Monday, December 20, 2010

Unwrapping the Gift

Calvin Coolidge once said that: Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas. I could not agree with him more. Christmas time is a time of preparation. To clean out the clutter of our lives, our souls, and the unresolved issues that has prevented us from truly allowing Christ into our lives. Christmas is a time of reflection of Christmases past, present, and future. We reminisce about Christmases of our youth, when loved ones we lost were still with us. We recall Christmases that hold both good and bad memories and realize they shape who we are. We prepare, shop, and decorate for this year, and we also dream of the Christmases to come. It is easy to get caught up in the enthusiasm of Christmas only to be let down later if we let it.

Advent is two fold. It is a celebration of the historic event when the great distance between heaven and earth was closed by the birth of a child. Advent is a remembrance of a single event when Jesus Christ was born into our world. Advent is also the acknowledgement of the gifts our Savior brings. The Christ child brings the gift of hope which enables us to navigate through the hardships, the pain, and the fears of this life. When we unwrap this gift of hope we realize God is with us through all the ups and downs of our life. When we unwrap the gift of peace, we realize at that exact moment, it is through Christ we find that inner peace we all long for. In the deepest depths of our soul, we all desire that inner peace. A confidence that no matter what happens to us, through Christ everything will turn out all right. When we unwrap Christ’s gift of joy for us, we find that elation in the simple blessing in life. With the joy we find in Christ we are able to not always focus on the negative, the bad, or the ugly but see not only the goodness in our lives but the best in all humanity. Through this gift we find life is a joy and full of God’s simple blessings. Last but not least, Christ brings for us the gift of love. Love is the most powerful gift we receive. Love allows us to begin to mold our own life after that of Christ. The moment we recognize Christ’s unconditional love we too being to love others the same way. We are able to look past the outside and accept people as they are. We are able to build them up instead of tearing them down, we are able to understand their frustrations instead of being critical, and we are able to offer them grace or a soft place to land instead of judgment.

These gift that Christ has for us are not gifts we play with until the newness wears off or the batteries go dead. They are not presents that quickly loose their glitter or glory but they transform who we are. They are intended to remold our character, recalibrate our moral compass, and strengthen us for whatever lies ahead. God sent us the most precious gift of all, a child, to enrich and transform our lives. Advent is not a time or a season but an opportunity to truly appreciate, cherish, and use God’s gifts to us. Because the best gift I can give others this Christmas, is a better me.
May God bless you and touch your hart like never before..

From our family to yours, Merry Christmas..
Hope, Peace, Joy and Love,
Tommy, Kellie, Abby & Will Henegar

Sunday, December 12, 2010

“Sleep Well, Dream Big, Love Bigger”

What have you been dreaming about lately? Christmas time is a time to dream. Some of us are dreaming about wonderful possibilities. We're dreaming of pearl necklaces and sugar plum fairies and new bicycles. I hope all those dreams come true!

Some time ago, Time magazine published an intriguing cover article during the Advent season. The article that struck my attention was about sleep as I am one who struggles with sleep. For all that we know about the human body these days, scientists do not know the exact reason why we need sleep. We know why we need food, shelter, and clothing; but we do not know the reason why we need sleep.

And what is the reason for dreams, those strange images that bounce along our brain waves? We wake suddenly, and reality itself seems like a different world. Why do we need sleep? I believe the answer is this: We need sleep because we need to dream.

The Fourth Sunday of Advent is about a dream, the dream of Joseph. Not Mary's dream, but Joseph's dream. In fact, the story of the angel Gabriel appearing to the Virgin Mary appears in only one gospel, the gospel of Luke. In two other gospels, Mark and John, there is no account whatsoever of the physical birth of Jesus. We have four gospels, and they differ dramatically in how they tell the story of the birth of Jesus. In Matthew's gospel, the angel appears not to Mary at all, but to Joseph.

And it is Matthew's gospel that we read this year (Matthew 1:18-25). It is Joseph we hear and consider his point of view. Joseph dreamed something wonderful. It was astounding. God would enter the world. God would be born to his wife, as crazy as that was to understand. Joseph had some serious trusting in God to do! But Joseph had to trust someone else, too. Joseph had to trust Mary. I know Mary was his wife, and surely Joseph must have loved Mary. But, still, this took a lot of trust! And this is why Joseph's dream is so important. Joseph dreamed of the salvation of the world.

And for Joseph, the way of salvation meant trusting someone else. It may well be that true salvation comes through someone else. That is the lesson for us, too. Like Joseph, sometimes, we are supposed to trust God and then get out of the way. Trust that God is working through our wife, and then get out of the way. Trust that God is working in our children, and then get out of the way.

What are you giving for Christmas this year? I do not mean what are you getting. We all want something wonderful, I am sure. But what are you giving for Christmas? The greatest gift you can give this year is to believe in someone's dreams. The greatest gift you can give is to have faith in someone else; believe in their dreams. Believe in the dreams of the person you love. Believe in the dream of your husband. Believe in the dream of your wife. Believe in the dreams of your children. Believe in the dream of your hero, your leader, your friend. Believe in their dreams!

And sleep comfortably this season. I know some folks do not sleep well because of too much worry. The reason we sleep is to dream.The reason we have relationships is so that we will have someone who will believe in our dreams. God works through those relationships. God works through both Mary and Joseph. God needs both Luke's story of the annunciation to Mary and Matthew's story of Joseph's dream. They are miracle stories. God works through a young and wonderful woman, and her husband believes in her. That miracle can occur again and again. Believe in the dreams of the person you love. Believe in dreams this Christmas, and Jesus will be born again. Believe in dreams this Christmas, and yes, God will appear.

Sleep well, dream big and take care of yourself and one another..
Hope, Peace, Joy & Love,

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Confessions of a Sports Dad

For me there is no other joy or honor than being a father. I have always tried to improve on my fathering skills by loving my children, accepting them as God created them, and supporting them in all their endeavors. I do my best to be there for them anytime. I have sat in bleachers in rusty molded gyms, cold soccer fields and blazing hot football fields watching my children compete. I have yelled, tried not to embarrass, (which is very hard to do) and felt a true inner sense of pride witnessing my children excel. I have refrained at times of pushing them too hard or reliving my youth through them. I believe I have kept a good balance between praise and constructive helpful criticism. At times I will admit I have gotten carried away, caught up in the moment, and even lost it a time or two. When an opposing coach intentionally had their player injury Abby, I was almost became the CNN news footage we have all seen before. But by the grace of God and some parent s, I managed to calm down and take a time out. I probably was wrong but no one likes to see their children hurt. I have always tried to allow their respective coaches coach and me just be supportive from the stands. I believe that is my role as their father.

I recently learned a deeper joy and pride as a sports father. Will and Abby both have excelled in every sport they have attempted. I am not bragging or boasting they just have. Both have always made any team they have tried out for. I am proud for the fact that what they lack in natural ability they make up for in work ethic. That would be enough but that is not what causes the pride to swell up in my soul.

The last few days I have witnessed in both Abby & Will excel in athletics in a different way. It just recently became cognizant to me. It has been there all along but I just now somehow seemed to notice it. It began with Will. Will has more than excelled in any sport he has ever attempted. His true passion is football. If anyone could watch him play or practice you can see the elation he has. The rougher and harder it is, the more his love for the game grows. This season he played every down both sides of the ball and made spectacular plays. He was a team leader on and off the field. He was first in line on every drill. Not bragging, but to watch him play he really does have a natural gift. You can see it in his walk and his demeanor. It is a since of self-esteem and pride for him. Every game he made a game changing play and just has a gift well beyond the other boys his age.

I noticed my pride and joy in a different way in which he shined. Will is now in the middle of basketball season. The other night in the game, Will never got in the game. Will rode the bench the entire game for the first time in his whole life in any sport. While the coach’s son kept making a million mistakes, and of course would not take his own son out of the game, Will sat the bench. I’m not saying if Will was in the game they would have won. But Will has never, ever been on a team where he did not play. Instead of the game, I focused on my son. I watched attentively as the minutes ticked by and the game was moving to a close. He shouted words of encouragement to his teammates. He was the first on to jump off the bench and give high fives as the boys came off the court. He never asked or begged to go in. After the game he padded each of his teammates on the back. The team lost. The coach was pissed. But Will was the only one giving everyone words and signs of encouragement. Will’s only statement after the game, “I wished I could have played but oh well.” He wasn’t mad, or upset; just disappointed he didn’t get to play. I was more disappointed than he was.

His maturity was amazing for an eleven year old athlete. Will demonstrated how to give his best to the team from the bench. He didn’t have to be on the court to shine. I felt as much pride for him that day as if he had scored the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl. It is a joy to witness God using him to encourage others, to put others before his own desires to play, and to give his all on or off the bench. I have witnessed Abby awake before dawn to go to practice while her parents are still in bed sound asleep. To give her all, to listen and learn any sport she attempts. She recently said, “Dad you don’t have to come to the game. It’s varsity. I won’t get to play.” Yes Abby I do have to be there, see it gives me a since of joy and pride. You don’t have to get in the game to make me proud I’m proud already. The athlete you are off the court is more important than the one on the court.

So I’ll always been in the stands, yelling at the ref’s, eating nasty salty popcorn, beaming with pride of the true athletes my children have become on the court or on the bench. Sometimes God opens our eyes to the true character that He is transforming you into. To catch a glimpse of it from the bleachers is good enough for me. It gives me an inner joy and pride, to know I haven’t mess you up to much…
One proud Father..

Monday, December 6, 2010

“Warning: Christmas is Coming”

 Advent is an expedition. It is preparing for Christ, a time to de-cluttering our lives, and make room in our souls for something new. It is a time we focus on the romantic story of a child, the Messiah, born in a stable. Advent is filled with awe, wonder, tradition, and expectations. During the time of Advent, begins a debate or division between the Happy Holidays people and the Merry Christmas people. (Note: That is another topic for another article, but my belief in Christ is not offended if someone tells me Happy Holidays, although I’m a Merry Christmas guy.)

Advent is the time to get out of our heads and let go of our notions about "What Jesus Would Do?" in this great debate and look at what Jesus is doing. If we do not, we will simply miss the true essences of Advent. Advent is the time to let go of those preconceptions of who the Messiah should be and enter the deep dark cold of winter. It is also time we should focus on exactly who Christ was. Advent is the beginning of the church year because we start all over. We leave our scripts of every thing we know; the pain of our past mistakes, the joys and accomplishments of last year, and begin the new journey toward Bethlehem. Like Mary and Joseph, we stop thinking about some ideal life and look instead at where we are.

• No, I didn't expect to be unmarried and pregnant.

• No, I didn't expect to be have all those people whisper behind my back.

• But here I am, God's servant; show me the way.

Like Mary and Joseph, now is the time to leave the familiar country of the old and begin the journey into the dark of newness. We leave our assumptions behind; we leave behind the ways we have put God in a box. We look for God in new ways - not the idea of God, but the experience of God. Remember what Jesus says to John's disciples: "Go and tell John what you hear and see: The blind receive their sight; the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed; the deaf hear; the dead are raised; and the poor have good news brought to them."

In other words: Wake UP. Instead of thinking about our idea of the perfect Messiah, look and see what the Messiah is doing all around you and in your life. Stop thinking of God outside yourself - outside your life; look for the Divine Presence right where you are.

One day we must realize that Jesus is not a concept or a theory to be confirmed or disproved during Christmas. Jesus is the bringer of life -abundant life - eternal life - and He is bringing life to us right now. So often we think of Christmas as a religious history lesson. We are interested in how the world worked 2000 years ago. What exactly was the census, and what were the marriage customs? And who were the magi? Where their really cows at there?

All of that is interesting, but none of it gets to the real point which is: Do you experience God being born in your life? Do you recall how God has answered your prayers? Have you forgotten the excitement of Christmas from your childhood? The birth of Christ is now and here. Jesus is always being born and because of that people we know - people like us - are being transformed.

That's how they know Jesus is the One. And that's how we know Christ is the Messiah. Advent is the stirring of the divine in our life and in our world. Advent is the time for us to leave our safe houses and experience that stirring first hand. Like Mary and Joseph we too begin a journey that can change or life forever, if we dare.

See ya in church, Merry Christmas, and until then take care of yourself and one another.

Hope, Peace, & Joy,