Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Holiday State of Mind

This Christmas is shaping up to be really tight. We are more than likely only going to be able to do a portion of what I would like to do for people. It makes me a little upset because it's Kolton's first Christmas to really be aware and excited about things! However, this mindset has given me an opportunity to think through the motives behind gift giving at the holidays.

Seems like everyone has a recipe for how they buy Christmas. Starting in July so that they're done by November and the financial struggle is already over. Limiting the gifts you give to your children. Having kids donate and buy for others in exchange for a gift. All you have to do is look up Santa List on Pinterest and your computer can be flooded with ideas to take the hassle out of Christmas.

As great as all those helps are, I think it's important to examine why we give gifts. According to the world, Christmas is about good cheer and family time. So sometimes it's easy to get swept up in that more is more mentality. We don't want our kids to get to school in January and feel like they got the short end of the stick. Or compare presents with cousins and it make their Christmas seem lacking. How do we protect against that mentality? In the hustle and bustle of Christmas,  how do you instill the heart of Christ in those around you?

I think most importantly is why we give gifts. Are we keeping up with the Joneses? Are we over compensating for our perceived failures in the past year? Do we give out of guilt because someone got you a present last year? Even though I try to avoid these ideas, I'd be lying if I said these motives have never popped up in my mind.

However that's not the real reason we give gifts. We give gifts because Christ gave the ultimate gift by giving up the splendors of heaven to come to earth to be born as our Savior. Always, but especially this time of year, we must examine the heart. If your kids know constantly why you do what you do, it takes the pressure off of presents.

I know a lot of times we are tempted to break away from gift giving completely. Who hasn't thought at one time or another "my child has so many (insert beloved toys here) we just need to stop buying things. Don't want them to be spoiled". Believe me, I get it! We have so many basketballs and footballs I've often thought the same thing. But I'm constantly reminding myself that I don't live by the world's standard. The world says "don't give so much your children are spoiled, but give enough they can compete with those around them".

But, I'm here to tell you that is not God's answer. God says "I'm your model. Look at all the blessings I've given to you. Instead of withholding for fear of your selfishness, I've showered you with blessings. I have modeled how to be a steward of your blessings and know you can handle your gifts properly. If not, I'm here to help you".

How amazing is that? This Christmas instead of worrying if I'm getting too much or too little, I'm going to think, am I showing my child how to use gifts properly. We give because Christ gave us everything. The Joy of the Lord is why we have a joyful season. Let's keep Christ in Christmas the whole season and in our hearts. That way we can be living examples for our children about the real reason for the season!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

A Whole Lot of Sanctity in this Life

Recently I've felt like every time I see the news or facebook, issues arise about the value of life. From Death with Dignity to the acceptance of Post Birth Abortions on the rise on college campuses, I feel like our society is missing the big picture. My Facebook feed has been over taken by stories that make my skin crawl at the ease in which life is just thrown away.

The first time I saw a story about a woman on reddit write a letter to the baby she was aborting, my heart wept for this woman. Then later the story kept popping up with people commending her and wanting abortion acceptance to be more wide spread. Calling her story enlightening, brave, and encouraging for other women struggling with this issue. Many feminists are calling for this mentality to be more wide spread. That as a society we should strive to accept a story this beautiful.

We should also consider Death with Dignity to be the bravest move a person with a terminal illness could make. Reading Brittney Maynard's story is a story of bravery. But different than the way the media wants it portrayed. I see bravery in a husband who stands beside a person knowing they are going to take their life. I see bravery in parents who had to come to terms with their daughter giving up the fight. That story is so tragic and heartbreaking but we are called by media to regale this as the new face of bravery.

However, here's the thing. I don't answer to the media. I don't answer to feminists calling for the acceptance of abortions. I don't answer to doctors who want to debate when life truly begins. I answer to the Creator of the Universe, to a Savior who willingly handed His sinless body over as a sacrifice so that I could spend eternity in heaven. I answer to His love letter that He wrote for all who wants to know Him in an intimate, personal way.

All you have to do is read Psalms and
Jeremiah to see how God feels about our lives. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. And according to Jeremiah He knows the plans He has for us. If He has plans for us before we are even born, then that means no person is a mistake!

There may be surprises, there may be unexpected for us, but there is no such thing as an accident or mistake when it comes to a human life. As a Christian I believe we are to speak the truth. Not in a shaming or accusing way. We all make mistakes, some are just more visible than others. It should always be done in love. However, if we don't start speaking up, the world will never know it's view point is wrong. They will never understand the heavenly implications of the things they do. Human life will continue to be something that can be throw to the side the moment it becomes and inconvenience or hard.

Everyone faces challenges. I pray that I never have to face the battle that Brittney Maynard did. I believe wholeheartedly she made what she believed was the best decision. However,  to me, Death with Dignity is still suicide. It's taking into your hands what God has control of. There may be struggle in death but I pray if ever in that situation the Christ would work through me to touch people who would have never known Him otherwise.

I also pray that I begin to have a love and compassion for women who believe abortion is the only option. I pray for courage to speak up in a way that shares the plans of God without casting judgement or driving that person away.

I pray that as a society we begin to lift up the single mother who could have ended her child's life but didn't. Or the couple who adopted even though they could have their own children, allowing God to use them for His plans. That we encourage the mother of a special needs child who puts his quality of life above the original expectations they had of their family. To the 30 year old suffering from aggressive cancer. To the older women in a nursing home, wishing their family would come to visit.

Sanctity of life does not end the month a mother gives birth. It's not about having less abortions. It's about valuing everyone around you so much that Christ can be seen in your love. It's about sacrificially giving up what you thought life should be and instead embracing God's plans. It's about encouraging people making the hard decisions about quality of life. Remembering that Christ suffered and died on the cross that we might have life and have it more abundantly. It's time to embrace that promise He made and live like we believe it.