Monday, November 27, 2006


I love Thanksgiving! And I think I am a grateful person for the most part. I really am thankful that God has provided a wonderful family, a warm house, salvation and all sorts of other things. And who can't be thankful when it is over 50 degrees in Minnesota in late November? The kids played outside with no coats or shoes!

But this year I don't feel very grateful. I'm not sure if it is because of the chaos that consumes most of my life or the fact that I was more excited about the ads for Black Friday in the paper than I was about taking time out to think about being thankful. I realized that I spent most of the day strategizing and thinking about what I want to buy for Christmas.

Now that Thanksgiving is over, we can start worrying about where we'll be for Christmas, how long we should stay, and if everyone will like what we got them. My Dad was saying that when he was young getting a gift was a huge deal because there was less. Now, it is hard to find things to buy for people that they don't already have because we have so much. We can busy ourselves decorating, wrapping presents, baking, going to parties and programs. It will be so busy and crazy that it will just come and go in the blink of an eye and without a thought like Thanksgiving did.

I'm not sure what the answer is, but for me I have to put Christ back in the center of my life and my holidays. Sure, I'll tell you the holidays are all about Christ, but are they? When people watch me do they see the things I'm doing as worship of the Savior? I'm not sure they would.

I'm not going to stop baking or decorating or going to parties. As long as Christ is the center of my life those things all become acts of worship. I kind of hate the dorky saying "Jesus is the Reason for the Season" but it's true! Without him it is all empty. There's a great debate brewing over "Merry Christmas" and the switch to "Happy Holidays". The "Christian" community is saying they are taking Christ out of Christmas. I disagree, I think we are guilty of taking Christ out of Christmas in our hearts - yes, even Christians. Who cares which way you say it. If Christ isn't in your heart you may as well just say Bah Humbug! And on a brief sidenote, I think we are mistaken if we think that we will evangelize the world by forcing our stores and schools to use the word "Christmas". The Christ in Christmas is a matter of the heart! Okay, enough preaching!

We're also going to try to give more this year. We want to remember and help our kids learn that there are people in this world that are needy, they don't have food or houses. There will be no presents for them. We want to get our whole family involved in that kind of giving. It might even mean we have less to spend on our family and friends (who aren't very needy).

I think it is easy for me to let my eyes slip from Jesus and thus let all the joy and meaning of the holidays drain out of my life. What do you do to keep Jesus at the center? Is there anything you need to change?

Isaiah 9:6
"For to us a child is born,
to us a Son is given,
and the government will be upon his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

Go Bug Daddy!

Here's a disclaimer: I think I have mentioned that my husband is a huge help to me around the house and I am really grateful most of the time. But, we were getting ready to leave for our vacation last week. I had a long list of things I wanted to get done running through my mind that morning. Some things were basic: shower, pack, dress the kids, clean up the breakfast mess, fold up a little laundry and leave the house "clean".

Well, Mike had his own list of things to do. Make pancakes, go buy dog food, pay bills (okay I know that one's important), do stuff in the garage etc. While I was still trying to complete the first item on my list (and I felt a shower was pretty important) the kids had a million questions, Abby had packed 10 pairs of pajamas, Annie was raiding the bathroom cabinet and dragging all sorts of interesting things throughout the house, someone couldn't find any clean underwear and all this while I was shaving my legs. I quickly got dressed and started throwing things into suitcases. Everything I put in, Annie took out. I went out to the kitchen to get something and would you believe there was still a mess of syruppy pancake plates and griddles all over? The kids were running around and I was cleaning up (I would have been happy with cereal)!

I looked over and there was Mike sitting in front of the computer with a cup of coffee! Then he proceeded to get up and grab his keys and head off on a dog food run. I was stunned! How can this be? Maybe there is an invisible bubble around Dads, I don't know. And this isn't the first time this has happened. He sits down to read a book and the kids come looking for me. I sit down to read and book and get interrupted so much that I read the first sentence 20 times before giving up. He shuts his eyes on the couch and we all try to be quiet. I shut my eyes on the couch and there are very urgent needs that can't wait. Whatever I am trying to do there is always someone underfoot, talking to me or bugging me. And believe me I have tried to ignore them like Mike does at times, but instead of giving up they just get louder and more demanding.

I want to yell, Go Bug Daddy! or for him to miraculously step in and h-e-l-p! But there are two lessons here. One is that he doesn't always think the things I'm doing are that big of a deal (and I think the same thing about his lists). He doesn't really care if the house is messy when we get home. I do, but I suppose I could learn to let go because when we get home with all our junk it gets messy again anyway. If we had taken a few minutes to talk about things that needed to be done before we left we might have been able to work on things together.

Secondly, this is my life. I'm the Mom. These are probably die to self times that I need to just accept the fact that my life is one big interruption right now.

But sometimes I think we create this problem ourselves. Maybe every little need and question of our kids doesn't need to be answered or attended to right away. I think that is why the kids don't bug Mike because they know I will drop everything and attend to their problem. Ultimately it's another area where I need to live in sacrificial service. It can be really frustrating but it's an area where I need to give over the God. He can help me be more of a servant. And I need His help not letting bitterness and anger towards Mike or the kids grow out of these times. I tend to find myself stomping around and stewing.

And just now I had to stop to help Annie and get her to bed and get Jenna calmed down while I was trying to finish this. Guess where Mike is? On the couch with his book (oblivious!) Come on Michelle, die to self! This is going to be tough!

Philippians 2:3
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit,
but in humility consider others better than yourselves."