It’s Just Another Day

Here’s a repost from 2011. The holidays are upon us again:  the time of year when we are most at risk for unrealistic expectations. It’s handy to remember at this time that Jesus Christ died for sinners like us — in fact, that is the reason we celebrate.

“The real difficulty, the supreme mystery with which the gospel confronts us, does not lie in the Good Friday message of atonement, nor in the Easter message of resurrection, but in the Christmas message of Incarnation.” – JI Packer

Here we are, three days from the most hyped day of the year.  Our home — like many homes across America I’m sure — is crammed with wrapped packages and sweets.  The tree is decorated, the nativity scene set up, and the outside of our home glows each night with white lights.  The anticipation is palpable as each morning we rehearse how many days, and this morning, how many hours, until Christmas.

As one of my friends properly observed, this week is like finals week for moms.  I’ve been up until midnight every night this week so far, wrapping gifts, addressing cards, and cleaning up from yet another baking adventure.  The laundry still has to be done.  The house seems to get dirty faster because the kids are idle, not confined to their schoolwork.

As a result, a lot of expectations rest on the Christmas day payoff.  The culmination of all this effort is confined to a few blissful hours.  So it is easy, as a mom of littles, to be disappointed.  I found myself frustrated a few years ago when I was exhausted and the kids started fighting on Christmas morning.  Somebody didn’t like the special breakfast I made.  A diaper needed to be changed right in the middle of opening gifts.

I realized that year that it’s best to keep the expectations low.  Yes, it’s Christmas and yes, it’s special to celebrate with little kids.  But goodness knows we are all still sinful human beings.  Someone is going to cry.  One of the kids will make some sort of ungrateful comment about a gift you thought they’d really like.  We’re all still learning.  It’s Jesus’ coming to Earth, the very reason we celebrate, that redeems all the ugliness.

So breathe through it, moms.  Your high expectations will only make you and your family miserable.  Enjoy and be grateful.  Even though it comes just once a year, it’s just another day.

Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.
Hebrews 13:15

Prayer for Thanksgiving

Here’s a prayer from Robert Louis Stevenson that  would be fitting for your Thanksgiving table — or any table.

Lord, behold our family here assembled. We thank thee for this place in which we dwell, for the love that unites us, for the peace accorded to us this day, for the health, for the food, and the bright skies that make our lives delightful, for our friends in all parts of the earth.

Give us courage, gaiety, and the quiet mind. Spare to us our friends, soften us to our enemies. Bless us, if may be, in all our innocent endeavours. If may not, give us the strength to encounter that which is to come.May we be brave in peril, constant in tribulation, temperate in wrath, and in all changes of fortune loyal and loving to one another.

As the clay to the potter, as the windmill to the wind, as the children of their sire, we beseech of Thee this help and mercy for Christs sake. Amen.

~~Robert Louis Stevenson

Also, find a full collection of poetry, songs and hymns for the holiday at Ambleside Online.


Glory Seen and Unseen

My day today will look very similar to this one five years ago — no baby who needs a nap anymore, though. Today she’ll help set the table. I pray you’re finding moments of sacred this Holy Week.

Kelly Keller

I enter the van post-shopping trip, nerves frayed and patience gone. There was too much touching in the store, not enough listening and obeying. A young woman greeted me in the aisle and counted aloud, and then informed me that she wasn’t surprised that there were two bottles of wine in the cart.

As we click our safety belts and settle in for the ten minute ride home, a request comes from the backseat for “a popular CD.” OK, I think…rustling through the mismatched CDs and their cases, in search of something to satisfy the various musical tastes.

Found it. It’s Holy Week. Time for a weeklong reprieve in the storage of Behold the Lamb of God.

As we back out of the parking space, Andrew reads to us of The Story, of a young hero coming to rescue the one that He loves. The children fall silent, awaiting…

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A Last Time for Everything

Today we will go to a memorial service. The same church that has housed laughter and shouts from my children and their friends for six years will play a part in saying goodbye to one of them.

So today this song will be on repeat at our house, as it has been on my ipod most of the week.

Ben introduces this song by saying that as believers in Jesus, we believe that He will make all things new. What that reality means is that someday — maybe today — there will be a last funeral. No one will know it. The mourners will gather with tears and remembrances, flowers will be arranged, songs will be sung…and then death’s reign will be ushered out of this earthly realm for good.

It will be undignified, because death has been defeated. No one will grieve its passing.

You have to look death in the eye–
In the eye!
You need to see what’s hidden there:
You need to see that he’s afraid to die.

But you my love,
You’re gonna wake up soon
In your lonely room
To the sound of a singing bird

And throw the curtain back
To find your bag’s already packed
And the cab is at the curb.

And, like a bad dream–
Unreal in the morning light–
So will the world seem
When you see it in the mirror for the last time.

Support the McClung family here.

Dragons Can Be Beaten

Our community is grieving here in Charlotte. This week we are saying goodbye to a 13 year old boy who was close to all of my boys. His loss was unexpected and quite sudden. His parents are some of our best friends.

I am grateful that the community is coming together to mourn and speaking truth to one another. I’m also grateful for music that tells the truth.

I’m sure I’ll have more to say in coming days, but for now, this should do:

And in the end, the end is
Oceans and oceans
Of love and love again
We’ll see how the tears that have fallen
Were caught in the palms
Of the Giver of love and the Lover of all
And we’ll look back on these tears as old tales

If you are able to give to support our precious friends, please go here.


I loved Chris’ piece about rebuilding Detroit:  Add to the Beauty

I never thought I’d have occasion to post a commercial for scotch here at my blog, but this one from South Africa is too precious to pass up. Enjoy!


A little truth and encouragement for homeschool peeps: Everyone wants to quit in November and February

How do you decide what to keep reading and what to put down? Pushing Through

Middle School sweetness:  Groom’s middle-school love letter on display at couple’s wedding

Goodbye, Taylors

Yesterday afternoon I finally sat down and watched the series finale of Friday Night Lights.  It has a been a while since a dramatic television show has hooked my interest like this one did.  I think the last one was Ed, a show about smalltown America that was on in the early 2000’s.  It, like FNL, was critically acclaimed but didn’t get the audience it needed for a long run.

At the center of FNL is the marriage of Eric and Tami Taylor, a marriage so believable that you might find yourself wondering if the actors are married in real life (they’re not).  There was one moment in the finale yesterday that summed it up well for me:  he is frustrated at their daughter and is blowing off steam about the situation.  As he storms out of the room, Tami shrugs her shoulders in confused frustration and says, “Well, I don’t know why you’re yelling at me….”  They’re just very real characters, and they serve as the bedrock of the series.

I am sad to see this series end and I hope it can serve as a model for future shows.  Here’s a good Relevant article about the end of the show (thanks, Erica).

Andrew Peterson’s "Dancing in the Mine Fields"

Andrew Peterson’s “Dancing in the Mine Fields”

Super cute, lovely video. Go watch it. Acoustic guitars, piano, and old married couples dancing — what’s not to love?

A Few Short Lists

Three days we’re taking boys to basketball practice:

  1. Monday
  2. Tuesday
  3. Thursday

Three names Maddie can say:

  1. Dada
  2. Ben
  3. Andrew

One name she will not say:

  1. Mama (she calls me Bubba — perhaps she is a bit more redneck than our other children)

Two people I have trained my children to turn off when they see them on TV:

(for different reasons)