Friday, December 25, 2009

Joyful and Triumphant

I just finished reading a blog where the girl was talking about how she just can't seem to get into the Christmas spirit.  She was saying how when she was little, it was so easy to get excited about every tiny detail and all the magic Christmas had back then.  And I will admit, that as an adult, I have to make a conscious effort not to get overwhelmed with all the extra "to do's" and to set aside time to focus on my Savior.  Her writing made me so sad by the end- because she really couldn't figure out why the ornaments and parties and music weren't making her feel in the "Christmas mood".  I read this girl's blog from time to time, mostly b/c she's so different from me and she loves to be controversial.  I feel like it's good for me to get a different perspective sometimes, and she can actually be pretty funny.  But I remember reading on her site about a month ago where she definitely bashed conservative Christians- so I'm assuming she does not put herself in the Christian category.  I don't mean to sound judgmental, but by her writing, it was pretty obvious that she was glad not to be in that category- so I think it's safe to say that I wouldn't offend her.  Anyway, it just made my heart heavy for her.  Why would we expect people to get excited about Christmas, if they don't believe in the purpose behind it?  The shiny wrapping paper and cute gingerbread houses and Christmas carolers do give me a warm, cheesy feeling- but only because there's something so much bigger behind it. 
Every year, it seems like there's a different Christmas song that really speaks to me.  Although "O Holy Night" will always be my all-time favorite :)  This year I've loved "O Come All Ye Faithful".  The phrase "Joyful and triumphant" hit me the other day- as if I had never heard it before.  I know we're supposed to be joyful- although I wouldn't say that we usually convey that to others very well.  But triumphant- I love it.  That His victory is our victory.  It would make the daily grind easier to go through, if we lived triumphantly.  Here are a few of my other favorite lyrics- that help me get into the Christmas mood :)

"Long lay the world, in sin and error pining,
Til He appeared, and the soul felt its Worth. (love that)
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn."
(O Holy Night)

"Oh what a precious promise,
Oh what a gift of love;
The waiting now is over and
The time has finally come.
For the God who made this world
To roll back the curtain
And unveil His passion for the heart of man.
Oh what a precious promise,
Lying in a manger in Bethlehem."
(Precious Promise- SCC)

(This next one is amazing- every lyric is so good so I couldn't help but put all the words. This song has blessed my heart so much this season.)
"In the first light of a new day, no one knew He had arrived.
Things continued as they had been,while a new born softly cried.

But the heavens wrapped in wonder,knew the meaning of His birth.
In the weakness of a baby,they knew God had come to earth.

As His mother held him closely,it was hard to understand.
That her baby not yet speaking, was the Word of God to man.

He would tell them of His kingdom,but their hearts would not believe.
They would hate Him and in anger,they would nail Him to a tree.

But the sadness would be broken,as the song of life arose.
And the First born of creation,would ascend and take His throne.

He has left it to redeem us,but before His life began.
He knew He´d come back not as a baby,but as The Lord of every man.

Hear the angels as they´re singing,on the morning of His birth.
But how much greater will their song be, when He comes again to Earth.

Hear the angels as they're singing,on the morning of His birth.
But how much greater will our song be, when He comes to rule the Earth."
("In the First Light")

And my favorite verse this year has been John 1:14
"And the Word became flesh, and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."
Full of grace and truth :) What a comfort that we can rest and know what grace and truth really are, in a world where that is such a rarity. Merry Christmas! What a beautiful Savior we have.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

the Haser version of a Christmas letter

I used to be really dedicated to writing down in my journal all my favorite strange stories that happen at Woodlands- at least for the first year or so that I worked here. I haven't done that lately, and it makes me sad b/c they're so fun to go back and look at :) So here's one I want to save so I can look back and laugh later :)

We had a bunny rabbit donated to the Activity Room (it only lasted a few days before someone else decided to take it home- but that's another story). Anyway, so we were introducing our sweet new long-earred friend to the residents, and it just happened to have the same name as one of the residents. After a while of sitting there quietly, this lady- who can get quite cranky and bossy at times- said,
"Joy, I don't appreciate you naming that cat after me."
I explained, "L, I did not name the animal. And besides, it's not a cat, it's a bunny."
"Well, what's the difference between a cat and a bunny?"
I didn't really know where to go from here.

OK, now onto the purpose of this blog. I reached my goal of finishing all of our almost 40 Christmas cards this year on December 1st!!! Not super impressive, but I do like to write a few sentences to each friend/family to personalize it- which is more time-consuming than just signing our names- so that makes my goal sound a little less lame :) At least, I thought I accomplished my goal, until we received a few cards from people that we didn't have a card for- and now we need to add a few more names to our list. And there were about 3 more people that I somehow had forgotten that we just added. But, as for the original list, I did finish on time and can therefore mark that off my list :) Next year I may even try to make some of our Christmas cards- like the adorable ones below.

It also made me start thinking about how fun it would be to write one of those Christmas update letters. You know the ones- from families who are incredible overachievers and outrageously motivated and accomplished- so they have a lot that happens throughout the year tell everyone else about. I am not in any of those categories for sure. I realize some people do live very far away from all their loved ones, and this is their only way of keeping everyone up on what's new in their lives. But it made me think, "What the heck would Nick and I write about?" And then it made me laugh. Here's a list of some things I think would be in our Christmas letter :)

Dear friends and family (most of which we see at least on a weekly basis since Huntington is so small),

2009 has been an exciting year at the Haser home!!
-We have attended enough weddings this year to almost average out to 1 per week.
-Joy racked up about $25 in fines at the library (at a rate of 10 cents per day, this is pretty impressive.) But thanks to free fine day in November, she got it all cleared for free!!!!
-Copper has only torn up 4 sets of window blinds this year.
-Nick has hardly received any speeding tickets in '09. And the points on his driver's license used to be in the double digits, and are now down to about 4!
-Joy has left her entire set of keys hanging overnight in the keyhole of the front door only twice this year.
-We've decided that when April 2011 comes around (after Nick's 30th bday), we'll start talking about the idea of having a baby. Maybe. Possibly. This does not mean we'll begin trying. Let me be clear- this is just when the discussions will start.
-Neither of us ran out of gas while driving this whole year- yes!!!

Maybe when we have kids or move away from Huntington, then we'll have more exciting stuff to write about and will understand this whole Christmas letter concept. But this is all I got for now :) Merry Christmas from the Hasers!!!

(One last note: I was getting ready to write my Christmas card to Oswaldo and Christine, when I found out that Christine is no longer one of my World Vision children :( WVision wrote and told me that her family moved out of the area that WVision works with, and they have no way of keeping in contact with her or supporting her anymore. I'm so sad that I will no longer be able to correspond with her or know how she's doing. But now they sent me a new child to sponsor in her place named Merete from Ethiopia- so I'll try to write him every 3 months since I can't contact Christine anymore. It still makes me a little sad that I won't know how she is- but I'll just rest in knowing that her heavenly Father loves her more than I could even begin to, and I know her future is in His hands.)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

May you be covered in the dust of your Rabbi

I was just thinking how much I love not only reading about Jesus in the Gospels, but also about His disciples. How real and imperfect they are, and yet, God still chose them to be His followers and left them in charge of spreading His message to the world- of changing the course of history. This is such a random post, but I was just thinking about stuff and had to get it out of my head. I was thinking about faith today, and what it is that makes me so confident in my beliefs. And one of the main things that encourages me is the reaction of the disciples to Jesus' death and resurrection. The change that occurs from Friday to Sunday is incredible. After Jesus is crucified, every disciple is devastated, heartbroken, and left full of questions- wondering if this man they gave up their lives to follow is really who He said He was. These men hide out- and are frightened for their lives. Despite all Jesus had been trying to explain to them, they still didn't get it- they had no idea what had happened or what to do.

But after those 3 days, it's a completely different story- and it fires me up!!!! These men who, just days before, were cowardly, spineless, doubting- seriously go out ready to take on the world, ready for anything!! There is no other explanation for this- except if they truly encountered Jesus after His resurrection, and realized He meant what He'd been telling them everyday for 3 years. What else would cause such a 180 turnaround?? To the extent that they would all (except 1) be willing to die a horrible death? What would inspire such a reaction- unless they were completely convinced that Jesus is the Christ? These men spent every moment with Jesus the 3 years of His ministry. EVERY MOMENT. I can maybe fool people for a few hours that I've "got it together" or that I'm a "good person"- but what about every waking moment for 3 straight years? Had Jesus been a fraud, these men would have known. And why would they have been willing to die a martyr's death for a lie? Jesus was the real deal. And these men whose natural, human reaction is to first run away and hide- they realize what Jesus is calling them to. And they dive completely in. I try to just imagine it, and I'm overwhelmed.

I love Rob Bell's perspective of the disciples. That these men were what he calls the "not good enoughs". These men hadn't "cut it" to be rabbis- many of them were fishermen, just learning the family business. To become a rabbi back in the day, all Jewish boys started out memorizing the Torah. Then, only the best of the best went on to study and memorize the rest of the Old Testament. Seriously, that's insane. Then, the best of these, would approach a rabbi and ask to be his disciple. If they were chosen, they followed their rabbi around everywhere. They wanted not only to know what the rabbi knew, but to also to become like that rabbi. These young men would leave behind everything in their lives, to devote themselves to becoming like their rabbi. And, as you can imagine, after following around your rabbi for the entire day on dusty roads, the disciples are covered in the dust from their rabbi's feet. So there was a saying, "May you be covered in the dust of your rabbi."

Then Jesus comes into town, and He choses these B team guys to be His followers. These young men who hadn't been good enough to "make the cut" and to be a rabbi. And this is who Jesus chooses to be His followers- which is so cool :) Because His movement is for everyone!! He knows I'm not the smartest, that I don't have the best memory, that I'm overly emotional, and terrified of speaking in groups, and can be incredibly moody and selfish at times (the list could go on for a long time, but I'll stop)- and despite that, He still asks me to follow Him!!
Here's some awesome words from Rob Bell:

"The rabbi doesn't chose you unless the rabbi believes you can do what he does... What if we can actually be the kinds of people God created us to be? What if He believes that? What if He actually believes that we can be the kind of people who live like Jesus lived? The kinds of people who take action because we're aware of all these endless opportunities around us all the time for good, for beauty, for truth? Jesus has faith that you can follow Him and be like Him."

What an honor. He seeks us out, and asks us to come and follow Him. And He truly has faith that we can be like Him. May you be covered in the dust of your Rabbi.