The sole purpose of this blog post is to show off my beautiful family. That's it. Nothing profound to read here. Not today. Just these amazing images captured by the amazing Merari Teruel. Thanks for the early Christmas gift, friend. And thanks to Wynwood for being the perfect backdrop to our family photos.
Last year was the first time in my adult life that I decided to get serious about Advent. It's so easy to get caught up in commercial Christmas mayhem. Far too often we think of Christmas as a time to exchange gifts instead of a time to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior.
There's nothing wrong with gifts. I actually love looking for the perfect gifts for my loved ones. I love the spirit of giving that the season entails, but I don't want to think that's what it's ALL about. I want to get my heart and spirit in the right place. The day Jesus came down from heaven to join us on earth is such a momentous, miraculous, and humbling occasion. In the midst of all the craziness of the Christmas season I want to make room for advent in my life.
Here is the description of the journal and calendar straight from the NTD team: "The Naptime Diaries Make Room for Advent devotional is a beautiful testimony of the body of Christ. Each of the 25 devotionals is written by a different woman, and much of the photography was contributed from women in the NTD community as well. This 8.5x11 softcover devotional is filled with heavy weight matte pages with plenty of room for notes and doodles. It's divided into five sections: retreat, expect, accept, embrace, celebrate, all intended to help us make room for Christ during the Advent season."
I was honored and humbled when one of my pieces was chosen for the devotional. I pray that my words will help others prepare their hearts for Advent and embrace the reason we celebrate Christmas. I can't wait to get my hands on this journal! I am sure it will be a blessing to me and so many others.
Make Room for Advent launches TODAY at NOON. Head over to the NTD Advent page to order yours, and maybe pick one up for a friend while you're at it.
Something I don't really like to talk about often is my fear of eternity. I feel like I'm a "bad" Christian when I admit to these feelings. I see other believers embracing the idea of heaven and spending eternity with God. I see other believers saying, "Lord, come quickly," while I shudder at the thought. I know I'm supposed to be excited about meeting my Lord face-to-face, but most of the time when I think about it I get sweaty and nervous. I feel as if I'm tumbling down a black hole uncontrollably. I can't wrap my head around the idea of forever. Forever is a long time! I don't know if I can handle that. And what exactly are we going to be doing forever? My mind goes into a tailspin when I start to wonder about all the minute details that eternity holds.
A couple weekends ago I was at the Influence Conference and one of the speakers, Haley Morgan, said something that stuck out to me. She said basically that God will not take something good away without giving us something better in return. So while I look around at my life on this earth and see how good it is, what's coming next will be even better. I have to believe that.
And then I was at church this weekend and the band played a song called O Praise The Name. Here is a portion of the lyrics:
O praise the name of the Lord our God
O praise His name forever more
For endless days we will sing Your praise
Oh Lord, oh Lord our God
He shall return in robes of white,
The blazing Son shall pierce the night.
And I will rise among the saints,
My gaze transfixed on Jesus' face
When they sang those words it reminded me that when Christ returns and we move on from this life, it won't be scary, it will be glorious. All the pain and evil of this world will be no more. And nothing else will matter because I will be transfixed on Jesus' face. Maybe I don't know exactly what comes after death, but I know that I will be with God and that will be enough.
I can't say my fear of eternity is completely gone, I think this will be a journey for me. But little by little I'm learning to trust that God is in control. He has a great and wonderful plan for us, even after death, especially after death.
"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”" -Revelation 21:1-4
I'm always in awe of the talent God has given so many of my friends. Genie, for example, has the gift of music. But it's not just that. She has the gift of leading others in worship of Jesus Christ. She sings beautifully, but it's never about her. It's always about Jesus. And I just love that about her. I love that she's using her gift to help others connect to God.
She's currently running a Kickstarter campaign to record an EP with six original songs.
Here's an excerpt straight from the Kickstarter page:
"I am so excited to release this kickstarter campaign for my brand new EP of 6 original songs, written while living the past year in the U.K.
They are songs of worship, and reflect my time spent with Jesus through this journey among the inspiring sights, sounds, and people of East London.
Some of these songs were co-written by some very talented friends in the U.S. and the U.K, and I can’t wait to share them with you.
My desire is that this album gives listeners a time to worship and reflect on the love of Christ. I want these to be songs that you can sing and the Church can sing together."
Genie's campaign runs through October 15th. Hop on over to read more details here, including how exactly the money raised will be used. Seriously, if you have even $5 to spare, consider donating towards Genie's project. I'm excited to see how the Lord uses Genie and this worship EP to impact the world for His glory.