Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Simple Celebration

We live in a culture where bigger is better – we want the biggest house, the biggest truck, the biggest diamond… so it is hard for us to imagine the simplicity of Jesus’ birth. We have manipulated the nativity story into an elaborate, incredible event. If it were up to us, we’d have Jesus born in a five-star hotel, wrapped in Egyptian cotton, greeted by the Pope and the President. Mary would have the best doctors around. The whole world would be awaiting the news of Jesus’ birth. There’d probably be some elaborate party afterwards where people would wear today’s top fashion – I imagine something like a red-carpet affair. I mean the average wedding cost $30,000 – think about what we’d pay for the birth of our Lord and Savior – Millions? Billions? Who knows…

Our nativity scenes show baby Jesus snuggled up in a clean white cloth lying in a cute little manger. Mary and Joseph look gracious and clean. The shepherds are strong, tall men. Three wise men are dressed in elaborate robes. There is a big, bright shining star above the manger.

Yeah right! That’s a nice picture-perfect Kodak moment… that probably didn’t exist.

Think about it – Mary and Joseph had been travelling for days – from Nazareth to Bethlehem – to register for the census that Caesar Augustus had ordered. Probably on a donkey. I don’t know about you, but I would think Mary, being nine months pregnant, riding for days on a donkey, was probably pretty tired and haggard. Not to mention stressed – her baby had no place to sleep but a manger. Could you imagine having a newborn child, going from inn to inn looking for a place to stay, and finally having to settle for laying him in manger? That seems pretty desperate to me! Let’s face it, this manger probably wasn’t even clean – it’s a feeding trough for goodness sake!

Now let’s turn to the shepherds. The shepherds were probably young boys (as the youngest sons usually held the position). I imagine these three boys goofing off in the fields, looking for something to do to pass the time, when suddenly an angel comes to them and says, “The Son of God is born! You can find him wrapped in cloth in a manger!” A manger? Really? These shepherd boys were probably like, “Ok, let’s go check this out.” And when they did – they found what the angel said to be true! I imagine the young boys so excited about what had happened that they probably couldn’t wait to tell everyone they knew – “Hey, guess what we saw tonight?”

Now for the wise men – well, that’s another story, because if you read Luke then you’ll see that the wise men didn’t come that night. They saw the star and followed it, but they didn’t show up at Jesus’ house until at least a month later…

Finally, let’s talk about this star. No where in the Bible does it say that the star was a huge, bright star that everyone could see. Think about it, if it was, then why wouldn’t everyone who saw it want to know what was happening? Instead, wise men (men who studied the stars perhaps?) noticed a new star shining in the west.

To me, it makes a little bit of sense that the birth of our Lord and Savior would be a simple event – He was a simple man. He lived a humble life. He wants us to live a humble life. So why would God throw a huge, elaborate celebration to preach humility? Instead, He took average people (Mary and Joseph), gave His son a common name ("Jesus" was something like John or Bob or Joe today), put Him in a manger, and let shepherds be His first guests.

I think that God wanted Jesus as a human form so that we as humans could relate to Him. If he had given Jesus a fancy “Welcome to Earth” party then people probably wouldn’t feel that connection.

I also think that God intended the glory to go to what Jesus would do during his lifetime, his death, and his resurrection – maybe not so much his birth.

Not to downplay the birth of our Christ, but during this season where we want the fanciest decorations and the most expensive gifts, I think it would do us some good to consider the humility and simplicity of the first and most important Christmas…

I don’t know – just some things to think about!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Happy Birthday Erin!

I just wanted to write a quick post to say Happy 20th Birthday to my good friend Erin! :) I love you!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Update on Mom

My mom's scan results were stable! There hasn't been any change which is great! Still cancer free! Praise God! We are very excited about this wonderful news!

Sorry for the short post, I'm exhausted from working all day and shopping with Mom and Grandma until now... But, I promise, I'll blog more soon!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Fall '08 Semester Reflections...

Well as exams wind down I thought I’d reflect on some things I've learned/did this semester...

I learned Giffen goods violate the law of demand – the more produced the more they costs, and though economists have defined such a concept, they can't give an example (pointless, right?). I learned that the word “tragedy” comes from the word “tragos” meaning “goat songs,” which were sung by chanters that danced around a sacrificial goat in ancient times. I learned that drama people distinguish light and instrument – light is intangible and an instrument shines light (Who knew?) I learned that “Going up” in a performance means you forgot your line (get it – you can’t remember, so you look up). I learned that anthropologists are caught up in politics like everyone else – see the concept of lumpers vs. splitters. I learned that gender is somewhat biologically based – see the case of John Money and David Reimer. I learned all about the rise and fall of communism in Germany and liberal vs. coordinated markets in Europe. I also learned that in NC, students who “demonstrate a discrepancy between achievement & measured ability of at least 15 points” meet the criteria for a learning disability (see Policies of Governing Services for Children with Disabilities p. 80 – how ridiculous and arbitrary is that???). I taught young, ambitious 7th graders every week and learned that kids can be down right mean to one another!

I also read A LOT of books such as Autobiography of a Papago Woman, Hope Leslie, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, The Diary of Mollie Dorsey Sanford, Thousand Pieces of Gold, and Reading the Holocaust. Strangely enough, I strongly recommend Hope Leslie and Thousand Pieces of Gold!

I watched the movie Goodbye Lenin for European Politics – which is actually pretty funny. I saw Pericles and Blue Door at the Playmakers Repertory Center and Blue Door was AMAZING! I’d see it again and again if I could. I also saw the Nutcracker with my friends – it was fun.

And, thanks to my fantastic friends and roommates – I learned how to use a manual can opener (yes I know…) and that different apples have different names (ie. Red delicious, granny smith, gala, golden delicious…) I HAD NO IDEA!

Gosh, I love college!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Congratulations Parker!

I just wanted to take a second to make a shout out to Parker on his last day of undergrad! He still has exams left, but his last class was today!
Yay! Congratulations babe! I'm so proud of you!!!!

This picture is at Fort Macon the summer before he went to college. It seems like just the other day, doesn't it?


Also, on a different note, I just want to ask for prayer for my mom - she had her regular check up scan today and I'll let you know when we hear back. (In case you didn't know, my junior year of high school, my mom was diagnosed with Stage 0 breast cancer and after surgery, the cancer was gone. Then in July of 2007 we found out the cancer had come back - Stage 4. She had 6 months of chemotherapy and radiation and she is still having preventative treatments indefinitely. She is in remission and doing well! She has scans every couple of months to make sure nothing has changed)

This is my family last Christmas - we like Carolina, can't you tell?

And just for kicks and giggles, I thought I’d throw this one in… We’d been setting the self-timer over and over again trying to get the “perfect picture” for our Christmas card and we were all getting pretty frustrated with each other. This was around attempt #10 and Weston (my brother) decided it was a good time to act like a 10 year old. You can always count on my brother to lighten the mood!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

What Is Grace?

Okay, so I chose my blog name, "Grace Like Rain," because I feel that God's grace, like rain, truly falls down on me all the time!

So what is grace? Grace is the free and unmerited favor or beneficence of God. In other words, grace is receiving something good that you don't deserve (Mercy on the other hand is not receiving something bad that you do deserve – mercy & grace go hand in hand).

So I was thinking about the concept of grace and I came across a passage in Ephesians – (Eph. 2:1-9). It says:

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from ourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.

Ok, so paraphrase: I was once “dead” from my transgressions when I was following the ways of the world – and some people are still “working for the world.” All of us have worked for the world at some time or another when we were succumbing to our sinful urges. BUT (here’s a big but), God (who is so forgiving and loves us so much) made us alive again! In fact, He brought us on His team to show the incomparable riches of His grace (that’s right – incomparable!!!) He sacrificed Jesus for us! It is by His grace that we’ve become alive again through our faith!

AND God’s grace is sufficient – there’s no fine print at the bottom – He said so himself in II Corinthians 12:9!

Man, I don’t know about ya’ll but I feel pretty unworthy of such a gift. I mean, God really loves us a lot! His grace awakens me all the time to who and whose I am…

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A New Endeavor

So I've decided to start blogging! I hope you enjoy!

I decided on the name "Grace Like Rain" for my blog - after the song by Todd Agnew. It's one of my favorite songs - partly because it has a spin on "Amazing Grace" and partly because it speaks volumes about my life!

Other options for the blog name that didn't make the cut:
"Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy" - a fav. song
"A Cord of Three Strands" - after my favorite bible verse (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)
"How Sweet It Is" - another fav. song
"Carolina Girls" - well, you know... also a fav. song :)
"A Page Is Turned" - a new fav. song by Bebo Norman - Parker & I love this song!

Well, I hope you can bear with me as I figure all this out! Please feel free to make comments!