Today’s quotable is from Frank Laubach (1884-1970), missionary to the Philippines. Laubach is estimated to have been responsible for teaching half of the 90,000 people in his area to read and write, and to have reached out to the Mohammedan Moros, who regarded the Christian Filipinos as enemies. Laubach wrote in the new year of 1930,
It is exactly that “moment by moment” every waking moment, surrender, responsiveness, obedience, sensitiveness, pliability, “lost in His love,” that I now have the mind-bent to explore with all my might. It means two burning passions: First, to be like Jesus. Second, to respond to God as a violin responds to the bow of the Master.* (emphasis added)
I’m including a free chalkboard printable of this last portion, in hopes that in 2017, our lives will reflect that sort of staggering beauty from His hand. Happy New Year, friends!
*As quoted in Foster, Richard J. ad James Bryan Smith, eds. Devotional Classics: Selected Readings for Individuals and Groups: A Renovare Resource for Spiritual Renewal. New York: HarperCollins (1993), pp. 101, 105.
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Yesterday was one of those days when I felt like I was walking against the wind so much of the day: straining uphill, my too-thin sweater tugged around me as I grimaced, head down. As my husband and I lifted down plates for dinner, I recounted the parts that made me want to tear my hair out. (Or maybe a small tuft of my children’s. …Joking.) In the course of things, I did remember some good points. Somehow, as I relayed them, they grew a little. I tucked my head with a smile.
He put his hands on my shoulder, leveled his hazel eyes with my blue ones. “I want you to know,” he said, “that you are incredibly blessed.”
Somehow, those words triggered that out-of-body sort of viewpoint I needed, to survey my life not from the perspective of loss, but of gain. Of beauty. Incredibly blessed?
Oh, yeah. Yeah. I am.
Ever feel like your heart’s two sizes too small for the Christmas season?
I may have recently given my radio the stinkeye for its heartfelt counsel for me to have a holly-jolly Christmas this year, when I really felt like sulking, washed down with a swig of wassail and one of those little chocolate-dipped pretzels with sprinkles.
To the untrained expatriate, swooping into American culture (like yours truly) I gotta say: Face Swap weirds me out a little. My family and I, piled on the sofa, have guffawed at, say, my daughter spontaneously sprouting my husband’s five-o’clock shadow. Or my seven-year-old swapping faces with the dog.
Still. Lately, what I’m realizing about my ideas of God?
He tends to change faces.
Spookier: The faces actually tend to eerily resemble my most influential relationships.
For ideas on how to make the most of these questions, see the first interview.
- In the Christmas story from the Bible, what character would it be the coolest to be?
- What’s one of your favorite activities to do around Christmas time?
- What’s one of your best Christmas memories? What did you love about that time?
- What is your all-time favorite Christmastime snack?
- What do you think the world would be like if God never sent Jesus?
- What do you think God would want for Christmas this year? Parents, this is a cool time to talk with kids about God wanting our hearts. My kids also repeatedly ask to use What God Wants for Christmas, a book with surprise gift boxes to open that tell the nativity story. You could use Micah 6:8 to guide you: He has shown you, O man, what is good and what the Lord requires of you: To do justly, to love mercy, and walk humbly with your God. Rather than just pushing “good behavior”, this is a chance to show that Jesus is the One who creates this in us!
- If you could have one Christmas wish, what would it be?
- What one gift would be the most meaningful to you this year?
- What’s one of the top gifts you’ve ever received for Christmas?
- What gifts has God given you this year?
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- Interview-your-child Fridays, #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6
- 26 Super-practical Parenting Hacks
- 31 Scriptures to Pray for Your Child and other printable parenting freebies
- 9 Ways to Savor the Christ in Your Christmas
- For Grown-ups: 10 Questions to Take Your Relationships Deeper, Sets 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6
You might also enjoy my free ebook, Discussion Questions to Better Understand Your Family’s Subculture!
I woke up the other day feeling—well. Feeling needlessly angry. (It wasn’t the first time, lately.)
I drilled down a bit in my surly little soul. Anger, I recall, is secondary; it stems from something: disappointment, fear, hurt, sadness. For me, there were slices of sadness—but also a big hunk of fear. More specifically, I felt powerless.
As I was scrawling thoughts for this post, I felt rather sheepish for even labeling that. The reasons I feel powerless are nothing like some of you reading this, huddling (or scramming) when an abusive spouse comes home. Or perhaps you’ve got a boss who makes you feel about an inch high, or even threatened—but you’ve gotta pay the rent. Or maybe you’re a person of color, feeling terrified and estranged after the last election. Or you have a dark diagnosis and a couple of small kids.
One thing I picked up from my Christmases in Uganda: All the glitter and hype of Christmas does have a purpose beyond the secular.
God created seven feasts for the Old Testament Hebrews, which clues me in; these occurred in the same seasons. Maybe the Israelites knew Hadassah made the best matzoh, or Great-Aunt Hephzibah made the best lamb broth, or that the air was filled with chaff after harvest. Heck, Jesus’ big debut was making wine from water for a wedding. The Bible ends with His own wedding. God’s the pinnacle of our joy, of our feasts and revelry. And I think He uses our senses—the whiff of evergreen; the clam dip (it’s a Breitenstein thing); the twinkle lights; Jack Frost nipping at your nose—to cement our minds to what we can’t see.