A New Challenge

Today, the day after Christmas, I remember a writing prompt I gave my students earlier this month.

Make a list of everything you want for Christmas.
 
My students got right to work, smiling at the ease of the task I had just assigned. Since Christmas was around the corner, they received this simple writing prompt as a gift.
After a few minutes, I asked my students to scan their lists: Can you imagine any of the items on your list still being a part of your everyday life five years from now? Ten years from now? Twenty years from now?
I did not ask these questions to bring judgment, for it is natural to desire and enjoy new things. Rather, I wanted my students to begin identifying the eternal over the temporal.
Then I passed out the following quote from our assigned reading that week. It’s from Donald Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. He examines the ploys of marketing and the seductive power of purchasing:
We watch a commercial advertising a new Volvo, and suddenly we feel our life isn’t as content as it once was . . . And so we begin our story of buying a Volvo, only to repeat the story with a new weed eater and then a new home stereo. And this can go on for a lifetime. When the credits roll, we will wonder what we did with our lives, and what was the meaning. (123)

When the credits roll, the stuff we accumulated will, in many ways, tell the story of our lives.

Jesus iterated the same idea when he gave the Sermon on the Mount:
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in a steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (New International Version, Matt. 6:19-21)

Where we invest our time and our money will tell the story of our lives.

* * * * *
Remembering my own writing prompt, I have gone back to reread every gift I have listed thus far – the gifts I am counting beyond one thousand. I wanted to see how many of them were something that can break or become outdated, something that moth and rust can destroy.
I found two. (#17 Squishy pillows; # 33 Pavers for a new patio)
I enjoy my squishy pillow. And I am thankful for the new patio my husband built. But I am taking on a new challenge. For the remainder of my one thousands gifts, I want to identify and name the gifts that cannot break or become outdated.
So on this day after Christmas, I am thinking about the gifts I received over the weekend. Which of these gifts will still be around – still be true – five years from now? Ten years from now? Twenty years from now?
These are the gifts I am most thankful for.
88. Watching my children play with their cousins
89. Birthing new traditions
90. Enjoying the day at home, without travel
91. Spending hours and days and weeks to prepare a surprise that will remain a favorite memory
92. Inviting neighbors to be “in” on the surprise
93. Seeing sheer joy in my firstborn
94. Remembering the joy set before Him and the reason He came: To give himself away
95. Recalling the moments this year when we have been called to give ourselves away
96. Hoping for the resurrection promise, the coming of new life, after a certain crucifixion
And, yes, I’ll admit it . . .
97. Watching – with my family – the Green Bay Packers win
What gifts from this Christmas are you most thankful for?
Any gifts that cannot break or become outdated?
While reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, I started keeping a list of the things I am thankful for. What are you thankful for today?

For Every Blogger Mom . . .

This is my porcelain doll.

This photo was taken 16 years ago – before the advent of digital cameras.

Just last week I wrote about how she was an easy baby. Now, Simone’s a teenager, and she’s still an easy kid. I’m thankful that we haven’t experienced the typical teen-rebellion years. Simone has a cheerful disposition, and she’s a delight to be around. But she’s not perfect.

This is the bedroom of that porcelain doll 16 years later.

To be fair (if that’s possible), Simone was babysitting past 9:00 p.m. the night before. And she had to leave the house by 6:00 a.m. the next morning to catch the school bus because her high school choir was singing at Disneyland that day.

But when I innocently wandered into her bedroom later that day, I was appalled.

This is not the condition my children’s bedrooms are “supposed” to be in.

Sigh.

When our kids are little, we have a lot more control over their lives.

We can fold their clothes neatly in their drawers.
We can select what they will wear each day.
We can brush their hair to a picture of perfection.

And as blogger moms, we can chronicle these day-by-day moments in photographs that give our readers the illusion that we’ve got it all together as moms.

I’ve probably been guilty of this too. But it’s not the kind of blogger mom I want to be.

I could have written about a few different things today.

I could have written about the blankets we made this weekend for children in a shelter for victims of domestic violence. (I have some cute pictures of my kids making the soft blankets.)

I also could have written about the evening we spent singing Christmas carols in a retirement home. (I have some sweet pictures of my kids wearing Santa hats while singing “Jingle Bells.”)

But after reading a post this weekend by a fellow blogger mom, I decided to share the real condition of my 16-year-old’s bedroom instead.

It’s a post every blogger mom should read. Because it’s funny. And because it’s true. In a tongue-in-cheek sort of way. (I laughed out loud and made my husband read it too.)

There are many good reasons for blogging. For me, I blog because I am committed to writing.

In many ways, I fall within the traditional stereotype of writers. I’m quiet. I’m introverted. I love books. And I’m usually the last person to talk whenever I’m in a group setting. But I am committed to this craft of shaping words to share my life – the ways I’ve failed, the ways I’ve grown.

I’m thankful for other blogger moms too and the ways they share their lives with candor and humor.

Take a moment and click over to read “The Perfect Blogger Mom and Her Perfect Kids: Park Edition” by Sarah Heineman.

Today, I’m thankful . . .

82. for the advent of blogs so writers like me can meet writers like you
83. for pictures that share both the joy and pain of real motherhood
84. for blogger moms who share real struggles

85. for messy rooms
86. for messy lives

87. for a Savior who came to clean up our real messes

(Don’t worry. Simone has a great sense of humor. She doesn’t mind me putting these pictures on my blog. She’s just glad I didn’t put them on her Facebook page.)

And for the record, her room is no longer in this condition.

And if my mom were to chime in – and if digital cameras had been around 25 years ago – I’m sure my mom could have shared some equally horrific pictures of my own bedroom at that age.

While reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, I started keeping a list of the things I am thankful for. What are you thankful for today?

4G Is Just the Beginning

I’m in the market for a new cell phone, but I keep putting it off. By the time you invest in one device (and take the time to learn how to use the darn thing), it is quickly surpassed by the newest, latest, and greatest!

So, should I wait until the 5G smart-whatever comes out?

I’ve done my homework, and for a while at least, 4G will maintain its reign.

But I know this: 4G is just the beginning.

Each “generation” of technology has transformed the way our world operates. Literally. We are living in an era of history making. Because of this, we like to think we’re special, but two thousand years ago, another 4Gs reshaped the world and transformed our lives even today.

1G: It started in Gethsemane. Jesus was born under some “special circumstances” and lived an extra-ordinary life, yet the ultimate purpose of his life led him to the garden of Gethsemane. Here, Jesus surrendered himself to his Father’s plan and subjected himself to his friend’s betrayal.

2G: The soldiers dragged him to Gabbatha, the court where Pilot agreed to let them crucify Jesus (John 19:13).

3G: Carrying his cross, Jesus climbed Golgotha (John 19:17). Beaten. Torn. Crucified. He gave his life. The ultimate, perfect sacrifice.

4G: They laid His body in the Grave and went home to the darkest Passover in history. When they returned, the grave was empty.

But 4G was the just the beginning.

The empty grave gave way to grace.

5G: Under the new covenant, Grace is not a physical locale but a spiritual one.

It doesn’t matter where we’ve been or what we’ve done. His grace washes sin’s grime and makes all things new. Including me. Including you. This gift of grace is for everyone – everyone who chooses to receive it.

“Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.” (Colossians 1:21-22)

To live a life without blemish and free from accusation is to live a life of grace.

6G: The mystery of this grace leads to Glory. Not our glory. His glory.

“To [the saints] God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27)

Christ in you, and in me, the hope of glory.

Because of these 6Gs, we can call the King of kings any time, any place.

* * * * *

Today, I am thankful for . . .

76. Gethsemane, the garden of surrender
77. Gabbatha, the court where God’s will is accomplished, despite people’s intentions
78. Golgotha, the execution where suffering transforms death into life

With gratitude, I am reminded of . . .

79. An empty Grave, a fulfilled promise
80. The mystery of His Grace
81. Christ, the hope of Glory

While reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, I started keeping a list of the things I am thankful for. What are you thankful for today?