Saturday, December 25, 2010

You Might Be a Redneck If...

Well, it’s Christmas 2010 and the Keane family is off to partake in our annual Christmas family tradition, Waffle House and a movie. Yes, you read that right. The tree is already down, the decorations back in the attic and we are ready to get back to “normal”. Now, now before you start judging I know that Waffle House and a movie on Christmas day are not normal, but it’s normal to us. I’ve been told that I might just be a redneck if my Christmas family tradition continues. My kids and I have decided that we like being rednecks.

Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo with Growing Families International taught me long ago the importance of family identity and family traditions. It creates a sense of unity for the family and one thing they have always told me is that your children’s desire to give in to peer pressure is only as strong as your family identity is weak. I don’t always do well at building my family’s identity throughout the year, but Christmas is one thing we have down. We have never done Santa Clause. It initially started out as a financial decision. How could I teach my kids to ask Santa for what they wanted, knowing that I couldn’t hardly provide food on the table at the time, much less what they asked Santa for so I decided I would forgo Santa. As the years went by I was really glad that I had made that decision because Christmas for us really has become about Jesus. I think that if I hadn’t been in the financial situation that led to that decision I could have easily given in to the way the world does Christmas. That is not to judge anyone who does do Santa with their children. I think it is fun. I just know that where I was at the time of that decision for me, I would have easily forgotten about Jesus and focused on Santa. Anyhow, I explain that to you to help you understand what our Christmas looks like. This morning in particular, I was the one jumping on the beds trying to wake everyone up. In years past, Christmas has not been about lots of presents for us, so I don’t have little ones coming in at 5:30 in the morning dying to open up gifts. In fact, Ben, my 9 year old came in my room about 5:30 after going to the restroom. I said “Merry Christmas, let’s get everyone else up to open gifts”. He simply said “Nah, let’s lay here and snuggle for 30 more minutes”. Normally there are 2 or 3 small gifts under the tree for each of my children, and they have always come from other people. God has always provided for us through families and friends that are close to us. This year was a little different, but the kids didn’t know that until this morning. You know, it’s amazing how God provides for us through our financial obedience to him. Although my finances are no different than they were last year, I had more than enough to provide Christmas for them through unsuspecting gifts from some very unsuspecting people. I probably went a little overboard but I really just wanted to reward them for the young men that they are becoming. With all of the struggles that my family has had, my boys are truly amazing. We have been doing some intense training and discipline over the last several years and they are bearing much fruit from the process. They are all thriving in school, making good choices in friends and many other areas, and the way I watch them treat others is simply remarkable. They are far from perfect but they are working hard. I wanted one Christmas to be overwhelming for them. I think this one was. I have learned from years past however that, even if my financial situation changes, I will not allow consumerism and overspending to ever become a part of our Christmas tradition.

So that is where Waffle House and a movie come from; cheap food, cheap entertainment and a family tradition that will always be a part of who we are and what we do on Christmas. Happy Birthday Jesus!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

LORD Give Me Your Eyes

I am not sure why songs keep hitting so close to home lately. I have sung them countless times, however, now I realize that I have sung many of them without ever actually hearing the words. I am not musically inclined but I do like to listen to music. Recently, I have enjoyed even more, God speaking to me through music. This is living proof that God can speak to anyone in whatever matter He sees fit. Today it was Give Me Your Eyes by Brandon Heath. It was more of an observation in hindsight rather than a new revelation but just as thought provoking. It’s always stimulating when God shows up.

I met with someone over the weekend that I have probably spoken one sentence to in the last three years. Our relationship has been very strained and even volatile at times, for various reasons. There has been some bitterness and anger that just won’t seem to release itself from this situation. Before our meeting I prayed that God would allow me to see this person the way He sees him…

Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing

Give me your love for humanity
Give me your arms for the broken hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me your heart for the once forgotten
Give me your eyes so I can see

…and He did! I walked out of our time together different than I had walked in. God came through and allowed me to see someone that had been wounded and marred by some decisions that I had made many years ago. He allowed me to see what I had been missing all these years. All I had been able to see were the things right in front of me; the decisions being made, the words being spoken, the names being called. For a brief moment, I saw a small portion of what God sees. I don’t think he revealed the vast magnitude of how he truly sees us. I am certain our human emotions could handle it. What He did reveal however caused my heart to break. I pray that this will be the beginning of a healing process. I also pray that God will continue to allow me to see the rest of humanity the way that He sees them so that I can love them the way that He loves them.

Here is what I know about this particular situation. None of it would have been possible had I not CHOSEN to step outside myself and my own needs and forgive first. God doesn’t carry unforgiveness. In fact, he gave us the solution to it. It is impossible to see others the way that God sees them if we are harboring unforgiveness, no matter how much we pray for it. You see, unforgiveness when left unchecked turns to bitterness and everything we see or do is clouded by the gripping hold it has in our hearts. So, if you are ready to see the world the way that God sees it, check yourself for unforgiveness and ask God to show you how to forgive. I can tell you that you will not feel like forgiving, but when YOU CHOOSE to, something supernatural happens and before you know it, you are set free from the grip of bitterness and slowly but surely you begin to see the world through the eyes of a Savior and not the eyes of unforgiveness and bitterness. Soon you are able to see what you have been missing and love a humanity the way that God loves!

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