough, the Holy Spirit turns my gaze to a star… a manger… a cross.

Christmas is all about me not being perfect — me seeing, confessing, and forsaking my sin; me falling before my perfect, fully adequate, merciful Savior.

Through December, I’ll be writing short confessions.

Simple reflections that reveal my need for the Savior whose arrival we celebrate.
And prayers. A lifting up of myself and of you, my friend.

As a fellow pilgrim, I can’t offer you perfect prose or perfect answers.

But I can walk beside you, sharing the truth of my neediness and His sufficiency, sharing a moment before His throne together.

Heavenly Father, thank you that you welcome the needy, sinful, and broken with open arms. I praise you for the gift of your perfect, all-sufficient Son, who cleanses me from sin and your Holy Spirit who empowers me to walk in the light.

Please give me — and my friend — eyes to see our sin for what it is. Let us not be deceived into believing we’re fine without you. Break down our facades of perfection and give us courage to admit our desperate need for you.

Don’t let us celebrate your arrival, your sacrifice unchanged.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

*Has your sin or a facade of perfection been holding you back from something? How can I pray for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts…

Winner of Women Living Well drawing!

Congratulations, Shannon! You won Women Living Well by Courtney Joseph.

Thanks, everyone, for your insightful comments! Praying for God’s grace to follow through with our commitments.

Deep cleaning where it matters most (And Women Living Well book giveaway!)

From where I sit at my desk, you’d never guess that I love order and beauty.

The pile of junk that sits to the left of my laptop did not accumulate overnight. Nor over one week.

I can’t even think how long this stack of papers (and books and movies and school pictures and printer supplies and a couple random plaques) have been here. So long that it feels normal.

I choose to ignore it.

After all, my bed is made, and the bedspread and pillows coordinate with the picture on the wall. If I want to see something lovely, I’ll just look over there and tell myself I’m a good-enough housekeeper and great decorator.

But far worse than the mess on my desk is the clutter that I ignore in my relationships with my husband and kids.

Do you do this? Tell yourself you’re a great friend? A serious artist? A wonderful employee or boss? All the while ignoring the growing pile of stuff in your family that so desperately needs sorting?

Again this weekend, I reevaluated my priorities.

I realized I’ve succeeded at maintaining the visible areas — my living room usually looks great — but I’ve neglected some hidden corners that my husband and kids experience on a daily basis.

Far too often I glance over the big picture of my house and declare things to be in order, when there is some deep cleaning that needs to be done. First in my heart, then in my treasured relationships.

How grateful I am for God’s grace and help — often in the form of others who challenge and hold me accountable.

Courtney Joseph has done just that in her recently released book, Women Living Well.

If you, like me, are ready to let God help you make a clean sweep in the most precious areas of your life, grab a copy of her book.

You will be cheered, inspired, convicted, and motivated. You will be challenged to love your Savior and your family afresh.

No matter what the level of your faith, your marriage, or your experience as a mom, this book will bring you practical encouragement.

I’d love to share a copy with you today!

To enter the drawing, just leave a comment below sharing one way you are (or will start) investing in your marriage and family.

And then let’s prayerfully tackle those piles of junk…

“…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

WomenLivingWell

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 834 other followers

%d bloggers like this: