Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Peace=Highway. The final chapter.

Promises of Israel’s Restoration

Isaiah 49:8 This is what the Lord says:

“At just the right time, I will respond to you.[a]

On the day of salvation I will help you.

I will protect you and give you to the people

as my covenant with them.

Through you I will reestablish the land of Israel

and assign it to its own people again.

9 I will say to the prisoners, ‘Come out in freedom,’

and to those in darkness, ‘Come into the light.’

They will be my sheep, grazing in green pastures

and on hills that were previously bare.

10 They will neither hunger nor thirst.

The searing sun will not reach them anymore.

For the Lord in his mercy will lead them;

he will lead them beside cool waters.

11 And I will make my mountains into level paths for them.

The highways will be raised above the valleys.

12 See, my people will return from far away,

from lands to the north and west,

and from as far south as Egypt.[b]”

Luke 2

The Birth of Jesus Christ

1In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, tothe city of David, which is called Bethlehem because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5to be registered with Mary, his betrothed who was with child. 6And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in  the inn.

The Shepherds and the Angels

8And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12And  this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby  wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger." 13And suddenly there was with the angel  a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 "Glory to God  in the highest,
 and on earth  peace among those with whom he is pleased

Since moving here we have visited four different churches. Each are doing some form of Advent. Advent is simply the celebration of the coming of Jesus as a baby and the celebration that He has promised he will return. God has been working on a lesson for me. He has been teaching me little bits of a sweet promise that changes everything. The first part being the Jesus brought Peace. The angels said so. They told the shepherds that Peace had come to those God was please with, or in other translations "who find favour in Him." A tiny baby born in a manger would bring peace. The lesson God is teaching me? Peace is not what I've expected. Not what I've looked for. Peace is not the mountain top high I've come to believe in. Church retreats are great, but really confusing. I've had some amazing intimate times with my Lord in the mountains. Moments I thought were peace. Then you come home and life is as hard as it ever was. I've had amazing joys in this life, but they always seem to be followed by somthing not so joyful.  Isaiah gave his message to the people. A broken people who had lost favor with God. That although broken and lost, one day they would be restored. This restoration?
Isaiah 49: 11 And I will make my mountains into level paths for them.The highways will be raised above the valleys.
 God didn't promise a high! This is so refreshing to me. After so long of the ups and downs I dont look forward to {highs} anymore because once you reach the top there is only one place to go. {LOW} I long for quiet. I long for a flat surface. I long for tomorow to be like today. I long to walk towards my father, not climb and fall. And guess what? He promises just that. The mountains lowered. The valleys raised up. A highway made. A highway for what? For us to return to Him. Isaiah 49: 12 12 See, my people will return from far away, from lands to the north and west and from as far south as Egypt.

This Christmas I celebrate the highway. I celebrate that God knows our lives are mountains and valleys and that he gave us Jesus. He gave us salvation and a permanent flat surface to walk to him on. A direct way to his mercy. I celebrate that no matter what happens in this life. No matter what Mountain or Valley may come. We have the promise. We have the savior.  Peace= Highway

Monday, December 20, 2010

Peace = highway part 2, the mountains and valleys

The year we lost Jim was so hard, so {low.} Life began to look more like waves of the ocean or giant mountains and valleys after that. The following June. I got the "come home now" phone call. Lucas had been laid off. We tried so hard to stick it out in Bossier, and our church even helped us financially for a while, but the oil industry was so wrecked after the election and economic downturn that we had no choice but to move in with my parents. As grateful as we were for the help, and as much as we love them, moving back home after being a grownup with kids is about the hardest most humiliating thing that can happen. Telling your children you can no longer provide for them changes your view of just about everything. Signing a piece of paper at school that says you are technically homeless... well... humbling no where near  expresses it. {low} After six months Lucas was offered a job. We had misunderstood his salary before the layoff because he had gone from a training salary to a real salary over several steps. We thought the job he was taking was a raise from before the layoff {high.} It turned out to be quite a bit lower {low}. But we found our first house to rent and were paying less than our apartment in Bossier {High}. By the end of November Lucas was working all the time and suddenly they announced that the jobs were going to be in Laredo... six hours from our home! Lucas was scheduled to be gone from home most of December. There was a chance he would even miss Christmas. {really big low}  To top it off it was again a Colorado year for Ayden. I don't remember much from Christmas last year. Lucas did get there at some point, and my mom did everything she could to make it special, but between grief and missing Ayden I spent many points during the day crying in corners and praying it would just be over.
2010 was just as rocky. We celebrated our fourth anniversary {high} and found ourselves more in love than ever. Lucas spent at least two weeks of almost every month in Laredo {low} At the end of January I found out we were expecting a baby. {high!!} Then came the sickness {low}. But we found an incredible church that drew us into authentic community and took great care of our hearts. I made great friends quickly who are still teaching me. {high} Lucas decided to leave his job and was eventually rehired by the same company he got laid off from {high} but that meant we had to move again {low}. We are now here waiting. Waiting to see what on earth will happen next. I feel myself unable to rest. I clean constantly and am so anxious because for so long life has been a roller coaster. This advent season has been so fast. I feel like I was on a spinning ride and got off and now have to tie my shoes. Like right.. that's not gonna happen. How do we find Peace when our life has been anything BUT peaceful. The answer? Jesus. seriously.   I can explain that and prove it. Tomorrow.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Advent: Where Peace= a Highway.. part 1

This advent season has gone so fast. So fast we weren't able to keep up with daily or even weekly readings. We tried. Really. But seriously. It just hasn't happened. We try instead to just talk with our kids as we can. While we get ready in the mornings, over meals, as we drive in the car. In the Chilis parking lot when my seven year old demanded I tell him "the truth" about Santa. We've also been visiting {lots} of different churches, so consistency is just not a part of lives right now. In fact... consistency hasn't been part of our lives in a long long time. Two Christmases ago we were living in Bossier City Louisiana. We were blessed there with amazing friends and great community and miss it every day. We even had the occasional snow storm. And Monjunis. And Strawns ice box pies. I digress. Things were very "up" for us. I was in a "high" spiritually, being challenged and growing and learning ect. Lucas was growing too and eagerly advancing in his first career job. November marked the end of his training period and so December came around and life was going great. Then two days before Christmas I was sitting in my room mid afternoon, wrapping presents and watching Dr. Oz. Or maybe Dr. Phil. Or maybe the Doctors. Something like that. My phone rang and the caller ID said it was my Mother in law. Hmm. She never calls me. She usually calls Lucas's phone. I answered and was shocked when she simply said. "Jim just died." Huh? What was that? Surely I'm not hearing you right. Not our beloved Papa Jim. Who we just saw a month and a half ago. Who rode the hayride with my boys and shot pumpkins from the pumpkin canon and made silly faces and goofy sounds with my one year old Balin. Not Papa Jim who celebrated his 16th birthday with us (not his 61st ;-) )Not "died". I had to get Lucas home, but he was on a job site working. I called him anyway and said "you need to come home now" as gently as I could. How could I do this without freaking him out? How could I get him home safely? He knew. He knew something really bad had happened for me to call him. So I had to tell him. Later, like months later, he told me about his drive home. I believe in angels.  I believe they kept my husband on the highway.
We had to make decisions. Decisions we were not ready to make. This was supposed to be our first Christmas in our home as a family. Ayden had spent the Christmas before in Colorado and this was our year with him.  I had a fridge FULL of food and Aydens Colorado parents were scheduled to come visit the day after. Due to not knowing funeral arrangements we decided to wait until Christmas morning to make the long long drive to Minnesota. We went to church Christmas eve and Santa came the next morning. Balin woke up, walked into the living room and puked. Exactly what I felt like doing. After a less than merry gift unwrapping we loaded my parents car... that I had driven four hours round trip the day before to meet my dad halfway and borrow.. and headed out on a long long highway over the course of two long long days to spend a long long weekend mourning our Papa Jim. Christmas dinner was a Chinese buffet in a tiny town in Kansas. Not a joyful Christmas. Not a year in which reveling in the Peace of Jesus made much sense... and yet we were comforted and held in his Peace all the same. Jim's funeral was led by a sweet Catholic Priest who spoke words of comfort. As I prayed with my husband Jesus was there. In the middle of our pain and chaos he was there.  Those 2000 miles of highway gave us lots of time to talk and to heal. A highway that led us to the arms of loved ones and stories. My favorites were stories about Jim's service in the Patriot Guard. Stories about the highway trips he took to make sure vets were honored. Peace was literally a highway. Did you know Isaiah tells us that Gods Peace is like a highway too? Come back tomorrow and I'll tell you more about that.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas card 2010

Good Blessings Religious Christmas 5x7 folded card
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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Merry Christmas 2010

Good Blessings Religious Christmas 5x7 folded card
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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Shutterfly-oh my!

So fellow bloggers there is an awesome deal right now! Go HERE (Thanks Kristin!) and sign up to recieve 50 FREE christmas photo cards from Shutterfly.com! I'm super excited about this because buying cards was out of our budget this year and making cards simply beyond my time allowance right now. I can barely make dinner with a still so new baby around the house. Thanks to my sister I have some great pictures from Thanksgiving of all of my boys. I have uploaded tons of them and have lots of  ideas on which card I'm going to use and why. First I looked at this one. I love the bright colors. Plus its a stationary card, so its a bit nicer than the more simple photo cards. On the other hand though the photo cards are a little less expensive and easier to mail. They are all still so cute. My favorite though are the folded greeting cards. The options are endless and I have been  arranging (and rearanging them) right there on screen over and over and over. You can know exactly how they will turn out which is so great for a visual person like myself.  Plus many of the cards allow you to change the layout of the pre set designs, enabling you to create a custom card! I'm making ours a Christmas card/ baby announcement :-). Did I just ruin a surprise? I LOVE the card I have selected and can not wait to start sending them out. I have so many photos uploaded and cant decide which to use so I may end up making a calendar too!  Shutterfly will even mail them for you should you want that!