Monday, December 29, 2014

When there's too much sugar.

Today is suppose to be a productive day, but I find myself loafing around the house reading all things blog-article, pinterest, and magazine article-ly. I only got dressed because the mailman rang my doorbell in the surprise of a Christmas package. The Christmas package arrived from North Carolina and entered into my house broken. A mug dropped one too many times by the postal service despite it's fancy wrappings of paper and bubble wrap. But it was a brown paper package tied up with string, so that counts, right?

And in the midst of this loafing sorts of a day in which toast and Full Throttle energy drink were deemed an appropriate breakfast, I became hungry again. I walked into the kitchen, opened the fridge and was disgusted by everything inside. I opened the freezer, the cabinets, the pantry, same thing. Opened and shut with the disappointment of too much food that I don't even want right now. The mere thought of eating anything that was contained inside my kitchen appalled me and I considered going somewhere to grab a bite to eat. But then, the sightings of something familiar, something overlooked the first time through the cabinets, a glorious package of winter oreos. Yes, after eating toast and drinking an energy drink, my brain automatically thought that MORE sugar would be a suitable lunch today.

So, here I sit, after consuming way too much sugar in the 6.5 hours I've been awake and pondering the thoughts that lead me here. I was disgusted by inside my own kitchen. and that is appalling to me. I should be thankful and enjoy it, and instead I shake my fist at it and down some oreos in rebellion of the healthy, fruitful bounty inside the walls of my kitchen. (and apparently oreos should be capitalized, but I am not giving a cookie THAT much power)!

And I'm also texting teens and wearing my sweater inside out. I seem to be a "hot mess" right now except that I am smiling. Smiling because I am exactly where I should be. I am writing. I am mentoring teens, and dreaming. I am studying and making plans and forecasting things, and budgeting, and praying, and sitting in the silence.

And this, it feels like perfection to me. In the chaos of Christmas being here and New Years coming like a freight train, this stillness seems appropriate. It feels like a Sabbath day, spending time resting in Him, and not worrying about the "should, would, suppose to" of life. No movies, no music, no noise from the world, just my Savior and I having our moments today.

Tis so sweet.

and so friends, Happy New Year.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Standing on the sidelines

Oh praise His name forever...
Peace on Earth Goodwill to men.
Fall on your knees.

The lyrics of hymns and choruses and carols fly through the air at rapid speed these days now that December has fallen upon us in 2014. In shopping places they have been out since October, November at the very latest. 

but in the stillness of the lyrics, we find a hope that is surpassing all others; a Savior borne, a weary world rejoicing. A way in a manger in the little town of Bethlehem that changed the world. A place that said, YES. A season of yeses between Mary, Joseph, Herod, the InnKeeper, the Wise Men, the Shepherds.  My favorite part of the season besides Jesus has always been the wise men. Even though they arrived after Jesus was an infant, the fact that they WENT and said, "yes" and travelled and believed the prophecy and followed God's lead with the star. It speaks to me.  Imagine if ONE person in this story had the audacity to say NO, we're done with this, peace out.  It would change everything. 

What if Mary said No, I'm good.. school is hectic right now and I have midterms to study for and I am trying to get into a good High School and keep my grades up for college applications and then a career... I don't have time for a Baby. a BABY?! 

Or Joseph? "I'm making tables, chairs, mangers, as fast as I can. There's no time to deal with a baby and a fiancee who is a pregnant virgin. Like how am I suppose to even believe in that?! I have bills and responsibilities to handle, I can't just leave and go to Nazareth or deliver a baby all by myself!" 

And I think in this busy season, the best thing I can do is say I'm all in.  Bring on the neighborhood children who need someone to love on them. Bring on the Compassion children who need Christmas cards. Bring on the elderly who are stuck in assisted living with no family. Bring on packing food baskets and shoeboxes. Bring on teaching youth that the Saviour is both for this world and after we die. It's not either/or one or the other, it's BOTH.  Bring on Toys for Tots warehouse organizing. 
It's not just in this season, either... It's living and choosing to be the love of Jesus. To be HIS hands and feet. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

It's a big big table

Fall is upon us.
We're in the thick of my favorite season of the entire year.
Sweaters, boots, scarves, apple cider, hot cocoa, football, and Thanksgiving to cap it off.
Thanksgiving has been my favorite Holiday for as long as I can remember.
Sure, Christmas presents are nice, but really... that's what that Holiday has become; presents.
Whereas Thanksgiving is about PRESENCE; about gathering together with friends, family, and food.
I was 20 when I hosted my first Thanksgiving Dinner for family.
The green beans ended up still being crunchy, but I've found out that over the years, people actually EAT them that way, too!

It's amazing how many people have gathered together around our table through the years.
Massachusetts, North Carolina, Arizona, and Indiana groups of people eating, laughing, and sharing Jesus. And our table, it's a simple Ikea table that we purchased as soon as the Massachusetts Ikea opened in 2003ish. It technically seats 4-6, but we've had up to ten people sitting around it eating, laughing, playing games together. We've had several marriages that were started by a simple "date" around our table.  The table has been witness to couples who attended the Marine's birthday parties and conceived children the same weekend; there's THREE baby girls ages 4-5 years old now. (awkward moment alert!!)

But our table, it isn't judgmental. It allows everyone's stories to be told, to be listened to, to cry, to laugh, to be angry, to be happy. It allows strangers to become family. It allows family to become closer. It allows conversations that may be difficult to come to a resolution, a resolve, an end to arguments started over feelings.

Maybe THIS is why Jesus poured His life into His disciples and ate together and went to Mary, Martha, and Lazarus' house. The table is a life giver. It allows people to come together, share a meal and be comfortable around each other. Everyone relaxes around food and a table.  Which is why Jesus said "Martha, Martha" to calm her down enough to sit around the table and BE instead of worrying about the DO.  I know I've been guilty of this many times when hosting dinner. But but but..someone has to get the food on the table, right?  People don't come to the house JUST for the food because FOOD is everywhere in our culture. I often get the Holy Spirit Nudge of "Jen, Jen" and sometimes I refuse to listen because I just need to do ONE more thing...
and other times I listen and that one more thing is put down, put away, and would not have worked out anyhow.

Over the years,  the people have become more important than the food, the spotless, dust free, OCD clean house, the appearance that the Marine and I have it "all together" (what a joke THAT is!),  and we relish in the conversation, the trials, the tantrums, the sharing of God's goodness together. It's become an amazing journey to see how God uses our simple table and hospitality to welcome people in. To witness the transformation that it's not all about the Marine and I, but something greater and bigger IN us... to not let the idol of perfection rule, and not treat our friends/family as people we HAVE to tolerate, but to really get to KNOW them, love them, and cherish them, as God's people and family.

All this from a simple $250 Ikea table and Jesus....