25 December 2010

Things to Ponder

But Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often... (Luke 2:19, NLT)


This is one of my favorite Christmas story verses. 


Last night, at our Christmas Eve service, God gave me something to ponder, something to keep in my heart and think about often. It was all because of one phrase that hit me like it’s never hit me before as we sang Silent Night – all is calm.

The Savior of the Universe had just been born. God could have caused a bazillion fireworks to go off to announce the birth of his Son, but no. Jesus was born in a quiet little stable with nothing more than a couple sheep and a donkey around. Mary didn’t demand state-of-the-art medical care – she quietly wrapped her baby in a piece of blanket and laid him in a trough full of hay.

The only thing that announced His birth was a twinkling star in the sky. Sure, the shepherds got a pretty massive wake-up call from an army of angels, but as for the scene of the birth, it reads like it was pretty low-key.

How would I have reacted in that same situation? Demanding? Complaining because it was dirty and smelly and I was all alone with no family around? Sure, Joseph was there, but what do guys really know about birthing a child in a stable without the option of an epidural and hand sanitizer?

I keep reflecting back on this past year, thinking about choices I've made and my attitude about situations. They haven't always been good. People annoy me, situations frustrate me and sometimes I just want to give up. I will admit (for accountability purposes) that my actions towards people who annoy me or frustration situations at times have embarrassed me - when will I ever learn just to keep my mouth shut and mind my own business?  


I was reading a couple online devotionals today, and came across a post that focused on this exact same verse that I love, and puts into words exactly what I’m trying to say here:

Our verse for today reminds us of a young woman at peace with her circumstances, trusting God no matter how things would work out. Fast forward 13 years later and she is still that kind, gentle woman — no yelling at Jesus, no threats, no yanking Him by the ear when they finally find Him. Instead, the Scriptures tell us that she treasured "all these things." Would I have been able to treasure that dirty stable? Would I have been able to treasure that seemingly errant teen?

As I pondered these two times where Mary is seen treasuring her circumstances, I began to wonder how often things go wrong in my life and I react instead of reflect. So I'm allowing these Scriptures to seep into my heart. Is my attitude, "May it be to me as You have said," or is it, "Okay, God, this is not the way it's supposed to be and I want You to fix it right away."

As we go through this season of celebrating Jesus' coming, I plan to work on my attitude when things don't go right. I plan to practice accepting God's plan when it doesn't match mine. I plan to learn to treasure and ponder instead of whine and complain. I plan to grow in my love and appreciation of Jesus, just as Mary did. I plan to marvel at His coming and revel in His glory. And most of all, this Christmas, I plan to search for Him everywhere, just as she did — and never lose sight of Him again.

From “Pondering and Peaceful” at Crosswalk.com

Reflect instead of react. Focus on God’s plan, not my own agenda. Treasure and ponder instead of whine and complain.

Sounds like great things to keep in my heart.

23 December 2010

The One at 4 AM

So, I've been up since 4:00am because the dogs needed to go out and M decided to start snoring. He's never snored...why he would start in the wee morning of the day we have an eight hour drive to Alabama ahead of us, I'll never know.


So here I am, watching the early morning news and keeping an eye on the weather forecast that's promising a white Christmas (that we won't be home for, but I think they're calling for flurries in Alabama - I'll take it!) and keeping an ear out for UConn since she ran out the door before I could secure her in the backyard. Knowing her, she's sniffing her way all over town, trying to find the most rank, disgusting thing to roll in/eat/bring home, and then she'll try to slip past me to get to the sofa where she'll roll and burrow until we want to toss the furniture to the curb - or better yet, light it on fire and just start all over.
I dream of wipe-clean leather.
So for now, it's just me, the news, a cup of coffee - always a bad idea before a massive road trip, but I don't care - and my laptop. I'm currently toggling between the Kindle books I want to download and an email I got from Clinique saying something about free overnight shipping. This could be dangerous.
A lot has happened over the past month - let me break it down for you. School (I'm sick to death of talking about school!). Finals. A five week break. I actually have time this year to decorate the entire house for Christmas. Last year we were so busy, therefore lazy, to put up a tree. We put presents around our fake fireplace heater. This year we have the tree, the wreaths, the icicle lights and the pine needles all over the living room floor.
I love this one from under the porch:
I also made homemade apple butter and canned it (as in mason jars and pots of boiling water on the stove - nothing exploded, so it was considered a success), and I've slipped into a habit of early morning yoga that doesn't flair up my right shin splint. Along with a Cardioblast class every Monday night until I go back to school, I might still be able to fit into my scrubs after the holidays are over.
I've also watched the entire first season of Glee, which M got me for Christmas, in the span of two days. I'm singing Journey in my sleep.
I'm also planning my little sister's baby shower - I love slipping the "little" in there because it sounds like a 12 year old got pregnant, but she's happily married and 15 years old. Just kidding...but that's how old she will always be in my mind. What happened to the little sister that used to pester me to death? She's having a baby, that's what. I'm a delirious Auntie-to-Be with the great honor of planning her shower and designing the invitations. Erin and Cole are major academicaholics, with about a million college/masters/soon-to-be-doctorate degrees between them, so of course their nursery is going to completely revolve around children's literature and the written word. If that baby doesn't come out quoting Kierkegaard and have a full understanding of exegesis theology, something will be terribly wrong.
It was only fitting to design invites that look like old-school library cards and handmade pouches from all different types of baby scrapbook paper: 
If my sister doesn't do it first, I can't wait to introduce my new niece to the wonderfully imaginative books of Rohl Dahl, Madeline L'Engle and Lois Lowry. And E.B. White. And Beverly Cleary. No child should grow up without books like that. For a further list of my favorite childhood books, see this post from last February. And see my sister's comment underneath it. Love it.
So back to books...I've recently read my way through two of Terri Blackstock's series, Newpointe 911 and the Restoration series. Both are fantastic series - not wimpy, namby-pamby Christian fiction - these books actually have page-turner plots and believable characters. Full of action and mystery, with a little romance thrown in. I got so caught up in them, well, let's just say I read the entire Restoration series during Finals week. I know, I know...I'm a nerdy nerd bookworm. I've also been scouring Amazon for my favorite Billie Letts (author of Where the Heart Is and Made in the USA) book since my copy of The Honk and Holler Opening Soon disappeared when I moved out of the SBU dorms 10 years ago. I happily found the Kindle version, and (Amazon makes this way too easy) clicked to send it to my iPhone, along with Indivisible by my other favorite author, Kristen Heitzmann. Happy reading on the way to Alabama.
Oh, and M bought me the entire boxed set of the Twilight books for Christmas, which I do not mind re-reading. At all. Seventeen times. 
Happy almost Christmas!