Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Waiting Wednesdays - Advent

For those of you who are waiting...

"When I sit in traffic, I am not merely anticipating a shift of color from red to green; I am awaiting the coming of Christ, and there is meaning in this waiting. When I walk hand-in-hand with a dawdling child who stands in awe of common robins and random twigs, there is every reason to join this child in worship, for there is holiness in her waiting. Malcolm Muggeridge once suggested that “all happenings, great and small, are parables by which God speaks. The art of life is to get the message.” Advent teaches us to get the message that God speaks even in the waiting."  - Timothy Paul Jones

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Your Best Advent Yet! (Link to Free Printable)

Love this Etsy ornament!

We say it every year...

...Christmas is too commercialized.

...We've forgotten the real reason for the season.

...We worship the almighty dollar more than Almighty God wrapped as a babe in swaddling clothes.

Stop simply SAYING these things and actually DO SOMETHING that will help you CELEBRATE the beauty of Jesus' coming!

Here are your instructions:
  1. Find a color printer.
  2. Click here for a free, gorgeous PDF booklet & print.
  3. Cut out the ornaments on the last pages and hang one on your tree per day.  Enjoy the daily Bible readings + advent reflections by Ann Voskamp.  (I know, I know, I appear to be her stalker... I'm really not!)
These advent readings start today!!  They are an excellent way to remember that the holidays are about Christ -- that He came and that He will come again!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Reluctant Husbands

I've been a sorry blogger lately, but IT IS ADVENT SEASON, so I am BACK!!!

I can't resist the allure of blogging when Christmas songs are ringing in my ears and tree lights are sparkling in my living room like a thousand tiny shards of the original Bethlehem star.

I love it that my hardest season of 2010 has become the reason my heart is on fire in 2011.  The ache of waiting for Amelia to join our family last year was echoed... even beautifully overshadowed... by the groans of creation waiting for her Savior.  Christ came, He is coming again, and there is new meaning to every painful wait we endure on this planet.

Last week, Brad preached at our church's Orphan Sunday event.  (If someone had told me three years ago when we started the adoption process that we would soon be having an entire orphan event at our church, you would have had to pinch me!)  Brad gave a powerful challenge to the husbands in our congregation.  In the foster care/ adoption/ orphan care world, husbands get the bad wrap as being the reluctant ones of the family.  They are scared about practical matters... if they take a risk to care for orphans, will they still be able to properly provide for their family?

Because it is Advent season, this talk about reluctant husbands led me to thinking about Joseph, the adoptive father of Christ.  What if Joseph had been practical?  What if, upon finding out that his fiance was knocked up, he'd decided to call the wedding off?  Sounds practical to me.  What if he'd heeded the advice of well-meaning family and loving friends and left Mary for a woman who seemed less likely to cheat?  What if he had done the "wise" thing that made the most sense... and missed out on the birth of the Son of God?

I wonder what Joseph was thinking on the night of Jesus' birth.  He'd given up on practicality.  He risked reputation (and a broken heart) in favor of believing the impossible -- that his fiance was a pregnant virgin, and that the child she bore was the Christ.  And so he found himself in a stable in another town, helping the girl he'd never touched sexually deliver a baby he'd love as his own.

It is mind blowing.

It is not practical.

And so during this Advent season -- the season of miracles -- can the first miracle be in our own hearts?  Can we stop putting our faith in circumstances... in evidence... in the wisdom of this world... and instead embrace the truths, commands, and promises of Christ?

I pray that we will!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Thankful for my dad, four months post stroke, reading books to my two girls on Amelia's first Thanksgiving as a Goode.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Waiting Wednesdays

For those of you who are waiting...

"I don’t want to wait anymore. I choose to believe that there is nothing more sacred or profound than this day. I choose to believe that there may be a thousand big moments embedded in this day, waiting to be discovered like tiny shards of gold. The big moments are the daily, tiny moments of courage and forgiveness and hope that we grab on to and extend to one another. That’s the drama of life, swirling all around us, and generally I don’t even see it, because I’m too busy waiting to become whatever it is I think I am about to become. The big moments are in every hour, every conversation, every meal, every meeting.

"The Heisman Trophy winner knows this. He knows that his big moment was not when they gave him the trophy. It was the thousand times he went to practice instead of going back to bed. It was the miles run on rainy days, the healthy meals when a burger sounded like heaven. That big moment represented and rested on a foundation of moments that had come before it. [...]

"Today is your big moment. Moments, really. The life you’ve been waiting for is happening all around you. The scene unfolding right outside your window is worth more than the most beautiful painting, and the crackers and peanut butter that you’re having for lunch on the coffee table are as profound, in their own way, as the Last Supper. This is it. This is life in all its glory, swirling and unfolding around us, disguised as pedantic, pedestrian non-events. But pull of the mask and you will find your life, waiting to be made, chosen, woven, crafted.

"Your life, right now, today, is exploding with energy and power and detail and dimension, better than the best movie you have ever seen. You and your family and your friends and your house and your dinner table and your garage have all the makings of a life of epic proportions, a story for the ages. Because they all are. Every life is.

"You have stories worth telling, memories worth remembering, dreams worth working toward, a body worth feeding, a soul worth tending, and beyond that, the God of the universe dwells within you, the true culmination of super and natural.

"You are more than dust and bones.

"You are spirit and power and image of God.

"And you have been given Today."

— Shauna Niequist (Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Can You Guess?

Ten points to whomever can figure out the significance of this picture on the left!!

We took the girls to Chick-fil-A for dinner on the Friday before Halloween.  Brad was busy ordering our food, Caroline was hugging my legs, and Amelia was sitting on my hip.  I really wanted Amelia in this shot, so I leaned back awkwardly and took this very strange photo.  For as weird as it looks, it's HIGH in sentimental value.

Any guess on what the big deal is?

Okay, okay, I'll tell you!  Last November 1, I posted about my sobbing breakdown at Chick-fil-A because I saw the ad for a Christmas milkshake and realized all at once that Amelia might not be with us yet for Christmas.  There was not a moment of the holiday season spent without an ache in my heart last year.  So you see now why the picture below is so beautiful.  It is of my sweet Amelia, so close to the camera because she is IN MY ARMS, with an ad for the Christmas milkshake over her shoulder.  We will have our first Christmas together this year.

It's begining to look a lot like Christmas.  And both of my girls are here with me.  Thank you, Lord.
(Both of my girls below posing with Chick-fil-A Christmas ads.  It might be weird to you, but it's beautiful to me!)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Saturday Run Update - 80's Edition

This edition of the Saturday Run Update is brought to you by the 1980's... because it was the 80's  that coined this lyric:  "Ohhhhh we're halfway there/oh woah! living on a prayer/ take my hand/ we'll make it I swear/ oh woah! living on a prayer!" (Bon Jovi)

My friends, we're halfway there. I ran 7.2 miles today.  A half marathon is 13.1.  I AM GETTING THERE! Woo hoo!

My biggest struggle with running is the time commitment. Running is not a sin, yet if I center my life around it as though it were an idol, it can quickly become sinful. For a while, my time in Scripture was shrinking in proportion to my time in Nikes. Oh, how to balance life?!

So I’m working on some changes. For my easier runs, I’m listening to excellent sermons on my iTouch.  I'lll still jam out to music on my long runs.  More importantly, I’m praying that God will help me commit to time spent getting to know Him through His Word no matter what each day’s schedule brings. I am confident that He can draw me there.

Enough preaching! On to my running progress!
  • Did I mention that I ran my LONGEST RUN EVER today!? Oh yeah!
  • My weight has returned to normal. This is great considering my initial weight gain! Could this be the start of a weight LOSS trend!? I hope!
  • My daily energy levels and mood are improving drastically. While my BODY is thriving, I can tell in my SPIRIT that I’ve missed out on time in the Word. I’m eager for some true Bible study time.
  • I still run slow. Sooo slow.  No improvement on speed this week, but I'm okay with that because of my strides in the endurance category!
Cue the 80's theme music. I"m out.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Waiting Wednesdays

For those of you who are waiting...

"What then are we to do about our problems? We must learn to live with them until such time as God delivers us from them…we must pray for grace to endure them without murmuring. Problems patiently endured will work for our spiritual perfecting. They harm us only when we resist them or endure them unwillingly." - A.W. Tozer

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Don't Credit Affirmative Action!

I drive past MLK's old church daily.
I recently heard the mother of a white child imply that her daughter lost a competition because her child’s competitor was black… as if the judges of the competition awarded the black child with unearned bonus points in some effort towards affirmative action.  This irked me terribly.  I boiled, imagining any success Amelia earns in life being reduced to an explanation of, “They let her win because she’s black.”  Talk about a mama up in arms.  I cannot stand the thought.

Okay, okay, I know affirmative action is a real thing. I live in the city where Rosa Parks didn’t give up her bus seat, where Martin Luther King, Jr. pastored his church, and where the Selma Marches ended. Montgomery was a hotbed during the Civil Rights Movement, and is even today a million miles from ideal race relations. If any place owes restitution, it’s our town. So it’s possible that the judges of this local competition employed some sort of affirmative action, and it’s a possibility that the black child won because of it.

It is also a possibility that the black child was the most talented, and deserved to win regardless of being black, white, green, or purple. I don’t know, because I was not there. I don’t expect the mother of the white child to recognize that someone else performed better than her daughter; everyone thinks their own child is the best. It’s hard to see through our own mama bias.

Mama blindness is okay. But assuming that a successful black child owes her success to affirmative action? Not okay.

When I read the following quotes by a black author regarding his opinion on affirmative action**, I was relieved that his words pinpointed my dumbfounded frustration:
(**Note: I am not against or for affirmative action. I am not informed enough to be decided either way! I simply thought this man's perspective was illuminating.  The fact that he is against affirmative action does not mean that I am also against it.)

“The most dehumanizing and defeating thing that can be done to black Americans, for example, is to lower a standard in the name of their race."  Shelby Steele as quoted in Bloodlines by Piper
"One of the most troubling effects of racial preferences for blacks is a kind of demoralization, or put another way, an enlargement of self-doubt.  Under affirmative action the quality that earns us preferential treatment is an implied inferiority."  Shelby Steele as quoted in Bloodlines by Piper

That’s it! When this mom claimed that the black child won because of her blackness, she was stating that the bar is set lower for black children. As though they need lower standards. As if they cannot compete at the “white” level. As if it is improbable that a black person could outright win in favor of a white person without the rules being specialized in their favor. It is a dehumanizing attitude that devalues the potential of an entire group of God’s children. On a personal level, it devalues MY child. Know this: Amelia is spilling over with potential. It has nothing to do with the color of her skin, and everything to do with the gifts God has given her. She has immeasurable value, and the scale used to measure it is the same that measures Caroline.

Black or white, the bar is set extremely high for both of my children. I expect I will be proud.