Family Life

O Holy Night

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In honor of Jesus Christ, the reason for the season, this week’s Poetry Tuesday feature is “O Holy Night” I have many favorite songs, both Christmas and non Christmas, but his one would rank high on the either list regardless of whether it is considered a Christmas song of not. Oh what a night when our savior was born. Truly a holy night. Some of the lyrics in this song move me to tears. Fall on your knees, Chains shall he break, O night divine. Such powerful words. I wish you all a Very Merry Christmas. Be blessed my friends.

O Holy Night

O Holy Night!
The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth;
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
‘Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn;

Fall on your knees,
Oh, hear the angels voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night, O night divine! O night divine.

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand;
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here came the wise men from Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus in lowly manger,
In all our trials born to be our Friend;
He knows our need, To our weakness is no stranger.
Behold your King, before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King, before Him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace;
Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother,
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name;

Christ is the Lord
Oh, praise His name forever!
His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim!
His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim!

Noel, noel, noel.
Oh night, oh night divine.

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My Christmas Prayer

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As the days tick by and we get closer to Christmas, I have many thoughts rolling through my head. For as long as I can remember I have LOVED Christmas. I love Christmas music, I love the tree, the lights, decking the halls, I love Christmas cooking and candy, time spent with family, and I love reminiscing about the past year by. I love the reason for the season. I love thinking about baby Jesus in a manager and what that truly meant, and what that has meant in my life. This morning while having my coffee I was thinking of all of these things, and then it hit me. All of these things are wonderful, but I want to enjoy each day like Christmas. I want to be thankful for what I have and who’s in my life. I want to decorate my house with good food, good cheer, and smiling faces all year long. I want to listen to music and think of good times. I want to remember that baby Jesus grew up, died for our sins and now lives forevermore and lives in my heart. I want to give to others and be grateful everyday.

This year has stretched me more than any other year in my life. It has brought lots of changes and our Christmas will look different too. Right now there are no presents under our tree. For me, that has been hard. I love presents. Not receiving them necessarily (though that is nice) but I love giving them. Especially to my children. But this year we have agreed to not exchange presents. We have a big year coming up. All three of my oldest children are starting to make their way in the world. My hubby and I have goals and some big things coming up too. Instead of presents we have agreed to give ourselves wholly. To support each other. To pray for each other and to cherish the family time that we will get together this year. That is the most precious gift we can give or get. The gift of our support, love and time to each other. My kids are adults or almost adults and who knows what the future holds. In 2015 different members of our family will be in at least five different countries on mission trips. I am pretty sure that is just a start of more to come. So this year, I have done many of the things I love. I have decorated my home and our Christmas tree. I have been to a few parties, ate good food, and listened to my favorite Christmas tunes. However, I have realized that this transformed life that God has given me and the fact that he is using my family for his kingdom is the best gift of all.

I think change is always hard, especially when it is big change. But if nothing ever changed, well then, nothing would ever change. I enjoyed my kids as children, but watching them grow into the men and woman of Christ they are becoming is a very special thing. Without change and if I focused too much on seasons gone by, I could miss that. I don’t want to miss anything on this journey of life. I want all that God has for me and I want to be who He wants me to be. So, yes, our Christmas looks very different this year, and I do miss the bouncy happy children who couldn’t wait for Christmas morning. But I am loving the bouncy happy adults they are becoming who can’t wait to do what God wants them to do. I do look back and reminisce about years gone by, but I am very excited about things to come as well. As we get closer to Christmas and the end of another year, my prayer is to enjoy the moments with my kids, family, and friends, and to go into a new year with peace, faith and a happy heart. That is my prayer for you too. Be blessed my friends.

Thankfulness

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This Thanksgiving weekend was one of the best that I remember in a long time. My parents came for dinner, my oldest son was home for a visit, we decorated for Christmas, we even played board games. It was a wonderful weekend. I came out of the weekend with the thought that you can’t put a price on the important things in life.

On the way to church on Sunday, I was feeling very thankful for all that this year has brought me and for all that God has done for my family and I. I was pondering how to keep the whole holiday season in perspective. I want to remember that it is a time to be thankful and a time that’s more about giving than receiving. Then, I began to think that’s how we should live our lives everyday.

Then in church, My Pastor put into words the answer to my question. The question of how to keep life in perspective. The answer is to be thankful in all things, at all times. He had a comparison chart that I loved. A simple negative versus positive comparison of how being unthankful versus thankful, affects our lives. It really impacted me, and I realize I need to be more thankful every day of my life. Below is the comparison.

Negative Affects of Unthankfulness 

Self Centeredness
Critical Spirit
Bitterness
Worry
Unbelief

Positive Affects of Thankfulness

Other Focused
Blessing Spirit
Joy
Contentment
Faith

As we delve deeper into the holiday season I want to keep thankfulness on my mind and in my heart. I want to remember that Christmas isn’t about all the gifts we give and receive, but about the gift that Christ gave to us all on the cross. I want to remember that family is one of the most important things a person can have. I want to give more of myself to God and more to those that I love. But most of all I want to have a happy, thankful heart, not just during this season, but every day of the year, because the price Jesus paid is too high for me to live any other way. Be blessed my friends, be full of joy, and know that you are loved.

Cherishing The Moments

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In the last month I have had the wonderful privilege of spending a week at the beach with my hubby, my kids and parents. I’ve got to spend time with wonderful friends and I launched my oldest son off into the world. It has been quite an eventful month.

It has made me think of how life is full of beautiful moments and how quickly they pass. Having sent my oldest off, made me think of the moments of being a brand new mom. It doesn’t seem that long ago that it was my first day home alone with him. I was worried how I would do. Then it rained and the electricity went out. He fell asleep on my chest. I cried, overwhelmed by feelings of love, awe, and fears of doing a terrible job as a mom. In that moment, it was like the world just stopped awhile for him and I to bond on a rainy day with nothing else to do.

Looking back, I sometimes wish that I would have held on to many moments a little longer. One more story, one more hug, one more twirl around the living room. I feel blessed that I have God in my life and that I handed my children to him while still in the womb. It has helped me through sleepless nights and sticky fingers. Through long days, and diaper changes. It helped me say I’m sorry and I don’t have all the answers. In recent years it has given me the privilege of hanging out in those crazy moments with teenagers, even though they are hard. It has helped me let go, the hardest thing a mom will ever do. Most of all, it has given me peace that The Lord cares even more about my children than I do, so I know they are in good hands.

Recently I was talking to a mom with small kids. We talked about how hard the toddler years can be, especially when you have several children. But in that moment, all I could remember was joyous laughter, make believe, and sunny days. As most moms say, I told her to enjoy the moments. Cherish them. They pass too quickly. I told her she won’t remember the sleepless nights, the never ending diaper changes, and messy house. What she will remember are all those beautiful moments. And in that moment, I was so thankful for all the beautiful moments in my life. Thankful and excite for many more beautiful moments to cherish in the future.

Sometimes seasons of life can be hard. Letting go and entering a new season can be tough, especially as a mom. But I would encourage you as a mom, or anyone out there, that life is full of great moments when we are looking for them. So today, look for a moment to cherish. A hug with your child or a friend. Holding hands with your spouse. That call to your mom. Or simply one more diaper change with those loving, trusting eyes looking up at you. Life is fleeting. I love the quote “Life is not about how many breaths you take, but about the moments that take your breath away.” So, be blessed my friends and cherish the moments.

You’ve Got A Friend

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In honor of friendship, this week’s Poetry Tuesday’s feature is You’ve Got A Friend, by James Taylor. I thank God for the many friends in my life. (you know who you are)

“You’ve Got A Friend”

When you’re down and troubled
and you need a helping hand
and nothing, whoa, nothing is going right.
Close your eyes and think of me
and soon I will be there
to brighten up even your darkest nights.

You just call out my name,
and you know where ever I am
I’ll come running to see you again.
Winter, spring, summer, or fall, all you have to do is call and I’ll be there, yeah, yeah, you’ve got a friend.

If the sky above you should turn dark and full of clouds
and that old north wind should begin to blow,
keep your head together and call my name out loud.
Soon I will be knocking upon your door.

You just call out my name,
and you know where ever I am
I’ll come running to see you again.
Winter, spring, summer, or fall, all you have to do is call and I’ll be there. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Hey, ain’t it good to know that you’ve got a friend? People can be so cold.
They’ll hurt you and desert you.
Well, they’ll take your soul if you let them,
oh yeah, but don’t you let them.

You just call out my name,
and you know where ever
I am I’ll come running to see you again.
Winter, spring, summer, or fall, all you have to do is call, Lord, I’ll be there, yeah, yeah,
you’ve got a friend. You’ve got a friend.
Ain’t it good to know you’ve got a friend.
Ain’t it good to know you’ve got a friend.
Oh, yeah, yeah, you’ve got a friend.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xEkIou3WFnM

Pictures from Haiti

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Just wanted to share some of my favorite pictures from Haiti

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The Toughest Job I Have Ever Loved

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I just spent the weekend at our senior high youth group retreat. All I can say is it was fun,
awesome and hard. It was hard for me me physically, emotionally, and especially spiritually.It’s easy for me to tell you why it was hard physically and emotionally. It was hard because I’m 40 and acted like a teenager. My body is still reminding me days later of that.

But spiritually is harder to explain.

I spent the weekend with these incredible young people. They are funny, witty, talented, gifted, smart, and they never cease to amaze me. I feel privileged to be one of their youth group leaders. And even though I’m old enough to be their mom, (my three teens are in the group)they always make me feel welcome. That is one of the many traits that shows their true character. The other thing that amazes me is their hunger for God and their willingness to seek after the answers to how to feed that hunger. The camp was awesome, but what was really awesome is how God showed up.

These young men and women praise God and welcome his presence and are chasing after Him more and more each week. But I do find my self asking the question of why are these
teenagers, as well as most teenagers and young people so often overlooked?

I have three teens. No matter what they tell you, or how many books you read nothing prepares you for raising teens. It’s hard! There is so much pressure as a parent to do the right thing. But I think we, as parents, as teachers, and grown ups forget that the teens feel just as much pressure, if not more, than we do. It is, after all, their life too.

It’s hard as a parent to recognize that your child is no longer a kid. The years go so fast, it’s just hard to see it sometimes. Yet we expect so much for our teens.

So here’s the part that that affected me so profoundly this weekend. We expect so much from our teens. And most of the time we focus on their grades, on whether they have done their chores, are they getting along with their siblings and friends, are they focused too much on the opposite sex, will they get into college, and what are they going to do with the rest of their lives?

But we forget to ask the really important questions. Do they have character? Are they well
rounded? Are they happy and comfortable in their skin? Do they still love to learn like they did when they were little? And the most importance question. Do they have a relationship with Jesus Christ? Now I don’t mean are they saved, but do they have relationship? These kids need a relationship with Christ to face the world. Let’s face it, life is hard even when you have a great relationship with Jesus. Without a relationship, we have nothing, and all else is in vain.

Sometimes I think we as grow ups get in Gods way. He wants to lead our teens and meet them where they are, but we as adults, get in His way. We don’t meet them where they are. We don’t listen. I sometimes think we even look at them as less because they are still children. What we need to do is ask God for guidance during this critical time in their lives.

When my kids were still young, I was having an awful day. I went in my room and cried. I asked God to help me with my kids. He simply told me to stop trying to be everything they needed and do everything right for them. He said “you are not their savior, I am”. Point them to me. Now I’m not saying that the academics, the grades, the chores, the obedience, and all are not important. They are important. But what I’m saying is a person’s character and their relationship with Christ is more important. The most important. In fact, with a great relationship with Jesus Christ and great character the other things will take care of themselves.

So many of our teens are broken and hurting. They are confused and stressed out. We put so much pressure on them to have it all figured out by the time they graduate, that we, sometimes, miss the easy answer. More time and more of God in their life and the understanding that it’s okay to not have all the answers.

One thing we have to remember is that our kids don’t really belong to us. They belong to God. He created them with a purpose. We, as parents, must seek after God and ask how to raise our kids. We must ask who he designed them to be. We must encourage them in their God given gifts and help them be who he has called them to be and not just who we think they should be.

I know it’s hard, but we can do it. If you, yourself don’t have a relationship with Christ that’s the place to start. Then we also must understand that we are going to fail and get things wrong as parents and leaders in children’s lives. So, we must forgive ourselves and start each day new. We must open our minds and know that Gods ways are not our ways. We need to seek God and ask him to lead us and then follow that direction. We must use discernment for the seasons of our kids lives. We must give them the chance to grow, test things out, to fail, to succeed, and to be themselves, knowing that we love them no matter what. And that they will make mistakes.

The teen years are hard for both teens and parents. But it is training ground for adulthood. A time when kids become adults and learn how to stand on their own two feet. And hopefully a time when they are developing their own personal relationship with Christ.

I will leave you with this thought. I look at the teen years as a time that it is safe for my kids to try things and fail. And I don’t mean trying out sinful things, though that does happen too. But I mean new and different ways of doing things and learning along the way. Yes, they still need boundaries, but much bigger boundaries than when they were ten, they need room to grow. I love analogies. God speaks to me in pictures. God showed me a picture of parenthood being like rock climbing. I’m anchored in and my kids are tied around my waist. I would rather they fall off the edge now, while anchored to me, than to fall off once they are on their own, because it can be a long way down. While anchored to me they have a safety net so to speak. A place to come back to and talk about their mistakes. A place to be loved and hopefully a place where we point them back to the only one with all the answers. Our savior, Jesus Christ.

So if you are struggling as a parent, or even as a teen reading this. Have hope. It won’t always be this way and you will get through the tough teenage years. Look to God, because he is the only one who knows all. He will get you through. And if you mess up, as a parent or a teen, know that we all make mistakes and that failing down is part of life, but you can’t stay there. So, pick yourself up, dust your self off, thank God he’s always with us and move on down the road, knowing that there are better days ahead.

Ephesians 6
Malachi 4:6
Isaiah 54:13