Time is Short: Let’s Live in the Moment This Holiday Season

We are RIGHT in the middle of the biggest holiday season of the year, and I wanted to share something new that is on my heart and mind this year more than others.

TIME IS SHORT.

It seems to fly by these days. But one major way I see it, is that my parents are getting older. I still rely on my parents for advice and wisdom. I trust them more than anyone else on planet earth (aside from my spouse).

But. They are still getting older and time is short.

It wasn’t that long ago that as a little girl I was SO excited to make cookies for Santa and would dress up in my best dress for our church’s candlelight service on Christmas Eve.

And here I am at thirty years old recognizing the brevity of the life we have.

The holidays, from Halloween to New Years, is magical. But it’s also painful for so many people.

Pain from loss, pain from finances, pain from health problems, pain from change, pain from not being where you imagined you would be at this stage of life.

But in that pain, time is short. We can hold onto the hope of seasons passing and changing and still press into the good things that offset the painful ones in the season we find ourselves.

My “exhortation” (a very old school word in some ways) is to:

  • Live in the moment.
  • Don’t take anything good in your life now for granted.
  • Be good to your family and friends and sensitive to those who are struggling now.
  • Write down good memories in your journal and take lots of photos of your family and friends.

Time is short, but we can seize the good things and good parts of our day and lives, letting go of the bad. And time is short, so if we are in a painful season, we know it won’t last and we will be able to breathe again soon.

Growing Pains

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Sitting at a family dinner this past Holiday season I was struck by a conversation centered on growing pains. At the table was a 6 month old baby girl, and her mother mentioned to the group that her first teeth growing in and how she was teething and in pain. Then the conversation turned to a 60 year old having pain in her feet as she did simple things like cleaning and laundry. Then my cousin mentioned when he was 10 or 11 how much pain he was in for a couple of years, simply growing! Growth spurts do that to tall people.

I’m only 5’1″ and except for 1 or 2 achy nights in 5th grade, I didn’t have many growing pains as a young girl. At least not physically.

Emotionally and spiritually is another story.

This past New Year’s I got pretty, pretty happy. So happy that I don’t remember falling to my knees a couple of times throughout the night. Club and street- if I were sober I would have gawked at the drunken girl with a pink flower in her hair, unable to stand in her high heels or walk straight.

My soreness the next morning prompted my question to my friend, “Alison, did I fall last night??”

“Yeah. You did. A bunch of times,” was her simple reply.

Pain. Pain in my body, but mostly pain in my heart for being that reckless and careless to my limits with drinking and numbing out the other pain that got me to that point. Anesthetizing my heart with too many glasses of wine and mixed drinks, all the while dancing to loud music, and picking up random guys, points to more than just a cray cray New Years.

“What’s wrong with me?!” I’ve asked myself a few times this week as more bruises showed up on my knees, legs, and a distinct hand print from a man that left purple marks on my forearm as whoever he was picked me up.

Growing up isn’t easy. It’s painful. From little baby teeth, to achy joints just from growing, to aging bodies that we hear about from our elders.

But the pain that’s not so easy to see… that we hide away with a smile, or stare blankly at the wall depressed, that keeps us up at night in worry, that makes our hearts ache, that makes us cry silently in the shower so no one else will hear… it’s those pains that I’ve almost gotten used to throughout my middle school to post college years.

It’s those pains that I want the most freedom from.

It’s those pains that I want to escape.

And I KNOW, without a doubt… I’ve learned the lesson enough times… I can’t just numb those pains with a bottle, fake laugh, and kiss from a stranger in the night. It doesn’t work.

No, no. These pains need something, Someone much stronger and more powerful than too many drinks and stranger’s lips.

The reality is after a night like New Years, I realize how desperate I really am for an answer to my aches and pains. Heartache and growing pain. It’s not easy, but there is a way to heal…

I think like losing weight, or training for a triathlon, or working up in a career, all of which are slow, daily processes… the growing pains of the heart and spirit can be healed, but it looks like a slow process of turning to God, giving up the crap instead of just “dealing with it”, and being okay with good days and bad days. It’s a battle and a marathon, not a walk in the park.

Healing, freedom, and escape come through the Man who gave His life on a jagged cross, and then rose 3 days later for me and for you.

John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

That’s Jesus talking. That He came to give life ABUNDANTLY. I know the destruction substances can cause. I’ve experienced that from the thief. But I feel like it has been a while that I’ve experienced an abundant life through Him… almost like I don’t deserve it.

I have about six New Year Resolutions for 2017 (in 2016 I didn’t make any), but my main resolution is to let Jesus have more of my heart. To trust Him like I used to when I was a little girl. To let Him take the growing pains and make them something beautiful. To discover with Him this abundant life that He came to bring. That I’m worth it to Him.

And though like training for a triathlon or getting ahead in a career, the process of letting Jesus take control of my growing pains might seem slow some days… we will make it together. And that will be a beautiful thing.

To 2017.

To an abundant life in Him.

What About Mary?

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Photo Cred: Joecy Mijares

 

*This post was originally written for Know Your Value by Wonderfully Made.

Every little girl who goes to church at Christmastime wishes she could be Mary. Age 9, 10, 11… Girls want to be Mary in the Christmas plays they watch and stories they hear. Mary, an innocent girl, chosen and well favored by God, to carry the baby Jesus, the Savior and Messiah. An angel visited her and she said, “Yes.” She went on an adventure with her new husband and even got to ride a donkey! We know the end of the story, and to us, to the little girls she is honored and venerated.

But what about the big girls? Do the big girls look at Mary and wish to be her, a chosen, favored girl tasked with an enormous responsibility and life change?

To be honest, I haven’t until recently. I wanted to be well favored and chosen for sure, but when it actually comes to living my life for God, as His servant and tasked with hard things, I cower. I ignore Him. I whine and complain. I make excuses for not stepping up in certain situations. And then to top it all off, I cry at night because my life is not what I dreamed it would be.

To be sure, in my heart, I’m God’s servant and loyal follower. I’ll volunteer and give my time and I’ll work wherever and do whatever for Him because I love Him.

But do I really with my actions? It seems I put up a fight when His plans and my plans do not align.

Mary was a teenager when she got engaged to Joseph. Perhaps, like other young girls throughout the generations, she dreamed of marrying this man of her dreams. Perhaps when he looked at her from across the street her stomach flip-flopped a little. Perhaps she pictured giggling with her friends and putting on beautiful attire on her wedding day. Perhaps she imagined their lives together, the children they might have, what they might name their kids…

Then, Gabriel, an angel of the Lord, came to Mary and told her that she was chosen. She stood out and God wanted her to be the carrier of His Child, whose name is already picked out. At this annunciation, she asked just one question, “how is this possible as I am a virgin?” The angel told her that all things are possible to God, “the power of the Most High will overshadow you,” (Luke 1: 35). And she responded, “may it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).

REALLY?! That’s it? No other questions? No complaints? No worries (at least not expressed in the biblical document we read today)? No “let me think about it, you’re asking me a huge thing, and I’ll get back to you”? No selfishness over this rather ginormous wrench in her plans starting out her life with her new husband? Perhaps if I were there, I would have said to her, “Girl! Hold on a second, THIS IS YOUR LIFE!” …Or is it?

I’ve done all of that and more as I’ve felt God pushing me to walk into daunting situations. And nothing so life-changing as having a baby!

I picture Mary at Christmas with my little girl eyes, walking across a church stage with Joseph, or sitting serenely in a nativity scene. With that little girl perspective, I wish I was so good and honored that God would choose me to do something big for Him! Then, with dubious “grown up” eyes, I wonder have I ever been that brave and trusting of God in painful, hard experiences? When He’s asked me to do courageous things, have I ever responded simply, “may it be as You have said” without questioning, balking, or looking back?

Mary was brave and honored, and not just through her experience of carrying the Son of God, but in her whole demeanor and total acceptance of His plan and of this “wrench” in her life. She loved Him more than her own dreams, reputation, and fiancé.

She recognized that His plan, Gabriel, the virgin birth were not a wrench in her plans, but exactly where she was supposed to be, at His time doing His will.

This was His plan; her life was not her own.

I see it even more in the song she sang to her sister-in-law, whom she visited soon after finding out about Jesus.

“My soul exalts the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has had regard for the humble state of His bond slave; For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed. For the Mighty One has done great things for me; and holy is His name…” (Luke 1: 46-49).

Mary, at such a young age, knew that her whole reason for being was her God and her soon to be Son, Jesus.

Friends, you might not have an angel sit with you to deliver a message from God, but I encourage you to think like Mary this Christmas. If God asks you to do difficult things and join in on His plan with action, think about saying “yes” openly as Mary did. Be them hard or sweet, His plans are always good.

A Christmas Poem.

christmas-stress-511x340It flew in so fast, it’s that time of the year…

Tinsel, music, decorations, and good cheer.

The tree is up, the lights are tangled.

Stop little brother! Now I’m getting strangled.

Mom! He pushed me and is pulling my hair.

Hunny, be a lady, you’re acting like a bear.

But I… But he…

I don’t even LIKE Christmas tress!

The stockings are lined up all in a row.

Wood fire is crackling, the fireplace aglow.

Did you wrap all your presents? Who are you forgetting?

I did Mom, I did! Okay, hun, just checking!

Sugary sweet, candy canes.

White candles burning in windowpanes.

Christmas cookies for Santa, all of them bright green.

But the best decoration of all is the Nativity Scene.

Oh right, it’s Christmas!

It’s about remembering Jesus.

The Christmas spirit, that time of the year…

Tinsel, music, decorations, and good cheer.