Friday, December 30, 2016

2016 Recap

Ill be honest.... I've stared at this blank page for a while.  It's hard for me to recap 2016 because, a lot of it is a swirl of emotion.  Very erratic emotion.  I started as I usually do, reading over last year's recap and over my thoughts on how 2016 would go....

And, in some ways, I feel like we've all lived a lifetime in this year.

The year started off with the news that my cousin, my first best friend had passed away unexpectedly.  About 8 years ago (and several times in between) my cousin asked my husband and I to take the kids if ever anything happened to her.  So, my immediate thoughts went to the kids.  It has been an amazing blessing to be able to have them with us.  It is a difficult thing, walking this grief journey together, but one I consider a great blessing and honor.

Image may contain: plant, outdoor and text

Image may contain: 2 people

We spent the first part of the year really circling in together to put our family together and focus on each other.  Interesting that the word God gave me for this year was Focus, wasn't it?????

Image may contain: 9 people, people smiling

Michael took the girls to the Father Daughter Dance,
Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling

The Middles enjoyed our warmer weather and we had many a dinner at the park
Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling, outdoor and indoor

We visited Newman's Castle...
Image may contain: 4 people, outdoor

And we went to Lake Whitney to spend some time together as a family unplugged..
Image may contain: one or more people and tree

In the spring we had Family Pictures taken
Image may contain: 8 people, people smiling, outdoor

Visited Granny...
Image may contain: 8 people, people smiling

And Auston and Sarah were married on May 7th....  a wedding that we put together in 10 days!   
Image may contain: one or more people and indoor

Tavish and Gina came for a visit in May, and it meant the world to the kids for them to come...
Image may contain: 5 people, indoor

On May 19th Gregory Graduated from High School!
Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling

Knowing Grego was headed to Baylor, naturally we had to take a Bear Picture with the Joneses' when they came for Grego's graduation...
Image may contain: 12 people, people smiling, indoor

When Auston got married I gained a Daughter In Law, and I am so happy with her, because I love Sarah to pieces.  She is a perfect fit for Auston, and I'm blessed to have a friend in her as well :)
Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling

Nick  became an Acolyte at church...
Image may contain: 1 person, standing

On July 27th, by the power invested in Judge Newhouse by the State of Texas, we legally became a forever family.....
Image may contain: 7 people, people smiling, people standing

In August we went to Jellystone Park with Trin, Damon and Domi..
Image may contain: one or more people, cloud, sky, grass, tree, outdoor and nature

Gregory and Kelton headed out to Baylor, but first we took them to IFly to do some Indoor Skydiving...
Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people sitting and indoor

School Started once again, I taught Preschool, and 3,4,5th grade art...
Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing, tree and outdoor

Image may contain: 1 person, standing, outdoor and nature

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing, shoes, outdoor and nature

Image may contain: 1 person, standing, tree, plant, grass, outdoor and nature

This Fall the kids participated in a 30 hour famine, and raised money for impoverished countries...
Image may contain: 7 people, people smiling, people standing

And we kicked off the holiday season by riding the Polar Express...
Image may contain: 9 people, people smiling, people standing and indoor

As you can see, we did a lot of really fun things.  We've grown together as a family, and we're headed for new heights.  I look back over these pictures and I see the fun we've had together.  I see the love we share.  I also see the pain.  It's been incredibly difficult to go on with out Bug.  We miss her every single day.  We do our best each day to march forward, but never forget.  I'm hopeful that as we move past the year mark we can look a little farther forward.  I pray that in 2017 we find more that unites us and less that divides us.  I pray for peace among my family and friends.  I pray that the 9 of us become ever closer.  I pray that Greg does well at Baylor, and is able to fly, but doesn't forget where he comes from.  I pray that Auston and Sarah continue to nurture their marriage and build their life foundation.  I pray that as they step out further they are drawn closer to each other and are a light and an example to the people around them.  Most importantly, I hope we can all see that as difficult as this year has been, and that the future holds mysteries for us all, we can press in to God.  He has sustained us this far, and will continue to do so, we only need to let Him.

If I've neglected you this year, know that it was because I was where I was needed most.  This season of life has been one of circling in.  That isn't changing much too soon.  But, eventually, we'll be able to spread out a little more.

To those who have continued to pursue us, especially when we haven't answered promptly, thank you.  Your love and prayers and support mean so much to us.  None of us will ever forget how you all rallied around us in January and held us up when we couldn't stand on our own.

Love, Semalee

Saturday, December 17, 2016

The War on Christmas

You may have heard about it- there's a war on Christmas.  We hear about it every year, people not saying Merry Christmas, Starbucks cups not being "Christmasy" enough, and this year in my very own state of Texas, in Killeen ISD a Christmas decoration had to be removed because it was, in fact, too much about Christ....Mas...........  Charlie Brown has been Censored!  One news article read....

It's very easy, as a Christian to feel an amount of anger about this.  It also feels like every day, the rights of Christians are slowly being stripped away.  The right to worship how we choose is, after all, part of our country's founding documents.  How is this happening?

Well, as you can imagine, I've been thinking a lot about this.  I've been talking to God a lot about it too, and
I think we need to consider that it might be the Christians' fault to some degree.....

Let me explain:  As much as we want to pretend otherwise, our country is made up of all types of people.  Many do not share our faith.  While we know the ramifications of this, they either do not, or do not care.  It is not our job as Christians to save the world.  It's God's.  It's our job to sow the seeds....  and let Him work on people's hearts....

Keep following! :) 

When we, as Christians talk to others with our Christian-eze and make them feel dumb for not knowing what we're talking about, we go against the Gospel.

When we, as Christians, expect others to agree with our standards because the Bible says so, we go against the Gospel.

When we, as Christians, get angry with others for not saying "Merry Christmas", we go against the Gospel.

When we, as Christians, shame others for the sin in their lives, either through our words or our actions, we go against the Gospel.

I've really begun to feel that the reason there is a war on Christmas, and not just that, but a war on Christianity, which is a complex issue. At the gateway it's because we have allowed ourselves to be viewed as aggressors.  Jesus never said we should bring people to Him through aggressive behavior, through shaming, through shunning, or through angry words.

I have several people who are close to me who are not believers.  On many occasions people tell me of the ways that they have been hurt by people in "the church".  Doesn't matter which building, doesn't matter the denomination, when you are unkind to someone on the basis of their sin, or their lack of God in their life, you speak for THE CHURCH.  People watch us every single day to see how we respond to different things.  How do we respond to adversity in our own lives, how do we respond to those who believe differently than us, how do we respond to our own sin?  When we lash out at someone for attacking our Christianity, we essentially attack back.  Think, if you were on the outside looking in at our church, would that make you want to learn more about what this Jesus thing is all about?

I know this is a slippery slope, and a dangerous one.  I have watched my own denomination stop calling sin, sin, and embrace it.  I'm not happy about that at all.  I don't believe watering down the Gospel is the way to bring people to Christ either.  In fact, when we become like society there's not to come "to"....  When we are not set apart, we are not set apart.  But, you can be set apart in your heart, in your actions, in your thoughts without keeping yourself set apart from non-believers. 

St. Francis of Asisi said, "Preach the Gospel often, and if necessary, use words".  This has been my mantra for a long time.

I don't believe that God wants us to try to bring people to Christ through our Bible Knowledge (which is super important to have, but not to flaunt), or through our calling out of others' sin in their lives (which we have enough of our own to call out to keep ourselves busy).  I believe that our lives are to be the message that brings people to Christ.  No, I'm not saying tell someone something counter to the Gospel.  Sin is sin is sin.  Don't water it down, but we don't need to call people out, either.  If they want to know if you think areas of their life are sinful, when they are comfortable, they will ask.  And that is when you speak the truth in love and not in judgement.

Let's be the light to others this Christmas season.  Let's show the world how Christians love each other.  Let's give more of ourselves, our things, and our time to those who might not darken the door of our churches, and show them what Jesus was really about.  (It wasn't harsh judgement of others)

Let me know what you think in the comments below!

In Love,