Thursday, December 30, 2010


Today we took down all of our Christmas decorations, tucking them away for another year. It seems like every year as I put them away, I feel a bit sad to see them all go. Perhaps it's just because of the work that goes into putting it all out in the first place--but I think perhaps some of us feel a little sad watching another year go by. Maybe the year had some moments we'd rather hold on to, or maybe another year just means another year older and we're dreading the wrinkles or gray hairs that are inevitably coming. Or maybe some of you are experiencing the opposite feeling and can't wait for the new year because this one was the toughest one yet. Either way, I think the end of the year tends to draw out the pondering within us, the thoughts we don't always think.

For me, the end of the year has become a time where I ask myself questions about what I want to be doing differently, where I ask the Lord what He wants of me in the upcoming year, and where I take time to treasure the gifts I've been given....not gifts that came under a tree, but gifts of people, of places, of memories, and the gift of relationship with Jesus. After all, it all started with God's great gift to us, and I certainly want to remember His faithfulness with each passing year.

This year, God has blessed me with amazing friendships--old and new. He has blessed our family financially. He has blessed us with the gift of knowing Him more. And that's just three of the blessings He's given us. He's also blessed me with a home to live in, a husband and children to call my own, a church family I adore, clothes to wear, food to eat. I could go on and on.

So what about you? How has He blessed you this year? Even if it was the worst year of your life, there has been blessing. The blessing may even have come right in the middle of the worst moment. Maybe the blessing was a meal someone brought over. Maybe the blessing was a smile from your preschooler. Maybe it was a rainbow in the sky. Whatever it was, I know that God loves to give good gifts to His people--we just have to be on the lookout for them.

I encourage you as the year is drawing to a close, take time to think about what God has done this year. You might want to write it down so you won't forget. If you take the time to think about it, you'll definitely want to thank Him for His goodness. I personally like to make a list of one hundred things I'm thankful for from the year. And this year, I'm actually making a list of one hundred people I'm thankful for in 2010.

Whatever you do, however you do it, I hope you'll remember the One who gave it all to us. And I hope that you'll enter 2011 overflowing with the joy of Christ Jesus. Happy New Year!

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas from "Stitches"!

From all of us on the "Stitches" blog team to you and yours, we just want to wish you a Very Merry Christmas!

I hope that you all have had an amazing Christmas celebration with loved ones, and have been touched at some point with the true Spirit of Christmas.

My oldest daughter told me that early this Christmas morning (4 a.m., to be exact), she was awakened. She felt like God was speaking to her heart, and the only message was "I Love You!". In that moment, Christmas all fell into place for her. All the carols, all the gifts, all the well-wishes from loved ones, all the nights at our church's live depiction of the life of Christ.. birth through death. It all was summed up by that one message from the Creator of the universe... I LOVE YOU.

I was reminded of the following story I received this week from a friend. My Christmas gift to you, a beautiful illustration of the love God has for us.. for you.

Merry Christmas!
The Birds

There was once a man who didn't believe in the incarnation of Christ or the spiritual meaning of Christmas, and was skeptical about God.

He and his family lived in a farm community. His wife was a devout believer and diligently raised her children in her faith. He sometimes gave her a hard time about her faith and mocked her observance of Christmas. "It's all nonsense - why would God lower himself and become a human like us?! It's such a ridiculous story!" he said.

One snowy Christmas Eve, she and the children left for church while he stayed home. After they had left, the winds grew stronger and the snow turned into a blinding snowstorm. He sat down to relax before the fire for the evening.

Then he heard a loud thump, something hitting against the window. And another thump. He looked outside but couldn't see. So he ventured outside to see. In the field near his house he saw, of all the strangest things, a flock of birds! They were apparently flying to look for a warmer area down south, but had been caught in the snow storm.

The storm had become too blinding and violent for the birds to fly or see their way. They were stranded on his farm, with no food or shelter, unable to do more than flutter their wings and fly in aimless circles.

He had compassion for them and wanted to help them. He thought to himself, "The barn would be a great place for them to stay! It's warm and safe; surely they could spend the night and wait out the storm."

So he opened the barn doors for them. He waited, watching them, hoping they would notice the open barn and go inside. But they didn't notice the barn or realize what it could mean for them. He moved closer toward them to get their attention, but they just moved away from him out of fear. He went into the house and came back out with some bread, broke it up, and made a bread trail to the barn. They still didn't catch on.

Starting to get frustrated, he went over and tried to shoo them toward the barn. They panicked and scattered into every direction except toward the barn. Nothing he did could get them to go into the barn where there was warmth, safety and shelter.

Feeling totally frustrated, he exclaimed, "Why don't they follow me? Can't they see this is the only place where they can survive the storm? How can I possibly get them into the one place to save them?" He thought for a moment and realized that they just wouldn't follow a human. He said to himself, "How can I possibly save them? The only way would be for me to become a bird. If only I could become like one of them! I could speak their language and they could understand me and trust me. Then I could save them! They would follow me and I would lead them to safety."

At that moment, he stopped and considered what he had just said. The words reverberated in his mind: "If only I could become like one of them - then I could save them." As he pondered those words, the bells from the little church where his family was attending the Christmas Eve Service begin to peal the melody to "Joy to the World". And then, at last, he understood God's heart towards mankind as he fell on his knees in the snow and worshipped Him.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Music That Moves Us

As Christmas approaches, the radios and ipods in my car and home have been blaring carols and other holiday music, er... religiously. Yeah, all the time. Without the music, the Christmas season would lose a lot of its magic for me and my kids.

I'm not so picky as some about the beat or rhythm or overall sound, so much. I kinda like it all. We enjoy the traditional carols my husband and I learned as children growing up in church, but we also relish the newer renditions of old songs as well as newly written material. The lyrics, however, hold much more significance for me. A well-written Christmas song not only entertains and inspires, but it teaches theology.

(Has anyone else experienced the parental nightmare of having your 8-year-old listen to Silent Night in the backseat of your minivan and ask, "Mom, what's a virgin?" Apparently Christmas music can teach the birds and the bees as well. But I digress...)

A great Christmas song will celebrate orthodox theology. It will exalt Jesus as no ordinary person but the one and only God-Man (This Baby, What Child is This?, Away in a Manger). It might retell the story of the Incarnation, that magnificent event in a small, humble Jewish town (O Little Town of Bethlehem, O Holy Night, Silent Night). Perhaps it will attempt to communicate the perspective and glory of the angels (Angels We Have Heard on High, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, Angels From the Realms of Glory).

Mary has become a favorite voice in recently written or re-recorded songs (Mary Did You Know?, Ave Maria, Breath of Heaven, You're Here). Some songs even manage to show how Jesus fulfilled God's plan from "of old" (O Come O Come Emmanuel, No Eye Had Seen, Here With Us).

My favorites tend to combine inspirational sound with theological truth. A song that can move me to worship, make my spirit soar, as I glorify the birth of my Savior... Click below for a worship experience, and rejoice that we can know truly that, because Christ has come, "All is Well."

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

He Came

Sunday morning, as I was preparing to go to church, I got word from Iowa of a terrible accident. During the night, a young member of our family had been taken from us. It is the kind of turn in life that just doesn't make sense this side of Heaven.

Speaking through tears, a beloved member of my family asked, "How do we celebrate Christmas?" And I confess, in the moment, I didn't have an answer. For as I sat stunned by the events that had come to pass, I couldn't find words.

Though I wanted to sit alone and cry, I went to church with my family instead. And it was there, during worship, that I found clarity. My heart still broke. My spirit ached. And tears streamed down my face as I replayed the news in my mind. But I now understood the answer to the question.

How do we celebrate Christmas in the midst of tragedy?

We celebrate because Christ still came.

He left his throne, came to us as a baby, took on the sins of a fallen world, and conquered death. We celebrate, for without a manger, there is no cross. And without a cross there is no redemption.

We celebrate...

Christ's life.
Christ's death.
Christ's sacrifice.
Christ's resurrection.
Christ's victory.

After all, Christmas is not about beautifully trimmed trees or carefully wrapped gifts. It's not about music, parties, food, or games. The true reason for the season cannot be stolen from us no matter what we may be feeling. And that includes grief.

For many of us this Christmas, the lights will seem a bit dimmer. Still, we celebrate the gift of Christ.

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
(Isaiah 9:6)

Celebrate the Savior because He came. For you. For me. He came.

Merry CHRISTmas.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Busyness of life

It's that time of year again where we double up on our activity levels with parties & recitals & programs that seem to fill every evening & weekend. This is usually a very high stress time of year for many people. Some have stress due to the amount of people to make time to be with & others due to not enough loved ones around to spend it with. In the months leading up to December God has been speaking to me about the "busyness" of my life. I've been asking myself often if an activity that has been placed in front of me is really necessary or is it something I can do without in order to preserve some calm in my family. I am constantly looking for ways to simplify the "work" at home & the "work" of work without sacrificing the quality of either. I am also looking for ways to delegate or organize so that when I do have an activity come up that requires (or I desire to give) my attention, I do so without spending days playing catch up. I recently heard a sermon on the characteristics of Mary & Martha. They are only mentioned briefly in the Bible but I think that their stories are so incredibly important in our lives. We need to make sure that we don't focus all our time on the preparation for our Lord Jesus but rather spend time at His feet listening & learning what He has for us. This sermon was another reminder for me to work to manage my priorities. Yes as the woman of the house & a helper to my husband it is my responsibility to "manage" my household but God also desires I spend time with him in his presence. So there is a balance that must be found between fulfilling our roles for our families & learning to set & rest & learn from our Savior.

My prayer for you this very "busy" holiday season is that you will take a step back & examine the priorities & activities in you life. I pray that God will grant you wisdom & discernment in your planning.

Proverbs 2:1-8
My child, if you receive my words, and store up my commands within you, by making your ear attentive to wisdom, and by turning your heart to understanding, indeed, if you call out for discernment– raise your voice for understanding – if you seek it like silver, and search for it like hidden treasure, then you will understand how to fear the Lord, and you will discover knowledge about God. For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth comes knowledge and understanding. He stores up effective counsel for the upright, and is like a shield for those who live with integrity, to guard the paths of the righteous and to protect the way of his pious ones.

Merry CHRISTmas!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Eric Ludy - Depraved Indifference

Sometimes someone else can say it better....That's how I feel about this video. It is worth every second--I urge you to find time today to watch it.