Worse Than “The Devil Made Me Do It”?

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This blog has been very quiet the last month. There’s one main reason for that, and her name is Sadie, our new goldendoodle puppy.

“Aw, she’s so cute,” you might say. Yes, she’s cute, but you aren’t the one getting up with her at 2:45 in the morning to take her out to pee in freezing cold temperatures. A little of that cuteness fades at that point.

So, here’s the story. I had no desire for a dog. Zero. Nada. Never in my life had I owned one. Yet, God blessed me with a little boy that has loved dogs practically since he came from the womb. His first birthday was even dog-themed. As many of you know he still carries his stuffed dog, Yoggie, all over the place.

If I had made a list on paper, the reasons to not get a dog would have outweighed the positive reasons to get one. However, sometimes I think God asks us to do things that aren’t reasonable. We often hear the phrase, “The devil made me do it,” but as a Christian I sometimes feel the Holy Spirit prompts me to do things way outside of my comfort zone. These things can even be painful. Some people get called to Africa, I get prompted to purchase a canine companion.

I can’t tell you yet if this was a good decision. Truthfully, I’ve struggled with anxiety for years on and off, and getting the dog made it spiral out of control. I went on medicine last week to try to get a grip on it. My prayer was that whatever dog we got would be just what our family needed. Maybe I needed one to take care of an issue that’s been festering for awhile. The ironic thing is, if the dog has taught me anything, it’s that I’ve had a very cushy life so far. I guess I needed a good dose of selflessness.

So, pray for me, will you, as I venture down this new road of pet ownership? Seriously, I could have far worse things to complain about!

By the way, she’s very smart. She already sits, lays down, dances in a circle, holds out her paw, and is already learning to ring the bells at the door to go outside to potty and she’s only 12 weeks old. Now you’re really wondering what I’m moaning about!!

What have you done outside of your comfort zone?

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Where’s the King?

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The students were all gathered around, eyes glued on the pictures. I was reading Snowmen at Christmas to a group of third graders per the teacher’s instructions. The illustrator cleverly hid certain items in each picture to find such as a mouse and a santa face, and the kids were on the lookout.

The book tells about what the author would imagine snowmen do after everyone is in bed at Christmas. A little bit of an interruption happened when I got to this passage:

“Such fun snowmen have!
But there’s still one more thing —
With hearts full of joy
They hold hands and they sing.

While the fiddler plays,
And sweet silver bells ring,
They sing songs about snow,
And the birth of a King.”

“What are they talking about?? There’s no king in that picture!” declared one indignant little girl.

I momentarily debated how to answer her question. I decided to be honest. “Well, many people who celebrate Christmas are Christians. The holiday to them is a celebration of the birth of Jesus, and they refer to him as a king. That’s the king they are talking about.”

“WHAT?!?!? she responded in obvious disbelief and confusion.

“Yes. And his mother was Mary, and his father was Joseph, and he was born in a stable…” one of the other little girls continued as girl number one simply looked baffled.

And then at that point I kept reading, because I didn’t really care to lose my very part-time job for bringing too much religion into the classroom.

This is one of the things I love about public school…the diversity of backgrounds and opinions. Why do we sometimes fear people who think differently than we do? At times we act as if it is contagious. We can miss out on rich relationships when we snub those who do not believe just as we do. Maybe I am too guilty of seeing where we have common ground instead of focusing on our differences, but I’ll take that criticism.

I have thought a lot about the idea of “Where is the King?” since that day. I reflected on the hullabaloo over the Starbucks plain red cup and the indignation over the phrase Happy Holidays. One of the things I have concluded is that the King is wherever we choose for him to be. In other words, I feel like it’s up to me to make him visible. It’s up to me to be sure my boys know why we celebrate Christmas. It’s up to me to make sure Christ stays in Christmas. For some it’s a holiday with a tree, presents, and Santa. So be it, but I need to reflect to others why I celebrate.

So whatever holiday you celebrate this time of year, I sincerely hope it’s enjoyable for you. As for me, I hope to focus on keeping the king in the picture.

Watch a video of the book here.

Blessings,

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Have a Holly Jolly Christmas

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I have fond memories of dancing around the living room as a girl listening to Burl Ives singing Have a Holly Jolly Christmas as it erupted from a record playing on my mom’s stereo that took up about half the wall in the dining area. Christmas did indeed feel like the best time of the year.

For most kids, Christmas is filled with anticipation, dreams, and excitement. It isn’t until we get a little older that we begin to realize the complications that the holiday can bring. My oldest son found himself in tears last weekend over the Christmas lights. He checked the strands before helping decorate the bushes and light post, but one strand on the post refused to work after it had been wrapped around. The whole process had not gone as he had foreseen, and he was feeling a bit devastated.

We had a little talk, and I shared how the older we get, the more things there are that try to steal our joy at Christmas time. These complications can often serve as a major distraction from the true satisfaction that Christmas is intended to bring. “Buddy, every time a Christmas task frustrates us, we have a choice: a choice to remember why we are celebrating, or the choice to wallow in our frustration. If we are doing something that only brings us a headache, then maybe we should rethink doing it.”

In Luke 2:10 we are told the angel told the shepherds he had good news of great joy. Don’t let your Christmas traditions get in the way of the joy of that first blessed Christmas day. Certain cookies may not get made, pictures may not turn out the way we had hoped, but if we remember to focus on the joy, our hearts will be prepared to overcome whatever difficulties we may encounter; for in the City of David, there was born to us a Savior, Christ the Lord.

**This post was written for the Sherwood Oaks advent blog. You can read daily entries if you are interested by clicking here.