Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Do You Have a New Year's Resolution?

I am riding on a Portland bus when a sign above catches my eye. In bold letters, I read: See Something? Say Something. This is not the first time I have seen this sign. I last saw it in the airport when traveling. It reminds me to be watchful, to remain vigilant, to notice anything suspicious, or out of the ordinary.   

But what would it be like if I tried to apply this principle in a positive way? What difference would it make if instead of spying out the suspicious, I were to look out for the lovely? Suppose I made an effort to be watchful, to be vigilant, to see all the wonderful things in the world- the things that really are out of the ordinary, if only I have time to notice them?

Like a single ray of sunshine shining down on me when no one else notices...

Or a mama who is simply in love with her baby...

Or a teacher who quietly inspires you to be your best...

Or a child who teaches you more about Jesus than you could ever teach him...

And what would happpen if, when I see all these things, I say something, like:

Thank you God, or 
What a great mom you are, or 
It is such a privilege to work alongside you or
Do you know what a precious gift you are to me?

And imagine what an impact we could make in the world if we all were to See Something and Say Something. Imagine what a difference your words would make in the life of a child, or a Sunday school teacher, or your family. 

Take this little resolution into the new year. Be watchful. Be vigilant. Be an encourager. And see what happens.


Monday, December 23, 2013

Have You Seen Undercover Boss?

A repost from December 2012...

With an audience averaging 17.7 million viewers, 'Undercover Boss' ranks as the biggest new season premiere since 1987 and the most watched premiere episode of any reality series.

Each week, 'Undercover Boss' follows a different executive as they leave the comfort of their office above to work alongside their employees below. This undercover mission allows them to share in the experiences of their employees and to obtain an up-close look at how their company works.

At the end of the week, the true identity of the boss is revealed, the employees are rewarded for their hard work, and the company celebrates as everyone benefits from the experience.

Over 2000 years ago, another 'Undercover Boss' left the comfort of an executive office above and came down to live amongst people on the earth below. With an audience of millions, the true identity of the boss was revealed and each Christmas, the world celebrates. 

What a privilege we have to be part of bringing children to discover the true identity of that 'Undercover Baby' and the eternal benefits He brings.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

What is Your Reaction when Wished 'Happy Holidays'?

During the month of December for the past ten years a jolly light up Santa has been standing proudly on our front porch. But this year, we decided to upgrade to the Holy Family. We arranged Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus on the front lawn, tracked down our extension leads, and plugged them in. Beautiful!  The baby Jesus brought light to our neighborhood, which of course, is what Jesus always does.
My husband and I watched from the window as the children who live in the street came to admire the display. It gave us a good feeling to advertise the true meaning of Christmas.
But last week, when the heavy snows came, the baby Jesus disappeared, buried under a deep blanket of white.  And as I scraped away the snow to see his little face, it reminded me of all the ways we bury Jesus at Christmas.
Jesus is buried under all the tinsel and trimmings; hidden in the busyness of shopping; obscured by those who feel the need to wish me Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas.
But I am not worried by all of this. Instead, each day as I lift out the baby Jesus and place him on top of the snow where his light can be seen, it reminds me to elevate him to the place he belongs every day of my life- at the top of my to do list.
And to those who wish me Happy Holidays I do not frown. I smile, and say almost the same in reply. I wish them Happy Holydays, because 'holiday' is a compound word, derived from the two words 'holy' and 'day'.
And this is why I smile...because no matter how much we try to run from it, or how deep we try to bury the baby, Christmas is all about the birth of Christ, a true holy day. What a wonderful lesson to teach our children!
Happy Holydays!

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Ivy

That just has to be false, I thought, as I looked up in disbelief at the ivy that was traveling all around the room. Too big, too long, too green, too shiny to be real. But my husband disagreed. I got up to take a closer look, reluctant to leave my hotel breakfast. I felt at the leaves. They felt real, but surely not? It couldn't be.

This ivy had traveled all around the edge of the ceiling, not once, but multiple times, was wrapped around two pillars, and continued into the next room, with no pot, no soil, no source in sight. It's real, my husband said. But I was unconvinced.

Then the hotel manager came in. Is this ivy real? we asked. She nodded, and pointed to a tiny shelf above the front desk. Sitting on the shelf was a little jug of water, and from that invisible source, that massive ivy was rooted and growing. I was amazed at how far it had traveled. 

One invisible source, 
one impressive journey,
nothing false,
only real.

Be encouraged as you keep our children rooted and connected to the One who can sustain them. We never know how far they may go.

Remain joined to me, and I will remain joined to you.
No branch can bear fruit by itself. It must remain joined to the vine. John 15:4


Monday, December 2, 2013

The Scrap Yard

Two weeks ago I had a lovely afternoon out with my grandson. We didn't go to see Santa. We went to the scrap yard. When you are a boy of almost three years old, and your whole life revolves around wheels and machines, a day out at the scrap yard is a wonderful thing!

But it was quite a sad and sorry place for me.

We stood, my grandson and I, as huge cranes lifted one mangled mess after another. We looked out over a pile of discarded rubber tires and wheels, to where a dump truck was unloading remnants of someone's old stove, and beyond to where a giant magnet swung from side to side as it carried bars, and bolts, and bits of metal to their final resting place.

But the saddest sight of all was a little red tricycle, perched pathetically on a wall, one wheel dangling helplessly over the edge. My grandson was particularly fascinated by it-
possibly because it reminded him of his little shiny red three wheeler at home. But there the resemblance ended...

This little bike had long been forgotten and abandoned by its owner.

Covered in rust and mud, its paint flaking, and its wheels bent, that little red bike was beyond repair.

But it fascinated me too.

I couldn't help but think about the little child who had once owned that bike. Maybe it was a surprise gift, lying in wait to be discovered one Christmas morning. Perhaps it had been proudly ridden to the park and back, as the sound of laughter echoed in the street...
But it was discarded now.
No one had use for it any more.
It was simply a sorry remnant of someone's life.

But just as I was lost in thought, the owner of the scrap yard ambled along, a cheery guy in a brown wooly hat, with a big smile and a loud laugh, and I wondered how he could be so cheerful amidst such a sad and sorry place as the scrap yard.

But the owner explained cheerily how everything I could see would be recycled, made new, and used again.

And in the midst of that messy place, an amalgamation of broken bits and useless remnants of people's lives, I thought about heaven.

And how God works to make all things new. 

And how God can take all our brokenness and restore it.

And how no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind could possibly conceive what God is preparing for those who love Him.

And this is why I teach.
And this is why I write.
Because I want all children to know.
I want my grandson to know.
This life is not the end.
It is just the beginning.