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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Journey to Christmas: Knowing Our Need

Keller UMC
Unfortunately, I haven't been able to make it to church at all this Advent season. I'm grateful that my church posts the full-length sermons online, so I've been trying to listen to and reflect on them (I'm a little behind, but that's just how it goes sometimes). So, I thought I'd share some of what was included in the sermons, as well as my own thoughts and reflections on them.

Advent is a season of preparation. It is a time of celebration, preparation, and anticipation. Christ has come, He is present in the world today, and He will come again.

Knowing Our Need (11/27/11)

We must consider what it might look like to really think of ourselves as clay, in the hands of the Master Potter. He is an artist, seeing something fantastic in the lump of clay that we are. But, it's a process / journey to be molded from a lump of clay into a beautiful finished piece... a masterpiece.

Each year, the birth of Christ is to be experienced as a real (rather than just a memorial) event - the birth of Christ can mean new life in Christ, if we allow it to. Christmas-time is a time to remember that God is still at work in our lives - He is not done with us. Each year, He forms / molds / shapes us in new ways, slowly transforming our lumpy clay-ness into a beautiful masterpiece.

But, even a Master Potter needs good clay. We must be ready... ready to allow Him to shape us. Sometimes, we find ourselves too hard, dry, rigid... believing that we're okay the way we are and don't need work - OR - too soft and wet... believing that we're too busy and/or think that we're not good for much of anything (not worthy). Thankfully, God is willing to work with anything. Even if we are too hard or soft, we can never get to a point where God is unwilling to work on us. But, we should try to make ourselves ready for Him to shape us.

We have a need to be molded / shaped, but we must realize / recognize that we both deserve and need God to shape us... to change us. We must know that there's a need to change, and then really believe and expect that something really will change. When you assume and expect nothing to change, not much changes.

Especially around the holidays, our lives can get so busy, distracted, and chaotic that we forget where we were going; but God doesn't want us to "just get through it," He wants so much more... but we have to be ready.

"Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you! As when fire sets twigs ablaze and causes water to boil, come down to make your name known to your enemies and cause the nations to quake before you! For when you did awesome things that we did not expect, you came down, and the mountains trembled before you. Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember your ways. But when we continued to sin against them, you were angry. How then can we be saved? All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and have given us over to our sins. Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. Do not be angry beyond measure, Lord; do not remember our sins forever. Oh, look on us, we pray, for we are all your people." (Isaiah 64:1-9)


Stay tuned for Part II (Knowing Our Preparation) of "Journey to Christmas"

My First Cyborg-iversary

© 2010 Jamie Valendy.
One year ago, today, I had a neurostimulator permanently implanted. My family and I had such high hopes that the stimulator would be the answer to our prayers - to help me better control my chronic migraines... leading to a more 'normal' life. Unfortunately, the stimulator hasn't helped as much as we'd all hoped for and expected (including my doctor).

I don't regret having it implanted, but I wish it provided more relief than it has. When I had my stimulator trial (a few months before the permanent implant), I was able to do a lot of things that I couldn't do before (including eating / drinking trigger foods / drinks, spending time outside in the sunlight without wearing sunglasses, etc...). I haven't really been able to do much of those things, since then. We're not sure why it seems less effective, now that I have the permanent one - it even baffles my doctor.

I think the stimulator has made my 'good' days better, even if it may or may not have decreased the intensity / duration / frequency of my migraines. Just the simple fact that it's made my 'good' days better makes it worth keeping. So, I'm definitely not ready to give up on the stimulator. My doctor and I will keep adjusting things and trying to get it to work as well as possible for me.

My experience with the stimulator has also given me some great opportunities to come into contact with some great individuals - sharing with them a possible way to help treat their chronic migraines. It's been great to be able to share my experience with others, and to make some great friends along the way.