Really Relating

LIFE, LOVE, AND THE RELATIONSHIPS THAT MAKE IT ALL MATTER

A Christmas Hangover 12/29/2009

Filed under: Christmas,gift,gifts,Hangover,holidays,Jesus,manger,mayhem,mommas,mothers,Traditions — Vickey Banks @ 9:57 am

 

Can you have a hangover if you don’t drink alcohol? Because I think that’s what I had the day after Christmas. Yeah, A Christmas Hangover, that’s what I’m calling it. I woke up at 1:00 in the afternoon!!!

I can hear all you mommas of young children now, groaning with glee at the mere thought of sleeping past 8 a.m., much less past noon. Mothers everywhere will attest to the fact that somewhere along the way, Christmas has become a lot of work for us. The shopping for food and presents, decorating, wrapping, goodie preparation, gift delivering, party hosting and attending, Christmas card crafting, stocking stuffing, and endless attention to creating and carrying out traditions…makes you tired again just thinking about it, doesn’t it?!

Even when we’re trying hard to focus on the manger, it’s easy to be worn out, if not sidetracked, by the mayhem. So, what’s a momma to do? Here’s my personal Christmas List for next year:
  
1.     Start early.
2.     Keep it simple.
3.     Thank God everyday for the gift of Jesus.

Please feel free to remind me of what I just wrote, in case I start to get caught up in the fog of it all. I’d hate to miss seeing Jesus through the haze of activity. After all, He is the gift we’re supposed to be celebrating.

Merry CHRISTmas,
Vickey


Really Relating 
How do you keep the mayhem to a minimum during the holidays?
Please, do share your tips with the rest of us!

 

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O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree! 12/24/2009

Filed under: Christmas,Christmas Tree,Decorating,Memories,Story,Tradition,Traditions,Tree — Vickey Banks @ 1:52 pm
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, Much pleasure doth thou bring me!
   
Decorating our family Christmas tree has long been a favored Christmas tradition in our house.  I loved the way my son explained why when he was just six years old, “I like to hear the memories.” he sweetly said.
  
I knew exactly what he meant then, and I still feel the same way over a decade later. Every year, when I lift the lids off the boxes of ornaments, I could swear that I hear them talk! Even if carefully holding them in my hands didn’t prompt a memory, each ornament has a written description of who or where it came from, as well as what year we added it to our eclectic collection. When we carefully unwrap them, we remember “their story” and are transported back in time.
  
As I hold the tiny teddy bear sitting in the rocking chair, a smile spreads across my face as I remember my first Christmas as a mommy. Construction paper chains and pinecones piled high with glitter also flood my heart with memories of my chubby cheeked children dancing about my feet. Other handmade creations take me back to sitting side-by-side friends and family, laughing hard as we painted, sewed, cut and pasted our own masterpieces. And, as over half of the ornaments are from my Mom, I cannot help but be touched by the realization that her hands once lovingly chose and wrapped them with us in mind. I lightly kissed each of hers before prominently placing them on the tree this year.
  
And the trips we’ve taken! There are seashells, starfish, and a sailboat, all testifying to sun-kissed times at the ocean. Miniatures of the Lincoln Memorial, St. Louis Arch, Eifel Tower, and even a Pinocchio from Italy take me back to places we’ve played.
  
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree…you do make my heart smile. Thank you for the memories.
  
Really Relating 
What is your favorite Christmas tradition is and why. I can’t wait to hear!
 

Everywhere I Go 12/18/2009

Filed under: Everywhere I Go,Mother,Reminder — Vickey Banks @ 2:36 pm

Who do you see when you look into the mirror?
  
Me? I see my Mother.
  
Every morning and every night, when I look into bathroom mirror to wash my face, brush my teeth, to put on or take off my make-up, I see her. First, I see her beautiful smiling face atop the Obituary that someone laminated on pink paper and sent me. I keep it taped to my mirror. Is that morbid? I never think of it as an Obituary. Never read the words actually, although I’m the one who wrote them. I just like to see her picture everyday, smiling back at me. She looks so happy, and that makes me smile. And when I smile, well that’s when I see her again. In me.
My mother is in me. Always. Everywhere I go.
  
My father says I have her perfect nose. I love that and I love that my son has it too. I have her figure, her walk, and the sound of her voice. Her smile is my favorite feature that we share. She gave me an appreciation for beauty and keeping family close. And she passed on her maniacal love for all things Christmas to my daughter.
  
Although I’ve been a walking reminder of my Mom to people my whole life, the older I get, the more I see and hear her in me. I love that now, more than ever.
  
I love that I take my Mother with me…everywhere I go. 
  
Really Relating 
Who do you take with you? What personally traits and passions have you picked up from others? How has knowing them made an impression on who you see in the mirror? I’d love to hear!

 

Communication 12/15/2009

Filed under: Communication,Facebook,Friends,God,Technology,Twitter — Vickey Banks @ 6:59 pm


“Twitter? What’s Twitter?”
“It’s a form of online communication.”

“Like Facebook?
“Kinda.”

“I don’t do Facebook either. Should I be doing Facebook?”

There we were, a small group of long-time friends, supposedly enjoying an evening out together. Except that one or another of our cell phones kept ringing, somebody was showing their daughter’s senior pictures that were newly posted on Facebook, and someone else was checking her Twitter feeds.  All while my friend Christi was trying to figure out if she was missing out on something because she’s not addicted to her cell phone or hooked up to blog, Twitter, or Facebook! The quizzical look on her face was priceless.

I’ve often wondered if all this new technology was truly helping or hindering our communication. Are these great tools that help us reconnect with old friends actually keeping us from genuinely connecting with those sitting next to us? Do we really need another “form of communication?”

Fortunately, God tells us in Psalm 139 that HE understands even our every thought from afar – that He knows our each and every word before it leaps from our lips or finds it’s voice through our fingertips! Apparently, we communicate with Him even when we’re not trying to do so! God is getting our messages. Loud and clear.  Real time. No sitting around waiting for Him to notice some blinking light or un-clicked message. No lost in cyberspace until He takes a few moments to look us up online.

Whether we think it, sing it, say it, or put it on paper, He gets every single one of our messages – no matter how many of us are talking at the same time, in multitudes of ways and languages. Scripture assures us that He completely comprehends what we’re thinking, feeling, and meaning…even we don’t understand ourselves! He gets us. 

Now that’s THE form of communication we all need.

 
Really Relating 
How does knowing that God gets you (your thoughts and feelings) make you feel?
What is your favorite way of communicating your thoughts and feelings to Him?
 

Fighting Mad 12/11/2009

Filed under: Cancer,Christmas,Jesus,Passionately Pursued,Satan — Vickey Banks @ 11:55 am
I knew I was getting sick when I went to bed Monday. Drainage in the throat, head clogged up, couldn’t breathe, etc. By morning, I felt I’d been pummeled in a prize fight. Since I’m dealing with my Dad’s Cancer and Christmas – the most UNnormal of situations, I dragged my heavy head to the Doctor.
  
Explaining that although I was clearly contagious, the Dr. refused to write me a prescription. She said it was TOO EARLY in the stage of my cold and it wouldn’t help yet! That is when I lost it. Seriously. I couldn’t quit crying, blubbering on about not being able to expose my Dad, blah, blah, blah. Talk about embarrassing. I’ve dealt with chronic pain every day of my life for years. Fought grief and it’s accompanying depression with a maniacal vengeance. Painted a smile on my face when I wanted to drop kick my Father’s Cancer and Chemo. But…I cried because the Doctor wouldn’t give me a Z-pack!
  
Confident the Dr. surely thought I was an absolute nut case (and that I probably was!), I was hanging my head all the way home. Defeat written all over me. That’s when I remembered something Jesus said,
  
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. 
 I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 
      Jesus, John 10:10
   
Normally, a hopeless romantic like me would be flattered over the idea of being fought over…but not like this! Thinking about Satan coming after my family and I immediately changed my mood. I got mad. I popped up my hanging head and said aloud in my car, ”Leave me alone! You can’t have me!” 

Call me certifiably crazy, I don’t care. But know this: you too are being passionately pursued. God has a full and abundant life planned for you, one where there is hope even in the midst of madness. But slimy Satan has something far more sinister in mind. Let’s keep our guard up and our fighting gloves on. Let’s not let him take the life that is rightfully ours.
  
Really Relating
How is Satan messing with you? What has helped you to fight back?
 

Deeper Still: Ode to Kay 12/08/2009


What do you want to be when you grow up?

I know exactly what I want to be. I just saw it in action last weekend at a Deeper Still conference in my hometown. No, I don’t want to be the precise person I saw living out my dream, but please, oh please God, can I just be like her?

Kay Arthur. Think Women’s Bible Study and she has to come to your mind, the founder of Precepts International – the champion of Inductive Bible Study, colored pencils and soul-searching questions. She is tirelessly working around the world to teach people how to discover and apply God’s Word to their own lives.

A collective gasp resounded around the room when she said she was 76 years old. Looking sassy in her blonde hair, designer jeans, and fabulously fun jackets, she was asked how to age gracefully. Are you kidding, I wanted to scream! Sure she’s still “painting the barn” (her reference to taking care of herself) beautifully, but the IMPACT – the life-altering, destiny changing, international impact she’s making absolutely defies the imagination!

The photo montage of her ministry was a study in a wide variety of countries, cultures, and ages touched, while the decades of fashion pictured spoke of the 31 years she’s helped others personally apply the Bible. I loved that, but I was even more captivated by the fact that she’s still going strong! Still working every night, she couldn’t even answer a question without the Bible falling out of her mouth. With uncharacteristic candor and a tenacious addiction to studying God’s Word, she has altered and paved the way not only for modern day Bible teachers like myself, but also for students of the Bible everywhere.

Most people tire of the “job” that often defines them, but Kay is still hungry to go ever deeper with God. Still studying, eager to currently handle and accurately divide each and every book of the Bible! And so, to the Kay Arthurs, Elisabeth Elliotts, & Henry Blackabys – to all those who’ve gone before us, studying late into the night to wet our appetite for God’s Word…thank you again and again.

As I listened to Kay teach, I couldn’t help but mentally calculate: how many years before I’m 76? If I choose to go deeper still with God, what kind of impact could I make???


Really Relating 
What teachers have most impacted you? How have they done so?
How would you most like to impact others, and how can you best do so?
 

Compassion in Action 12/04/2009

When the Lord saw her, his heart overflowed with compassion.
  
He was walking in and she was walking out. That simple fact rearranged her world. Her story is recorded in Luke 7 of the Bible, and it never ceases to move me to tears. It’s one of the most compelling examples of compassion in action that this world has ever seen. While He was Jesus, the living breathing Son of God who was somehow walking around planet Earth on a pair of human legs, the Bible simply refers to her as The Widow of Nain.
  
When the Bible says He “saw” her, it implies that He knew her pain like in such a way that He actually experienced it Himself. That’s powerful! And the word “compassion” doesn’t mean he just felt sorry for her. It’s from the Greek, meaning to have the bowls yearn, to feel sympathy, to pity, to be moved with compassion.[1]
 

As I’ve read and listened to your beautiful responses to my last blog post, Legacies in the Making, I was reminded of her story. Thank you for reminding me of Jesus. He is our premier example of what it means to truly care for another. Just as He walked over to the coffin of the Widow’s son and miraculously brought him back to life, He sees our painful situations today and moves to resurrect hope within us. And, since He’s turned in His human arms and legs, He’s allowing you and I to be His hands and feet to others.
  
Thank you for all the ways you’re touching the lives of those around you. May we be so cognizant of God’s overflowing love and compassion for us that we can’t possibly keep it for ourselves! May we be compelled to extravagantly pour it out on someone else. You’ve inspired me this week. Thanks for sharing your stories with me. Keep ‘em coming. A girl can never have too much inspiration!
  
Really Relating:
What is the kindest act of compassion someone has shown you?
Who do you know that needs you to be God’s hands and feet today? What can you do?

[1] Strong’s Greek and Hebrew Dictionary, PC Study Bible, CD ROM (Seattle, Wash.: Biblesoft, 1997).
For more on the Widow of Nain’s encounter with Jesus, see the Bible’s Luke 7 or my book, Sharing His Secrets: Intimate Insights From the Women Who Knew Jesus (Multnomah Publishers, 2001), p 34-55.