Thursday, January 12, 2017

Little Drummer Boy

Sometimes our vision is blocked.

Like the time Joshua was 4 or 5 and something caught his eye at the mall. He made a mad dash for it and nearly knocked an innocent bystander off her feet in the process. My sister asked him, “Joshua, did you see that woman?” He looked at her blankly.

I'm aware of my own blind spots pretty frequently. Like when I was at Calvin College's orientation with Jordan in August and about to walk up to the dining hall servers to request my lunch choice. Jordan's quiet voice from behind, alerted me in Chinese, that there was actually a line of people waiting and I was about to break it. I had no idea.

Our big kids were home for winter break, and most of the time it was great for our family of seven to be all together again. We got to go to San Diego with my side of the family to celebrate my parents' 50th wedding anniversary which was awesome. One of the irritations for me during that time, however, was that David seemed to be constantly beating on things. I didn't see music in the making, I saw noise that needed to be stopped.

Joshua saw something different. When we got home, he got on his computer to search Amazon and asked me what I thought about his buying David a drum. “It won't be that loud,” he assured me. So I agreed. The drum arrived last week and now we have a Little Drummer Boy in the house. 

It's the first thing David wants to do after he gets home from school every day. I can't say that the drum beating is as quiet as I was hoping for, but I can handle it. CJ helped him put together a playlist so he has his favorite music to beat along with.

I didn't see the potential. But Joshua did.

How many times do I miss opportunities because I'm focused on how something affects me. Not on what's going on inside someone else. There was music trying to come out and I was squelching it instead of giving it a place to grow.

Thankful that God has put people in my life to shine the light on my blind spots. Especially my own children. Who have a lot to teach me.

What are the blind spots in your life?

Sunday, December 25, 2016

As We Wait

As we wait for Christmas to arrive, what are we really waiting for?

I've been thinking of those, from years past, who were waiting for their lives to end. Who, by choice or not, each heard the call of death. And I've been wondering what must have filled their hearts and minds as they prepared to die?

Jonah ran away from God. Was swallowed by a great fish. And called out to God in his distress.

A widow gathered sticks. Planned her last meal for herself and her son. And made a cake for Elijah.

Elijah ran for his life. Collapsed by a broom tree. And prayed that God would take his life. He was done.

Hagar wandered with Ishmael. Sobbed in despair. And discovered that God had provided a well.

Each one was

Waiting for death. Receiving life.

God sees. Even when we feel hidden. And hopeless. And helpless.

Surrounded by darkness. In a seemingly never-ending wilderness.

We cannot escape His presence, even if we try.

He pays attention to every detail. And He lovingly touches the brokenhearted.

What are you waiting for?

Simeon has to be one of the greatest wait-ers in history.

“Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” (Luke 2:25-32)

Simeon knew that he would encounter the long-awaited Messiah before he died. He held on to that hope for many years. And he lived to see God fulfill His promise. He wasn't just waiting for his death. He was waiting to hold the Giver of Life in his arms before God brought an end to his days on earth.

How are you waiting to receive the Life He has for you this Christmas?

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Unwanted Gifts

Sometimes we receive gifts that we don’t really want. Like the time my husband crossed paths on campus with the Chinese director of the English Department and was a little too enthusiastic as he marveled over the beauty of his newly purchased porcelain horses. When he realized his mistake and tried his best to back pedal on the praise, it was too late. His protests were no match against Liang Laoshi’s insistence that he bring them home as a gift. Unfortunately, because we really didn’t want them and had no place for them in our tiny apartment, those horses have collected dust–never leaving their box–these past 20 years.

What have you done with the unwanted gifts you’ve received?

As we exchange gifts this Christmas season, we pause to reflect on the greatest gift ever given: Our complete acceptance as sons and daughters by our heavenly Father. A once broken-by-sin relationship restored for eternity by the gift of God’s perfect Son. And we humbly receive His freely-given, grace-filled Sacrifice with empty hands and needy hearts.

Through God’s deeper-than-we-can-imagine love, enshrouded in mystery, He offers us other gifts as well. Some of those gifts are answers to our prayers and just exactly what we wanted (the gift of a spouse, a friend, a child…) Other gifts come in packages that we feel much more resistant to unwrap (a broken marriage, betrayal by a friend, infertility…)

One of the gifts God has lovingly chosen for me is the Gift of Pain through migraines. And when I said, “No, thank you. I’ll take the pain-free life instead,” He didn’t give me the trade-in I wanted...

You can read the rest of this post at Velvet Ashes:


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