Sunday, November 20, 2011

Christmas Advent

As Jake and I are approaching Christmas, we have been very thoughtful towards how we are engaging Christmas with our children. Last year, we felt that Christmas just happened to us, and we threw Christ in as we could. This year, we’re wanting to really understand Christmas morning as an Israelite would have…anticipating Christ with the nation of Israel, experiencing joy with Elizabeth, trusting with Joseph, hoping with Mary, worshiping with the Magi…as we teach our children the true importance of this celebration. As we reflect on the coming of the Christ-child, we are learning how to anticipate the coming of Christ, remembering His promise to return for His people.

Since the weather outside is definitely not frightful, and there’s no delightful snow for North Texas in the forecast any time soon, it’s easy to forget the busyness of the coming weeks. Trying not to get hustled and bustled, in a culture that does nothing but hurry the season away, is pretty difficult. In fact, if you’re not diligently pursuing rest in Him, you may quickly drift away into this hurried season.

“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.” Hebrews 2:1

So what if we saw Christmas newly this year? What if we heard the Christmas story from the perspective of an Israelite? What if we saw the star and remembered the promise of a covenant made by a Holy God? What if we rejoiced in the fields with the shepherds? What if we heard the cries of a Savior and fell down in worship, knowing that only He is worthy? What if we actually saw Christ in Christmas?

As a family, we are beginning a new tradition this year as we prepare our hearts and lead our children to celebrate Christmas! We are making a “Jesse Tree” (More info about a Jesse tree here:, and we are reading through a series of scriptures together as a family. The scriptures were chosen as sort of an overview/history of the Israelites, giving new perspective as we enjoy Christ, the Savior, born in Bethlehem.

Below is the overview of the scripture. Many companies make ornaments that you can purchase online or in a store. Others have some that you can download and color yourself. I think our family will read the story, and create a simple ornament to hang on the tree. Some may even choose not to do an ornament, but to just enjoy reading through the scripture.

However you choose to lead your family into Christmas this year, I encourage you to enjoy Him in the midst of it all!

Table of Scripture Readings for the Story








Introduction of the Jesse Tree

1 Sam 16:1-13

Isaiah 11:1-10

The Tree




Gen 1:1-2:3



Adam and Eve

The First Sin

Gen 2:4-3:24

Tree with Fruit or Apple



The Flood

Gen 6:11-22, 7:17-8:12, 20-9:17

Rainbow or Ark



The Promise

Gen 12:1-7, 15:1-6

Field of Stars



Offering of Isaac

Gen 22:1-19





of the Promise

Gen 27:41-28:22





God's Providence

Gen 37, 39:1-50:21

Sack of Grain or Coat



God's Leadership

Exodus 2:1-4:20

Burning Bush




and Exodus

Exodus 12:1-14:31




Giving the Law

at Sinai

Exodus 19:1-20:20

Tablets of the Ten Command-ments



The Fall of Jericho

Joshua 1:1-11, 6:1-20

Ram's Horn Trumpet



Unlikely Heroes

Judges 2:6-23, 6:1-6, 11-8:28

Clay Water Pitcher



The Beginning

of the Kingdom

1 Sam 3:1-21, 7:1-8:22, 9:15-10:9





A Shepherd

for the People

1 Sam 16:1-23-17:58,

2 Sam 5:1-5, 7:1-17

Shepherd's Crook or Harp



The Threat

of False Gods

1 Kings 17:1-16, 18:17-46

Stone Altar



Faithfulness and Deliverance

2 Kings 18:1-19:19, 32-37

An Empty Tent



The Call to Holiness

Isaiah 1:10-20, 6:1-13, 8:11-9:7

Fire Tongs with Hot Coal



The Exile

Jer 1:4-10, 2:4-13, 7:1-15, 8:22-9:1-11





Habakkuk 1:1-2:1, 3:16-19

Stone Watchtower




and Rebuilding

Neh 1:1-2:8, 6:15-16, 13:10-22

City Wall



John the Baptist


Luke 1:57-80, 3:1-207:18-30

Scallop Shell



The Hope

for a Future

Luke 1:26-38

White Lily




Luke 1:39-56

Mother and Child




Luke 1:57-80

Pencil and Tablet




Matt 1:19-25

Carpenter's Square or Hammer




Matt 2:1-12

Star or Candle




Birth of the Messiah

Luke 2:1-20





The Son of God

John 1:1-18

Chi-Rho Symbol

Sunday, February 20, 2011

We live in a dangerous place...

What keeps us from leaving everything? What keeps us from reckless abandonment? I think that a large part of what holds us back is fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of the loss of ____ (time, stuff, friendships, etc.). Fear of putting yourself in physical harm. Fear.

I recently read a blog by someone who lives and works in Haiti. This is a great blog and his thoughts would apply to almost anywhere where people are serving the Lord. You can read this blog here!

I heard the question asked of me when I left the states for two weeks. For two weeks... "Is it safe?" I even asked myself.

But this question is something I rarely ask when I walk outside with my kids. When I go to the store. When I drive to my church building to Worship. I rarely ask, "Is it safe?" But what's scary to me is that today I realized it isn't.

It isn't safe here. Any sense of security I have is false security. It's not safe here.

We can be in danger of forgetting that the God who created the Heavens has made a sacrifice so that I can approach Him daily. I hear this all the time, and become numb. I rarely stop to stare at the sky. To stare at the work of His fingertips. To grasp that HE, who created everything, would have anything to do with me.

It's almost as if I've been out on the ocean so long that the sound of the waves and the rocking of the boat has become "normal". I forgot what silence sounded like. If I'm not careful, I can forget the first time I heard the "ocean"! I can forget that I don't deserve to be saved from myself. I can forget that I NEED HIM!

It's dangerous here. It's dangerous for me to live like I deserve this. Like it's normal for the GOD OF THE UNIVERSE to come so far, from a throne room, to dirty feet, to death on a cross to take MY place. To forgive sin that He had NOTHING to do with. To forgive me when I haven't even stepped out of my sin to seek Him.

It's dangerous to raise your kids here too. It terrifies me that I could teach them that the Bible is just normal. That the God who created the Heavens, who knows them intimately, is to be seen as "normal".

So as safe as I felt in my bed last night, I pray that my security is in Him. I pray that He would find me clinging to Him.

We, too, live in a dangerous place.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Homeschool again...

We began the journey of homeschool back in the Fall. Abbie is in PreK, so we've tracked our way through some fun themes. However, once November hit, we've just been hit and miss.

So we're back on! :) We're switching gears a little and trying something new! I'm hopeful that our adjustments will be worth it! I'm thankful that we're giving this a try this year so that by Kindergarten we'll know a little more about what works for our family.

Looking forward to the fun month of February!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Salvation as a destination or a piton...

"Pitons are metal spikes used by climbers and rescue workers. They are driven into cracks into rocks or ice to provide secure holds for climbing equipment. Using pitons is crucial for safety."

My pastor used pitons as an illustration in his sermon a few weeks ago as he talked about God's glory in "A Request for Glory Part 2" here.

As my husband and I were talking about the value of pitons in our spiritual walk, we discussed how we NEED to recount the deeds of the Lord. (Psalm 9:1) We are needy for placing pitons on the rock face as we climb. How quickly I fall. How easily I slip. How fast I could sink back to the bottom of the mountain, but the pitons are safely placed in the rock face, holding me steady to continue my climb. When I slip, I fall no further than the piton that is holding me. So, onward I climb.

If a mountain climber came to the mountain, stuck in his first piton, and chilled because he "climbed the mountain", his ascension would never move forward. This mountain climber, while dressed and ready, has not truly climbed the mountain.

For many years, I did just that. I stuck my piton in the mountain of God, and announced that I had "climbed the mountain". A few years later, I moved the piton a little to the right, since I was unsure of it's placement. I would inch upward, but only in slow ascent, because I thought that I had arrived. I had "climbed" this mountain. I was only looking down, not up. I wasn't looking to the mountain, to God. I am sad that the placement of my first piton was not accompanied by upward movement. I am sad that it took years to cover the ground upward. I'm sad that I made such a slow start. For if I climbed all my life, I wouldn't reach the heights of this mountain. I wouldn't conquer the surface of our God! He is too big, too rich, too deep to comprehend. But He is so good. The ascent is so worth it!

I thought that coming to a point of salvation was THE essential piece that allowed me to ascend to the top of the mountain. While I DO NOT want to down-play salvation, I want to recognize that it should be a piton in our ascension. It's the first piton, holding us fast to the mountain. But, in recent years, many more pitons have been nailed into the rock face! I pray that many more will come.

Let me recount SOME of His deeds as He has drawn me closer to Himself...

When I was five, I saw a glimpse of righteousness in my family, all who were walking in God's righteousness. I was overwhelmed with the sense of "missing it". I talked with my family, and came to a point where I wanted to follow in their footsteps. Piton.

I was sitting in a marriage Bible Study with my love and couldn't shake the thought... "I can't muster this. I can't make myself good. I can't take hold of this on my own." The things that I had been making checklists for (i.e. love, hope, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control) were things that I had tried to muster. Fruits of the spirit cannot be mustered, I assure you. You can get close, you can try really hard, and you can look pretty good, but I assure you that it is impossible to muster this! Piton.

I can't do this alone. I NEED others to see me. I realize that through my depravities, through the exposing of sin (and killing of sin), I am able to see God's mercy. I am able to taste grace. I am able to understand how I can be a part of a people, being real. (See old blog post from May 2008 here.) Piton.

I began reading the Law. I began finding places where I was labeled as guilty. I began to understand how my poor attempts at goodness got me as far as the end of the law. I am guilty. I am stained. I am doomed to accept the wrath of God. BUT GOD demonstrates His love through Christ! I have enjoyed this sweet, savory, rich scandal! I am wearing the righteousness of another. The very thing I can't muster IS the very thing He has given me to cover my nakedness. His righteousness covers me. Piton.

I am created for His glory. I am created to glorify Him. Every breath should be to glorify God. I glorify Him by enjoying Him. I know Him and I enjoy Him. God be glorified through me. Piton.

Thank you, God, for loving me and creating me. Thank you for sending Christ to die in my place. Thank you for giving me righteousness that is undeserved and perfect. Thank you for covering the nakedness of my sin. Thank you for drawing my eyes to you. Thank you for placing many in my life who walk so closely and openly with me. Who point me to you. God thank you for the scandal of the gospel. Thank you for the rich Word that you gave us to enjoy you. Thank you for a family that pours out grace towards me. I pray that you would make us more like you daily. I am absolutely blown away by you. I'm blown away by Your holiness, love, mercy, and grace. Continue to draw me to you! I want to lay hold of that which is taking hold of me! God, I love you.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Tower of Class of 2000

I don't like it when God convicts me. I hate to be wrong. I hate to admit that my ways are wrong and selfish and impure.

I love it when God convicts me. I pray that my heart will never be hardened against His wise correction. I love it that He loves me enough to drag me back to Him! I'm thankful that I can do nothing to deserve His mercy and grace and that He gives it abundantly.

This week I had the opportunity to study the Tower of Babel for our Wednesday Night Bible Study. I've never really read that scripture in depth. It's one of those stories that I heard as a child, so with every encounter with that specific scripture I just glanced over it without READing it!

This week God has brought a few things to my mind based on this story of a people who act just. like. me.

These people were concerned more about discussing their plans with the people around them, and not with the One who created them. They delighted in things that would make them feel better, make their name great, and put themselves on display.

Fast forward thousands of years to September 2010. I have the awesome opportunity to go hang out with a group of people that I spent Kindergarten through 12th grade with. Some of those people, I even went to a preschool with, as young as three. I haven't seen these people in ten years.

Enter sin.

I've been so overly concerned about impressing those people. I've been consumed with making sure my name is nice and shiny as I see them. I'm trying to dig up all the "amazing" things that I have done in the last 10 years, in their absence. I'm trying to think of the impressive places I've gone and insuring that I'll have my cute little family with me to prove my "worth".

Wow. Even reading back over this, I am totally ashamed that my focus has been so shallow.

But also, grateful for His mercy. Grateful for His grace. Grateful for His faithfulness. Grateful for His forgiveness.

"Delight yourself in the LORD,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday." Psalm 37:4-6

As God has convicted me of my selfish and impure motives, I am praying that He will remove every ounce of sin and replace it with His righteousness! He is my righteousness.

If I have something to boast in, IT IS CHRIST!

Praying that God gives me an opportunity to put His name on display this weekend. Praying that He will find me faithful as I encounter people that I haven't seen in ten years. Praying that my obedience in Him will eliminate me from the whole equation!

Delighting in Him today!!!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Happy Birthday, Pop!

It's not too often that I have a week that goes by without thinking of my Grandpop. After his death, he filled most of my thoughts throughout my day. I often wondered if I would ever be able to forget that weak, feeble man who lay in that bed. I wondered if I would forget the frail shadow of the man who stood as a giant in my life for years. I wondered if I would ever forget the sound of his last breath.

Pop passed away in October 2007 as we sat by his bed and sang hymns with him. He was an incredible husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.

As we sat by his bed, singing together, we watched him as he tried to sing with us. His mouth was just moving so slightly. But in my mind, I could hear his strong voice ringing in the heavens.

We prayed with him and read the Bible to him. He could have preached sermons out of that Bible, but he just lay listening to God's word. (In that Bible, he had marked every time he read through a scripture. There were marks all the way through to show that he had read it four times, with five and six times on some chapters/books. Amazing. Even more...this Bible was copywrited 1976. So this isn't even the Bible he began reading after he became a Christian at 30 years old. It's one that he got very late in life.)

We were singing "Old Rugged Cross", one of his favorites, as he took his last breaths. He died peacefully and quickly.

As we sang that hymn with him, I realized for the first time in my life that he had truly lived a life to glorify God. And he not only lived it, he shared it. Now Pop wasn't the kind of man you'd find on the street with a "Christian" witnessing tract in his hand. He was the kind of man that brought you into his garage to work on something to make your house better, your car drive easier, or your wife happier! He shared Christ by loving Him outloud all the time. Every neighbor that came to the funeral (particularly the ones I never met before) continued to talk about how they met Pop in his garage! They talked about how he encouraged them and showed them who God really was. There were several neighbors who started following Christ because God allowed them to see how Pop had been so real with them. He probably never officially invited them to church. He just loved on God and became an aroma of Christ to others.

It was later that I realized how sweet that "The Old Rugged Cross" was the last song my Pop's earthly ears would ever hear. He had come to a moment that he would "lay his trophies down" and "exchange them for a crown". His trophies...He 96 years old and was married for almost 62 years. He left behind his wife, 3 children, 8 grandchildren, and 16 great-grandchildren. He had lived life as a cowboy, army official, carpenter, mechanic, and so much more. He He was the most gentle and loving man! But as big as those trophies were, they compared nothing to that that thrown that moment with Christ our Lord. The trophies and accomplishments of this world, as Paul stated, are RUBBISH in comparison to Christ.

As I sat with him before he died, I got to tell him that we wouldn't mourn his loss. We couldn't mourn because the life he lived could only end in rejoicing. He showed us how to glorify God in his life, and we will continue to glorify God in his death. As I said it, I know he could hear every word. He couldn't say anything, but just nodded. He knew that he was at the threshold of new life.

What a joy and privilege it was to be his granddaughter. As a little girl, I always knew he was special. But as I have matured, I began to understand how he led this family to the foot of the cross. He fervently prayed for each of us and daily praised God for the life he was given. I am thankful for the legacy he has left us.

I haven't forgotten the frail figure he became in his last days, but I am more able to remember the other things too. I remember his stories. I remember his laugh. I remember his smile. I remember his song. I remember him.

And some days, I see someone at WalMart or on a tractor, that has some sort of feature that he had and I remember him again.

Last week would have been his 99th birthday. He was born in 1911. We really don't have a record of his birth, so we always celebrated it on September 1. Labor Day was ALWAYS Pop's birthday celebration!

Happy Birthday Pop! :)

The Old Rugged Cross

On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross
The emblem of suff'ring and shame
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain

So I'll cherish the old rugged cross
Till my trophies at last I lay down
I will cling to the old rugged cross
And exchange it some day for a crown.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

What you eat is what you are...

I grew up eating unhealthy foods. My idea of a great, healthy snack in high school was an over-processed bar with fake fruit filling in it (Nutrigrain Bar)! (I'm not dogging Nutrigrain Bars...I think they taste great. I just don't think that they should be my idea of "healthy"!) Fruits and vegetables weren't absent from my childhood, I just rarely enjoyed them. I would eat fruits more than veggies, and only if they were super sweet. I couldn't even eat a strawberry without pouring sugar on it. A salad was ludicrous for people who were under 30! And if I did have to eat a salad, let me assure you that it needed to be covered in cheese and lathered in Ranch dressing. You probably aren't surprised to know that I was a very unhealthy, overweight child in late elementary school. Even though my metabolism kicked in high gear in early middle school, and I was a walking stick through mid-high school, I always thought I was "fat" and I continued to eat completely unhealthy foods.

Now fast forward to my first pregnancy. Somehow, in my mind pregnant women were allowed to eat anything they wanted. I don't know where that thought came from. I may have possibly deduced that if pregnant women were eating pickles and ice cream, that just meant that they were allowed to eat anything they wanted. Anything. So, I did. I ate and ate and ate all the comfort foods from my childhood...cheesecake, snickers bars, oatmeal cookies (the fake kind with cream in the middle), donuts, oreos, ...the list could go on and on. (As a side note, if you are a "salty dude" like my husband, you may have a stomach ache by just looking at this list. But those of us with a sugar tooth know that these are the best foods on the planet!) It shouldn't surprise you that when I went in for my 7 month check-up and had gained 10 pounds in one visit, the only words that came out of my doctor's mouth when he looked at my weight gain were "Oh dang." I didn't know what I should be eating. I didn't know how to be eating healthy foods.

So as I stepped into Mommy-hood, how could I be prepared to feed my children healthy foods. It was easy at first because the baby food was a given. But once Abbie started eating solid foods, I never considered to feed her healthy foods. It was always the same things I ate. This started a bad pattern. I watched as other children her age were eating really healthy fruits and veggies. I even "tried" to give her these foods, which she just pushed away. I was frustrated, but didn't know how to fix the problem!

When I walked into the grocery store, I walked up and down the aisles looking for "meals". My idea of a "dinner" was a casserole made which was generally a bunch of processed foods scrambled together with cheese on top. (Now, everyone can have even more appreciation for my sweet husband, who put up with this kind of cooking for a few years. He really has put up with so much without throwing a fit or making a big deal of it.)

With all this said, you can understand that I feel like I just opened my eyes. I had some friends go on a cleanse a couple months ago. I started researching what that was. Because I was running a 5K at the end of May, I knew that I couldn't start on a "cleanse" but I did start to eat healthy foods. I started eating all natural (non-processed) foods. If it was processed, I wasn't going to even sniff it! I realized the freedom of going into the grocery store and shopping in the outer edges. When I walk into the store now, my list consists of produce (fruits AND veggies), meat, and dairy! (We buy bread for sandwiches and stuff, but I hope to start making my own soon.) I'm not turning into a healthy eating food freak...yet. :) But I see such an importance to the foods I eat and the foods I give my kids.

I started a cleanse 7 days ago. I feel better. My complexion is so much better. I'm excited to feel the difference fresh, healthy food makes for me. I now know how to make fruit/veggie smoothies! I am learning how to cook different veggies that I never even considered buying! (I must admit this cleanse came to a screeching hault yesterday due to a friend's 30th birthday! But I am back on the cleanse starting today. We'll see how far I go this time! I'm hoping for no more parties!!!)

My kids are eating healthy! They eat carrots! They eat apples! They eat salads! They eat sweet potatoes! They try new things!!!!! Sometimes I laugh when I see what's on their plate for lunch or dinner. I laugh because I can't believe that MY kids are eating healthy foods!! :)

I'm thankful for new beginnings. I'm thankful for a chance to start over! I'm thankful that we're doing this now and giving our kids the chance that I never had at this early of an age!