The Miraculous Normal

I’m so thankful that census years don’t require travel like back in Bible times. Someone knocks on the door, or you fill out a form online. End of story.

But for Joseph all those years ago, this census meant travel to his ancestral home. Who doesn’t love a trip home? For Joseph, it was dirt roads, walking and bringing along his very pregnant fiancée, Mary. Nothing pleasant or exceptional about the journey, except maybe the company.

Joseph’s trip home seemed very… normal. Just going to be counted. But there was so much more to this journey than appeared at the surface. For each step Joseph and Mary made to Bethlehem, they were a step closer in fulfilling prophecies foretold for centuries. For millennia.

Photo by Eddie & Carolina Stigson on Unsplash

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from old, from ancient days.

Micah 5:2

…he (Messiah) shall bruise your (Satan’s) head, and you shall bruise his heel.

Genesis 3:15

Just walking. Taking a trip that took time away from his business, from his preparations for the upcoming marriage and new baby soon to arrive. A nuisance, really. The government can make things so inconvenient sometimes.

Photo by Wim van 't Einde on Unsplash

As I read this account in Luke 2, I see a lot of mundane. Walking. Finding a place to stay in a crowded city. And as Mary gives birth to the Son of God, Scripture records no instantaneous fanfare. There is exhaustion and mess and only a feeding trough to place this precious One in.

I am sure there was some wonder at how normal this all was. We often get the idea that God’s miracles always involve a dramatic flair and a choir of angels and a rainbow or thunder or something. Anything.

None of that is indicated in Luke 2. Oh, the shepherds saw angels. But we don’t actually see Mary and Joseph get that kind of validation at that time. Perhaps they did and it isn’t in the narrative.

Either way, this cosmic event – the birth of a Savior promised from the very time of original sin- was not filled with an aura of mystery and supernatural. It was very natural and extremely humble.

Just a business trip. Just a labor and delivery. Just a poor couple in a crude place.

Or…

God works this way. In the everyday. The miracle is not always a climactic explosion, but often a hushed, humbling normal. Eyes of faith will see it, trust and tremble in spite of the lack of showmanship.

Photo by Luma Pimentel on Unsplash

A purposeful journey that fulfilled prophecy. The advent of the very Messiah promised from time in memorial. A couple surrendered to a plan that would effect history for eternity.

Let us have those eyes of faith. God’s providence works it’s way through every fiber of normalcy in life. We can trust it.

Read it yourself: Luke 2: 1-7

Merry (Post) Christmas 2017

Can I just say I love getting all the cards and letters this time of year? I love hearing (and seeing) how your families are faring. I may still get something out to people, but I am waiting on my in-house graphic designer (ahem, Stephen) to make some tweaks to pictures.

Christmas found us on our own this year. We didn’t go south and my folks went to my sister’s house in MA. The littles got sick so we did not get together with my brother’s family either. I’d love to say that we were miserable, but we had a great Christmas together- making our own memories. It has been the perfect wrap up to our whirlwind of a year.

For starters, as most of you know, we rung in 2017 expecting…. later in January we would find out there would be TWO joining our family. After several stages of disbelief passed, we got ready for these two blessings. They arrived on May 2 (Natalie’s 13th birthday) and spent about a week in NICU, but have been so healthy ever since. Owen and Delaney turned our world upside down, but I cannot imagine life without them. The kids are so great with them, and they are the exclamation point to our family.

Natalie (13) is still playing soccer in season. She is such a hard worker and has really stepped up in helping me out. She loves to cook and spend time with friends and watching Badger football (On Wisconsin!). She is a diligent student as well. It is hard to believe we only have 4 more years before she moves on to college or whatever God has for her.

Meredith (11) enjoys baking and shopping and just getting out and about. She’s got a great sense of humor and an eye for fashion. She is doing well with her video classes for school this year. I love having her organize things…. she is really good at it.

Sophie (9) is still my free spirit. Life goes at a slower pace with this one. She has become a voracious reader this year, and while she’d rather chew glass than do chores, she steps up when needed. Her heart is so big and her smile is infectious. And if you need another player in a board game, Sophie is your gal!

Ethan (8) has his life planned out… it just involves legos and dirt and heavy machinery and not school. He loves having a brother, and for all his manly ways he is great at taking care of the twins. Behind the tough exterior is a tender heart and a goofy grin.

Evelyn (3) cannot stand to be in clothes longer than necessary. She still loves baths and watches these videos of people opening toys, much to our confusion. She loves to play and her laugh is the best. Evie gives us all a run for our money with her high energy and staunch opinions. She’s a great snuggler too!

Delaney (<1) is chubby. She loves being so and we have no intention of putting her on a diet. She is standing and wants to be big and makes very loud noises as often as possible. Her smile lights up a room. Laney will always win in a cage match with Owen. Always.

Owen (also <1) is a charmer. His bright red hair and chiseled features melt the hearts of all he encounters. He’s a content little guy, happy to play with a toy on the floor or sit perched on Natalie’s arm like a baby sloth. Anything Ethan does in his presence is a source of amusement and joy.

Stephen had a banner year at Able Signs and Lighting. He was able to do more custom design builds, which he loves. He still leads singing Sunday mornings and serves as a Trustee at our church. When he is home, he is usually taking care of a baby or washing dishes or maybe putting his feet up. He is just an amazing guy and I am truly blessed that he’s mine.

I am busy. Like, busier than ever before. Remember all those times I said I was busy? I really wasn’t. I just thought I was. Twins, a toddler and homeschooling four keeps me on my toes almost 24 hours a day. I also help with the family business doing accounts receivable. Sadly, I have had to hand over most of my church responsibilities at this time but only for this season of life.

With all the business in this household, I will add that we do love company. Our house is not ready for an IKEA cover, but it is fun. And there is coffee. And we always enjoy fellowship with friends and family who stop in. There is always time for people.

You know, Christ made time for us. He came from Heaven to Earth to save us from ourselves. I was just thinking that if Christ had not come, I would have nothing that I have today. Stephen and the kids, joy and contentment, peace and hope… all are because of my Lord. And while my life is far from perfect, every perfect thing I possess is because I possess Him. Do you?

MERRY (post) CHRISTMAS and have a happy, healthy and joy-filled New Year!!!

With Love,

The Franklins

Merry Christmas!

I have never been consistent with Christmas cards. It isn’t because I don’t want to be. I love getting cards from friends and family. I especially love the extra little note that shares about their year, their family, etc. The favor should be returned by me, shouldn’t it?

Guilt riddles me every year that I don’t get a card out. I stopped feeling guilty this year though. Instead, I will issue a Christmas Blog post. And you are now reading it. And, of course, in true Franklin fashion, it is a week late. *Ahem* So… What HAVE we been up to?

I couldn’t find a decent picture without me in it… I guess I help him behave.
Stephen is still in cahoots with my dad, running the family business. He has a reputation among his peers for being even-tempered and a problem solver. I am so proud of him! He’s created a lot of neat signs this year and the last 3 months found him ridiculously busy.  God continues to teach us lessons on His provision through this endeavor.

Trademark Natalie!
Natalie is now 12 and turning into a lovely young lady. She reminds me of myself at her age (quirky), except she is much more confident. She loves playing soccer for the club team in town and loves anything weather related. She’s also turning into a fabulous babysitter!

Meredith loves a good selfie… I find them on my phone all the time!
Meredith just turned 10, and enjoys being “mature”. She’s taken a fancy to basketball and likes crafting and doing whatever Natalie is up to. She loves fashion and perfume…. our girly-girl.

Sophie. Sugar. Smiles. That about sums her up.
Sophie is 8 and is an interesting mix of eclectic tomboy with flower child tendencies. She will beat you at any game you play with her, much to the frustration of all her siblings. She will play legos with her brother and can often be found twirling and dancing instead of walking anywhere.

 

That red hair and cute grin… it’s hard not to love!
Ethan is 7 and loves his legos and anything construction related. He spends his summers digging with his best friend, Dominic. Torturing his sisters and doing crazy stunts is also high on his list of favorite past times, much to his mother’s chagrin.

Evie is always cooking up something and usually wearing jammies to do it.
Evelyn is 2 and really runs the house. She is shy with non-family, but loves everyone secretly when they are gone. She likes to watch “moobies”, footie pajamas and to play kitchen. She’s always “making dinnah.” We love her Boston accent, but are baffled as to where it came from.

At the office, drinking Black Waters Coffee. I may or may not have been taunting my sister in this photo…
As for me? I’ve enjoyed working more on my blog this year than ever before. I still home school my four oldest and have the added responsibility of helping with office work at the family business. So, sometimes we “business school” instead of “home school.” I continue to teach Bible clubs and Teen Sunday school as well. Life is busier than ever before, but I love the life God has made for our family.

As if all this was not enough blessing, God has decided to add MORE to our family… as in another child! Franklin no. 6 will be joining us in late May/early June of 2017! I’ve made it through the first trimester with much nausea but a lot of help from our children. Stephen and I concealed this little one until just recently when I could no longer explain why I look so “plump.” It has been a lot of fun! We do not understand why God continues to bless us, but we take His gifts and praise Him for them!

So what does 2017 hold for the Franklins? Well aside from a new child, we are trusting God to provide a bigger house for our growing clan. (Pray that our house will sell!!) We are planning a trip to the Northeast this year to visit my sister’s new home, as well as Stephen’s brother’s new ministry. Sporting events, sign installs, and more legos and blog posts…. I’m sure other surprises as well! We are so thankful for another year of health and family. God is good!

Merry Christmas and the Happiest of New Years!

The Best Laid Plans

Christmas can be hectic. Especially for my family. There is program planning, tons of parties, practices, plowing and whatnot that we get lost in the shuffle often and are not able to relax at all during the holiday season. This one has not been an exception either…. up until now, that is.

Our Christmas Cantata this year was going to be special. Stephen and I wanted to do something different. We wanted something that would really capture the true spirit of this season. We wanted the cantata to be the fruits of a deeper reflection on what Christ’s birth means. We wanted to help our church become more of a family.

So, I planned. I delegated. Tables were set. Chairs were brought in. Sign up sheets were filled to capacity. This year’s cantata was going to be a full house. Help was assigned. The sound system was set up. Everything was ready to go. We were prepared to share the good news of Christ’s birth.

Then it happened.

It snowed. No, it didn’t just snow… we had blizzard warnings. On Sunday. That meant half the choir was gone. Half the orchestra was unable to come. Most of our church family and their guests could not make it in such conditions. We had nada. And it was a gift.

Proverbs tells us that we can make plans, but their fruition is only of the Lord. And despite our plans, which were vast, the Lord decided to bring snow instead. In that snow, He brought a lesson: slow down.

In Psalm 46:10, God command us, “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”

As I have thought on this verse and others, the thought has occurred that this season is meant for celebration, yes. But does it have to be so full that we don’t have time for reflection too? Christ was born in a barn, in a very humble place. While I am sure there was some noise from animals and all, it didn’t have the same fanfare as would have been had he been born in the palace in Jerusalem. God’s intention was a quiet, humble birth. So, do we necessarily need a noisy celebration? The answer I come to as I dwell on Scripture is: not always.

We think worth comes through fanfare and noise. I think God is most glorified through humility and quiet.

As far as our evangelistic outreach goes, I think God gave us a good reminder with the snow storm: He doesn’t need us for His Word to go forth. Don’t get me wrong, He wants to use us to bring people to Himself. We are part of His plan. But He can do it without our gimmicks. He just wants people with willing hearts. And He can save people despite what we do or do not do.

Back to Sunday now. Stephen had to plow in the morning, but he was able to spend the rest of the day with his family. Right now, that is a luxury in this house. We stayed in our pajamas, had a wonderful meal, played, laughed, snuggled, wrestled, napped… it was great. It was restful. It was a gift from the Lord, truly. A day of rest to prepare for the rest of the holiday season.

Have you been so busy that you haven’t had time to reflect? Has your family been pushed to the side a little because of all your plans for celebrating Christ’s birth? I found a website for busy moms, and in it she has a Christmas challenge to focus our hearts and minds back on Christ. It involves rest and slowing things down. Check it out if you get a chance.

That’s all for now.

Ponderings: Christmas

I have finally come to grips with something that has taken me seven years to grasp – Christmas comes early in our house. It has to since Stephen is the choir director. He has to “get into the mood” so that we can plan the cantata every year. And since I have grasped this truth, I have learned a few things from it.

Thing 1: We keep Christmas in a box.
It’s true and I have done it my whole life. We have parameters for when Christmas starts and ends. We are sickened when we see Christmas merchandise out right after school starts. Christmas music and movies cannot be listened to before Thanksgiving. And the tree? Gone by the first week of the new year.
Why do we do that? Isn’t Christ’s birth central to our salvation? Shouldn’t it, then, be central to our lives and not confined to one month of the year? Shouldn’t the spirit behind Christmas and Easter permeate our being all year. I know Christmas has become highly commercialized, but to Christians we shouldn’t let that bother us. We can rejoice a little that it does become a big celebration, as it should be! Non-believers are not going to appreciate Christmas as we do… or ought to.

Thing 2: We do not prepare for Christmas properly.
I don’t know about you, but it kinda sneaks up on me. This year, I have been reading already and preparing my heart to celebrate this season in the hope that I will treasure and savor it more. Gift buying is great and shows us how God gave us the gift of His Son. If you are good at buying well in advance, that’s great! But I am going beyond having your cookies baked and frozen in November. We need heart preparation. We need to dwell on Christ’s birth and its different aspects. It ought to convict and change us so that spirit of “goodwill toward men” lasts all year.

Thing 3: The highlight of Christmas is usually the day itself and not the Savior.
It is human nature to be excited about receiving things, and I do not want to take that away from anyone. But I must ask, do we look forward to the presents most, or to aspects where we get to celebrate Christ’s birth? Do we look forward to Christmas programs, caroling and other ways to celebrate through service, or are they just forms of “token worship” that we perform to show others that we took time to think about Christ. Is it something we do because we are supposed to or because we want to? I had to ask myself these questions, and I didn’t like how I answered them…

So I have made a conscious decision this year to celebrate our Savior’s birth early this year… in my heart. Where it counts. It has been a blessing to me so far… Will you join me?

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