Wednesday, December 30, 2015

"I must die."

This blog has taken a different turn lately, eh? It's been a while since I've written a post about something little like the way icicles form on street signs or something delicious like a new recipe I've tried. For some reason I've wanted to write about the stuff God is teaching me. I feel like he's really been laying it on thick lately so I thought I'd share some more.

I've mentioned before that my friend April and I are (slowly) going to through the book A Gospel Primer by Milton Vincent. I have been convicted, in the best, most gracious way that only God can convict, that even though I don't want to admit it, I'm living for the world, not Christ and his kingdom. I've been reading about how the gospel isn't just a story of Christ's crucifixion but also the story of my own crucifixion. Here are some bits and pieces from the book because he says it way better than I ever could... why reinvent the wheel.

"The Bible tells me that I, too, was crucified on Christ's cross. My old self was slain there, and my love affair with the world was crucified there too."

"He insists that every hour be my dying hour, and He wants my death on the cross to be as central to my own life story as is Christ's death to the gospel story."

"Crucifixion hurts. In fact, its heart-wrenching brutality can numbs the senses. It is a gasping and bloody affair, and there is nothing nice, pretty, or easy about it. It is not merely death, but excruciating death."

"I should expect every day to encourage circumstantial evidence of God's commitment to my dying; and I must seize upon every God-given opportunity to be confirmed more fully to Christ's death, no matter the pain involved."

"These facts surrounding Christ's resurrection stand as proof positive that God will not leave me for dead, but will raise me similarly, if I would only allow myself to die."

This was one of the things that hit me hardest... It's so practical and relevant and shows me where I'm really struggling with dying to myself.

"When my flesh yearns for some prohibited thing, I must die. When called to do something I don't want to do, I must die. When I wish to be selfish and serve no one, I must die. When shattered by hardships that I despise, I must die. When wanting to cling to wrongs done against me, I must die. When enticed by allurements of the world, I must die. When wishing to keep besetting sins secret, I must die. When wants that are borderline needs are left unmet, I must die. When dreams that are good seem shoved aside, I must die."

"Not my will, but Yours be done."

This is what I'm learning. God's patiently chipping away at my sin... There's nothing "nice, pretty, or easy about it" - it's an "excruciating death" - but it's what needs to be done to help grow me into the godly woman I was created to be.

"So, come what may, I'll let no one take this death from me!"

Friday, December 25, 2015

Joy to the world!

Today was Christmas! I love Christmas. I love the traditions, the food, the gifts, the songs, the lights, the family... I love it all. This year felt a little different than most though. New people in the family, hard stuff going on in the world, some traditions being broken... I found myself feeling a little sad as I drove to my aunt and uncle's house for our traditional Christmas dinner. I was sad because I have made Christmas this sacred (unfortunately a secular version of sacred) thing in my head and I was really down when the reality didn't live up to the expectations. There I was, driving down 435, getting teary on the highway because my Christmas day wasn't everything I'd hoped.

Then "Joy To The World" came on the radio... and it hit me, smacked me in the face actually, that today (and every day) should be a day of joy because God sent his son Jesus to this earth to live, die, and be resurrected to save us! That's what Christmas is all about... Not about tradition, or family, or friends, or gifts, or any kind of perfection. It's about God fulfilling his promises and the birth of Christ and what that ultimately means for our salvation. That's something to be joyful about!

So there I was, driving down 435, still getting teary but for reasons of joy. Christ was born and that's something to celebrate! God was gracious enough to send me this gentle reminder on my drive today so I thought I'd pass it on just in case your Christmas day didn't go as you had hoped and you needed a gentle reminder as well.

I hope today was a Christmas day full of joy celebrating the birth of our gracious, wonderful Savior. And if it wasn't, it's not too late... 

Merry Christmas!

(PS The version of Joy To The World That I was listening to is by Paul Baloche and it's a really good one. I included the cheesy YouTube video and lyrics, just for kicks.)

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King.
Let every heart prepare Him room,
heaven and nature sing,
let heaven and nature sing,
let heaven and heaven and nature sing.

Joy to the world, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
while fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains,
repeat the sounding joy,
repeat the sounding joy,
repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

Hear the joyful sound of our offering
as Your saints bow down, as Your people sing.
We will rise with You, lifted on Your wings,
and the world will see that:

Our God saves, our God saves.
There is hope in Your name.
Mourning turns to songs of praise;
our God saves, our God Saves.

You rule the world with trust and grace,
and make the nations prove
the glories of Your righteousness,
the wonders of Your love,
the wonders of Your love,
the wonders, wonders of Your love. 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Christmas cards.

I've received a few Christmas cards over the last few weeks. This is nothing new... I've gotten Christmas cards in the past... but something must be in the air this year because every time I've received one I've been overcome with how lucky/fortunate/blessed I am to have all these wonderful people in my life. Family, friends from college, friends from this stage of life... God has surrounded me with some pretty incredible people and these Christmas cards with their beautiful faces have been great reminders.

I hope your Christmas cards are bringing to a place of thankfulness and joy like they have been for me.

(Less than a week until the big day!)

Monday, December 7, 2015

Christmas is coming!

Man, a lot has happened in the last month since I wrote my "joy not found in our circumstances" post. God has really made me practice what I preached... Can't say I've been rock solid through the last month... not even close. But I sure am glad I've got Jesus. That's all I can say...

On a lighter note, the wonderful holiday that is Thanksgiving has come and gone and we are now in the Christmas season and I've been loving it. Here are a few things I've been loving lately:

Yes, I know, everyone loves their Christmas tree... but I really love my Christmas tree. Any excuse to have white lights on all the time is a good thing in my eyes.

Speaking of Christmas lights - I put some out on our porch this weekend. Normally I'm all about the classy white but I decided to get crazy and went with colored. Whaaaat? Watch out Mansions Apartments - we're festive.

I made the mistake of trying Talenti gelato about a month ago and I'm really regretting it... It's dangerous. 1. It's expensive. 2. It's delicious. 3. It comes in tiny containers so you feel like you can eat the whole thing when you truly shouldn't. 4. I bought the Old World Eggnog variety this time - and I'm a fan.

People at work call me a hipster. Clearly they've never been to Austin or anywhere remotely hipster-ish but I'm not very hipster. I do love me some Sufjan Stevens though (I'm not even sure he's hipster anymore - if I was hipster, I would know.) His Christmas album(s) is one of my favorites.

I get to wrap gifts! I've wrapped every gift I've purchased so far and I'm eagerly waiting for the rest of them to come in the mail. I asked Josh tonight, "Do you have any gifts I can wrap for you?" Yep, I'm that great... :)

Most importantly, it's advent season. A lot of you may not know much about advent, but it's not just one of those calendars where you get to eat a piece of chocolate every day leading up to Christmas. It's actually a time to focus and prepare your hearts for the coming of Christ. I got to help with the advent service my church put on a few weeks ago and it was quite possibly one of the coolest things I've been a part of. Advent. Christ coming to the earth to live, die, and be resurrected for our sins. Now that's something to get excited about...