What Are You Expecting For Christmas?

Transition is hard. For me, this transition from Mongolia back to America for an unforeseen amount of time,  has been the hardest transition thus far. YET, it’s been the most joy filled transition that I’ve ever had. Grief and joy…they seem to go hand in hand. Sometimes immediately, other times it may be days, weeks, years before the joy becomes present or is noticed. For me, they’ve been simultaneous…but I’ve mentioned that before.

The other night, I was praying with our youngest son before bed. He’s the one that likes to snuggle. As we were laying there in his bed, huddled up together, he began crying. Crying about his loss of friends here as we move back to the States. Crying about how hard it will be to make new friends. Crying about saying goodbye to our cat here, most of his toys, his room, his bed….and the loss of not traveling anymore like we do. He is in the midst, like we all are in our family, of grieving loss. And it’s sad. It’s hard. It’s painful. And, it’s so needed. We have had several nights like this the past few weeks. For him, this is his 11th move in 9 years of age. For our daughter, the youngest, this is her 10th move. Our oldest son, this is his 14th in 11 years of being born. And for Iris and I, it is our 16th move in 15 years of marriage. That’s a lot-A lot. And almost half of those moves have been international. Putting it down on paper makes it quite sobering.

I was reading through a daily guide through the Advent season the other morning. The scripture that day was Psalm 126….

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
    we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
    and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then they said among the nations,
    “The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us;
    we are glad.

Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
    like streams in the Negeb!
Those who sow in tears
    shall reap with shouts of joy!
He who goes out weeping,
    bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
    bringing his sheaves with him. (ESV)


It’s no secret that Christmas time is a time of expectation, right? Whether it be the excitement of what present you’ll receive, or the reaction on someone’s face when they open their present. Or maybe it’s a little deeper, and there’s the anticipation of Christmas morning, the snow, the tree, Christmas dinner or perhaps the reaction from the kids. sigh….I love Christmas. I really do.

Looking back through the Bible, the Jews were expectant as well, looking for a Messiah. They were looking at someone to come and restore the kingdom, God’s chosen people. To regain control, establish the kingdom, perhaps to make them again, the great nation they were instead of the mockery they had become. They had expected a warrior king, not the Prince of Peace, and especially not a king that was born in a stable. How utterly ludicrous….and yet so paradoxically divine. Their Messiah, our Messiah has come, but in a way so very differently than expected. He did do what was promised. He is continuing to do what was promised. And he will do what is promised…bring restoration.

Reading through the book of Job, his story is also one of pain and hurt. The whole book, the whole story is of great loss and pain. From his property, to his children to eventually his friends and his own health. He suffered massive loss.

But then came restoration.

Job’s story, the story of the Jews and of us today, is one of restoration. A fallen world, us a fallen people, a place of hurt, pain, loss and grief that so desperately desires restoration, even when we may not know it. In the last chapter, we read that everything Job lost was restored….not replaced, but restored…and then some.  Jesus came to restore relationship and in Revelation we read how the world will be restored to what the Eden that was.

And that’s one of my prayers for my family, for my children. What great losses they are suffering, we’re all suffering, will be restored someday. We can never replace friends, loved ones who have passed away, even family pets. But we can be restored whole again. Joy does that. Better yet, God does that and joy is a part of that. It makes “Joy to the world” have new meaning to me. I wonder where, or what, needs to be restored in your life. Restoration isn’t fixing a problem. Restoration making it like it was before. And with Christ, his restoration is something far greater than what was before, more fuller than the loss suffered, though unexpected.

After writing last week and reflecting on this today, I believe God has given me these few words for Advent this year-realignment, restoration, renewal, re-establish. These are the words that I need to focus on during this time, this holy time.

What about you? What in your life needs to be restored? What does God desire to do during this holy time of Advent, in your life? Are you willing to take time and reflect on what it is?

be blessed today


Photo Credit Here

Who’s More Mature-You or Kids?

I do wonder at times who is more mature, me or my kids. I’m not speaking of physical maturity or even emotional maturity. No. But I am speaking of spiritual maturity. Seriously, I wonder. Even in the order of the world as we are full on into this political season in the States, I wonder if perhaps my kids have a far better perspective than I do. I wonder how much of the world do we take on the older we get. My kids, when they were younger (or even now a days), were completely fearless. Part of it may be naivety or ignorance of the height of the bridge or tree, or the huge mean animal.But they were fearless nonetheless. As time has gone on, they have become more fearful.

Or take their outlook on the different races in our society. They didn’t see color, they simply saw people. Everyone was different, of course, but color wasn’t a descriptor. Or look at wealth. Maybe the other family had a nicer car or more toys, but it wasn’t noticed by my kids. They were simply other people who had different stuff than we did.

The older they have gotten, the more difference they have begun to notice. In some cases it was a celebratory “oh there’s so much diversity” as in new things to learn. But in other cases, unfortunately, there has been the “I wish we were like them” or “what’s wrong with them” mentality that has infiltrated their innocence. The latter two make me sad, and at times frustrates me. Future post topic, I suppose….

Anyhow, back to spiritual maturity.

Iris and I pray with the kids every night. For the most part, it’s pretty normal, standard prayers-keep us safe, give us a good night’s rest, sweet dreams, good day tomorrow, etc. But one of our kids prays the most sincere, honest, from the heart, raw prayers every single night.

 Dear God, thank you for joy, faith, hope, laughter, love, peace in our hearts and all those things you’ve given us. I pray tomorrow is better than today and that we can laugh more and have more peace. Give us more money so we can buy the things we need and help other people that need stuff. Give us a good night. Amen.

There’s also this one….

Dear God, Thank you for all the things you’ve given us. Thank you for all the things you will give us. Let all the things you will give us be good to us. Let all the things you’ve given us be in your hands, let all the things you will give us be in your hands, and let us always be in your hands. Amen.

Now, before you think I’m just bragging about my kids, I’m not. My kids are not the only ones I’ve experienced this with. But, I have obviously spent the mos time with mine. I often will listen to their prayers and think how incredibly simple and true they are. And then I think how complex I have made my life. How complex I’ve made my prayers. How complex I’ve made my relationships with others and most importantly with God. I know there are other factors involved, people involved, adult life things that happen that we have to also work through and engage with. But children tend to look through all of that and see God there. “Of course we should be thankful; Or course He give us joy; Of course everything is from Him.”

So, nothing earth shattering here. Nothing incredible. I just find myself, often, wondering what I can learn from these little people living in my house. What am I missing out on that they get and are a part of? What part of God does my adult mind full of all the distractions of life, not see? Maybe you’re wondering the same thing. Perhaps, we need to spend a little more time simply looking at life from their perspective. And perhaps, one of the best things we can do, is simply spend time with them just listening to their conversations with the Father of Heavenly Lights. What a different place this might be if we lived more like them.

When was the last time you though like a child? How would your world change if you began to think with a child’s perspective on God? If you have though this way before, how did it change your view of God’s presence?

be blessed today



 Photo Credity: http://true-hw.com/blog/2014/06