New Year’s…Remembrances

Christian womanhood, Christian women, Christianity, church, God, Gospel, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, New Year, Remember, writing

It is a tradition among some to write New Year’s resolutions, which involves writing your goals and hopes for the next year. Maybe this helps some people–I’m sure it does. However, I have not been one of those people.  Perhaps my goals were too broad, too big, or just plain dumb. Other than the good exercise of writing down goals, New Year’s resolutions sort of depressed me. I liked the idea of them, but it seemed like they were just paper, pencil, and lofty goals…lofty goals I was likely not to achieve. They were time capsules of disappointment.

Several years ago, someone challenged me to, instead of merely writing resolutions, write a list of all the things I had accomplished that year and some of the things God had helped me learn. It was one of the most encouraging things I have ever done.
Now, I am not a drunk-on-self-love type. I find all of that rather annoying and unbiblical. However, it is clear that God wants us to remember what He has done in us, and when we only focus on what we want to do or who we want to be in the future, we may miss what He has already done, and who He is already helping us to be right now.
In Joshua 4 God told his people to build a memorial to remind them what He had done and to be a remembrance for their children.
“When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.” (Joshua 4:21-24)
So try it. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy. Find a piece of paper, a piece of quiet, and remember. Write things you’ve accomplished, learned, and experienced. I bet you’ll be surprised. Chat with your family about the Lord’s grace and provision for the great and the small this year of 2014. 
And a Happy New Year to you!
Keep the Faith,
Audrey Ann
image credit: 1. google images/answerhub.com
 2. google images/mobilemarketingwatch.com
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The Night I Saw the Thief Run: Reflections on "Silent Night"

Christmas, encouragement, Jesus, peace, Pentatonix, Silent Night, theft

The radio doesn’t work in my truck. On most days I find it good discipline to drive in silence–think, or pray. But one evening I really wanted to listen to Christmas music, so I brought along our i-pad and turned on my (overly used) Christmas playlist. This year I have discovered the Christmas album by Pentatonix, and it is phenomenal.
During my drive home, I was listening to their version of “Silent Night,” and I passed a roadside restaurant known for its fabulous chicken-on-a-stick (it’s also known for MSG, so I have to limit my visits). It was one of those slow motion moments: a teenage boy darted down the road, pumping his arms and holding a huge bag of food, while another teenage boy chased him. An old woman yelled. The first boy dropped the bag of food. And my heart dropped a little.
Silent Night. Humph, seems like a bunch of chaos all around. Who needs the news to tell us this world is crazy? We know. 
Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Was Bethlehem really quiet that night Jesus was born? I doubt it. There was a census taking place and Roman/Jewish conflict. Oh, how the conflicts have continued–down the street and across the globe. But this we also know: even though this world is clamoring all around us, HE IS the calm, and HE IS bright. He calmed the storm for the disciples and He calms the storms in our souls. And He is the Light of the World who brightens all things, and helps us to understand what is going on around us. 

We grope for answers, when we forget to grope for Him.
Maybe your house is noisy. Maybe your heart is noisy. Maybe the idea of a silent night seems impossible. But it’s not about volume, or pitch, or frequency. It’s about peace. And HE IS the Prince of Peace. 
Surrender your heart to Him, and while the world around you will continue to make quite a racket, you will experience His holiness, and you will experience a silent night in the truest form: a night where your worries rest in Him.
Keep the Faith,
Audrey Ann
“For He Himself is our peace…” Ephesians 2:14a
Credit: “Silent Night” by Joseph Mohr
Image: Google images/Free clip art/clipartpanda.com

The Wonder and Antics of Advent

Advent, children, Christian, Christmas, encouragement, eternal perspective, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, Jesus

It is that beautiful waiting–that stomach-fluttering sensation with eyes wide open in bed. Christmas is coming. The house feels stuck in time with a soft glow as Mama and Dad shuffle around downstairs. I can hear Mama say, “Jon, where’s that other roll of tape?” Christmas is tomorrow. Breathing deeply I can still smell the candle-blown-out smell from my Christmas Eve candle I got to carry to bed all by myself.  
About once a week leading up to Christmas, our family would do Advent devotionals. Sometimes we missed a week, and sometimes we forgot and only did it Christmas Eve, but it was always so special and so important. There was the gold wreath, holding four candles and one in the middle– one for each of us to light. Dad would read scripture verses about Jesus in Isaiah and Luke, and one of my brothers would attempt to blow out the candles with puffs of breath, pretending to hide his antics from Dad. We snickered and shifted, trying to find a comfy position on the floor.  There was a warmth and anticipation that enveloped us in our flannel pajamas and slippers we had outgrown years ago. My family has this thing with traditions.
Those advent devotionals taught me about living in remembrance of the Gospel and never forgetting the holiness and specialness of our Lord, our continual inadequacy, and His continual love. Now I realize that those nights were a picture of our lives.  Even though we can sit still better than when we were young, we never truly grow out of our antics. We recognize the glory of God, but still seem to fidget with the cares of this world, both the things we love and the things we fear. 
In Christ’s holiness and in the expectancy of His second coming, we are less than we should be. We wiggle and squirm, our mannerisms often irreverent. But He came all the same. He came to glorify the Father and save us. So recognize the beauty of this moment and take a few to remember and wait, remember how He came and wait with joy for His return. Maybe you’re worried that you did not get so-and-so a good present, or maybe you can’t find the other roll of tape. It’s okay. Light a few candles for Advent, read some scriptures, and let the flame remind you of the Light of the World who came to rescue you and will descend again. Christmas is coming.

Keep the Faith,
Audrey Ann
P.S. Interested in trying an Advent devotional (in addition to scripture reading)? It’s not too late! Here are a few ideas:
Image Credit: Google Images/mattressessale.eu

Charlie Brown and Christianese

authenticity, bilingual, Charlie Brown, Christian, Christianese, church, language

In high school and college I took Spanish as part of my foreign language requirement. However, there is no way on earth I would dub myself “bilingual.” Yes, I am one of those sad people who only really knows English and was nerdy enough to make it my major. Living on Guam makes me painfully aware of how many people typically have a few languages they can whip out, if needed. But lately I have come to realize that I am, indeed, bilingual and my second language is “Christianese.” 
There is nothing intrinsically wrong with using “Chrisianese” terms, so long as they are theologically correct (“saved by the blood,” “repented of sins,” etc). However, sometimes the language can become one of hindrance, but not just to those who are not Christians, but to those who are. For those of you who have been or are church-goers, let’s be honest, when you go to church you want to present you best self, your best smile, your best outfit. And that is fine. You want to contribute something deep and say all the right things in your Sunday school class or a leadership training session. 
The trouble is that sometimes when we want a good reputation or a good slur of Christianese phrases more than we really want Jesus. Some of the most prideful people I have ever met have been regular church attenders, and I am one of the offenders. What if a person can spout all the right things and does love Jesus, but has a hidden struggle, sin, or addiction? Where is he or she to go? Who will speak hope?
A favorite Christmas movie of my family’s is A Charlie Brown Christmas. I love the part where Charlie Brown is trying to earn the approval of his peers by directing the Christmas play and picking out the best Christmas tree. But he just can’t. Their approval is elusive, and he cracks. “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?!” he cries. “Sure, Charlie Brown” his trusty friend Linus says, after he takes his thumb out of his mouth. And he precedes to quote Luke 2:8-14. Charlie Brown was honest and humble enough to ask, and Linus was compassionate enough to answer. He loved his friend, and he wanted to offer him hope–not the hope of his perfection or having the perfect words, but the hope of Jesus come to earth.
I’m preaching to myself on this one. Goodness, how I have always desired for others to think well of me. Due to attending church since I was a baby and always being educated under a Christian institution, I am inevitably fluent in Christianese. And that’s okay, as long as I remember to also be fluent in humility and remember that there is not a single person whose hope rests in my ability to always look put together or say the right thing. Hope always rests in the God Man Jesus Christ. He adorned humility in the womb of a young girl, in the manger of a cave, and on the cross of Calvary, and He spoke the language of hope. 
Keep the Faith,
Audrey Ann

Image credit: Charles M. Schulz/Free Google Images/blog.chateaugranville.com