Friday, January 4, 2013

Love "Advent" Tree - A Family Tradition Established

Put on your love goggles - drink the red kool-aid - smell the roses & feel the love.

Being an inspiration is what I'm fueled by. I want to be an inspiration under the covering of Jesus - giving Him all the glory. I want people to be inspired. First my family, then others. 

As a new family. Est. in 2006 - When Ben & I married & expanding in 2011, by the birth of our son, Pax -- I want to start some family traditions. Correction I want to intentionally start some valuable Kingdom minded traditions. That my son will carry on to his Bride & children.  

I wasn't raised to celebrate holidays - so I didn't know what an advent tree was until this year...10 days before Christmas. 

I've always loved Christmas - but if I may still be 'Christian' can I say - Valentine's Day is by far my favorite of all the over-commercialized holidays! The western celebrated and over-commercialized holiday has gotten a bit of a bad wrap - namely that people capitalize on a culture taking one day to celebrate the ones we love - when, in fact, we should honor them all year. I could argue that most of my Jesus denying family celebrates Christmas - doesn't mean they are focusing on the true meaning. Nor does it mean we shouldn't take the day to at least recognize the birth of our Saviour - even though technically he wasn't born in December. It does give the church an opportunity to reach the lost as they usually come to visit in December and April (which the church should mean serious business during this time - as we are in the soul saving business) and a chance to talk about Jesus without getting disowned...completely. 

Valentine's - poor day gets a bad rap. But I have always loved it (single or not) and even more so after I accepted Jesus as my Savior my senior year of high school. 

Advent - by definition, means the coming or arrival of someone important. 

Valentine's was historically known to be started by an early Christian, Saint Valentinus. He was imprisoned for performing weddings and ministering to Christians who were persecuted under the Roman Empire. During his imprisonment, he was said to have healed the daughter of his jailer Asterius. Before he was executed he wrote a farewell to that girl, signed "from your Valentine." (resourced by Wikipedia)

Knowing the general basis of this - I've fallen in deep endearment to this upcoming holiday. 

As believers aren't we suppose to model the true love of Christ? Isn't He real LOVE? Though I buy into all the Valentine's propaganda - I even more buy into the belief that I've formed for myself - that the church should model the love this world is missing. This lost world is making for themselves idols that can't meet their needs and satisfy the hole that only the Lord can fill. The LOVE He bought for us by the blood sacrifice of His son. The truest gift.

And I love where Valentine's falls. Right in the MIDDLE of Christmas & Easter. He was born & celebrated (Christmas) - He lived & loved others with His life (Valentine's) - He died and rose again (Easter)... How are you liking my sales pitch?

And if the Lord told us it was good that he die and be with the Father. "For we will do even GREATER things than he did..." (John 14:12)

Shouldn't we use this opportunity to pray for others, love others in HUGE ways different from how the lost love them,  and believe God publically by laying our hands on our sick friends and family and unashamingly pray for the healing of their bodies - giving God the credit. And shouldn't we feel just as compelled to celebrate the TRUE LOVE of God - Our TRUE LOVE. 

So our Family Love Advent Tree was birthed. I'm still not a 100% done with it but it looks like this: 

I'm still developing some of the activities and have to buy the gift cards to two of the days. The 'tree' consists of 14 'activities'. From going to get 'fro-yo' - to writing and making things to mail our sponsored kids in Africa - to celebrating Pax birthday - to writing a love letter to an extended family member - to showing some love to our church staff/Pastors - to making cookies - to committing a big love act for a friend or family that we believe God will show us - to memorizing 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 as a family (obviously Pax is highly intelligent and we have no doubts he will nail this).. 

I want Pax to grow up learning to serve. To put God first and then others. Ben and I want our family values to reflect, in the best way we can, how good God has been to us. To represent Jesus' life & what he meant by GREATER. 

We want LOVE TO WIN.

So we celebrate 'the coming of God's love to His people' - with our Love Advent Tree. 

Maybe this will prompt you to do the same. I don't care if this idea is stolen - I think it's a beautiful idea that has the ability to catch fire. AND I know you and your family with have fun making and participating. 

I encourage you, with or without a 'tree', to celebrate LOVE. 

"And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength." Deuteronomy 6:5

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

'We are all meant to SHINE...'

I've always loved the movie Coach Carter. I'm attracted to the life this Coach led - dispite the disapproval of so many people in such an obviously hopeless part of California. He saw and believed truth. Yeah, Yeah. Blah Blah. 

However, I don't take the history of his choices lightly. I'm called to inspire others. 

Three years ago, at my second 'MOTION CONFERENCE' - a youth conference Ben and I took our youth group to - I asked God what His truest calling was for this life He gave me. In one word - He answered me & gave me a vision of what my life looked like if I let Him use me that way. He's still teaching, challenging and convicting me, but I'm certain He has called me and placed a unique anointing on me (as He has one for everyone) to....


You may already "know" this quote - but I encourage you to read it to it's entirety. 

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness
That most frightens us.
We ask ourselves
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small
Does not serve the world.
There's nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine,
As children do.
We were born to make manifest
The glory of God that is within us.
It's not just in some of us;
It's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we're liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others."

Marianne Williamson was inspired by the Lord when she was quoted saying this. She gave the credit of these words to God. 

Not only is this quote spoken by an actor in "Coach Carter", one who played the most troubled kid on the coach's team. It was also a quote my high school english teacher/soccer coach & personal mentor - asked me personally to memorize. 

I believe God allows the things in your life to equip you for other seasons you soon enough will experience...bettering you to embrace all the Promises He gives along the journey. This quote is one of the many times the Lord was equipping me to understand I was called to challenge others to see things differently - try new things and BE AUTHENTIC.

I love when she says "Your playing small does not serve the world...." My biggest pet peeve - in the entire world (minus being chased & tickled) is when others don't even try. When they forfeit their identity to embrace the identity of our culture. I'm sick of photo copies. They aren't attractive and lack the creativity of the God of our Universe. It's insulting. God's better than that, and He's calling a generation to be better than that. For "we were born to make manifest the Glory of God that is within us."


"it's not just in some of us; it's in everyone."

As we daily, obediently and authentically live out our jouney as He has designed us to be..."we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same."

God has sent us to be a light. Replacing the spirit of fear that every other person buying into the photo copy culture has - and giving us the spirit of POWER - LOVE AND A SOUND MIND. - 2 Timothy 1:7

"As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence....(that's my favorite - our presence that has the  Holy Spirit living inside us) automatically liberates others." Not our words - but through our puriest, Holy Spirit driven, faith-full actions we can LIBERATE others.

In Jesus' name. 

My sweet friends - Take it one faithful, obedient day at a time.