Waiting Again

Each night, we gather together around our wreath.  Another candle is lit, and we are one step closer to the birth of the Christ-child.  The boys watch in wonder as another flame flickers, cutting the darkness.  The smaller boy of the two sighs.

“It’s so long”.

I nod.  The twenty-four days that it takes for Mary to journey around the circle of candles truly is not that long, but for a young boy, counting the days to Christmas seems like an eternity.  I draw the boy close to my side.

“Remember the people who waited for Jesus to be born?  Back when things were dark, and lonely and the people didn’t know where to go.  Or how they could be back with God?”

This time, he is the one to nod.

“I’m sure it felt long to them, too, honey”.

I too, think of the people.  They groaned.  An old man, longing for lineage, longing for a name.   People in bondage in a land that was not their own.  They waited, not so patiently at times, and they groaned.  For freedom.  For deliverance from their slavery.  And the Lord heard.   And that is why we celebrate. Because He does hear.  He gave us a wee one — His own Son.  To deliver us, to give us a name, and be our freedom.  Oh yes, we celebrate!

But my heart whispers that something is not right.  There is pain and my soul aches.  I stumble as I walk.  I fall, the tears tumble to the ground.  My words sting and burn.  I listen closer.  I, too, groan.

It is still a season of advent.  One where we wait, where we long for His coming.  He has been here, but has promised to return.  I feel so tired and so worn.  I struggle, groaning inwardly for some kind of relief.  And that’s how it was meant to be from the beginning.  We are frustrated, not by our own doing, but by the One who wants us to be free.  To know that there is something not right and long for the freedom of His glory. My soul waits eagerly for His coming.  I carry hope, that like Abraham and his stars, and the Israelites and their chains, He will hear my groaning and remember His promise.  That one day, soon, I will stand, fully His and my body will be redeemed.

My eyes rest on the candle again.  Oh, I am so thankful for that precious Babe.  And the sweet peace of the hope of advent that promises it will not always be this way.

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Notebook 12.14.10

There are so many wonderful resources & ideas on the internet these days, that I want to be able to keep them in one place.  Hope you enjoy them as well.

Faith:

  • Beautiful, beautiful words — an excellent resource for Advent

Crafts:

  • Aren’t these sweater pants darling?  I think my littlest guy needs a pair!
  • Hmmm… what little ones do I still need a gift for?

Homeschooling:

Health/Fitness:

  • I ran through this program last year & absolutely loved it — going to try it again this year for a refresher

In the Kitchen:

  • Tomorrow, I’m making a batch of this, spiced pecans & fudge…yummy! (spiced pecans recipe to follow)
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Warmth

A busy weekend, full of laughter.  So much to be grateful for.

21.  a sweet husband, encouraging me out the door

22.  long train rides shortened with laughter

23.  warm, soft, white gloves

24.  twinkly-eyed gentlemen singing Christmas carols in the subway

25.  the sweet sound of “Worthy is the Lamb” in the subway station

26.  tut-tut rides through the city after dark

27.  kissing my sleepy little boys goodnight

28.  settling into the routines of Monday morning

29.  snuggling on the couch reading Mike Mulligan

30.  little ones tucked tightly in bed, pleading for mama’s lullabies

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7 Quick Takes: New York Edition

Yesterday, my sister & I took the train to NYC.  Here is a quick glimpse at our day in the Big Apple:

1.  We must have seen at least 100 Santa Clauses on our adventures!  Funny thing was, none of them were working.  The Santa Clauses just wandered around the city in groups of other people dressed like Santa.  Some were singing Christmas carols, some were just talking and laughing, and unfortunately some were drinking and pretty inappropriate.  We did see a few Mrs. Clauses, a star and a snowman as well.

2.  We went to Serendipity 3 for lunch.  It is a tiny restaurant but completely.  The restaurant (and their frozen hot chocolates) were made famous by a movie with the same name.  It seems Serendipity is on the top of the list of attractions for tourists (at least we assumed so by the 3 hour wait!)

3.  It seems there is a special method for hailing a cab in NY.  We tried standing at the corner.  At the crosswalk.  Holding our arm up in the air.  Using our left arm.  Using our right arm.  Keeping our hand still.  Waving our arm furiously.  If you have any suggestions to improve our ‘hailing skills’, or are blessed to know the ‘special method’, please feel free to do so in the comments :).

4.  After a long day of walking, taking cabs & subways, we decided to do something a little different.  On our way to dinner, my sister and I took a ride in a petty cab.  I think that is the actual name, even though I kept on referring to it as a tut-tut.  You know, where you ride in the back in a little cart, and there is a man who pulls you on his bicycle?  It cost an arm & a leg for the ride but it was incredible to see our driver pedal furiously through the city streets, dodging people, cars and cabs.  It was chilly but a great way to see the city!

tut tut 2010

5.  We went to an amazing place for dinner called Shabu-Tatsu.  You can choose whether you want beef, chicken, shrimp or pork.  They bring you a plate of raw, thinly sliced meat, a huge plate of raw vegetables and a bowl of rice.  The center of your table has a large pot of boiling water with something like a bouillon cube inside.  You use your chopsticks to drop the meat and veggies inside the water.  A couple of seconds later, presto, everything is ready to eat!  A little expensive, but very yummy.

boiling potThe waiters in the restaurant kept on moving these pots of BOILING water with their BARE hands — I wonder if they ever get burnt?

 

 

6.  I love taking the subway during the holiday season because it’s full of Christmas cheer!  There was a group of men who sang carols and danced through the different cars, a trumpeter playing praise music and a woman standing in the station harmonizing to the beat of a drum.

7.  It was so wonderful to spend the day with my sister.  This is the first time that I have been away from the baby so long, and even though I missed my boys, it was nice to have a day out.  I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard — what a great time!

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Gift

We were scurrying around the kitchen, getting things ready for lunch.  No, the baby was crying in his seat, the older boys were loudly running their trucks around my feet, and I was trying to get things ready for lunch.  I reached for a spoon that I had placed on the counter only moments earlier, and surprisingly, (well, not really surprisingly with a whole lot of little, busy hands in the house) my hand returned empty.  I looked down at the boys.  “Okay, guys, who took the spoon from the counter?”  Nathaniel muttered a quick, “not me”, then scooted out of the room quickly, as though his absence would eliminate him as a suspect.  I turned to Landon.  “How about you?  Did you take it?”  Landon stopped his playing, and looked up at me.  He was quiet for a moment, almost as if contemplating his choice.  He nodded his small, blond head and fished the lost spoon out of the back of his pick-up.  “I want to tell the truth, Mommy.  It’s a gift to Jesus”.  As, Landon went back to his playing, I repeated his words in my head.  A gift?  It was the Christmas season, and we had been teaching our boys that we could give gifts to Jesus by our kindness to others, but telling the truth was not a gift.  It was an act of obedience.  Something we as parents required of our children, and even more, something our Lord requires of us.  But a gift?  I have chewed over his words the last few days, and the more I think about it, I think my sweet boy has gotten it right.

More often than not, when I obey the Lord, I realize what is the ‘right thing’ to do, and I do it.  It becomes my duty, an obligation to fulfill.  But, what should drive me to want to know and obey God?  According to Paul, it is the love of Christ:  “For Christ’s love compels us (2 Cor. 5:14).

In one of my favorite books, Discipline of Grace, Jerry Bridges points out just that:

“To live no longer for ourselves but for Him is the essence of discipleship…But what is it that will motivate us to live not for ourselves but for Him? Paul said it is the love of Christ…Notice though, what compelled or motivated Paul in such a strong manner. It was not a continual challenge to be more disciplined, or more committed, or more holy. Rather it was his constant heartfelt awareness of Christ’s love for him…Rather his overwhelming sense of Christ’s love for him that spurred him on.

We believers do need to be challenged to a life of committed discipleship, but that challenge needs to be based on the gospel, not on duty or guilt. Duty or guilt may motivate us for awhile, but only a sense of Christ’s love for us will motivate us for a lifetime.”

So, can obedience be a gift to Jesus?  I think so.  After becoming aware of God’s great love for us, even if it is only a glimpse, how can we be anything but thankful that we are His chosen?  And what can we give back to show our gratitude?  Only obedience to His words.

What do you think of this kind of gift?  What does an awareness of Christ’s love mean for you?  I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Stretching

My heart feels stretched. Leaving me wondering what I should do? Praying that it moves you, too.

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Quiet

The whole family stayed home from church yesterday morning. We quietly worshipped as we wiped noses and poured juice for scratchy throats. And even though the day was long with illness, and maybe because of the illness, our hearts grew quiet.  We slowly went about the chores of the day.  And they were simple.  And they brought rest, even in the work.

11.  laundry hung to dry, even when brought inside

12.  a pot of vegetable soup, simmering on the stove for hours

12.  stack of sky blue dishes, scrubbed clean

13.  sitting at the kitchen table with my littles, wrapping tubes with paper towels for making angels and keeping Truths

14.  peeling, cutting, stirring with my family; a bushel, a surprise

15.  four quarts of canned applesauce cooling on the counter — waiting for the pop

16.  five burgundy candles burning brightly, counting the days until the Christ-child

17.  little voices singing songs to welcome the baby Jesus, while eyes watch the dancing flames

18.  curling up close to Daddy while he reads a story about a glorious angel, and a chosen girl

19.  anxiously waiting for the Baby’s birthday, and innocently wondering if we’ll celebrate with hats

20.  staying up late to grade papers, laughing with my love

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