Grace: A perfect and free gift

Amazing diversity.  Love this place!

I did have a laugh the other day when I was talking to my husband about this blog.  I’ve blogged so much about my child’s struggles with ADHD.  You only need to cruise around my blog posts to see there may be some adult ADHD happening.  I think I know exactly who he got it from. About one year ago, a sweet lady nominated me for a ‘Verstile Blog’ award.  Really I just think, ‘Adult ADHD blog’ award.  I don’t think I could focus on one topic even if I tried. My friend suggested I go into special education consultancy work.  She said I should create a blog specifically for special ed.  That’s just so funny.  There’s no way I could stay focussed on the one topic.  That’s how scattered and busy my brain is.  Before I’ve  finished thinking about one thing, I’m already considering something different. Versatile indeed! We will go with that for now.  Now onto my post, something entirely different to what I was just writing about.  Stay with me.

I wanted to write about something very important to me, grace. You can receive grace, greet people with grace, be saved by grace, be strengthened by grace, filled with grace, share grace, parent with grace, be gracious. The list goes on.  But it suddenly dawned on me, what actually is grace? We hear this term used often.  Christian or not, it’s used often.  It is used over 150 times in the New Testament of the Bible alone.  Some people call the Gospel in the Bible,  the Gospel of Grace.  We assume we know what it is, using the term, but do you actually know what it means? 

I’ve enjoyed exploring the Bible, articles, podcasts etc in trying to find out what grace means.  My favourite example of grace was in a podcast sermon about grace.  Imagine you were speeding and a policeman pulled you over.  Grace would be to not only let you off with warning (that would be mercy), but for the officer to then give you money to fix your broken headlights.  In light of this example, the meaning of grace is a free, unmerited gift.  The grace of God is the free gift of salvation to the undeserving because of our sin. You can then understand how the Gospel can be called the Gospel of Grace.  It’s the story of God’s free gift to everyone. It has nothing to do with people’s good works, it is free undeserved goodness.  Now that I’ve got this understanding of grace under my belt, I’ve now got to work out how to parent with grace. Oh my, watch this space. That’s if I can stay focussed on this topic long enough.

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True meaning of Christmas

Who would have thought I would learn the true meaning of Christmas whilst pacing my hospital room in absolute agony on Christmas Day.

Living in a place where Christmas is seldom celebrated, takes my usual Christmas experience to a different level.  There are many Christians living here, but if any of the hotels put any decorations up or celebrate Christmas in anyway, they lose their Kosher licenses.   This means that they would no longer be able to serve food to Jewish people.  In the holiest city in the world, it is a struggle to find a shop that sells anything Christmas-like.  You do have more of a chance of seeing Christmas in Bethlehem, not Jerusalem.  The materialistic feel of Christmas certainly vanishes  when you are in Jerusalem.  There is no Christmas decorations up around and definately no Santa around the shops.  So basically, Christmas is all about what you make it.  We worked very hard to share the true meaning with our kids, and make it a really special time.

How did I find the true meaning of Christmas in my hospital room?  There certainly wasn’t any Christmas decorations around the hospital, or staff wishing me a Merry Christmas.  3 days after my surgery, I was having intense pain.  I felt like I was in 2nd stage labor for 8hrs straight.  The pain was about 3 times as bad with no breaks in between the contraction-like pain and NO pain relief worked. None! I’m annoyed thinking back that no one came to assess me and work out what was going on because if they would have taken one look at me they would have realised I had some kind of blockage. After 8hrs of enduring this pain, my husband arrived, helped me into a hot shower, then prayed for me.  I was still in intense pain, so he went to ask for more pain relief.  While he was gone, my pain completely disappeared.  I didn’t even have a niggle of pain.  God had healed me. Joel was shocked when he returned to find me painfree, as was the nurse.  I was in total awe. I believe it was in that moment that the true meaning of Christmas was revealed to me.  I know Christmas is a day to celebrate the birth of our saviour, but it’s not just that.  It’s a day to celebrate the birth of MY saviour and MY healer.  The best doctor and healer ever.  I will never forget this.

Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem

I love Christmas.  I especially love it now we have kids.  Preparing the house and our hearts during Advent brings much joy and excitement.  But each year there is the challenge to focus on the real meaning of Christmas and not get caught up on other worldly symbols of Christmas.  We took the opportunity to buy a Nativity scene from Bethlehem made out of olive wood seeing Bethlehem is just down the road.  We love it.   It has taken central focus in our house.  As a trial for this Christmas, we have sent Mary and Joseph on a journey to Bethlehem.  During the night they get up to all sorts of mischief while the kids are sleeping.  When the children awake, they hunt to find Mary and Joseph and see what they got up to last night.  The idea is inspired by ‘The Elf on the Shelf’ and ‘Dinovember’.  I wanted to use the Elf of the Shelf, but put a Christian spin on it.  As a result, every morning the children are talking about Mary and Joseph, Bethlehem and the Nativity scene.  I feel like mission has been accomplished.  I’m hoping I don’t run out of ideas.  We attempted using a chocolate advent calendar.  This has been disasterous causing all sorts of fights and arguments.  We have gotten rid of it as it was giving the wrong meaning of Christmas (chocolate and fighting).  I’ll attempt to make one for next year.  How are you keeping Christmas ‘real’?  Below are photos from the journey so far. I hope you enjoy them as much as we did.  Excuse the poor quality of pictures, the night lighting doesn’t work too well with the Iphone camera.

The most restorative holiday

I have decided the Sea of Galilee and Nazareth are by far my most favorite places.  It’s where the Bible comes to life, without the added tension of Jerusalem.

Even travelling around the sites with three small children, Galilee and Nazareth never fails me.  It’s such a wonder to see all the stories of Jesus’ ministry come to life.  Where he was born, where his parents lived, where he fed 5000 are just a few of the stories you can see unravel before you.  I’m totally in awe of the gift of being able to live just a short few hours away from such a reflective and restorative place like this.

Where is your restorative place??