Tom was baptized at church today! As some of you may know, this was long in coming. ;) I have to hand it to him, it’s not an easy thing to stand up in front of a large church and to be broadcast on a ginormous screen giving your testimony (mine was when I was 16 at a tiny Baptist church, thank goodness). But Tom was amazing, and I am so proud of him for publicly acknowledging his faith and obeying God’s call to be baptized.
Tom’s BIG screen debut
“Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” 2 Cor. 5:17
I know, it’s a couple of days after Easter, but oh well. I needed to update this lonely blog though, seeing as how I haven’t posted since February! :-\ But not all is ignored, I’ve been spending a lot of time designing a website for my new photography business. It’s www.tamaraleigh-photography.com (don’t forget the dash!) if you want to check it out. I also have a facebook page you can “like”…if you feel so inclined. ;)
Aaaanyway, we had a wonderful Easter. My parents were able to be out here for the holiday, so it was great to have some family to share it with. We started the weekend off with a Good Friday service at our church where we sang classic hymns, took communion, and reflected on the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. It was full of appropriate solemness and introspection…perfect for what Good Friday is all about. We then attended an Easter service on Sunday, where the reflection turned to joy in the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. The service was amazing, I have a snippet to share when, at the end of the service, short testimonies were shown on cardboard. I’ve seen this done before but it’s always an emotional thing to witness.
After that amazing service we went out to brunch at the Hyatt where we ate ourselves sick and the kids enjoyed Easter festivities. I put together a collage of the kids in their Easter best…because that’s just what a photographer like me does. :)The top left photo is of C resisting a kiss from E. I’m also realizing C’s tie was out of whack the whole time…blame Tom. ;)
This past Saturday our family had the task of filling 2 shoeboxes from Operation Christmas Child, buying 2 pairs of pajamas for our church’s “jammie drive” (of which my kids are excited to wear their pajamas to church…with my excitement stemming from the fact we might actually make it on time that Sunday), and filling a paper bag full of holiday food items for the church to make free Thanksgiving and Christmas meals for those in need. I was pretty excited to take this moment to teach my kids about giving to the poor, particularly kids their age who have nothing. So, we headed to Target and filled up their boxes with some toys, hygiene items, mittens & hats, and a few school supplies. The kids loved it…although it was a bit of a challenge to keep them on task when we reached the toy department. ;)
I think what was most exciting for me this year is a changed perspective on what Christmas *should* be about (see previous post too). I am suddenly sensitive to the Christmas commercials that tout the idea that everyone should get what they want this year, not what they need. Granted, it’s all about profit for retailers so the ads should not surprise me. But it does make me cringe a bit, considering we are still in a recession and there are people in other parts of the world just thankful to get clean water or a bit of food in their tummies. I think too that my church’s sermons lately on our “treasures” has gotten me thinking A LOT about wants vs. needs. It’s funny because some of the impetus behind these sermons is to build up support for some church expansion, but I am finding it all too appropriate for the holiday season as well. Ultimately all we have belongs to God, so why is it so hard to unclench our fists and give?? I’m thankful for a pastor who is willing to convict and remind us that, as Christians, our treasure is in Heaven and not on this earth.
It’s that time of year again. The time where you realize Christmas is just around the corner and (gasp) you need to save up money for Christmas presents. Admittedly, that is generally my way of thinking…presents and decorating before giving much thought to the reason we (Christians) celebrate Christmas. It’s funny, because I don’t think of myself as one who “forgets” that Christmas is about the birth of Jesus Christ. I mean, we go to Christmas Eve services at our church, we read the Biblical “Christmas Story” to our kids, and there is always a nativity scene proudly displayed in our home. Isn’t that enough?!
I thought it was enough…until I saw the movie“God Grew Tired of Us” (seriously, this is a must watch documentary if you want a better understanding of the horror that is happening in Sudan, and it was produced by Hollywood peeps…surprisingly). In summary, the movie follows the Lost Boys of Southern Sudan, Christian men oppressed and threatened with death by the Northern Sundanese (Islamic) Government. They are forced out of their homeland to wander parts of Africa, often settling in refugee camps that offer very little in the way of good farmland, clean water, and food sources. The movie follows a few of these Lost Boys as the American Govt. offers to relocate them to America in an attempt to better their life. In one scene (and one that has stayed with me), a Lost Boy ponders the celebration of Christmas in America. He wonders, why is there a tree? It’s pretty, but how does it represent Christ’s birth? And of course he’s also confused by the giving of gifts and consumerism…once again wondering what any of it has to do with Jesus Christ. I was deeply convicted by this. He could have easily been talking about my focus, and I was ashamed.
And THEN, I get an e-mail yesterday from Gospel of Asia, which had a link to a video from “Forgotten Christmas” (incidentally, if you go to their website there is an opportunity to get a free Christmas catalog where 100% of the funds received from it go to help those in need). Knowing that just 1% of the 460 BILLION that is typically spent on Christmas consumerism could give clean water to everyone in Nepal, Sri Lanka, and India, really gives me pause.
Here’s the video:
Pretty convicting, especially for those of us who are Christians.
I’m still thinking of what Christmas will look like for our family this year, but I can tell you it will not revolve around gifts or shopping malls. I’m even hesitant to put up a tree! And I would love to see the money we would normally spend on presents and decoration go to a worthy cause, to reach those who have yet to hear about the true meaning of Christmas. I’m going to pray about all of this because, honestly, I love Christmas. I love the decorating and the shopping. I have given in to the hype for a long time and it’s hard to re-wire my thinking.
I pray it becomes clearer to me as Christmas gets closer. I know I’ll likely start here though.