We live in a world of sin and imperfection. I am a child of God striving each day to live out my calling. Welcome to my blog where you get the inside scoop of this Youth Pastor's world!
"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity." - 1 Timothy 4:12

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Christmas Probation

The Christmas “Santa” put us on probation. That’s right Santa put us on probation. It began like every other Christmas in the Mann household. We did Christmas Eve at Grandma and Grandpa’s, we came home and anxiously went to bed fighting sleep but knowing it wasn’t until sleep won that Santa would make his yearly visit. I don’t recall what I asked Santa for that year or much else about this Christmas, but I do remember waking that morning, waiting on the stairs until my mother had enough pictures so that we could go down and see what joys there were to see. We walked into the living room all decked out in Christmas glory, and ran to the mantle to see what Santa left for us. We could see our gifts but there was a note that had to be read first. I was old enough to read, and read it out loud for my little brother.  We were in utter disbelief to find that we hadn’t behaved badly enough for coal but not quite good enough for our gifts. So there we were on Christmas probation, our gifts would be given to us when our parent’s felt we had been good enough. We were able to open our gifts from our parents but our stockings and gifts from Santa just sat there haunting us throughout the morning. We went throughout the rest of Christmas, visiting grandparents and enjoying the rest of our Christmas festivities all the while knowing that we were still on probation. It was embarrassing each time one of our cousins asked us what we got for Christmas because we had to tell them we were on probation and couldn’t have our presents yet. I remember by the time we made it home that evening I had been good enough to open one part of my gift, and I remember getting a Barbie, which had to be from Santa because my parents wouldn’t buy Barbie’s. My brother had to wait a little longer to get any of his gifts, and I don’t remember how long this probation lasted because eventually we got the rest of our presents, which neither of us remembers much about but we will never forget being put on probation by Santa.
                Looking back on this lesson that “Santa” chose to teach us that year, it always makes me laugh. But it actually was an incredible lesson of Grace. We weren’t good enough that year for our gifts, and even though we had to wait for them we ended up receiving them in full. None of us are good enough for gift that Jesus offers, and many of us wait a long time before we are willing to let ourselves partake in this glorious present but when we do, we get all of it, in full. We don’t have to be good enough for God; Jesus gave Himself because He knew we never would be. We are offered the most beautiful gift possible, don’t put yourself on probation, but humbly accept this gift and let it change your life.
         “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:23

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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Mother Mary

As Christmas nears this year I can’t help but think of Mary. I can’t even imagine being in her position. She was so young, so pregnant, so far away from home, and with a man she barely knew. She definitely puts my pregnancy woes in perspective, being due around Christmas has definitely put this holiday in a new light for me.

Being 8-9 months pregnant can be miserable, your whole body aches and feels weird because there is definitely another human in there cramping on the space that used to belong solely to your organs. And sitting, standing, walking, laying down, it doesn't really matter at some point it will become incredibly uncomfortable and even unbearable. All of this is true for me right now, bending over and picking things up can be one of the hardest tasks of the day, and yet I can’t complain, because I’m not riding a donkey over rocky terrain miles and miles away from my family. A donkey....seriously that sounds like the most uncomfortable way to travel right now.

Each night I go home and struggle to fall asleep or find a comfortable position on my memory foam bed, next to my husband whom I have known for years, and am completely in love with. Mary spent this part of her pregnancy sleeping on the hard ground wherever they camped for the night, next to her betrothed whom she was getting a crash course in getting to know.

I will deliver this baby in a hospital, with up to date technology, doctors and nurses, pain medication if I want it, and my family there to calm my nerves and coach me through this. Mary did this in a stable with animals in the next stall, far away from her family and everything she had ever known, with only Joseph to comfort her and deliver the baby.

Through all of this the Bible describes Mary as calm and with a sweet spirit. She must have been fully cloaked in the Holy Spirit to endure all of this and to endure it with grace. I think there is a lesson to learn here from Mary. If you truly put all of your faith in God and trust His will and Spirit, even the most painful, scary, and stressful moments of your life can be endured in peace and calm.
I pray the peace that passes all understanding, that engulfed Mary during that first Christmas, surrounds you this Christmas season. You may not be giving birth to the Messiah, but you have been called, and given the power of the Spirit to do mighty things for God. Don’t let the stresses and inconveniences of life deter you from your call.

“And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.’” – Mary’s Song, Luke 1:46-55

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Thursday, December 3, 2015

A Different Kind of Christmas

A song came on the radio that stopped me earlier, I only heard the last verse and it was enough to make me look it up when I got to the office today. Losing someone close to you is always hard, and there is something that makes that so much harder when the holidays show up. My heart goes out to all those broken ones this Christmas season, those trying to figure out how to make this Holiday mean something in the wake of losing a piece of their heart and quite possibly the piece that made Christmas what it is to them. There has been a lot of tragedy around the world recently that I'm sure the grief will be strong across the globe this Christmas.

The first Christmas wasn't pretty or peaceful as our Nativities may look. I'm sure the fear, pain, and unknown was rampant. We see it as a Silent Night, and a peaceful event because we can see the whole picture. We know who Jesus is, and why He came to Earth. We can see the beauty in all the chaos because we can see that this was just where the story began not where it ended.

So this Christmas if you are finding yourself filled with grief, pain, heartache, unknown, or anything but joy, just know that the God of the first chaotic Christmas is still in control. Just as perfect love will cast out all fear, it will cast out the pain and tears. The Alpha is the Omega, the beginning and the end, He can see the whole picture and there is nothing you can possibly be going through right now that is too much for Him. This may be a Different Kind of Christmas for you this year, but don't let your sorrow overshadow the joy that can come at Christmas, it is ok to celebrate and decorate, and enjoy the ones you hold dear. For the one you are missing wouldn't want you to be held back because they aren't here. You don't have to spend this holiday alone, allow yourself to be wrapped in the arms of perfect love where you will find the peace that passes all understand and the healing that your heart needs.

Different Kind of Christmas - Mark Schultz

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Dear Baby (Letter #3)

Dear Baby,
 I think you're going to come out thinking Baby is your name. So how about this:

Dear Adah/Aram,
  We have entered your due date month. Mommy is almost mentally where Daddy has been for months, and ready to tell you to "GET OUT." But then again you're incredibly safe where you are right now, you can't be bullied, beat up, or harmed by all the things that kids go through these days. But Mommy wants to hold you, and you're starting to make Mommy very uncomfortable. Mommy is definitely getting nervous to travel very far away. We have one more trip this weekend, then you can come anytime you want. There are so many people who are so excited to meet you. You are already so loved, it is almost overwhelming. You get to grow up in an amazing church, the people here already ask about you every time they see me. I pray you will grow to cherish them as much as they already cherish you. You are already so blessed, you have 11 grandparents. That seems totally crazy, I guess I should say you have 4 grandparents, 6 great grandparents, and 1 great great grandma. They are all so excited to meet you, and it is driving them crazy that they don't know if you are Adah or Aram.
 It seems like forever since the last time I wrote you. I talk to you all the time, and Daddy loves to sing to you. His favorite thing right now is to try to get you to move so he can see. He gets so excited every time he can feel you. It amazes me that there is room for you inside of me. I often feel huge and then am surprised I'm not bigger. God sure was creative when he decided how babies should be created and brought into this world. I often find myself full of anxieties about you entering this world, but then I remember I will get to hold you, and that mothers have been birthing babies since basically the beginning of time, then I don't feel so stressed about it.
 If it wasn't real before it definitely is now, we are in the month that you are to join this world (please don't wait till January). For so long I have been saying as long as we make it to December 6th, this baby can come any time after that. Well Sunday is December 6th, so you are welcome to join the world any time after the Christmas program is over!
 Bring on the next couple of weeks of swollen hands & feet, achy muscles, clothes that don't fit, and sleepless nights. Along with every kick, roll, hiccup, & movement that bring your Mommy so much peace. These next couple of weeks will feel like the longest of my life, and go by so quickly, because before we know it, sweet child of mine, you will be in my arms! But please do all the growing you need to do now, because I want you healthy when you enter this world! I hope you enjoy your music sessions with your daddy as much as I do, he can't wait to hold you and dance with you for real!

See you soon, love of my life!
Love,
Mommy