Tuesday, October 25, 2011

It's the most WONDERFUL time of the yeaaaaar (with the exception of the fact that children are starving to death and people are dying every day who have never heard the gospel) FA LA LA LA LA, LA LA LA LA!!

I am going to put part 3 of my "singleness" posts on hold because this has really been weighing on my heart the last few days.

Christmas is upon us. I say it every year: one day it is August and then you blink and seemingly the next day it is Christmas. So I wanted to share with all of you my "plan" for this year, and to encourage you to get on board with me.

This time of year has changed for me a lot over the last few years. We went from a 2 parent home on Christmas morning, to a 1 parent and 2 grandparent home...which actually works well because my mom and I never have to get out of our jammies all day. In an effort to save money on Christmas post divorce, I went on a crazy spree of shopping all of the end of season sales in August to get it over with early and to save tons of money. Super idea, but I ended up with a lot of really cheap stuff that my kids didn't really play with...and who wants sidewalk chalk and a slip and slide for Christmas? 

So then I decided to just budget. Duh. I don't buy for everyone in the nation anymore. I do mostly gift cards and the like for the grown ups and only stuff that the kids are really in to.

We kick off Christmas each year (way before Thanksgiving) by getting our package together for our sponsored child through World Vision. This year we have a second sponsored child at Fiwagoh  (sweet Staron). Pastor Benson requests that you only send Christmas gifts if you can send one for each child......so we will be coming up with 180ish of something this year to send to ALL of the kids at Fiwagoh!

A good friend told me a couple of years ago, that she gets all of her shopping done before Thanksgiving, so when the tree goes up, the gifts go under, and then she is free to just enjoy this time of year without having to fuss about gifts. Love that and have been doing it for 2 years now. We also had a little elf named "Fruitcake" who joined us 2 years ago. Thankfully, he isn't the "roll your whole house in toilet paper" or "throw marshmallows everywhere" type elf, but more the "Fruitcake is watching you so you better put your shirt on because you can't go to school with no shirt" and the moving from place to place each night type of elf. It is totally fun.

So, we have made a lot of changes for the better over the last few years. But is it enough? I thought I was doing pretty well...until this started going around on Facebook. 

When I first saw this I thought "You know what? I am doing pretty well for a single mom dangit. I give. I go. I make sure my kids know what Christmas is SUPPOSED to be all about. I don't want to deprive them of having a good Christmas!". Ewwwwww. Honesty is sometimes ugly. So then I put on my big girl panties and quit whining and tried to find a solution to my dilemma. How can I have a good Christmas with my family but yet balance that against the urgent physical and spiritual need in our world?

First let me say, praise be to God that I even have this problem. I am so blessed not only to live in such an affluent nation, but also to have jobs that allow me to have to put a "cap" on what I spend on my kids for Christmas. And I am not talking about how much debt I ring up every year because I have never "charged" a dime for Christmas stuff (or any stuff for that matter for years). Live within your means people. I digress.

So on to the "solution". At least the one for my family and for this year. Hopefully, God will continue to grow and stretch me over the years and soon even this won't feel like enough.

David Platt suggested this to our church a couple of years ago. I didn't like it then. I don't really like it now, but I am going to force myself to do it this year. He suggested that whatever we spend on our family for Christmas, we should match and give the same amount to urgent physical and spiritual need around the world. That means above and beyond our normal tithe, sponsorships etc....(sorry already thought about that). Here is how this will break down for me:

1. $150 for each child, and $40-$50 for each parent and my brother, depending on how much I like them at time of purchase. So, the max I will allow myself to spend on my family for Christmas this year is $450. Sounds like a lot more when you add it all up doesn't it! I keep a running list along with my receipts to make sure I stay on budget.....it looks something like this (don't tell my kids what they are getting for Christmas please):

2. Brook Hills has a collection at the end of the year called the "Global Offering" which is above and beyond our normal giving and goes (obviously) to global needs. I will give part of my $450 to that. I will also give a part of it to the Compassion International Child Survival Program because they are directly helping children to live and mothers to learn how to help their children live. I am not sure about the rest....or maybe I will just split it between those two. But that is just what I am planning to do........

This is the best plan I can come up with today so I am going to stick with it. Who wants to commit to do it with me? Comment here or send me a message if your family wants to be a part of this. I would love to update everyone from now through Christmas with a running list of all the families who will do this with us! We can all be accountable to each other, and hopefully impact our friends, families, and the WORLD!

Imagine if all of us "Christians" were able to live within our means, stay on budget, and give extravagantly to urgent needs around the world this Christmas.



Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Singlesness Part Two- Patience in the Waiting

Proposal. Wedding. Bridesmaids. Groomsmen. Gorgeous pictures. THE dress. Bouquets. The ring. The cake. The honeymoon. The sex. It is what marriage is all about right? 

Or, is it possible, that marriage isn't about any of those things? Is it possible that marriage isn't about a wedding at all? Hmmmm......

A wedding is not a marriage. A honeymoon is not a marriage. A marriage is very simply about 2 people, who love God and each other, carrying out God's Biblical plan for His people. It is wholly about honoring God. Two people, serving each other for their lives in order to glorify God. Marriage is about holiness before happiness.

Can you honor God if you are not married? Absolutely. Can we be happy if we are not married? Of course! So then WHY are we as a culture so unsatisfied with singleness?

I know so many people who are so desperate for the "stuff" that the world tells us marriage is all about. They have a place in their heart and their lives that is so very empty and they need something to fill that empty space. Whether they have never been married, or are divorced and feel an extreme need for that type of companionship to be replaced in their lives, their lives declare that they want something the do not have. Something they feel that they NEED in order to be HAPPY.


We are told from the time we are young that we are supposed to grow up, get married, have babies and live happily ever after. I would imagine just about anyone who is "grown up" can tell you that it is just not that simple. Believe me. It's not.

So what do we do when we find ourselves single, but we don't want to be? 

I am a pretty good example of what not to do. I wanted all of the stuff. Mainly the kids. I have always wanted to be a mom....I just knew from an early age that I was made for it. So, I chose a husband based on what I wanted out of the union, not what God wanted or planned. Any marriage that starts with selfishness rather than godliness is likely doomed. I put what I wanted for myself in front of what I knew God wanted for me.

So friends, I beg you to guard your hearts and your words. Satan is always looking for a way in to our lives and if it is clear that there is something that we want but don't have, he will use that to tempt us away from God. He will use that to say that it is ok to date a guy who isn't a Christ follower but at least he goes to church. He will tell us that it is fine to go from one woman to the next in order to constantly keep that empty space filled. He will tell us that it is no big deal to post on Facebook how much we are in love with someone we just met, or to constantly make sure that everyone knows you are on the hunt for a new person to fill the void in your life.....

We all have empty places, but they all can be filled with a deep love for our Savior. The Bible does not command us to get happy, but it does command us to be holy. To be Christ like. I have learned so much of this the hard way, and I wish so many people could learn lessons from the mistakes of others, rather than by making the same mistakes themselves. Divorce is so prevalent in this society, and it hurts so many. If we all could be content with the place God has us in our lives, whether it is what we WANT or not, I think there would be so much less pain and destruction in our culture due to failed relationships.   

Be glad in the waiting. The Bible is filled with people who were made to wait...poor Israelites...that is ALL they did was wander around and wait. The Lord annointed David as king, but then sent him right back out to the feilds to wait until it was the right time.....like 20 years he spent waiting. It is very likely that God is preparing us in the waiting. Whether it be for the perfect "someone" to come along, or whether He has other plans for your life.......we can always trust that His plans are better than ours.