Tag Archives: gifts

What? No Lasagna or Spaghetti????

Instructed by the king, they set off. Then the star appeared again, the same star they had seen in the eastern skies. It led them on until it hovered over the place of the child. They could hardly contain themselves: They were in the right place! They had arrived at the right time!
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It’s that time a year again when everyone is running around last minute trying to find the perfect gift for everyone they know.  Some are spending money they really don’t have to spend and others are wondering where they will even get the money in the first place.  Others are finding themselves in depressions because they don’t have anyone to even spend Christmas with.  How did this holiday season get so out of hand?  Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas. I love the colors and lights.  I love the decorated trees and the presents under them.  But in reality is it just a cover up?
This may be a little raw for some to read and it may seem kinda on the sad side of things, but this is a blog about my real life, so here it goes.  For the several years in my first marriage we just scraped by ALOT.  Our children did not always have the newest of things or the latest contraption but I can assure you, Christmas was their time of year.  Feeling guilty for all of the things we could not get during the year, we over did it on Christmas.  We would spend our whole pay check plus any bonuses on Christmas..not leaving any finances for bills.
Did the kids have a great Christmas?  Sure did.  Did all of those “things” really mean anything in the the long run?  What my family needed was a year full of love not a one day show.  I look back at my dysfunctional past and I just want to scream!  I feel like we robbed our children of a true representation of a family.  I sometimes wish I could go back and change things and then I realize it all happened and nothing can change the past, we can only move forward.
So now, we don’t make a huge effort on Christmas to get gifts.  We have a set amount to spend and that’s it.  But one thing we do have still is each other.  We have good memories and bad and that holds us together.  It really caught me off guard this year when I forgot a very important tradition.  I called my daughter and suggested that we do Chinese for dinner this year and I heard her disappointment when she simply said, “What? No lasagna and spaghetti this year?”  How could I have completely forgotten a 19 year tradition?  I still remember when Alex (my son) was four years old and I had made lasagna and garlic bread for Christmas Eve with a beautiful candle lit dinner.  We were about half way done with dinner and he piped up and said, “Mom, can we do this every year?”
So every year since we have had lasagna and spaghetti ( the spaghetti started when Alex was about 12 and suddenly didn’t like lasagna) and I can’t believe I almost forgot this year.  But what does this say?  It says it really wasn’t about the overload of presents all along, it was about being with family and enjoying the little things which didn’t cost much.  It was about feeling loved, accepted and valued.
I pray each of you had a wonderful Christmas no matter how you celebrated.  I pray that all have seen Jesus this year in some way shape or form.  I pray 2015 will be a year of many blessings and grace!  
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Time to Move: Full Force

048Psalm 37:23
The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.

Well the wedding is over.  The honeymoon was an awesome respite.  Now it is time to see what God is going to do next with our ministry.  But before we get to that part, let’s see just how awesome our God can be.  First of all, John and I are still standing on the fact that we did nothing to force this union.  God gave each of us the love we have for each other and we just walk daily in faith.  God has spent a lot of time on the littlest of details for this wedding and I will do my best to paint this picture for you!

First was the rings.  John prayed for God to give him the perfect ring for me and God provided.  I had a ring picked out for John but when I went to go get it, it was gone, so I too prayed and God provided again.  Our rings were gifts to us as a couple from two separate people in our lives.  Then came the date.  We had set a date in October but it just kept having issues.  We listened for God’s voice and set a new date for 12-7-12 and everything just feel right into place.  Next came the photography.  Yup, God made that possible too.  A friend of ours gave his old engagement ring, yes, gave away, in exchange for photography services.  The dress and his suit were gifts.  John and I made all the flowers and the wedding cake, so not much expense went into this wedding at all.

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The wedding was perfect.  There was an issue with the songs at first but we decided God needed someone to hear the song that was accidently played.  I was able to surprise John with his favorite worship song during special music.  Our sand jar was the perfect representation of our new union.  Friends of ours painted portraits of lions for display.  God was in EVERY aspect of our marriage.  And He still provided things afterwards.  We got discounts on both of the hotel stays.  The most favor though was at the second place we stayed.  God changed our plans bright and early Saturday morning and we were headed to  this quaint Bed and Breakfast only a short drive just north of us.

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From the moment we arrived at The Shack, we were filled with peace and joy.  As John shook the hand of the man who was the manager, he was overtaken by the love of the Father Himself.  After handing us the key to the perfect room God had waiting for us I began to feel the love as well.  It was room 151.  The ones represented John and myself, the 5 represents the 5 fold ministry we are about to enter into as a married couple and all the numbers add up to 7 which is our wedding day and the number for completion.  How cool is our God to focus on every detail of our marriage?

To top all of this off, one of the most perfect gifts we received was a set of mugs, not just ordinary mugs, prayed for mugs. John had been on a journey for some time now for mugs for us to have in the morning for our coffee.  As we unwrapped this precious gift we just sat and cried.  We had read every card we received and marveled at our gifts but this one was so God organized we could hardly believe it.  We discovered as we opened our gift we noticed that they had Bible verses on them and they were the exact ones we had read at the ceremony.  The person who we received these from would not have had a clue as to what we had chosen for our verses, this was truly someone listening to God as they chose the perfect gift for us.

034All I can say is that God is awesome and He does delight in each of us.  Every day during our honeymoon we had opportunities to meet people, pray for people and minster everywhere we went.  Now it is time to get back into the swing of things.  Back to daily blogging.  Moving forward at our new Revival Fire Church.  Getting the two written books published.  We are both ready for what God has already planned out for us.  We have come to the conclusion that God designed our lives so that we could love each other now in this moment.  We have surrendered everything to God and as we eagerly await the house we will soon be moving into, we know beyond the shadow of doubt that God is in control of every little detail!

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Days 19, 20 and 21: What IS the Real Meaing of Christmas?

Presents, Presents, Presents!

1 Peter 4:10
God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.

As once again I find myself behind in posting, I am choosing to use these three days to speak out about presents and gifts.  Partially responsible for the insanity of the season, gifts take us through many journeys this time of year.  We go from store to store looking for just the perfect gifts to give to those awesome people in our lives.  Then of course we have the lists of “have to get gifts” which sometimes leads to temporary insanity because we are at a loss as to what to get.  When we feel obligated to buy for certain people just because they are on a list, the presents lose their value.  And of course what about those who just want a few things and are very difficult to buy for?

Every year we spend more and more time and money getting just the right items for people.  We want to make things bigger and better than the year before.  We did this with our two children.  As we struggled under our circumstances, we never did much for our children throughout the year so we felt like we had to make up for it on Christmas.  We spent our bonuses and our last paychecks before Christmas going all out so there would be a spectacular display on Christmas morning only to have Santa Claus get all the glory and be broke for months afterwards.  We would spend hours wrapping and taping and usually ended up getting into an argument which led to me wrapping by myself and laying my head on the pillow just as the first kid was getting up in excitement.

Now don’t get me wrong, I loved Christmas.  The look of amazement on the faces of my children just made me all warm and fuzzy inside. We always had cinnamon rolls right out of the oven for breakfast and then we started the unwrapping one by one only for it to be over in a matter of less than a half hours time.  I still to this day feel like I can never get enough for my kids yet I have come to realization that they never loved us for the gifts and more than anything they probably just wanted our time and love.

I guess what I am trying to get at is that we cannot make up love with gifts.  Getting things for people is fun when it is done out of love not obligation.  We spent money trying to make up for the lack of the year only to find our children losing interest quickly in the “gotta have it” toys as they moved quickly on to the “next best thing” and they began to look forward to their birthdays.  Christmas in our house was about the magic of Santa and the pursuit of temporary happiness while in the background we were losing out on so much more.  My kids would have been happier with us spending time playing family games or reading books but because we felt guilty from not getting them things during the year, we over compensated.

This year as I am getting back to the basics, I told my now teenage children, there was not going to be much as finances were truly tight.  This year there is no bonus and it’s just me and things are tight.  I told the kids I would only be getting a few things and you know what? They are okay with that.  It isn’t always about getting material things, sometimes it is just knowing there is love involved and that you have not forgotten about them that matters the most.  I do not have many to buy for this year and I am choosing not to put myself into debt over gifts and presents.  Sometimes the greatest gifts are in what we can give when we least expect it, something we did even have to plan.  Let me give you an example from a recent event in my life.

My daughter and I were eating a a nearby restaurant and this young family wandered in as they were waiting for the city bus.  As they were coming into the building we overheard someone talking about them and judging purely based on just their appearances.  It was a set of young parents walking with a little bundle of joy in a stroller in Michigan in the cold.  The mom had to finish her cigarette before coming into the restaurant and this seemed to bother the people behind us. As I tried to ignore the ramblings of this group of people, I felt God laying on my heart to give this family some money as they looked to be in need.  Funny part is that someone had blessed me just that very morning and I was rather tickled that God wanted me to bless this family.

I took a money from my wallet and wrapped in this paper I had received recently from a visit to a live nativity that said, “Your debt has been paid in full, Jesus paid the price” and I walked over and told them this might seem strange but I felt they needed this. I handed them the gift I had for them and walked out the door telling them to have a Merry Christmas.  While we were driving away I prayed for the little family and my daughter could see them sitting in the lobby and told me that she thought the mom was crying.  With tears in my eyes I continued to pray.  I knew in my heart, that I was honoring God in that very moment.  I knew He provides for those who love Him and He will make a way for this family.  I also was reminded that in my deepest times of trouble during the holidays I was always grateful when God sent strangers into my life to help.

So this year as I have minimized the craziness of the Christmas season and am discovering what it really means, I am seeing that gift giving is a powerful way to connect others to the real reason, we have just taken it too far.  I encourage you to look at your Christmas list and evaluate it with the perspective of:  Are you really giving out of love?  Perhaps you too give out of guilt like we did for years.  Maybe some of the people on the list are just out of obligation.  Whatever the reason is for your giving, I pray God will show you His way of giving gifts and usually those are very unexpected.