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Monday, December 6, 2010

Cut to the Chase

Do I really put God first? 

How do I cut God out of my world? 

Do I make room for Him all through my day? 
Or do I try to squeeze Him in between my busyness?

Does technology get in the way of connecting with God and people, including my family? 

These are questions I considered this morning after studying the book of the prophet Isaiah. He was the real deal. He didn't sugarcoat. His words were plain and simple. Cut to the chase. Totally upfront and totally encouraging at the same time. Take some time to read about what God says through Isaiah (especially chapter 9:2-7) this Christmas. 

So here is the real me. No shower. No makeup. Up close and personal. Gasp!

Still in my bathrobe at almost noon. No bonbons were in sight, but they sure were in mind! Just used my little remote on manual with window light for this photo that is a part of the self-portrait challenge over at  Click on the button below to see some amazing shots that won't make you gasp like mine did! :)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

How Not To Survive the Holidays-Through Gritted Teeth

"Paola was mother to eight boys and one girl. That fact alone would seem to excuse her from performing any other duties. But no. To get to Antigua, Guatemala (to serve as a housekeeper all day), she rode a chicken bus twenty miles from Chimaltenango, where her family slept in hammocks over a dirt floor that turned to mud during the six-month rainy season. Her day started before dawn, when she walked to and from the mill where she bought the corn meal required to make the one hundred and fifty tortillas her family ate every day, which she made herself, by hand. How dare I complain about anything? Paola had finished a full day's work before I'd finished my first cup of coffee."

When I read this for the first time, it hit me right smack dab between the eyes! I instantly realized that my busiest, most worrisome day could never compare to what this woman faced on a daily basis! With gritted teeth, I immediately vowed to keep this woman's plight in mind and to NEVER utter a single word about my minimal workload. 

How long do you think that lasted? 

I couldn't even make it a week before my measly Martha-mentality returned. With muttering breath and slamming drawers to boot, I quickly blew my "Paola" cover. I will spare you the gory details, but it might be appropriate to say that I almost became the Grinch that stole Thanksgiving. 

Of course, I could tell you about the unusual tiresome week that led up to the semi-explosion (whine...oops! I guess I just did), but that would only be an excuse. There is no excuse. It is simply a barrel of bad habits that erupt when the going gets tough. Neither outright temper tantrums nor inward passive aggressiveness exhibit the practice of leaning on the wisdom and joy of the Lord.

Hunger and weariness probably plague Paola, yet she seemingly takes it all in stride. She moves automatically, without complaint, according to Jessica O'Dwyer, author of the book Mamalita, an adoption memoir, from which I have shared the above excerpt. In Philippians 2:14, our Lord implores me to "do everything without grumbling or complaining." This small-statured woman, Paola, towers over my small-mindedness, by following this command with strength and endurance. I wonder if a discussion on considering the differences in cultural expectations is in order? Could it make my behaviors seem more understandable? No, nada. What I need reaches across cultures. 

When will I ever realize that it is on bended knee that I need to make my vows? Gritted teeth will get me nowhere. Strengthening of spirit is given through the uplifting of prayers to the One who is the Wellspring of Life. Why do I forget to fill my cup first with Him, before He can pour anything useful into the lives of others through me?

As it has done for me, I hope that hearing about Paola will remind you of your blessings and encourage you to rely on our Lord more heavily this holiday season. May your Christmas overflow with His strength and joy!

Here are some other helpful sites about the holidays: