Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Real Christmas

Have you ever thought about what the Christmas story would have sounded like if it had happened in our lifetime? Last night while sitting through the Christmas Eve service at our church, I couldn't help but think of what everything would have looked like had Jesus been born here.

Allow me to paint you a picture...

It's December 24, and it's raining. A young man with his extremely pregnant wife slowly pull into a gas station in their ancient Honda with 30 million miles on it. As the husband turns off the car, it rattles and sighs. He turns to his wife who looks exhausted and tells her that he will be right back.

He climbs out of the car and swings the door shut quietly. He puts one of their last 5 dollar bills into the tank then slowly sinks back into the car.

They are on their way to Stockton. They know no one and have no reservations. Hoping that he can find a place for them to stay, Joseph begins to drive again through the rain. As he drives he thinks about how he will begin to pay for his new son that is expected to be born very soon. His wife has fallen asleep, and leaning over her gently brushed the hair off her flushed face.

Pulling into Stockton a few minutes before midnight, Joseph scans the sides of the road for a place to stay. He spots a Motel 8 and pulls into the parking lot. He jogs up to the information desk only to find out that they have no rooms open. Joseph climbed back into the car only to hear his wife Mary urgently whispering his name.

"Joseph, the baby is coming; I need to find a place to lay down."

Pulling out of the parking lot, Joseph drives desperately looking for somewhere to stay. He sees a vacancy sign and quickly pulls into the dark parking lot. The motel is small and rundown looking, but it was dry inside as Joseph carried the panting Mary into their closet sized room. The rain continues to pound against the window while Mary progresses further into labor. In the wee hours of the morning after several hours of hard work, the frail first cry of a newborn baby pierces the stillness.

Joseph proudly hands the son to his mother and goes to wash his hands. He is standing in the doorway of the bathroom when he hears a knock on their door. Opening it, he sees two homeless men, soaked to the bone, obviously wanting something.

"Can I help you?" Joseph asked.

"We heard through some angels that the Christ was to be born tonight in Stockton, and so we came to find Him to worship Him."

Joseph eyed the men carefully and stepped back to let them into the small room. As soon as the men saw the infant, they dropped to their knees and bowed low before Him.

After hours of talking to Mary and Joseph, the homeless guys stood up, still overcome by wonder, and hurried out into the street telling everyone they came in contact with what had happened.

In the morning Joseph payed the woman at the desk and carried Mary out to their car. Their house was only a few hours away. The car crawled along over the hills. When they reached the house, Joseph ran inside to prepare a warm spot in their bed for Mary and the baby.

Joseph had to find a job in the area as a carpenter to fund his new family. For the next two years he worked, and no one ever knew about the child. One day while he was working in his wood shop, Joseph looked up and found himself standing face to face with the president of the United States.
Dropping his hammer, he greeted the president.

"What can I do for you Sir?"

"I have come to see the King. Would you please take me to Him?"

Joseph led the president into the house where His mother was helping Him wash His hands. The boy was handsome and ruddy, tall for his age and had a distinctive twinkle in His eyes.

The president walked forward toward the small boy until he was very close. Then he knelt down and worshiped Him. If Joseph had thought he had seen it all, now he knew it.

Could you imagine something similar to this happening? Can you put yourself into the place of Mary or Joseph and try to think the thoughts that must have been running through their minds? Nothing about the story was clean or well-planned except by God of course. Only He knows the full plan.

Only God knows the full plan for your life. Wouldn't it be beneficial to trust Him with it and not worry about the future? He has a plan.

Friday, December 21, 2007

I Take After My Father

Every time I am introduced to someone new I get the same response...

"You look just like you mother!"

People always say that as if I should look just like Laura Bush or something. I don't really mind since Mommy G is beautiful, and I definitely take what they say as a compliment.

But I don't just want to take after her in looks. I want to become a godly woman who loves and serves her husband and children with everything she has. I want to be known as a woman who is willing to get her hands dirty for the Lord. I want the light of Jesus to be seen through everything I do and say just like Mommy G does.

If I could get a tiny fraction of the God-given wisdom that Mommy G has, I would be wiser than I could ever hope to be.

But I don't just imitate my earthly mother and father. I also want to take after my Heavenly Father. If I could get just a tiny fraction of His wisdom, then I would be set for life.

I want to be mistaken for Jesus.

I want to be mistaken for Jesus.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas is Just Around the Corner!

Everyone including me is rushing around trying to make everything the way the whole family expects it to be. We cook like crazy to make enough food to feed ourselves, and we normally have enough left over to feed the next door neighbors. We pull out every decoration that we own and spend countless hours trying to figure out where to plug them all in. Because the family is coming to our house, we clean and clean until everything is slick enough to ice skate on.

Not to mention all the effort we put into writing the Christmas cards every year or the time it takes to get everyone looking nice enough at the same time to take a Christmas photo. Or we could talk about all the time that we spend, not always on the people we love and want to appreciate, but on tyring to make everything "perfect."

I recently heard a wonderful woman named Cathie Lip speak at my church. She said she had a very wise friend who really didn't find any joy in cooking a huge meal for her family every year, but she did because she assumed that that was what everyone wanted. This friend had a brilliant idea one year, and she decided to ask her kids to each pick one food item for her to make on Christmas Day. She asked each one and the only thing that anyone said was crescent rolls.

"You mean the ones that come in a can?" she asked.

"Yeah, those mommy."

"What about the gingerbread houses? Don't you want to have them?"

"No, we don't like the gingerbread houses. We want the crescent rolls."

This year they're having KFC and crescent rolls for Christmas.

All of this to say, I think we all tend to take Christmas to the max. Baking, decorating, cooking, cleaning and shopping are all fun things, but we put a lot of unnecessary pressure on ourselves to do things that really have no special meaning to anyone; they're just tradition.

After Mommy G heard Cathie speak, she sat everyone down at our kitchen table and asked what we would keep in our Christmas. Things like a real tree and pie for breakfast on Christmas morning were said, but the thing that most of us agreed on was the fact that we wanted to have a relaxed Christmas morning to ourselves.

So that's what we are doing, although it will have to be cut a little short this year since we are eating dinner early because my uncle has to work. I think the cutting out "unnecessaries" was a good idea, and it helps us to slow down a bit and remember the real meaning behind all the festivities and celebrations.

Christ was born!
Luke 2:11 "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord."

Going Green

Christmas is coming so we decided to hold off on the dark blue dots and try to add some "festiveness" to ETST by going green. And that's not green in the materials used or energy efficency sense, but the color. Just in case you were wondering...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Change...

Thought we needed to change to look of ETST to show how happy we are about the sun! Don't worry, we'll go back to the dark blue in a while...


It's Sunny Out!

This morning I didn't have to go to school so I got the unusual chance to sleep in. When I normally leave for school in the morning, it's still fairly dark out. And over the last week or two it has been cloudy and overcast.

I got up and there was sun! Glorious sun! I felt like the whole world had pressed a restart button and now we could enjoy a cold version of summer. Just looking out the window makes me happy.

Go out and enjoy the sun!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Sorry...For Everything...


Oh, and please forgive us for taking such a long and unannounced break from posting. Our lives, like everyone else's, have been absolutely crazy... Can't wait for Christmas break!

The Authors

P.S. We are really sorry....Really. Really really. We promise...

Worth the Risk

Friendships are tricky things. And the older I get the more I realize that I am overwhelmed by the thought of people actually thinking of me as a friend.

In Kindergarten our friends were the little kids that shared their cookies with us or played tag with us at the park. But because we were little, we tended to get offended easily, and if the "friend" was seen doing the same things to someone else, they would get an ear full. The funny thing about kids though is that they forgive and forget very quickly. We could be furious one minute and then running and laughing with each other the next.

When we got into middle school and Jr. high, our friends are the ones who are the people most like us. We aren't comfortable in our own skin so we surrounded ourselves with people who let us feel comfortable.

When entering high school, we started to "find ourselves" and since we were more comfortable being who we were, we could reach out to other people our age who weren't necessarily the same as us.

I don't think anyone really starts to understand what true friendship is, though, until late high school and college. Up until this point we have slowly been integrating ourselves into the world and everything evil that comes along with that. We may have had a few trials, but all of the sudden friends become very important.

Friends seem to draw together and lean on one another trusting each other more and more. But with these closer relationships comes a great risk. The risk of being hurt or abandoned later on down the road.

We can't expect to become good friends if we are always extremely careful to not do anything. We can't become close without exposing who we are. When we become good friends with other people, we risk being hurt and disappointed. Being careful reminds me of a children's story where two friends hurt each other. One friend uses the other one to get a china tea set. And then the hurt friend tricks her friend back to get revenge. In the end they go and try to fix everything. The hurt friend says that it is no fun to be friends when you have to be careful because that's not really being friends - that's being careful.

So is being friends worth the risk? Should we put ourselves into a place of exposure and openness where we could possibly experience hurt and disappointment? I would say yes. And when we pick friends who genuinely care about us, we can be assured that the hurt that happens is not intentional. And when hurt does happen, we can forgive and forget and move on.
Friends are worth the risk.
Ecclesiasties 4: 9-12 "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."