Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas Spirit

It's that time of year when kids of all ages start making their lists and checking it twice. And, while I know that I am not supposed to be a fan of the commercialism of Christmas, I am a huge fan of the beauty and excitement and childlike faith that this season can bring.

I grew up believing in Santa Claus but not knowing a whole lot about God. It wasn't until jr. high/high school that I began attending youth group with friends and began my relationship with Him. And you know what, I have never confused the two.

One of my most vivid childhood memories is from a Christmas Eve night many years ago. The house was dark and everyone was asleep when I was awakened by the sound of something in the house. When I peeked around the corner into our living room, there was a fire in the fireplace and Santa was putting a present behind our lighted tree. I didn't want to get caught, so I scurried back to bed and pretended to be asleep. I even heard the bells on Santa's sleigh as he departed for the next house on his list.

There are few things you should know about this story. First of all, my mother would never have left the Christmas tree lights on overnight. I am not even sure the fireplace in our house was functional because I don't remember there ever being a fire in there with the exception of that night, and there was no dad, relative or family friend who would have dressed up to be Santa at our house in the middle of the night. You should also know that the doll that I had asked Santa for was in that exact spot when presents were opened that Christmas morning.

The faith of a child.

I am not a child anymore and there has been more than enough reality in my life to crush the spirit of the little girl who continues to believe that she saw Santa in her living room. My faith is now in a Savior who gave me the greatest gift ever - not a doll that I no longer possess - but His life for mine. A belief that there is more to life than any toy or gift that can be brought in a sleigh, and a promise that one day, instead of hiding from my benefactor, I will run into His open arms.

Jesus really is the reason for the season, but I never want to lose the childlike wonder I had for Christmas when I was a little girl peeking around the corner at the picture perfect Christmas scene unfolding in my living room. And who knows, I might even write a letter to Santa this year. Why? Because it is fun to believe. :)

Friday, November 18, 2011


Have you ever had a day, or week, or month when you have had so many things on your agenda that you can't seem to focus on any one of them? I am in one of those places right now. I have had so many things that I have wanted to post, and yet I either haven't had the time, or I have sat down to write and the words wouldn't come. I have come close to ceasing the blog, but it is still my thoughtful place, and I couldn't bring myself to do it.

Yesterday, I was blessed to attend Catalyst One Day in Chicago with several members of the PCC staff. It was an awesome experience. I fell in love with Catalyst last year when we were able to attend the full-blown conference in Atlanta. Yesterday we were treated to an all day event featuring Andy Stanley and Craig Groeschel, with a guest presentation with Bill Hybels of Willow Creek. The focus was on creating a healthy culture, and while I think we did gain a lot as a staff, I gained a lot personally as well.

I was excited about the event because Andy and Craig were my two favorite speakers at Catalyst last year. They have such a down to earth style of teaching and an honesty that is disarming. They shared a lot of great information that I am sure we will process in terms of if and how it applies to Pathway, but I was also challenged to rethink my priorities.

I struggle to disconnect. I don't know if it is the whole women's spaghetti brain thing or my insecurity, but I have trouble leaving work at work. I have been doing much better about leaving the actual work there, but it is hard to reign in my brain and push out all the work stuff to really refresh and be present at home.

That has to stop. There are so many other things that are important to me that are being pushed aside. Moving into the holidays, I want to be able to decorate, bake, shop and not feel like I have to cram it in here and there. With a 25 hour a week schedule, one wouldn't think that would be a problem, but it has been becoming so.

I have also been reminded of the importance of relationships. It's not that I had forgotten, but in the busyness of the everyday, relationships often get taken for granted. And then a friend (or two) is diagnosed with cancer. A family member is hospitalized with a life-threatening condition. A friend moves away. I run into a close friend and realize that I haven't talked with her in months, or I realize I haven't taken the time to visit another close friend who lives far away in years.

I love my job. I love the people with whom I get to serve. I love our church. But...I need to to be making time in my life for my job and lately I have been taking time from my job to live my life. This is not the culture I want to create for my family, or for myself. And the sad part is, I am fully responsible for it. It isn't expected of me. I have just allowed more and more of my thoughts to be taken captive by work than by home.

Yesterday's conference was more than a catalyst in name only. It was the catalyst I needed to realize what I was allowing to happen to make it stop. Are Andy and Craig still my favorites? Absolutely. I think I may owe them my life.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sometimes I Forget...

...that I have fibromyalgia. That the constant pain that I feel isn't going to go away, and that it is something that I need to manage.

...that on top of the fibromyalgia I have bone on bone in my neck and in my lower back. That the constant pain affects my moods, but that it can't control them.

...that I have a child with special needs, and although he is fully functional and many aren't aware of all that we go through, it is a difficult road to walk.

...that I am 45. That my mom may not always approve of decisions I make, but that I have to do what is right for me.

...that I struggle with a seasonal affective disorder which sneaks up and drags me down.  That I need to watch for the symptoms and catch it before it gains control.

...that I have amazing family and friends that are standing behind and believe in me even when I struggle with the deep-rooted insecurity and fear. That my value to them in not found in what I do or how I feel, but in who I am...and who I am is ok.


God never forgets. He looks at me through eyes of love, and He wants the very best for me. He wants to carry those burdens that I tend to hold on to - thinking of them as "my cross to bear." Does it hurt Him when He asks to carry those burdens, but I hang on to them? Is He disappointed? Wasn't His cross enough?

The best part is, regardless of how I feel...regardless of the circumstances...regardless of how tight I am holding on, He is right there waiting for me to let go and let Him. And in that, there is freedom to be found. All I have to do is...remember.

Friday, November 4, 2011


Sometimes I have so much going on inside my head that I have no room left for words. - unknown