Santa, I Can’t Decide

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I love the story of St. Nicholas. In fact my daughter has watched the Veggietales movie that tells the story like a million times. We have watched the movie all year. The story of St. Nicholas is a great tale to share with your children. A true Christian hero who selflessly seeks to help those in his community who are in need.

We love St. Nicholas, but we are still undecided on Santa Clause. My wife and I have discussed whether we will tell our daughters that Santa Clause uses magic to sneak into our house at night to leave presents as long as they are good all year. I grew up with my parents doing the whole Santa thing. But as an adult I have some issues with playing Santa.

Quick disclaimer, I am in no way saying you should not allow Santa to visit your house on the night before December 25th. I am only sharing my views on the pros and cons of having the jolly elf pay my children a visit.

I will start with the pros:

1. It is fun. Come on we all know that we continue the Santa tradition because it is fun for us. We enjoy magic and hope our children will embrace the belief in something unexplainable. My wife has many cherished memories of her parents telling her about Santa, and she hates to miss out on that with our girls.

2. Conformity… Although I could strongly argue against this one. It will be easier to teach our girls what every other parent is teaching their children. If we choose not to do Santa, I do not look forward to the phone calls from other parents when my angels blow the magic for someone else’s little one.

3. If you tell the story of St. Nicholas to your children you will be telling them about someone who unselfishly gives to the children of the world. I do see some value in the story of Santa Clause.

That is all I have. Do you have any pros to add to the list?

Now the cons:

1. I have to lie to my children. This is something I never want to do. I cringe at the thought of lying to my girls. Even if it is for fun. I want them to always trust what their daddy says.

2. We lose a great opportunity to teach our girls how much we love them. Most families experience great sacrifices to celebrate Christmas with a traditional Christmas morning opening gifts. I believe it is important that our girls learn that we work hard all year and Christmas is a celebration of giving. Gifts cost something. Santa doesn’t teach that, he owns a sweat shop full of elves who crank out toys each year…

3. Materialism. I am afraid Santa has been used to over commercialize Christmas. I know some of you are rolling your eyes, but think about it for a moment. Our children fill out lists of items to receive from some benefactor they only see at the mall. To them there is no cost involved. Wouldn’t I be teaching my girls to covet?

4. He overshadows Jesus. A child does not fully understand the importance of Jesus gift, but can easily grasp a man dropping off gifts one night of the year. Admit it, it is hard to compete with that.

What do you think? Any other reasons why I shouldn’t teach my girls that Santa Clause will sneak in our house and leave them presents?

Again, I am not trying to tell you that you shouldn’t celebrate Christmas with Santa Clause. What ever we decide I know we will still include the books, the stories, and the movies that include him. I am just unsure if we will tell the. As if they are the truth. My daughter loves and enjoys Mickey Mouse, but we do t pretend that he is real…

Disney

Don’t forget to teach your children what this Christmas and every Christmas after is all about. We give gifts to celebrate the greatest of all gifts. We love our family and friends because of the love that has been given to us. Don’t forget to celebrate the birth of our savior. Enjoy the lights, enjoy the gatherings, and the gifts, but do not forget about Jesus. Whether it includes Santa Clause or not, Merry Christmas!

Before God

 

After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” Genesis 22:1, 2

Have you ever wondered why God chose Isaac to test Abraham’s faith? God could have tested Abraham through his wife, his herds, or his possessions (think of the rich young ruler who Jesus spoke with). But God asked for Abraham’s son. The writer of the Book of Hebrews tells us Abraham’s faith was made evident by his willingness to sacrifice his Promised Son.

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. Hebrews 11:17-19

Abraham and Sarah, his wife, were very old when she at last gave birth to Isaac. I believe Abraham became overwhelmed by his love for the son that God promised him so many years before. If you have children you may have an idea of what Abraham was experiencing. I remember holding my first-born daughter just a few minutes after she was born. As she lay in my arms and looked into her eyes I became captivated by my love for her. In fact, it has been difficult to keep my love for her in check.

Allow me a moment to explain. I am a firm believer that the best way to love my daughter(s) is to love my wife unconditionally. It is easy to love both of my daughters. I find it more difficult to put my wife’s needs or desires before my own and those of my daughters. But my little girls need to see me put my wife before the rest of us. Sometimes I struggle with this, and sometimes I believe we do this to God. My love for my family can sometimes creep on God’s turf in my heart.

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Abraham went through something similar. He finally had this son, and his love for his son began to take over his life. This son was the manifestation of God’s promise in Abraham’s life. This son quickly became Abraham’s everything. And God would not take a backseat to Isaac in Abraham’s heart. So he called Abraham to sacrifice his son.

I try to imagine what Abraham went through as he travelled knowing what he was being asked to do. The thoughts Abraham must have been thinking as he watched his son on this short pilgrimage. It tears at my heart to think of what I would do if God called me to do the very same thing.

We can often put others and even objects before God. The biblical account of Abraham’s test of faith is a reminder to us that we should never allow anyone or anything to become more important in our lives than God. God was willing to sacrifice his son so we could become his children. His love for us is greater than our love for anyone, and we can only learn to love by learning from him. We can love our families best when we love God first.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21

Welcoming A New Member To Our Family

Maybe you didn’t notice, but I have been away for a few days. I know, a shocker! On Monday morning, October 22nd my wife gave birth to our second child, Paisley Isabella. She was born before ten, and the whirlwind of friends and family began visiting. We didn’t expect to see her until late that afternoon or early evening. What a little blessing she has already been. It has been fun watching Alexis (our first-born) take to her and start to ask to hold the baby.

Paisley Isabella

Unfortunately, we did not all come home Wednesday night. Paisley’s bilirubin became elevated and she was taken to the NICU. Apparently there was a tear in the placenta that allowed their blood to mix. Mommy and baby”s blood types do not match, and so my wife’s body began rejecting the pregnancy. Thankfully we had scheduled an induction and she came quick. So now the little one is still fighting off her mommies blood cells and dealing with the elevated bilirubin. This morning they removed the last of the UV lights and we are expecting her to come home tomorrow.

It is hard to leave your newborn at the hospital and climb into your own bed at night. The sight of the empty crib was not an easy one. But we knew that our little blessing was being cared for by some of the best at the hospital. As we visited the next few days, I became more and more thankful for Paisley’s health. She may not have been ready to go home, but there were other families dealing with more difficult situations than ours. I am very thankful to God that despite the complications, she was never in danger.

A previous entry (Do Not Worry About Tomorrow) was about not allowing worry to paralyze us in our daily lives. Worry and anxiety can keep us from experiencing God because we are allowing those worries to become greater than our faith. So this morning I wanted to share some scripture that has been helpful in my walk with God and especially this past week.

Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.

Isaiah 26:4

We trust the Lord because he has always been. In our societies we often listen to the advice and opinions of those who have lived longer than us. God has created everything that we know, and the things not yet known. He is beyond our restrictions of time and space. He created space and time for our lives on earth. The creator is not hindered by his creation. So God is the one being with absolute knowledge and knows what we need.

For you formed my inward parts;

you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Wonderful are your works;

my soul knows it very well.

My frame was not hidden from you,

when I was being made in secret,

intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance;

in your book were written, every one of them,

the days that were formed for me,

when as yet there was none of them.

Psalm 139:13-16

My little girl has experienced a rough start in life, but I know that God formed her exactly as she is. He planned her body and consciousness long before we met her. He has built her and he alone can sustain her. He knows what lies ahead in this life and the next for our little Paisley. Her future is not uncertain. This verse leads me to praise my God for his mighty works. All of the many miracles that took place to form this chld, the many that have taken place in the life of our almost two-year old, and those that their mother and I have experienced. It truly saddens me to think that so many go through life never acknowledging or celebrating these miracles.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11

As I look at my two girls, I am comforted by the fact that God is aware of everything they will go through in this life. He knows the difficulties they will see and the pleasures they will experience. I know that even through the most difficult times they and I can trust him.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for god, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:29

For those who put their hope in the Lord, we know that God has promised that our future is certain. We are sure of our eternity. Not because we are righteous, but because Jesus has shared his righteousness with us. Because of this, we have hope through our difficulties. We know that the storms that come have a clear sky behind them, even if that clear sky is not in this life. That is why we can face the uncertainties of this life. Because we know that our God is in control and that he has declared that all things will work to our good.

Proud Daddy

The Enemy Is Seeking To Devour Our Children

Source: Target.com
Girls Hello Kitty Costume

Warning! I am going to vent a little…

I hope the image to the left disgusts you as much as it disgusts me. I felt sleazy just looking it up. But I wanted you to know what I was talking about. My wife and I were walking through the Halloween section of our local Target looking for a Halloween bucket for our almost two-year old. My daughter was enjoying looking through the costumes when we came across this Girls Hello Kitty costume. At first I didn’t notice it was for little girls, and I thought it was in the wrong section! Then I saw the face of the young lady who is modeling the outfit. I was astonished that this outfit would be produced and marketed for young girls. I cannot imagine someone buying this for their 12-15 year old!?

I am the father of two very young girls, and I cannot imagine what type of father would allow his little princess to walk out his front door with this costume on. Our society is constantly teaching our little girls that they must be harlots to be noticed. And our young men are being taught that women are objects of their fantasies and sexual desires. Where is feminist outrage over this absurd exploitation of our little girls?

Fathers we must teach our little girls how they should expect to be treated as ladies. They need to know they can be loved without being sexualized. They need you to give them attention, and teach them what it means to be loved and cared for. We must teach them how to respect themselves.

Fathers we must teach our young boys to respect girls. Our society teaches our young men to perceive girls as objects for exploitation or prizes to be won by being deceptive. We have a grave responsibility to teach these young boys how to be men and how to treat women.

Mothers you have a responsibility to teach little girls how to be ladies. I know that you want to be their best friend when they get older, but the best way to do that is to be their mother now. They will respect and love you for this. They need you to model what it means to be a woman. They need you to support them, but they also need you to teach them that they are not sexual objects.

Mothers you set an example to your little boys of what to expect from a woman. They will most likely marry someone who reminds them of their mother (although most of us do not notice until after we have been married a few years). You have the responsibility to show your young man how a woman should expect him to treat them.

I know this is a lot of responsibility. But it is the job that we accepted when we decided to become parents. We cannot allow our society to teach our little girls to become harlots, and we must teach our young men to treat women with respect. Allowing your little girl to leave the house dressed in this sexually provocative costume accomplishes neither of these. Be vigilant parents, the enemy is seeking to devour your precious children.

Do Not Worry About Tomorrow

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Matthew 6:25-34

It has been almost two years since my wife gave birth to our daughter. We were supposed to be at the hospital at midnight, but a winter ice storm was moving in, so we left before 10 pm. I was pretty nervous as we pulled onto our street. It had already started sleeting and the road was already becoming slick. The drive was uneventful, and the hospital let us go on to our room. We settled in, and by that evening I was holding my first-born.

She was born wide-eyed

Alexis Grace was born with her eyes wide open. She seemed eager to experience the world. At twenty-two months, she still sees the world as that wide-eyed little girl. We went to the park today and enjoyed the beautiful fall weather that east Tennessee is experiencing. It was a fun day of slides, bubbles, swings, squirrels and a walk through the woods.

In about thirty hours my wife and I are headed to the hospital to meet our newest little girl (that is if she doesn’t decide to come earlier), Paisley Isabella. For the past few weeks we have been getting things ready in our home for our new arrival. Alexis has moved from the crib to her Big Girl Bed. I have heard her say, “I am a big girl!” enough to almost make me cry. The crib is ready for Paisley, she has a new rocker, the infant car seat is installed into the Mommy-mobile, and all of the cameras have fresh batteries. We are set… except I need to pack my bag.

Today I have been thinking about those first few moments after Alexis’ birth. Her eyes were so large, and she was looking so intently into my eyes. I remember melting all at once. I remember bringing her home for the first time. And I remember the first time I brought her downstairs for a midnight feeding. She was still learning how to eat (if you haven’t had a child maybe you don’t know this, but they have a hard time figuring this out), and I had a little scare as she became choked. I had a moment of panic and started to worry. After she spit-up (they do that a lot in the beginning too) and everything was okay I sat there holding my 5 pound little girl, and began to marvel at how much God takes care of me. Seeing her vulnerability and reliance on me made me look at my relationship with God in a completely new light. Before that moment I still tried to do things on my own. I don’t know if I would have admitted it, but I was very self-reliant. But after that night, I understood how much I needed God.

Last week in our small group I had the opportunity to speak with my eighth grade young men about how fragile life is. In our city a high school student recently collapsed on his school’s gym floor because his heart stopped! The coach quickly administered CPR, but had he not been there this young man would have died that day. Our lives are fragile. There is so much outside of our control that keeps us alive. I explained to them how God is not only our creator but our sustainer.

There is no need in worrying, for God is in control. There is no need in anxiety, God cares for you. I can rest at night knowing that if my life were to end, God has promised me an eternal presence in His Kingdom. Not because I am good, not because I am worthy, but because he loves me. I know that God loves me because he sent his son from Heaven to share himself with us. I have been asked why Jesus’ death would be necessary for man’s salvation. The person asking felt that it was ridiculous that God would ask such a thing when he could have given any requirement that he saw fit. Jesus died so that we would know how much God loves us, and knowing that God loves us that much we then get to decide if we will love him back.

Re-read the account of Jesus’ teaching as it was written by a former tax collector. And remember, you do not have to live a life of worry.

Take Interest In Others

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.
Philippians 2:3-7

Sometimes it is hard for me to consider others before I consider myself. My default is to be selfish. I am all too often consumed with my wishes and forget about those around me.

For example, when I have a literary thematic essay due but my wife is hurting/has swollen ankles/or tired from being pregnant, and I need to get our first-born ready for bed. I can become really selfish in those times. It would be easier for me to rush our daughter through her routine of getting ready for bed, but that neither helps me nor speeds things up. Without fail, she will look at me with her big blue eyes and ask me to play with her and Elmo in the bath tub, read her a story, or fold laundry (yeah, she is kind of weird like that). If I try to rush through these times I only get frustrated, and I lose valuable time with my daughter. These times are crucial for our future relationship with one another, and for her development.

There are other times when I think too much about my own interests over others. When that friend or family member calls me, and I know they are going through something that will require a lengthy conversation. I see the number and cringe because if I take the call I will lose valuable time for my assignment, family time, or even Me Time! At that moment I have the option to answer the call or ignore it. I have the option to put my own interests before the person on the other line.

But Jesus taught us to care about those around us more than ourselves. It is a concept that is foreign to our culture. It is a concept foreign to the American Dream! But Jesus, who was God, did not come to earth demanding to be worshiped as such. And I cannot demand to be the god in my life either. He came humbly and sought to serve those who society cast aside. We must care about the interest of those around us, because it is by our love that they will see Jesus in our lives.

Father, thank you for your Word. Thank you for sending Jesus to live the example for us. I fail so often, I don’t know why you put up with me. But I thank you for your promise of patience. I thank you that you have not given up on me. I pray that today I would look out for the interest of others. I would make myself second and everyone around me first. I pray that I would please you in this way. Thank you for your love, thank you for those in my life. Amen.

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