Monday, December 31, 2012

2012

    I am not sad to see 2012 end. It has not been an easy year for us and I find myself looking forward to 2013 because it is a new beginning. No doubt it will have its own share of difficulties, every year does. I guess right now I am just thankful that I am not starting the new year the same way I have these past two years. I am not waiting for the school board to make its budget and decide whether my husband has a job. Seems like a good start to me!

   The end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013 share something. I end 2012 with thankfulness and I begin 2013 the same way.  As I reflect on 2012 I notice that in the middle of our most challenging moments God was consistently with us. That is why I am so thankful.  Here are some of the challenges of our year...

1. My husband lost his job at the end of the school year. Every need we had was met. At the last possible minute he was hired at a Christian Retreat Center.
God was with us.
2. My father in law learns that he has a tumor that has to have a biopsy. It isn't cancer but he will have to be continually monitored.
God was with him.
 3. My Aunt almost died.  Notice I said almost?  She is still with us and it is truly a miracle.
God was with her.
4. My mom fell down a whole flight of stairs and narrowly missed hitting her head on a metal heater. She is still doing physical therapy but she is alive and here with us.
God was with her.
5. My daughter was in the hospital because a virus attacked her bone marrow.  Three days with two blood transfusions, lots of blood work, an ultrasound, a spinal tap, parents praying like their very lives depend on it, and she finally went home. She is as healthy as ever today!
God was with us!

   As you can see throughout 2012 God was always with us. He saw us through all of the hard times. This is why I am thankful. I am thankful that not once did He leave us to fend for ourselves. None of us can see into the future to know what this next year holds. We can make all the plans we want but ultimately we won't know until we get there how it will all turn out. I go into 2013 thankful because I know that at least one thing is for certain. Just as He was in 2012, God will be with us. As long as He is there I can look forward to it! 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

O Come Emmanuel...

     O come, O come Emmanuel.... my heart aches this week and longs for His coming.  This week the world wrestles with the agony of children who left for school and never came home. Innocent lives cut short with gunfire. Our hearts break for parents whose arms are empty and aching for their children. Even the President of the United States cried. All this sadness hangs heavy as we wonder how much more depraved and evil this world can get. All of this sadness in the middle of a season when we celebrate Christ's first coming.

     In less than a week we will celebrate Christmas. What we celebrate is Christ's first coming.  It's a joyous time of year especially for those who have received Christ as their Savior because we are thankful that He came for us.  He came knowing that ultimately He would end up being crucified by the very people He came for. He didn't just come for His followers or for those of us who would easily receive Him. He came for the men who drove the nails through His hands. He came for the thieves hanging on the crosses next to Him. I tend to forget this when I think about Christmas. Do you?

     I wonder how remembering who Christ came for would effect how I interact with others.  Would I be more patient with difficult people if I remembered that Christ loved them and died for them too? Would I be more merciful toward those who have wronged me or hurt someone I loved, if I remembered that Christ loved and died for the man driving the nail through His hand? Can I see the shooter of these innocent lives taken as a lost soul who needed Christ?  I wonder if anyone cared enough to show Him the love of Christ while He was living. Do you think this world would be less depraved if those of us who rejoice in the birth of our Savior would share the gift that He is with others? Even the difficult and unlikeable others?

     We sing O come, O come Emmanuel.  Emmanuel means God with us. The song beckons for God to be with us and as His followers He truly is with us. Experts talk of more restrictive gun laws and others point toward putting Christ back in schools as the solution. We must show them what God with us means. He is the only solution for this depraved world. While our hearts cry out O come Emmanuel because we long for all wrongs to be made right and we want Him to return, right now we are still here. There is still time for us who know what it is to love Him and be loved by Him, to bring that gift to others. Let's go out into the world with God and introduce others to Him this Christmas. It's the only gift you can give to someone else that is certain to change the entire course of their life for the better.