Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Resolving to Not Resolve

Okay, so should I write a blog about New Year's Resolutions? Of course I should. It's New Years. The problem is that I'm not a fan of New Year's Resolutions. I am, however, a fan of reflecting on the past as a guide to serve the future. So, I will resolve to not resolve. Here is what I came up with.

I will not Resolve to lose weight. I will just stop eating chex mix and Christmas Cookies and try to begin working out again to aide in ridding myself of years upon years of too much chex mix.

I will not Resolve to pay more attention to my kids, I will just pay less attention to Facebook.

I will not Resolve to finally get back to my scrapbooking, I will just turn the TV off at night and begin to look through years of pictures with a stick of glue in my hand instead.

I will not Resolve to go to coffee with those friends I keep intending to, I will just go for tea instead. (Or Margarita's if the time of day so dictates.)

I will not Resolve to keep a cleaner house, I will just not keep a cleaner house. Wait.....

I will not Resolve to begin to serve more, I will just stop thinking about myself all the time and put that energy toward others in need.

I will not Resolve to mend broken relationships, I will just continue to "pursue peace as far as it depends on me" and trust God with those relationships.

I will not Resolve to spend more time with God, I just will.

I will not Resolve to be a better wife to my husband, I will just remember make it a point to die to myself just a bit more.

I will not Resolve to finally view what I do as a wife and a mom as an amazing calling, I will just rest in knowing that it is - because it is where God has placed me for now.

Notice a common thread through all of my non-resolutions? Discipline. This has been my, if you must, New Years Resolution for 3 years straight. Discipline. It will continue to be so for every year of my life I would imagine. Because really, if you think about it, anytime we are trying to better ourselves, or change who we are .... HUGE amounts of discipline are needed. Discipline to do what needs to be done is what it takes. Also, realizing that when I don't do my part, I run the risk of being disciplined by my Heavenly Father. (The 2 uses of the word discipline and how they go hand in hand have been racing through my brain all day. It's a baffling thing, really.) The thing I pray I realize and remember more every year, is that such discipline can only stem from one place. Jesus. So it is in Him, that I live and move and have breathe one more year (or maybe just one more day). It is in Him that I ask for the graces to live the life that I cannot live on my own. It is in Him that I beg for the strength to do the little things that eventually amount to big. It is in Him that I search for the joy to follow through on the day-in-day-out tasks that bring me to a much fuller, richer life.

All these things are of course, easier said than done. So above all else, I rest in the Sovereignty of God, that even as I struggle through my shortcomings -- He has got a purpose for them. He will grow my faith through each one. And mostly, He loves me despite ALL of them combined.

The last few years, I've tried to find a "life verse" for the new year. This year it was a chunk of verses. I'm pretty excited to TRY to memorize them. (I won't even add "memorize more versese" to my non-resolution list. I know better than that!)

Hebrews 12:3-15

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have no yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortaion that addresses you as sons?
"My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives." It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which, no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.

So again, I know (or at least I think I know) that the word use of "discipline" in these verses is the kind of discipline you think of when you consider, say, a parent to a child. But there is one sentence that sent my mind in the direction of self-discipline (which comes through Christ alone) in which I realized the two forms go hand in hand more often than not (especially when it comes to our life in Christ). That is the verse that says - For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (I'm no theologian, so I'm sure I'm probably way off base and making a fool of untrained don't go quoting me.)

Happy 2009!!!! May you rest in God and trust that your resolutions (plans) will be turned into steps that can only be directed by God. (Proverbs 16:9)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tooth Fairy and Snow Storms

I'm fired. As a tooth fairy that is.

Providence knows the truth about the tooth fairy, and is doing her best to be sure Eden and Sam don't buy into the same non-truth that she did for so many years. (And she's taking Santa, and The Easter Bunny down with the Tooth Fairy.)

So this morning, the morning after Eden's first tooth was buried under her pillow (with a sweet picture) in anticipation of the not real tooth fairy, all hope was lost. Sure enough, she believed her sister. She came out exclaiming to all that there was no money under her pillow. How sad. Aaron replied telling her that maybe the Tooth Fairy had forgot, or was coming after breakfast. The not so gullible child that she is, she stated, "No Daddy, Mommy forgot". Oh the pain .... take a knife to my heart. I felt SOOOOO horrible at forgetting such an important milestone in my Eden's life.

So now I'm left with this moral dilemma. Do I tell the truth that I forgot and plead for forgiveness with two dollars instead of just one? Or do I try to quick come up with a solution? Or do I put the money somewhere under her bed and tell her it must have fell down in her sleep? The problem with that option, is that she already saw the tooth wasn't taken. (I did this last option to Providence once ... that was the end of her belief.) Guess what I chose?

Option #2. I ran to my scrapbooking supplies and wrote with the calligraphy pen (so it wouldn't look like my writing) the following....

Dear Sweet Eden,
I'm sorry that this wasn't here when you woke this morning. There have been snow storms all across the country that are making it hard for me to fly. It makes it even harder because now I have to be sneaky in the daylight so children won't see me. Well, anyway, congratulations on losing your first tooth. Love, The Tooth Fairy

As we were all in the kitchen getting breakfast ready, I turned to Providence and quietly asked her to help me out. I handed her the note and money and asked her to run and put it under Eden's pillow, and to bring me her tooth. She looks up at me and says, "Okay, but is the tooth fairy really real?" WHAT???? There was still hope left in her? Arghhhh. Well, Aaron and I have always said we will play along in the make believe characters, but wouldn't outright lie to our children if asked directly. So....I had to shatter her last glimpse of hope in the reality of the Tooth Fairy. Double sting, double bladed knife.

Anyway, she runs and does what I've asked. After breakfast, she tells Eden to check again. Eden had lost all faith that she would be recieving money. After all, Mom & Dad have been sitting with her the whole time! So Provi runs in their room screaming, "Eden, come here, the tooth fairy is here NOW." I yell, "Don't look, if she sees you seeing her, she'll take you with her!" (Now I've made the Tooth Fairy into a kidnapping monster.) So Sam runs in. Aaron and I begin yelling, "No Sam! She'll take you too!" So now Eden is curious. She runs in too. She looks under her pillow, and what does she see? A DOLLAR! Only she turns to Provi and says, "I don't want this, it's your's." Provi defends herself, and Eden believes her. So then she instead accuses us of taking it from her money box because it looks like her other two dollar bills that she has. We urge her to look in her money box. Which she does. And to her delight, she sees her $2 safe and sound, and adds her third dollar to the mix.

Now she's beginning to believe again. She's already asked me if I wrote the note. Darn it, now I'm faced with that whole "outright question/outright lie" thing. My answer???? "Does that look like my writing?" A grin crosses her face and she runs off, happy again.

All is well in Tooth Fairy Land.

Baby Britton Blurb

So the other day I began to do a "for real" cleaning of the living room. You know, not the kind where you just shove everything in a corner, or a neat pile on the counter and call it clean -- but really cleaning. I enlisted the children to help me put things WHERE THEY BELONG (I stressed). As they got busy, I pulled out the real old fashioned broom. Not the swiffer vacuum, but the broom. Upon doing so, this is what my eldest child (Providence) says to me.

"Are we having people over or something??"

Guess I don't clean "for real" often enough. :)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Merry Advent

I can't believe that it is December 2nd !! Today marks my parents 31 wedding anniversary! It also marks the 13 anniversary since Aaron & my first date. (Was that stated in proper English???)

That has nothing to do with what I'm about to write about .....

The last few years, as Christmas approaches, I find myself struggling with the "true meaning of Christmas". You'd think that this would not be a struggle for someone who has followed Christ for 13 years. (Anyone catch that number twice now in this post???) Even more than that, but as someone who grew up in a Christian home celebrating Jesus as the Reason for the Season ever since I can remember. And yet, I do. Maybe the combination of those two things are the problem. Perhaps hearing the Christmas Story (no, not the - "You'll shoot your eye out" Christmas Story, but the REAL Christmas Story) for 30 years over and over and over (should I write over 30 times?) is part of the problem. Perhaps Christmas is one of those things you think you understand and even take advantage of as a "good Christian" .... sort of like grace, forgiveness, God's sovereignty. (You know, the little things.) What really is the big deal about Christmas? Virgin Birth by a common servant, God coming to earth in the form of a baby? As I write those 2 miracles, I think to myself AGAIN that they should mean more to me than they do. Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful for both of them, I recognize that they are indeed miracles, and the foundation for the Gospel. (After all, Jesus had to be born to be able to die.) But the motions of Christmas, how we celebrate, why we celebrate ... none of it makes it real to me for some reason.

Just ask Aaron. I drive him crazy every year as I pursue some big family tradition that will be like something straight from an old black and white movie. (Cough cough - "It's A Wonderful Life" - Cough Cough) I come up with one thing after another to have something to make Christmas more real to our kids than it is to me. Something that when they are grown, they'll have these wonderful memories of the great mom I am who made Christmas so special for them. (And now, I've just made Christmas about ME to my children. Hmmm.) I'm still searching.

The madness of the "Holiday" season seems to set in earlier and earlier every year. Madness like this year, hearing about the Walmart Guard dying for what??? Oh, right, some $30 special. Baking cookies, decorating the tree, buying the tree (which sets us back more and more each year), hanging the stockings, Christmas music (of which my husband loathes most of ... and in fact mocks me every day for the non-stop tunes playing at our house all of December), the Christmas plays, Hallmark specials, gift exchanges, cookie exchanges, what to buy for the person who has everything, what to buy for the child who has too much, etc, etc, etc. ..... something is missing. At least in my heart.

So again this year, I pursue God making Himself more real to me this month. I pray He makes the miracle of Christmas life changing to me and my family. I pray I am able to understand, and celebrate Advent .... not just Christmas. Until recently, I haven't even really known what "advent" means. So, what did I do??? I got a book of course. Here is what I read a few years ago that I continue to try to ponder.

"The Latin word for "advent" means "the coming". The advent season was instituted as a time of fasting for holy living, and it remains a time of inward preparation for the commemoration of the coming of Christ. It's much more than a one-day celebration, it's a month to be still and remember the God of our past, present, and future. In anticipating His first coming, we celebrate His presence in the present, and prepare for His second coming to earth."

(Okay, so I had to laugh when I read that it was a time of fasting for holy living .... HAHAHA, who fasts during December, really??? I fast .... I fast from everything but Christmas cookies and chex mix!)

So, while I'm sure I've come off as a bad Christian, maybe even NOT a Christian at all through my words ..... I really am just wanting to pursue a Jesus that is bigger than I know I've made Him out to be. A Jesus who is bigger than any representation of Christmas has made Him out to be. A Jesus, who born to a virgin, came to earth so that I can live! I don't want to just celebrate the one day that Christmas is, I want to celebrate the Advent that anticipates eternity.

In that same book, I read an old Christmas Carol/Hymn that I'd never heard of. Maybe I can talk Aaron into bringing it back. :) The words resonate with my heart right now.

"Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus"

Come, Though long expected Jesus,
Born to set thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel's Strenth and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.
Born thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a king.
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious Kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit,
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all-sufficient merit,
Raise us to thy glorious throne.

May Jesus be real to you this year as we celebrate Him in all His glory! Merry Advent!