Friday, December 31, 2010

New Years Prayer

"May God make your year a happy one!
Not by shielding you from all sorrows and pain,
But by strengthening you to bear it, as it comes;
Not by making your path easy,
But by making you sturdy to travel any path;
Not by taking hardships from you,
But by taking fear from your heart;
Not by granting you unbroken sunshine,
But by keeping your face bright, even in the shadows;
Not by making your life always pleasant,
But by showing you when people and their causes need you most,
and by making you anxious to be there to help.
God's love, peace, hope and joy to you for the year ahead." (Anonymous)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What A Wonderful Christmas

If your family is anything like mine Christmas day doesn't usually come and go without some sort of roadblock or mini-disaster.  Last year it was a flood at my grandpa's house right before we served Christmas dinner.  This year my brother called Christmas morning saying that he, his wife and my little nephew wouldn't be able to come for Christmas since he and his wife were quite sick.  When we found this out we knew we had a choice to make- focus on what we weren't going to have or focus on what we did have.  And so we continued on with our plans.

Christmas morning we had my grandfather and aunt and uncle over for a traditional McNulty Christmas breakfast.  The highlight of this being our stocking opening.  This has become somewhat of a legend in our household.  Our banister is packed with everyones stockings (at last count I think we had eight) and most of us contribute to filling them with unique and creative things.  This year the stockings were such a hit that we didn't have room in our stockings for everything that people brought!  After our stocking opening was done our company left so my Mom and I did our gift exchange and then had some downtime.

In the afternoon most of our extended family, along with my sister and brother-in-law met up for Christmas dinner at my aunts house.  It was great to get to see everyone and we had such a good time!  After our delicious dinner we had our 2nd Annual Baking Contest.  How it works is that everyone brings their entry (either a cookie, bar or square) along with a small entry fee and they are numbered so it's anonymous who made what.  We do a taste test of the entries and cast our vote for the winner.  The winner gets a cash pot, which suited me just fine because this year I took home first place!  

On Boxing Day after church we all gathered again at my grandfathers house for another family get together and of course, more games and contests. First was a dress-up contest where everyone came dressed up as a character from a Christmas movie and had to recite a line or two from the movie.  There were prizes for best costume and most convincing character and it was hilarious to be a part of!   My sister and brother-in-law even went so far as to do a scene from Christmas Vacation on my grandfathers front lawn.  I have no idea what the neighbors thought but I thought I was going to be sick from laughing!  This is the first time my family has done anything like this and I don't think it'll be the last!

Finally to wrap things up we played a game that I created this year called "Sing It, Act It or Say It".  I made it for a Christmas party I hosted earlier this month and it turned out to be a really fun game to play as a group so I decided to do a re-run on Boxing Day.  I've been encouraged to make a non-Christmas version of it and copyright it but I think it's something I'm going to keep for just family and friends...

So those are the highlights of my Christmas of 2010- how was yours?

Friday, December 24, 2010

God With Us

"All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means 'God is with us')." (Isaiah 7:14)

God with us.

One of the most stunning truths about the Christmas story to me can be summed up in three words: God with us.

The same God who was the mastermind behind creation confined Himself to a baby's body. The same God who ruled over creation was content to be brought up by human parents. The same God who is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords was willing to humble Himself to die for those very beings who refused to worship and obey. God with us.

When we're tired. When we're discouraged. When we don't feel like we can make it through another day. God with us.

I can see evidence of God with me everyday. I see it in the sunrise that streaks across the sky. I see it in the music that moves my soul with every note. I see it in the people He sends across my path just when I need them. I see it in the circumstances He orchestrates into a brilliant set of events, otherwise known as my life story. God with us.

God with us. Not just today. Not just tomorrow, but forever. No matter what life events arise. No matter what our days hold, we've got God with us and that fact changes everything.

It puts the hope in the hopeless. The peace in the turmoil. And the love in what otherwise would have been lonely.

God with us.

That's the Christmas story. Not just sheep and wisemen, but what the birth of Jesus set in motion. Events that had been pre-planned by the ultimate God of love. Through Jesus coming to earth and dying for our sins, we were given a second chance. A way to restore our relationship with God. Our own story of Redemption.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

My Favourite Time of Year

I love this music video. It looks like the people in my Christmas village come to life :) The band put a lot into this and they did it all without the support of a label- impressive!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Meeting Timothy

This past week has been one of the best of my life and it's all because of a bundle of joy weighing 8 pounds and 14 ounces.  My nephew, Timothy Ryan McNulty, was born at 10:41 on Tuesday morning and he is absolutely amazing!  From the moment I got to hold him shortly after his birth feelings of love, connection and protectiveness flooded in and they were amazing things to feel.  There's something so precious about a newborn baby.  When I get to hold this little guy it's like time stands still and all is right in the world.

I'm so thrilled to finally be an aunt and I'm excited to be able to be a part of his life.  I'm also so proud of my brother and sister-in-law.  No matter how many curve balls they were thrown throughout the labour and delivery they just rolled with the punches and kept their focus.  It was a truly amazing thing to witness and I'm thankful that they were so open to sharing the process with us.  We spent most of Monday and Tuesday camped out at the hospital and it was an interesting experience to say the least!

On Tuesday night after coming home from the hospital I went and "randomly" flipped open my Bible and wouldn't you know it, but the page opened on 2 Timothy!  My eyes fell to this verse and I knew at that moment that God has some remarkable plans for this little life: "Timothy, my dear son, be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus." (2 Timothy 2:1)

Thank God for little miracles!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Christmas Prayer

A few years ago I came across this Christmas prayer written by Henri Nouwen.  It's a powerful one I've found myself thinking of quite a bit these days:

"Lord Jesus, Master of both the light and the darkness, send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.  We who have so much to do seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day.  We who are anxious over many things look forward to your coming among us.  We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of your kingdom.  We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your presence.  We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light.  To You we say, come Lord Jesus."

Friday, December 10, 2010

Keeping Focus (even when life gets crazy)

While there are a lot of benefits to being able to work out of your own home, there are some downfalls too.  One of them being those moments when you realize that you haven't stepped outside in a few days (yes, it has happened on more than one occasion!).  The other one is that there is no punch clock at the end of the day.  If there is work to be done, it doesn't matter if it's 6:00 and you should be calling it a day, you've got to finish.  And I don't know if it's Murphy's Law or not, but at least with the various jobs and commitments I'm involved with, it seems like when it rains, it pours and I'm left desperately trying not to get wet (or miss a deadline)!

That's what the last few weeks have been like for me.  On top of my regular commitments, I've had quite a few unexpected things come up as well.  But even as challenging as it's been to get everything done, it's been good in the sense that I haven't allowed myself to become completely overwhelmed by it either.  Through doing this kind of work, I've learned my lessons (often the hard way) and as a result I've got quite the system for my to-do list.  I have it set up so at a glance I can see what needs to be done, who it's being done for and when it's due.  And when I finish an item I cross it off and don't start a new list until Monday morning.  It gives a sense of accomplishment when you look at your list and see more items scratched off than left on, doesn't it?  Well maybe it doesn't for you, but for me it does and it allows me to stay organized and keep my focus on what matters.

Another thing I've really learned the value of is saying "no".  In fact, the only reason I got through the past couple of weeks is because as certain areas of my life increased their demand on my time, I had to put aside other things.

But it isn't easy to say "no" or "I can't" or "not this time" because no one wants to let someone else down and it's also not easy to accept and embrace our limitations, but it's not healthy if we don't.  I've learned (the hard way) that I can't be all things for all people.  Over the last year or two I've been on the journey of deciding what's important in my life and what things, jobs, people, ministries, and relationships I want to invest my time in and go with that.  Of course that list is a work in progress and as things come up, I do re-evaluate, but keeping that in mind has allowed me to have the boundaries I need in my life to be well-balanced and keep my focus on what's important.

Because when I look back on my life I don't want to look back on one disorganized mess of a life where I was so busy running from one thing to the next that I didn't get anything done.  No, I want to look back and be able to say that I was faithful with what God gave me and what I did, I did well.  No one's perfect and I know I have many mistakes ahead, but at least this is one step forward on the journey... 

Monday, December 06, 2010

The Music That Makes A Moment

Recently I've been spending quite a bit of my time working on making videos. The more time I spend on projects like these, the more I enjoy it. There's something about telling a story with a mix of video, pictures and music that appeals to me.

With the latest video project I'm working on I've really noticed how it's the music that truly makes the video. You could have the best mix of photos and video clips and transitions, but if you don't have the right music playing in the background, you lessen the impact of the moment.

Whoever said that music speaks to us was onto something. And it's not just the lyrics that we can relate with or the melodies that catch our attention. It's the memories that we attach to the music we listen to that is truly a powerful thing. That's why you can be transported back in time just by hearing a song playing in a grocery store or you could have so many different emotions raised just by hearing a song on the radio. Music is something we identify with and carry with us on so many different levels.