“Delight is the most useless of things.
It doesn’t get the house clean or the bills paid.
Useless–like rainbows. Like Beethoven’s Ninth.
Delight…It finds excuses to ooze all over the place…
It asks different questions than duty.
Duty says, ‘I should.’
Delight says, ‘I want to.’
Duty is efficient.
Delight tends to anything but…
The Bible in entirety is a love story,
a tale of unquenchable delight–
His for us,
finally ours for Him.”

{andree seu peterson, the uselessness of delight}

i do so many things out of necessity. and very few for pure delight. but our Christmas cards are for delight. mostly our delight. except for the addressing them. though even with that i enjoy thinking about each family as i write their address. praying for them if i know of a prayer concern. remembering good times with each friend on our list.

i delight in hearing back from so many friends. seeing their cards. a facebook message. an email. a yelling across the grocery story. whatever form it takes. delight.

i delight in the fact that my kids enjoy the Christmas card. the process of getting it done is tedious. but they like to hand them out to friends. and show off previous years.

it is the one thing i do well. choose one thing and do it well. i chose Christmas cards. perhaps i should have chosen exercising. parenting. being a great wife. those seemed to be taken. i needed something a bit more original. and something i only had to do once a year.

so it is with great delight that i present this year's Christmas card... (you can click once on the card and it will open in a lightbox and be a bit larger.) and you can check out previous years' cards by clicking on "christmas cardapalooza" on the top of this page...

and here is my letter portion (or as adam calls it "the long boring part"...)

it always amazes me how these cards come together... this year is no exception especially with THREE opinionated teenagers. the idea for this card theme came from one of those teenagers. and some of them are still fighting at the dinner table about who had the idea first. frankly i am shocked no one suggested “mama got run over by her children because she decorated her suburban to look like a reindeer.” perhaps next year...

2012 was my year of LAUGH. and boy howdy did i laugh a lot! my husband, those three aforementioned teenagers, and most of my friends (of course i mean you, dear reader) are a hilarious lot. i even managed a slightly cheery chuckle when i wanted to do something else. like sob. now why would i want to sob? because my beloved eldest is applying to colleges near and far away. she made me drive to 6 of those schools this summer in a 3 day college tour that rivaled the road trip in thelma & louise. with a more favorable ending. this is a year where we will see many changes in our family... laugh&sob.

so what will 2013 bring for lea’s one word goal? one would think i could ramp it on up to 2 words by now. but i am no overachiever. my word came to me in a fairly odd way this year whilst doing a little hebrew word research on a few passages in the old testament (someone needs new hobbies). i became intrigued with the hebrew word “nasa” which is translated as LIFT in english. 

nasa'- to lift, bear up, carry, take, to support, sustain, endure, take away, forgive, rise up. nasa' is actually a verb relating to the concept of forgiveness. it is when we feel the LIFT of guilt removed. it corresponds to the greek word aphiemi, which literally means “to send forth.” so 2013 will be a year to LIFT- a removal of something that enables you to move forward.  i need to have a LIFTing of some things this year (and i don't mean in the medical/surgery sense. though i do need that. however our bank account won't support that kind of expensive LIFT.) more along these LIFT lines...

Psalm 121:1-2 I LIFT UP (nasa) my eyes to the mountains- where does my help come from? 

My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Isaiah 40:26 LIFT UP (nasa) your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one 

and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.

Lamentations 2:19 Arise, cry out in the night, as the watches of the night begin; 

pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord. LIFT UP (nasa) your hands to him for the lives of your children...

Isaiah 49:18 LIFT UP (nasa) your eyes and look around; all your children gather and come to you. 

(this verse is especially meaningful as i consider how rapidly my children are going to be departing over the next 5 years.)

i found it ironic (and we are all about the irony here in marshallville) how the word LIFT was the word NASA, a word pretty synonymous with things flying and being sent forth. that sent me forth to research the scientific principle of LIFT (if you give a mouse a cookie...) it amazed/frightened me to learn that scientists still disagree on why things fly and how LIFT actually occurs. oh, the mysterious elusive force of LIFT (which should really trouble my delta platinum club member husband). pressure and turbulence actually create this complicated and not fully comprehended phenomenon. the bernoulli equation, newtonian physics, and mathematical equations all fall short (ha) of a full explanation. to sum it up: LIFT happens. i understood NONE of the scientific theories presented about LIFT. but even with the speculation and debate, it cannot be ignored that LIFT pulls things up and moves them along into a new place. the really surprising part of LIFT is that the very forces that should hold something down are the things necessary for LIFT to occur. the complex LIFT of flying requires chaos, pressure, constant friction, and even violent passages of turbulence to happen. hmm...chaos, pressure, constant friction, violent passages of turbulence? sounds like life in the marshall house these days. and maybe yours? please nod your head at this point...

philosophically & spiritually i understand LIFT much more than i do scientifically. i know the pressure and friction of our lives is what God uses to LIFT above those very winds of circumstance. the releasing of our guilt, burdens, & our tightly held plans and dreams to Him... that LIFT enables us to soar. the pressure, chaos and turbulence lead us to desperately need LIFT and then they enable us to divinely experience LIFT. ascension comes when we allow Him to LIFT our gaze from ourselves upward to His Thoughts. to His Grace & His Goodness. we let go of our momentary plans and lay down our lives to be LIFTed up into something beyond what we ever dreamed. the fierce wind that batters and bends us is the very thing that can LIFT us. we adjust our sails and spread our wings with trust. and hope. we LIFT our voices in gratefulness in all things. we LIFT our hands in prayer knowing all His promises will be answered "YES" in Christ...

Christmas reminds us that Christ came into this world as Grace to LIFT ALL the weighty burdens. God's unfathomable grace is our greatest hope. our ultimate LIFT. this season reminds me to LIFT my cares to the Lord who laid down His life and rose again in order to LIFT us. then i am able to LIFT my hands to other people. i need to LIFT others with kind words, LIFT them up in prayer, LIFT their burdens, LIFT my arms to serve and hug and hold on to each other. LIFT is a verb. it is action. LIFT can carry us through the days when life is heavy and hard. i have been LIFTed by so many of you. thank you. i know that God (like aerodynamics) LIFTs in unknown, untraceable and unseen ways... which science will never fully explain. i am LIFTed and carried through every day by Him.

“I thought ... that I was carried [LIFTed] in the will of Him I love, but now I see that I walk [fly] with it. I thought that the good things He sent drew me into them as the waves lift the islands; but now I see that it is I who plunge into them with my own legs and arms, as when we go swimming... It is a delight with terror in it... How did it enter His mind to conceive such a thing? The world is so much larger than I thought. I thought we went along paths--but it seems there are no paths. The going itself is the path.” {c.s. lewis, perelandra}

“I read some years ago of a young man who found a 5 dollar bill on the street and who from that time on NEVER LIFTED his eyes when walking. In the course of years he accumulated 29, 516 buttons, 54, 172 pins, a bent back, and a miserly disposition. But think what he lost. He couldn’t see the radiance of the sunlight, the sheen of the stars, the smile on the faces of his friends, of the blossoms of the springtime, for his eyes were in the gutter. We have important duties on earth, but we must never allow them to preoccupy us in such a way that we forget who we are or where we are going.” {john stott}

Lord, LIFT us this year. LIFT up our eyes. our hearts. our voices. our hopes. our fears. and our faces to You alone. 2013 is the year of LIFT. may we soar...