Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Oh nuts!

There is only one Christmas carol that I know of that is called The Christmas Song. You know it, right? Chestnuts roasting on a open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose.... Well, when this song came to mind after we returned home from the holidays, I didn't picture chestnuts...more like joining Shadrach, Meshach, and Abeddego in the firey furnance of festivities. And come to think of it there were several "furance" issues as well this holiday...I melted aluminum foil in the bottom of a brand new covection double-oven that is only 3 weeks old (a technician is coming...another blog for another day...only I could melt aluminum foil-how?!). If that were not enough, while visiting family my husband drove an hour back home to our house on Christmas Day to make sure that I had turned the stove eye off from our breakfast biscuts. I know! But nothing could prepare me for the heat I felt during the holidays.

As I foucsed on inequalities, I was slowly consumed. Why is this person not joining us? How come this person is doing that? Why isn't that person doing this? Why didn't they tell me...? How come they get to...? Why do I have to...? And the questions went on and on. And to think, I was disappointed that I wan't more in the Christmas spirit. What a mess! Then upon our arrival home, I hear Chestnuts roasting on an open fire and I had just about had enough. My holiday scenes were not chestnuts, not Hallmark or even Norman Rockwell! I don't remember if I audibly heard the song or it just came to me, but I remember thinking not an open fire, more like a firey furnance, right Lord? Not exactly. God illuminated that there was more green than red coloring my sight this Christmas.

Slowly, I am learning that the green film of envy and jealousy is not a flattering color for me. But it is a color that needs to be purified in my own heart. A green book that my son Jeremiah received fom Christmas, The Squire and the Scroll, ends with this verse, "How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to Your Word" Ps. 119:9. It is kinda embarassing that I am 36 and still trying to get that right and can't even adhere to the basic Ten Commandments! What number is "Thou shall not covet" anyway? Again, what seems to be a very slow process, most purifications are, I am learning that coveting isn't only wanting what someone else has, but wanting what I want. Covetedness is really selfishness. How awesome is God's Word that Exodus 20:17 (the last commandment, by the way) and Galatians 2:20 "not I, but Christ" can mean the same thing.

And what about the furnance? Well, God is merciful and gracious. Whether we have been thrown in the furnace by the enemy or stormed in because of our own self-righteousness, remember...we are not alone. We are always +1! But, we can't stop short with just recongizing that He is with us. We are called to trust Him for He makes all things new. I trust that much like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, I was bound, but from my time in His Presence, even in a furnance, I will walk out of 2009 not burnt, not bound, but free.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Watch out for the "I" of the Storm

It is really a long story, but I was on the National Hurricane Center site looking up how to determine what level a hurricane is and read, "Depending on circumstances, less intense storms may still be strong enough to produce damage, particularly in areas that have not prepared in advance."

Ok. I'll tell you the story.

Salvation Army bell ringing was on the calendar for today with my son, Jeremiah. I was running late, trying to call the Salvation Army with a few questions, making final plans with other volunteers, throwing mittens, toboggans, and scarfs everywhere, and raised my voice, "Jeremiah, this is why you don't play in the closets, Mommy can't find..." and the Christmas Nativity music box spontaneously begins to play. Spooky? No, I just say, Ok Lord. I am not in the "Christ"mas spirit. I hear you. And out the door we go. This isn't going to be a barefoot day, is it?!

"Oh Great!" I say over the radio Christmas music. There is no one for us to relieve at the grocery store where we are to ring the bell. I worried about this! Where is the bell? Where is the bucket? I drive downtown to the administrative offices to get answers from the morning-long unanswered phone calls to learn, "Ma'am the bucket, bell, and sign are at the customer service desk at the grocery store." And, now back across town. But as we were passing through the thrift shop, I looked around. This is the spirit of "Christ"mas. God, thank you that I have the opportunity to buy new the things I desire and have choice to buy the things I need.

As we commence the bell ringing 11 minutes late according to Mommy's time, my son, once again, becomes my teacher. He tells each and every person "Merry Christmas" that passes through the door coming or going - a heartfelt, cheerful greeting to the sound of ringing bells. He didn't care what they looked like, if they donated or not, young in the cart or old holding on to one. He was the spirit of "Christ"mas. He gave "Christ"mas to everyone. It was beautiful. By the time he donated a toy sword to another charity later that morning, I was really feeling the weight of conviction. "Thank you young man. That will make someone a fine Christmas present!" Jeremiah answers the volunteer and says, "I know it will" as Love smiles on his face. He was the spirit of "Christ"mas. He knew the gift he gave was enough.

Now hours later, my confession slowly and painfully begins. I wasn't the hustle & bustle holiday mom endlessly shopping while commercializing and compromising Christmas. I was GIVING today for goodness sakes. Right?! Oh, so wrong! Father forgive me for I know not what I do. I was giving time, plans, and pursuits, but I wasn't giving YOU. You, Your Son, Your Spirit, or Your Love wasn't beging expressed to Jeremiah or others this morning. More than anything, you want people to receive Your gift of "Christ"mas...not benefit from any thing I might offer. I was so self-centered concentrating on what I was giving, I didn't let others see what You gave me. God, You gave yourself. Incarnate. Immanuel. Immaculate. God, you are the Spirit of "Christ"mas. How can a 3 1/2 year old give the right gift at Christmas and I didn't?! I am so sorry I gave of myself instead of giving YOU.

So after waiting with crowds to pay taxes, moving with snow-expecting crowds through Wal-Mart, and pulling into the driveway with a crowd of groceries to be carried-in I hear, "loves like a HURRICANE, I am a tree, bending beneath the weight of HIS WIND and MERCY."
Today has ended barefoot, blogging, and blessed. I know that I am forgiven, I have seen the cross (see hurricane photo above) and will remember..."depending on circumstances, less intense storms may still be strong enough to produce damage, particularly in areas that have not prepared in advance."

God, prepare my heart to give this "Christ"mas.