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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Celebrate Anyway

Tomorrow while many are ringing in 2007 I will be celebrating my 12th wedding anniversary (and ringing in 2007 as I happily say good-bye to 2006).

Here's my PSA about New Year's Eve weddings...It's great for the wedding and awesome to help you remember your anniversary. But BAD with a capital B for getting a baby-sitter when the kiddos join you.

Thankfully, tomorrow grandparents are keeping our kiddos so my hubby and I can spend the night at a near-by Chateau in the mountains. We'll dance, eat some fabulous food, and likely reminisce about our 12 years of married life.

Then again, maybe we won't do the memory lane walk. Why? Because our 12 years have been anything but the happily ever after fairytale. I love my husband and he loves me, but when we got married we still had A LOT of growing up to do. And that makes the normal fights about toilet paper and toothpaste tons harder.

We've weathered Christmases where we didn't think we'd make it to our anniversary still married. There were a few we almost didn't.

But God is still on His throne and for reasons only He understands He would not allow either one of us to sign divorce papers. Where I sit at the edge of 2006, I'm thankful. Very thankful.

God is far from through with me, my husband, or our marriage. And after a few years of far more good days than bad, I can name many reasons to celebrate our anniversary.

Here's the short list:

We have three precious, delightful kiddos and one waiting for us in heaven with Jesus.

My husband and I are now walking in freedom from the addiction that nearly destroyed us.

We know without a doubt God DOES take you THROUGH the hell on earth times. We've lived some of them and survived to see the other side.

God has shown us He is faithful and always present when no human can be.

My husband and I still love to dream together.

We're still committed to helping each other achieve those dreams and teaching our kids that with God all things are possible. Dream big.

After 12 years there are some great photos in our albums to remind us there were good moments.

Those same photos remind us there will be more good times ahead.

We still love long walks and snuggling up by Christmas tree light.

God has used our story to show one more facet of His amazing grace.

We've learned the immeasurable value of growth because we've seen how far we've come.

My husband and I still look at each other like we did on our wedding day when we thought we'd found "the One." We did. We still do.

So even though my husband and I haven't reached the 12 year mark without scars, we have reached it. That alone is a reason to celebrate anyway.

As we look back on 2006, I have a feeling there are many like us who won't be jumping into 2007 without the scars to prove life is hard. But instead of wishing for a different set of memories...

I pray you'll join me in receiving the good things God has for us in 2007. Not grasping for them or striving after the wind and changes that only God can accomplish. But opening your hands and hearts to accept God's very arms around you, carrying you through the tough times, rejoicing with you in the victories, and singing over you all the time.

A favorite quote comes to mind from the pages of King David's life...

"I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God that which cost me nothing." (2 Samuel 24:24)

That's how I look with joyful expectation as I glance back on the last 12 years and then look ahead toward the future. Because I know that with every fallen tear and every hardship endured, in giving them back to God and praising Him still, He will receive the offering.

He will strengthen and settle us.

He will be near us.

He will comfort us.

He will grow us up even more.

And through it all He will sing over us and smile.

Because He knows the end of the story. One day we will too.

But I doubt I'll care a bit about the why's then. Because when that time comes, I'll actually get to see Jesus face to face.

And never again lose sight of His loving smile. Not for a single second.

In the meantime, I will celebrate and praise Him anyway. Because that's what He created me to do. He created me to dance with Him and remember His goodness even so.

Happy 2007!!! May it be for you a leap closer to your Heavenly Daddy through the sunshine and the tears. Here's to the rainbows ahead.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Word for the year

At the suggestion of a good friend and fellow blogger, Mary Griffith , I started praying and asking God to show me a word for the year. One small string of letters to help me focus on God and a word that would summarize what He has in store for the coming year.

For 2006 the word God gave me was ENJOY. A Word for the heart is the post I wrote about the vision God put before me for 2006. Here's a little excerpt...

Enjoy the sunrises I’m blessed to see, the precious moments I have talking with my Daddy before the day swings into motion, connecting with my hubby, the sweet hugs of my girls, talking with my friends, and feeling the pleasure of God as I do the work He’s called and created me to do.

The vision God cast before me, including my word for the year, can be summed up in one simple favorite phrase John Piper slightly altered from the Westminster Shorter Catechism …

The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.

Last night my husband and I sat by the Christmas tree and talked over 2006. Sadness cloaked my heart as I remembered all the ways I'd failed to ENJOY God in the past year. All the sicknesses and my grumbling about them, the pressures of book deadlines, and missed time with my family. I felt heart weary at the realization I'd failed to understand and live out my word for 2006.

But before I went to bed, God whispered a new word for 2007 and a few needed reminders:

"I will never give up on you."

And that He never measures me the way I do: with a scale, popularity vote, a mirror, or praises. He simply loves me. He loves you too.

2006 is slipping through our hands and 2007 looms large on the horizon. But God has already been there. He knows what's ahead. And He isn't at all upset by what we think we didn't accomplish in the last 12 months. He knew that too.

Last year when the Lord cast the vision before me there was with it a clear reminder to simply trust Him, to rest in Him with a quiet heart.

I failed more than I succeeded.

But God reminded me as I woke this morning there were times I lived my word for 2006. Times I truly ENJOYed Him and the myriad things He sent my way last year. Times when His life was lived through me.

Not my success. HIM.

So my word for 2007 brings me hope that God is indeed not finished with me yet. Because this word includes all the lessons of 2006 that are tucked in my heart, and all the ones I’m still struggling to understand.

God’s word for me in 2007 is REST.

If it’s anything like last year’s word it won’t be the fun I looked forward to with the hope that ENJOY meant I’d have a happy and exciting 2006.

A year wiser, I’m looking forward to the lessons of 2007 knowing there will be hard fought battles, tear filled circumstances, and quiet times of refreshing.

Those battles and tears go hand in hand with the refreshing like two sides of a coin.

This coming year my heart’s desire is again to know God and to step deeper into His REST. I already know He’s there, having prepared in advance the good things He has in store for me to do. (Ephesians 2:10)

For you too. Will you simply trust Him and in rest in Him with a quiet heart?

Or maybe He has a different word for you. I pray you’ll ask Him to show you. When He does, please let me know. I’d love to pray with you about it too.

Together let's look forward to 2007… a year full of promise and possibility.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A Christmas Thought

I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it.

Their faithful Friend and Servant,
C. D.
December, 1843

And from the first words, "Marley was dead, to begin with." to the famous last ones, "God bless Us, Every One!" this little book of five staves or chapters has held my family captivated and gone beyond raising a Ghost of an Idea.

We've talked about Christmas kindness and charity, and why old Scrooge needed the three ghosts to truly "see." And we've touched on what we need to see too. But today I saw my two favorite lines lived out and just how much I have yet to see.

The first line is from Fred, Scrooge's nephew:

"I mean to give him the same chance every year, whether he likes it or not, for I pity him. He may rail at Christmas till he dies, but he can't help thinking better of it~ I defy him ~ if he finds me going there, in good temper, year after year, and saying, 'Uncle Scrooge, how are you?'"

I love this quote because it reminds me in simple human terms how one small act of kindness, repeated no matter how it's received, has the power to change a heart.

The second quote is one that I can barely read through the emotion tightening my throat:

"... for it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child himself."

What I saw today that made these lines come alive was my children playing. The application of the second quote is pretty easy to see, but what hit me this afternoon was that Jesus was a child himself.

Maybe you’ve already considered that, but watching my children run for the sheer joy of running brought that thought alive. I can imagine Jesus doing the very same thing.

Me doing that takes far more imagination. Therein is the more I have yet to see.

Another pondering point based on the line about doing a kindness over and over no matter how it’s received came from watching my children go from running for joy to pestering. (Yes, Virginia, my kids really aren’t perfect angels. Though they come mighty close as true messengers of God to this mommy’s heart.)

It’s what I saw next that reminded me of Fred’s lines. After they were told to come inside and asked about their behavior, both sat quietly and prayed. Then they talked to each other and apologized for being mean, asking forgiveness for their actions.

This in and of itself is not a startling thing because it happens at least once a day in our home. We often live the truth that forgiveness is a daily requirement. What opened my eyes was that day after day and year after year my children offer to me and to each other a grand act of kindness… forgiveness. And they do it as a normal part of life.

I have so much to learn in that. And I’m praying I won't need three spirits to hammer the point home. ;-) I like my sleep too much.

I’m sure there are dozens upon dozens of deeper and weightier lessons to be learned from A Christmas Carol. But for today this is what my heart is pondering…

The grand kindness of day after day, year after year forgiveness.

The wide-eyed wonder of children at Christmastime and how I, like its mighty Founder, can be a child too.

May you also come as children this Christmas, regardless of circumstances, and worship. It is a gift we give to our great God and to ourselves at the same time.

Merry Christmas!!!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Family Support

Isn't this picture awesome??? In case it's hard to decipher the details, this picture is all about love.

And the support my awesome family gives me every day.

My middle princess gave me this card printed with "famle mal" on the outside. (That's 'family mail' phonetically since she did this all on her own during a quite time one afternoon.)

On the inside is her rendition of my first book cover and the keyboard that I'm attached to many days.

She gave it to me beaming a smile alight with six-year-old pride not only in her gift, but that mommy does something mommy loves and she's a part of it.

She's also beaming because mommy is taking some much needed time off to do cookie baking and ornament making. I'm loving that too. We're not doing much hustle and bustle now that the ballet recital is over and the twenty dozen cookies are mostly all given away to teachers and neighbors. We'll be spending the last few weeks of this year reading The Christmas Carol, singing songs, and sharing giggles.

I'm also going to take my little girl's advice written on the inside of this special card. She wrote simply, "Dear mommy, have a fun Happy Birthday God!"

I hope you will join us in wishing Jesus a very special Happy Birthday with a few moments of restful quiet wrapped up in family.

Merry Christmas!!!

Monday, December 04, 2006

What do you wish you'd have known?

A good friend of mine got me started doing these lists about life and once I typed one, I couldn't stop. So now you all get to hear them. ;-) Below is my list about what I wish I'd have known about life. If you'd like to hear more, check out this blog of Tricia Goyer and her GenX blog too.

10 Things I Wish I'd Known about Life
by Amy Wallace

1) What many people didn't learn in Kindergarten, they didn't learn in college either.

2) Choosing to be kind might not get you further "up the ladder" but it will make falling asleep at night much easier.

3) It really does take more muscles to frown than to smile and that's energy wasted.

4) A good night's sleep covers a multitude of sins you might otherwise commit.

5) Chocolate might not be good for the backside, but it's great for the heart.

6) Walking probably is better than chocolate, but it's not near as much fun.

7) A good kiss burns far more calories and less bridges than a fight.

8) Words spoken in anger have the worst boomerang effect.

9) Chocolate body paint only sounds like a fun idea.

10) Each day is a precious gift best unwrapped after a strong cup of coffee and a good dose of prayer.

If I'm spreading the list addiction, please leave me a note with your great list ideas in the comments or email me and I'll share your ideas with a link to your blog too.

Merry Christmas y'all!!!
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