We should try praying…

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No slow build up on this one, no catchy titles, no witty remarks to lead in to this post…I’m just gonna cut right to the chase. This is a call to prayer. This is my response to all that happened Friday. There has been so much…stuff…swirling around the Internet and social media. Arguments over gun control, mental health and services, health care, the list goes on and on. People are distraught and angry (as they should be) and it is exploding towards all the wrong people. As though tearing to shreds that commenter on some Facebook post will make it all better.
I have been absorbing all these arguments and of course instantly start trying to form my opinions. But as usual my approach sucks. I take my political stances and then try to meld them into a cohesive argument to win the other side. Yeah…like I said…it sucks. But when I really got honest with myself I discovered something. This whole experience wounds me. Those beautiful children, the age of my oldest, are not returning to their families. But not just that, it’s the routine of it. These kids weren’t at some large, well publicized event. They were just going to school. I’m angry that anyone could look into the face of an innocent child and pull the trigger. I’m filled with sorrow for those parents. I’m confused about what would cause someone to do this. Most importantly, I can’t think of any law or lack thereof that will fix this. Because there is something wrong deep down in the heart and soul of a person that would do this. What law can fix a broken soul? How is President Obama, or the congress, or the senate going to look into the population of all Americans and know when someone is so far gone that they will do something like this. The answer is, they can’t.
So I’m left feeling helpless. I like to have all the answers. Have my nice and neat little responses to whatever political, theological, parenting, or other issue that may come up. But here I have none. But I can start with one thing and that’s seeking the heart of the one who does. I need to hit my knees first. So here it is, my request. Before we start arguing over what to do or how to fix it, we actually take some time and truly talk to God. By truly I mean honestly. No more putting up a fake front. God sees right through that. He’s God. But honestly speak to Him about what’s going on in your heart and mind. The thoughts swirling around, the confusion, the anger. If you’re pissed at him…tell him. He’s God, He can take it. If you’re hurting, tell Him. Tell every deep dark thought in your head. And when you’re done…listen. We get so caught up in rushing around it’s hard to sit still. But actually take some time to sit quietly and listen. Read the Bible and see what it says.
Today I read Psalm 199:1-32 and I heard Him. I heard Him speak about what happens when we follow his laws. The results were: blessings, prevents shame, prevents sin, revives and strengthens. To follow His laws I need to rejoice in them, meditate on them, speak of them, remember them, choose them, and cling to them. So that’s my first step. Before yelling about gun laws or mental illness I am seeking Him who sees it all. I hope you will join me.

The Reason for the Season

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Ah Christmas. The most magical time of year. But is it good or bad magic? Racing around to hundreds of parties, shopping for presents for everyone and their mother, making Christmas cards and dinners, and mailing piles of stuff…all while the rest of the world is racing around too. Traffic is awful and stores are as busy on a weekday in the middle of the day as a Saturday afternoon. No place is safe. Black Friday (or Thursday) kicks off the festivities with a mad rush to grab up stuff and take out anyone who gets in your way. So we Christians have to fight to keep all the craziness from overshadowing the “reason for the season”. But I have to be honest, the focus still seems to be all wrong. We are still focusing outwardly. I have seen hundreds of little blurbs lecturing people about saying Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas, warning people not to have Santa as part of the celebration because surely your kids will confuse him and Jesus, chiding people (and Christian radio stations) for listening (or playing) Christmas music that doesn’t have Jesus in it.
So confession here: it does not bother me when stores use the term Happy Holidays. They are servicing people who celebrate many different holidays this time of year so the term is appropriate. I say Merry Christmas as that is what I celebrate. Also, I love Santa. When I was little, we had presents from Santa and stockings. My mom explained who he was and he was a pretty cool guy. I never confused him with Jesus. One was a nice guy who wanted to do nice things…a good role model. The other was God on Earth who sacrificed his life and endured separation from His father so that we wouldn’t have to. They’re on totally different playing fields. It’s like saying people will grt Gandalph confused with Merry or Pippin. There is no comparison. I LOVE all Christmas music. Jingle Bell Rock, Jingle Bells, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer as well as all the amazing and deep carols.
You know what is harder that telling others to fix these superficial things? Actually trying to make Christmas a deep and meaningful time for myself and my family. To not get caught up in the busyness and greed. To not overbook myself doing good deeds. There are soooooo many opportunities to do good (which is awesome) but makes it easy to become overwhelmed (which is not so awesome). I seem to fail every year. Instead of running around, to actually spend time with my kids. Not ignoring them as I wrap presents, clean for a party, or even cook meals for the needy family next door. Taking time every day to spend with God and ask Him what He wants me to do, what my priorities should be this year. There are so many amazing ideas I’ve heard over the years of what families do to help keep their focus on the right thing. But none of those families did them all. They chose one that really resonated with them and stuck with it. I’m still trying to find that thing that works with our family. Each year we seem to get closer. Each year I actually take notes so I don’t make the same mistakes I did the year before, Slowly, our Christmas is starting to turn into something much more meaningful. What have I learned the most? In order for Christmas to have true meaning in my life and my family’s life….I have to be meaningful in how I approach it. So instead of being reactive, I’m being proactive and hopefully by the time my kids are old enough to really remember these moments these moments will be peaceful, deep, and remind them who and what we are really celebrating…but still be lighthearted and fun.