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Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Woman of Grace

We are between Christmas and New Year's. Always interesting. People are tired of celebrations, parties, upheaval in schedule. Yet, we feel obligated to move on to yet one more celebration New Years Eve/Day.

I'm just thinking, the week between Christmas and New year would be well spent if we would lay aside time for fasting, prayer and God's Word. This would be a most meaningful time to prepare for the incoming year. Have I done it? No. I wish I could say "yes." I have had a great time with family. No doubt. Lots of fun, laughter, food, games, discussions around God's Word, and all around fellowship. But slack on Bible reading and prayer. Shame.

I'm just thinking of New Year's resolutions. I don't do that either. I fail miserably at them. But I wonder if it would be easier to keep them, if they were made in light of God's Word. What is it that God wants me do in the New Year? What is it that needs changing in my life?

I just completed a book study on Being A Woman of Grace. At the end of the book, I realized my idea of being graceful was quite different than what a woman of grace really is. I have been given love, forgiveness, kindness, mercy, and much more from a God that is full of grace and mercy to me. So if I have been forgiven and loved, I need to pass that on to others. The fullness of God's grace to me needs to be passed on to others.

My desire is to bless others with words and deeds. To be ready to forgive and not judge. To love instead of criticize. To be a woman of grace....

God bless you

Monday, December 24, 2012

A Christmas Gift

I spoke with Patrick last night (he's in Haiti), and he just returned from a mission trip to a village far away from Mayette. This place is tucked away in the mountains, very remote, and he described it as "in a different world." There were 16 men from the Mayette Church who went on this trip. Patrick didn't have exact numbers, but many people accepted Jesus. This is what Christmas is all about. People coming to Jesus.

It is so easy to get wrapped up in the social holiday spirit, and forget to offer the best gift in all the world to someone who needs a special Someone, Jesus! That Gift is all wrapped up in love. Not only does this Gift come wrapped in Love, but has a beautiful ribbon of Peace and a bow of Grace. Now that is a gift like no other.

Today we leave for Sarasota to enjoy the holidays with my family. My mother just arrived in Sarasota a few days ago, and will now be living in Florida at my brother's place. She was so excited for this move. And I'm excited to have her closer to me. :)

I will try to blog occasionally even though I am not home. I do hope each of you will have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year.

It's all about Jesus, Immanuel God with us. What a name! Glorious.

God bless you

Friday, December 21, 2012

Room in My Heart?

Reading Luke 2 where the angel visited Elizabeth and Mary, I was thinking of the comparison of today. Preparing for Christmas, activities are increased. Our busyness is exhausting. But the beginning was not so. When Zecharias was in the temple serving, the angel announced that his aged wife would bear a child. He didn't believe and became mute until the child was born and named.

Mary, a young virgin, also was visited by Gabriel (same angel that visited Zecharias) was in awe of the angel's presence. She listened, believed and was in awe that she was chosen. When she visited her cousin Elizabeth, the worship service began. Mary sang the ultimate worship song, which is now known as the Magnificant. The baby in Elizabeth's womb also leaped in the womb.

What do you and I do with the call of God on our lives? Do we doubt as Zecharias? Do we humbly accept and believe as Mary? The birth of Jesus was so out of culture. Such an "unbelievable" story! Really, who would ever believe a young girl, virgin, and who says she is pregnant by the Holy Spirit! Absurd! But that is how the Christmas season began. It lasted for nine months.

Through this we have a beautiful worship song, read it in Luke 1:46-55. Mary, a poor virgin, the mother of Jesus, sings the song of worship. The lowest of the low employees, the shepherds—dirty, smelly, taking care of sheep out in the field—get the first birth announcement. Not the queen, or a prince, or even the king received the great news. No one had room for Mary, not the Ritz or any other 5 star hotel. Oh no, just a barn...dirty, smelly, and not even a beautiful nursery with matching furniture, curtains, stuffed animals, a nice rocker to sit and nurse the King of Kings. No just a barn for Baby Jesus.

Sad thing is, nothing has changed until now. We give Jesus the leftovers in our heart. After we have all we want, then Jesus can have what's left. Still today, Jesus chooses the most unlikely characters to do His work. Usually not the most educated, the wealthiest, the most popular. No, He calls those who have a "heart" for Him.

Where are you in this Christmas story? You know the answer.

God bless you

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

It's All About Attitude

Attitude...yes, it is all about attitude. My perspective of the day will develop according to my attitude. If I dread the day, and am already deciding that things are going to be difficult and aggravating. It will be just that.

This morning as Rachel went out the door for work, she asked, "Mom, you will have the 2 boys all day without either Agape or I. Your day will be hard." I can make it hard if I already decide that my day is going to be an interruption to "my" plans. And mostly that is why our days go awry. We don't like our plans interrupted.

But if I have an attitude that God is in the midst of my day, He has promised me strength and grace, and most of all nothing happens to my life without God's consent. So the day will be good. Now I haven't prayed for patience for today, I admit. A sure way of little boy fights all day. Smile. You do know when we pray for patience, God gives us trials? Patience doesn't come with good things happening.

I expect the boys to be good today. I expect us to have a good time. I expect to learn from God today. All of that is wrapped up in the arms of God's Grace. I love His Grace. His overflowing grace is indescribable, and can't even be compared to hot fudge covering a bowl of ice cream! His grace is so much more!!

So today Zion, Nate and grandma will have a good day. Gotta watch those pirate and knight fights, though. The wooden swords can hurt. Smile.

God is so good. He is truly Good.

God bless you

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Dark Christmas the CT shooting...a dark Christmas for those families. I cannot imagine the emotional trauma among the parents, spouse, siblings, and extended families.

Then this morning I read the following "post" by Max Lucado. I will copy it here, and hoping you too will be blessed and encouraged.

Dear Jesus,
It’s a good thing you were born at night. This world sure seems dark. I have a good eye for silver linings. But they seem dimmer lately.
These killings, Lord.  These children, Lord.  Innocence violated.  Raw evil demonstrated.
The whole world seems on edge. Trigger-happy. Ticked off. We hear threats of chemical weapons and nuclear bombs. Are we one button-push away from annihilation?
Your world seems a bit darker this Christmas.  But you were born in the dark, right? You came at night. The shepherds were nightshift workers. The Wise Men followed a star. Your first cries were heard in the shadows. To see your face, Mary and Joseph needed a candle flame. It was dark. Dark with Herod’s jealousy. Dark with Roman oppression. Dark with poverty.  Dark with violence.
Herod went on a rampage, killing babies. Joseph took you and your mom into Egypt. You were an immigrant before you were a Nazarene.
Oh, Lord Jesus, you entered the dark world of your day. Won’t you enter ours? We are weary of bloodshed. We, like the wise men, are looking for a star. We, like the shepherds, are kneeling at a manger.
This Christmas, we ask you, heal us, help us, be born anew in us.
Your Children

© 2012 Max Lucado

I pray this will encourage you as it did me. It really put into words what I feel but had no way express it. We do live in a very dark world, but we serve the Light of the World who shines the path for us. 

God bless you 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Gift of Grace

Colossians 4:6 "Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how to answer each one."

Does this mean always? Like even in Christmas shopping? Someone steps ahead of me in the check-out? Someone takes "my" parking space? Schedules are already packed to the max, then the church calls for an extra hand for the special program. Does grace cover your speech?

When food is seasoned with salt, it gives a good flavor. So when our speech is flavored with grace, it leaves a good taste. Way too often, Jesus' birthday, as we call Christmas, is covered with bad attitudes, selfishness, anger. Oh we sing joy to the world, but are angry at our husband. We sing Silent Night but are yelling at the kids.

Back to the challenge of grace..."Grace should so much be a part of me that it spills over into every area of my life." (Cynthia Heald),  But what does grace really mean to me, and how can I live it out to others?

Think about it...a person of grace gives freely, God has freely given His son so that we might live
David K. Lowery puts it this way: "God prizes not the size of the gift, but the giver's sincerity, spontaneity, and joyful willingness." I love this. Our giving should not be limited to Christmas and certainly not giving to be given in return.

A person of Grace speaks with wisdom. Putting it plainly, think before talk. What I say and how I say it, says volumes of who I am.

This Christmas let's give the gift of love, the gift of forgiveness, the gift of a meek and quiet spirit all wrapped up beautifully with God's endless supply of Grace. He has given it to you and me. Let's bless someone else with His grace.

God bless you

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Have You Lost the Star

This morning Zion stuck the end of an art paint brush in his ear. It was up on the counter, but he climbed up and got it. He is fine, but he was hurting for a bit.

Rachel remarked, "I don't know why he did it, we just told him yesterday not to do it."

Do adults always do what they know they shouldn't do? Really? Do we expect more from our children than we are willing we do? We need to be told over and over again, and God even gives us harsh experiences to help us learn. And still we keep wandering off the road.

Do we lose the star? Does the star hide itself behind the clouds because we are so determined to go our own way? I think of the wise men. I wonder how they lost the star? Did they assume the king was in Jerusalem and so just weren't following the star? Or did God cover the star with a cloud, so that Herod would know a king is born? So many "whys" in this story.

So it is with our life. So many "whys." But even with all our disobedience and failing, God is faithful in showing us the Star again and again to help us find the way. Let's be patient with our children. Don't expect more from them than what you are willing live before them. In many ways, we are the "star" that our kids follow. There will be a day when they need to follow The Star, but until they are old enough, it is parents and grandparents that must shine for them.

Shine today wherever you are! Jesus is counting on you.

God bless you

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Too Busy?

Christmas. Right around the corner, as we say. Shopping, baking, festivities. All of these make for a wonder holiday experience.

But many times there is sadness, loneliness, bickering among families..Christmas arrives and we are disgruntled. What happened? Could it be that we are trying to do what everyone else is doing? Could it be that this is really not the way to celebrate? I believe what happened in Bethlehem when Jesus was born is not so far removed from us today. That day and night, everyone was scurrying about, preparing for the big census taking. I am sure there were meetings, sacrifices, temple activities and friends getting together. Oh what fun! Except for one family...they slept in the cattle stable. No room anywhere. A baby was born...the chosen One for our redemption. Yet, no one knew. Everyone was too busy. He was doctor, no midwife, no bed or cradle. There was none of the normal statements... "oh isn't he cute? Isn't he precious? What did you name him?" No just mom and dad and their baby in the barn.

Is that how we still are? Too busy to worship Him? Too busy to really worship Him? Too realize Jesus is here. He wants to be in our hearts and lives. Actually He wants to lead us in such a way that we can just follow Him instead of society around us. But if I do things differently, won't people frown at me? Won't they think I'm a Christmas grinch? Yes, they probably will. But who would you rather have your praise from? People or God?

What is it that keeps you from worshipping Jesus this Christmas? What is so important that we miss the importance of worship? 

He is Immanuel, God with us. Give Him room in your heart. Then you will know Peace and Good will to all. 

God bless you

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Leaping The Wall

Psalm 18:29-30 "For by You I can run against a troop, By my God I can leap over a wall. As for God, His way is perfect. The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him."

When I read this verse today,  I had to ask myself the question, Do I have faith to jump the wall? Do I have faith to go beyond those barriers that would hide my vision from the Lord? Knowing David had many literal walls to go over to run from his enemies, yet he went knowing that God was His shield. I can only leap the wall in the power of the Lord.

This month we will often be reminded of Jesus' birth. Mary had an unbelievable "wall" to hurdle. Not only personally, to believe that it is even possible to be pregnant by virginity, but also with Joseph, family and society. She knew the consequences of being pregnant when she was engaged. In spite of that she responded that she is honored to be chosen.

I praise the Lord that she believed and knew that God was her shield and that His way is perfect. She became the "odd one" in her family and those around her. I am sure the news travelled quickly, yes, even without phones or TV. Can you imagine what the media today would do with such news?!

I don't know any other season of the year when it is so difficult to go against the tide. We soon get caught up with over-spending, over-eating, and almost nightly celebrations and parties. And the sad thing is, it is done in the name of Jesus, even though we hardly ask Him for His plan in our shopping sprees. Am I saying taking Christ from Christmas? Not especially, although I believe He has been taken out of our ways to celebrate Christmas for a long time. We just don't realize it because we are in the middle of it.

If you don't understand what I am talking about, you may contact me. Or better yet, start seeking the Lord on this matter. I believe He will show you step by step as you obey His leading. 

What is your "wall" this Christmas? By God you can leap the wall.

God bless you