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Archive for the ‘kids’ Category

A Perfect Government is Born!

In Bible, Children, Christ, Christmas, Jesus, kids, parenting on December 7, 2009 at 1:54 pm

Enemy forces occupied their country. Without notice, raids infiltrated their towns and their children’s blood ran in the streets. Spies mingled among them as they shopped. Life was not safe when they made their way home.

The road was rocky, dusty and long. Transportation was smelly and stubborn, an over-burdened burrow that smelled and clopped along in obedience to a sojourner whose pregnant wife was perched on its back.

When they arrived, the town was packed. Inns were swollen with like-travelers who also were required to return to their birthplace. The occupying regime had imposed a national census and the ancient city was teeming with more citizens than it had rooms to spare.

Unfortunately, the couple was desperate. Labor pains were dominating their decisions and soon any kind of shelter would suffice. Only one option arose.

The stable was on the outskirts of town, which meant more travel. Hungry, tired and anxious, the soon-to-be parents welcomed the rough surroundings and settled in for the long night.

As the humble pair wrapped the world’s future ruler in swaddling clothes, they were oblivious to the angelic choir that was announcing the event to a band of shepherds in a nearby field, and to the travelers from the east seeking an audience with him.

They had no idea that the gifts these wise men would lay at his feet would soon finance a midnight relocation to avoid a massacre of every male child two years or younger in their town.

Life was rough for the man and wife, from their betrothal, which was threatened by public shame when she became pregnant before the wedding, to their disappearance for several years in a foreign land.

When their son was twelve he came up missing during a family church visit and nearly gave his parents a heart attack looking for him.

His adult life was short. Within a few years he was known throughout the entire country and beyond its borders for having supernatural powers, and his proud widowed mother watched in horror as the government, fearful of that power, illegally condemned him and publicly murdered him.

But, back in the manger, sleeping safely in sight of their loving gaze, they named him Jesus by divine instruction, unaware that that name would be on every tongue in every nation of the world.

Some would use it to blaspheme, some to praise. Some would use it for gain, some to cry for help. Some would fight to eliminate it from public use; others would engrave it on their hearts.

His name would cause wars, settle arguments, divide nations and flow from the voices of carolers. It would comfort the weak, offend the strong, counsel the uninformed and free the prisoner.

Regardless, the name of Jesus was, is and always will be the only name by which we are saved from eternal death.

“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. And the government will rest on his shoulders. These will be his royal titles: Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. He will rule forever with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David. The passionate commitment of the Lord Almighty will guarantee this!” Isaiah 9:6-7

Sick

In career, Children, choices, Christ, God, healing, Jesus, kids, parenting, resurrection on August 27, 2009 at 1:33 pm

His daughter was about to die.  He had only one option to keep her alive: find the Healer.

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That decision could cost him everything; his job, his reputation, his dignity. But Jarius was desperate.

He cast off the protocol of his position as a ruler in the local synagogue like an old stinky coat and publicly threw himself at Jesus’ feet.  Not exactly proper behavior for a religious leader.

Didn’t he already have a hot line to God?  Why Jesus?  Wasn’t this ‘Blasphemer’ just a radical empowered by the Devil?  That’s what his peers were saying.

Looks like Jarius is about to get the pink slip.

So what!  My daughter is dying!

My guess is he didn’t take the time to process the consequences of his actions; he couldn’t care less what anyone thought – only that his daughter lived.

A sick child stops the world for a parent. They will cross social, economic, political and religious barriers to save them and nothing else matters.

It was such a circumstance that caused this father, employed by an institution that was hotly opposed to the ‘False Prophet,’ to beg for help. So here he was.

“My little daughter lies at the point of death,” he said to Jesus, “Come and lay your hands on her, that she may be healed and she will live.”  So Jesus went with him.

But there were snags along the way that I’m sure tested Jarius to the brink.  Jesus had stopped to talk to a woman! She had had the nerve to touch his garment, crawling in the dirt like a dog.

Why are you stopping to talk to a WOMAN?!  My daughter is dying!!  Come on!!

Jesus stood patiently to hear the woman’s story. Come on – come on – we’re running out of time!

A hand was placed on Jarius’ shoulder. “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?”

Jesus heard the news and instantly infused the stunned father with faith. “Do not be afraid, only believe.”

Earlier in the Gospel of Mark, where this story is found, another public situation revealed the huge risk Jarius faced by seeking out Jesus.

His peers, the scribes and Pharisees, were incensed when they saw Jesus dining with ‘tax collectors and sinners.’  They pulled His disciples aside and asked why he would do such an unclean, inappropriate thing.  Of course, Jesus heard them and had an answer.

“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

Only the sick need a doctor. Do you see His innuendo?   We’re all sick!  Jarius got it, and his daughter lived.


Little Ones to Him Belong

In Children, Christ, God, Jesus, kids, love, Moms on July 29, 2009 at 9:29 am

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Facebook is great for photos.  Scrolling through scores of baby and toddler pictures of my friend’s kids is so heartwarming, and now that I am a grandmother, it’s even more so.

Even though I now live only 15 minutes away from my grandson, I still find myself flipping through all the pictures I can find of him when I’m at home (and there are hundreds!).  You can’t blame me, have you seen his precious face?

Ethan

Sometimes when I look in his eyes I feel like I  can see the very face of God.  I see peace, love, grace, mercy and most of all – hope.  I see innocence in its purest form and I marvel.  How could any human being look into the eyes of a child and not see God?

I’m reading through the book of Matthew in my Bible this month and came to the part where Jesus pulled a child over to his side as a visual aid to teach his disciples on the value of human life.  He used story to illustrate how deep his Father’s love is for lost souls, it’s the parable of the lost sheep in Matthew 18:10 – 14.  I’ve read it many times, but what caught my attention this time was verse 10, which almost seems out of context.

“Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.”

I’ve been absorbing that verse for a week now and as it sinks into my spirit, I realize that I really do see God’s face when I look in the eyes of my grandbaby boy.  And, as sweet as it is to know that his personal angel whose job it is to guard his life looks directly into the face of his Creator, Jesus delivers a stern warning – be careful how you treat these precious ones!

Lord, help me to always watch the things I say, my body language and my actions toward Your little ones – not just babies or children, but those who belong to You no matter their age here on earth.

In Case of Stress: Reach Under Chair

In Christ, God, Jesus, kids, office, Writing on June 26, 2009 at 10:19 am

Well, we’re in. My back is killing me, my nerves are frayed and here we are with an echo in our new home.Paperwork Overload

We pared down to essentials and it’s bittersweet. It’s refreshing, like a good, overdue haircut and unsettling, like waking up in your bed at someone else’s house.

Overall, it’s a blessing. I’m the official babysitter of our grandson every Thursday. Job opportunities are pouring in for my husband (thanks to a great friend who sends listings to him every day!). We’re literally 15 minutes away from our kid’s house (it was a 3-hour drive one-way), and we can now attend church with them every Sunday!

Nonetheless, we’re still quite in the middle of transitioning our lives. We need to list the house (e-mail me if you’re looking to buy a charming Victorian dollhouse in Peoria), and there’s still much to clean, box up and move. Ugh! My back hurts just thinking of it!

Smack dab in the middle of this lightning speed move, I squeezed out four days to attend a writer’s conference. I was having lunch with another conferee; a lovely woman named Leslie, who relieved me of much stress by sharing her emergency strategy for such times.

“I have a bag of M&M’s taped to the bottom of my chair,” she told me. “You see, I can’t trust myself around M&M’s.  If I was Eve in the Garden of Eden, there would not have been an apple tree; it would have been an M&M tree.” I laughed hysterically (note to reader: laughter also relieves stress, though chocolate is tastier)!

She explained her plan, “One day I’m eating a bag of M&M’s at my desk at work and realize I had to stop.  So I taped up the bag and then taped it to the bottom of my chair. This way, when it’s a real emergency, I can just reach under my chair and there they are!”

What a concept, to have chocolate so readily available for times of stress! No driving to the store like a madwoman, shoving people aside in the aisles, ripping open candy bars and devouring them in public (I’ve never done that, I was just hypothesizing).

I ponder this plan of Leslie’s as two cold packs ice my throbbing back and realize that there is no chocolate within my reach. Obviously, I need to make some changes in my strategy. OK, I don’t, but I am glad that I have a new friend, a new home, new opportunities and can hug and kiss my kids every day. Life is good, despite the stress.

I would be remiss if I did not tell you that Leslie also shared how God changed her whole life and that He is her true stress-reliever. All kidding aside, He is mine too and at that lunch table we communed and mused on the mysteriously awesome way He fills our hearts with hope and carries our burdens and heals our hearts.

Jesus’ anti-stress strategy is better than chocolate:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”  (Matthew 11:27-30 The Message)

Having Kids

In books, Children, kids, Moms, plots, publishing, Writing on May 1, 2009 at 6:37 pm

Having children doesn’t always involve diapers and new mommies don’t always have kids.  Sounds like I’m heading into a metaphor, doesn’t it?  You got me.

To an empty-nester like me, motherhood is all about birthing books.

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Of course conception is the most fun.  A thought, an idea or a dream plays around in your mind pretending to be plots and titles, scenes and scenarios. But until one germinates it is just fantasy.

Writers, who entertain such titillation without a commitment to capture those thoughts on paper, or to develop them into publishable means, exist with the frustration and disappointment of a dreamer.

For years, my writing life was just that – until I got tired of staring at books and imagining my name on their spines.

I had become disgusted with my non-committal attitude toward my craft and exhausted by day dreams. Since my teen years, when a word winked at me or a phrase whispered in my ear, I, the willing prisoner, would stick my hands in the air and cry, Ok!  I give up! I had no clue how to arrest the wild onslaught of creative energy.

Instead, I’d be carried away captive and existed in a cell of false belief that someday I would just morph into an author.  I still have stacks of nothing books stuffed with unfertilized seeds – tales that will never be told.

When I finally got busy learning my craft and taking it seriously, I still had to fight off the temptation to sit and dream. I’d often get lost in thoughts of standing in a bookstore, reaching for my offspring, bound and stamped with my name, flipping through the leaves of the work of my days.  I’d imagine the feel of its cover in my fingertips, squeezing it and stroking its letters in unbelief, thinking, did I give birth to this beautiful child?

The other fight I encountered by choosing self-discipline was the work itself. Give me the baby all bathed and wrapped in soft a cuddly blanket, resting contentedly in my arms and everyone around me saying, “What a beautiful baby!”  Yes!  That’s what I want!  To drive to the bookstore, walk to the shelf and just pull my book off and see it complete, bound forever in its own identity.  Forget the labor!

Then a fear emerged. What will I do when my child is grown and gone?  How do I send my book off into the world wrapped in a box only to arrive at some publishing house where it may be shelved or thrown away, unread, unopened?  How do I cope with the thrill and pain of watching it be read, then hearing all about its flaws and reasons why it’s not good enough to print – to be cut down, edited, critiqued and rejected by strangers?  My precious child, of whom I labored day and night to create, I’d rather not give birth to you than to send you into a world so cruel and watch your life be so treated!

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The 'Novel Vigilante'

Enough drama; authors become authors because they birth books. Authors become Moms when they raise books.  And so I must engage in the shameless self-promotion of my first child.  My novel, The ‘Novel Vigilante’ will be published later this month!  Come see all my ‘kids’ at www.ccsemick.com.