Beauty in Brokenness

"He has made everything Beautiful in it's time." Eccl. 3:11

Book Shelf: Crazy Busy

Over New Year’s, I spent 5 days in Indianapolis for our Cru winter conference IndyCC (posted here).  One of the many perks of working for Cru is their desire to care for us spiritually.  I do not (or try not to) take for granted that I have time with the Lord and spiritual development time built into my work schedule.  Seriously, it is a huge blessing.

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During our initial staff meeting before the students arrived, all 400 staff members were gifted a book called ‘Crazy Busy’  by Kevin DeYoung.  He was also the author of ‘Just Do Something’ which is sitting on my book shelf, but unread (Many people have briefed me on the content and I will highly recommend it, tho I still haven’t read it).

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Crazy Busy… do they know my life or what?!  My standard answer lately when asked how things are going has been “Busy, but I think that’s just life.” Amen!

My Director has made a point to our students a number of times that even in their crazy schedules of work, class, homework, clubs, church, and biblestudies… The college years are the least busy they will ever be.  Not that it is not busy, it is!  But you schedule is flexible.  If you want to plan a break in classes to get a 2 pm nap in, you can.  And trust me, this is how most people made it through their college experience.  If you want to play ball at the Rec in the evening and stay up til 4am writing a paper you can.  If you want all morning or night classes you can.  If you want to work Tues. and Thurs. and take classes only 3 days a week, you can.  Your schedule is full but flexible, its subjective.

My life is a little different, but I still fall into that same category in many ways.  It’s so busy.  Even in the moments where I do not have anything scheduled, I am plagued by the endless list of things that I need to fit in somehow.  People I need to connect with, tasks that need done, and plans that should be made.  Its not that I am super productive.  Normally I really don’t get much done, but I am exhausted and overwhelmed by the list of things in my head that I need to get done.  And every new opportunity does not seem like an opportunity, but an obligation.  One more thing that needs to fit somewhere, even if it is supposed to be fun.

And let’s be honest, I am young and single.  I haven’t even experienced life that involves caring for, providing for, and managing the lives of children and a spouse.  My time and my schedule are my own for the most part.  I do not even know busyness yet, like many of you do.

Can anyone relate?  Then this book is for you!!

DeYoung clearly writes not from a perspective of an expert, but as someone who is plagued with the same problem and trying to work toward a solution together.  It is refreshing and relatable.  The book is quick and conversational.  The content is not theology heavy, but also not solely a ‘How-to: Improve your life in these easy steps’ type book.  The aim is practical perspective on our own hearts and patterns, how perspective/truth and intentionality (along with theology) can help us to fight busyness.

DeYoung adresses 3 dangers to avoid, 7 diagnosis to consider, and 1 solution.

Some of the subjects he addresses is pride, media, people pleasing, and a number of relevant things to consider.

Most of all I appreciate that he reminds us that busyness is not a bad thing.  We were made to be busy.  Jesus was the busiest man on the planet, but was without sin.  He was not busy with self reliance, exhaustion, frustration, pride, or burnout.  We are made to be busy.  We are called to carry each other’s burdens.  As a Christian, I am called to love and serve.  This is messy, inefficient, and tiring.  It calls for self sacrifice.

We can be busy while still being joyful.  We can have full schedules without sinning.  But only if our goal is not to accomplish everything, but only what God sets before us.  He goes with us.  We have to work hard to rest fully.  But only in His strength.

We also have to leave margins in our life to allow God room to work.  If we cram our schedule full to the brim, we will have no time to sit with someone who is hurting, share the Gospel with someone that God puts in our path, or allow for divine appointments that God has ‘prepared for us ahead of time.’.

There are so many little pieces from this book that I would love to share.  So many things that spoke life and relief to my heart.  But I would highly recommend you check it out for yourself.

I’ll leave you with this quote… and hopefully it will leave you wanting more.

“We can rest because He worked. We can lay down our pride full busyness because He laid down His life. We can keep coming back to Him in the midst of our failures because He keeps all His promises to us.”

Linking here

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IndyCC: Game Changer

Every year I pack up on the 27th and head to the JW Mariott in Indianapolis to ring in the New Year in a very unique way.  The 27th seems to come fast for me, but many students look forward to break for months then end up bored after a few days off of class.  IndyCC is a Winter Conference for our region (Great Lakes: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio).  The heart is to provide an opportunity for students to use part of their break to grow and invest in their relationship with the Lord.  They can reconnect with friends, hear about so many opportunities for serve, hear from well known speakers and artists, and have an amazing New Years Eve!!!

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As a student, IndyCC was the highlight of my year.  It challenged me in my faith in more ways than I can ever describe.  As I am now on staff it has taken on a whole new meaning.

I will admit that as I loaded the car on the 27th to head to Indy, I was not super excited.  All my family was still hanging out at home.  Christmas is wonderful but still busy, so I was wishing for a few more days to relax before jumping in to the next thing.

But I had the best time!

A few hundred staff members and 2,000 students from 4 states finished off the year together.

Night of worship together

Night of worship together

The conference looks different for me now than it did a few years ago.  My job this year was to be a classroom leader for childcare in the 3 year old room.  I was so nervous about it, but it was a highlight of the week.  The kids are so fun, and it was great to be able to serve and give the parents freedom to serve and invest in people’s lives.

We heard from multiple speakers over the course of the week. Mike Erre was the most memorable for what I could tell.  He took a huge risk and addressed a topic that is not easy in our culture.  He spoke from the book of Genesis specifically about Sexual Brokenness today.  His over personal story and his transparency took many of us by surprise.  He spoke more candidly than any speaker I have ever heard on the subject.  In a way you could feel the surprise and uncomfortableness in the room, but it soon faded into sincere curiosity.

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Sexual brokenness is a topic that is a reality in the culture that we live in.  Especially in college.  More and more Christians are dealing with temptations that they have never experienced before.  If we think that we can live in the world and not add reality of sex in our culture we are doing ourselves and our children and students a huge injustice.  Caring for them means entering into messy and uncomfortable things in order to speak truth.  From the outside, you have no idea what anyone is dealing with or exposed to.  Trust me!  More students than I have ever encountered before who even grew up in Christian homes are battling hard against very difficult struggles and temptations.  Lets help them battle, by walking with them.

I may try to go into greater (but sensitive) detail at a later time after I have a chance to really get my head around the things we head this week.  But by the end of the week, students were given time to pray and come before the Lord with the things going on in their hearts and lives.  They were given a chance to come and share things they are struggling with to our staff members and be prayed for.  Many students came and shared things that they had never talked to anyone about before.  Things they had done, or had done to them.  They were reminded of God’s love and forgiveness and restoration.  After truly realizing freedom from things that have been weighing on them for so long, many accepted Christ as their Savior for the first time.  Never having realized that Christ will really, truly forgive them of all sin.

It was a beautiful sight.

I am so grateful to God for my job.  I struggle with needing to do things in my own strength, so often it is difficult for me to not feel like I am accomplishing anything.  But the great thing about my job (once I let my self enjoy it) is that I am merely available, and I get to watch what the Lord is doing in students lives.

It’s not all serious business.  I can guarantee that you have never been to a cooler New Year’s Party.  Decked out in their Thrift store best (the theme was I’m so Thrifty… get it?! Fancy), we danced all night to our stellar DJ until we were too sweaty to stay.  And chilled at the Open Mic!

Dressed up for the "I'm so Thrifty" Themed dance party!

Dressed up for the “I’m so Thrifty” Themed dance party!

The Highlight over all is praying in the New Year.  We spent 40 minutes praying with the 2,000 students for our globe, country, and campuses.  Followed by counting down to midnight and worshipping for the first full hour or so of the year with Matt McCoy and his band.  It’s the most vibrant worship I have ever been apart of.

What a great way to start off the year!  I pray that I can keep my eyes on the Lord as the year unfolds.  I pray that He can remind me of my love for people, my awesome opportunity to get a front row seat to the way He is changing lives, and that I can remember the joy of being in the presence of the Lord in all situations, even when I can’t be worshipping with so many others.

4 of our guys praying in the New Year

4 of our guys praying in the New Year

It should also be noted that my boyfriend surprised me by driving 3 hours to Indy to spend some time with me there.  I love how supportive he is of my job and ministry.  He genuinely supports and prays for us and jumps in to help wherever he can.  I am so blessed by that man 🙂

Look who I found!  So surprised!

Look who I found! So surprised!

I am planning on following up this post with more specific stories of the way the Lord worked this week to give you a glimpse of the things He is doing.  But for now, I am so blessed to have this opportunity and I am so grateful for those who partner with me to make it possible.

How did you celebrate your New Years?

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New years

The New Year is here.  Each year it seems to take me forever to transition to putting the new year down when I have to date something.  But this year in anticipation of 2015, I have jumped ahead a little early.  Needless to say people were a little confused when I submitted an expense report for December 2015 :-/  Oops!

New Years comes and goes so quickly.  Sometimes I am genuinely surprised that I am exactly the same on January 2nd as I was on December 30th. I must be really excited to see what is in store for this next year. 2014 was a good one.  You will be missed.

Some highlights from 2014 are

: -Lots and Lots of coffee (seriously, I really think I have a problem)

-Chicago!  Awesome people and A great city

-Finishing my first year at NIU with Cru

-Seven fun weddings… Yes, I said 7!

-A Cubs Game

-Lots of Travel

-New Friends

-Better fitness

My Favorite Album of 2014:  1989 Taylor Swift and Ben Rector

Favorite Book: Kitchen House by Kathleen Grisson

Favorite Movie: Annie

Craziest memory:  Getting snowed in the house for 3 days with waaaaaay too much snow and cold outside

It was a fun year with some great people! But don’t be fooled, it was also one of my most challenging years yet.  There were a lot of tears, a lot of conflict, and a lot of fear.  I end the year with not much more certainty or direction that I began.  But I also end with a deeper knowledge that God is in control.  He has a plan, and He doesn’t need to run that by me for approval.  While there have been times that I doubted, I know with more assurance than ever before that He loves me.  And a much deeper knowledge that I do NOT deserve it. And that folks, makes 2014 a huge success!

I’m not one for New Year’s Resolutions normally.  But I do have areas that I want to grow in.  The biggest thing I want to work on is to live a life of gratitude.  To live in the moment and see the blessings around me.  To learn to be content with my circumstances.

Also, my goal is to drink more water and less coffee (this makes me sad). And to get more sleep.  And maybe less dependent on technology. (Facebook and instagram)

What are highlights from your year?  What are your hopes for 2015?

**Linking up here today and here

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Christmas Wrap up :)

Christmas week was a bright spot of the season.  Not only were we blessed with unseasonable mild weather, but there were lots of blessings stuffed into one week.  As per usual, Christmas did not go as planned but we improvised and had a great day 🙂 I don’t get home often, but when I do… There are so many people to see.  I never get them all.  I am so thankful that I got to spend some quality time with a forever friend who was here for the Holidays from California.  (looking forward to see her again sooner than normal!) Plus some Quality Time with some of these crazies…

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And many that we did not get pics of (who has time for pics anyway!) Probably one of my favorite days of the year.  Its still holds the anticipation of Christmas, which is the most fun.  We always, always go to my home church’s Candle lit Christmas Eve service with my whole family.  Its fun because I get to see everyone all at one time.  So many of my childhood friends are still there with their families so it is like a reunion.  Plus something about a whole room filled with lit candles and the sound of Silent Night being sung always gets me.  Its such a great picture of lives being touched with the light of the Gospel and being spread to others.  Love it!

Photo Cred: Kallie-Jo Wolf

Photo Cred: Kallie-Jo Wolf

After the service, my parents and brother and I caught a late movie… Annie!  So good 🙂

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One perk to being older is that there is not pressure to wake up before the sun to see what Santa brought me.  That left sometime to enjoy the quiet and reflect a little before that busyness of the day. We opened presents as a family and got to share a yummy breakfast of homemade cinnamon rolls before my dad set to work cooking for lunch with my mom’s side. After lunch, we got to spend some time outside riding motor scooters and getting messy in the yard throwing a football.  (well some of us did… maybe not me)

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My grandpa on my dad’s side woke up with a fever :-/ ( I hope he isn’t getting that nasty flu bug) so we spent the evening at my cousin’s new house instead.  Everyone brought a homemade pizza and we hangout and caught up.  It was a really relaxed evening, and I personally love those types of Christmas’. The day after Christmas might have been my favorite day over all.  We woke up with no plan, which is not my MO, but pretty usual in my family.  My cousins from out of town suggested ice skating.  They are young and full of energy so sometimes it a challenge to keep them entertained while they are here because honestly there is not much to do.  But bless their hearts, they are troopers. So iceskating we went!  And we decided to take advantage of a small window of family being in town.  My younger cousins from the other side of the family as well as some (might as well be) family joined us.  We were quite a crew!  The kids did great.. and surprisingly none of us ‘adults’ wiped out either!  We will call it a success. IMG_2237IMG_2309IMG_2308IMG_2307IMG_2304IMG_2302IMG_2299

The evening ended with our final family Christmas on my Dad’s side.  We do appetizers and share the Christmas story.  Then we all exchange gifts.  The kids open stockings and the adults exchange name at Thanksgiving and buy for the other person. Once all the gifts are open, its time for our annual Wrapping paper fight… It gets a little crazy!  Especially when the younger cousins get really excited.  Wrapping paper is not as soft as you might think.  But if you can hoard your paper right, you can dominate the room! And we tried for a family picture….

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That’s the best we got…

It was great to see my family and spend quality time together.  The next day I headed out early to drive to Indianapolis for our annual Winter Conference (more on that later.)  I was sad to leave since so much of my family was still in town, but I am already looking forward to next year 🙂 How was your Christmas?  What was a favorite family memory?

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Friday Favorites: {Weird} Christmas Traditions

Linking up once again for Friday Favorites.

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Now I know a lot has happened since Christmas and I hope to catch up on that stuff soon.  Today I want to mention some of our family traditions.  Every family does things differently, and we are definitely different.  Here are a few favorite, unique {Read: Weird} traditions.

Favorite #1 Weird traditions- The Pickle

The Christmas Pickle

The Christmas Pickle

In my family, every year my brother and I “compete” to find the hidden pickle ornament in the tree.  (I use the word compete loosely.  The bro always wins).  This is not necessarily all that weird.  The pickle might have a german origin.  Nevertheless, my dad hides it.  We look for it.  Its not as easy as you might think.  I am not competitive in nature so I normally get bored and give up until Brad finds it.  The winner is suppose to receive a special present… But my parents always get something for both.  So my motivation is not all that high.  We are all winners 🙂

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Favorite #2- Stockings

My Dad always gets a pint of his favorite ice cream{Baskin Robin’s Chocolate Peanut Butter}, and the brother and I always get a pen and a flashlight in our stockings.  Its the little things you can count on.

Also things like gift cards, Chapstick, candies, and some sort of fruit always make an appearance.

Our stockings were hand made by a family friend, and I love them!  They are the prettiest stockings I have ever seen.

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Favorite #3- Snow Ball fights!

On my dad’s side, we cap off the gifts with a huge wrapping paper fight.   You know its a family favorite when my 80 year old grandma gets in on the action.  It can get dangerous….  You have to be on top of your wrapping paper ball game.  The key is to hoard as much of the paper as possible, and make alliances well.  You do not want to get on the receiving end of my older cousin or my uncle.  They show now mercy.

Favorite #4 Gift tags

I have no idea when this began… but in some of the late night Christmas Eve wrapping sessions my dad decided he needed something to keep him awake.  So he started to get creative with the {To: and From: } sections.  It started off harmless with Frosty and Mrs. Clause getting in on the party.  But as the years go by and my dad continues to one up himself I have begun getting presents from some very random places.  Some make no sense. Some are inside jokes.  Many need deciphering as presents are handed out.  But we get a lot of laughs out of it.  These silly tags are one of my favorite things about Christmas morning.

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Favorite #5 – Movie Night

Following Christmas Eve, my immediate family take some time away to go to a late night movie.  This is seriously one of the things I look forward to most.  Many families go to movies together on Christmas day, but we enjoy the less crowded Christmas Eve.

This year we saw Annie. I don’t care what the critics say…. I loved it!!  Like really loved!  I’m a musical type of girl.

Annie

**Bonus:  I heard 2 really impactful quotes this year from local pastors that I wanted to share

  • “I more than celebrating the Baby Jesus, that we will celebrate the Savior that the baby would become.” Tracy Smith, First Baptist Church of Mt. Zion
  • “The good news which brings great joy: God loves sinners- true, deep, abiding affection for those who haven’t loved him back.”

Amen!  I pray that in the fun of the Holidays, our joy will be firmly planted in the knowledge of our Savior.

What are some weird traditions your family has this time of year?

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The Real “Reason for the Season”

Can anyone believe how fast Christmas has come up this year?  It’s here.  I have already gone to Christmas Eve service and wrapped all my presents.  This is it!

I have mentioned before that I have not had the easiest time getting into the Holiday Spirit this year.  Its like I never sat down long enough to get my head around it.  There was always something else to do, something that I needed to get figured out.  There was always something else that needed to happen before it really felt like Christmas.  Sometimes I think I am just waiting to recreate that childhood Christmas magic.

But as an adult I realize that “Christmas Magic”  does not just happen.  It’s why my parents were always up until 2 a.m. Christmas Eve night.  It was not easy to work full time, buy all the presents, remember where you hid them, wrap them, get everyone to the parties on time (and dressed).  It takes a lot of planning and work.

But it is totally worth it!

I was sitting in the Christmas Eve service this season and I realized something.  The real “reason for the season”  is Jesus Christ.  But I had been so caught up in other things that I was not really feeling it.  I think I had told myself,”This needs my attention right now, but later I will meditate on the important part.”  But that “perfect time”  never came.  I was trading the Urgent for the Important.

What feels urgent is not always what is most important, and what is most important does not always feel urgent.

On the few occasions I tried to sit down and really dwell on the Birth of our savior, I was not feeling it.  Even in a Church service dedicated solely to that, I found myself in a different state of mind entirely.  Bitter from unmet expectations, Selfish towards my own wants and plans, Anxious with pressure to meet self-imposed expectations.  Thoroughly bored with the “same old story” but wanting to put on a very grateful and spiritual facade.

Then I stopped myself.  I do not need to feed the lie that because I am in ministry that I need to look like I have it all together.  I do not need to give in to the pressure to have some earth shattering revelation about Christmas just because it is December 25th.

To be real, I was wrong.  It is not ok to be greedy, selfish, prideful, resentful, worried, or stressed.  But not just because I am in a Christmas service.  I should not be those things ever.  Because that is not what Christ wants.  Thats not why He came to be born… and to die.  He did that so that we wouldn’t have to be those things.

Jesus is not some self-absorbed spoiled Prince, who wants you to be happy and Holy for His birthday party, but won’t really notice our sour attitudes the rest of the time.  He also is not the type to want us to put on a smile so we don’t ruin His celebration, and not care that we are sad or scared or hurting.  That is not my Jesus.

He is the same Jesus on the cross as He was in that manger.  And He died so that we can be free from self-righteousness.

I want to celebrate the birth and death of Jesus everyday, not just for a week out of the year.  That means being real with how you feel, seeing it in light of what Jesus did for you on the cross, and allowing Him to enter in and change that.

So yes… I want to truly celebrate Jesus’ birth this Christmas.  But I want to really celebrate the reason He came, and the implications.  That He came to be born because He knew that I would have to fake my way through a service dedicated to Him.  Because I am not capable of fully understanding the wonder of what He did.  And I will probably ignore it often.

That’s why He came.  Isn’t it beautiful, that He came to save me from my mistakes, and He forgives me for them even when it directly hurts Him?

How are you doing this Christmas?  Where is your heart?

Wherever it is… Jesus is ready to receive it.

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Friday Favorites: Christmas Break

Its Friday again 🙂  and its a special Friday… The last Friday before Christmas!  I seriously can’t believe it.  I am linking up again today with Andrea, Narci, and Erika.

This is definitely a season of celebrating, not just Christmas, but lots and lots of Birthdays.  So much fun to be had.

Favorite #1

Groupon

Groupon!  I have a serious love for groupon.  I am not as much a gift person as an experience person.  I love to do things rather than unwrap a present.  Groupon has made it possible to do so many fun things that I would never have been able to do.

Murder Mystery Dinner

So excited to see who did it!

So excited to see who did it!

Box Seats to the Cubs Game

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Paint Nite with Girlfiriends (see below)

Also grabbed a fun laptop case there once!

Check it out!  You can get some fun gifts for an affordable price.

Favorite #2

Paint Nite at Blue Agave in Chicago

Paint Nite at Blue Agave in Chicago

Paint Nite 🙂  These Wine and Paint events are getting to be really trendy these days.  I had to miss my BFF’s birthday celebration because I was at a Staff Conference, so to make it up to her we planned a girl’s nite in the city.  They company hosts Paint Nite at various restaurants in different cities.  It was a blast!

Fun group of girls :)

Fun group of girls 🙂

As we celebrated her belated bday, we also got to celebrate our other friends birthday a day early… And got a little shout out to Christmas in too!

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Favorite #3

I know, I know…. But TSwift tho….

Taylor Swift 1989

Taylor Swift 1989

I love her new album.  Blank Space is played on repeat at my place (much to my roommates dismay, but Hey!  She is out numbered).

You may be a fan, or a hater.  I am still a loyal fan 🙂  Love the old country TSwift, but I am definitely diggin’ the new stuff as well.

Favorite #4

Speaking of catchy music… Have you heard the new Bruno Mars song?

I dare you to listen and not dance.  Also, I dare you to not listen again… and again, and again.

My friends may or may not be planning to learn the trumpet now.

Favorite #5

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

To me relaxing means reading… and now that I have a week or 2 break I am ready for a good book.

The Kitchen House by Kathy Grissom is a great book.  I am almost finished and have barely put it down.  The story line follows a girl who was an indentured servant for a plantation in the late 1700’s.  She befriends the other help as well as the mater’s family and all of their lives gets really entwined.  It is engaging and really insightful.  I would highly recommend it!

So excited to start another week… I am sure it will be full of lots of favorites!  How do you plan to spend your Holidays?  What are you favorite traditions?

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Never too cool for Christmas

Its only 8 days to Christmas!  I can’t believe how quickly it is going by.  I will admit I am not a “Christmas Person”.  Not that I don’t enjoy Christmas, but I am not ALL about it, ya know?  You know the people I am talking about.

I enjoy the coziness of the season… and I am hugely appreciative that my roommates thought to put up the lights in our small apartment.  I enjoy excuses to celebrate with friends, and Christmas cookies, and buying gifts for people.  But I don’t have to flood my house with decorations, watch every Christmas movie around, and play Christmas music 24/7.  (Confession:  I haven’t even watched Elf this year!)

To be honest, I am not a fan of Christmas music in general.  Maybe some of the old classy stuff I don’t mind having in the background.  And I am a sucker for these classics

But the second the worship band at church starts playing ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’ I check out.  It’s not something I am proud of but I just don’t appreciate the music.  Mostly I think it is because it has been so overplayed and overused that I have lost all sense of the meaning.

This is my overall feeling about Christmas sometimes.  I lose perspective on the reason we celebrate because I just have let myself been flooded with everything else going on this time of year.

But on Sunday I really listened to the words… And when we got to the last verse I was floored with the truth hidden deeply in the lyrics

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

That is the reason for the season.  If you are not moved by the idea of the son of God coming as a cute little baby, think about the reason that He came.  Think of what He was to do, for us.  Its not about a precious birth, but about a beautiful sacrifice.  Think of where He came from and all that He left.

He did not come to have fun here on earth.  His focus was not this earth at all.  I get so caught up with here and now.  Worrying about making the most of this life.  Christ came so that we can enjoy eternity.  And He was the only one with a clear view of what that is like.  He was so compelled by the desire to spend eternity with us, He sacrificed it to come here.

He did not come so that we can give each other presents, although I am sure that He thoroughly enjoys watching us share love with each other through the gift of giving in His name.  (He is the ultimate gift giver after all, and does love a party!)  But He came so the we can celebrate with Him for eternity.  It makes our Christmas celebrations look about as fun as taking the GRE.

The Angels celebrated on the day of His birth, not as much because He was born, but because He was going to die.  Die so that we can enter eternity with Him.

So if your stressed out about making this Christmas season perfect and cozy and everything everyone wants it to be.  Relax!  And remember the best is yet to come.

What a humbling and beautiful reminder for me… especially when I wanted to believe I was too cool for Christmas.

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Friday Favorites: Media edition

Linking up again with these fun ladies: Andrea, Erika, and Narci

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During the Holidays, I get some much needed time to indulge in a lot of movie watching.  There are so many good movies to check out, and my family loves to watch movies together.  Its just fun to wind down at the end of the day with a good movie and some fun people all together in the same room.

I have already got to see some fun ones this season so I thought I would make a shout out to some of  my faves.

Disclaimer:  I am not really a movie buff.  I enjoy movies, but I am not an expert on what makes a good movie.  As long as I am entertained, its good in my book.

Favorite #1: Mocking Jay

MockingJay

Such a great movie.  It made it better that I got to see it with my whole staff team during a Cru Conference.  (See my about me page for more info.)  We made sure to all buy our tickets ahead of time so that we could sit together.

I will be the first to admit that the 3rd book was not my favorite of the series, and I was skeptical when I heard that they made it into 2 movies.  But I was pleasantly surprised.  I really enjoyed it.  I am a Jennifer Lawrence fan.

Favorite #2: The Giver

The Giver Film Adaptation 2014

This was a top fave!  Many people I talked to said that they had read the book in middle school, but I missed that some how.  I did not know what to expect, but it was a really intriguing plot with a good cast.  I found it very enjoyable and family friendly.  It seemed to me like a cross between Hunger Games, and V for Vendetta. Although I might not rely on that description.  Just see it for yourself.

Favorite #3: Big Hero 6

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So cute!!  A great movie for a family.  My boyfriend and I went to see it on a date and were very happy with our choice. So it is actually good for all ages.  It was such a different kids movie than any of the other ones I have seen.  It was endearing and not predictable.  Plus I definitely laughed out loud, “awwwwww-ed”, and teared up over the course of the movie.  2 thumbs up!

My all time favorite Holiday movies:

I’ll Be Home for Christmas (family favorite- Who doesn’t love Jonathan Taylor Thomas? Home Improvement throw back)

I'll be Home for Christmas

The Santa Claus (again, I miss Tim “the Tool Man” Taylor!)

The_Santa_Clause

And… The Holiday

the Holiday

I know its not actually about Christmas, but it is a great movie… and it happens during Christmas so it counts!

More movies I am looking forward to:

  • Pitch Perfect 2
  • The Hobbit
  • Annie
  • Into the Woods
  • Cinderella
  • Fox Catcher

What movies do love during that Holidays?!

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Parties and Perspectives

A week ago we had our Christmas Cru meeting.  It felt a little early but with the semester ending and finals this week, we wanted to make sure that we got to celebrate the Holiday with our students.  Our movement wide party was the next evening, but we all needed a little time to meditate on Christmas, the real Christmas.  Honestly, I am glad that we did it so early, because I really needed to get some perspective to fully enjoy the Holiday season.

**To learn more about Cru, see the About section.  Cru is a Christian student movement on college campuses nationwide.

Our Director (so blessed to have him finally!!!) started out his talk by asking “how do you feel about Christmas right now?”

Loaded question…

I appreciated (and was challenged by) his honest answer when he said the 3 things he is most looking forward to about Christmas in this moment is giving gifts, getting gifts, and food.

What?!?!  You can’t say that!!

Oh, but he did.

And you know what, aren’t we all.  Or something to that extent.

If I were to name the thing I am thinking about most over Christmas, it would be a break. Honestly some days all I can think about is one day to stay in my sweat pants until noon.

I haven’t barely even thought about Christmas yet, except to freak out and obsess over what in the world to buy as gifts.  And honestly, not in a “I love you so much I want to get you something you really love” sort of way, but a “I am the worst at presents and don’t want to embarrass myself” sort of way.

Next in line comes thinking about family parties and celebrations.  But honestly, I was ashamed to realize how little I had thought about Jesus this season so far.  We spend so much time planning “celebrations” that I just don’t celebrate.

Thanks Jesus for giving me an excuse to be a bum, and then go to lots of parties.

 

Don’t get me wrong… I firmly believe that God loves a good celebration.  He wants us to enjoy the gifts He gave us.  Family is a blessing to be cherished. Financial provision is a blessing to us so that we can shower our loved ones with special things.  God does not solely want us to lock ourselves in our rooms with our Bible asking for forgiveness for our scattered brains during His son’s birthday.

He wants us to celebrate!  The angels even had a party that day.

Embrace the season for what it is.  Redeem the worldly idea of Christmas, don’t just complain about it.  Recognize our own tendency (even in good intentions) to take the glory away from Christ this season.  Accept grace in that and then renew your mind.

Don’t avoid things like parties, gifts, and celebrations…. But make them what they were meant to be.  A way to enjoy the gifts and blessings of our Savior.

That’s what the ultimate gift was for anyway.  The son came because we were never going to be able to get it right.  We were always going to fail Him.  We would never be able to stop ourselves from sinning.

So He came as a baby, lived a full life without sin, giving perfect glory to His Father, and died in our place.  So that even in our imperfect celebration of Him we can experience grace and forgiveness.

How crazy!  He died so that when we screw up we wouldn’t have to.  He died so that when we mess up and get caught up in our own selfish thoughts, plans, and worries, that we wouldn’t have to beat ourselves up about it constantly.

All we have to do this season is to recognize and confess when things get in the way, and allow Him to turn our thoughts back to Him.  How can we not celebrate after experiencing that mercy!

And that my friends is what the season is all about.

 

In the midst of the busyness, I urge you to take some quiet time alone with our Savior this season.  Let Him renew your heart, and get to know Him in a new way.  Then we can feel more free to celebrate the Jesus we know personally.


Here are a few pics from our end of the year celebrations for you to enjoy.

Crowding around the food as usual :)

Crowding around the food as usual 🙂

The "decorate your own cookie" bar

The “decorate your own cookie” bar

We have some talented students!  Overachievers!

We have some talented students! Overachievers!

White elegant gift exchange

White elegant gift exchange

Gathered around the Christmas tree

Gathered around the Christmas tree

Cuddling and Christmas Karaoke :)

Cuddling and Christmas Karaoke 🙂

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