Friday, December 19, 2014

The 12 Dates of Christmas: Dates #1-5

Here's a quick synopsis of Dates #1-5. Yes, this leaves several dates to go, but Red Beard is finally done with school this semester (woo hoo!).

I even made him a celebratory plate of cookies because he doesn't have to take math classes anymore ever...

Anyhoo, here's an update on our "12 Dates of Christmas." Some of these I had the presence of mind to snap a pic or two. Others, well... I claim pregnancy brain.

Date #1: Christmas Tree Farm
>>The farm we visited had experienced a major drought this year, so we bought one of the pre-cut trees they had shipped from somewhere else!
The tree once it was in its stand. There was a long curtain saga that also occurred that afternoon... A saga that resulted in no curtains. lol
Date #2: Christmas Symphony Concert (Group Date)
>>We got dressed up to meet my family and enjoyed selections from Handel's Messiah and other holiday favorites. I had never heard any of the Messiah live, and sung by people who truly believe in Christ. It brought tears to my eyes (and that's not a normal occurrence for me), especially when they asked the audience to join in. It was one of those moments in time where you get a glimpse of what it will be like when we all praise God in heaven. Makes me tear up just thinking about it.

Date #3: Russian Winter's Eve & Tree Decorating
>>We ate Beef Stroganoff and watched The Hunt for Red October while we decorated the tree. It was supposed to be The Nutcracker followed by The Hunt for Red October, but Red Beard couldn't wait to watch Red October. That guy... lol.

It may not look like much, but that was probably the best beef stroganoff we've ever made (and we've been making it for several years).
Our tree all gussied up. Most of our ornaments are homemade, including the tree topper than Red Beard carved a few Christmases ago.
Date #4: Impromptu Lunch & Shopping
>>Red Beard got the afternoon off (he's been working 6 days a week, anywhere between 10 and 12 hours a day), so we grabbed some lunch and headed out to spend a Bed, Bath, & Beyond gift card and to mostly window shop the mall for a few minutes.

Date #5: Cancelled due to Red Beard's extra Math HW
>>Life happens. We'll re-schedule, if time allows.

Only 7 more dates to go... I have a feeling these may extend a little beyond Christmas day. :)

Cheers! ~Mrs. D.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Heart Healthy Christmas

A few of the Christmas ornaments I made from our wedding cards (our anniversary is close to Christmas).
Nothing says "festive" and "holiday" quite like the word healthy, right?

Ho, ho, ho! Yeah right, lady, the voice in my head says.

I had planned to talk about healthy recipes for the season today, yet another thought kept coming to the forefront of my mind:
God wants our hearts this Christmas (and always). 
The condition of your heart in relation to the Lord is so much more important than what you eat (although, not letting food become an idol is important).

With everyone running around doing last minute Christmas shopping, having breakfasts with family members they only only see once a year, attending Christmas play practices, etc. etc. it seems difficult to make the time for the One person this season is supposed to be about: Jesus.

This other stuff is not what Christmas is about.

Let me be clear:

  • I'm not talking about having a "Happy Birthday Jesus" party to counter-balance Santa Claus.
  • I'm not talking about lighting your advent wreath every Sunday at church.
  • I'm not talking about having a nativity scene set up in your house.

I'm talking about day in, day out focussing on the things God has to say to you through His Word and through prayer.

That's what seeking Him means. An actual relationship--not a ceremonious one.

What's your heart health like this season? ~Mrs. D.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Taking the Plunge--Why I Dumped Facebook

I've been wanting to publish this post for a while now, but I needed to give it some time so that I wasn't so dramatic over-the-top about it. I've done my best to not get carried away. Here goes...

It's been several months now since I dumped Facebook, and I don't regret it one bit. In fact, I wish I had possessed the courage to do it long ago.

My reasons may not be what you think.

Many people avoid social media because they are fearful of too much personal information floating around the Internet. And, while I understand this concern, part of that is up to individual users. Apps on Facebook that tell your Facebook friends (and other users) where you are at any given moment do seem dangerous. (Or a status that says, "Hey--I'm going to this specific library at 10 a.m.")

But my main trouble with Facebook originally came from a few other standpoints entirely:

  1. Christians spend so much time on social media (and with most media in general) that they forget there is a lost and dying world around them. 
  2. Facebook is a major distraction from God that puts the focus on oneself. (Instead of spending 2 straight hours on Facebook, why not spend part of that time reading your Bible?) 
  3. What's more, Facebook leads many Christians down a path of nosiness and, as a result, gossip.

I can already hear objections to this--"But I use my Facebook to share Christ and to witness to other people." For the 5% of users out there that this ACTUALLY rings true, great.

However, most people that would use this argument spend the majority of their time on Facebook screeching about politics and current events, complaining about the government, getting on their proverbial soapbox, or tooting their own horn in some way (yes, even about spiritual matters).

There are a myriad of problems with this kind of "witnessing" approach, if you want to call it that. First of all, people on social media can only see what you allow them to see. The people who live with you and near you (i.e. your neighbors, co-workers, family, etc.) see your life every day. A compliment from someone who barely knows you only gratifies your ego.

It's easy to make yourself appear wonderful and spiritual on Facebook. But let's be honest, the Bible doesn't look kindly on taking pride in one's spiritual "superiority." Ahem, Pharisees?

What attracts people to Christ is actually not us. It's the Holy Spirit in us. Therefore, it doesn't matter how winsome a person's personality seems to be on Facebook (or even how winsome it really is in real life)--Christian "cool points" aren't so cool.

Secondly, how is your commentary on current events drawing people to the Lord? All I ever saw on Facebook in these scenarios was lost people becoming more entrenched in what they already believed.

In this way, debates on Facebook are similar to sporting events. If you go to a Redskins game against Dallas as a die hard Redskins fan, you're not going to leave that game a Cowboys fan. No matter how well Dallas played, you're not going to start cheering for them. You leave saying things like, "Next time, we'll get our defense up! They're going down!"

Aside from this general annoyance every time I was on Facebook, there are other temptations to be had.

My major temptation? Comparing myself with others.

I found myself comparing my life with other people's lives WAY too much. You know what I'm talking about and the kinds of thoughts this leads to. Here are a few examples (the first two are personal, the rest are not):

  • "So-and-so is 5 years younger than me, and she has 3 kids when I have none!" 
  • "I can't believe they were able to buy a house and I'm still living in an apartment."
  • "She's really mean. Why does she have a boyfriend and I don't?" 
  • "She always has nice clothes and I have to wear my mom's hand-me-downs."
  • "He got to go to that concert my dad wouldn't let me go to!"
  • "She looks so ugly in that dress. I'm glad I'm not that fat!"

Comparisons are so easy to make. It causes us to have self pity or to think ill of someone else. The Bible is not "down with that," folks. Check out (as I think I've mentioned before) 2 Corinthians 10:12:
"For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise."
Or, the scenario from the book of John:
"Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following . . . Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, 'Lord, and what shall this man do?' Jesus saith unto him, 'If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.'" (John 21:20-22)
We need to focus on the path God has us on, and not become distracted by where we think we should be or where others are. Comparisons are dangerous.

All in all, Facebook was becoming way too much for me. It was a time waster, and I was constantly drawn back to it to make comparisons. Facebook had to go!

I'm not saying you're sinning if you keep a Facebook account. Maybe you don't have any of the problems I've talked about--and that's great if you don't! But it's important to evaluate whether or not we are tempted to sin in any way when using Facebook or ANY social media.

Is it getting in the way of our relationship with God?

If it is, we need to be willing to let God have it. We need to be willing, as painful as it may seem at the time, to dump it.

Just like anything else in our life that causes us to sin and clouds our relationship with God. Let God have it.

What better gift to give Christ this season--if He already has your heart--than a stumbling block in your life? ~Mrs. D.