Revenge of The Christmas Monster

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Taught my first Advent lesson for Sunday School yesterday. We talked about how Jesus is our hope, light, and peace. I shared how this holiday season can be one of darkness for myself. How Advent helps me focus on the light of the season, Jesus. Got me thinking about the things we bring into the holidays. I was telling Tab that we battled The Christmas Monster, even as a married couple, for a long, long, time. We’ve worked hard though to create our own traditions (which I love) and refocus what Christmas is all about for our family. Below is a post I wrote about the Christmas monster in 2015. Enjoy!

The holidays are a battle. A war filled with presents.

The Christmas list is a list that must be structured to maximize gifts received. I’m not sure what year I learned how much family members spent on me for Christmas, but I did. Strategic planning ensued. I would organize my list so that the most expensive items were at the top of the page. As one would read down the list, the items became cheaper. I would even take this a step further by listing the items retail price. I was a monster, used to three family Christmas events. One with my dad’s parents, one with my mom’s parents, and one with my immediate family.

Sometimes monsters look cute. I mean, handsome.

My Aunt Jody has no children. She loves giving; she loves Christmas time. On the other side of the Christmas campfire, my mom felt the need to compete with my aunt and grandparents. Growing up, she co-owned a craft business with a friend. My mom would spend hours out in the garage, cutting out craft pieces with her scroll saw. She would then paint these items, piece them together, and then go to a weekend craft show to sell. Generating money for Christmas that we did not have. I remember my Grandma and Grandpa Ayers coming out to help her paint and get items ready to sell. The holidays were stressful for my mom. I’m sure she wouldn’t tell you that. I’m sure as a kid I couldn’t have told you that my mom was stressed over having to compete. But she was.

The gift overload distorted my view of Christmas. The season became all about what I could get. I didn’t see the stress it was causing those around me.

My mom has since learned to let go and not compete. But I’m still learning, shaping, what Christmas looks like for my family. I don’t want Wyatt growing up thinking that Christmas is about maximizing what he can get. Sure, maybe kids do that to a point. But I do not want to raise a Christmas monster.

What does Christmas look like for you and your family? How do you go beyond presents?

Rejecting the Story

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We minimize and reject portions of the story God is telling through our lives. Stuffing those experiences, those moments we don’t want to talk about, away.

Wounds become scabs. Ready to be made raw at a moments notice. A simple comment made; A scene from a TV show. Pain discovered anew.

A photo by Wilson Lau. unsplash.com/photos/MvjO-aMRwkE

Walking grief is the new norm. We don’t even know that we are living in this manner, sick. Ignoring the bigger story God is weaving. Denying that pain has occurred. Until one day, someone speaks truth. Giving light to the darkest depths of anguish.

Expectations rule us. We perceive that others do not want to hear what we are going through.

“They are sick and tired of us talking about this,” we say.

A pit of lies.

And yet we live in denial of the story being written. Telling God that He is not there in that moment. While failing to realize that He has never left.

It’s jarring to read about video games one day and then infertility the next. It’s uncomfortable.

Welcome to JohnnyBGamer.

 

Trust When There Is No Light

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Who among you fears the Lord
    and obeys the word of his servant?
Let the one who walks in the dark,
    who has no light,
trust in the name of the Lord
    and rely on their God.
11 But now, all you who light fires
    and provide yourselves with flaming torches,
go, walk in the light of your fires
    and of the torches you have set ablaze.
This is what you shall receive from my hand:
    You will lie down in torment. – Isaiah 50:10-11 (NIV)

We are called to have faith in times of darkness, times when we do not feel like we are hearing from God. Our temptation is to light our own torches, to not trust in God (Genesis 16), but that does not end well. When God gives us a glimpse of something He has for us, we just need to wait on Him. Waiting sometimes isn’t easy, but it is necessary.

Battling Across the Galaxy – Destiny

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I walked away from the Traveler. The Light. The Darkness. My fellow Guardians. I dispersed into the ether, sick of banging my head against the wall. The honeymoon was over.

Vanilla Destiny was a terrible experience wrapped in fantastic shooter mechanics. Destiny 2.0 is a whole new game with many UI upgrades and subtle improvements:

  • Quest and bounty tracking now have their own screen.
  • Light levels are front and center. Character stats are too.
  • Trading in bounties is as simple as pressing a button. This is revolutionary!

This is the game Bungie promised.

Destiny-Wallpaper-Bungie-Destiny-Logo

I spent my weekend battling through the Crucible. Maybe 3 hours of play, max. I leveled 6 times. The best part is that I had fun doing it.

As a side note: I’m going to miss the voice of Dinklebot. As my wife said, Nolan North just doesn’t sound like a robot. More time with the game may change my mind, but I miss the Elf dude.

Wyatt wants me to upgrade my ship. Even after telling me that he didn’t understand why you would upgrade it when you can’t fly or shoot with it. The ship just looks cool and he understands that. What I’m wanting to know, is upgrading my ship’s skin a waste of money?

Until next time.

Off Campus: Light, Darkness, and Skylanders

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Skylanders

In the realm of Skylands, the powers of light and darkness eternally warred with one another. The Darkness, an unknown evil represented by ominous clouds, was held at bay by a great machine known as the Core of Light. Protecting the Core of Light, the good Portal Master Eon and his faithful guardians, the Skylanders, stood watch. One day, an evil Portal Master known as Kaos returned and set in motion hell in Skyland form. Launching an assault that destroyed the Core of Light, diminished Eon to a spirit form, and sent the Skylanders packing to Earth, Kaos’s power grew. Defeated, the Skylanders were torn away from their magical Skylands. As they traveled further and further away from home, they grew smaller. Arriving on Earth, they now appear to humans as mere toys. The Darkness grows, a new Portal Master is needed, that Portal Master is you.
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