Thursday, December 24, 2015

And so it is Christmas...

So tonight I went and did my pre-Christmas grocery shopping. I thought I would try and be clever and do it while the grocery store was 'quieter' (ha!). But I didn't have my kids with me, so it was a peaceful time for me. On my way home I was listening to the radio, and the presenter was describing the Christmas story, focusing on how horrible the experience must have been for Mary. I've heard people go along that vein before to be honest, so I wasn't really paying attention.

But while I was listening, I was suddenly struck with a realisation. I knew that God sent his son to be born in a stable to fullfill prophecy, and I understood that he did it without any human pomp and splendour to seperate himself from earthly glory. But I don't think I ever really grasped another important reason why Jesus was born in a stable with farm animals. 

The presenter was elaborating on how awful the stable would have been, with animal excrement everywhere, and he really hammered home just how much of an unpleasant, filthy, horrible place it was. I guess I have become desensitised to the whole thing, having heard it for years. Plus, It's also easy to develop a nicer idea of a manger in your head, especially when you imagine it like it's done in a nativity story, with tiny children dressed as sheep and other animals.

But, when I started to ask God 'why was it a stable, one of the most unpleasant places in the world (in a physical sense)?' all of a sudden I understood the symbolism behind it. He had to have Jesus, the most pure being ever on the earth, introduced to the world in a filth-encrusted place. Because that's how it is. This world is shockingly depraved and filled with the vilest evil. But Jesus, the purest saviour came to us in all our filth, to rescue us. 

I was struck anew with gratitude and love for my God and my saviour. And I really needed that. Christmas seems to get busier every year, but I must never, never get so busy that I don't pay attention to my God and saviour, and the reason I can celebrate and live.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Holidays! (And letting go of the word should)

I thought I'd write a little post about our holidays. Mostly because I really love going back over the blog every now and then... It's my favourite way of reliving memories. I do apologise if you follow me on Instagram, as most of my photos here are from there.

We went back to Burrum Heads a few weeks ago, and it was nice to get away. We did lots of shopping, lots of taking kids to the beach. The usual, but nice all the same. One of the highlights of the trip, for me, was going up to Bundaberg and visiting a friend of mine who has moved up there. Our kids played madly on the beach all afternoon, and just picked up right where they left off, and it was beautiful.

One of the very nicest parts of the holiday was Shane. He is a completely changed person compared to the way he was when we went away to Burrum two years ago. He was so calm, and unstressed the entire time. He spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to keep two children entertained in shopping centres, while I tried to get everything we needed, and he did it without complaint. And he was just so nice to spend time with. It made me realise how much better he is, and we as a family are. I know by many people's standards, we might not be everything we ought to be. But I promise you, our family is so much stronger, and healthier, and our relationship is so much better now than it was when we were putting on a show, being people we were 'supposed' to be. And I think that's what God wants.

I've really started to question things lately (in case the last few blog posts aren't any indicator!) and while I am most definitely not giving up my faith, I think I am very much in the process of reshaping it. For a very long time, I had a very concrete idea of what a Christian should look like. I had a very set path of what my own faith had to look like, and I'm starting to realise that that path may not be what I need, or what God wanted from me. I've spent a ridiculous amount of time comparing myself and measuring myself up against a stick that I was never supposed to.

There are some absolute truths I know must always be true. But I guess I'm realising that everyone's walk is going to look different. I have had trouble with the big church machine, but I've come to realise that it's ok to have trouble. I really used to look at church leadership through rose coloured glasses, and I think I drank deeply of the kool-aid in Pentecostal churches that can uphold leaders and singers and speakers a little too highly, and works so hard on the shiny lights, and the great music, and the draw people in culture. I'm always going to be more concerned with keeping people around than drawing them in, and I've realised that that's ok. There are many rooms in my fathers house.

 I never want to be that bitter Christian who bad mouths pastors and church leadership, and does their best to subversively tear people down. That's not of God, and I want no part in anything like that. But I am working on letting go of a lot of expectations I had on myself and my family that were actually, no good for us.

Anyway, sorry if this is all a bit disjointed, I didn't set out to write about all that, this was supposed to be mostly a post about holidays.... But you get that! Back to the holiday, it did have a few bumpy bits, there was a huge heatwave that went through the state on our last few days, and it was pretty hot- especially without an air conditioner. But mostly, it a good holiday. We have kind of come back to earth with a bang, as the week after we came back, Georgie had her ballet concert, and there has been much associated Christmas and end of year hoopla. But, kindy is finished for the year now, and Shane has another two whole weeks off at Christmas! It's kind of great.

So. Photos!

Tonight, this bible verse spoke to me, and it really helped confirm that I am headed in the right direction.

His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of the warrior; the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love. (Psalm 147:10-11 NIV)

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