Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The post-Christmas yuck: Double limerick edition

Too much togetherness? Is that even possible?
Like flies we started to drop
One by one and it seemed not to stop
My family's hugs
Had spread a bad bug
Now can somebody please pass the mop?

Our Christmas has come to an end
For the most part we're all on the mend
My sisters, my mother,
my nephew, my brother,
We'll not wish this upon you, my friend

STOMACH BUGS ARE GROSS! BOOO!!!!

(But thank you, Lord, that my children have yet to get sick!)

Defenseless


Poor guy. 

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Joy!







*handmade fairy costume by Nana


Zeke's prayer tonight:

Thank you for Christmas.
Thank you for Christmas bread.
Thank you for presents.
Thank you for Christmas trees.
Thank you for Christmas.
Amen.  

Indeed. 

Thank you, Lord, for Christmas.  


Joy to the world!  The Lord is come!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I laughed so hard I cried when I played this video back. And not at the hoola hoop or Zeke's crazy outfit, but at the voice from the couch from my husband who didn't realize I was video taping. He was just sitting there playing a soccer game on the TV with a smug little grin singing along.

Enjoy. I just couldn't leave this one off the blog. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus

Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

-Charles Wesley

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Love's pure light

Silent night, holy night,
Son of God, love's pure light
Radiant beams from thy holy face,
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.



Wednesday, December 22, 2010

O Little Town of Bethlehem









Where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.  


- Phillip Brooks


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Word of the Father

Nativity by AGC (note the emphasis on emotion)
Word of the Father
Now in flesh appearing

O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,

Christ


the Lord


-John Wade

Monday, December 20, 2010

His law is love

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.
-Placide Cappeau, translation by John Sullivan Dwight

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Light and life to all he brings

Hail the heav'n -born Prince of Peace! Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
ris'n with healing in his wings:
Mild he lays his glory by, born that man no more may die;
Born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth.  Hark, the herald angels sing: "Glory to the newborn King."

-Charles Wesley

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Worth celebrating

Last night, my sister and brother and our spouses celebrated my mom's sixtieth birthday together. Sixty years of a life well lived? That's worth celebrating.

Happy birthday, Mom! We love you!



And having this crew together (although we were missing KK and Will and, as always, my sweet daddy) was quite fun and celebration worthy itself. And never fear- one Day we'll all be together again. In fact, we'll add hope in the resurrection to the celebration list.


My brother's beautiful wife wore a cap and gown today and received her Masters degree in family counseling. I don't know which is more worth celebrating- the degree itself or that we now have an expert on communication and conflict resolution in the family. Either way, it's definitely worth celebrating.



And then there was the Happy Birthday Jesus celebration today that was the brain child of my friend Bethany. We made cookies to deliver along our caroling route tomorrow, sang songs, exchanged ornaments, and sang Happy Birthday to Jesus. The bond of love and the relationships we have with each other,

the way we're all sincerely trying to train up our children in the way they should go,

and our children loving and living life together is all worth celebrating.

And of course, Jesus, the Word made flesh, God with us, Emmanuel...

He is supremely and truly

worth celebrating.

So celebrate we will...

Merry and bright


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Great gifts

3 John 1:4 "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth."

As I was wrapping a few presents this afternoon, this tag caught my eye. I don't really know what this is or how it got there, but what I do know is that it made my heart leap to see these sweet words- backwards Z and all.

When your child prays with sincerity, it moves you. When you see her showing kindness, it makes you smile. And when you see her spreading the love she's been imparted, it brings great joy. It's true that I have great joy in seeing my children love God and in turn love people- especially when it's her little brother with whom she plays and argues and laughs and cries.

How much more does our Heavenly Father delight in seeing us love Him and one another?

I struggle sometimes with the whole gift-giving thing of Christmas because I'm not a good gift giver. Giving gifts is just not how my heart naturally expresses love and besides that, I'm not really good at it. I never seem to get it right (just ask my husband about the year I gave him lady's running pants). But just as I've made a concerted effort this year to be diligent and thoughtful in giving little tokens of love, the Lord gives me revelation on giving gifts through the love note of my six-year-old.

It's just like Him.

So I'm off to grab my scissors and tape. Happy wrapping, everyone! Tis the season.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ask Zeke

I thought I'd ask Zeke the same questions I "asked Asher" a month or so ago.  He was a bit distracted sitting down on the kitchen floor playing with blocks, but I jotted down what he said and this was the result: 


Q:  So, Zeke, whatcha been up to lately?  

A:  "Momma, because Ethan was a little lost.  Ethan was lost." 
(Ethan is one of his buddies and no, I didn't ask any follow up questions.  Heaven only knows what goes on in that three-year-old mind of his.)

Q:  What do you eat these days?  
A:  "I ate pretzels and bagels."
(True dat.  The kid loves all things carb.)


Q:  What else is going on?  Anything new?  
A:  "Yes, it was something new, Momma.  It was something new."



Q:  "What do you think about your little brother Asher?
A:  "Because I love Asher.  He was in your belly when I said 'WHOO HOO!'" (then laughs hysterically)

 I love this little dude.
I love him and his wild hair and his wild eyes and his wild heart.

And I will always and forever.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Illumination

If you remember seeing Steel Magnolias, you'll have a grid for the little adventure my family embarked upon tonight. We loaded up the car and headed an hour south to Natchitoches, Louisiana, for the Christmas festivals of all Christmas festivals and the 84th annual staging of the Festival of Lights.
It was charming.

Live zydeco music cued your feet to move and the jambalaya and funnel cakes cued you to reach for your wallet. And then there were the lights. There was no telling how many lights were strung all over everywhere.

Santa themed lights dazzled up and down stream, but we parked the stroller and sat right across the river from the nativity scene.

And that's when it kind of got a little touch-and-go. The fireworks weren't scheduled to start for quite a while which can be a problem when you have children with limited attention spans. A huge live oak tree lent itself to climbing, but even that became a problem because it couldn't accommodate everyone at once. They were were driving us all kinds of crazy. Apparently, the chicken fries weren't enough to keep the whines at bay and we almost left.

Almost.
But right after Jack got finished with his diatribe describing his utter disdain for fireworks in the first place, the show finally began.

And we didn't realize it, but we had chosen front row seats at dead center of the show.

We had no idea.

It was like the Lord was saying - BOOM!- I know you may not really be a fan of fireworks, but I'm going to use them to remind you that- BOOM!- I am the light of the world!

BOOM! BOOM! POP! CRACKLE! In Me is life and that life is the light of men!


POW!!!! The light shines in the darkness,


...but the darkness has not understood it.

It was amazing. Anna Grace watched it with a sweet little girl in cowgirl boots from the branches of that big tree. Zeke watched with his eyes wide and his hands over his ears. Jack grabbed the camera and snapped these pictures. I held Asher close and choked back the tears.

The way the music and the lights and the season and the message merged into this moment just made my heart swell.

So thank you, Lord, for using this show to speak to my heart.

It was nothing short of illuminating.

And it was totally worth the wait.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Why I run

Most of the time, I can't quite put my finger on it- why it is that I run. Of course, physical exercise is generally beneficial in moderation but I think most runners would agree that something much deeper lingers in the hearts of those of us who run. My running friends and I can high five each other for pushing through injuries, getting up early, planning routes, and training for long distances, but I guess if you're not a runner, you might just think we're all nuts.

You might wonder, like my mom, who, after learning that I thought I had a stress fracture, asked, "Was it worth it?"

Certainly, there is a cost. It takes time to train. It takes discipline. Your toenails might turn black. You might lose them all together. And in my case, for this race, you might develop some really severe back pain. Or a stress fracture. But is it worth it? I thought this was a question worth asking and worth at least attempting to answer.

Which brings me to the story of the race itself.

I had made great efforts to train for this half-marathon, but a week before the race, I had a virus that had me home-bound and kept me from finishing my training schedule. And then there was the back pain. My lower back (my SI joint for all you technical types) had been hurting pretty badly for about a week or two. I attempted a short run six days before the race and couldn't finish two miles before I started limping.

Yikes.

I gave myself a 25% chance of being able to do this thing at all.

But back pain or no, I lined up along with the other 22,000 entered into Dallas' White Rock Marathon to embark upon the 13.1 miles that we had been anticipating for months. We prayed for healing and strength and we almost froze our patooties off waiting for the race to start but we finally got our turn to take off. After our hour long wait, we took off at a nice, quick, comfortable clip. With faster heart rates and rising core temperatures, we shed our gloves and purple plastic ponchos. A couple of water spills up the nose and a splash of Gatorade later, we were enjoying a good pace. My back felt great and there wasn't even a hint pain. Amazing. But on the punishing incline that came around mile nine, I slowed way down, started feeling the pain, lost my buddy, and pressed in to the only thing I could- the heart of God Himself.

And this is when I caught a little revelation on why I run.

At mile nine, when I was down and tired and hurting, I was praying. Intensely praying.

When you get to that point, you start to understand why Paul uses running imagery in his letters to the Corinthians and the Galatians and the Philippians. You start to understand Hebrews 12:1 and what it means to "run with perseverance the race marked out for us."

Running, for me, is an act of worship. When I run, it's just me and my God. My heart and my music are focused on Him and I am thrust into an interaction with Jesus that is holy and potent.

When all you have is the Lord and a race to run, you start to understand how your life is nothing more than that. You press into Him, you ask Him for strength, and you finish- despite the pain. It's just like life. The pain is inevitable, but if you press into Him, He enables and empowers you to finish well. And then, when you look to Him, He is your crown, your prize, your very great reward.

So I pressed in and pressed on, reminded of the temporary nature of the pain. The race would end. The Lord was with me.

And then, after I had passed that beautiful 12 mile marker, I got a text that blew my mind and made me cry.

It was Nora.

She was waiting at mile 13.

She was waiting for me so we could finish that last tenth of a mile together.

Now, this may just come across as kind of sweet, but when you are running a race like this, it's a really big deal to stop. You lose momentum and you lose your best time.

It was a big deal.

As we crossed the finish line together, I teared up again thinking about how my friend was so kind and how she gave me such a neat glimpse of Jesus and His selfless love. And all of that after I had set my eyes on Him. He had showed up, beaming through the eyes of my patient friend.

We were just running. It's not like we were feeding the hungry or rescuing orphans, but what we did last Sunday fuels our hearts. The experience of doing something hard with the Lord binds our hearts to Him, it binds us to each other, and we are prepared to face the injustices of the world and the pain of life with greater perseverance and greater trust that the Lord sees us, hears us, strengthens us, and empowers us to do all that He has called us to do.

Some people may think that running 13.1 miles is a big deal, but it's really a small deal that helps us do the bigger deal of living life and loving God and people well.

And that, to me, makes it all worth it.

As for me, I'm hooked. As long as I can, I'll be lacing up and hitting the roads.

Because I know Someone who always meets me there.

Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

PS- the link to our crazy post-race pic is here.

And PSS- Nora is totally Lightning McQueen to my Mr. The King. If you've seen the movie, that's totally how it ended. The analogy breaks down with Nora not needing a lesson on arrogance and my not being a famous racer... that and us not being cars and all, but still... great analogy. (Props, Korrie!)

Monday, December 6, 2010

The sights

Nora and I ran the White Rock Half Marathon yesterday.

I have lots of thoughts to come on the story of it all and a partial revelation on why I run which will be my next post, but for today, while I continue to process what happened yesterday, I thought I'd share some of the lighter moments of our experience.

This is Nora. We were late getting to the starting line and the line for the bathroom was a billion people long, so this is a thumbs up for having time to use the Port-o-let. Never before have I been excited to use this kind of facility.
Can you believe this?

People everywhere were wearing these "shoes."

I guess maybe this is the future of running?

It doesn't look that comfortable to me.
This girl's shirt said, "If you can read this, I'm not last."

The website onemoremilerunning.com has this and many other tag-lined shirts that I found hilarious.

Examples:

"My sport is your sport's punishment."

"Find your happy pace"

"In my dreams, I am a Kenyan."

and

"Run with a friend- it's cheaper than therapy."


Of course, people were dressed up in all kinds of crazy ways.

This girl was dressed as french fries while proclaiming the evils of fast food. We all have our causes, I guess.
There were people cheering on the sidelines which was really encouraging. I received multiple high fives along the way.

This girl's sign said, "Run, Complete stranger!" I think she was as amused with me taking her picture as I was with her sign.

Other notable signs:

"Just keep swimming! Just keep swimming!"

and

"Your feet hurt cause you're kicking so much butt!"

And there were so many more.





So that's all for now. Full story coming soon to a blog post near you...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

OUTSTANDING

John Lennon's life story on PBS was distracting me. It was last Wednesday night, I think, and I had a hundred things to do, but I couldn't pull myself away. I was captivated by the way everything unfolded for him. It was so interesting watching people talk about him with such an unusual reverence and awe. He possessed such an amazing songwriting and musical gift and he was (and maybe is) worshiped beyond what most of us could fathom. His story was fascinating.

I heard someone recently teach that worship is, simply put, a reaction. It is recognition of something good, something worthy of praise.

And most of the time, I think we have no idea.

I think we have such an erroneous construct of who our Maker is that we give our affections to lesser things- to the created rather than the Creator. We think of the Jesus we were presented with in Sunday School as kids or the Jesus confined to history, to Israel under Roman rule, to one time, one place, or one culture. We totally forget that from him and through him and to him are all things. (Romans 11:36)

He transcends culture and time. He created them.

Have you ever thought of Jesus, the author of music itself, playing an instrument? Or singing? Can you imagine the artistic genius that must flow from the King of Kings when He picks up a paintbrush or some kind of beyond-the-speed-of-light camera? Can you imagine our Savior and King, laughing and smiling because He has been anointed with the oil of joy? Do we know that He is glad?

We are amazed and wowed and we react to the people around us and the various gifts they have been given, but do we stop to think about Who gave them?

Jesus is outstanding among ten thousand. (Song of Songs 5:10) He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. And He is the Artist of all artists.

He can write songs that would blow John Lennon's mind.

He made all of what Ansel Adams captured.

His heart makes Mother Teresa's look cold.

He is OUTSTANDING. For real, right now, He IS and He WAS and He WILL BE.

Every now and then, I get an inkling of what might be a glimpse of a little bit of a shadow of His beauty.

Familial love, encapsulating sunlight, a song that makes my heart beat a little faster-just a little bit of the revelation of His beauty invokes worship.

I want to look for Him a little more, to search out the beauty that calls out to my heart, and to grasp the only thing that can satisfy the empty places in my soul.

This Christmas season, I'm hoping to see more of His beauty and again be wowed into worship.

He is OUTSTANDING.

Pine straw is good