Monday, December 28, 2009

In Other Words Tuesday - Prepared for the Lord?

“Just as Our Lord came into human history from outside,
so He must come into me from outside.
Have I allowed my personal human life to become a “Bethlehem” for the Son of God?”

by ~ Oswald Chambers
My Utmost for His Highest
I find this quote very.. intriguing (for lack of a better word)... And I suspect God is trying to get my attention. I, and I'm sure I'm not alone in this, rarely give thought to Bethlehem. Oh, sure, I sing the song, I know that's where Jesus was born, as prophesied, but I don't usually think on it much more than that.. and here's this quote, following on the heels of a sermon our Pastor did this Advent. This year Glenn did an Advent series titled "Once Upon A Christmas". The first week was "Once Upon A Christmas, Far away in Bethlehem" (and you can listen to that sermon at the Timberview website, Dec. 3, 2009)
I find myself wishing I'd paid more attention to that sermon! :::chuckle::: One of the points I do remember though: Bethlehem was a little town, a mere six miles out of Jerusalem, three blocks long, blink and you miss it. It was a small little place. BUT it was the birthplace of Jesus. As a town, it didn't seem very significant, but it was certainly significant to God.
I can relate with THAT! I often don't feel significant. It's hard for me to remember that I matter to God. But I do, even, ESPECIALLY when I don't "feel" it.
Also, Bethlehem was a town that MADE ROOM for the birth of Christ. Oh, granted, it wasn't the most luxurious of settings. But at the end of the day (or the beginning of it) Mary and Joseph wrapped the "babe in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger." Bethlehem DID make room.
Do I make room? Do I open up my heart to Jesus? When I'm too busy and full, as Bethlehem's population had swollen due to the census, do I still find a place for Christ?
I'd love to just say Yes. But I'm very convicted by the fact that I haven't done a good job of that lately. I have neglected to open up my life, to prepare a place for the Lord lately. I'm grateful that we have a forgiving, graceful God who is always willing to give us second (and second million) chances.
Head on over to Miriam Pauline's Monologues to see what she and others had to say about this quote!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Six Word Saturday - Post-Christmas

Another Christmas with Seth in Heaven

Christmas was bittersweet and beautiful this year. You can read about our Christmas Highlights here.

CHRISTmas highlights 2009

Well, so much for doing better blogging.. I got a bit bogged down by the holiday preparations, and I worked a few more days in December than usual. I want to share, though, some highlights of our CHRISTmas season.

Sean & Cary were both in the kids' Christmas musical put on by our church. Sean was "Wise man #2" and Cary was an angel - no typecasting there! Sean had a few lines and did great. Cary had a line said in unison with all the angels. They did GREAT. I was/am quite proud of them. Our church had a real baby Jesus and during the second service performance, he smiled at the wise men! Sean was completely tickled by that..

Sean is part of a special Sunday School class at our church for 5th and 6th graders. They did a "sand art" presentation for our Christmas eve service. Sean "drew" the star. They did an amazing job with that!

During our Christmas Eve service, I got to hold a 4 or 5 month old baby boy. It was magical. And bittersweet. I always miss Seth but am so grateful that we have the gift of our Lord from God and do not grieve without hope. So I got to hold this sweet, easygoing, smiley baby boy. Kayleigh took turns "holding" him (with help) on her lap. Sean took a turn or two. Afterwards, I gave the baby back to his mommy and Kayleigh said "OUR baby is in Heaven."

Also, during Christmas Eve service, Cary and Kayleigh were GOOD. REALLY good. They were quiet, aided by the fact that our children's pastor was handing out candy! But I was very pleased and impressed by their behaviour. At one point in the service, our pastor asked "Who needs forgiveness? Raise your hand" and everyone in the church raised their hand. Except Kayleigh. Who raised BOTH of her hands as high above her head as she could! Totally made me smile!

Christmas morning I didn't even have to open my eyes until 6:30am! I missed Kayleigh's first glance at the tree but NOT the "AHHH" gasp that came out of her when she did see it. The first things the kids got to do was open their stockings. Kayleigh was so cute, she pulled all the contents out of hers. "CANDY!" "A princess toothbrush" "A present" and she set the wrapped present aside. "Honey, you can open that." "Not right now" she said. Very cute. She saved up all the wrapped presents and had to be persuaded to open them! The kids had a great Christmas. We were very blessed this year and were able to provide and helped to provide a very nice Christmas for the kids. Cary got a skateboard that he's SLEPT with two nights in a row! Sean got a few books and he's been a reading maniac.

MY favorite gift was one my sister sent me. She took a jewelry making class and made us a lovely set of ornaments.

See the ornament on the lower right? It's for Seth. I was VERY touched that my sister included our Seth.

My mom and step-dad and grandma came over for Christmas dinner and we had a lovely evening.

But the BEST part of the day? Christmas morning, after the kids had opened their stockings, but before presents, we sang "Happy Birthday" to Jesus. It warmed my heart to hear my kids singing with such enthusiasm and sweet voices!

We had a lovely holiday. It had it's bittersweet moments of course. I continue to miss Seth. He is always in my heart and my mind. I did at one point find myself thinking "I have a son celebrating Christmas with Jesus in Heaven!" When I'm doing well, I can count it as a blessing.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Improving bloggy communication

First another prayer request. This mom linked up to the Walking with you Christmas post I talked about here. Kim at Happily Henninger is 10 weeks pregnant and baby had been diagnosed with cystic hygroma. Right now, it's a waiting period and and I know how hard that is. Complicating that for Kim is the fact that her first born son was still-born at 30 weeks. Please pray for their family!

I stumbled across a way to improve communication between me and you! (Thanks to Cate at Show My Face who host Six-Word Saturdays). When you leave a comment on my blog, I receive it in an email. I do try and visit blogs as I can. Sometimes though I want to respond to the comment. I know some bloggers respond IN the comments but that feels awkward to me. But there IS a way we can make it work! Simply, you set your blogger profile so that when I get the comment in my email, I can hit return email and email to YOU! (As opposed to "No reply blogger" or whoever that other email is).. I'm not very tech savvy and I switched my settings in about two seconds. Cate linked to a GREAT tutorial and you can find that here.

Thanks so much! I'm looking forward to being able to more efficiently respond to your comments!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Prayer Requests for my friends

I would like to put a couple of prayer requests out there... I know that a couple of my "four faithful followers" (since I'm sure I've been deserted by everyone else) believe in the power of prayer.

I don't know the pain and anguish of dealing with rebellious teenagers. I DO know the pain of losing a child and I have two friends who feel like their children are slipping away from them. I would prefer not to give their names since I haven't asked permission (yet).

My friend A's daughter, C, is suffering from some severe depression and has been suicidal. They are seeking out counseling but I know that her mom is worried. Please hold them up in your prayers. C is a younger teenager, still living at home.

In the other case, my friend M has a grown adult daughter. The daughter is pursuing her dreams, several states away from her parents, with the support of her parents. She has made some choices that her parents are fearful about and not been honest with her parents.

In both cases, I know the moms would appreciate prayers for peace, guidance and discernment. In "C's" case, prayers for the healing of her heart and mind, that she would see herself for who she is in Christ... I think actually, that same prayer could be said for both daughters.

Thank you friends for joining me in these intentions.

Walking with You - through Christmas...

Kelly at The Beauty of Sufficient Grace is hosting a Christmas edition of "Walking with You", encouraging us to share how we remember our lost loved ones at Christmas time. This will be our 2nd Christmas without Seth and I'm still figuring out what I want to do, how best to honor and remember our sweet boy.

Last year, our first Christmas without Seth, would have also been Seth's first Christmas with us. I buy each of my kids a Hallmark ornament for Christmas. For their first 5 years, I buy the "my (1st, 2nd, etc) ornaments" and for the years after that, I buy the ornaments designed to have the school pictures in them. So I think I will get the first 5 years for Seth, as I have for the boys and am procuring for Kayleigh..

Last year's is already hanging on the tree. It looks like this: In addition to that, the boys and I picked out a Christmas stocking last year to hang and remember Seth. It's a Winnie the Pooh Baby's 1st Christmas and will hang on our "stocking tree" (we don't have a mantel) with all our other stockings each year.

Additionally, I received last year, and already this year, a couple of "memorial" ornaments from friends. I SO appreciate others remembering Seth and our loss and those are also hanging on our tree.

The boys and I both last year and this picked out Toys for Tots. I let each boy choose a toy they would have bought for Seth if he was with us for Christmas. Last year, we picked "baby toys". This year, Sean picked a "See N Say".. Cary picked an "Etch a Sketch".. Yeah, Seth might not have been ready for that one THIS Christmas, but I'm sure he would have been by next Christmas and I appreciate the effort!

It's become a tradition in our family to take the cousins to see Santa, when my sister is here for Thanksgiving with my nephew Jack. This is last years picture (when we were still numb and I hadn't yet started reading blogs and seeing what others do to remember their cherished lost babies):

And this years:

Did you see the difference? I mean, beside the fact that the kids are all bigger (and can you believe they're all THAT much bigger in YEAR? Where does time go?) We decided to take a stuffed animal or Seth's "magic blankie" to "represent" him. The boys chose to take a "surgery bear". This bear was given to us a the hospital, we got one before each of Seth's surgeries. They use them as educational tools and the boys, Cary especially, have shown a particular attachment to the surgery bear.. At any rate, that's something I'd like to add to our traditions..

I don't have any plans to do anything special at the cemetery but the boys usually like to pick out a "gift" at the dollar store and we take those "for" Seth.

So far, those are the things we're doing to honor and remember Seth. I suspect it'll change over the years and evolve but we're still early in this journey. Head on over to Kelly's to see what others are doing to remember the loved ones no longer with them.

I just want to add a couple of things... Christmas last year was SO painfully awful. I Really LOVE the poem ("I"m spending Christmas with Jesus this Year") that Kelly shared on her blog, and I find it/found it quite comfortiing. But it didn't/doesn't erase the fact that we don't get to have Seth with us for Christmas. I am comforted that he is in Heaven but Christmas, being all about a baby boy, was not an easy time. I am hoping/praying that this year is better.. God has begun healing my heart. I am calmer about Christmas but I don't expect to necessarily sail through. If you know someone who's missing a loved one this Christmas, even if it's not the first year, REMEMBER them. Let your friend or family member know that you care, that they aren't entirely alone in their hurt and sadness.

I do have GREAT hope. I KNOW that Seth is in Heaven and we will see him again. We couldn't have that hope without Christmas! Christ had to be born in order to save me and I am grateful. I don't know that I focused on THAT part of Christmas as much before Seth as I do now. Than you, God, for the gift of Christmas!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

In Other Words Tuesday - Too Busy?

“Martha was too busy for Jesus,
and that left her too busy to be with Jesus

by ~ Jon Walker
Growing with Purpose: Connecting with God Every Day
Well, I picked a fine Tuesday to come back. This week, Debbie at Heart Choices is hosting In Other Words Tuesday. And she picked a doozy!
I am very convicted by the above quote. I'm sure you know the story found in the 10th chapter of the Gospel of Luke, verses 38-40. As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.

Did you catch that? Martha was DISTRACTED by all the preparations that had to be made. Okay, I admit, she was making preparations for the Lord Jesus. But how is that any different from the preparations I make this time of year? Let alone all the other not-anywhere-near-as-important-things I let distract me now and all the other days of the year. The things I busy myself with? Internet, bill paying, laundry, dusting. The things I can claim I do FOR Jesus? Church activities, volunteer work, running my kids back & forth to Bible quizzing practice & Christmas pageant rehearsal. Well, you get the idea. How often do I hit the floor running without taking the time to start my day with Jesus? More often than I care to admit!

And what does Jesus think of that business? Well, let's look at what he said to Martha when she complained: "Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things." (Luke 10:41) Worried & upset. Hmm, Jesus doesn't seem too worried about the "preparations."

What does He say about Mary? "But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:42) Mary has chosen THAT GOOD PART, the ONE THING NEEDED. As far as Jesus is concerned, the important thing was to be WITH Him and that was what Mary chose.

I WANT to be a Mary, I want to choose the ONE GOOD THING. I choose to make Jesus a priority. What about you?

Lord, help me to seek you first. If necessary, help me to push aside the "preparations" and choose the ONE GOOD THING, YOU. Amen.

Join Debbie at Heart Choices and see what others have had to say this week!