Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Kiss me, I'm Irish!

Kiss me, I’m Irish! You’ve seen the T-shirts, heard advertisements for pubs serving green beer, and spotted shamrocks on everything from napkins to neckties. But unless you’re Irish, you may not think St. Paddy’s day has anything to do with you. What if I told you that St. Patrick, Patron Saint of Ireland and the centerpiece of St. Patrick's Day celebrations everywhere, was not even Irish? It’s true! St. Patrick was born in Scotland to Roman parents. Around age 14 Patrick was kidnapped and taken to Ireland as a slave. During his captivity he turned to prayer, and it was God who revealed to him a way of escape. At 20 years old he escaped and was reunited with his family. That alone would be a story in itself, but that is not the end of Patrick’s journey.
In 433 Patrick was ordained as a Bishop, and chose to return to carry the Gospel to Ireland. He spent about 40 years preaching and ministering in Ireland, the very country that had robbed him of so many years with his family. He is said to have used the shamrock that blanketed the country as a simple tool to explain the Holy Trinity.
St. Patrick’s Day offers a wonderful opportunity to teach kids about forgiveness. He could have been bitter and angry, but Patrick chose instead to share the love of God with the people of Ireland. Need some ideas on how to get the message across to your kids? Here are just a few ways to celebrate in a meaningful way:
· Wear green, and remember that green represents life eternal
· Share shamrock cookies, stickers, or plants. Use them to talk about the Trinity
· Ask God who you may need to forgive today
This year celebrate, because you’re just as Irish as St. Patrick!

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Friday, February 11, 2011

I love your Guts

Well girls, it's that time of year again. You know the time I'm talking about, when the entire planet seems to be covered in puffy pink and red hearts and lace. Cupids and bows line the shelves of every store, and anything you want can be found in a chocolate-covered version. Everywhere you look things are wapped in "cute," bundled in"adorable," and tied up in "precious."
Last week I had the rare priviledge of running errands with only one of my three children. That alone is a Valentines miracle. I spent the afternoon with my youngest, lovingly known as G, a rough-and-tumble kindergartener who always has a way of making me laugh. He can be down-righ hilarious, and almost equally profound. On this particular day we had stopped by the grocery store, and were almost immediately drawn to to the Valentine aisle. As we looked at the teddy bears, candy, and of course boxed cards for the Kindergarten class, he suddenly blurted out, "Mom! Did you KNOW that our hearts don't really look like Valentine hearts? They are really just guts and stuff!"
He had recently learned this fact at school, and couldn't have been more surprised that our hearts don't really look like hearts at all. After an extended anatomy discussion in the stationary aisle, 14 varieties of character Band-Aids caught his attention and he moved on. As we finished our shopping I couldn't help but think about the profound statement my little man had made. Our hearts aren't cute, pink, tidy packages. They are guts and stuff. They are not always pretty. They are messy and complicated. All of the other people in the store were walking around with complicated, painful "guts" beating inside them, and I was suddenly more aware of it.
As we enter into the "Season of Love" so many of us and those around us are hurting. Maybe this Valentine's Day you are not feeling the love for your loved ones. Maybe you feel alone. Maybe someone close to you has suffered loss of some kind. Maybe you have some really un-lovable people in your life. Maybe things are absolutely perfect for you and you wonder how long it will last. Whatever your situation looks like, one thing is for sure. You, the people you love, and your circumstances don't fit into a sweet little heart shaped box with ruffles on it, and that is okay. No matter how you feel deep down in your heart (or guts), you have a LOVE who "takes great delight in you" (Zeph 3:17).
My hope and prayer for you and me is that over the next few days we are truly able to enjoy the long, wide, high and deep love God has for us. He is downright crazy about you. As you go about this week, look for evidence that He loves you. It is everywhere! And while you're at it, why not give the people in your life some evidence that He loves them too. This Valentines Day take the opportunity to really love someone, guts and all.

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Sunday, January 16, 2011

What Aisle is the Joy On?

Did anyone else skip New Year's resolutions entirely this year, or is it just me? When the Christmas presents were unwrapped, the cookies were eaten (every last crumb), and the tree was put away...well, at least I meant to put it away before New Year's seemed that I didn't even have the energy to think about making resolutions, much less keep them. I typically start every new year planning to exercise more, clean more, pray and read my Bible more, have people over for dinner more. More, more, MORE! But this year I didn't seem motivated to care about any of it.
Now, being the introspective, analytical thinker I am, my lack of desire to improve, to do more of everything this year really bothered me. At first, I simply wrote it off as general fatigue. This fall I started graduate school, and I am teaching, raising three kids, and walking with my husband through a tough season in his career. But over time I came to realize that I am exhausted in more that only my body. I feel tired in my soul. Somehow, somewhere I misplaced my joy. I don't mean happiness, the kind that comes when you get a fun surprise, and goes when that surprise is on the scale or in the bank statement. I mean deep, satisfying, soul nurturing joy.
I realized mine was missing last week when I attended the funeral of a dearly loved uncle. He was only in his fifties, and had so much life left to live. I watched his wife of about 30 years raise her hands in praise to the Lord for His goodness to them. I saw the light that was still in her eyes, even in the midst of her sorrow. Images of my last visit with him, only a week before his passing, were fresh in my mind. He knew he had little time left, and that many of his dreams for his life were dying with him, yet his joy was undeniable. He could not stop talking about how good God had been to him in his life, and wanted to enjoy every moment of his remaining time on Earth. Even as his body was failing, his soul was prospering.
I want a big, fat helping of that kind of joy. I want to wrap up in it and parade it around for all to see. Wouldn't it be nice to hop in the car, zip over to Target, and ask, "What aisle is the joy on?" (OK you grammarians, I know that sentence was not grammatically correct...) It would be great to just go pick some up and bring it home, right? Well, it's not quite that easy, but I think I have found the solution. It's presence. No, not presents. Presence. God's presence. Psalm 16:11 says, "You have made known to me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy..." As I have rolled this verse around in my head, I have been reminded of the simple truth that God is always present. Yes, always. He is present when I am doing laundry, driving to work, buying groceries, and walking the dog. But how often do I notice His presence? How often do I acknowledge it? I have a sneaking suspicion that as we open our eyes and become fully aware of His presence the joy refill cannot help but happen. His presence is FULL of joy, and when we intentionally enjoy His presence, we also get full of His joy. So, I challenge you this month to join me in noticing His presence. He's there. See Him. Feel Him. Be full.

BetterChick would love to hear from you! Feel free to comment below each post. If you receive posts by email, simply click on the title of the post to go to the comment section. If you are not a Google or Blogger member, comment as an anonymous user! Thanks!