Merry Christmas all!
Friday, December 24, 2010
Merry Christmas all!
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
There is a lot of Christmas cheer going on around the Reissig apartment right now. The tree is lit. Presents are wrapped. Candles are burning. On Thursday night (after Daniel gets off work) we begin our trip to Florida to stay with my parents for Christmas. We are staying the night in Atlanta and will make it to the Sunshine State just in time to go to the Christmas Eve service on Friday night. We only go to my parents once a year, so I am practically giddy about it.
Here are a few things that are getting me in the Christmas spirit these days:
- Our tree (as pictured above). It's a sweet little tree that Daniel got for free long before we ever met. But I like our little tree. It's got some character.
- This book, as I mentioned yesterday.
- Thinking about my mom's chocolate covered peanut butter balls. Divine. Seriously. I'm not even sure she will have any left over when I get home, but a girl can hope, right?
- The thought of sleeping and sleeping and sleeping. It's my vacation time too, so I'm taking full advantage. Works been crazy and I'm excited about the little break.
- No agenda at all. I live by agendas and schedules. Sometimes to my own detriment. But I have no agenda besides sleeping and hanging out with my family. And snuggling my sweet nephew of course. Which leads me to my next point.
- I can't wait to see my nephew, David. He is 15 months now and we haven't seen him since March. I just smile when I think about getting to see his sweet face.
- Cinnabon cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning. It's a family tradition that is wonderful. I can smell them now!
- Pizza on Christmas Eve. Another family tradition. What can I say, food gets me excited at Christmas!
- My husband sneaking around the apartment as he tries to wrap my gifts without me knowing. He is so sweet to me.
- The precious gift of being able to see almost all of my family this Christmas season. I am so thankful for them.
- Hark the Herald Angels Sing is my favorite Christmas song right now. I could listen to it all day long. "Hail the heaven born prince of peace, hail the Son of Righteousness!" Amen!
Well, that's all for now. Just some Christmas ramblings for this Tuesday before Christmas.
Monday, December 20, 2010
Each chapter is really good, so it's hard to pick a favorite. But the one that has ministered to me most this year is Joni Eareckson Tada's called "A Christmas Longing." Here is a taste of the richness of her words.
"On this side of eternity, Christmas is still a promise. Yes, the Savior has come, and with him peace on earth, but the story is not finished. Yes, there is peace in our hearts, but we long for peace in our world. Every Christmas is still a 'turning of the page' until Jesus returns. Every December 25 marks another year that draws us closer to the fulfillment of the ages, that draws us closer to...home. When we realize that Jesus is the answer to our deepest longings, even Christmas longings, each Advent brings us closer to his glorious return to earth. When we see him as he is, King of kings and Lord of lords, that will be 'Christmas' indeed."
She goes on to say.
"Heaven is about to happen. The celebration is about to burst on the scene. We stand tiptoe at the edge of eternity, ready to step into the new heaven and the new earth. And I can hardly wait. I can't wait to sing 'O Come, All Ye Faithful' as I gather with my friends and family to worship the Lord in heaven...Christmas is an invitation to a celebration yet to happen. If you've got Christmas longing, you're about to be satisfied, too. Just hold on and say with me...Maranatha! Come Lord!"
Praise God that he has come!
Friday, December 17, 2010
One year we had my mom's best friend, Sonja, stay with us for Christmas. Sonja's parents were missionaries and she wasn't able to go home for Christmas. We LOVE Sonja. She babysat for us when we were little, and now she is a dear friend to all of us kids. But this particular year she stayed the night on Christmas Eve and woke up with us on Christmas morning. It was so much fun watching her enter into our traditions like watching It's a Wonderful Life with us on Christmas Eve or eating cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning.
The other year, my Grandma Tarter was with us for Christmas morning. Usually I think of Christmas excitement as being all for little kids. Not so for Grandma this Christmas. We all got her presents and she was like a child opening all of her presents with us. It was such a sweet memory!
In recent years we have had my Grandpa Garrett with us for Christmas time. I always loved watching him open his gifts. He was so hard to shop for, but pictures of his grandkids as presents always made him excited. And any candy or sweet, of course. This will be the first year that he is not with us, but is with Jesus on Christmas Day. I am so thankful we had the time with him for these holidays before God took him. But I am also so thankful we have these other memories of Chirstmas mornings with family and friends that we love.
Next week...My absolute favorite Christmas memory!
Thursday, December 16, 2010
I’m sure Hannah felt that way, too. Every year was a sad reminder that she was barren and her rival was not. Year after year she watched her bring children into the world, while Hannah’s womb stayed empty. In his perfect timing, God opened Hannah’s barren womb. She was given the child she longed for.
Does hoping in the God of the Bible mean we get all that we long for? No, it doesn’t. But I wonder if God gives us these stories in the Bible to show us that he doesn’t forget us—even in our darkest moments. Hebrews 11 tells us that some will shut the mouths of lions and some will be sawn in two. Some of us will live seemingly “abundant” earthly lives, while others will flounder in suffering. Both cases are exactly God’s design—the race he has set before us. While the Bible doesn’t give us any indication that our lives, or holiday season, will be made any merrier with a lightening of circumstances, it does tell us that we have reason to hope, even at Christmas time.
You see, this baby we celebrate wasn’t born into flowery circumstances. He was born into suffering and sorrow, all so we could have a great Savior who understands our suffering and sorrow and promises to walk with us through it (Heb. 4:14-16). We can know that God hasn’t left us at Christmas for the very reason we celebrate—God sent his Son to earth for us. And not only did he send his Son, but he sent his Son to die. Christmas is about the coming suffering of the Savior and the great loss the Father would experience when he momentarily turned his face away from his Son on the Cross. All so that sorrowful Christians, like you and me, could know that God loves us.
The clouds might be heavy and weighing down, and God is behind every dark cloud that hovers. He is Immanuel, God with us—with us when we are happy and with us when we are sad. We are not passed over this Christmas, or any day of the year.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
One of the helpful things for me has been my friends letting me know they are still here. They haven’t moved on. They are still praying. And they still remember.
Part of the reason that time isn’t always the great healer is that time moves so quickly. It moves when we can’t seem to move any faster. There were days where I just wanted to go back to the few moments of pregnancy and take it all in—but I can’t. Time has moved on.
Because time moves on it makes you realize what you don’t have. The holidays/milestones can be a sad time of remembering what things were supposed to be like. Time represents shattered hopes and dreams—especially when time takes you to the anticipated due date.
So in this final post on help after a miscarriage, know that time doesn’t always heal as it moves. Sometimes it stings badly. Your friend will be blessed and encouraged by you not moving with the time, but instead remembering with her, stopping with her, and crying with her—even after all this time.
Monday, December 13, 2010
When the shepherds were greeted by the angel in Luke 2 the first thing they heard was “fear not.” Anyone who sees an angel coming out of the sky has reason to fear. It’s unknown. It’s scary. But they are told not to fear. Do not be discouraged if you are fearful today. We all are fearful of something. Some of us fear more than others. The reality is we live in a scary, sinful world. Bad things happen all of the time, and sometimes to people we love deeply. The curse is everywhere. And Jesus came to reverse the curse. By his death and resurrection, sin is conquered. Which means fears are conquered. We do not have to live as slaves to our fears any longer. Whether your fear is what people will think of you, or that your husband will leave you, or that you will never have enough food to feed your family—those fears find their death at the cross of Jesus Christ. As Christian women our hope in times of fear is God. God is working all of our pain, all of our suffering, all of our fears, and all of our happiness for our ultimate good and joy in him. Romans 8:28 says that for those who love God all things are working together for good.
That means our fears too.
Our fears, and the outcome of our fears, are working for our good and joy in Christ. That is our hope. He will do for us all that he has said—but sometimes it’s not until we get to our eternal home. I may never bring a child into this world alive. The outcome of that fear for me might mean barrenness. Or it might mean great fruitfulness from my womb. But God has not ceased being God. And he is still my only hope in times of fear, even if he never gives me a living child. So I ask you again, what are you fearing today? Are you reluctant to trust God’s goodness? Or are you clinging to him, like Sarah, as your only hope in times of fear and anxiety?
I will end with Isaiah 41:8-13 and Isaiah 43:1-3
“But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend; you whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, ‘you are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off;’ fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Behold, all who are incensed against you shall be put to shame and confounded; those who strive against you shall be as nothing and shall perish. You shall seek those who contend with you, but you shall not find them; those who war against you shall be as nothing at all. For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘fear not, I am the one who helps you.”
“But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you , O Israel; ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”
The flames of this life will not overtake us, dear sisters. They might burn us, and maybe burn us badly. But they will not ultimately destroy us. There will come a day when all things will be made new. We will see this grand hope he has called us to—our final salvation. And we will be with King Jesus forever. God created us and saved us for his glory. To serve him and worship him alone. He will keep us to the end. That is our hope in fear. As 2 Corinthians 4:18 says we look not to the seen, but the unseen as we wait for our expected hope, the outcome of our faith.
Friday, December 10, 2010
When I stop to think about all of my favorite memories of Christmas’ past, it’s hard to pick just one. So for the next three Fridays leading up to Christmas I am going to post a favorite memory from my family’s Christmas celebrations. If you have one as well, feel free to leave a comment. I love other people’s memories too!
The one that comes to mind most clearly is from when I was in middle school. I have three younger brothers and we all LOVED getting up early on Christmas morning. I’m not so sure my parents loved the fact that we got up when it was still dark outside. But they never really let on. Until this one year. My dad had the smart idea to set everyone’s clock back an hour so we would think it was really 5:00 AM when it was 6:00 AM. The rule was we could not get up until it was 6:00. Because seriously, it’s just plain crazy to get up any earlier on Christmas, right? Not to us. But, being the obedient children we were, we waited until the clock turned 6:00. There was one flaw in his brilliant plan.
He didn’t change my clock.
My dad was worried that I would wake up when he came into my room, so he chanced it with me. But my brothers, who were so anxious to open presents, came into my room at “5:00” and said, “Courtney, we really want to go wake Mom and Dad up, but Dad said we can’t come in the room until 6:00 and it’s only 5:00!” Groggily, I looked up at the clock, looked back at them, and tried to register the time in my head—my clock said 6:00. In that moment we all realized that Dad had changed the clocks. His plan failed! And he knew it immediately as we all ran into their room screaming that it was Christmas morning!
Now it’s just my youngest brother and Daniel and me on Christmas morning at my parents. My other two brothers have children of their own to make memories with and get up early with. We’re lucky now if we get up by 8! My how times have changed.
So what’s your favorite Christmas memory?
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Maybe I will go with Pretty Poinsetta or Starlight Snowflakes. But I really like In His Name.
It’s just so hard!
If we had more than one good picture (or more than one picture that I liked), we could do Merry Modern Collage or Seasonal Chic. But, one will have to do this year.
Shutterfly doesn’t just have Christmas cards. They have so much more to offer. If you can’t think of something to get for a family member, let Shutterfly help. They have a host of wonderful gift ideas right on their website. Your family will thank you.
I really like their calendars. What better way to manage and organize your life than with pictures of the ones you love right there? It’s a perfect idea!
So now all I have to do is pick out my cards and then I am set. Check your mail soon and you just might see the Reissigs smiling face in your mailbox!
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
As Christians, when we hear about the country of Israel we tend to think about the biblical stories. We remember Jacob’s name being changed to Israel and his sons representing the twelve tribes of this new nation that would be God’s people. But for centuries following destruction from the Ottoman Empire, the actual nation of Israel was not even in existence. It was not until 1948 that the modern nation of Israel was even in existence. And it is much different today than it was during the reign of King David, or even the first coming of our King Jesus.
Israel only spans 20,700 square miles and has a population of over 7 million. Of that 7 million, 75% are Jewish and 2.04% are Christian. Less than 1% of the Christian population identifies as evangelical. While there are Jewish people turning to God (and many are from an Eastern European background), Israel still is majority Jewish and the world’s only predominantly Jewish state.
Israel has been characterized by conflict with Palestine since being established in 1948. Wars and fighting have been frequent between these two small nations.
Ways to pray:
- Pray for the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Pray that God would save those fighting, and in turn bring lasting peace that can only come from him.
- Pray that Jewish men and women would see that Messiah has come and fulfilled all that God said he would. Pray they would trust in his finished work, and not in empty sacrifices.
- Pray that Christians would be encouraged in Israel and that churches would be strengthened.
Monday, December 6, 2010
Facing our fears in a biblical way is not an easy task. There are many things that can pull us away from hoping in God. We are in a battle every day, a battle for our souls. In order to fight in this battle we need to be ready.
First, we need to know our Bibles. There are over 500 references to fear and anxiety in the Bible. Granted not all of these references are to sinful fear, in fact many of them say “fear not, I am with you.” The point is that the Bible is not void of help for us regarding our fears. Psalm 24:4 says that “even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” Why does David have reason to fear no evil? Because God is with him. And in Psalm 34:4 David says again, “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” Here we learn that David’s fears are relieved because he sought the Lord and God answered his cry. David teaches us how to find relief from our fears—seek God and lean into him.
Psalm 91 is a beautiful Psalm about the protection afforded to the one who trusts God and makes him her resting place. In this particular Psalm we find promises that God will rescue us in the day of trouble and deliver us from all of our fears. Like so many other passages, David is specific about how God will protect him and deliver him in Psalm 91. David is honest about his fears, but also honest about how he handles his fears. These are just a few of the many references to our hope in times of fear. Read the Psalms. There is raw emotion in the Psalms. They are honest. But they are also hopeful. We see God in the Psalms—and we see his work.
Know the characters of the Bible. Know their lives. Know their stories. It is in their stories that you will see God working even in the midst of great difficulty, pain, and fear. Their stories are our stories if we are in Christ. The Bible is full of rich truths that can guide us and lead us in our quest for godliness. We are not abandoned. We have a God who will be near and who has promised to never leave us.
We need to know the God of the Bible—the one worthy of our hope. The Bible tells us who God is, and it is who is he is that should be a great comfort to us in our fears. Isaiah 35:4 says, “say to those who have an anxious heart, ‘Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God He will come and save you.”Recompense means repayment. This passage is saying that God will repay, God will work for his children. We can trust God because he loves us and cares for us. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “for God has given us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” Here Paul is telling Timothy not to be fearful about his call to lead the church. Timothy was a young man, he was probably inexperienced at pastoring a congregation. So Paul is encouraging him to believe in Christ’s work in his life and believe that God has equipped him for everything he has called him to. God is not a heavy-handed deity weighing down his might on us. He loves us and has not given us to fear.
We can also trust God because he is sovereign over all things. Psalm 115:3 says “our God is in the heavens, he does all that he pleases.” Proverbs 20:24 says that a man’s steps are from the Lord. Philippians 4:19 says that “God will supply every need according to his riches in Christ Jesus.” God numbers our days, he directs our steps, and he guards our lives. He can be trusted with our fears.
Third, we need to confess our fears to God. Philippians 4:6 says “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God.” If he is a trustworthy and caring heavenly father like the Bible says, then he cares about our fears. He wants us to lean on him and hope in him when everything else gives way. We also need to understand that some of our fears are sin because they are unbelief in God’s promises for us. When we seek to control and manipulate, like Sarah did, we are acting out of unbelief in what he promised—and that is sin against him. We might need to confess not only for comfort but also in repentance for our lack of trust.
Fourth, and finally, we need to fear rightly. It might sound crazy after I have talked so much about not fearing. But the Bible does tell us that some fear is not sinful. In fact, it is commanded. Matthew 10:28-31 says, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” The Bible is full of commands to fear God. He is the only one we are to fear. But it is not like we typically think of fear. It is a freeing fear.
Author Carol Cornish describes the fear of the Lord this way:
“The fear of the Lord is a good kind of fear. When we faithfully fear God, all our lesser fears leave us. Christians have been delivered from a terror-type fear of the Lord because God has poured out his grace on us and forgiven our sins in Christ…fearing the Lord involves regarding him with the greatest respect and reverence because we know the greatness of his being. We hallow his name. We don’t live terrified of God but, instead we live delightedly awed by him and drawn to him in love and the deepest respect.”
When we fear God all other fears fall away. Because we know our Bibles, because we know who God is and how he cares for us, and because we confess our fears to him, we can lean on him and fear him rightly because he is a good and faithful God who only wants our good.
Saturday, December 4, 2010
For Thanksgiving we went to his hometown in Findlay, Ohio, just like last year. I made my first pumpkin pie for our family dinner. I have only made pumpkin pie twice so far, so I was really nervous. But everyone liked it, so I think I did okay. We also went out on Black Friday and got a lot of shopping in. I am pretty much finished with my Christmas shopping, which is a huge task to check off. We didn't go out super early, but we were out there at 7 am and felt like late arrivals compared to other family members of mine! Even though we weren't crazy shoppers, we did enjoy ourselves.
Here are some pictures from last week. The first one is from our Black Friday escapades (hence, the lack of makeup). Hope you have a happy Saturday!
Thursday, December 2, 2010
In the last post, we talked about how Sarah faced many situations that could cause fear. But notice what the New Testament says about Sarah.
1 Peter 3:5-6 says, “this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him Lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.”
The context of this passage is on how wives are to live with their husbands, but the even greater context of this book is that Peter is giving us ways to live in light of the Gospel, and in the midst of suffering. In chapter 1 he tells us we have been born again to a living and abiding hope. In fact, the entire book of 1 Peter is about hoping in God—hoping in this inheritance promised to us—hoping in a coming final salvation. What is this living and abiding hope, this hope that enabled Sarah to not fear anything that was frightening?
Hebrews 11:11 says, “by faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised.”
Earlier in the chapter the writer of Hebrews tells us that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
Author David Wells has this to say about a Christian’s hope:
“Christian hope is not about wishing things will get better. It is not about hoping that emptiness will go away, meaning return, and life will be stripped of its uncertainties, aches, and anxieties…Hope has to do with the knowledge of the age to come…Hope is hope because it knows it has become part of a realm, a kingdom, that endures. It knows that evil is doomed, that it will be banished.”
What he is saying is that we have hope because we know the end of the story. Sarah could hope in God because she knew that the outcome was sure. And we can have the same hope. Peter tells us in 1 Peter 1:9 that the outcome of this faith, this hope that God will keep us to the end and make all things new, the outcome of all of this is the salvation of our souls. We will be with Jesus in the end.
So Sarah is praised for her faith, even in the midst of her sinful attempts to control her own situation. How can she be praised as a faithful example? This should encourage us. Here a sinful woman is not only called a holy woman, but she also does not fear anything that is frightening. And we have seen that she faced some pretty frightening situations. How? Because she hoped in God. She believed in the promises to come. The promise that we now have—Jesus Christ. How do we live in a world full of fear and anxiety? We learn to hope in God, like Sarah did, and the way many women before us have. Is it easy? No. Will we fail? Absolutely.
It’s not an easy task. There are many things that can pull us away from hoping in God. We are in a battle, a battle for our souls. In order to fight in this battle we need to be ready. In the next post, I will talk about how we can be ready to fight this battle to hope in God.