Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Reality of the Holidays

 When I was a child, I remember thinking that there was nothing better than Christmastime!  It’s time for presents and music and sweet treats and church activities.  It’s time to celebrate the birth of Christ as we sing “Away in a Manger.” Nothing could possibly be wrong with the world! 

As I’ve gotten older, however, I have realized more and more that the holidays are not always filled with happiness.  I have watched two families from my former church lose their teenage sons and have a funeral right around Christmastime.  I know people are battling cancer and miscarriages and unknown diagnoses.  Christmastime may be filled with happiness for some people, but a lot of people are also hurting too. 

What can we do as Christians to lift up others who are suffering?  Or, what can we do when we are the ones going through a painful time?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Importance of a Retreat

This past month we took 75 students from our youth group on a fall retreat.  We were up in the Tennessee mountains, away from everyday life.  We did not even have cell phone reception.  We spent time praying before we left for the retreat that it would be a life-changing time for our students: that God would open up their eyes to the things that they needed to change in their lives so that God could be their top priority.  I was so busy thinking about the small group of girls who I lead and helping my husband get things ready for the trip that I did not even realize how much I would need this retreat. 

Life is busy.  We have things in our lives that have to get done.  We have to work, take care of children, do the laundry, go to doctor appointments, take our children to ballet recitals and soccer practice…we have things in our lives that we must tend to each day.  While we should be spending time in God’s Word each day amidst all of these activities, sometimes it’s hard to focus like we should.  We all so desperately need some time to get away from it all, not just for a “date night”, but for a few days.  We need time to put our lives on pause and to hear from God. 

So, how do we do this and what does this look like?