Expectant Waiting

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empty-manger1_origAdvent starts tomorrow for the Christian calendar. Since being properly introduced to the concept of advent {I’m not counting the chocolate calendars our uncle gifted us each year at Thanksgiving when we were children} I’ve associated it with waiting.

There’s a lot of waiting in Christianity.  Maybe that’s not quite the right word.  There’s a lot of walking towards something in Christianity.  We walk towards the manger in Advent. We walk towards understanding who He is during Epiphany.  We walk towards the cross during Lent.

And we do it each year. . .practicing our walk.

And we do it with expectation. Anticipation. The idea of anticipation is filled with hope.  It’s knowing that something is going to happen.

In the last two years, I’ve spent a lot of time contemplating the three qualities Paul describes to the Corinthians: faith, hope, and love.  Paul says the greatest of these is love.  I don’t disagree with him.  And James says faith is what motivates us to do. I don’t disagree with him either.

Faith is what changes us. Faith leads us to love. Love leads us to do.

But hope. I have grown quite fond of hope.  It is hope that girds my soul. Hope that keeps me filled with expectant waiting.  Anticipation. It is with hope that I walk towards the manger to see the savior of the world.  It is with hope that I pray that those around me will experience the epiphany of who He is.  It is with hope that I carry my cross towards Golgotha.

It is with hope that I wait expectantly each month with faith in my Father and love for what He has done in my life.

In the last year, I wrote an advent devotional, which I plan to share each day here.  It follows the coming of Christ from the Old Testament.  I wrote it to help me focus on how good God is during grief over the loss of our children.  It has helped me remember His many gifts.  May you find something of our great God in it as well.

Spring Break and other stuff

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dogwoodYou would think since I’ve been off work since Friday afternoon, my post would’ve been written and just waiting for publishing time.

You would be wrong.

There’s something about being on spring break that takes away the urgency of things.  My break has had activity, but a lot of it has consisted of stretching in bed for lengthy amounts of time, staying in my jammies, and reading.  And it hasn’t necessarily been awe inspiring reading or literary or increase my thinking capacity or intelligence.  I have been working on this month’s Between the Covers choice–The Dead Don’t Dance by Charles Martin.  I’m about half way through and it’s an excellent book.  I’ve read a lot of Facebook posts. I am reading the Old Testament this year.  I’m in Joshua.

Let’s see.  I’ve worked my Mary Kay business.  Yep, I added something else to my plate.  I love Mary Kay products and my slogan is “Help me get rid of Sallie Mae by buying Mary Kay.” I decided several years ago to attempt a Master’s.  I enjoyed what I was learning, but I didn’t have the stamina then or the money.  That loan irritates me.

And, I’m attempting to continue my Lent commitment.  I chose this year to change my diet.  It’s been difficult to explain to people that it isn’t a diet, but a change in diet.  Whatever we eat is our diet.  I read The Daniel Plan by Rick Warren and company.  Basically, it encourages getting in the kitchen more and using fresh, non-processed foods.  It was difficult at first because I couldn’t just grab my favorite frozen meal for lunch.  However, I found that food is really yummy.  God asks us to take care of His gifts–one of which is my physical body.  While I didn’t really do it for losing weight, just for making better eating choices, I did lose ten pounds in the 40 days.  I still eat pizza, burgers, and fries.  I just attempt to choose ones that are fresh made rather than frozen or processed.  Obviously, it’s difficult to do this all of the time, but if I’m making these choices 80% of the time, then I’m doing much better than I was.

So, there’s Spring Break life.

One foot in front of the other

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LentToday is the beginning of Lent in the Christian calendar.  Being Baptist, I’ve never put much thought into Lent.  Our pastor said this Sunday that it’s probably because in church history when what I’ll call “the great split” happened, Protestants didn’t want to participate in something that they saw as very Roman Catholic.

However, he then went on to say that this was flawed thinking.  He called Lent a practice in imitation.  He defined Lent as the self-denial and steadfast obedience of Christ as He walks toward the cross.  Therefore, that is how we should view it since we, as proclaimed Christians, spend our lives trying to be more like Christ.

Doesn’t sound so different that way, does it?  Just sounds right.

I’ve been pondering where I want my words to go from here.  My mind is torn in several directions.  My admiration of our pastor to incorporate church history into his sermons so that not only am I challenged by the content, but also I’m educated.  My contemplation of how Christians need to unite despite their denominations or their split between C and P.  My conviction that Lent is necessary in my own spiritual walk–and, therefore, my fear of it.  I mean, to participate, I really have to examine my life and my shortcomings in my walk with and to Christ.

I’ve even thought perhaps I’d ask you guys what you will do for Lent, if you feel as I do that it’s necessary.

Lent is very personal, much like participating in the Lord’s Supper.  There are so many things I could sacrifice or deny myself that how do I pick just one or two to give over to Christ?

Ah, there’s the rub, isn’t it?

Christ doesn’t want just one or two things for Lent.  He wants my whole life my whole life.  Every. Single. Day.

My entire life should be an imitation of Christ in self-denial and steadfast obedience as I walk toward Him.