Saturday, December 23, 2006

Merry Christmas!

I'm not sure if I'll have a chance to post again before Christmas so today I want to take the opportunity to wish anyone who might read my spare parts a very Merry Christmas and Christ-filled new year.

“She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
which translated means,
(Matthew 1:21-23)

That, dear friends, is the true meaning of Christmas. In the midst of all the hustle and bustle that we can get caught up in, remember that true peace, true hope and true love are not found in packages, turkey dinners or even in grand parties and gatherings but in the manger. May all the traditions of Christmas point you to the true meaning of Christmas this year. When you look at the gifts under the tree, my you remember the gift the Father sent in His son. When you gather around the table with family and friends, my you know the blessing of living in true, Christ-like community and loving like He loves. When you gaze in awe and wonder at a Christmas tree, may you remember that Christ’s mission was completed on another tree and find yourself resting at the foot of the cross.

In all this, I pray that you will rejoice in the spirit of Christmas which is peace, the miracle of Christmas which is hope, and the heart of Christmas which is love.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Every Good and Perfect Gift

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

I've gone through and 'analyzed' my five love languages many times but not until now have I really considered the giving of gifts as one of mine...until this Christmas. I guess it helps to really pay attention to why you do what you do! One of my favorite things about Christmas is giving good gifts: thinking about the character of the people, picking out something especially suited for them (not necessarily the shopping part although the Christmas atmosphere of the malls really doesn't bother me) and then giving it to them. I guess I've ignored that part of me because I don't want to admit how much I appreciate gifts-both giving and receiving -because in so many ways it seems too selfish.

This year, though, with Christmas only three days away, I've been reminded of the blessing of being on the receiving end of good gifts...good and perfect gifts from the Father above. This year it's more than the typical Christmas thoughts on gifts and giving. This year my family has much to be thankful for.

Amidst all of the 'normal' stress of life, this last week has been exceptionally difficult for my family. First, my grandma, the anchor of our family in many ways, went in for open heart surgery. At 80, it's even rare that they would do such a surgery. It was only because of her incredibly positive spirit that doctors would even consider it. And she is feisty! So far so good, she's come through surgery and is working through the healing process...and we are thankful.

That same day, my grandfather got to my parents' place to find that my dad, working on putting in the ceiling of the new shop, had fallen 12 feet off the scaffolding he was working on and landed on his head - an accident that should have left him dead. After a number of frightening hours, a rushed ambulance trip and a Stars ambulance flight, the neurologist was able to confirm that there was no brain damage; some bruising, swelling, memory loss and aches and pains but all of those will heal...and we are thankful.

In all of these Christmas miracles, as if they weren't enough, I was struck by two things.

First, the blessing of our extended family. We may be a ragtag redneck bunch but we are pretty special to each other and we make sure that it's known. In the midst of tough stuff, no one could ask for a better family than mine!

Most of all, I was the peace that God brings to those who draw near to him. Peace. Every good and perfect gift. From the Prince of Peace.

Making a list...

Okay, so two pearls comics in one day might be overkill...there's just no restraint when it comes to these guys, let's be honest. Perhaps it's in bad taste. Will the puns never end!? Wait for'll get it.

I think this still meets my standard of good posts...I'll ask my momma...

Under the mistletoe

Why Blog?

That's the question that's been asked around the college lately. Why blog? Isn't it like writing all of your thoughts for the public to see? Do you realize anyone can read them? Does it cheapen relationships? It's made for interesting discussion, especially when you throw in a handful of people that, until this conversation opened, didn't really know what a blog is.

Today I found this article on blogging. Just interesting.

So why do I blog? Because I can, really. Because I like to write and it's a good way for me to sort through some of the stuff I'm thinking about when there doesn't seem to be a lot of other avenues to do it...and it's fun to throw random pictures and comics in there once in a while. Until recently, I hadn't thought of it much as connecting, to be honest. I didn't really think too many people would read it but it is fun to know that people do (thanks guys!). I do use reading them that way though - it's fun to read others' posts and consider what they're thinking about. As far as if I'm concerned whether other people read it or not, I know full well that it's a possibility and that it's public. I have no dillusions of anonymity. My theory is this, if my momma can read it and Jesus knows I wrote it, I'm good to go. Nothing to worry about.

Anyway, it's something to ponder...its been good for me to reconsider too. Why do you blog? What are you after? Do you realize that people can read it (even if you think they won't)?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A Christmas Production

...and I'm not talking about a pageant!!!

20 Ways to Confuse Santa Claus

So I found this list in a Tim Horton's last night and had a good chuckle. Here's 20 Ways to Confuse Santa...depending on how you choose to spend the holiday, they could come in quite handy!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Missing the Point

I think this whole living intentionally through Christmas is working for me. Keeping me focused, I mean. I had a full on run in with it in the mall yesterday. Yes, I am still doing the Christmas shopping, dodging crowds in the mall thing but I figure (at least this is what I tell myself) that it's because I LOVE to give gifts at Christmas in remembrance of the greatest gift given at Christmas rather than that being caught up in the materialism in the holiday. Okay, back to the story. I was in HMV and they were playing Christmas music. I'm humming away when on comes "Happy Birthday Baby Jesus." I'm not sure who was doing it but it was honestly an arrangement of the traditional birthday song sung to Baby Jesus. Outside of the messed up theology that says He's still a baby (you wouldn't sing 'Happy Birthday Baby Norbert' either...not that I know anyone named Norbert), I smiled thinking about how much closer to the real meaning of Christmas this song was than the many I'd heard earlier in the day. I was startled from my reflection by the cashier and some customers making fun of the song, "Happy Birthday Baby Jesus...yah right. Couldn't come up with any other songs?" and then someone reached for 'skip track' and we were back to Santa Claus, Snowmen and ringing cash registers.

When did we become so cold and blind as a society that we can't even recognize the meaning of Christmas? I realize that not everyone "buys into" the whole meaning of Christmas but to discredit it completely?! It made me sad to think of the holiday many people will be celebrating. For our family and many others, Christmas is a season filled with hope, joy, purpose and meaning. What does a holiday void of Jesus actually bring? Food gets digested, families go seperate ways again and presents eventually lose their lustre and end up in corners and closets. What of lasting value is found in a Christmas without the one true gift?

It makes me thankful for the home I grew up in and the opportunities I've had to see Jesus at work in my life and the lives of those around me. I'm no better than any of the people I passed in the malls yesterday - I've been given a gift worth far more than anything carried in a shopping bag and wrapped in pretty paper. It reminds me to share this gift with others. If I love sharing material gifts, how much more should I love sharing this one? It draws me back, to a manger that became a cradle to a King...Happy Birthday Jesus!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Friday, December 15, 2006

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Said the night wind to the little lamb, "Do you see what I see? Way up in the sky, little lamb, Do you see what I see? A star, a star, dancing in the night With a tail as big as a kite, With a tail as big as a kite."

Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy, "Do you hear what I hear? Ringing through the sky, shepherd boy, Do you hear what I hear? A song, a song high above the trees With a voice as big as the the sea, With a voice as big as the the sea."

Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king, "Do you know what I know? In your palace warm, mighty king, Do you know what I know? A Child, a Child shivers in the cold-- Let us bring him silver and gold, Let us bring him silver and gold."

Said the king to the people everywhere, "Listen to what I say! Pray for peace, people, everywhere, Listen to what I say! The Child, the Child sleeping in the night He will bring us goodness and light, He will bring us goodness and light."

Sometimes you hear a Christmas carol a new way and somehow it fits right into what you're thinking of. That was the case for me with this one as I've been caught up in the importance of listening. Do you hear what I hear? Listen to what I say. It was lines like that that have moved me into thinking of listening at Christmas.

We talk about Christmas being a "noisy" season. I know it's not just Christmas but somehow in the hustle and bustle, it seems that way. I don't know that listening is a skill the we practice nearly enough!

Do you hear what I hear?

I want to hear God speak. I want to know what He has in store for me and what He has planned for his people. I want to hear his invitations to be a part of specific kingdom work and I want to be ready for the opportunities to serve him and share about him. I want to know who he is. I want to hear his heartbeat for his children and match mine to his so that I can love the way that he does. To do that, I need to listen. As I read Scripture and it speaks to me. As I hear the still small voice of God. As I get to know him better and learn to hear his voice. I need to listen.

But there's more. This week especially, I've been confronted with the necessity of listening to what's going on around me, particularily as it relates to sharing the joy of Christmas. I've been thinking about how listening to what's happening in culture, about awareness, and how incredibly important that is for understanding the context to which Jesus comes, rather than to our own assumptions of what the world looks like. I've been thinking about how important it is to listen to the individual heart cry of the people around us we have opportunity to share with and realizing that it's so much more about seeing how Jesus is the answer to the questions they're asking as opposed to the questions I'm assuming their asking. It's about listening to what the needs of the community around me is and serving that way, sometimes sacrificially, as opposed to the way that I'm comfortable with or have time for.

Kingdom work, I'm learning is about using my ears even when I want to use my mouth.

It's not just about what I say but what I don't say.

It's about how well people feel like they're heard, and therefore valued in my presence.

I'm trying to listen. I'm working on it.

Do you hear what I hear?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Quote from Steve's blog

God became a man for this purpose: since you, a human being, could not reach God, but you can reach other humans, you might now reach God through a man. And so the man Christ Jesus became the mediator of God and human beings.

God became a man so that following a man—something you are able to do—you might reach God, which was formerly impossible to you.

—St. Augustine

Current Read

Shogun, James Clavell

On the recommendation of my good friend Sean, I've picked up what apparently is a modern day classic, copywrite 1975. That's older than me!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Prince of Peace

It seems that a theme has developed in my life as I walk through the advent season: peace. Perhaps it's because more than anything, this is what I long for. Perhaps it's a return to the truth and life of Christmas. Perhaps it's because, in looking at Christ, one cannot help but find peace.

He is the Prince of Peace.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderfu, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6



Mighty God

The everlasting Father

The Prince of Peace.

Who would have thought that a babe born in a stable would wear such a title or bring such a promise?

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:1

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Phillippians 4:7

Through Christ, at Christmas and throughout the year, we are promised the peace of God.

And so, each Christmas, we sing:

"Peace on the earth,
good will to men,
from Heaven's all gracious King."
The world in solemn stillness lay,
To hear the angels sing.

(Edmund Hamilton Sears, from 'It Came Upon the Midnight Clear.')

Friday, December 08, 2006

Silent Night

Not only is this my favorite Christmas carol, I just heard this week that, when surveyed, it is the favorite Christmas carol of our nation. Interesting.

What is it about this carol that has touched the heart of Canadians?

Silent Night, Holy Night
All is calm, all is bright...

For me there's memories attached to this song so I'm a little biased but I think that this well-loved carol carries something nostaligic, something peaceful.


When it comes down to it, isn't that what Christmas is about? Peace. A child coming to bring peace to a world at odds with it's creator. God reaching down to restore relationship with those He loves.


Isn't that what our world is longing for?

A while back, I heard a story that took place in Germany during world war II. It was Christmas Eve. Troops from both sides fought straight through the holiday season. Night had fallen and the firing had stopped for the evening and soldiers huddled in the trenches likely thinking about their families at home and of Christmases past, wondering if they would see home again. Some were likely thinking of the significance of the season and praying for peace. It was in this context that one lone soldier began to sing: "Silent Night, Holy Night, all is calm, all is bright..." It didnt take long before the voice of other soldiers joined the one. In the temporary quiet of a war ravaging the country side, there was a moment of peace in which many voices in many languages rose together in harmony. It was a moment when enemies became brothers and barriers of nations fell. It didn't take long before a celebration broke out in the space between the opposing trenches. These men that only hours before had been looking down the barrels of guns at eachother were now toasting eachother, celebrating the holiday season and laughing together like brothers.

One one silent night, in the calm of the storm, in a world at war with itself, a child was born to bring bring peace and so we sing, "Silent Night, Holy Night, all is calm, all is bright..."

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Moose is Loose

If you understand the title of this post, you're either old (just face it head on) or an avid Edmonton hockey fan.

Here's what I found out today:

The Edmonton Oilers announced today that Mark Messier’s #11 will be raised to the rafters of Rexall Place on Tuesday, February 27th, joining the retired numbers of teammates Wayne Gretzky, Jari Kurri, Grant Fuhr, Paul Coffey and Al Hamilton. This signature Oilers event, which is presented by Rexall in association with Cold-FX, will celebrate Messier’s stellar NHL career on a night when another Oilers legend, Wayne Gretzky, brings his Phoenix Coyotes to town.

Mark Messier wrapped up a spectacular 25-season NHL career with 6 Stanley Cups, 1 Conn Smythe Trophy, 2 Hart Trophy’s, 2 Lester B. Pearson Awards, and a lengthy list of hockey achievements. Messier ranks second on the NHL’s all-time scoring list with 1,887 points, seventh in goals with 694, third in assists with 1,193, and second in games played with 1,756.As an Edmonton Oiler, Messier is the fourth highest career scorer for the team, amassing 392 goals and 642 assists for 1,034 points in 851 games played. He was selected 48th overall in the third round of the 1979 NHL entry draft by the Edmonton Oilers, and was a major contributor in all five of the Oilers Stanley Cup Championships in 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988 and 1990.

“I’m honored that the Oilers will be raising my number to the rafters of Rexall Place, alongside some of my best friends and teammates,” said Mark Messier. “I have so many good memories of my time in Edmonton, and was part of an incredible hockey dynasty. I look forward to coming home and sharing this great experience with my family, friends, and the fans.”

“I have believed for some time now that the Oilers had a group of outstanding players during what was a very unique period in the history of the NHL. But there were two players who had a reverberating impact, which is still felt today,” said Kevin Lowe, General Manager of the Edmonton Oilers. “Wayne Gretzky for his unbelievable artistry and significant game changing style, and Mark Messier who epitomized the words fierce, leadership, and competitor every single day, and especially when he stepped on the ice. I continue to believe two things about Mark Messier - and we went through a great deal together, arriving in Edmonton as boys and remaining friends all these years later. His impact lingers every day in the Oilers dressing room. The spirit of Mark is etched there forever. That same impact is also prevalent in the NHL. The spirit of what Mark Messier brought to the game, stays in the game.”

Congrats to the Moose and thanks for the glory's why I'm an Edmonton fan today!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Chick's Got Skillz

New Through the Speakers

So this may be old news to most folks, but, thanks to iTunes, I found new music over the weekend. As is classic Stacey style, once I've found something good, I MUST share. The guy is Paolo Nutini from Scotland (yet another reason why Scotland is one of my #1 places to visit!) and is recommended for people that enjoy guys like John Mayer (who, by the way put out a great album in Contiuum).

For advent

Being intentional about Christmas. Thoughtfully approaching the season. Purposefully remembering to bring the Gospel into our Christmas celebration. Living in the joy of the Virgin Birth. That's how I want to spend this Christmas season. One of the ways I want to do that this season is to keep up a little bit of an advent blog. Why? Because I'm a bit of a helps me organize my thoughts. Because Steve did it a couple of years ago and I truly appreciated his thoughts. Because Tasha will get after me if I go too long between posts and will keep me accountable. Christmas in community for me.

So the last couple days I've been thinking about advent and what that means. Growing up in the church, we've always had the advent wreath and lit the purple candles on the four Sundays prior to Christmas. I didn't really question it - which is odd for me - but I don't think I've ever fully understood what it was all about. My mom bought us advent calendars - she would send me one when I was away at college so that I wouldn't miss out - and even though I knew it was important and had to do with the meaning of Christmas, I was just happy to have my daily dose of chocolate! Of course, with my personality, I can only be content with that for so long and so here I am, contemplating the meaning of advent.

So far, I've put a few things together. From what I know about the English language (it's more than it sometimes sounds!), the word "advent" means beginning, coming, or preparation. So, in my mind, putting it all together, the advent of Christmas would be the 'coming of Christmas' or 'preparing for Christmas.' See, I'm on my way already.

At Journey, we're celebrating advent as a family. Now, if Advent is preparing for Christmas, I'd say this Sunday was a good start. Troy's teaching time was titled "redefining Superman" and he basically spoke in monologue type from the perspective of a jr. high Jewish boy living shortly after Jesus. From this boy's perspective, he retold the Gospel, the whole life of Jesus, including all of the boy's thoughts on his birth, his life, his ministry, his death, the fortelling of his coming as told by the prophets and the Jewish people's understanding of what that should look like compared to what it did. It was fascinating.

It was so refreshing to look at the entire life of Jesus at Christmas time. The birth of a baby in a manger is only a part of the story that is the wonder of Christmas. Immanuel. God with Us as a child, a Son, a man, a Messiah, a sacrifical lamb, and a Savior. We have the privilege of knowing how the story finishes when we're looking at the beginning and, unlike an abused children's story, it only makes it better!

The thing is that the Jews, anyone who knew prophecy, were expecting something completely different. Jesus was unexpected, unassuming, and unpredictable in his birth and his entire ministry. Who would have thought that the child would grow up to die as a criminal on a cross, a sacrifice, and in that would restore something so broken by sin? If I were plotting to takeover the world, that's not the way I would have done it. Yet God knew.

I think in all of my contemplation over the weekend, the thing that has struck me the most is the prophecy and the fullfillment of it that we see through Scripture. How detailed a plan was this that it could be foretold hundreds of years in advance!? Psalms. Isaiah. Zechariah. Detailed images of how the King would come. Nothing was left to chance or by accident. Nothing was out of the sphere of influence of our God. That, in my mind, is a reason for peace at Christmas!

The 'biggness' and mystery of my God amazes me!

And so as I prepare for Christmas, instead of stressing out, I choose to walk through the season with one picture in mind: an image of a King who has it all in control but gave it up as a gift for many.

For anyone else who wants to find out more about advent, here's an advent website

Friday, December 01, 2006

The Countdown to Christmas

I love Christmas. I'm one of those people who doesn't mind that Christmas decorations have been up in the mall for weeks already and who has had Christmas carols playing as soon as I could get away with it. I WILL put up a Christmas tree and see no reason to wait for December 1st, to begin revelling in the season. I love the lights, the songs, the eggnogg, the laughter, the traditions, the time with family, and, most of all, that each day of it is a reminder of the best gift of all, a child born in Bethlehem.

Now that it is December, my goal is to take a walk through the Christmas season and intentionally think through the things that we do, remembering that the focus is not commercialism but Christ.

Today, I found an article from Radiant Magazine that I wanted to share. It explains some of the origins of some of the things we do...

The Season of Superstitions
By Cara Davis

Now that local radio stations have started to play non-stop Christmas songs, do you ever wonder how some of our seasonal songs came to be? Or what “chestnuts roasting on an open fire” has to do with the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ? What many don’t realize is the same question could be asked of Christmas itself. What does Christmas have to do with the birth of Jesus? Strangely, almost very little. If you trace the history of Christmas, you’ll find that this cultural celebration is filled with just as much superstition and folklore as Halloween! Hold on to your cider, here are some top Christmas myths and superstitions.

When Christmas Isn’t Christmas
During the first three centuries after Jesus’ birth, Christmas wasn’t in December. It wasn’t even on the calendar at all! reports that the birth of Jesus was originally celebrated along with Epiphany, one of the earliest established feasts. However, many church leaders opposed the idea of a birthday celebration at all because the culture celebrated birthdays of pagan gods and rulers like Pharaoh and Herod.It was only after Emperor Constantine declared Christianity the empire’s favored religion that Christmas was celebrated on Dec. 25, in the year 336. That date also played host to two festivals surrounding the worship of the sun, including the winter solstice.The winter solstice was seen as an especially evil time, so as centuries passed, people would gather in one another’s homes for protection, according to Folklore and superstition would develop over the years, as people would participate in a number of charms and rituals thought to ward away evil spirits.

Decorating Against Witches
Holly and mistletoe were brought into homes, thought to protect against witches and lightning. Mistletoe was also thought to be a cure for poison, epilepsy, barrenness and whopping cough. Ivy was considered back luck inside the house, but good luck growing outside of the house as protection. Evergreens brought from the church were especially lucky. Some would keep them up in the house year-round.

Eat, Drink and Stay Single!
If pudding was being made for Christmas dinner, each member of the household was to stir the mixture three times to ensure the prosperity of the family. If an unmarried girl didn’t take her turn stirring, she could forget about finding a husband in the coming year.

Good Ol’ St. Nick
Stockings were hung over the fireplace in remembrance of St. Nicholas, who by legend tossed gold coins down the chimney of three unmarried women, who were being courted but had no dowries. The coins (which miraculously fell into stockings hung by the chimney) supplied the dowry and secured their right to marry.Another “miracle” was attributed St. Nicholas when, by oral tradition, he saved his hometown of Myra from starvation by seizing grain off a ship. The stolen cargo was never reported missing, so it was counted as miraculous. St. Nicholas died on December 6, 345 or 352, according to tradition was passed down, the Feast of St. Nicholas was established on Dec. 6, until church reformers banned the feast in favor of an alternate celebration of the Christ child, or Christkindlein, who reportedly brought gifts to children on Christmas Eve, much like St. Nicholas. This character eventually developed into “Kriss Kringle,” who is identified as the mythical Nicholas figure as well.

Christmas = Xmas?
So what about the word "Christmas" itself? Many are offended when the word is abbreviated as “Xmas,” but that term is neither modern nor disrespectful, according to The origin of the first letter of the Greek word for “Christ” is “chi.” The Greek letter is represented by a symbol similar to the letter “X.” The abbreviation was not used to take the “Christ” out of “Christmas.” However, many still prefer not to use it.

And Finally, A Pop Quiz!
These are just a few of the superstitions and folklore that surround what has become a secular, commercial celebration. Take the time to read the Bible’s Christmas story (Matthew 1-2) this season. You get extra credit if you identify this statement as true or false: The Bible says three wise men traveled from afar on camels to visit the infant Jesus as He lay in the manger.

Cara Davis, editor of Radiant, is celebrating the reason for the season in warm and sunny Florida, where it doesn’t feel like Christmas.