Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy "New Beginning"!

"It is because of the Lord's mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed, because his [tender] compassions fail not. They are new every morning;
 great and abundant is your stability and faithfulness."
Lamentations 3:23,24 (AMP)

I'm not in to New Year's Resolutions. It seems like we make them hoping we can fulfill our goals. But when we inevitably give up, well....when I inevitably give just feels like failure. I see no reason to set myself up to fail. But.....

I do believe in second chances.
I do believe in do-overs.
I do believe in new beginnings.

I serve a God who is known for giving second chances; and third, and fourth, etc.
I serve a God who loves me enough to give me a "do-over".
I serve a God who  is the author of new beginnings.

Yesterday I was feeling a little down. The holidays tend to do that to me. It started about 21 years ago; not sure if it was because we left all our families in Texas or if it's the long, dark dreary winters here in the Northwest. Maybe a bit of both. But I do know that if I'm not careful I can find myself in the dumps very easily. And then of course, this was the first Christmas without my Mom and Aunt Jo; and Mitchell, my 19 year old son who moved to Georgia this summer. And looking back over the last year and all the changes and difficult times we've had....well, I began to throw myself a mini pity party and found myself having a conversation with God....

"You know what, God? I have spent this entire year wishing it was over.....and now it is. But what is different?  Mom is still gone; Mitchell is still in Georgia; it's still winter in the northwest; and my family still lives in Texas.  What did I think as going to happen? All of a sudden I would wake up on January 1 and I would feel better? All of this waiting didn't accomplish anything....when I look back on 2011 from my perspective all I really see is a lot of wasted time. So what now?"

Ok, it wasn't so much a conversation as it was a soliloquy.

But, God in His faithfulness gently and quietly reminded me that while a lot of my circumstances have not changed, He does not change, either. And through this whole time, in every circumstance and every trial, He has been there doing His part. But I just kept waiting for the year to be over. I have a mental picture of a little child who has been hurt. This wounded, crying child runs to their father and climbs up in His lap for comfort, which the father gives. There is a moment of being consoled, and then one of just resting in the comfort of his arms. But before long, the child jumps up and is on the run again.

I have been consoled; 
I have been comforted; 
but I didn't get back on the run again. 
Because the reality is, life is different. 
And I don't like the changes. 
I'd rather sit in my Father's lap and be comforted. 

And, truth be told...pout.

As Lamentations points out, it is because of His mercy and love that I have not been consumed  by all of this; his compassion is never ending and we get a fresh supply of them each and every morning.

I'm not the only one who has had a rough year. My sisters have each struggled with the loss of our mom and aunt. Other friends have lost family members this year. Many are struggling with health issues; lost employment; lost homes.... life changing circumstances. And we have all been comforted by a loving Father.

Because God is a God of second chances, do-overs, new beginnings.

And so, let's not receive this grace in vain (2 Corinthians 6:1); let's finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given us...the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace. (Acts 20:24).

It's time to step down out of His lap and get back to business...His business. He has things for me to do...plans, purposes, a future, hope. And while I may step down out of His lap, I will never be out of His sight, never be out of His arms...

Because He holds my world in His hands.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Come and Worship....

I was driving home from one of my many errands...
listening to music on the car radio...
listening to Christmas carols...
I found myself wondering ....

What was it like 
to kneel at the manger?

We sing songs like 
Come and Worship, 
Away in a Manger, 
Angels We Have Heard on High, 
Oh Come Let Us Adore Him. 

We worship Jesus knowing now what they didn't know then. 
We know what He has done for us. 
He lived a sinless life 
He healed the sick
He raised the dead 
He gave his life...
He died a horrible death that we may have life 
He defeated death and the grave
He sits at the right hand of the Father... 
interceding for us. 

We see Him as Savior and Lord
They only saw a baby....
lying in a manger

They knew what the angels had said...

"Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord. 
This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths 
and lying in a manger." 
(Luke 2:10-12)
The shepherds were doing what shepherds do....  
Standing out in a field counting sheep
On a clear, cold, starry night
An uneventful evening. 
Not too terribly exciting. 
When suddenly....
an angel appears... 

Why those shepherds?
What did they do that made them special?
Were they just in the right place at the right time?

They knew what the prophets and foretold. 
"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, 
and the government will be on his shoulders. 
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
 Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." 
(Isaiah 9:6)

The magi....wise men, kings, astronomers... 
Searching for the baby the prophets foretold... 
Traveling for a long time.... 
Determined to find this child...
And when they did...
They gave him gifts...
And worshiped him.

Who were these men?
Why were they so persistent?
How did they know this baby was different?

From dirty shepherds to influential men; 
From the fields to the palaces; 
From near and from far....
They set all aside...
And they came...
To worship...

What was it like...
To kneel at the manger?
To kneel before this tiny baby....
Who was the Creator of the world?

Can you sense the wonder?
Can you hear the hush?
Can you feel the awe?

As we near the day...
As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, 
in the midst of the hustle and bustle,
the shopping and the baking,
the wrapping and the unwrapping,
stop for just a moment
and kneel at the manger...

Come and worship
Christ the new born king.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

It's Nice to Meet You....

"Go into all the world 
and preach the good news
 to all creation."
Mark 16:15 

I have been writing this blog for a little over two years. At first, I wondered if anyone would even know I was here and who would be interested enough to read my thoughts and ramblings. I started it just for me; a place to journal what God was teaching me and where He was leading me. I was amazed when people I know began to comment to me that they were blessed by my writing. Wow! That meant people were actually reading it!

At the bottom of my blog page is a map of the world. If you look at it, you will see little white hearts that mark the locations of the people who visit my blog site. I am amazed again! Some of the locations are places I have never visited...actually most of them are places I have never visited; not do I know people who live there.

I am humbled....

Debbi, 'Lena, Margie, Annette
I was chatting with my sister the other day; she has recently begun writing, also. She mentioned that someone in Russia had visited her page. We do not know anyone in Russia! Debbi has always had a heart for missions and would have been a wonderful missionary. But after marrying and raising eight children, she has not had the opportunity to go on many mission trips to spread the gospel to all the world. But suddenly, as we were talking I realized....

That is exactly what we are doing!

With our writing and in this age of advanced technology, we are "going into all the world" spreading the message of Jesus and sharing the love of the Father. I tell you, it has changed the way I think about the things I share. When I began this blog, I did it for me, but realizing that others are reading brings an awareness of a great responsibility. What I write should be encouraging, uplifting, biblically accurate and always point others to God. I pray that I am doing that very thing.

Again, I am humbled that you visit me and thrilled that you come back again and again. It is my prayer that each time you visit you are blessed and encouraged. 

I have created a Guest Book page which you can find at the top of this blog site. I would be honored if you would sign in and tell me a bit about yourself. Since I can't see you face to face, I would love to know...

Who you are...
Where do you live?
How did you find this site?
What is God doing in your life?
What is God doing through  your life?
How can I and the others visiting pray for you?

I have several "blog-sisters". These are women I have never met, but we know each other through our blogs. It is a bit like having a pen-pal and God has knit our hearts together through our writing. I love that I can be struggling with something in my heart and just by opening up a web page, I can connect with someone on the other side of the country or the world and find encouragement and love from another follower of Christ. Isn't that amazing?

"I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, 
because your faith is being reported all over the world."
Romans 1:8

God bless you all!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

This is the Day...Rejoice!

"This is the day the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it."
Psalm 118:24

I had to get up at 3:45 am today to take my husband to work. We only have one car and on Saturdays we each have early morning Bible Studies we attend. I usually drop him off at his men's group and then I head over to my friend, Janet's house for our ladies group. But this morning, Mark had to work some overtime. Not something he likes to do, but circumstances necessitated it. But, that meant in order for me to attend my Saturday morning ladies group, I had to drive him in to work.

Have I ever mentioned I'm not a morning person?

Anyway, as I was driving home I was praying and really just complaining to God. You see, this year hasn't been all that fun. And I have spent most of it wishing it would just be over. On the one hand I have said, "God has new mercy every morning".... and He does. But I have also said, "This year is really @$%#% and I just want it to be over!"

As I was driving home, tears running down my face, two Psalms popped into my head...

"This is the day the Lord has made;
 rejoice and be glad in it."
Psalm 118:24

and right behind that one....

"Let the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart,
be acceptable in thy sight,
O Lord, my strength
and my Redeemer."
Psalm 119.14

Well, needless to say I was convicted on both counts. The first verse reminded me that every day is a gift from the Lord and each one has new mercy, new opportunities and new divine appointments if we but look for them. The second verse is the benediction we say after every service at our church. It is also one of the earliest verses I remember memorizing as a child. And yet, the words of my mouth have been speaking death into each day of this year.

It's time to turn this around.

We still are facing many challenges this holiday season. I would covet your prayers for our family, immedate and extended members. The Holy Spirit will guide you in what to pray. There are health issues, financial issues, relational issues, employment issues, emotional issues... this will be the first Christmas without my Mom and Aunt Jo, and the first Christmas my son, Mitchell won't be home with the family. And while our Christmas trees are beautiful, there's nothing under them....well, except the cat, Jasper.

So, the challenge to myself I also extend to you....

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart declare
that this IS the day the Lord has made...
REJOICE! And be glad in it!

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Be Still....

"Be still and know that I am God."
Psalm 46:10

This is the verse that started me on this journey over two years ago. It reminds me that no matter what craziness there is in the world, God is in control. I have held tightly to this verse with both hands and all my heart for over two years, because I knew that no matter what, if I could just hold on tight everything would be okay.

Remember those words...
 "hold on tight"

Tonight I was reading an article on this very verse and I learned something new.The word translated "be still" comes from the Hebrew term raphah which means "that which is slack, to drop, to be weak". The thought was that God is commanding us to "be weak, drop all your worries...I got this!" (I'm paraphrasing again). 

Kind of the opposite of "hold on tight"; and yet, it's not really. Because I still believe we need to hold onto Jesus; hold on to the promises of God; hold on to our faith that He has everything in control. But I think the problem we sometimes face is that while we are holding on so tight to what we believe is our faith, we are in actuality still holding on tight to the situations we are desperately trying to give to God.

My family is facing some real challenges this holiday season. And while I know God is telling me to "be still" in the sense that I need to not fret and worry, I think He may also be telling me to "go slack, let it weak". Because if I hold on too tightly, I live in tension and anxiety. But if I drop it into His Hands and become weak...then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:10).

God is in control and I am not. The writer of this article said, "...we need to drop our hands, go limp, relax and chill out". Still taking responsibility for those things we need to do, but allowing God to do those things He will do. A friend sent me a message today that said,

"Faith is not believing God can; 
Faith is believing that God will.

What burdens are you carrying today? What worries are keeping you awake at night? What are you trying to do in your own strength that you just aren't able to accomplish?

Be still.....and know that He is God.