Dec 27 2013

Hear the Bells

It feels like a collective sigh of relief today. Christmas is over.  We survived.

Sometimes you wonder (at least I do, why we do this to ourselves? Overspend, Overeat, and lack sleep and we call it a celebration. 

Yesterday, I dropped "The Sunshines" (my 3 kids) off with their Dad for the rest of their winter break. I was driving home wondering, lamenting, how I ended up in this situation, alone. Wondering if I could just skip it all next year? 

I have spent the week cooking, entertaining, running around, I told a friend, on the phone, I felt like collapsing now that it's over.

That friend reminded me, "yeah, but you wouldn't have it any other way." True.  

It's crazy and chaotic parenting 3 children alone, but then again, I can't stand how quiet it is now that they are gone.  The quiet reminds me how great I have it every other day of the year.  

There's this old song, "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" redone by Steven Curtis Chapman. It's based on a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I never understood it until now.  How the melancholy meets joy at Christmas. When your life doesn't turn out the way you dreamed, you lament, but at the same time see hope.

Longfellow wrote it on Christmas while grieving over his wife’s accidental death: 

In despair I bow'd my head:

There is no peace on earth, I said,

For hate is strong, and mocks the song

Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Then he heard church bells, causing his demeanor to change. What began melancholy, ended hopeful:

I heard the bells on Christmas day

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:

God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;

The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,

With peace on earth, good will to men.

I want to hear the bells too Lord. Help me to get over the fact that my family doesn’t look like a Norman Rockwell painting, but one day, You will set things right...

Dec 02 2013

Turbulence

"Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved." –Romans 10:13 

The next time you'e on a flight and the pilot tells you to "fasten your seat belt, there could be turbulence." You listen.  Here's why:

Last night, I was flying on a plane with “The Sunshines”, my three children.  They’d been visiting their Dad for Thanksgiving.  The youngest two were asleep, the oldest was quietly reading, and I was working on my laptop planning the next day's show.  It was quiet, but not for long.

All of a sudden the pilot comes on and says, “EXPECT TURBULENCE! FLIGHT ATTENDANTS TAKE YOUR SEATS!”

Seconds later, the extreme turbulence hits us.  It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.  It’s the kind of bumps that make you fly up from your seat. My children woke up, the girls start screaming, my son begins crying. I dropped my laptop and used my body to keep them in their seats.  My son’s toy alligator flew up in the air, and the look of sheer panic on my children’s faces made this mama bear scream too. 

I screamed a prayer. I don’t know what came over me.  But instead of a silent prayer for help, I yelled at the top of my lungs over the screams of my daughters, “DEAR JESUS HELP US! CALM THIS STORM RIGHT NOW, FOR YOU SAY THE GOD OF ANGEL ARMIES IS ON OUR SIDE!”  

I am not kidding, I have a plane full of 220 people that can testify, it stopped instantly. The couple seating near us said, "Wow that was some kind of prayer!"

As I looked at the stunned faces of my children examining their bodies top to bottom to make sure they were okay, I was stunned into just how fleeting life can be, how vulnerable we are, but yet the strength that comes from invoking the name of Jesus and His father, the God of angel armies.  

I began the holiday season stressed, overwhelmed, and missing my children, but now I am changed.  I GET to give this year.  I get to put up Christmas lights.  I get to go to Christmas parties. 

Suddenly life is not an endless frustrating to-do list, but an endless opportunity, a gift. 

And I will never forget this: My daughter last night as I tucked her unharmed little body safely in her bed, "mommy God listened, He calmed the storm..."