Friday, November 19, 2010

Christmas Memories

This is, without a doubt, my very favorite time of year. I cued my pandora radio to Christmas music on November 1. I have furiously researched recipes, decorating ideas, and creative ways to set a table. I've made out my Christmas shopping list and picked up a few new items to decorate the house. I think the best part of the holiday season is the time we get to spend with family. I cherish every minute, especially as I get older. 

Last weekend, I got to spend some time with my family in North Carolina. I hoped someone would mention decorating the Christmas tree while I was home, but I wasn't going to ask in fear of looking like an idiot. I shouldn't care, my family already knows I am over-the-top ridiculous with stuff like this. You can imagine my excitement when my dad casually asked if we should put the tree up while I was home. Ecstatic! You see, we have this super cool tradition. We all load up and head to the Hallmark store. We painstakingly analyze every ornament in the store, try to talk each other into our favorites, and have a ball pushing all of the buttons on all of the musical ornaments and making that obnoxious dancing-whatever sing loudly throughout the store. I'm hoping you never get too old to have this yearly excursion, because it's just so much fun.

So, ornaments in hand, we head across the parking lot to Lowe's to buy a new tree. Thankfully, all of our Christmas items were stored in the detached garage... however, the 10 foot tree isn't going to fit in the tiny little rental house. :) 

I left mom and dad's house on September 22, just six days after the fire. I've seen a picture or two of the demo/construction process... but I still wasn't prepared for the mess. There is no house. Of course, rationally, I knew it needed to be torn down. I knew there would be tractors and equipment and huge mess... but I wasn't prepared. I stood in the driveway just staring... feeling the gravity of the situation as if for the first time.I couldn't keep back the tears. I stood there in the driveway, crying in my mama's arms. Actually, we were all crying. The funny thing about grief is that it's a process. Just when you think you've mastered it and are moving on, these strange emotions come back. I wouldn't wish this hurt on my worst enemy. People say over and over again, "they're just things, they can be replaced." I wonder if those people have ever lost everything. If they've ever stood in front of the dirt pile that used to be their home, Christmas ornaments in hand, and ached for home. For that cozy bed fitted with the same worn flannel snowflake sheets that come out every winter, for worn-out old slippers in the closet, the decorations in all of their usual places and stockings hung on the mantle.  
We love the Christmas album from Alabama. As we decorated the new tree in the rental house, the words of their song "Christmas Memories" came to my mind. 
"Though it all looks the same so much as changed from the way it used to be
Christmas memories of happy years gone by
They come back to me and keep me warm inside
Still those Christmas memories make me cry." 
This year we'll wake up on Christmas morning in house that isn't ours, create a beautiful table setting on a table that isn't ours, and eat Christmas dinner on plates that aren't ours. But do you know what's great? The memories are ours, the time together is ours, the love is ours. What a blessing that those most precious of things can't be taken away.

Maybe your holiday season will be less than ideal too. Maybe you're lonely, maybe you're not home, maybe, and most tragically, maybe you've forgotten why we celebrate this season to begin with. For the Pruitt's this year, and every year to come I pray, it's not about the presents and the stuff, it's about togetherness. It's rejoicing in the fact that our Savior was born so we may have life and have it to the fullest.

I challenge you to make some extra-special memories this Christmas season. Eat off the special china, take those fancy nutcrackers out of the box so they kids can play with them, bake too many cookies, stay up too late, watch Home Alone for the one millionth time. 

I am reminded each day that you can't take it with you. I hope this Christmas won't be so much about accumulating stuff (though presents are fun!) but about sharing in the joy of Jesus' birth with your family and friends. 

Much Love,

Luke 2:8-14says,
There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God's angel stood among them and God's glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, "Don't be afraid. I'm here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David's town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you're to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger."
At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God's praises: 
Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


I have about a thousand other things to do and yet I sit here writing a blog post… I am a master procrastinator. A few weeks ago I “changed” jobs. I’ve been busy since I stepped foot in my new office and I love it. There’s just something about feeling productive that this type-A loves. However, I only love being busy with things I like doing… hypothetically, a grad school paper would not be something I would love to do and I would put it off until the very last minute. Choosing instead to write a blog post than do research or reading… hypothetically, of course.
When something is weighing on my mind I usually benefit best by putting it to words, that way it stops taking up space in my head where more important, grad-school-paper-type-thoughts should be resting.

I have mentioned before how God tends to use lots of repetition to get something through my head. My most recent revelation is no exception to that rule. And I guess isn’t really isn’t a recent revelation… since He’s been saying it for months and I'm just too dumb to listen! In January, Jesus woke Tevie and I up and we started following him a way that we haven’t before. After reading and studying, we realized that writing a tithe check every month is good and is service… for us, it wasn't enough. Now, I firmly believe that God convicts different people for different things at different times, so you may be serving Jesus to the fullest by sacrificially giving each month. What we wanted, what Jesus wanted from us, was to actively serve him… to be His hands and feet (which we all should be convicted to be, it’s biblical!).

It was around that time that He began laying the local pregnancy resource center on my heart. So, we started giving… when we remembered. And then I started taking donations of clothes and things by… when it was convenient. All the while praying, “God, put something in front of me that allows me to minister. Give me something to do.”

So, one month I sent dear sweet CJ, the president of the board of this little center, a note saying that I wanted to help out if they needed another hand. Now, I was thinking I could fold clothes, stack diapers, you know, the easy stuff. I almost fell out of my chair when she called and asked me to serve on the board! This was not what I had in mind. And so began my wrestling with God. If this is getting long and you want to know how it ends, I’ll tell you…. HE WINS! He always does!

I know you can sympathize with me here, and if you can’t my friend and OT prophet Jeremiah can. You see, God told Jeremiah that he was set apart and would be a prophet to the land. Jeremiah fell before the Lord saying, “I’m only boy and I don’t even know the right words, LORD!” But the Lord reached out and touched Jeremiah’s mouth and gave him the words to speak… gave him the words to speak. Don’t you love that?

God brought that story to mind as we wrestled. I said, “but Lord, I wasn’t a pregnant teenager, heck, I’m not even a mom!!! How on earth am I supposed to minister to these girls?” And do you know what He said? “You won’t find anything on this earth that will help you, Allysa. Not one thing. And you don’t have to know what to say because I will give you the words to speak.” Okay, Lord, sign me up!

And that’s when satan gets you, isn’t it? Ugh. he makes me so mad! I have prayed that my work as a fundraiser would be a ministry for me. I want for every donor to see Jesus in me… One thing this little center needs is some help in the fundraising department. “Now wait, Allysa”, satan slithers. “You don’t know the first thing about being a mom… you have no idea what these girls are going through. The center needs more help than you can give. You’ll be overwhelmed, go ahead and quit now while you're ahead. What you're doing is enough.”

Isn’t that where he gets us? “I’m doing enough…” Man oh man. I think the one who struggling under the weight of recognized sin is better off than the one who thinks she’s doing enough. I read my Bible enough, I’m nice enough, I did enough... If you ever hear those words come out of mouth, smack me, please! I don’t ever want to have enough of Jesus. We weren’t created for enough, we were created to desire more and more… to have life and have it ABUNDANTLY, not enough of it- an abundance of it. Praise the Lord for that!

Sitting in church on Sunday I felt as though I was a phone call with God. Everything was being spoken to me; don’t you hate that and LOVE it at the same time? So, there I was thinking I was good enough. I could help enough Lord. I’ll give them a little bit of my spare time, God. And that’s the speaker, Greg, says, “The King of Kings wasn’t too proud to ride into Jerusalem on the colt of donkey, so who are you to stay on your high horse.” OUCH! Ouch, ouch, ouch.

What I heard in that moment was this: “No, Allysa, you aren’t a mom, but your love of kids and desire to be a mommy will speak volumes to those girls. Yes, this is out of your comfort zone. These people won’t be impressed by your designer bags and fancy shoes, in fact they’ll see right through that. But if you’ll let me, Allysa, I’m going to use you in a way you’ve never thought possible.”

How many times have you told the Almighty that you couldn’t do it? How many times have you said, “I’m not enough, I don’t have what it takes”. I’ll just be honest, that’s a battle I've had with God my whole life. I find great comfort in these words from Jeremiah 1:

The word of the LORD came to me, saying,
5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
6 “Alas, Sovereign LORD,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young (or too big, too small, too dumb, too shy, or not a mom).”
7 But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. 8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD.
First, I am not quitting my job. I love it (and paying my mortgage) too much to do that. I am committing to use my talents and abilities as volunteer at the Agape House Pregnancy Resource Center. I hope that you will join me in prayer for Agape. Pray that the sweet smell of Jesus emanates from that place and draws the lost to Him. You should probably pray for the volunteers and other board members because they are going to have to deal with my bossy, Monica Geller-esque attitude, all in the name of Jesus, of course. :)

Believe that you're enough… because you are. The Bible says you were fearfully and wonderfully made. To steal another illustration from Greg: since when does the clay have the right to complain to the potter that they don’t like the shape He chose for them? He’s molding and making us into something so beautiful. You may be a little lopsided right now, but He’s smoothing that out and, trust me, it’s much easier if you relax and let His hands guide the wheel.

More than Enough in Jesus,