I may be talking to two different people today here at my blog.
The first are the normal folks that stop by and read. Well, I call you normal. Who is really normal? I’m talking about the folks that stop by on a regular basis and check out what this blog is all about. I don’t have a normal post today. I’m actually guest-posting for Jon Acuff over at Stuff Christians Like. In case you don’t know who Jon is, here is a picture of the two of us together. He and I met once just over a year ago and now we are best friends. Here is a picture of the two of us last year in Knoxville, TN.
Check the post out. It is totally different from what I would normally write over here. You will see the silly, funny and, hopefully, satirical side of me. Here is a link over to Stuff Christians Like. If my guest post isn’t up yet, Jon will have it come soon.
While you’re there, read Jon’s work. It’s brilliant and you will love it.
If you are tracking back over here from SCL, welcome. I am honored that you would read my post over at Jon’s and check my normal stuff out. It’s normally quite serious. I talk about God and the Church a lot. Throw in some other stuff and there you have it. Please come back again and visit.
Thanks again for stopping by.
Today I have the privilege of guest posting over at Rebooting Worship.
Rebooting Worship is the blog of Jamie Kocur. Jamie is a recovering worship leader. She has led worship for years, yet has reached a time of struggling in her life. She has become a good friend in the Deuceology community.
Please follow this link over to Rebooting Worship and continue to check Jamie’s own postings out.
If you are here because of Rebooting Worship, welcome. I value you stopping by.
I know that most of the time you are expecting a First Church Year post here at Deuceology on Mondays. There’s just one problem. I’m not here today.
Today I’m guest-posting over at The Handwritten, Michael Perkins’ blog. I would appreciate you hitting the link and heading over to Michael’s place. Tell Michael I said hi. Read his blog. Follow him on Twitter. If my post isn’t up yet, go back and check it out. Come back here tomorrow to see the latest, greatest First Church Year.
Jon Stolpe has become a great friend to me and the Deucology blog. He is a great brother in the faith. He is a Christ-follower, husband, dad, son, uncle, engineer, runner, chicken farmer, gardener, saxophone player, operations manager, adventurer, and the list goes on. He also grew from 5’6″ to 6’6″ following his junior year of high school. He felt a bit stretched during that time of his life, so he views life from a stretched perspective. He blogs over at Jon Stolpe Stretched and you should visit him there often. It’s my pleasure to have Jon Stolpe guest post for me today. Take it away, Jon……
I’m Dreaming Of A Stretched Christmas
When Larry and I were talking about guest posting on his blog, he mentioned the idea of tying Christmas and stretching together. The more that I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve come to realize that stretching is actually very appropriate to where I need to be with Christmas this year.
In the hustle and bustle of life, the normal approach to Christmas can simply mean a crazy time of gift giving, holiday parties, shopping, Christmas concerts, and more running from here to there. With two kids in middle school, we have certainly fallen into many of these traps. It seems like we’re always on the go, and Christmas can just become a time for more busyness.
Honestly, I’m tired of it!
I want Christmas to be a time to re-center my focus on what matters – Christ, family, and people. So how can I do this? That’s a great question! I think it starts by being intentional throughout the holiday season. Here are some of my ideas:
- Celebrate Advent. I grew up celebrating advent with my family. Each week, we sat together at the table. We lit the advent candles. We read some scripture that talked about the coming of our Savior. We also used an Advent Calendar. I still remember opening each window and reading a verse or two each day that heightened our anticipation of celebrating Christ’s birth.
- Keep up with family traditions. For me, the traditions that come with the Christmas season are part of what prepares me for celebrating the birth of the King. Our family has a big tradition that comes with setting up the Christmas tree and hanging the ornaments. Every year, it’s the same. We sit around the tree together, we listen to our kids explain the reason for their ornaments (we give the kids one ornament each year that represents a key moment or event from the past year). Baking cookies and making Swedish food is another part of the tradition that knits our family together.
- Find a way to give to others. Whether it’s bringing a plate of cookies over to the neighbors, serving at a local soup kitchen, or giving to the Salvation Army, I believe it’s important to teach our families that Christ came for people. When we give to others, we help point them to Christ.
- Be reasonable in your family gift giving. Let’s be honest, your kids don’t need every last toy, gadget, and clothing fad that is advertised on TV or is in the front display at every store at the mall. Set a dollar amount that you are going to spend on your kids, and stick to it. We have tried to follow another principle in giving gifts to our kids. We get them four things: something they WANT, something they NEED, something to WEAR, and something to READ. Don’t go overboard! When we go overboard, we take the focus right off of Christ and right onto the gifts.
- Learn to say no. This one is the toughest for our family. We have to learn that we can’t do everything. We can’t go to every single holiday party. We can’t buy every single game or gadget that calls out to us as we walk through the stores. Set a budget on your time and money. This is so critical if you are going to feel refreshed and refocused at the end of the Christmas season.
And so, this is where I start with my Christmas stretching experience. I don’t have it all together. And I need to make sure my focus is in the right spot. It’s so easy for me to go through this season on cruise control. I don’t want to do that. I want this season to stretch me, to grow me, and to spur me on towards Christ. And I want the same for you!
How are you feeling stretched this Christmas season? What else would you add to the list above?
Tamara Lunardo, of Tamara Out Loud fame, recently put out a call for folks to send submissions to guest post over at her blog recently. If you don’t know Tamara, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page, or read her blog, check it out. However, I will caution you to be careful if you are uptight or easily offended. What she writes is honest and her style won’t sit well with many normal church-going folks. So you’ve been warned.
I quickly hammered out a piece and sent to her. I sat back and waited to hear from her. And waited. And waited. On Friday, she sent out notifications to all of us who submitted our pieces to her. How did I fare?
I was rejected. Told no. You know, the “Thank you for submitting. I can’t use it now.” kind of email. How did I react?
I could have reacted several different ways. I could have been upset. I could have been angry. Instead, this was my reaction.
Relief. A big “Schwewwwww!!!!” I felt like I dodged a bullet.
On Saturday, I messed with Tamara for an hour or so about not being selected. I told her that I was going to write this post. I think she worried about it for a while. She may still be worried as I write this, for all I know. She shouldn’t be.
I need to thank her.
You see, Tamara, without realizing it, taught me some great lessons through this process. Let me share them.
The post that I sent her was not my best work. The post was blah. It was boring. It didn’t fit what she wanted. It contained a thought that I had been mulling over, but it was really just filler. I should have taken my time and spent more time before I sent it to her. I rushed it.
The post that I sent her didn’t have it. Passion, that is. It didn’t have any heart. It didn’t have, quite honestly, me in it. Not that having me is important. But anyone could have written what I wrote. It didn’t contain one of the things that I think make blogs great. It didn’t have the heart, soul and passion of the writer. It didn’t have me in it.
The piece I wrote was about empowerment. I had been wanting to write a post about empowerment. That’s what I did. And it stunk. Almost immediately, I regretted sending it to her. I quickly began plotting what this post would be like when she did not choose my original.
Tamara empowered a bunch of people, including me, to write guest post submissions. She empowered other bloggers to be creative. She empowered me, by not choosing my post, to write this one.
When it comes down to it, Tamara taught me to not write generic posts. She taught me to write with my own passion. She empowered me to do better. This is what I think the body of Christ does. It stimulates each other to love. It stimulates each other to good deeds. It stimulates each other to better blogging.
For crying @TamaraOutLoud, Thanks!!!! Thank you, Tamara Lunardo.
Has anyone ever rejected you resulting in something positive?
Today, you won’t find a regular post here at Deucology. Hop on over to Jon Stolpe Stretched and check out my guest post. Find out how I’m being stretched in my life. While you’re there, check out Jon’s posts. Jon is a new friend who loves the Lord and challenges me on a daily basis. One of the amazing things I have learned about him is that he was 5′ 6″ when he began his junior year of high school. Now he is 6’6″. Get to know him. You can also find him on Twitter at @jonstolpe or at Jon Stolpe Stretched on Facebook. Happy reading.