Christmastime is Here!

Galatians 4:4-5 (NET)

“But when the appropriate time had come, God sent out his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we may be adopted as sons with full rights.”

I remember as a child being so excited at Christmastime.  I loved all the lights and the traditions, the trees and the carols.  And who am I kidding…I still do!  What I did not enjoy, however, was the waiting!  There was so much waiting.

We used to go to my grandparents every Christmas Eve.  It was my very favorite thing about Christmas and is still one of my very favorite memories.  We would arrive at the farmhouse visible from the road due to the candles glowing in the windows, carry in our gifts and place them under the tree that was already bulging with beautifully wrapped boxes.

Then, we were told to wait.  We had to eat first.  So, we would all gather around the table that was set with gorgeous dishes and goblets surrounded by greenery and enough food to feed about 18 families. Then, we would eat.  We kids always seemed to finish first while the adults took their sweet time cleaning their plates.

When everyone was done at last, we would ask, “Is it time now?  Can we open the presents?”  But alas, the response ALWAYS came, “We have to clear the table first.”  So, we would all join in carrying things from the dining room to the kitchen.  When that task was completed, “Now is it time,” was answered by, “No.  We have to wash the dishes first.”  So, we would begin washing, rinsing, drying.  Looking back, I think it was all just an elaborate ploy to get us to do chores. Then finally, when we couldn’t stand the anticipation one more minute, my grandmother would announce that it was time to pass out the gifts.

I was reminiscing about this as I read these verses from Galatians.  God’s people had been promised a Savior.  They’d waited a really long time. They prayed for rescue.  They longed for salvation.  They anticipated His arrival.  The dinner had been eaten, the dishes had been cleared and washed and dried and put away more times than they could count.  And yet, there was no Deliverer.

And then…at just the right time, in just the right place, on the perfect day… Jesus was born.  He arrived at exactly the right time.

Sometimes in the waiting, it can feel as though we’ve been forgotten, overlooked.  I’m guessing the people awaiting the Savior wrestled with this a few times.  The thing is, just because you can’t always see what God is doing doesn’t mean He has abandoned you.  It means He’s working all things together for your good and His glory so that at the appointed time, your waiting will end and His plans for you will be fulfilled.

One thing the manger teaches us is that the waiting is worth it.  Jesus left His throne and the perfection of heaven and stepped down to earth at just the right time.  He’s all about ending the waiting with a flourish, wouldn’t you say?

This is the season of expectation.  Ask God to renew your confidence in His ability to show up at the perfect moment.

And please, please…for me…don’t make your children clear the table, wash the dishes, dry the dishes and put the dishes away before presents! Some waiting just isn’t necessary!

Until next time…

Sometimes Life Just Stinks

Sometimes life seems hard.
Sometimes the basement floods.
Sometimes the water heater stops heating.
Sometimes the stove stops warming.
Sometimes the breaks begin squeaking.
Sometimes the kids fuss.
Sometimes the husband does, too.
Sometimes it all happens before 8:00 a.m. … on a Monday.

Sometimes life is just plain lousy. An unexpected diagnosis creeps in out of nowhere and changes the course of everything. The dream you held onto for so long suddenly becomes painfully null and void. The relationship you poured yourself into completely crumbles.

Life looks upside down. Nothing makes sense. You find yourself questioning things you thought you knew. Things like, “Is God good even when what happens isn’t?”
The answer is YES! God is good. He was, is, and always will be good.

 “So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.”
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (The Message)

The trials of this life won’t last forever. The pain isn’t permanent. The yuck will come to an end. None of your troubles can even begin to compare to the amazing future God has planned for you. We can only see the tiniest part of a story God has written from beginning to end.

Rest in His goodness, even in the hard times.
Trust Him to write your story. One day it will all make sense.
You will see how the parts you wished you could erase or rewrite actually made your story perfect.

I Had a Dream

I am not really a star-struck kinda’ girl. I realize we’re all just people, who put our pants on one leg at a time and have struggles and anxieties and joys and whatever. And despite the fact that a few weekends ago at a conference I attended, after receiving a very deliberate head jerk and definite eye contact from one Mac Powell, the lead singer of Third Day, only my favorite Christian band, I may have become a little giggly. Don’t judge, you know you’re wishing it had been you. But all in all, I just don’t tend to get that ramped up over “celebrities.”
Except that last night I had a dream and in it was about one of my Heroes of the Faith, Miss Beth Moore. Now, before I go on, I feel the need to explain that I’m just sure she and I would be great friends. I realize people say things like this all the time and she’s probably completely tired of hearing it, but in my case, it’s true and I have proof. First of all there’s the obvious… we both share a love of all things makeup and fashion. But deeper than that, I share the name of one of her daughters. Ever deeper (I know, who could imagine) my middle name and her sister’s first name are the very same. Coincidence? I think not. Clearly we are linked on some very deep levels, even if she has no idea.
Last night I dreamt that I had the opportunity to ask Mrs. Moore one question. I thought and thought about what I wanted to ask, trying hard to be all theological and thought provoking at the same time. I wrote out my question so I wouldn’t mess anything up. Then, when I arrived at the cutest café ever to meet her for coffee (which I don’t even drink) I didn’t even look at my paper and blurted out a completely different question. It sounded like this, “How do you know if you’re doing what God wants you to do? I mean, I thought I was supposed to do what I’m doing, but how do I know if I am? Maybe it’s my desire and not God’s.” Only it came out in one breath and really fast. Clearly, I’ve been searching a bit lately.
You see, I have a really big, God-sized dream. I decided to follow it wholeheartedly a few years ago. Only things aren’t moving quite as quickly as I would like them to. They’re not at a standstill mind you, not even close, but they aren’t where I thought they’d be by now. The thing with God-sized dreams is that they are too big for us to accomplish on our own, hence the name. It’s completely up to God to work them out. In His timing, on His terms.
So, over a large mug of steaming coffee, Beth Moore looked at me and said in that thick Southern accent, “Just do the thang,” right before my alarm went off. I tried and tried to go back to sleep to finish the conversation. I wanted to hear just exactly what it is I’m supposed to do, what is the thang? But alas, sleep would not come again. No more dreaming.
And then, in the midst of my aggravation, it hit me. That’s it! Dreaming is great, but if we aren’t doing something it’s kind of pointless. The dream is big enough that only God can orchestrate it, but in the meantime, I need to be doing what He’s asking me to do right here and right now. When I live in the frustration of not knowing what the future holds, I’m not being effective in the present. Only God knows what the future holds and I need to trust Him enough to just keep doing the thang.
I may never get to meet Beth Moore this side of heaven, but I owe her a thank you, in my Midwestern drawl, for reminding me even via a dream, to just do the thang for that’s exactly what I shall do.