Brittany realized when she got to school that she had forgotten to take her nativity ornament for the Christmas wreath. I saw it on the table and ran it up to the school around lunch time. When I got there she told me the class had already presented their ornaments for the wreath.
I felt horrible because I thought she hadn’t gotten to share. She then went on to tell me that the teacher had some things on her desk that they could choose from. She choose a present.
She told her class…..”I’m choosing a present ornament to show that God sent Jesus to be His gift to the world.”
And what a gift it was!
Just a quick note about how happy I am that God is still in public schools. Today Jacob brought a place mat home that he made in Pre-K. It had a place on it to fill out what he was thankful for. His answer….Jesus.
Then later Brittany asked me for a picture of the nativity. I asked her why and she said her teacher was making a wreath with different Christmas things on it and they all were to bring something to share. She said “I’m bringing the nativity to show that Jesus was born to be the Savior of the world.”
“These little lights of mine….I want them to shine.”
O.K., this is kind of funny. Well, not funny – funny, but at least interesting funny. I helped out in Savannah’s 2nd grade Sunday School class yesterday. The story for the day was about God providing manna for the Isrealites after they had left Egypt.
The craft was to draw a picture of an Isrealite picking up the manna and then we glued Frosted Flakes (aka manna) onto the picture. I was seriously hoping the “manna” would continue to be provided because there was lots of sampling going on among the kids.
When we got to the big group and the teacher was telling the story, I learned something I had never known before about that story (yes, quite possibly because it was right on my level!!). She said that the word manna literally means “What is it.” I think that is funny. You know the Isrealites looked out the first time they saw manna and were like “WHAT?!? You’re kidding me, right? That little fluffy looking food is going to fill us up?” (kind of reminds me of the whole portion control thing from a few days ago). God knew exactly what and how much they needed and provided that for them. And from the sounds of it, his “answer” was not were they were expecting at all.
I was wondering how many times we have prayed for something (like the Isrealites did) and then the answer (manna) came in such a form that we were like, ”WHAT?!? What is it?” We’ve all heard the expression “God answers prayer, it’s just not always in the way you were praying for it to happen.” But I think another way to put that would be…. “God answers prayer and be prepared for the unexpected.” Be prepared to say “WHAT?!?” and then often much later to gain understanding. His ways are SO much higher than our ways.
And as always, He knows just what we need and just when we need it.
Yes…the last few weeks Brittany has been playing Christmas carols on the piano, Savannah has struck up a few songs on the violin, Caroline has been begging for a laptop computer and Jacob tells just about anyone who will listen that he wants boxing gloves and a drum set for Christmas.
I wish I could record those sounds and put them on the computer (or that my sister lived in Houston so she could do it for me!). If I could record, I’d also post the Christmas conversation from dinner tonight.
It helps if you have a little background. Our church children’s choir puts on a performance each year during the Christmas season. A few years ago they did the nativity. Brittany was about 6 at the time and could not wait to find out what her part would be. An angel, Mary…maybe an animal. When they started calling out parts, Mary was taken, then the angel and then each girls name was called and it was announced that she would be a sheep. That is, until they got to Brittany. They called her name and said…..you will be …a…. cow. And a cow she was, spotted costume and all. It was hysterical. She was the only girl cow and if you mentioned it she would make an angry face and go “GRRR”. We tried not to talk about it too much and several times during the program she looked at us as if to say….”I sooo can not believe this has happened to me.”
They haven’t done the nativity since then but are going to be doing it this year. Brittany is now about to turn 10. Last night in choir they passed out the parts. I really think she thought….this is it! This is my year! And they began to call out the parts…
In a very flat voice she said….”I got my part for the nativity.” “What is it?!?”, we all wondered. She then said in a very loud and pretty perturbed voice….”I’m a wiseMAN with Thomas and GEORGE!!!!
To which Savannah responded in an equally perturbed voice ….”Hey, I’m NOTHING!” As she reports it….”there is only one Mary and I’m not her so I’m nothing.”
I think Brittany would trade.
Any of us who have ever attempted a diet know that one of the first things they teach you is “portion control.” They show you what a “normal” portion looks like. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I look at that and go…really? That much will fill me up? But once you start doing it, you start to realize that maybe the portion they are recommending is enough. It takes some getting used to, but your body does adjust and you realize that maybe we don’t always (or ever) need those super size portions, but that the “recommended amount” is just what your body needs.
Now I know the holidays are coming and no one really wants to talk about portion control, but I’m thinking of a different kind of portion. The “just the right amount” portion that is talked about in Scripture. One of my favorite verses is Psalm 73:26 which states…..”My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” I love the whole idea that He is truly exactly what we need. Hard times….super size portion. But always, enough.
That is not to say that He is ever changing, because certainly He is the same yesterday, today and always. But it is to say that He knows our needs and He is exactly what we need, when we need it.
It’s a little bit like the poem “Footprints in the Sand” where when asked why the person only saw one set of footprints the Lord replied….”My child, that’s when I held you.”
I have lots of friends who need the supersize portion of Him right now. My friend Janet’s mom is in hospice, Molly is fighting cancer, Sylvi’s father-in-law just passed away and Marlo is facing the 1st anniversary of her daughters death….and yet each of them know they are being held….and that He is just what they need.
May we all be reminded that He is our portion forever.
Back at the beginning of the school year I was asked if I would be the communication liaison between the PTA President and the 7th grade parents. They assured me that the job would only entail updating parents via email about upcoming middle school activities. Sounded easy enough. Copy her message, go to the PTA group website and paste the message and hit send. How hard could it be?!!?
Well, I’ve had to send at least one retraction/update, but then today….well, let’s just say I’ve had several comments on the irony of the following message. The email began….
We have a PTA meeting this Thursday at noon in the library and we are serving lunch. We have a nutritionist that will be there to help all of us and our children make some healthier food choices. This is just in time for the holidays so I cannot wait to hear her tips.
It was then followed by this….
Lastly, the 8th grade donut/kolache sale was such a big hit with the students that it is being continued not only on the 1st but also the 3rd Friday of every month starting at 7:50 am in the courtyard. The next sale will be this Friday, so please have students bring extra money…2 donuts or 1 kolache for $1. Remember, all proceeds benefit the 8th grade party.
Sounds like something on Jay Leno, right?!? I just didn’t realize how funny it all was until I began getting the emails from people wondering what the nutritionist was going to think of the donut days! I even got one angry email. I won’t post what she wrote, but suffice it to say her comments on the “mixed messages” we were sending out were not pretty.
Guess she’d really be appalled at our family’s weekly tradition of eating pizza while watching the weight loss reality show “The Biggest Loser!!”
I told her though that I was just doing my job.
I firmly believe God cares about all the details. I don’t know how and can’t even begin to explain. I just know that He delights in us and I imagine that He sits back at times and says….”just watch what I can do.”
One of my friends shared a story on her blog (www.caringbridge.org/ok/annajane/index.htm) called WOW. She shared how her children’s elementary school had raised $3,280 to purchase some new playground equipment as a memorial after her youngest daughter died from cancer. There was a particular piece that she wanted but the cost was over $5000. You can read the story on her blog, but suffice it to say she told the distributor that they did not have that much money. Later in the day he sent her email….and the company he ordered from announced a liquidation sale and that piece of equipment was now 40% off. The new cost….$3,180! You cannot convince me that that was anything less than God’s intervention.
Another friend told a story (http://www.thedustbunnychronicles.blogspot.com/ )about wanting a new kitchen table. She knew the exact one she wanted and had found it 2 years earlier but at the time didn’t have the money to buy it and lost the information on the maker. After searching for 2 years she felt God urging her to try again. She went to eBay and not only was a table exactly fitting her specifications on there, it was listed “pick up only” and in her city! She now has that table in her kitchen and I know it serves as a reminder to her that God does care about the little stuff.
And on SUCH a smaller scale….but remember, I said I believe God cares about it all….I was travelling to Nacogdoches today to speak at a women’s luncheon. As I drove, I was praying that it would be God who spoke through me and that the ladies would hear His words, and not mine when I spoke. When I finished praying, I turned on the car radio to our Christian station and the song that was playing…..”Give Me Words to Speak” by Aaron Shust.
And I think God did that too.
Our Sunday School teacher on Sunday shared how his 4th grade son was sending him emails that all ended with “LOL.” Assuming that his son meant “laugh out loud”, which is the common association with those letters, he told him that maybe he shouldn’t end ALL his emails that way since the tone or topic might not be appropriate for a big “laugh out loud” at the end.
His son said…”oh no, Dad….that’s not for Laugh Out Loud, that’s for Love Our Lord.” And feeling somewhat humbled by that he said, “well son, of course keep right on writing LOL.”
I love to do both…..laugh out loud AND love our Lord. So in the future if you see a text or email from me that says LOL and LOL, you’ll know what I mean.
Laugh Out Loud and Love Our Lord.
LOL and LOL!!!
My life long friend Beth sent me an email this week describing all the things she saw her friends doing and how she was feeling somewhat discouraged that her list of accomplishments wasn’t all she thought it should be. Her husband (who is seminary trained, a former pastor and a chaplain in the U.S. reserves) very wisely told her that she was accomplishing exactly what God had set before her to do and that nobody else could accomplish the tasks of being a mother to their family, Cubbie leader, encourager, etc. like she could.
Beth and I emailed back and forth about how we often compare ourselves to one another. We can easily become like Peter, who in John 21, when Jesus is clearly saying to Peter….”do this”, counters with…..”but what about him?”. Classic comparison. Instead of going and doing exactly what God was telling him to do, he (much like we are sometimes inclined to do) said….”but wait…what do you want him to do?” Jesus was pretty direct in his response, saying….”what is that to you? You FOLLOW me.” In other words….you go do what I’ve called you to do and stop worrying about what anyone else is or isn’t doing.
God has given each of us different talents and gifts for serving him and we can’t compare our gifts or callings to those of anyone else. My friend Tommy Brown once said “it is a beautiful thing to watch someone do exactly what God made for them to do.”
What is your thing of beauty? What gifts can you use to serve Him? Romans 12 :4-8 provides a listing of many of the spiritual gifts. Figure yours out and use it to serve Him. (There are even online resources to help you determine your gift.)
A favorite quote I have sitting next to my kitchen sink is from the wise (and funny!) Erma Bombeck who said….”when I stand before God at the end of my life I would hope that I would have not a single bit of talent left and could say, “I used everything you gave me.”
And I bet you anything she heard “well done, my good and faithful servant.”
Happy Veterans Day DAD!
Mom always says that she is never prouder than when she stands next to you when you are asked to stand and be recognized for your service to our country. I know you really aren’t much of a recognition kind of guy, but just so you know, Deah and I are proud too. We are all grateful for your service and that of all the Americans who have VOLUNTEERED to serve our country. We owe all of you a great debt.
And for the rest of us who enjoy our freedoms….here’s a way a friend sent me to show your thanks…
Sears – Christmas shopping has already started I know I needed this reminder since Sears isn’t always my first choice. Amazing when you think of how long the war has lasted and they haven’t withdrawn from their commitment. Could we each buy at least one thing at Sears this year? How does Sears treat its employees who are called up for military duty? By law, they are required to hold their jobs open and available, but nothing more. Usually, people take a big pay cut and lose benefits as a result of being called up. Sears is voluntarily paying the difference in salaries and maintaining all benefits, including medical insurance and bonus programs, for all called up reservist employees for up to two years. I submit that Sears is an exemplary corporate citizen and should be recognized for its contribution. I suggest we all shop at Sears, and be sure to find a manager to tell them why we are there so the company gets the positive reinforcement it well deserves. Pass it on.
Decided to check this before I sent it forward. So I sent the following e-mail to the Sears Customer Service Department:
I received this e-mail and I would like to know if it is true. If it is, the Internet may have just become one very good source of advertisement for your company. I know I would go out of my way to buy products from Sears instead of another store for a like item, even if it’s cheaper at that store.
This is their answer to my e-mail:
Dear Customer: Thank you for contacting Sears.The information is factual. We appreciate your positive feedback. Sears regards service to our country as one of greatest sacrifices our young men and women can make. We are happy to do our part to lessen the burden they bear at this time.
Sears Customer Care
Please pass this on to all your friends. Sears needs to be recognized for this outstanding contribution and we need to show them as Americans, we do appreciate what they are doing for our military!!!
It’s Verified! By Snopes.com at: http://www.snopes.com/politics/military/sears.asp (shows the entire article)
Enjoy your shopping, pray for our current soldiers and don’t forget to thank a vet!!