Wednesday, December 11, 2013


iPray eVotionals

iPray eVotionals exhorts those who pray.  It's the glass of water held out around each month's turn for the runners who can use a quick and easy quench in order to finish strong.  

 (Approximate reading time: 10 Minutes)

"Look what I got!"  It was the first thing my daughter, Shirin, said after returning from a fall festival with a friend and her friend's family.  She held up a canvas bag in one hand, it was bulging out as if it was filled with rocks.  "I mined and gathered so many treasures, you won't believe it!"

After thanking her friend for the fun day she dashed upstairs and spread all of her treasures out over her desk.  She spent the next hour separating and organizing her treasures into groups and piles.  I peeked in as I walked by with some laundry.

"Mom, come here and look at what I got.  Here is one...and so many of these...and this one is so rare..."

I stepped in, looked over her shoulder and expressed some general appreciation for what Shirin found.  I started to pick up some more laundry from her basket as she explained the names of each find.  It was like her words went in one ear and out the other.  I must have been thinking about the things that needed to be done because I can't remember even one stone she named off.  As she held each stone up I gave the appropriate, "That's awesome, no way, so cool," responses but not really noticing any details.  I couldn't tell you the color, shape or texture of even one treasure.  I knew they were pretty cool and that I could probably enjoy taking a look at them when I wasn't so distracted.  I told myself that after I got done with the things on my mind that needed to get done I would return to Shirin's desk to really take a closer look.  I told her that she could keep them on her desk until we found a good home for them and made my exit to gather more laundry from my room.

Now before I continue telling you about my 5% genuine interest level in what my daughter was 100% excited about I have to tell you that during this same week many of Shirin's molars decided it was time to come out.  The tooth fairy had a hard time keeping up, in fact her stash of emergency tooth fairy gifts had been depleted.  So when Shirin came running into my room with the exiting news that another tooth had come out you can imagine what was running through my mind.  I didn't even look at the tooth as I gave my appropriate, "Another tooth?  Wow, I can't believe it.  You won't be able to chew your food at this rate," as my mind raced through my options to get a little treasure under her pillow before the next morning.  She laughed.  I thought she was tickled by my humor.  I didn't even look at her as I started to brainstorm what I could do to help the tooth fairy come through.

"Mom, look at my tooth."

Without really looking up from gathering my clothes I said, "It's a molar right?  Go find your tooth fairy pillow so we don't lose it."  The news of Shirin loosing her tooth should have made me excited for her and asking to see it.  Instead it sent me into a series of thoughts barely related to the joy of the event.  Does the tooth fairy have anything to give?  Will she forget like the last time and have to redeem herself on the next night? Does she have time to go to the store before it gets too late? Since Shirin knows who the tooth fairy is should I even be thinking in third person?

"Mom!  Look at my tooth, it's so strange."

"It's strange?" I said as I held a bundle of clothes in my arms.

"Just look."  She held the tooth up in my face.  I stopped.  As it came into focus I dropped my clothes.  It was strange.  It was long and pointy.  It didn't look like a molar at all, more like a fang of some sort.  I wondered what sort of strange thing just came out of my daughter's mouth. It was dim as well, maybe rotten.  A rotten tooth would not be deformed in shape, would it?

Standing behind the tooth I could see Shirin's big smile.  She seemed to be amused by my expression and was chuckling.  Wait a minute.  Was this some sort of joke?  She couldn't handle it and started laughing out loud.

"What is that?" I asked.

"It's a tooth!"  She said.

"It's a tooth, but what kind of tooth?" I asked

"It's a shark tooth!" She laughed, "I got it when I was mining."  Of course I started to laugh.  It was a funny joke.  Shirin explained that when she was mining she had gathered about fifteen shark teeth.

Fifteen shark teeth?  I had looked at her treasures and didn't notice fifteen shark teeth?  I guess my daughter could tell how genuine I was earlier.  My automated and practically fabricated response did not connect me to her in any way.  She found an extremely creative way to get my attention onto the details, to not just glance over treasures but to really focus in and appreciate them in the same way she was.  Together experiencing a 100% genuine appreciation and awe for what she had gathered.  After really focusing in on that strange pointy tooth and realizing that she was pulling a fast one on me, I was sharing a real moment with her.  I had to go look at her treasures again to see what else I had missed.  

Guess what, when I looked at the treasures closer they really were awesome!  Each one told it's own story.  Some were rough and others were smooth. 

Shirin started to tell me all the names of the different stones.  "Check out this Quartz and this Turritella...oh I didn't know I had this, it's a Sea Coin...oh look, a fossilized Sea Clam.  Here is a Branch Coral...a Crinoid Stem...a Chrysophrase..."

"Honey, how on earth do you know all of these names?" I asked.

Shirin showed me a pamphlet sitting out, "This pamphlet tells me all the names of the treasures I could have found."  It was so compelling.  She showed me one of the rarest specimens, an Obsidian Arrowhead, and explained how she had found it.

I looked over and found a bumpy one, "This is a strange one, it looks like cereal."

"I know," She said, "it looks like oatmeal.  It's called a Florida Fossil Stone."

"This looks like Fool's Gold."

"Yea, isn't it Pyrite?  Yes, here it is, Pyrite...and here is a Citrine Point...and look at the Orthoceras..."
The moment was really special.

I can't believe that I almost lost that moment all together.  I can't believe that I let my learned responses get in the way of really engaging and finding out something new.  How could I assume I could have gone back later and had just as meaningful of a moment?  I had seen most of the stones before in my life, but I had never seen the ones that Shirin had panned out.  How could I just glance over it like it was nothing to write home about?

It's so easy to respond the same way to Christmastime in December or Easter in the spring.  Along the way there are so many treasures to behold.  Maybe it's because I think I have seen it all before or maybe it's the pile of laundry in my arms but moments can slip by with nothing but a meaningless glance.  Like the news of Shirin loosing her tooth, every time I hear that Christmas is coming it should make me excited for the celebration of remembering Jesus' birth.  Instead when a Christmas song starts to play in the store it makes me think about what I'm to accomplish before that day arrives with a series of thoughts barely related to the joy the Holiday brings.

What can make us drop the clothes and focus in for a real connection?  Maybe it's a new ornament, a drive to look at Christmas lights, experiencing a drive-through manger scene, trying a new recipe, providing a gift wrapping service or singing in the church choir.  Maybe it's a prayer that God would bring the tooth...or should I say the truth...into focus.  What about a new Advent reading plan.  (YouVersion has some really good ones this year.)  That we would not just glance but experience new and creative ways to make us stop, drop the clothes and really see what it is He is holding in His hand.  Maybe it's a prayer that what we see will not be what we think or what we expect, but instead it's something that changes our view of, our connection with and our response to Jesus.

There are treasures to behold if we are willing to look up and marvel at them.  There are different textures, colors and shapes unique to this year of celebrating.  Something has to grab us out of those learned holiday responses that have no connection to the heart of the season.
Christmas House   

The thing about the treasures that Shirin found are that they were not stumbled upon.  They were searched out and found.  She picked up a pan, dumped it in sandy water and sifted until treasures emerged.  She did not hide them away but she marveled at them and found a way to get others excited as well.  In order to find our treasures this season we need to be sifting through the days as a miner would.

I'm already starting to think as a miner.  As we were getting down our Christmas decorations this year my son, Frederick, asked me if he could make a Christmas House.  At first I sort of kept up with what I was doing and said, "We are decorating so we will have a Christmas House."

"No mom, you know some people at Halloween time have haunted houses, but I don't want to do something scary.  I want it to be funny, I want to make a Christmas House.  People can come walk through and see all kinds of things and laugh instead of be afraid."

You know what went through my brain?  Two things: First, what a fun idea.  Second, what a lot of work.  I almost answered with a very sandy response, "Maybe, I'll think about it."  When I realized that it was time to think like a miner.  Here was a treasure of an idea that could connect us to Christmas in a meaningful way instead of going along just glancing at what the season is all about.  I stopped and looked at my sons face.  With a bright smile he waited to hear my response.  His genuine excitement came into focus.

"Please mom."  Would I just glance at the idea or would I really take a look?

"Yes, this could probably happen."  I said as I silently sifted the sand away to allow this treasure to emerge.  "Something different that would make us really focus, marvel, explore and enjoy the details."

Soon we had a paper and pen and we were planning out what our walk-through Christmas House could look like.  "We could do it in our back yard..."  "Yes, and we could have puppets..."  "We could have music too..."  "We could also have a narrator that has funny dialog along the way..."  "The fort could be an observatory where the wise men are gazing at stars..."  "Yes, and our gazebo-like awning could be an angel's dance party with the shepherds near by..."  "Our hot tub bar can become a puppet show..."

The ideas were wonderful.  It excited us to sit down and really think about the treasures of Christmas and how we could put those treasures into a Christmas House. How we could help others laugh a little bit like I did with Shirin's tooth joke and then stop and focus in on the true treasures of Christmas.
Why save our mining for a single holiday day such as Christmas or Easter?  Put on your miner gear, let the sand of halfhearted glances, "'I'll come back to that later" attitudes or, "It's too much work" responses sift away.  May we never over look what is special and unique about Jesus' life on earth.   As we open our pamphlet (Luke 1 & 2) that tells us about the treasures, may we be awed once again.

One way to keep our sifting eyes alert is to get involved in an Advent Bible Reading Plan.  These plans take only minutes a day!  There are some really great ones this year.  Find a non-traditional twist on Advent, explore the humble beginning of the Savior, get daily devotionals or receive song devotionals from popular Christian artist.  Check it all out by clicking here: Advent Bible Reading Plans.

Then December 25th will not only be the climax of the season it was meant to be but it will also be a day that magnifies the joy we already have in our hearts.

When Christmas arrives this year let's make sure we have a canvas bag bulging with treasures to share with others. May we hold up our bags and exclaim, "I mined and gathered so many treasures, you wont believe it!"


...that you will live every day as a miner, sifting the sand away to uncover true treasures.

...that your responses will be 100% genuine.

...that you will focus on the truth and be engaged.

...that you will capture each moment, never putting it off for another day, week, or even year.

...that Christmas is not the same old thing, that even when you know what to expect you will marvel at it once again.

...that you will share your treasures, pointing out the rare and unique beauty in a captivating and creative way.

In Jesus' Name iPray, Amen!

ALL for Him,
Michelle Fozounmayeh
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Michelle Fozounmayeh

Michelle Fozounmayeh
A joy filled wife and mom that enjoys writing, praying, speaking at women events and being an Area Coordinator with the ministry Moms In Prayer International.



Advent Reading Plans:
  • Rediscovering the Christmas Season offers a non-traditional twist on Advent, with reflection questions and action steps that help individuals, families, and small groups center each day on Christ. From 25 days
  • The Christmas Story chronicles the humble beginnings of the Savior that the world had been waiting for. From YouVersion. 7 days
  • Good News of Great Joy helps you adore Jesus throughout Advent, with short daily passages directed toward feeding your joy in God. From John Piper and Desiring God. 25 days
  • Our Daily Bread Christmas Edition features daily devotionals specifically selected to help you find encouragement, comfort, and true joy through God's love for you. From Our Daily Bread. 10 days
  •  The Songs of Christmas highlights Christmas song devotionals from popular Christian artists like Mandisa, TobyMac, Amy Grant, Colton Dixon, Kari Jobe, and Hillsong. From Capitol Christian Music Group. 14 days
  • 12 Days of Christmas with The Overflow brings you stories about Jesus' birth through Christmas songs, presented by such artists as Sidewalk Prophets, James Fortune, Jason Castro, and Building 429. From The Overflow. 12 days


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