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Monday, November 22, 2010

Advent Season - Jotham's Journey

Did you know Advent season begins this coming Sunday?  It falls every year on the first Sunday following Thanksgiving. If you have no idea what Advent is, or need a refresher course—click here: The Christmas Advent Season.

Did you know each color of the candles in an Advent wreath represent something different? Does your family pay attention to this part of the Christmas season?

We didn’t.

Sure, we've heard a few teachings from pastors over the years, but we've never been inspired to do anything more. This year, our pastor shared how his family of six recognizes the coming birth of Christ and celebrates the beginning of a new Church year in his own home.

We were inspired.

They say, imitation is the biggest form of flattery. So, we’ll be Advent copy-cats this year and follow his family’s lead. I thought I’d share what we're doing with all of you, just in case you feel the desire, like our family, to create a new family tradition and make this Christmas season even more God- honoring.

Beginning this Sunday, we will light a candle and read nightly devotions from the children’s book, Jotham’s Journey. I've included an excerpt below:

Over and over Jotham screamed for his family, but there was no one to hear him. They had vanished. He was alone. Where had they gone? How long ago had they left? Through quick, stabbing sobs Jotham told himself, "I must look for my family, I must search until I find them." And so his journey begins. In this widely popular, exciting story for the Advent season, readers follow ten-year-old Jotham across Israel as he searches for his family. Though he faces thieves, robbers, and kidnappers, Jotham also encounters the wise men, shepherds, and innkeepers until at last he finds his way to the Savior born in Bethlehem.

Written as a devotional for parents to read to their children during Advent, Jotham's Journey unfolds day by day until the exciting climax on Christmas Day. Each day's installment of the story is followed by a short devotional which will challenge your family to share in Jotham's discoveries.

Recommended for ages 4 and up.

Softcover, 168 pages, with introductory notes and ideas for celebrating Advent

Head over here and get your own copy of Jotham's Journey today. There's still time!

Does your family celebrate the Advent season?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Are You a Blessing or a Burden?

The ref blew the final whistle and parents on our sideline cheered our victory—Paul and I cheered for a much different reason. The last day of soccer season is a joyous day for my husband and I, and last Saturday was no exception.

But, before we could get too excited, there was still the team party to attend. I’d printed off a coupon that would give us two large pizza’s for $20.00.

Unfortunately, when my husband made his way through the long line of families at Mountain Mike’s Pizza parlor, he was told by the gal at the register, “You’re total is $38.00.”

“What?” Paul was taken aback, and I was beckoned with a head nod and a fast wave of his hand.

“I thought you said this was going to be only $20.00 Joanne?”

“Oh no. I left the coupon in the car.” I told him, already trying to head toward the parking lot.

“Don’t bother getting it. Do you see how long this line is? I am not about to make all of these people wait for us.” He replied angrily.

It didn’t help matters when five hours later we were at the grocery store where I’d thought we were eligible for a free turkey. When the clerk charged us for the turkey and explained how I’d confused the deal they were having, my husband was fit to be tied.

As you can imagine, I was not having a very good day and neither was he. When we discussed the incidents later, I apologized and he shared, “I’m having a hard time seeing where you helped me today. You are making mistakes that create a financial burden for me. I know you didn’t do anything intentionally, but these kinds of things are happening a lot, Joanne.”

He was right. Lately I wasn’t focused on ways I could help him. Sure, I kept the house picked up and made his lunch from time to time, but how was I intentionally trying to make his life easier?

The truth was, I wasn’t.

And the LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone.
I will make a companion who will help him."
Genesis 2:18 NLT

God’s Word tells me I was created to be not only Paul's friend, but that I was designed to be a help to him as well. When Paul shared how I had created a burden for him, I felt terrible. And, I admit…there were a few tears. He is my best friend. I want his life to be easier when I’m a part of it, not more difficult.

It got me to thinking, how can I be a help to him? As his wife, I shouldn't be his burden-maker, I should be a bearer of his blessings.

I thought I’d share a few ways I’ve learned to be a blessing instead of a burden to the man God intentionally created me for.

  • Follow-Thru.  I have quite a few to-do's on my housework list. Many of which I've shared with my husband; organize our closet, clean out our pantry, clean the bonus room, go through the kids old clothes. It's time I became a woman of my word and began to tackle a few of those tasks. After all, he was thrilled when I organized our silverware drawer. I'm sure he'd be elated to discover his socks all in once place again.
  • Focus. Quite often I give my husband only one ear when he's talking to me. It's frustrating for him to share a story when I ask him to repeat himself over and over again. Focusing on what I'm doing also helps me to remember coupons in the car and read the fine print about turkey sales at the grocery store.
  • Find.  Find ways to help. Now, each morning I try to ask, "What can I do to help you today?" You'll be amazed to discover how much your husband appreciates being asked this question.
  • Fill. My words can be life-giving when I fill my mouth with inspiration and encouragement. There is nothing more taxing on a man than a woman who nitpicks and complains. I need to fill my husband’s ears with those life-giving words.
  • Fun. When Paul wants to relax and have fun, I want to be who he thinks of first. For fun I take him out for a coffee date, walk up and surprise him with a kiss and a cuddle, or leave a sticky-note somewhere on his office desk at home. I’ve even surprised him with ice cream and a movie in bed.

So many families today are struggling to keep their financial heads above the rising economical tide. It is no surprise that it's one of the biggest stressors in a marriage. Whether your husband is sensitive to finances in your home, a new job situation, or is just over-worked and stretched to his limit, you are his helper, the one God created to stand shoulder to shoulder and carry the load together.

How about you? Is there a way you can bless your husband today?