Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas to All!


And it's a White Christmas in Alabama!

Merry Christmas to all my friends far and near!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

As Christ Loved the Church

Today was the day of my Annual Christmas Freak-Out.

You know, that day when you realize that Christmas has all of a sudden snuck up on you, and staring at your list you start to hyperventilate, panic, and take your stress out on all those around you?

Not pretty.

This year, I appealed to my sweet husband:  "Honey, I feel the annual Christmas Freak-Out coming on."  He and I looked at the list, and. . . . wonder of wonders. . . . he took over half of my errands upon himself.  He's been out for 3 hours.

He hates shopping.

He hates running errands.

He hates crowds.

But he's doing it for me.

That's pretty Ephesians 5, don't you think?

Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her.

I"m so blessed.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Joseph: Another Look

The story is oft-told, and a familiar one.   A tired husband, a young wife large with child, a long journey.

Have you ever wondered why?  Why would Joseph take such a long journey, when Mary was clearly in no condition to travel?  I've been on a few bumpy tractor rides in my day, relatively close to my due date, and let me tell you - that was no picnic.  Why would Joseph take her far from her home, her family, her women relatives and friends who would likely be the ones to assist her in her hour of need?

Well, there was this census, you see.  Joseph and Mary had to go there to register. 

Or did they?

Consider this:
In the Middle East, men usually represent their families in any official or legal matters.  Why did Joseph take Mary with him to Bethlehem for the registration?  The easiest explanation is that he was unsure what might happen to her if he left her in Nazareth without his presence to protect her.  It behooves us to see Joseph as a hero of the story without whose courage and understanding of the prophets there would have been no Christmas story to tell.  (Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies in the Gospels, Kenneth O. Bailey, p.46)
The picture of Joseph, protector of his bride, is a new one to me.  Mary was known in Nazareth - known as the one who was with child while betrothed.  Not an honorable position; recall the taunts of those in Jesus' own hometown, "Isn't this Mary's son?"  What could have happened to her - the supposed unfaithful one - without her faithful husband's protection?  Recall the Old Testament penalty for adultery. . . . . .

To me - this is yet another remarkable instance of God's providence.  To give Mary such a husband, such a man, that in his integrity, care, and faithfulness he would take her on a most difficult journey, a journey that would result in her Son being born in the city from which the promised Messiah would hail. . . . . . . . only a sovereign Lord.  Another detail in the marvelous Christmas story that just astounds me.

And by way of recommendation, Kenneth Bailey's book, Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes is simply fascinating.  Not a light read, but sheds amazing light on the gospels when seen in light of the Middle Eastern culture and customs of Jesus' time.  If you receive any gift certificates, I'd highly recommend it.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sunday Sentiments: Let the Stable Still Astonish

Let the Stable Still Astonish
 by Leslie Leyland Fields

Let the stable still astonish.
Straw–dirt floor, dull eyes,
Dusty flanks of donkeys, oxen;
Crumbling, crooked walls;
No bed to carry that pain,
And then, the child,
Rag-wrapped, laid to cry
In a trough.

Who would have chosen this?
Who would have said: “Yes,
Let the God of all the heavens and earth
Be born here, in this place?
Who but the same God
Who stands in the darker, fouler rooms
Of our hearts
And says, “Yes,
Let the God of Heaven and Earth
Be born here –

In this place.

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Social Network Christmas

(hope no one finds this irreverent - I though it was pretty well done - but NO, I've got no plans to return to fb anytime soon.)


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Glorious Impossible

Because I'm on a YouTube kick, apparently. . .

And because I got to play a super-fun gig this morning, featuring this song, which is permanently stuck in my head.

Not a bad thing, methinks.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Truer Words

Love is. . . . Part Two

Hot on the heels of my last post (and yes, I've recovered nicely from the whole persimmon issue, thankyouverymuch), I stumbled over to the blog of one of my favorite people in the whole world, Marcia Somerville.

She has some pretty insightful things to say about love.  Here's an excerpt to get you started:

God gives all of his disciples the same amount of limited amount of time each day, and a host of choice points. Those choice points are tests: how will you react and respond to the people and situations you encounter today in a world full of sinners? The results of our reactions and responses to the tests shape us and others. That’s how God sanctifies us, and forwards His amazing plans. God gives all of His people others to love each day as part of His training process. But, to only a chosen few of His children, God gives homeschooling. We homeschooling moms are assigned a very limited number of people, who matter to us greatly, to love. Being imperfect, we often fail. Being our Father, God knows what He’s up to. He’s changing us into the image of Christ by the perfect means for each of us individually. If you are homeschooling because of a call of God on your life to do so, then this is the context in which you are to walk out the primary commands of God: love Him and love your neighbor as yourself.

Go read the rest here.  You won't regret it.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Love is. . . . .

. . . .ok, if you thought I was going to quote that cheesy 70s line, "Love is never having to say you're sorry" you're W-R-O-N-G.

Because we all know that love means having to say "I'm sorry"on a regular basis.

No, tonight love is processing a whole PILE of persimmons through a food mill - hand cranked - because your dear husband hasn't been able to get to his pet project.

That project being harvesting the tons of persimmons from our prolific tree in the backyard.  He was so faithful in waiting until after the first frost, researching how to make persimmon jam, picking up the fallen fruit, enthralling the kids with the tales of this wonderful food right in our own backyard.

And now, with bowls of mashed persimmons, full of seeds and skins, taking up space in my fridge:

Love is staying up late, watching Young Victoria on Netflix, and running a hand food mill, covered in persimmons.

I love you, honey.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

On the Ugly Head

In my house, lately, there has been a lot of talk about. . . .well, a lot of things. 

Most of them serious.  A couple of them funny.  And there's one theme we keep coming back to over and over again.

We don't know what in the *world* we're doing.

Who was the humorist who said something like, "I used to have no children and plenty of theories of parenting; now I have plenty of children and NO theories of parenting!"?  OK, so we're not quite there yet, but as we enter this new, interesting, challenging season of life . . . with job searches and college decisions and general parenting issues. . . . .

. . . we don't know what in the *world* we're doing.  (Editor's note: I usually have a pronoun problem.  You know, attributing things to sweet hubby when it's really just my issue at hand?  But this time - I think I can safely say it's a 'WE' issue.)

But there's this Ugly Head that keeps rearing itself - the Ugly Head of Perfection.

You know,  'cuz we're Christians and all, we have to have it All. Together.  
Know what direction our family is going in, set our goals, check 'em off once reached.  Never question God or ourselves, but walking confidently through life towards Victory, always upwards and onwards, straight paths ever higher and on into glory.

But the truth is - life. is. messy.

Really messy.

And most of the time - especially lately -  we struggle to know the right thing to do.  We can't act confident, or as if we have our acts together.  Because - we don't.

We'd rather cry out with the Psalmist:
  Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord?
   Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever!
Why do you hide your face?
   Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?
For our soul is bowed down to the dust;
   our belly clings to the ground.
Rise up; come to our help!
   Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love! (Psalm 44: 23-26)
 And - interestingly enough - we've had enough conversations with friends lately that have made us realize that the Ugly Head of Perfection needs to be soundly beaten back from our midst.  Enough conversations where the other party expresses with wonder, "You too?" and there is a fellowship in the pain and confusion, a sweet embrace of the reality that says yes, we are hurting and yes, we are broken, but God - He is sufficient.

We do no service to walk in the pride of our flesh, setting ourselves up as those who have all the answers, who are living lives free of questioning and struggle and pain.  We do no service to our Savior to pretend that we can program our lives onwards and upwards, with ever-increasing victory call, when the truth is that we need His grace to even take the very next tiny baby step.

We do no service to those around us, when our desire to appear "perfect" stems from pride, deadly pride, and would point those nearest to us away from Christ, and onto out poor, sinful souls.

So if you catch me raising the Ugly Head of Perfection -

Would you help me beat it back?

I think we'll both be better for it.