Friday, December 23, 2022

O Come, All

 

O come, all ye faithful,

(Those of you who haven’t been so faithful, you can come too, for there is forgiveness for those who repent.)

joyful,

(You sorrowful ones, come also. He brings joy in the morning. And the mourning.)

and triumphant!

(Come all you failures, as well, defeated by sin. He gives the true victory. )

O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;

(Come there, and find your way to the foot of the cross.)

Come and behold Him born the King of angels:

(Not just of angels, but of all the world. Come and behold the King of Kings)

Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation,

(Join the song, and know He sings over you.)

Sing, all ye citizens of heaven above!

(Make a joyous noise along with them, knowing you are chosen, and yet still can choose.)

Glory to God, glory in the highest:

(For He alone is worthy. For He alone sits on the throne.)

Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, born this happy morning;


(Behold He stands at the door and knocks, will you welcome Him in?)


Jesus, to Thee be all glory given!


(And honor, and praise, and love. For now and forever.)

 

Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing!


(And You chose to dwell among us full of grace and truth.)

 

O come, let us adore Him,


(Together! Forever!)

 

O come, let us adore Him,


(Fall down before Him!)

 

O come, let us adore Him,


(God with us! The rescue has begun! The Hero has come!)

 

Christ the Lord.


(And all will bow before Him. Amen.)

Thursday, November 24, 2022

To Jocelyn, On Your 17th Birthday


 Dear Jocelyn,

                     What. A. Year. It was good. It was bad. It was everything in between. We have weathered all kinds of storms as a family, but you have had many tough challenges of your own. Anyone who thinks that getting your first job, learning to drive, and transitioning from homeschooling to college is easy should just spend a few minutes talking to you. You have done an amazing job, but it has been anything but easy. The learning curve has been steep. For both of us. We have cried, but we have persevered. We have passed driver's tests, turned in midterms, arranged work schedules, navigated piles of paperwork, and we are still standing. 

            I never needed anyone to tell me that time flies. You know that the moment you have a baby. But it is getting ridiculous at this point. I am trying not to imagine what it will feel like when you aren't just at the bottom of the stairs, because it won't do me any good. Instead, I am savoring the moments, the fun we have running errands, you standing in the door of my bedroom to give me the latest stories from work, or even just crouching over the laptop to edit an assignment before you turn it in. I love that you still look forward to our annual west side trip, it makes me so happy to have that time to hear your hopes and dreams uninterrupted.

           Because even though I have been your mom for 17 years, I am still learning about you, in part because you are still very much in the process of determining your own identity. I never wanted a carbon copy of myself, as a matter of fact, I try very hard to help you learn from my mistakes. I want you to be *you*, wonderful, marvelous, created in His image but still amazingly unique. I want you to find joy in living for the Lord, to take pleasure in the small things, to be grateful in the tough times, and to learn to trust in the difficult ones. 

   Most of all, I want you to learn that you don't have to be afraid. The battle has already been won and He is with you. I love that your birthday is essentially the kickoff to the Advent season. All these festivities and decorations reminding us that Emmanuel has come and told us not to fear. You can fail, you can fly, you can live knowing you are fully known, and yet, still fully loved. You don't need anyone but Jesus. 

    And know, that as long as the Lord allows, I will be here. I will be honest with you, because that is the best way to teach someone. I won't tell you it will be easy, or pain free. But I will always love you too. I hope you always know that I will listen. 

     I have told you pretty much the same thing every year. But as we grow older I think it becomes even more vital to know that we have someone in our corner. The mistakes of a child do not have the serious consequences of the ones we can make as we grow older. But few mistakes are greater than thinking that we cannot be forgiven, and that we are only loved for what we do. I hope you know I will always love you because you are my dear daughter, but more so than that I pray that you will know and depend on the love Christ has for you. 

                                                                          I love you,

                                                                                      Mom

Friday, April 15, 2022

What Saturday's Stillness Says


 

 "...But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment." Luke 23:56b


       By nature I am a talker. Silence makes me uncomfortable. How can I know what you are thinking if you aren't speaking? How can you know what I am thinking if I'm not speaking? Anyone who has ever spent any great amount of time with me doesn't have to worry about that. I won't be quiet for long. 

    But there are times when even I do not speak. It doesn't happen often, although as I mature it seems to be increasing in frequency. I think perhaps it is a sign of wisdom. I am least prone to speak when I am angry-it is not a good sign if I stop talking in the middle of a fight. But I have also learned to limit my words when someone is grieving. I have begun to see that there are no words that I have that can make that right. At those times people usually just want someone to be with them, not offer empty platitudes or trite phrases of consolation. They don't need the sound of my voice, just to know they are not alone is enough. 

  "The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31:8

    Today is Good Friday. Sunday is Easter. Saturday is...silence?  We tremble before the power of the crucifixion. We rejoice at the power of the Resurrection. But what power does Saturday hold?

I like to think it holds the power of silence.

Sometimes when God doesn't seem to be saying anything He is speaking the loudest. Sometimes He is sitting with us in our grief. That verse is from the Old Testament. Well in advance of Jesus' death God had promised to be with His people. Jesus time in the tomb did not undo that promise. 

"For the word of the LORD is right and true; He is faithful in all He does." Psalm 33:4

What happens in silence? We start to listen. We wait. We think of what we already know. When God does not seem to be moving we should start paying the closest of attention. There are times we have strayed from His immediate presence, to be sure. But I have found that in times of grief and loss, confusion and pain, we feel like God is not moving. And perhaps it is because He is sitting with us in our grief.

"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18 

   I cannot speak for those waiting women. But Scripture speaks for them. Look at it again:

 "...But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment." Luke 23:56b

The emphasis is mine, but every word of Scripture is true. In the dozens of English translations that word is rendered "rested" except in one (Darby) that says "remained quiet." 

    What do rest and grief have in common? How can you be at peace in times of greatest loss? How can you remain quiet when your heart is wailing with fear and loss? Was there any greater loss than that of Jesus? How could these women rest? How could they remain quiet?

"There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from His." Hebrews 4:9-10 

"When He had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, He bowed His head and gave up His spirit." John 19:30 

We can rest when our work is done. And our work is done for us because we could never do it ourselves. We can remain quiet in the stillness of grief, knowing that we don't have to fight anymore. The battle is won. God didn't have to speak in the stillness of Saturday, the Word had already been spoken. All that remained was to believe. 

   And that is how we can rest in the stillness of whatever Saturday we may be currently going through. The end has already been written and it is glorious. The Word has already spoken and He is victorious. We can live on Saturday like it is already Sunday. We can walk in the same faith knowing He is risen even while He seems to be very silent, as still as the grave. 

"The angel said to the women, 'Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; He has risen just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay." Matthew 28:5-6

  He has already spoken. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. (John 1:14) He is with us, He is for us, He has given us rest. So if this "Saturday" seems so silent you feel like you are going crazy, remember that rest is possible. If those women could have enough faith in the promises of God to rest while Jesus was in the tomb, you can find rest in Him here. He is using the silence to speak and it is saying:

"For no matter how many promises God has made, they are 'Yes' in Christ. And so through Him the 'Amen' is spoken by us to the glory of God." 2 Corinthians 1:20 

 


Sunday, April 10, 2022

To Carson, On Your 14th Birthday


Dear Carson, 

                   What a year it has been! I cannot believe how much you have grown over the last year, not just physically, but mentally and spiritually. You continue to show a sweet tenderness that is uncharacteristic of many men, young or old. You have a genuine love for people, especially little ones, and you work so hard to make people feel included. 

          I have seen so many great character strengths developing in you, and nowhere are they quite as apparent as during these last two seasons of basketball. We jumped into a new team in the fall, and neither of us what quite certain what to expect. At first you didn't think you had what it took-you were afraid you weren't strong enough or tough enough. You were so tired after practices. But I wouldn't let you quit and instead of complaining you threw yourself into the high school season-as an 8th grader! You started out by barely playing, and you never took a shot. But by the end of the season you scored several times and surprised even yourself by being a valuable member of the team. Neither one of us realized that the middle school season would be next, but you developed relationships with many new teammates and showed yourself to be a leader. Not because you thought of yourself as being worthy to be in charge, but because you showed yourself to be a teachable team player who was interested in everyone improving. You were a starter for most of the season-a tough one where you stayed humble and invested. You demonstrated a sportmanslike attitude and acquitted yourself  well with both teammates and coaches.

     Not only were you a great basketball player, but you continued to love and serve your friends and family. Katy says that you and all the little boy cousins are "Carson and the Carsonettes". You are Harry's favorite, and whenever he is around you two are practically inseparable. You truly care for and take care of him. You are the best at putting him to sleep and he will jump out of other people's arms to get to you. Your relationship is so sweet. 

    And you always make me feel loved, too. You tell me I'm "the best mom ever" and I can't tell you what that means to me. You know when I am feeling down, and you really try to make me feel better. You don't mind spending time with me, and some of my favorite memories will always be chatting with you about the deep questions in life while driving to practice or a game. I love your inquisitiveness, and I never get tired of answering your questions. You love to share fun new facts with me that you have learned and I like to hear how you are expanding your worldview. 

   I love who you are. You are a godly young man that really understands that one of the very best ways to serve Christ is by loving people. You are always a welcome member of any group, and it is easy to see why. I am so glad that I get to be your mom. I hope 14 is an amazing year for you. I love you so much.

                                                                                                           Love,

                                                                                                        Larry (Your current nickname for me)

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