Finding stability in the shadow of the spectacular (John 12:9-19)

A few nights ago I was able have the value of “mother” reaffirmed to me loud and clear.  Leigh-Ann was participating in a ladies night out and I was participating in a Daddy’s night with the girls.  Everything went smooth for the first five minutes.  I had put some noodles on the stove for Mac and Cheese and walked away only to hear them screaming that it was boiling over.  Shortly after this incident, I was cutting up some vegetables for soup and Alexa wanted to help.  This is a dilemma….there are never enough daddy nights, and she certainly knows how to get at my heart, so within moments I cave into the pressure and under very careful supervision allow her to help me cut up the vegetables.  As you can imagine, there are certainly more sensible activities for my six year old than handing her a knife and allowing her to help.  Quicker than you can even imagine her hand and my knife formally met, and this is when things really began to digress.

I have certainly seen bigger cuts in my lifetime, however it did draw blood and that opened up a hydrant of tears.  Fortunately, I kept my composure and we went upstairs to find the band-aids.  In the meantime Alexa is holding a piece of toilet paper on her finger bawling her eyes out.  The interesting thing about this “mishap” is that the tears came in waves.  Everything would be okay and then all of a sudden it sounded like I had the knife out again.  For the next two hours things would find some sense of order and then all of a sudden “my finger huuuuuurts.”

In order to get some kind of order in the house I had both girls sit on the stools at the counter while I finished my soup recipe.  Just as I could feel a wave of calmness passing over the room, out of the corner of my eye I saw something moving at light speed….Sophie, my three year old’s arm had collided with a full glass of water that hit the floor and shattered.  Wet glass was everywhere.  “Don’t move!”  My mind is racing as I imagine mommy walking in the door to see bloody footprints and fingerprints all over the house.

It was at this moment with vegetables, water and broken glass strewn all over the kitchen that I realized that I had to do something about the clean up.  The ONLY solution I could think of was the shop vac.  And boy did it work good…I felt like I was operating the machine on Cat in the Hat.

What baffles me most about this whole evening is the range of emotions that we all experienced within seconds.  We went from laughing and smiling to screaming and scared.  As I think more about that evening, I realized it is just like life on fast forward.  Normally there are minutes and days in between the highs and lows of our emotions, however that fateful night it was merely seconds.  This experience of extreme emotions is documented in the Scripture passage for this Sunday, in John 12:9-19, we call the “Triumphal Entry.”  Within a few days Jesus will drive the roller coaster of the people’s emotions from the highs of waving palm branches and shouting Hosanna to the lows of watching Roman Soldiers pound nails into His hands and feet.  I hope we can each learn some practical lessons to help us “Find stability in the shadow of the spectacular.”

I hope to see you in the service on Sunday.  We have an exciting service planned that will strengthen your heart and challenge your level of spirituality.

Merry Christmas!

Troy

Wisdom through the holidays (John 12:1-8)

Since Christmas will be here before you know it, I want to dedicate this e-mail to sharing some wisdom in regard to family times during the Holidays.  There are a few things I have learned by experience this past week with my in-laws in town:

Pressure creates diamonds – the more difficult the situation the better you will be as a result.  Embrace the pressure to have everything ready perfect and on time (please notice that this is dripping with sarcasm).

Late is not great – if the family is waiting on you for dinner, even an accident on I-70 will not be a good enough excuse.

Safety first – never, ever leave your father-in-law alone in the car in a dangerous neighborhood…you can ask him for more details…

Respect the expected – A GREAT last minute idea that disrupts everyone’s plans never ends up GREAT.

Never choose the restaurant – This is a lose-lose scenario.  Absolute perfect service and food is always expected and even the smallest fault will find its way back to the source….”Whose idea was this anyway?”

Don’t ask dumb questions – Like, “have we taken you down to the Plaza to see the lights” (especially when the answer is “yes, for the last 8 years…”)

Learn to love the broken record – Patriots…Red Sox….Celtics….Red Sox….Patriots….Patriots….Tom Brady…..Randy Moss….Patriots….Patriots Defense….Playoffs….Red Sox….Patriots….Red Sox…..Celtics…Patriots….Ok, I’m dead!

Thank God for all His blessings – It may sound like I am digging out of a hole, however, I am VERY thankful for the family that God has blessed me with and this season is a great time to express heartfelt appreciation for those closest to us.  I am EXTREMELY grateful for Leigh-Ann, Alexa, Sophia, Pepper and every other family member (especially my in-laws) and friends.

I am wishing you the very best this Christmas Season.  It is our privilege to remember the story of Jesus coming to earth.  Just as the Apostle Paul said, “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15)

This Sunday we will have the opportunity to worship God through our prayers, singing, communion and application of the sermon from John 12:1-8.

In the Spirit of Christmas!

Troy

Christmas trees and our rationalizing ego (John 11:45-57)

Last night at approximately 9:05pm I made a monumental decision for our family. I made the decision to exchange our Christmas Tree. This was not easy! As I pondered the reverberating affects that this will have on my ego, our family and any person that comes through the doors of our house for the next month, I realized that I had no choice but to get a different tree.

Here is the context….on Monday we loaded up and drove all over eastern Jackson County looking for the perfect tree. We went to a nursery and couldn’t stomach spending $100 on a tree. Then went to Westlake and didn’t like the selection. From there it was out to a tree farm to cut our own. This was going to be fun….so we walked all over the fields having fun….because I said we were going to have fun. The girls were freezing and coughing but since I said this was going to be fun…we had fun! That is, until I realized we were not going to find the “perfect tree” for the perfect price. We found a few we liked, but again they were all about $100…(think of all the children we could feed for $100 ).

There had to be another option. We went to another nursery and then stopped at the Boy Scout tent…and found the perfect tree….for a very good price. Problem…no one was there to take our money. How can you have Christmas Trees for sale and no one there to take the cash? Oh well, by this time we were tired and ready to go home, but we still did not have a tree. We ploughed on ahead…another nursery and finally back to Westlake. Alexa and I went to the bottom of the pile (since all the good one’s are on the bottom) and found the perfect tree. It was the right height, dark green (spray paint always helps), very full and cheap. We were pumped! I jammed it into the back of the mini-van….yes, the mini-van (Yet another reminder that I don’t have a truck and that I am now middle-aged with kids).

When we unloaded, I found my hand-saw and burned my way through about one inch…the saw kept sticking and my arm was getting sore. So I found the hammer (the hammer always makes me feel better) and chisel and took off the excess and sawed some more…finally, I had made it through the tree trunk. It was at this time I began to see flaws in this perfect tree. The most obvious was that it had a serious case of scoliosis…the stem grew totally our of kilter.   It took us forever to get it to stand up….I finally anchored it to the window with fish string. One more little problem…one side of the tree was full and beautiful….the other side looked more like it had a terminal illness.  Of course, I stayed in denial for several days.

I will just admit it now that from the very beginning, Leigh-Ann said we should take it back. Naw…it will be fine I said….it needs some ornaments, lights, water and love. Maybe if we play Christmas music (classical of course) it will straighten up.

So last night, I finally was willing to admit that I picked a delinquent tree. Rather than stare my ego in the face every time I walk in the door, I will do the right thing and return the tree. The decision is monumental because of all that it communicates….I was not careful in choosing…I noticed imperfections soon after returning home before we even brought it into the house and IGNORED my gut feeling to return it…I made excuses that are all invalidated (if that is a word) by my choice….Leigh-Ann was right-UGH!

This Sunday we will discover that there are situations that are far more serious than the one mentioned above that need to be addressed in each of our lives. For days, months and often years we have rationalized a way to “do Christianity.” We have more often than not “been doing it all wrong.” As we take a microscopic look at John 11: 45-57 we will have the opportunity to learn from those who had it all wrong. If you think about it, as you pray for the services on Sunday, you can say a prayer for me that we will find that elusive “perfect tree” tonight.

Merry Christmas!

Troy