26 December 2009

Lifted up and thankful. A postscript on Christmas.

I explained to a friend just a few weeks ago that it feels as if I am being lifted up by the Lord right now - possibly by the scruff of the neck - as my feet continue to run in place. It's been a time of "live right now in this moment - and listen to what happens" as opposed to my "Scooby Doo" lifestyle (a play off the words "go.be.do" - and one of many nicknames my hubby uses to describe me).

What has living in this moment looked like so far? Of course, it's included food - cooking and baking for others in the midst of celebration and pain. It's included sitting in the backseat of my own car so someone else can enjoy the best view of the Christmas lights in heated seat comfort on a cold Oklahoma night. It's included redefining birthday celebrations to ensure amazing people aren't forgotten. It's included coffee with someone who won my heart before she ever knew my name. It's included finding lap blankets in just the right colors to make wrinkled faces light up. It's included weeping with a stranger who longs to adopt children abandoned and alone, and holding a friend who feels as though she's the abandonded one. It's included smiling more and laughing more and being a little more quiet. It's included praying - because there's always time to pray.

What have I heard in the midst of the moments? "You would have missed this had your feet been touching the ground."

The go.be.do. list is still full. And should the Lord allow, there are some very exciting things in store for 2010. There's much writing to do. There's a language to learn. There's design magic ready to happen. There's school to attend. There's a business to launch. There are orphans to help. There are friends to love. There's a family to cherish. And there's skydiving mixed in there somewhere. Whatever gives Him glory...

Perhaps the best quote of the season this year came from my "cup of coffee" moment. Posted on her blog, http://thesimplypeachy.com/, it cuts to the core of my heart. I'm thankful for a God who so passionately loves me. I'm thankful for a the grace of a Saviour, the hope of the Christ, the peace of our Lord. He is life in my veins.

“I’m tired of being a skeptic, I’m irritated by spiritual prudence and I feel bored and parched by empirical debate. I don’t want to hear it anymore. I couldn’t care less about evidence and proof and assurances. I just want God. I want God inside me. I want God to play in my bloodstream the way sunlight amuses itself on water." -Elizabeth Gilbert

12 December 2009

A letter for you. Yes, you.

Every year, I craft a Christmas letter full of updates and pictures. This year, the letter included in our seed paper cards (yes, I did say seed paper) is a bit different. Warning: there is an invitation included in the text. If you read it, I do ask that you prayerfully consider it. We've received a few requests, but to be perfectly honestly, I'm praying there are at least a few more.


Amazing, isn’t it, that you would be receiving a Christmas letter so early! Even if you’re not big on the whole “holiday letter” thing, I do ask that you read this one, because you’ll be answering my prayer when you do!

I would write on and on about all the amazing things that have taken place this year at CasaRock, but I wonder how much would sound like every other year. We work, we play, we are blessed to get to minister and travel some and spend at least a little time with friends and family. With others, we’ve walked through the absolute joy of new life, and have walked through the painful yet hopeful journey of death. We’ve been inspired and challenged to take risks and grow, personally and professionally. There are amazing days and boring days, all edited together into a perfectly imperfect life. Gosh, I love that imperfection, because it reminds me of how precious and beautiful life is when it’s wrapped up in the Lord’s grace and mercy.

OK, so I guess I’d better get back to the whole “you’ll be answering my prayer” part of the letter, shouldn’t I? Perhaps it’s because of that imperfectly beautiful life we’re living, or perhaps it’s because I celebrated a milestone birthday; maybe it’s because I’ve spent more time than ever with the fatherless and forgotten, or maybe we’re just tired of feeling guilty about throwing away used wrapping paper, but Brad and I have decided not to celebrate Christmas in the traditional sense this year. Rather, I’ve dubbed this season “Christ-giving” – beginning the week of Thanksgiving and continuing on well beyond Christmas Day. You see, we’ve been blessed beyond measure. We’re rich in what counts, and we’ve got more than enough to get us by. So, we are not purchasing Christmas gifts for each other this year. In fact, if our family and close friends agree to it, we’re not purchasing gifts for them either – because at the end of the day, we all have everything we need and more besides. Instead, we invite you to help us do something different.

Tell us about people who could really use a gift this year.

The person could be someone in your neighborhood or at your church – a single mom struggling to put food on the table, or a family fighting to keep things afloat due to a medical crisis. Maybe someone needs a warm coat or a home-cooked meal. Gosh, maybe someone just needs a kind word and a smile, or a cup of coffee and a listening ear. And if that person is you, that’s OK too. Just send an email to givechristmas@gmail.com, with some details. Don’t worry - this is a private email account, and the emails will be kept that way too.

We certainly don’t have a ton of resources to share, but I keep being reminded of lyrics to a Hillsong United tune, “I know I’m filled to be emptied again, the seed I’ve received I will sow.” So, we’ll do what we can to help all we can. We’ll wrangle others to help us if needed (if you’d like to be “wrangled,” let me know). And we’ll definitely be praying for each and every person, because we believe in and have witnessed its amazing power. In fact, it’s prayer that got us to this place in the first place. We’re not that “holy” or cool – we’re just convicted to look at things in a fresh light.

I realize I’ve not been completely honest in saying we want no gifts this year, because we would like one gift from you, our family and friends. Time. Nothing would give us greater joy than to simply spend a little time with you – enjoying a good meal or relaxing on the boat or taking in the sights on a roadtrip or talking till the wee hours of the morning. We know physical time can be tough, so whether it’s in person, by phone, via email or chat or Skype, or in a real paper letter, we’d love to live just a little more life with you. We want our “Christ-giving” to last throughout the year. So let’s put something on the calendar, in ink. Seriously.

I’ll close with a commentary written by Matthew Henry – it’s about Isaiah 9 (you know the scripture even if you don’t read the Bible: “Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace,” the inspiration for “Hallelujah Chorus”).

(Jesus) was born for the benefit of us men, of us sinners, of all believers, from the beginning to the end of the world. Justly is He called Wonderful, for He is both God and man. His love is the wonder of angels and glorified saints. He is the Counselor, for He knew the counsels of God from eternity; and He gives counsel to men, in which He consults our welfare. He is the Wonderful Counselor; none teaches like Him. He is God, the mighty One. Such is the work of the Mediator, that no less power than that of the mighty God could bring it to pass. He is God, one with the Father. As the Prince of Peace, he reconciles us to God; He is the Giver of peace in the heart and conscience; and when His kingdom is fully established, men shall learn war no more. The government shall be upon Him; He shall bear the burden of it. Glorious things are spoken of Christ's government. There is no end to the increase of its peace, for the happiness of its subjects shall last forever.

It’s our real, gut-level prayer that you will get to know Jesus. He’s more than a baby in a nativity scene, and He’s more than a name used at the end of prayer. A lot more.

A most merry and joyful “Christ-giving” season to you.

Ronne (with a hearty endorsement from Brad)

P.S. If you want to keep up with our comings and goings, you can find us on Facebook and on Twitter (@LoveWriteCook and @bradleykrock). And if you’d like to read about the journey of a gal who loves to tell stories, you can find my blog at http://christstumbler.blogspot.com.