Sunday, December 16, 2007

Kids, Carols, Candles, and a word from God

I'm beginning to write this on Sunday night and asking God to give me the words to convey my heart to you. I told someone at church tonight that if you could split me down the middle in two parts, I would be 1/2 happy, and 1/2 lay down on the floor and cry for 101 reasons.

Tonight at church, we had our annual Carols and Candles service. This service is my favorite service during Christmas. I grew up going to it on Christmas eve, but our church has communion on Christmas eve and this service is the weekend prior to Christmas. And, I absolutely love what it does for my heart and to my heart. I think.

I instantly had a lump in my throat from the very beginning.

We began to get ready for the service and I decided that I wanted peace among us as we left the house and entered the sanctuary, so I told all 3 boys that they didn't have to "dress up" for the service. And, that went over very well to say the least! So, we pull into the parking lot and the first family I see is all decked out and I instantly second guess my decision. However, I knew we were probably going to be sitting in the balcony because we were late getting there and maybe noone would see us! :)

And, then my mind began swirling all around (for a split second) the opinions we all have based on what we wear to church. And, I grew up getting dressed up for church and there were no casual service or jeans in church. But, I've become more casual with myself and my family as we head out on Sundays. But, my point with this thought was not about me but about the man, woman or child that cannot have nice clothes for church. What if they want to come into church but don't feel as if they "look" the part so they do not. That breaks my heart. So, now I begin to pray for a place for everyone to find God and worship with Him. I will show reverence to God and give Him my best. But, my best should be found in my heart. And, that is exactly what I asked God to do. Purify my heart Lord and let me come before you to worship and be only with you.

Ok, moving on to what was inside the beautiful sanctuary tonight. As we headed upstairs to the sanctuary I proudly sat with my family right smack in the middle, looking down to see the full choir, the orchestra and musicians in place, and God's house filled to the rim!! WHAT A SIGHT! Right then and there, God fell on my heart and into my mind and I couldn't get Him to let up. He arrived with much to say over me during that 45 minute service. Oh goodness. What do you have to say Lord?? My heart was prepared and once I focused my mind, I heard so much from Him. This is where we started.....

As I looked around at the people sitting near me, I could see many things.....I was HIGHLY entertained by a precious 3 yr old boy who used his candle as a microphone to jam out to some of the very grown up songs. I saw him also use this same candle to try to look through it like a telescope or something. And, then the highlight was him sticking the candle up his nose for all the boys around to giggle and laugh. Even this mother. He would say out loud in the hush of the service..."Look Mama!" I truly love all these moments as a bystander and not the mother. I wonder if momma was sweating buckets over there with that precious boy who reminds me so much of my Dylan?!

I saw families who deal with anniversaries of the death of loved ones in the month of December. I wonder how their heart felt during that service and I prayed for each of them to experience another level of God's healing and mercy. When you put the church body together, you can look around and see much that has taken place in their personal lives. Our own Sr. Pastor lost his mother just this past week and his dads death was 2 yrs ago on Sunday. December can be a very difficult time for so many. I felt that emotion come over me with each reading of scripture and each magnificent song. I prayed for God's presence to touch each families life in that new and loving way that only He can do.

I got teary eyed as my finger followed along the words to some of the traditional Christmas hymns and my sweet 7 yr old son sang his heart out. He sang with true joy. I had flashbacks of my mom holding the hymnal down for me as a child and using her finger as a guide so I could follow along. That moment can take you back for a second as you see yourself all grown up and you have been given the beautiful gift of children to grow, love, and teach them about Jesus.

My oldest son sang and that made me so happy. He truly followed along with every word, song and prayer. It was beautiful for me to see him participate and not be "too cool."

I saw families of many generations come together during this Christmas season. I thought of the future when my boys come home at Christmas and what that relationship will be like and look like. I will pray daily for their futures. I don't want them to fall off this safe path they are on now. The world has not hit them yet. Oh, Lord, may their hearts and minds be set firmly on Who you are and Your desires for their life.

And.... now the end of the service and the lighting of the candles and the dimming of the lights.....

Ok, crying! You see, this is a very tender part for this momma's heart.....the beauty of the church and its families, the children carefully holding their candles waiting for their turn, realizing again that WE are the light of this world and we pass that light on to each person we know....our families first. We sing the beautiful song, Silent Night, and tears begin to roll down my face. I can't help it. God has come in and showed me many things tonight.

Jesus came as a human. The WORD became flesh to dwell among us! That hit me fresh and new. He came for me, for you, for all of us. I pray that each person in church REALLY knows the daily-ness of God. I pray that when we leave the church and shine our light brightly, others will be drawn to us and we can share Jesus with others. He is the perfect gift. I pray that you spend some time reflecting on Him, your family, and your prayers for the World, His kingdom and your role.

I was blessed beyond words at our Carols and Candles service. I allowed Him to come in and reveal things to me that I might not have seen.

Do that between now and Christmas. Ask Him to reveal new things to you. Feel Him in places that you should and then places that surprise you. Wherever you find yourself this Christmas, spend some extra time seeking Him in these new places.

Have a wonderful day my friends! Thank you Jesus for coming to dwell among us.....first as a baby and now in our hearts. I love you~


BethAnne said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful service. We had our Christmas drama this weekend - its a huge deal for our church. It is a retelling of the Christmas story from Jesus birth to resurrection. I cry every time - I plan to blog about it later. Thanks for listening to and sharing what God is revealing to you. We all need a word from Him.

Lindsee said...

Loving your precious heart!

And about the clothes, I feel the same way. I too have been more casual and at first I felt so wrong for wearing jeans to church (even though I'd dress them up!) but I had to realized it's all about my heart anyway!

Thank you for the reminder, I hope your family has a wonderful christmas!


thouartloosed said...

Such a beautiful description of your service!

connorcolesmom said...

Don't you love when God just comes in close and whispers things in your ear. It sounds like you and He had such a time together - what a blessing!
I am so torn on where to go for Christmas this year but I know that where ever we go God is there and He is the focus!
I just love you Fran and I am so thankful for your sweet self!!
God bless,

Ang baylis said...

Just wanted to stop to say Hi, Fran!
Merry Christmas!
Angie xoxo

Given Grace said...

Thank you so much for sharing your heart. What a precious time!

I learned so much about "what we wear to church" when I was on a mission trip to Mexico. The women would come to service in things we would send to goodwill, torn, mended but usually the only dress they had....but they came to worship Our Saviour and worship they did! As we sat in their "garage" church, with one light bulb strung across the building, I wept! I wept for what we have turned going to church about. It is so not about what we wear or what church we attend. Thanks for your great post.

p.s. we all ended up leaving every dress we had brought...our beautiful friends cried as did we! We are blessed to bless others.

marina said...

Just stoping buy to say thank you for you words of kindness. I was touch by your words,have a Merry Christmas.marina
PS. Where do you fine those cute christmas pictures to put on your sight?? I ask my graddaughter I am a step- grand mother,to put Donny Osmond for me when I was talking to Linda at 2 cups of coffee but each tiem I post he Donny still keeps coming up and I don't know how to stop that.

CrownLaidDown said...

Praying over you today, sweet Siesta, Fran!
Much love,

Kelly said...

Off the subject from your blog - but are ya'll moving houses or towns?
Either way - good luck in your moving. We moved at this time of year last time we moved. It was pretty hectic.

Kristin said...

Sounds like a great service! I so love this time of year and all the songs that are so familiar as a child, but take on a new meaning now that I'm older and truly understand the significance of Jesus' birth, and what he came to do for me. Being able to identify with Mary's emotions as a mother and wondering if she truly understood that she was kissing the face of God just brings tears to my eyes. It truly was an awesome night and we have such a huge responsiblily in teaching that to our children. Thank you for your great words and the reminder of what this season is truly all about!

Patty said...

What a beautiful post from my beautiful friend! This truly touched my heart. The church I have been visiting has a candlelight service at 11:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve and ends at midnight. My friend and I were talking and she said I just love being at church at midnight, starting Christmas at church and I agree with her. You know what I have been facing this season and as I am older and my boys are older and the situation as it is causes me to reflect on Christmases past and the faithfulness of God and how He truly has provided for this single mom and her children. It hasn't been easy but what fun would that be?! My boys have great hearts and hearts that don't reflect on the gifts. I am blessed with how God and I have raised them. I would like to tell you that I appreciate more than you will ever know, the prayers you have prayed for us and that God answered our prayers today. I know that He is still working in this situation and it has been hard but I have truly felt the prayers and there is no gift this world could offer me that would top the prayers of my friends! Thank you!!!

Alana said...

One of my greatest joys is to see my little ones sing praise to God! Richie really belts them out, too. Love it!

Merry Christmas!

Bev Brandon said...

Cannot believe that I have not left you a comment and I must have read this same post FOUR TIMES...I always feel so invited into your heart intrigued by the God you are always dealing with and allowing Him to pour out His Beauty through you. I struggled so much over my lifetime with feelings of being left out and wanting so much to make a difference. What I see in you is a huge heart to grab hold of what's on His Heart and move into people's lives. You care about people and it so shows up everywhere I see your words. You touch my soul very deeply Fran! Just love you so much. Gotta go find that wristband and send it to you so I can meet you someday!

He Knows My Name said...

fran, sounds like a beautiful time with the family. doesn't it seem like when we can just put away all the junk like how we are looking for others approval or expectations he meets us in a more deeper way. He is faithful. those boys sure sound great. God Bless You. ~janel

Shonda said...

What a beautiful experience with the Lord. He allowed you to see things He sees and lead you to feel what others feel. I pray we all experience that more as then we can truly love one another more as He loves us. May you and your family have a Merry Christmas!

Blessings in Christ--

Lisa said...

Hi Fran!
I wanted to stop by and check out your blog since you came by mine. :) I have to say, this was a BEAUTIFUL post. I LOVE your insight into what was going on around you at your Christmas program...and I know it was God speaking loudly and lovingly to your heart. Insights like that can only come from Him!
Lisa :)

Toknowhim said...

I also loved your post, and how it is so amazing that all of that can go on inside of us at one service. I loved how you prayed for those that lost loved ones, what a wonderful thing to do for our fellow sisters and brothers in Christ. Blessings to you and Merry Christmas.

If you get time before Christmas stop by my blog, my fifth week of my new meme is up...

Profbaugh said...

Hey Fran,

I wanted to come back and comment on this after we had our own Candles and Carols service. Although our churches are probably pretty different (no dress clothes at our church--ever. . .even at Christmas. . we're very, very casual), our experiences with Christ during this time are so similar. And isn't that the cool thing about Him? That no matter where we are very small casual church or big formal church we can experience Him in such amazing ways. My heart is so tender just thinking about Him right now.

A belated Merry Christmas to you Fran!!


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