Rebecca Burtram

STILL DREAMING

STILL DREAMING

Right this minute, the first snow of the season is falling. Everything feels right as the dryer is whirring and the light flakes dusting the roads are shutting my commitments for the day down (I was supposed to coach my daughter’s youth basketball team this morning…because I needed something else to do…lol).

Although I’ve been up for a couple hours, everyone else is in the house is still fast asleep. We are all doing the same thing: dreaming.

We have always kept a busy schedule, but the addition of a teenage foster child has us running a little extra with meetings, home visits, counseling appointments, and trips to the doctor and dentist. In the past two months, we have had to reprioritize in order to make room in our lives for another family member.

My writing has been at a stand still, tasks at church have gone undone, and my pants have definitely felt the squeeze of our new normal.

Once again, I find myself in a place of trying to determine what is most important.

What have I learned?

I want a simplified life: work for the church, write books, speak at events, and have more time to spend with the kids and manage the home.

How is it then that the things I want most are the very things that I have set aside in order to keep myself and my family running? Of course, I mean figuratively running since my sneakers have seen little to no action. See above comment about pants.

The practical always wins over the dream. The daily schedule demands the dreams are set aside until a rare interruption, like a snowy Saturday, allows me to work a little toward the goal.

I started this post before everyone was awake, and I had to set it aside to finish when everyone had gone to bed. I used my unplanned freedom to spend 4 hours working at the church, watch a movie with the kids, make rice pudding (a snow day tradition), and write this blog post.

The dryer is whirring again…. because we are a family of six and that machine never rests. There is a light frosting on the trees, and everyone in my house is back to dreaming.

Christmas Visions

BELIEVE (CHRISTMAS VISIONS PART 5)

photo (1)

It is a single word with so much weight behind it- believe. It is an imperative, telling us to take action.

We must believe in something; it is hard wired in us.

A quick look at culture proves this is true. My children watch Disney Channel, and it tells them to believe in themselves. Christmas movies tell us to believe in Santa Claus and the good in humanity. We even create things in which to believe (Santa, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, Leprechauns).

There is an infinite number of possible ideas, faith systems, values, and people in which we can put our hope. Yet, so many of us are lacking in faith.

The problem comes from having been let down too many times. People have believed in money until finances failed, in love until the heart changed, and humanity until humans turned against each other.

We were created to believe, and we are constantly searching for something worth our faith and trust.

Perhaps we are in search of a Christmas miracle to undo the damages of life.

There is a reason this season in particular begs the world to believe. This is the season when we celebrate the one thing that was sent to make right all the broken faith.

We were given the gift of a baby in a manger, sent to redeem mankind, to carry the weight of all the broken promises and all the broken moments, and to put the world back into relationship with an unfailing God.

I pray your heart will be open to receive the gift of faith in a love unshakeable- love sent to teach us how to believe.

 

 

Christmas Visions

SHINE (Christmas Visions Part 4)

SHINE

Seventy-five degrees is not your typical December weather around here. We were not about to let this rare day pass without soaking up the warmth.

I have to laugh at what a sight we must have been throughout the day.

After picking up my middle child in the morning (without a shower, make up, or real clothes), I ran a few errands before dropping the same child off at her next play date.

At home, I joined my son and youngest child to hang out with our neighbors in the cul-de-sac. I was in yoga pants and a workout shirt, my son was wearing beat up athletic pants with his old play shoes, and my daughter was wearing a dirty shirt and her hair was a wild tangled flowing mess. Our neighbors were equally decked out in a mix of pajamas and casual day wear. The dad (barefoot) and some of the kids played football while the wife and I talked and corralled toddlers… as if this was perfectly normal for mid morning on a Saturday.

Later in the day, I sat (dripping sweat from my run with the same neighbor) with my youngest on the porch swing. She was carrying a walking stick and several small stuffed animals and wearing cowboy boots and a red cape. On top of this, she still had not brushed her hair and now had ketchup on her cheek.

It was the best Saturday. It was a rare day with nothing on the schedule other than dropping off and picking up our middle child from her various social engagements.

Instead of our normal use of free Saturdays- a mad attempt to clean the house spotless, we let ourselves embrace a little mess in order to soak up the sunshine.

Like my Christmas star decoration, we were messy and beautiful. We shared life together without attempting to create perfection and order. We allowed the strands and clumps to come together to form something warm and sparkling.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of a spotless house with bleach scented bathrooms. I also like wearing real clothes and make up on a daily basis. Somehow, though, the sun shining when it normally wouldn’t made all those things seem insignificant. All that mattered was gathering all of us together to bask in the warmth of the day.

Although it was not your typical advent season weather, there was definitely a gift in it. It was a reminder of how, long ago, a star appeared where there was normally no light to welcome beauty in the center of a mess.

What a strange sight it must have been: a young mother, a step father of sorts, and a baby in the middle of hay and animals.  It was not order and cleanliness. It was far from a picture of perfection. It was, though, a gift of a light sent to draw us together.

May your Christmas be full of shiny moments that draw you ever closer to the greatest gift and to one another.

PicMonkey Collage

 

Christmas Visions

Broken Angels (Christmas Visions Part 3)

BROKEN ANGELS

The world is full of broken angels.

The angel in this post’s picture is an angel we have had in our home for over ten years. This angel has survived many moves and the toddler years of my children. She has not come out unscathed.

In fact, in our most recent move, she broke in half. We could not bear to part with her, so she is balanced ever so carefully on the shelf so that she appears to be in one piece still.

You see where I’m going with this don’t you. It is hard not to because so many of you know broken angels…or you are a broken angel.

If you have been living long enough you have been through situations that have felt like life is on the move and taking you along for the ride, throwing you into boxes crammed up against others, possibly being tossed just a little too hard in the process of transition.

There is also the normal wear and tear of daily living- a demanding job, the never ending chores of the home, the responsibility to keep others fed, educated, enriched, and emotionally secure. These are rewarding, worthwhile pursuits that bring great joy- and maybe a touch of exhaustion.

Don’t forget the people or moments in life that feel like a small child playing too rough with a decorative angel on a shelf.

So, now, many of you are, like my broken angel, balanced ever so precariously to appear to be whole, desperately trying not to fall down or look as fragile as you are.

I know, my angel friends, life is tough. We need some super glue to put us back together. I want so desperately to be that super glue when I listen to the things that are shared with me in my ministry role. However, my listening ear and my practical support are not enough. I cannot be the glue. You cannot be the glue either. We can help the angel balance on the shelf, but we cannot make what is broken whole again.

Whether you are the broken angel or the one with the angels around you, there is one answer. We can put some pieces back together on our own, but we need God’s healing touch, his grace, and his love to be the super glue that keeps us together.

Isn’t that what Christmas is about? The celebration of God sending his son to undo the separation. Jesus is the glue. He is the thing holding together what was broken in the garden of Eden. He is the one waiting to hold the broken angels of this world together.

Dear angels, I hope you will allow some glue into your lives this season. Life is not meant to be spent high on a shelf hoping no one will bump you. Let yourself be glued back together so you can join the mess of living without falling to pieces.

Give the gift of super glue this season. It was the original Christmas gift.

Christmas Visions

TOY SOLDIERS (Christmas Visions Part 2)

Toy Soldier

I think the wooden nutcracker ornaments are ugly. Their hair looks ridiculous, and their teeth are absurd. However, all three of my kids love the nutcracker Christmas ornaments in our home.

I see the unattractive exterior, but my children see visions of something more grand in these toy soldiers.

My girls love them because they love the Nutcracker ballet.  They see a representation of beauty and romance. My son loves them because they are soldiers, and he sees the strength and the fight.

I need the eyes of a child to view this world. There is so much of life that is not pretty at first glance. There are so many moments that require eyes to look beyond what is glaring and apparent.

It is easy to see a place where people toss life in the trash in the name of convenience, slaughter it in the name of religious war, and end it in fits of rage. It takes effort to see beyond these, and many other, moments of ugly hair and teeth.

I want to see the beauty and the romance, and I want to believe in the strength and the fight.

I want to look in the face of the disasters and destructions of humanity and see those who are still dancing gracefully across the stage of life. I want to see the acts of love that outweigh the selfish and the profane. I want to focus on the ones who are fighting to bring love and peace.

Children see the world much closer to the way God views it. Humanity is a toy soldier, and God sees so much more than an ugly exterior. He has to, why else would he have been willing to send his son to live among us and bear the weight of our failings?

I am praying for eyes like my children’s.

God, help me to see the beauty in the hearts of others, remember the romance of your pursuit for us, and to always fight to help others find strength in you. 

 

Christmas Visions

GLASS TREASURES (Christmas Visions Part 1)

GLASS TREASURES

Last year, my daughters’ ballet teacher gave them dainty snow globes. I am not sure whether it is the minute details, the delicate features, the beauty of the ballerina, or the reminder of a teacher they adored, but there is something that causes them to treasure this gift.

The globes are so small in size and in monetary value, but they bring delight. I look at the globes, and I see how extremely fragile they are. I am aware of how quickly these treasured items can be cracked or broken.

I look at my daughters, and I see glass globes in their eyes. They are my fragile glass treasures. I see all the damage life can bring, and I desperately want to protect them.

Then it occurs to me, we are all glass treasures.

We are all small, seemingly insignificant beings, yet we hold great worth in the eyes of another. There is one who truly understands how precious and how breakable we are. Our heavenly father sees each of us as a treasure of great worth and has the ability to put the broken pieces back together after the world tosses us around.

God knows the breakable side of us because he became the gift. He became the glass treasure. He was the vulnerable infant child, and he allowed his life to be shattered. He was broken to bridge the divide between the divine and the created. His life, death, and resurrection were meant to bring wholeness back to all the glass treasures that have been cracked, chipped, or smashed to pieces.

For some reason, it isn’t entirely popular to hold such a belief. My hope for those who think my beliefs are for the uneducated or the unstable is they too will find themselves wrapped in arms of unfailing love when they need it most.

This Christmas, I hope you will receive the gift of understanding your own worth in the eyes of another. You are a glass treasure.

 

 

Christmas Visions
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