Friday, December 30, 2005

You say it's your birthday!

It's my birthday too!

No, seriously, it is.

Being a December baby, a mere five days after Christmas and one day before New Years - well, let's just say I've pretty much always been gypped on my birthday. Years of "Christmas/Birthday" gifts left me feeling a little short-changed each year. My own parents rarely remembered to call me since they tend to hand me my birthday card on Christmas day. I never got to have parties on my birthday because it always interefered with all the other things going on that time of the year. (This has actually gotten worse as an adult). My birthday just always got lost in the midst of it all.

Boo-hoo to me.

But this year - I don't know. Something's just different. Maybe I've finally grown wiser, they say this comes with age but who are we kidding - I know lots of older people who aren't that wise or even nice. Present comapny excluded. Or maybe it's because of something else.

Our finances have been barely covering the bills so because of that, my husband and I decided to not do any big gifts for each other. We only got a few small things for each other. I knew there wasn't going to be any money for my birthday, and I was okay with that. I was much more focused on giving my kids a decent Christmas (which we did - and they don't know that more than half of their gifts cost $5 or less). I had no expectations for this birthday and maybe because of that - I'm just enjoying it. No big party - but a ton of kisses and hugs from my children who have been singing me Happy Birthday all morning - even the two-year-old. My husband is doing laundry - I mean really, what more could a girl want? And I am blessed. I know I am. I don't feel gypped at all.

Sure, it would be fun to have a birthday that didn't conflict with a dozen other parties. But getting over my desire for fanfare and attention - well, that's part of growing up, too. It's a nice, relaxing birthday - my family loves me, and Jesus, well, I think He understands being overlooked on a birthday. It happens to Him every year. He celebrates with us even when no one else remembers.

Here's to birthdays and to ice-cream cake and the kids going to grandma's!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas Thoughts

My daughter's solo? Such a joy for me to hear last night. She said she was a little nervous, but didn't flinch walking up there with about five hundred people watching her. I see God's Hand at work in her. He has shown her how to be brave, and I couldn't be more proud of her.

Christmas Morning? There is nothing like it. Yes, the kids are excited about the presents, but it's a celebration - a grand celebration of the birth of a child. I look at my own children and wonder how God did such a thing - to come to Earth as a helpless babe to save us all. It's a wonderful thing to ponder.

Tears and joy? The two are very close together you know. In the midst of all of our excitement today, my girls all had at least one meltdown over something. Yet emotion is a mixed up jumbled thing sometimes. It is at moments of deepest joy that it is when we are most aware of our loss as well. My second Christmas without my father was not easy, but I could sense the presence of God, and I have peace.

Purpose? God had a magnificent plan that He set in motion on Christmas morning so many years ago. I don't want to wander aimlessly as I have felt lately, I want to be a woman of purpose. To be in motion towards that which God has called me to. I only wonder what that will look like as I pray the next few days.

A joyous Christmas to you all. And to Christ - may Your Name be glorified in the Earth.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

And Faith will come

"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."
Martin Luther King Jr.

My oldest daughter is six and one of her teachers at church tells me that she is the first to offer to lead worship during their children's church service. Yesterday, our worship leader called our house and asked if she could sing a short solo for the Christmas Eve service and my outgoing daughter dissolved into tears. She was terrified at the thought of singing in front of people.

It didn't matter that she had done it before. She didn't hear us as we pointed out that she loves to perform for us all the time and reminded her of leading worship in children's church.

"I can't. I just can't" she kept crying over and over.

Fear is not a new struggle for her. Over her short life we have seen fear get a strangle hold around her. When she was two, it was a gymnastics class, when she was four, it was a set of shots. My husband and I prayed for wisdom. We didn't really care whether she sang at the Christmas Eve service - what we cared about was not letting her be ruled by her fears. We talked with her, prayed with her and told her we would take it one step at a time and that we wanted her to at least learn the song.

She wasn't happy but she eventually calmed down last night.

Today as we walked into the church for her rehearsal, she again turned into a corner and began to weep saying that she didn't want to and that she couldn't do it. I prayed, talked to her and after much cajoling got her into the practice room. Eventually we got her to sing through her tearful hiccups. Before too long I was able to leave the room. Ten minutes later she was singing on the large stage with a mike in hand and right now she is downstairs praticing the song - over and over and over again.

She asked me if I was going to make her sing on stage. When I said "yes", she said "Yeah!"

And I was grateful. It's hard to know when to push, and when to let go. My parents never pushed me and there are times I wish they had. That fear my daughter struggles with - it's not from God. It is from someone who doesn't want her to try new things and have the chance to discover the gifts within her. I want her to know that we serve a God that pushes us beyond our limits so that we will learn to trust Him - not ourselves, not the results - but Him - that He will never leave us, that we can do ALL things through Him.

It's not an easy lesson, whether you're six, or sixteen or sixty and I think it's one we continually have to learn. Being brave is not the absence of fear, but a willingness to press on despite the fear and have faith in the One who sees the beginning from the end.

I know that every time I walk my daughter through the process of moving from fear to faith, she'll grow stronger and be more willing to trust in God's strength instead of her own. I wonder today what God might be asking you to do that scares you. I hope you will let God take your hand and walk you through it. And instead of looking at what you CAN'T do, try looking at what He CAN do.

Cross Post from 4:12 LIVE!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Christmas is coming

I can hardly believe that Christmas is just days away. As a mom, I am obviously busy this time of year - running errands, delivering cookies for my daughter's Christmas party, picking up gift certificates, and that was just this morning. But in the midst of all of that I have such a sense of peace this year. I run around but I don't feel frazzled. And for someone who gets frazzled on a semi-regular basis this is no small thing.

And as I was pondering this "peace that passes understanding" that is a gift from God, I'm also aware of just how grateful I am for God. You see, I came to know God at the lowest point of my life - without hope, without joy, without anything, Someone swept in and changed my life. It wasn't anything I did - simply a merciful God who chose to rescue me from my pit of despair.

I look around at the blessings in my life, and even the tragedies, and I see God's Hand, steadying my walk, watching over me - and I am so grateful to know Him. And even more grateful that He wants to be known.

I can feel guilty for not spending more time in the Word or feeling like I should pray more or fast more or just do more - but when it comes down to it, lately I have just been deeply grateful - and I think this is why I have such peace...such contentment in the midst of difficult circumstances.

And this is my prayer for you as we enter the last few bustling days of Christmas - may you be reminded of why He came in the first place - He came for you. And for that, we can be truly grateful.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Randal's Big Boo

As I watched The Apprentice finale last night I am amazed how easy it is to blow the carefully constructed character someone claims to have.

Out of the excesses of the heart, the mouth speaks.

Randal spent the whole season being a generally good guy - supportive, honest and trustworthy. The entire season we all knew that he had a good shot of being hired. Rebeca gave him a run for his money and though she lacks experience she showed an ability to perform under pressure - we can learn a lot of things, but grace under pressure is something you either have or don't have.

So after Randal gets the "You're Hired", Trump asks Randal if he should hire Rebeca too.

And he says no. For the lamest reason possible - that it's called The Apprentice, not The Apprenti - which by the way is not plural of Apprentice - whatever. Here he had a golden opportunity to not only get hired but to give someone a well-deserved shot at a golden job in the Trump organization. And he blew it - big time. Because face it, it was pure selfishness talking - he didn't want to share the glory of the title.

What a shame.

There was so much he could have said and it was obvious how shocked and appaled much of the audience was after Randal's two year old "It's all mine!" tantrum.

He should have shared the win because now we won't remember what a great guy he was through the season - we'll remember his final act of selfishness. Pressure always shows what we're really made of, doesn't it?

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Art of Discipline

I jumped back into a new exercise routine about two and a half weeks ago. Today as I type my arms and back are that "good kind of sore" that comes from a great workout. I've always had a love-hate rleationship with exercise. I know that I should do it, and feel good when I do, but for some reason the mental block of actually doing it can be problematic for me.

But a few weeks ago while I was sitting in church, I realized that God was after something bigger than just me "working out". There is something about following a program, and being consistent, that speaks more of my spiritual need than my physical need. I, like most people in America, want things fast. I'm not always good at persevering - waiting - and working hard and long for a distant goal. I give up sometimes, thinking that I'll never get to the end of the road, so I just stop walking the road.

While there are a lot of emotions tied up in it, the truth is that it's hard to work hard for something. And just as few can watch an inward transformation, only God is really aware of the sacrifices we're making.

And this all relates directly to writing as well. I've been so tempted to just give up on my screenplay the last few days. It's not working and even as I typed a scene the other day I kept thinking "unmotivated!" - my character doesn't have the motivation to do what I make her do. And to fix it I kind of need to start over - and that thought exhausts me.

I wonder, what's the point?

It's probably not going to matter anyway.

My chances of winning the contest are practically non-existant.

Why work so hard for nothing?

And yet, there's something in my spirit that hears God's call in it. And it may have nothing at all to do with the actual screenplay or the contest but may be about me - and whether I am willing to discipline myself and do something hard, simply because it's the road God has asked me to walk.

I keep thinking I should just write another novel - stick with what's - comfortable. And there's that word and the very reason I probably shouldn't give up. Stepping out of our comfort zone is always a challenge.

If what God asked us to do was easy, then it probably wasn't God. He always asks us to do the very things we cannot do on our own - simply so that we will lean on Him all the more.

So I'm off to do a little more leaning, and hopefully, a lot more writing. I certainly hope He knows how to fix my mess of a screenplay.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Chronicles of Narnia

King Kong releases this weekend and judging by the secular media, this will be the movie to end the slump at the box office in 2005.

But here's my plea - if you haven't made it to go see Narnia - go see it. Let Hollywood know that you want values on the screen and not just a big ape. And even if you have seen Narnia - go watch it again.

You see, Hollywood is watching. Every ticket sale is like a vote for what you want to see more of. Even though opening weekend is over, it is still important to get out there and cast your vote.

When I go to vote at my local polls, all I get is a little sticker. With your vote for Narnia, you'll also get to see a wonderful movie:-)

Go see it....

Friday, December 09, 2005

Brand New Contest

I've been wading through a maze of HTML today but I finally have the information for my new contest up on my site and this is my very first place to announce it! All the details are on my Becoming Beka website but I'll give you all the basics.

"The Encore Prize Box" will include a hot off the press, autographed copy of The Encore as well as other cool prizes making the box worth more than $50!


For every submission you make, you'll get one entry in the drawing for The Encore Prize Box. There are four submission categories...

Movie Picks – In 150 words or less, tell readers about your favorite movie and why they should go out and rent it right away.

Website Picks – In 50 words, tell us about your favorite website and why we should surf on over.

My Blessing - In no more than 150 words, tell us about something God did for you in 2005.

WebHelps - In fifty words, tell us about a spot on the Internet that a teen can find valuable information about a topic, any topic. Where do you go when you have a question?

Be sure to check here for the complete rules and a link to the form to enter.

I hope you'll enter, and go ahead...spread the word about it!

Cross-post from 4:12 LIVE!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Snow Day

I remember well getting excited about a possible snow day. A day off school to play outside and then drink hot chocolate. Nothing was better.

But even though I'm older, I found myself looking forward to today - our snow day. The kids were all off school and my husband was able to go in late to work. I watched their cheeks get rosy as the kids trudged up our hill and then slid back down, over and over and over again.

The only trouble with snow days is that I don't feel like doing anything. What I have to work on seems to always be calling to me, never letting me truly rest. The computer is only just upstairs, part of my everyday life and I find myself envying those with offices to go to - those that have a seperation between their work and their life.

I don't sit at the computer all day - far from it - but I'm up here off and on all day so in some ways it "feels" like I'm always here. Even now as I write this, two of my children are in the room. I am rarely ever alone. I don't know if being alone would make me more productive or not, but I can't help but wonder how I can change things so that I can get more accomplished.

So while I love snow days, they make me want to hang out and do nothing. And with a deadline fast approaching. I can't really afford such luxuries...

So snow day or not...I've got to get back to work:-)