Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Merry Christmas or Blessed Advent

For us it was both, but full of interesting discussions. This year, more than ever before in my life, I had many many discussions about the roots of Christmas and how it came to be a celebration with many questions especially with whether or not we should actually celebrate Christmas. I am not good with history but there are pagan roots to many of the Christmas traditions and why we celebrate Christ's birth in December when it is unlikely that He was born in December. But, we know that in Christ all things are made new and we have been given the freedom to choose how we celebrate Christ. Much of the popular American ways of celebrating Christmas are not honoring to God and extremely high in commercialism. So how do you honor God? Ask Him! This is something that is becoming more and more important to me as I grow and learn. There are so many things that are not black and white as I wish they were, but God leads us by His Holy Spirit and He can speak to us to know how we can honor Him in our celebrations. I am thankful for freedom and the ability to ask our Lord how we can honor the birth of Christ in a way that is pleasing to Him. I ask numerous times as well and check my heart, though not as often as I should.
For us, this year, we decided no tree, we will never do Santa and one gift per child. We read the Christmas story and talk to our kids about Christ and Him being the most important gift. We keep it simple. What does it look like for you? Ask God how it would please Him.

Since moving to Louisville I have learned more about Advent and I am beginning to really appreciate this aspect. We have always focused on the birth of Christ as it is the obvious reason for our celebration. But in the focus of Advent we are also anticipating the return of Christ to come get His bride and make all things new! What a blessed day that will be and I love that reminder that He came once but He is also coming again. And so next year I may add Blessed Advent to my greetings for the season.

On a slightly controversial note, I really wish the Christian radio stations would not play secular Christmas music. I do not have a problem with the music in and of itself, but there is a time and a place for those songs. If I wanted to hear the secular songs I would listen to a secular radio station, but I prefer to listen to the Christian radio stations and want to hear Christ focused music on a Christ focused station. I am sure there are people who disagree, but that is my preference. I have even debated writing my favorite station here about it. My favorite station in Atlanta did that our last Christmas there, but sadly, this year they too were playing the secularized music.

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and a Blessed Advent season.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Different Sort of Good-Bye

So at this time it is not yet good-bye, but the good-byes are starting. We have been in community with 4 wonderful families the past 9 months or so and knew when it started that this time would come. All of us have a heart for the nations and it is fast approaching the time for all of them to move to the next phase God has planned for them. We met Sunday night to discuss these things and it was so bittersweet. These women have become prayer partners, friends, sisters and I love them as my own family. It is difficult to get to know people for a little while and then it be time to say an earthly good-bye. I am so excited and proud of these families as they follow God's call on their lives. Knowing that no matter what happens next here on this earth we will be reunited around God's throne one day helps tremendously. Though I am not a huge technology buff, when they are gone I know that because of the technology we will be able to "see" them and talk to them no matter how far they are. I pray that God continues to grow my heart for them and their work as we support them on this side. I pray "Lord, please help me not to forget" as in our culture it is so easy to be "out of sight out of mind". Guard me from this and let me remember them everyday.
As I said, it is still not an actual good-bye yet. For 3 of them a couple more months remain, but 1 family will be going on the next phase in about a month. It's so bittersweet but a wonderful time of learning how important following God really is. It is a testimony to all around us that Jesus is more important than anything in this world.