Tuesday, December 18

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

     Jesus, Christmas lights, joy and merriment, presents, bows, surprise, Christmas trees with ornaments, bells, music, mangers, wreaths, holiday goodies and cookies, Santa, candy canes, and snow.

     Oh, remember as a child how magical and special Christmas was! Thanksgiving came and went and then you waited and waited... and waited! for Christmas to come! Everything seemingly sparkled and anything green and red put you prancing on your toes. Houses lit with lights were exciting and even homework, as long as you had hot chocolate, seemed bearable this time of year.
     There were always cookies to be baked, movies to watch, parties to go to, and gifts to wrap. You spent weeks on end thinking about what you wanted to ask Santa for, then rewrote your letter (or letters) twenty times to make sure they were just right. Finally in the dim, warm light of the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve dad read the Christmas story and the fireplace was opened for Santa. Cookies and milk were placed on the hearth and you got sent to bed. How were you ever expected to sleep on such a night?! But somehow one minute you swore you heard reindeer bells and the next you awoke with the first crack of dawn. With that Christmas tingle in your stomach you rushed to wake everyone up and ran to the living room to see what had been left under the tree in the middle of the night!

     Over the years children grow into teenagers who transform into adults and our child-like faith is lost, things just aren't the same. It saddens me to know that Christmas doesn't come naturally to many adults anymore. I walk into stores where people frown, shove, and argue over anything! There's no light in people's eyes and we view it as a bunch of tasks and lots of clean up afterwards. But Christmas is about joy, peace, and love; it's about giving and thankfulness!
    I am still a child at heart and Christmas excites me even now! I love picking out the perfect gifts and wrapping them with paper and ribbon. I still point excitedly when I see Christmas lights and sing at the top of my lungs when I hear Joy to the World. I imagine every large star is the Christmas Star and house decorations just aren't complete without stockings hung by the fireplace. I think everyone deserves a "Merry Christmas!" and I want to know what you asked Santa for.
     This season (just like every other time of the year) there's things we could worry about... Money, cars, school, jobs. But let's focus on what we do have and keep in mind what Christmas is really about. Family, memories, love, laughter, hot chocolate, and magic. So if you need to go for a drive and look at Christmas lights, go ice skating, take pictures, decorate your house, or bake cookies to get in the Christmas spirit then do it!
Make memories and Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 12

The Essence of Romancing (Part 2)

     I heard a story a few months ago and it went something like this...

     One day there was a woman who although didn't have "everything" she led quite the blessed life. She arrived at her stable job on a certain morning only to find out she had forgotten to buy bread the day before so she could make a sandwich for lunch.
     Later on that glorious sunny day, during her lunch break, she made a run to the grocers, parked her car, walked into the store, and stopped. Now have you ever had a gut feeling about something that you can't explain? Well she had one and for some weird reason felt like she needed to go to the left of the store instead of the right but that didn't make any sense because the food section was to the right.
     After contemplating a few seconds she decided to walk left and soon found herself in the diaper aisle. Over at the far end, on the right, was another woman standing alone picking out a package of diapers. "Oh dear God no. I can't! That would be to embarrassing! Turn around and don't look back." The woman kept telling herself because inside a calm Voice was telling her that the other woman needed to know she was loved and special. "Serious?! I'm going to look like an insanity case!" But still the Voice would not let up.
     The first woman finally found herself walking slowly toward the woman with the too-loose jeans and uncombed hair. "Uh, excuse me. Hi." The second woman looked toward the first woman who immediately looked away. "Seriously girl, don't do this to yourself." But there had been something in the second woman's eyes as they had made eye contact even for only a second. "Uh hi. Well I..." The first woman forced a smile at the stone cold face staring back at her. "I, well... Um you see I wanted to, uh... well I just wanted to tell you that you are loved." Shock registered in the second woman's eyes. "Oh I know this sounds weird but I just need to tell you that Jesus loves you deeply and there are still people that care for you and love you, no matter how you feel right now or what you might have heard ok." After a few awkward seconds that seemed like hours, a flood came. A flood of tears swept over the second woman as she collapsed into a heap on the floor. Finally she whispered, "Why did you say that?" "I honestly don't know but I'm sure it's true." The first woman answered back. "My husband just left me and I have a son. Since I've had to take care of him I lost my job. I've been so depressed recently and just want to give up on life. The only thing I have left to live for is my baby but I feel so alone. I grew up in the church but with everything that's happened to me, I've doubted that God is real or cares about a nobody like me. So I've been praying that if He's real that He would somehow just tell me He's still there for me; that I am loved. And then you came along..."

     Did you know God can romance you? He can share His love through song or billboard or a stranger. When we "romance" someone, when we express emotion (either our own or God's through us), to make someone feel loved or special, God is glorified.
     In marriage, I've found that sometimes it takes guts to romance your husband (or wife). It takes humility to put yourself last and to think of another. It takes courage to express emotion and put your feelings out in the open for some to treasure or destroy.
     But it also takes guts and courage and humility to accept these things as well. Each moment and encounter is a gift to be treasured and respected. There are mornings I wake up and rediscover that I'm not worthy of unconditional love, whether its from Jon or God.

     Lately I have to admit I've been a little lonely at times. I don't know anybody in this new city I'm in and when my dear Jon has to work different hours than me it gets super quiet around our apartment and its not really that fun lol. But I've just come to realize that I'm being romanced. Romanced by a God who loves me and wants to express that love but I haven't been willing to receive it. I've been filling quiet with the noise of TV or laundry or errands but now I'm ready to experience the romance in the spiritual relationship Jesus and I share. Its always hard for me to ask for help or accept it when it's given but that's a vital part of any relationship. So I say whether its the hamburger, a kind word, flowers, or a romantic getaway there needs to be a little more romancing in this world!

Tuesday, December 4

The Essence of Romancing (Part 1)

Romancing: The art of expressing emotion in such a way that someone feels loved and special.

     Saturday evening I had the privilege of kidnapping Jon! It had been a spontaneous idea but the past week had been kind of stressful and long and it had been quite a few months since our honeymoon in Jamaica so we'd been wanting to take a vacation somewhere. I wanted it to be super special, unique, and fun but within a reasonable budget (since Christmas is coming up, ya know!).
     I made all the arrangements on Friday while Jon was at work and then just waited for Saturday to arrive. I began to get super nervous that maybe he wouldn't like my surprise or something would come up with his work and the timing wasn't going to work out or something drastically heartbreaking like that. But we woke up on Saturday morning and went for coffee at Panera Bread, just like normal. I do have to admit I barely remember anything that we talked about cause the whole time I was thinking, "Oh man should I tell him I have a surprise or no? Jon is on call, what if something happens and he gets called in to work? Oh man it's going to be Awesome! What if he isn't surprised?" I frantically tried to remember a movie where Sandra Bullock or Jennifer Anniston had a perfect script and asked sly, nonchalant questions about work schedules without giving away the surprise, but the only scenes I could remember were ones where the surprise had gone bad! Lol and that wasn't really helping my inner heart tremor so I decided to spill the beans.

     "Well Babe, what would you like to do after lunch? Do you have to work?" I asked nonchalantly. ;) "Oh well I do have to work a little but other than that I'm good with whatever." "Ok that's great because... well... I have a surprise and I'd like to take you somewhere!" "What?! A surprise for me?! What is it?" "Well, I can't say or else it wouldn't be a surprise! I think we should get all your work done and then go but it's a little ways away so I don't know if it's going to work with you being on call." "I can have someone cover for me so I shouldn't have to go in." (whew! That lifted a load off my chest!) So we scooted over to work with Jon asking questions the whole way about the surprise! My only response was, "Hmm great question, but I just don't know...! *wink, wink*
     Jon finished up all his work at the office and then off we went down the yellow brick road to our surprise destination. We pulled up about an hour later and I proudly announced we were at a Bed & Breakfast for a mini weekend getaway! The mountain lodge was perfect and had great scenic views complete with decks, fire places, outside jacuzzis, and wonderful staff. Jon was so surprised and couldn't believe I had planned this all for him! I had even smuggled a suitcase into the truck without him knowing.
     Our entire stay was so relaxing and romantic. We had an incredible dinner for two, relaxed in the jacuzzi, and had good heart to heart conversations. It was incredible not to have to think about work or cleaning up the apartment or running errands, but just to focus on us and enjoy each others undivided attention.

     I'm so glad it worked out for us to go and that everything went without a hitch. Now, I do have to confess I Googled "how to romance your husband" before I hatched my brilliant plan! Ha, I know, horrible right? But for all I knew he thought socks were romantic! I know how I defined romance but I had no idea what Jon thought romance was. It turns out Jon just wants to know I was thinking about him and that I planned a way for him to feel special. It could be anything from an I-was-thinking-about-you candy bar or filling up the gas tank in the truck or planning a trip like I did.
     Everyone just wants to know they are special to someone and were thought about from time to time. And I honestly believe that it's in the unexpected ways that that is communicated the best. Romance can be shown to anyone. Your mom, dad, best friend, or even a stranger (although I do recommend using a word other than "romance' if you plan on sending your mom flowers or giving a homeless guy a hamburger from McDonald's)

To be continued...