Thursday, December 31, 2009

Hard To Believe

It sure is hard to believe that another year has passed. As I reflect on the past year, at first glance it appears that nothing has changed.

But looking deeper, I realize a lot has changed. I've made some amazing new friends - a couple in particular come to mind who helped me through some rough patches.

There were things I wanted to do this year that didn't happen. That's my fault mostly. I did some things I didn't expect to do (like giving up Diet Coke - it's been 10 months - and reading the entire Bible).

While it feels like my circumstances haven't changed, I know I have. I learned a lot about who I am, and a bunch about who I am not.

I'm not going to go setting some lofty goals or resolutions that won't see the light of Monday morning. Instead, I'm going to look ahead with expectation that God is going to do amazing things in, around and through me.

18-19"Forget about what's happened;
don't keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I'm about to do something brand-new.
It's bursting out! Don't you see it?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

It Just Doesn't Feel Like Christmas

I don't know about you, but it hasn't felt like Christmas this year. I've been struggling to grasp on to the Christmas spirit, fa la la, silent night, deck the halls, and I got nothin'. No warm fuzzies, no desire to decorate or to listen to Christmas carols, much less sing them, and don't get me started on the shopping. I just don't think all that is what I should be focused on anyway.

Don't get me wrong, I don't feel like Scrooge. I don't hate Christmas or the people who celebrate it - I want to be one of them. I don't want to be stingy - I want to give and give and give. I'm not Scrooge.

And I don't feel like the Grinch. I don't want to steal Christmas from anyone. I want everyone to feel blessed and loved at Christmas. I'm not the Grinch.

I do kind of feel like Charlie Brown... searching for meaning in a time when there seems to be so many distractions. His opening lines really sounded like my own thoughts as I watched A Charlie Brown Christmas this year...
To Linus: "I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus. Christmas is coming, but I'm not happy. I don't feel the way I'm supposed to feel. I just don't understand Christmas, I guess. I like getting presents and sending Christmas cards and decorating trees and all that, but I'm still not happy. I always end up feeling depressed."

And later, to Lucy: "Actually, Lucy, my trouble is Christmas. I just don't understand it. Instead of feeling happy, I feel sort of let down."
The trees, the gifts, the food, the decorations - there's nothing wrong with these things. But they tend to get in the way of the reason we Celebrate. Somewhere along the way, we got God's priorities mixed up with our own. I'm pretty sure it happened in the garden. But a gracious, merciful God came up with a pretty bizarre plan to fix that.

Driving home today I heard a story that again, reminded me of me. All of the preparations are just getting to me. It's time to slow down, remember as Linus told us, what Christmas is about, and see Christmas through the eyes of God.

The poem, called "A Christmas Story", can be downloaded at the link below - either the text or the audio version.
“More blessed to give than to receive,
This is what My own should believe.
But give the gifts that I hold as treasure:
Love, joy, kindness…and in good measure.”

“Now remember these words at this time of year;
Don’t conform to this world and My voice you will hear.”
A Christmas Story

Just like Scrooge, the Grinch and Charlie Brown, I've had my attitude adjusted... I'm expecting great things from Him - and not worried about what anyone else thinks.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Franciscan Benediction

May God bless you with discomfort
At easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships
So that you may live deep within your heart

May God bless you with anger
At injustice, oppression and exploitation of people
So that you may work for justice, freedom and peace

May God bless you with tears
To shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger and war
So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and
To turn their pain into joy

And may God bless you with enough foolishness
To believe that you can make a difference in the world
So that you can do what others claim cannot be done
To bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Something To Look Forward To

Sometimes, our circumstances lead us into a place of hurt, anger, frustration, depression, sin. It's in those times we need to remember that our circumstances are temporary. This life isn't all there is - we have something to look forward to. Been thinking of that since this song came on my iPod tonight. Wish I had a link to the whole song for you to listen to.

When I See Jesus

This life I lead is good
And I know that I am blessed
At times I grow weary; I need a little rest

When the world tries to lead me further away
My faith turns me back 'cause I know one day

That when I see Jesus and He calls my name
He reaches for me - I'll never be the same

I know that my Savior is waiting for me
And I'll fall in His arms when my journey's complete
-Lisa Chan