A week ago, I was on my treadmill doing my long run for this week’s half-marathon training. I was scheduled to run a mile more than I’ve ever run. As I entered that final mile, the song “Dead and Gone” by T.I. came on my iPod. [sorry for the video quality; there isn’t an official video of this song posted]
I love Christmas! It’s one of my favorite times of the year because I have many traditions that make it special. My three favorites:
1. The Christmas scrapbook. We received a Christmas scrapbook as a wedding gift so that every year we could add a page. We include pictures and our Christmas letter for each year we’ve been married. Even though we only have a few pages at this point, it is still fun to reread our letters and reminisce about holidays gone by.
2. Reconnecting with loved ones. I love sending out Christmas cards every year. There are many people I don’t get to see nearly often enough and every year as I go through my list and write notes to them, I genuinely pray for them. Even better is when we get together, even if it is just once a year. I went to several Christmas parties this year and it’s always a pleasure for me to see old friends and extended family.
3. The yearly letter. I have a tradition of writing a letter to myself in the week between Christmas and New Year’s. I store it with my Christmas decorations and read it a year later. In it, I express what I’ve learned and what I hope to learn in the next year. It’s always interesting to see where I’ve been and what God has done in my heart in a year.
What are your Christmas traditions?
Conversion involves both a turning toward and a turning away. In our turning toward God we are learning to turn away from ‘the world, the flesh and the Devil.’ We are also turning away from ourselves as the be-all and end-all of life, for we are slowly but surely realizing that God is truly the heart and center of all things.”
[Last year, when I was in the deepest part of internal turmoil over my life, I found a book in my school library called Windows of the Soul. It spoke to me on many levels and helped me make sense of my depression. I found my thoughts on a quote from that book today and thought I’d share.]
I think I shall always remember this black period with a kind of joy, with a pride and faith and deep affection that I could not at the time have believed possible, for it was during this time that somehow I survived defeat and lived my life through to a first completion, and through the struggle, suffering, and labor of my own life came to share some of those qualities in the lives of people all around me [emphases mine].
Thomas Wolfe, The Autobiography of an American Novelist
For some reason, this quote really spoke to me where I was yesterday and revives in me a sense of hope that defies logic and the wisdom of this world. Hope that all of this pain is for a reason.
I told Matt last night that hope seems like something too precious to squander, but I’m reminded today that hope in the Lord is not wasted. Read More
I was watching a show recently about drug addicts in recovery. One of the addicts was lamenting about his family situation and how he wished his father was more present in his life. The counselor simply stated, “But he’s not, now what?”
It seems harsh at first, but the counselor is right. The addict would struggle as long as he refused to accept the reality of his dysfunctional relationship with his father.
The important question to ask ourselves when life inevitably doesn’t turn out the way we want is “Now what do I do?” Read More
As I was clearing out the clutter that accumulates with my school stuff, I found a note I scrawled to myself. It simply said,
“On the other side of a big, glorious, painful failure, we find a bigger, more glorious, healing God.”
I admit it, I’m kind of a reality TV junkie. I don’t watch every reality show, just the ones that take real talent and innovation to win. Two of my favorites are Top Chef and Project Runway.
As I watched the finale of Top Chef: Just Desserts a couple weeks ago, I was rooting for Morgan. Morgan was, by far, the most talented chef on the show. Throughout the season, he churned out dessert after dessert that was beautiful and made with unexpected ingredients that delighted the judges. He was a machine.
For the finale, each of the finalists were paired with incredibly talented pastry chefs to work on their final meal. These celebrity chefs acted as sous chefs to the finalists, doing prep work and helping the finalists to achieve their visions. Morgan managed to completely alienate his sous chef to the point that as she sat down to eat his meal the next day, she described her feelings towards him as “Morgan Rage.”
See, Morgan was not only incredibly talented, he was also a jerk. He managed to offend many people on the show. All season I thought, “Morgan, you’re an idiot. You might be the best, but if no one wants to work with you, it’s all for naught.” Ultimately, Morgan didn’t win. I can’t help but wonder if his damaged relationships played at least some part in his losing.
If Morgan’s relational issues affected his ability to cook, how much more do relational issues affect those of us in ministry? How do they affect (perhaps reveal?) our relationship to God? Read More
A while back I saw, He’s Just Not that into You, which was a meh movie (not good, not terrible). The shining moment is the principle, “You are the rule, not the exception.”
This got me to thinking about how so often we live as if our story is somehow completely different from every other story. We act as if the principles that apply to other people do not apply to us. We get into trouble living that way. Read More
After I wrote my cleaning tips, I started thinking about an area I left out: last minute cleaning. You know, when you find out you’re going to have guests last minute or you have far less time to clean than you’d normally take. Especially with Thanksgiving looming, the following steps really freshen your house and make it feel clean, even if many things are left undone.
I know the title of this post is silly, but I like to keep my tongue firmly planted in cheek at all times. My final assignment for evangelism and apologetics was to create a three-part sermon series on e & a. I chose the above title for my assignment, but this lesson 1 is not what I wrote for the class.
Lesson 1: Minimize the amount of time you spend in church.
“What, what did she say?” I know you’re thinking, so I’ll say it again. If you want to really share the Gospel, minimize the amount of time you spend at church. Read More