Lessons from a Toddler- Wandering Wisemen

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.”
~ Matthew 2:1-2 

There are no elves on my shelves. There are many reasons for that, but mostly it boils down to the fact that good behavior is a year-round endeavor in our house and it feels like adding an elf for a month once a year would complicate that idea.  It may seem silly, but I don’t want my children to behave well because “Santa is watching” through the little elves. I am absolutely not passing judgment on anyone who does Elf on the Shelf, it is a very cute and creative idea. My daughter has even asked if we will be getting an elf that moves all around this year. The answer, despite her asking, is still no.

I don’t remember there being an emphasis on Santa “watching us” when I was growing up. We definitely knew Santa was coming, and that if we were rotten little monsters there might not be any presents, but it was more of a peripheral awareness. We sang all the songs about Santa watching, and keeping his list, but the idea of actually being on the naughty list never occurred to me- my daughter is actually afraid of it. I have much clearer memories of designing my Christmas dress with my mother- and that is what I want for my kids. I want them searching for something else at Christmas, which is why three strange little men visit our house in December.

The 3 Wise Men search our house each December for the Baby Jesus, and isn’t that what we all should be doing- searching for Jesus? So the quest in my house is about finding Jesus, where are those silly wise men now, and the naughty list fades into the background. We love watching the Grinch, and decorating Gingerbread cookies, but what I love even more is knowing that the first thing my kids do every morning in December is search for the Wise Men searching for Jesus.

God Bless,
Kimwandering wisemen

She said YES

Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her. ~Luke 1:38

Can you imagine probably being 16-18, and being told that you were going to give birth to the Son of God?

Seriously???

I have difficulty saying yes to help out with another event on a weekend, and Mary said “Sure”, to spending the rest of her life raising the Son of God- because all parents know that it is a lifetime commitment, no matter how old the child gets! Even worse this is the actual flesh and blood of the divine. Failure is not an option.

However, this teenage girl, faced with ridicule, abandonment, and even death calmly and serenely accepted one of the most difficult tasks undertaken by a human. She did this all with just one word… Yes, and the entire world has never been the same.

One word can change the world, so the next time someone asks you to help, support, or just show up, you never know what the result of your “Yes” can be.

God Bless,
Kim

Christmas Presence

They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. ~Genesis 3:8

Hundreds of thousands of generations between Adam and Eve and us, and we still have the tendency to hide when the Lord might be nearby. I find that I feel that the holiday season has become a giant contest to see who can celebrate the birth of Christ, without actually inviting him to the party.

Don’t get me wrong- I love Christmas! I put my tree up the day after Thanksgiving, and it doesn’t come down until Epiphany (Easy to do when it is a giant fake tree!). We play Christmas music, have a room decorated with nothing but nativities, and get all pretty-ed up to attend our Christmas Eve mass. However, I have found that Christ is not present in the frenzied tree decorating, the constant scolding of the kids “DON’T TOUCH”, and the chaos of finding the correct tights, and the shoes that fit before heading to church.

I decided this year to focus on the Christmas presence, instead of Christmas presents. We are cutting back on gifts to each other, and trying for more meaningful gifts to other members of our family. We are searching for the Wandering Wisemen (Check back for more about that adventure!), and concentrating on preparing our hearts for His presence, rather than the house for some presents.

What about you? Do you feel the Christmas presence in your preparations? How do you find the holiness in this (too often hectic) season of preparation?

God Bless,
Kim

Summer Rest

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;  he restores my soul. ~Psalm 23:1-3

As much as my schedule is very much linked to a school year, I still find summer to be the busiest time for me. There are registrations to be sent out, taken in, and sorted into classes. Teachers to encourage to accept the call to minister in one of the most terrifying ministry jobs- teaching the faith! The Herculean (although much less messy and ultimately more fun) task of planning, writing, and executing the Summer Bible Land Adventures program. The list could continue, but this is supposed to be about relaxing! And so, with all of those tasks hanging over my head it would be easy to lose sight of the fun that also comes with summer.

My children are completely my own again- no dance, school, or FF classes. I may still be working, but these are also the days when my schedule is the most flexible. So, I try to have little outtings with the kids- zoo, berry picking, shopping, and movies. But even with these little adventures it can be easy to slip into a nonstop work mode until the Lord practically shoves me out the door- get outside and play!

Isn’t that exactly what our earthly parents would do when we were kids? If we became too absorbed inside (at least in my house) we were unceremoniously kicked out of the house- without whatever book you were reading, and told to GO PLAY!

We don’t all have our parents around to remind us, and the good Lord is much more subtle. So the next time your wifi isn’t connecting, or Pinterest is loading too slowly… take the hint!

GO OUTSIDE AND PLAY!

After all, the Lord just wants us to chill out by calm waters, and eat lots of good food… Sounds like a pretty good summer to me!

God Bless,
Kim

It’s coming…

So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!
~ 2 Corinthians 5:17

Winter so Spring is coming! If you have ever seen the popular TV show “Game of Thrones”, then you know that Winter is used to describe any period of difficulties, not just the season. But here in CNY, with our constant winter, it becomes an actual complaint, and the phrase “Spring is coming” is rarely heard. Spring, and the idea of new life, new growth and even new ideas can easily get lost in the day-to-day winter drudgery.

The same can happen in our faith journeys. It is easy to get lost in the day-to-day demands and forget the obligations of our soul! We might remember to put the laundry away, make dinner, grocery shop, finish homework, and practice instruments- but at what expense?

Have we allowed the “winter” to freeze our faith? Our we stuck in a snowbank? What can we do to thaw the winter that takes over our spiritual lives? Lent and Easter offer us the perfect opportunity for a renewal- springtime- for our souls! There are so many different opportunities for prayer, fasting, almsgiving, service, penance. It is a “greenhouse” of spiritual flowers for your soul!

So, maybe you should take advantage of this Lent to pick a bouquet of refreshing flowers for your soul, because remember… EASTER is coming!

God Bless,
Kim

Jesus brings the daylight and savings!

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”
~ John 8:12

With Daylight Savings time behind us, there seems to be just a bit more light in our lives. It’s still a little too cold for my liking, but with the light comes the promise of spring and new growth.

Isn’t interesting, that even our secular lives mimic the cycle of our faith? At this time we are all a little desperate, aren’t we? Desperate for warmth, desperate for spring, desperate for light! Jesus is so good to us, that he brings all of that in one shot- NO WAITING!

So, with this little bit of extra daylight as a reminder- seek Jesus. The bringer of light to our world, and life to all!

God Bless,
Kim

Treasure the True Reason

 When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child;  and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them.   But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. ~ Luke 2:17-19

Keep it Simple!

We do not need a more complicated holiday season. We need simplicity which brings freedom, especially in the midst of hectic schedules, high expectations and other pressures. Our celebrations should be about what matters most to us, but we have to be intentional to make that happen. Instead of going on auto-pilot consider these ideas for a more joyful, faith-filled Christmas.

Stop and Be Intentional
Set time aside to decide how you want your holidays to be this year. What might you do differently? Brainstorm, refine your ideas, come up with a plan and make a checklist.

Set Good Expectations
Be clear about your holiday intentions early, from what gifts you will buy to how elaborate your parties will be and how you want to spend your time together.

Make Room for God
Set intentions for personal and family prayer.

Make Room for the Needy
How will you reach out to those in need this year?

Change Slowly but Surely
Do not try to change everything this year but try making a couple meaningful changes each year.

Watch the Work
Are there members in your family who become stressed during the holiday season because they do a disproportional amount of the work (cooking, decorating, cleaning, shopping)? How can you change that this year?

Give Intentionally
Find creative ways to make gift-giving more fun, personal, practical, sustainable and joyful. Give quality over quantity! Prioritize presence over presents!

Start a New Tradition
Is it time to try a new activity that will bring you closer together with family and friends? Let go of a less life-giving activity to make room for a new one.

 

©2014 The Pastoral Center

Give Thanks

 Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
~ 1 Thessalonians 5:18

How often do you give thanks to where it is due? I find it easier to give thanks to those I can see and touch here on Earth than to give thanks to God. But even I remember to give thanks for a particularly beautiful morning, or the fresh smell of fallen leaves, or even the quiet wonder of that first snowfall. However, God doesn’t want us to just give thanks for everything, he wants us to give thanks in everything.

We have been taught that it is good manners to be thankful for the things we receive, but the idea of being thankful in every action seems foreign. There are many actions we take during the day that would warrant thanks, in my mind, such as visiting with loved ones, enjoying a meal with friends, or engaging in a fun activity. However, every time I have to clean up a diaper “explosion” my first thoughts are not of gratitude! Are we really supposed to express gratitude (and not sarcastically) every time we have to do an unwanted task?

If let the idea sink in, it starts to make a little more sense. God has given us the gift of his unconditional love, and the promise of eternal life, what do have to give in return? The simple answer, is that there is nothing we can give our Lord that matches up. Lucky for us, our loving Father asks only for our love, faith, and gratitude.

So, I suppose that I can scrounge up some gratitude during my next diaper change. After all, he did give me my wonderful husband, beautiful children… and eternal life.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING (in all that you do!)

God Bless,
Kim

Is God’s House Haunted?

No one, when tempted, should say, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one. But one is tempted by one’s own desire, being lured and enticed by it;
~ James 1:13-15

        Ever been to a haunted house? It’s not really a fun experience for since it just reminds me of the many things that I fear, so I typically avoid going. Most people attempt to avoid situations that make them scared, nervous, or uncomfortable; however, how many people have allowed the house of God to fill with the things they fear? Why aren’t we going to church as much anymore? Being “spiritual” and being “religious” and not mutually exclusive in our faith- but have we allowed God’s house to be haunted?

      Think about your reasons for avoiding church, or religious activities… is the core that you don’t feel good enough? Are you so worried about the ‘ghosts’ of your sins that you don’t go to church? We cannot let our own fear and self-doubt separate us from the UNCONDITIONAL LOVE of our Holy Father.

      Now think about that phrase- Unconditional Love- No conditions, He loves us regardless of our sins, and even goes so far as to love us sins and all.

     Don’t allow God’s house to become haunted- go and receive the Light of Christ! I’ll be there this weekend. Come with me! As long as you don’t mind noisy toddlers, we can even sit together.

Let the Light chase away the Dark!

God Bless,
Kim

Can you hear Him now?

It stood still, but I could not discern its appearance. A form was before my eyes; there was silence, then I heard a voice. ~ Job 4:16

 

People today seem to have this strange aversion to silence. We have hold music, elevator music, and even noice machines! So it doesn’t seem all that surprising that we have lost touch with God. In the bible it often says that you hear God in the silence… how can we hear him with all the noise in our lives.

The difficulty is that not all the noise is easly turned off. The “noise” in our lives consists of so much more than a radio. It is sports practices, drama rehearsals, band trips, tutoring sessions, family gatherings and everything else that we have scheduled into our lives. Even church events, when they become no more than a chore or an event to check off our lists interefere with our abiltity to “hear” God. It is even more difficult because none of those things are bad! It is when they keep us from taking a few moments to connect, listen, and just be with God, that they become “noise.”

Verizon had a great commercial a while back, with the Verizon guy walking all around and constantly asking “Can you hear me now?” Well, take a few minutes from the noise- both physical and metaphorical, and listen for God’s voice in the silence. He is just like the Verizon guy, always waiting, always ready, and always there…

Can you hear Him now?

 

God Bless, Kim