Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Day Four of the 12 Days of Christmas

Father, may our readers grow and mature as they seek you on this journey. May they know you in a fresh, new way. May they fully give themselves to you, and may their families choose to live differently; totally abandoning themselves to your infinate love. May they sense your presence in such a delightful, refreshing way today and may you heal their hearts, comfort them with your love and may they live in the light of your presence today. Amen.

We do pray for you. Every day. You are so precious to us and to God. We so want to change the face of Christmas from the commercial mayhem that it has become to a time of peace, love and fulfillment in Christ. Only God can accomplish that. Will you join us in prayer for that?

Today is the Fourth day of Christmas. Four calling birds. Four gospels. Which one speaks to you the most? I love all of them, but John is my favorite. He speaks to my heart. Whenever I don't know what to do, or what God is trying to tell me, I go to John. In the first 5 verses, he clears everything up.

John 1:1-5 says it all:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has hot understood it.

He is my all in all. When I do not know what to do, or where to turn, I go here and remember who is my life and light. And when I feel like everything is dark, I remember that is just a feeling. And that it too will pass, because he is my light and life. And that darkness does not understand him, even though the light has shined into it. And that in my darkness when I don't understand him or what he is up to, that I can still trust him, put my faith in him, hope in him and love him. For he is the light of my life, and he has not abandoned me in my darkness. In fact, his light of love is shining brighter than ever. I just have to rest in it until I can see it again. He is my light at the end of the tunnel. My joy in everything. I may not feel it, but John helps me remember and live there.

I pray you will live in his light today. Love, Leslie

Join us for the 12 Days of Christmas at www.12daysbook.com. You can help us spread the joy of a new way of doing Christmas. Join us!

Day Three of the 12 Days of Christmas

Ok, I had good intentions. Really I did. But Linda and I were having so much fun that the day got away from us, and by the time I got home from her house, which is only a few minutes away, It was almost 1 AM and I just fell into bed. You see, Linda's husband bought her a new toy for Christmas. One of those fancy sergers (sewing machine) with some amazing stitches and we were busy all day making pajamas for the kids and baby blankets for the crisis pregnancy center. And we didn't do too badly, either. 12 blankets finished, 15 pajama bottoms cut out, 1 finished completely and 5 sewn partially. Plus we cooked dinner for both families and put dinner in the crock pot to be cooked today. It is amazing what can be accomplished when you work together! I guess that is why God expects us to work together as his body. But that subject is for another blog!!

Anyway, when I had my time with God in the garden, he took me again to Colossians. I love that letter. It was so appropriate for the subject of the day: The three french hens represent Faith, Hope and Love. And that is exactly what the verses I read today focused on.

Colossians 1:3-6 says:
We (Paul was speaking) always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith and love that springs from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God's grace in all its truth.

Wow! If that doesn't fit in with the day, I don't know what does! We have been given the gift of faith in Jesus Christ. He revealed himself to us, and that gives us hope. Hope for now, and a hope for the future. This isn't all there is, folks. I tell my kids that all the time. I want them to be focused on the things to come, not on the here and now. And the hope within us bears forth love- love for our families, friends and kindred spirits. But also love for those 'irregular people'. Those that are not easy to love, but that God loves just the same.

Who is that in your life? I know who it is in mine. Actually, there are several. One of them, I have to spend time with this weekend. And it is someone who is a believer, and has hurt me deeply, in ways unfathomable. But how can I overcome my feelings and love him anyway?

First, remember that God loves them too. And then that we are "forgiven as we forgive those who trespass against us". I don't understand how they could have done what they did, but I have said careless words and heartless comments. And I sure want to be forgiven. So I better forgive!

Second, let it go. Even though you don't feel like it, choose to forgive. When you pray, tell Jesus, "I am so hurt by ----- and I don't want to forgive them. But I choose to forgive. Would you give me a willing heart to forgive and help my feelings to follow?" I also remember that unforgiveness is one of the leading causes of colon cancer. It will literally eat you alive. It causes bitterness and damage that affects you physically and all other relationships. So give it to God and he will help you let go of the past.

Third, pray for the person. Realize that they are lost. If not lost, they are still mortal and living in a fallen world, so therefore capable of sin. They probably didn't even realize how much you were hurt, and if they did, they need to seek forgiveness. But even if they never do, you need to, for your sake and for the sake of Christ, forgive them. If they know what they did, and are unrepentant, you might need to go to them and tell them you forgive them anyway. Ask God, and he will tell you what to do. Don't flaunt it in their face, like I am better than you because you did not ask and still I forgive. But humbly tell them you forgive them and you are not going to let a root of bitterness take root in your heart. If they are blissfully unaware, perhaps you should just leave it that way. If God wants you to bring it up, he will tell you. But if it is someone you have to face daily, and they are a fellow believer, you may need to tell them. You know the situation best, and if you truly desire restoration, God will lead you.

One word of caution: Don't be a doormat. If there is a broken relationship, and it is a continual thing, seek help. Seek wise council and God's word for the answer. But know that continually being abused is not healthy. For you or for the other person. Loving someone doesn't mean they get to abuse you. You want restoration and reconcilliation, but that cannot happen in a hostile environment. Hostility is no way to treat another human being.

We are so thankful that God has shown us himself in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. We have faith in him, and hope springs up from our faith, which then allows us to love beyond what is humanly possible. Aren't you so thankful?

Our journey is 1/4 of the way over. But you can still join in. Go to www.12daysbook.com and order your copy of The 12 Days of Christmas in an ebook so you can download now. You'll be glad you did!!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Day two of the 12 Days of Christmas

Today was Sunday, and worship day. We are so blessed to be in a great church that really focuses on having a real, vibrant relationship with God. There is also a huge emphasis on missions and ministry coming from a heart full of love from him. We have been so blessed by being a part of what God is doing here.

Today was the last week in the minor prophets. Our pastor spoke on how the Israelites didn't know and trust God, so they didn't want to put their lives in his hands. They wanted to control everything, yet they failed miserably. If they had only trusted, only submitted, if only....

Then he talked about his father and how he was out of work for 14 months during a difficult period in his family life, yet whenever his father got work, he would give 10% of his income to God. His father told him, "even though we cannot afford nice things, I am not going to miss out on the blessings of God for 10 cents on the dollar."

As we were reading Day 2, we talked about Jesus being the fulfillment of the Old Testament, and how the israelites missed it, and so many in our day miss it too. And that we who have accepted him have been grafted into the root of Jesse and now receive the inheritance of the firstborn, because of what Jesus has done. If the children of Israel had only known....had only been able to see what we now see...

Would it have really made a difference? Do we have enough foresight to change our own 'history' before it happens? What would you do differently? If only....

You cannot change what has already happened. But you can choose to live differently now. Make the choice to freely love him with your whole heart, and live like it. And realize that even though others do not make the sam choice, your job is to love them. Even if they treat you badly or disrespect you. That is not to say that you should allow them to treat you like a doormat. No, that is not self-respecting. Your job is to forgive, and pray for them in love. You may even have to lovingly confront them. But not on your own- God will guide you. But if you are genuinely loving God, seeking his face and having conversations with him, he will show you how to love people like he does. Even those who are the most difficult.

I hope you are being blessed by The 12 Days of Christmas. If you are, or if you have any comments, please post them here or on our website at www.12daysbook.com

We are praying for you. More tomorrow. Until then, may you have joy in the journey!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Day One of the 12 Days of Christmas

Today was one of the best days ever!

Traditionally, my family invites our neighbors over for a Christmas morning breakfast. This tradition was started by my mom, who is now spending Christmas in heaven. She used to have her next door neighbors over every Christmas to exchange gifts and have breakfast. My mom was a single mom, and after I got married, she was all alone, so her neighbors became like family. They took care of her yard, repairs on her home, did her hair (the wife was a hairdresser) and other things as they came up. They went to the same church, and shared so many things. In fact, when my mother had a stroke, it was the neighbor who found her on the floor and called 911. But I digress....

Anyway, when she died, I wanted a way to honor and remember her on Christmas. I also wanted to have a way to reach out to my neighbors and befriend them. So that year, we had our first Christmas breakfast.

This year was our 4th year. Now everyone expects it and looks forward to it. But this year, we were going to our family 2 hrs away on Christmas day. So I let all the neighbors know that the Breakfast was on the 26th. Which was today. And let me tell you, it was the best breakfast yet. Not only did we have some good food, but because Linda was here and it was the First Day of Christmas, we did the first day with all our neighbors. We got to clearly share our faith with all who were there!! It was so natural, and so easy. And it opened the door for some amazing discussion. We were able to answer and discuss deep spiritual truths with everyone. God was so present. I am so thankful and so blessed. And my heart is so full. I am so thankful. God is so good.

I cannot wait until tomorrow. What will he give us to do? And what will we do with it?

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes on him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

What can we give to the one who has everything? The only thing he needs and wants for is us. Thats why we were created. For friendship with God. Remember Adam and how God walked with him in the garden in the cool of the day? Thats why I feel so close to him in the garden, I think. I am just so thankful that he wants to be my friend and I have the opportunity to oblige him. It is the best and only thing that I have that he doesn't unless I choose to give it to him. That is what makes us different than the angels. He wants to be our friend and to make us his hands and feet in this world. He wants us to give him our friendship and our lives because he gave his for us. So that is my gift is to him today. I hope it is yours too.

Don't miss day 2 tomorrow. Visit www.12daysbook.com to download days 1-3 and order your copy of the full book of The 12 Days of Christmas.

Friday, December 25, 2009

December 25th, Christmas Day!

What a day! We got up early and of course, opened gifts. My family was too good to me this year, as usual.

Afterward,As I was fixing pancakes for breakfast, I was hit between the eyes with the fact that my second born baby girl was missing. And I had to cry. She is living in California now, and since she was home for Thanksgiving, we couldn't bring her home for Christmas too, nor could she get the time off. So I had to settle for talking to her on the phone several times during the day. So my day was filled with joy, mingled with sadness.

Now that all our parents are spending Christmas with Jesus, we usually have dinner at home. We usually do an international dinner, with traditional food from another country. But this year, my husband's brother invited us to their home that is about two hours south of here and since Sarah was not coming home, and she is our 'foodie' and traditions mean the most to her, I jumped at the opportunity to not cook on the holiday. So we headed south. And I lost it.

I was so disagreeable to my husband, and he just took it. He is such a great guy. He deserves so much better than me. But I am so thankful I got him. I was so tired, (from being up too late Christmas Eve doing stockings and wrapping the last of the gifts,)and so sad that I just exploded at him. I didn't even realize how much Sarahs first Christmas away has affected me until I just wrote the above paragraph. But I did know there was a melancholy sadness hanging over me all day. I just didn't realize where it was coming from.

Amazing how those things affect us. Yet we don't have to let them run our lives. Yesterday we looked at 1 Peter 1:13-16. Verse 16 says For it is written: "be holy becasue I am holy."

That whole passage gives me hope. It implies that I have a choice. I do not have to let my feelings rule. I can choose the higher road and choose holiness. That applies to every area of my life. Even those I don't like to admit that I can choose to let him control. And as I let him control more and more, he shows me more and more and challenges my way of living to help me to be more like him.

Remember: We start the 12 Days of Christmas tomorrow! Hope you will join us! www.12daysbook.com

December 24th

Its Christmas day, but I had to write about my amazing Christmas Eve. So here goes.

The day started out with an early (5:30am) wake up to worship. I have been so grateful for everything that the Father has done for me and so I spent some time with him just enjoying his presence. Then I went back to bed and got up and went downstairs to make tea and enjoy the garden before everyone woke up. I was about to go out when I noticed, lying on the back of the sofa the beautiful shawl that Linda made for me for and early Christmas present. It is a prayer shawl, that was made during an illness in her life, and as she made it, she prayed for me. She made one for several of us this year, and we all feel so blessed to have one. I like to use mine while I pray. So I grabbed it and put it around my shoulders and walked out to the garden.

There is an archway on the path leading to my garden, and as I passed under that archway, I felt such a sense of peace and love and God's presence that I began to weep. I was so overwhelmed by his love, and I felt so covered by him with my prayer shawl on that I could do nothing but say thank you over and over again. I was so filled with gratitude. I cannot adequately describe it, and I am afraid I will destroy it by trying, so I will suffice it to say that I was utterly awestruck. So I got the phone and called Linda so she could come over and have tea with God and me in the garden. It was beautiful.

We read 1 Peter 1:13
Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ isrevealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy because I am holy."

We discussed it a bit, then talked about our day, and what was on our hearts. Then we prayed and had the sweetest prayer time together. We don't spend enough time doing that.

But the most amazing thing about the day was that I didn't miss it this year. I mean, I did not miss him. The rest of the day was spent thinking on him and his goodness. My heart was so full of him, and his great gift to us, that when we sat at the Christmas Eve service, I couldn't contain my grateful tears.

He has come!! Let us adore him and live our lives worthy of the one who gave his life for us!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wow! has it really been 4 days since my last post? I am embarassed and sad. I missed blogging and the rest it affords me. Weird, but it really puts me in a restful and contented state of mind. It keeps me focused and forces me to be on my knees and in my garden for a word from Him....for me and for you. I have had some time with Jesus, but I must confess, not as much as I need.
This morning, I had a great time with Jesus. I dont know why I was thinking about this, but I was praying and thinking about Moses. I was wondering and asking God about his relationship with him and the severity of his punishment when he struck the rock and was not allowed to enter the promised land. I thought about how disappointed he must have been. I was thinking about it, and realized several things:

I don't think he was really disappointed. Actually, he was probably relieved. Remember he had just spent 40 years wandering around with those whiny, ungrateful, untrusting people. I think I would have been happy to be in heaven and rid of them! He probably didnt feel that way, in fact I wouldn't either. I am sure there were some people he would really miss. I know that even when my kids are whiny and ungrateful, I still miss them. I just hope they will grow up someday and not whine and complain.

Also, even though he may have been disappointed, the thought of heaven when you are old and tired is pleasant and welcoming. He was thinking about Gods welcoming arms, not about what he was going to be missing here. I don't think of it being so much of a punishment as a reward for a job mostly well done.

So I asked God about my life and my disobedience. God and I had a conversation, and it occured to me: I wonder how many blessings and opportunities I had missed because of my disobedience? God used Moses to show us that our disobedience costs us, and it can cost us dearly. But if we trust God, and follow him, even when we do disobey, God still blesses us, just like he did Moses.

God planned for Moses to go with the Children of Israel into the promise land. But he also knew he wouldn't make it. But still he used Moses to deliver the Israelites and show everyone the great "I AM". He knew the Israelites would have to wander for 40 years to get "Egypt out of them". And he knew that Moses would strike the rock and not make the cut of those who go in. Maybe he did other disobedient stuff. But that is not what the Bible indicates. But what I do know is that God used him anyway. And he took a terrible situation and made it even better because he loved Moses and wanted to show him.

So he took Moses home. Really home. To the real land flowing with Milk and Honey. He took Moses disobedience and forgave him, and blessed him in spite of it. He gave him more than he could ever ask or imagine. I am not saying to just go ahead and be disobedient. Quite the contrary. I still wonder who I didn't touch or what I missed because of my disobedience. But I know that he makes all things beautiful in his time. So I trust him and know that I am so blessed and I don't want to miss out on any more by being disobedient.

Colossians 3:5-14 says:
Put to death, therefore whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language form your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and in all. Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against on another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which bonds them all together in perfect unity.

That says it all. And what better reason is there than that? We are no longer under law, but under love. And I love Jesus so much that I want him in all of me, over all of me and oozing out of all of me. Not because I might loose my spot in heaven. I know I can't do that. But I don't want to disappoint him. So I want to please him and show him my love by obeying him in love. I will fail. But knowing he loves me and forgives me gives me hope and makes me want to do better and better in his strength. And that is my goal.

Remember: only 3 more days till the 12 days of Christmas begins! Do you have your book? visit www.12daysbook.com to order your copy. And join us as we begin a new year giving back to Christ for all he gave to us!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

December Nineteenth

Today is the 20th anniversary of my 29th birthday. I love having my birthday near Jesus' birthday....now. But I used to hate it. Getting your birthday presents wrapped in Christmas paper was bad. But it really stunk when you would get one gift and be told it was for both birthday AND Christmas. That happened more often than I would like to tell. I used to get so mad about that, and think to myself: well, your birthday is in July. What if I combined your Christmas present with your birthday gift...I tell you, I thought it just wasn't fair! Most of the time my birthday was just a part of the larger Holiday celebration that went from Thanksgiving to New Years. I used to get so disappointed. I got my hopes up every year. Great expectations.

Do you ever get disappointed with God? I am often disappointed, because I set up expectations, and do not communicate them well. I still have so much growing up to do. You would think by now, that I would be past those petty things, but I often get hurt because of my failure to articulate my desires and expectations. And sometimes it ends up that I place those feelings upon God.

Recently I have realized that although my life is wonderful, it has not turned out as I had hoped. There are many reasons for this, but that is unimportant. The important thing is my focus.

Colossians 3:18 Says:
Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

This scripture follows the ones that talk about taking off the sinful nature and putting on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Then he tells us to bear with one another, forgive and let love bind everything together. And that whatever you do, do it as unto the Lord.
Why do you think he puts all those things first, then tells us to submit to our husbands?

I think it is because we need to do all those things in order to be submissive. But it is more than that. We have to let go of the disappointments, the past and the present way things are so we can move on with God.

Lately I have had to put this into practice. If you walked in my shoes, you would think I have it all. Nice home, great kids, my husband home 24-7 to help with everything. And it is great. I am so blessed that I have nothing ever to complain about. But it is not what I expected. I have learned the hard way that all of this is great, but what is really important is not seen here on earth. It is what lies ahead on heavens shores. And I want this to be the entire focus of my life. No matter how things turn out, moment by moment, daily or even all together, I have to focus on his purposes; that they are higher, better and more wonderful than I can ever imagine.

So I am learning that when I get disappointed it is usually that I am micro-focused, and not looking at the big picture that God is trying to accomplish in my life. Ouch! That is so hard to for me to remember. I am so glad God is big enough to take my whining and complaining, and that he is faithful enough to show me the truth.
So today, do something special for your spouse or someone special in your life. I suggest something I read in a book somewhere. This older couple had a phrase that they used with one another. I am not going to tell you their phrase. You need to come up with your own. Write it down and pass it on to your mate. Sit down with your mate and tell them how much you love and appreciate them, and then explain to them that you are going to start something new. Whenever you give this phrase to them, they have to pass it back to you. Then you pass it back to them. Do it secretly and in different and fun ways. For example, you could write it in the steam of the bathroom mirror so that every time the mirror steams up, they see it. I like to write it on the mirror in lipstick. Or in the dust on the dresser! Or on a piece of paper on his pillow. You get the idea. For me, this helps put it into perspective. And takes the focus off of what he is doing wrong onto what I can do better. And makes me grateful for how wonderful my life truly is.

Now I love having my birthday near our Lord's. I love it being part of the larger celebration. I don't even mind having my gift combined...but it better be a good one! And don't tell my husband. He can't get off that easy! Unless, of course it is a huge diamond or maybe a new Lexus.......

Thursday, December 17, 2009

December Seventeenth

All Work and No Play Makes…….

I have a hard time enjoying free time. First off, I never seem to get any. I can always find something to do. Adding to my frustration is the fact that I am not very organized, and I do not delegate well. Therefore, I am often a bit jealous of my kids who think nothing of gleefully playing when the house is a mess. In fact, I sometimes think that they know a ‘secret’- one that I have forgotten over the years: playing often is great! For me, it relieves stress, helps me be more focused when I need to work, and makes me more pleasant to be around. But I usually don’t remember this. I just get frustrated when others don’t pitch in and help, or when I get too busy spinning all those plates that I feel like a circus performer.

Colossians 1:10-12 says: And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that your may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.

This and the previous verses are great to pray for our families and our churches. I want my children to live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way. And I especially want this for my own life. This means I have to give up the perfectionist tendencies and just play sometimes. I need fun in my life to relax, de-stress and it helps me enjoy my work more.

In fact, my darling daughter wanted to play a game tonight, but I was too busy. There was just too much to be done. When it was time for her to go to bed, I felt so sad, because I did not do what was important for fear that I would not complete the urgent. I chose the wrong thing again. But I will not do that tomorrow! First thing we are going to play that game!

So today, play a game with your family. Pick a family favorite, or learn a new one. Do something fun, even if the house is a mess, the baby is fussy or dinner is just takeout. Do something fun and relax. The work will be there tomorrow. You will be glad you did! And if you can afford it, get some new games for the kids for Christmas. My plan is to get 3 things for each child this year: one to read, one to wear and one to play together. So they will each get a new game for us to play together. I can't wait!

Have you seen our website yet? www.12daysbook.com will get you there. You can purchase our book, The 12 Days of Christmas as well as find recipes, tips and ideas to make your Christmas celebration the best it has ever been.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

December Sixteenth

Forgiveness is a difficult thing. It is so much easier to feel hurt, whine, blame and nurse that which someone has done to us. We think that by holding on to it, we are hurting them. But really, we are hurting ourselves and everyone around us.
How can we forgive someone who had deeply wounded us? Is it really expected of us? Why do we have to forgive? And what about if we have hurt someone else, even if it is unintentional? What if they are holding a grudge when we don’t deserve it? What can we do?
Well, as far as forgiving someone else, we not only need to forgive them, we are commanded to do so. The Bible tells us that if we do not forgive, God cannot hear us. And that he will forgive our debts as we forgive our debtors. Remember the story of the man who was forgiven the huge debt, then he went out and was unwilling to forgive the man who owed him a few dollars? So we have a responsibility to forgive. Holding a grudge also makes us, well, grudgy. We try to find anything and everything to justify our feelings. And we try to win others to our side by gossiping and complaining about it. We become embittered by their wrongdoing, and build up walls around our hearts so we become untouchable, or too sensitive. We must forgive. Our lives depend upon it.
Did you know that the leading cause of cancer is unforgiveness? Wow! That alone should cause us to want to let go! But how do we do it?
Forgiveness is a choice. You do not have to feel it. You just have to make the choice. Then ask God to let the feelings follow. Every time the hurt comes up in your mind, pray for that person. And you may need to either write or go to that person and tell them you forgive them. It depends on the situation, and why you are doing it. You have to do it with humility, not to dig the knife into the other person to hurt them like they hurt you.
If you have done the hurting, and need to be forgiven, go to the person and ask. Do it now, and do it sincerely and plainly. Not sure if you need to do this, ask God. He wants you to do it, and will make it clear to you. And ask for his help. He will go with you and give you the words to say. I learned this about 20 years ago, and it has given me such freedom and peace. But it is still not easy. Here’s what I say: “I know I hurt you when I did -------. I want you to know that I am sorry, and I wish I had never done it. Would you please forgive me?” When you ask forgiveness, you put the ball in their court, and they then have to make the choice. In this way, you make it right before God. If you need to make restitution, then you should do so when you ask forgiveness.
Colossians 3:13 says: Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against each other. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
That says it all.
So, let others off the hook.
Help your children let each other off the hook.
Let yourself off the hook.
And then, let God off the hook.
But more about that tomorrow.

Take a minute to visit www.12daysbook.com You'll be glad you did!
And Happy Birthday to my big sister Annette today!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

December Fifteenth

Wow! only 10 days left till Christmas! I hope you are more ready than I am! I think since it has been so hot down here in South Fl. I just cant get in the Christmas mood! And I think it just crept up on me, and since I wasn't planning to do anything big for the kids for Christmas, I didn't get going until last week, and now I feel I am behind! But ready or not, it will be here in 10 short days. I have to say that I have really enjoyed doing this blog...it has caused a little bit of pressure to get it done, but it has forced me to be on my knees more, and really try to practice his presence. I have not always been so successful, but I have been more aware and more grateful than I ever have before. So thank you for reading and following, and for joining me in this journey. That said, here's today's thought.

Colossians 1:3-6 says: We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints- the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing just as it has been doing aomng you since the day you heard it and understood God's grace in all its truth.

Do you have people in your life that speak truth to you? Do they lovingly challenge you to be more like Jesus and help you focus more on him? Do they live like him, and cause you to want to do the same? Have you ever thanked God for them, and then in turn told them how thankful you are for them?

My challenge for you today is for you to write a note of appreciation to someone who speaks truth to you and helps you be more like Jesus. It can be in the form of a letter, a card or just a brief note. Don't just call them, send them a note. Why? because they will have a physical reminder so when the enemy attacks them and tries to demean them, they will have something physical they can be encouraged to fight for. They will appreciate it over and over, just as I am sure the Colossians did. I am sure they read and re-read Pauls letter to them. I am positive that they discussed it and it so encouraged them to "keep up the faith."

In this way, you can be a blessing to someone that has immeasurably blessed you. I wrote to my pastor. My son wrote to me. You can be sure I will keep that note forever! My daughter wrote to my best friend and co-author, Linda. Her daughter is my daughter's best friend, and Linda is so great to allow my daughter to come over anytime for any length of time. In fact, I think sometimes she would rather live there! I am so very thankful for a friend that loves my child and speaks Jesus into her life. I love her kids too. She is the best kind of friend: one who loves me, warts and all, and my loud, weird, crazy family. Why? I don't know, except God put us together and we just fit. I know she feels the same way. And I am so thankful. If you don't have a friend like that, ask God for one. He will answer. It took a long time, but he did mine. I prayed for a friend for several years before I met Linda. I had begun to loose hope, but he was faithful. Until I had her though, He met my needs for that type of relationship. And he will yours too.

In closing, remember to be thankful. We get so busy that it is easy to get grumpy and full of 'scroogy-ness'. I sometimes get grumpy because I try to do to much and it doesn't come together. Relax. Remember He is with you and gives you strength for the day's tasks. Thank him and thank someone else today. You might be the only person who thanks them today....and it might just make their day.

Don't forget to check out our book, "The 12 Days of Christmas" at www.12daysbook.com
It is almost time! December 26th is the first day, so you still have time to get your copy!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

December thirteenth

So sorry that I have missed the last two days. I promise I will make up for it after Christmas. I was not feeling well, and spent most of the last two days trying to get things done while feeling unwell, then falling into bed exhausted. I think I must have been fighting off something. Anyway, I appologize and ask your forgiveness, and will post extra on a couple of days so you can have a full month of devos when we are through.

I am not sure where to begin todays devotional. But I guess it started in my heart about 4 weeks ago on a Sunday at church. They showed a few slides of what The Timothy Iniative (go to www.ttionline.org ) is doing in India and Pakistan. New believers are being baptized and pastors are being trained as I write this. People are coming to Christ as never before. The only hold up is funding. As they passed the offering plate, I heard the Holy Spirit tell me to take off my tennis bracelet and put it in the plate. Actually, I felt it more than 'heard' it, and I questioned if that was what I was hearing, and asked God that if that was what he truly wanted me to do that he would keep it in my heart and make it clear to me.

During the next few Sundays, they spoke about the coming 'Christmas Offering'. They said that Dec. 13th would be the day to bring it, and that it would be used for TTI and other missions around the world. Since this is our first Christmas at this church, we didn't know what to expect, but as I prayed about the bracelet, I felt this was when God wanted me to give it.

With that settled in my heart, I just had to communicate it to the giver of the bracelet, and that was my husband. Now you have to understand that this was not the first tennis bracelet my husband had given me. Actually, it was the second, as I had promptly lost the first one less than a month after he had given it to me for our
15th wedding anniversary. So on our 20th, he gave me another because I begged him for it, and found it for a great price at a pawn shop. (I used to shop there for great prices on unique jewelry for gifts for my mom, while she was living.)So he bought it for me, and I wore it almost every day, and really enjoyed it. But you also must know that my sweetheart has the gift of giving, so when I told him about wanting to give it, he said, 'It isn't very valuable'. I said, 'thats not the point. The point is that God wants it, and I need to be obedient'. To which he said, 'Do it'. I cried a bit, not at the loss of the bracelet, because it is only stuff, but at the thought that my silly little gift could be used by the master. That bracelet might just bring someone into the kingdom! And if just one can be reached by my gift, then it is so worth giving it. So when they passed the plate this morning, my bracelet went in.

Also this morning, a young girl, Shelly, gave her testimony. She is 22, and God called her to Equador for a time, then to live here in West Palm Beach, Fl. She has committed her life to go wherever he sends, and follow wherever and whatever he leads. So here she is, away from her family and nannying 4 little kids. And trusting God all the while. I am so humbled by her committment and willingness. My little gift was nothing compared to hers...my bracelet....her life. But God has placed me here and has my life too; not in going around the world doing his work, but right here, giving so others can go, training my children to have a heart to serve him, and living contentedly, moment by moment in his presence.

My 23 year old daughter has wanderlust like Shelly. I guess that is why Shelly was so special to me. My daughter is living in Ca., following Christ one step at a time. She wants to eventually move to the UK to be a missionary to young teen girls there. When will God allow that? Who knows. But I do know that he is preparing her in ways that she never imagined. He never wastes anything. Not an opportunity, not time, not even a gift of a tennis bracelet. So if we are following, and listening, he will be leading and speaking. Col. 3:1-2 says: Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your heart on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

I know we used this scripture earlier, but it is not any less true. Let us renew our focus: Setting our minds on things above, not on earthly things. As the old song says: Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

December Tenth

Colossians 4:2 Says: Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

Am I changing to be devoted more and more to living in his presence? Actually, I am trying to be more grateful, and I sense his presence speaking truth into my life more and more, and when I get disappointed I try to remember his plan. But I am finding it difficult to converse with him openly all the time. I think it is just going to take practice. Yet I want to keep trying. I want to keep the lines of communication open at all times and hear him, even when I don't ask.

I have a friend who lost her husband to cancer at Christmastime several years ago. She was left alone without her lifetime mate. She had to spend so much time with Christ just to survive. So she did. And the results have so inspired me to want that kind of relationship with him. She hears God speak to her regularly. I mean really hear him. In fact, sometimes he tells her to do something or speak his words to someone, and she doesn't want to do it, so she argues with him! Not in a disobedient kind of way, but more like a Jonah or Moses kind of way. Yet God always wins.
I want that kind of faith; that kind of ears to hear. I want to be so in love with him that I hear him all the time.

My sister practices this also. She even asks for good parking places at the mall. In her quiet time, she gets on her knees and has a conversation. I am trying to do that. I try to listen and not just talk. Often, I do hear from him. It is great. But I want to hear from him all the time. I want to be quiet in my heart, not so full of thoughts and noise in my head that I can't listen. So that is my goal. To have an open heart, live in obedience, and hear his voice. But it is still and small. So right now, he would usually need to shout to get an audience with me. But I don't want to have to have a tragedy to get to that place. So I need to practice being quiet in my spirit, and doing everything to his glory.

Thank you for reading and joining me in this journey. I hope we get there together.

Remember to check out our new book, The 12 Days of Christmas at www.12daysbook.com
It makes a great Christmas gift, since it doesn't start until the day after Christmas!!

May you have joy in the journey!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

December Ninth

As the days pass, we get closer to the day we celebrate as our Lord's Birthday. Is that the real day? Who knows. I have heard arguments for both sides, and it just wouldn't surprise me if it was. That is something only God would do. One of the best cases for the December birthday is a DVD called "The Star of Bethlehem". It is a documentary that a gentleman did on his research based on the astronomy of the sky when Christ was born. It is amazing! Look it up and see for youself at www.bethlehemstar.net You will be amazed.

The arguments are valid on both sides. But if we let those arguments cause us discord, then we have a problem. We are called to unity and compassion, not selfish ambition or earthly gain.

Todays verse is Colossians 3: 22-23
Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance form the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

If we could just think about that as we are bickering over trivial matters while the world is watching, and so is Jesus, what a different place our homes, churches and lives would be. Maybe we could be the effective body he has called us to be!

Today, seek to make peace with someone. It might take a humbling of your pride to make it work, but you can do it. Ask God to go before you and soften the heart of the person you have had the disagreement with. And ask God to hold your tongue and give you the right spirit. Go with no expectations...after all, they do not have to forgive you. But do it right. Go to them and state what you did wrong. Then, humbly ask them to forgive you. Use those words. Say, "Will you forgive me?" If you as this, you throw the ball into their court, and make it their decision, leaving them responsible before God. It lets you have the freedom you need, even if they don't forgive. But you must be sincere! They will know if you are not. And more importantly, God will know.

Also, seek to be a peacemaker. Live peaceably with everyone. I can't say for sure, but I imagine that if we began to seek peace in our relationships, it will make Jesus sing over you. And isn't that a lovely thought, to have him sing over you? Not really sure why I thought of that, but it is something that I want in my life. I want his heart to sing whenever he thinks of me. I want to make my Father proud.

Don't forget to check out our book: The 12 Days of Christmas at www.12daysbook.com
And leave a comment. We look forward to hearing from you!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

December Eighth

I was excited to get to finally watch Julie and Julia tonight. I read the book earlier this year, and I have to say, the movie was much more positive and filled with joy. The book had so much angst and was more or less a chronicle of Julie's highly normal but less than perfect life. In the movie, the same was true, but they portrayed Julia Child as a positive bright light, and who made lemonade out of all the lemons in her life, so it made the depressed Julie lighter just by cooking her way through the book. There was alot of love, and a very few objectionable words, so all in all it was an enjoyable way to spend the evening. And of course, you know I have to relate it to todays devotional.

Col. 3:16
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom and and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to the Lord.

How can you let the word of Christ dwell in you?
How do you admonish one another?
What does singing do to our hearts?

It would have been good advice if Julie had known this scripture. I know that when I get out of focus, I start to microscopicly tune in to my wants, my feelings and my selfish desires and think of me, me, me. I begin to sink and wallow in self pity and most of the time it ends in a melt down of sorts. This happened to Julie several times. Yet Julia seemed to always have a smile, and a secret delight in who she was, but more importantly, she was the delight of her husband Paul. She was so grateful for his love and throughout the movie she never got over the fact that he fell in love with her.
We have an even better lover. One who is the lover of our very soul; our creator who gave his live for ours. One who will never leave, fail, change or abandon us. He loves us more than any man ever could or would be willing to do. We are the delight of his life, the apple of his eye, and the joy of his heart. There is nothing we can do that would cause him to leave us. That should bring us so much joy.

When I remember this, I am delighted in him. But when forget, I get filled with angst and 'when the momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!' So my goal is to be so filled up with him, that I cannot be filled with anything else, including angst. One of the ways I can do that is to sing to him, listen to his music and have it flowing in and through me. I read this idea in another devotional, and today I think it is especially appropriate:

Adopt a song. It can be a Christmas song, or a hymn or praise song. You can do it as a family or individually. Choose ne that will be yours this holiday season, to help you focus on him. Sing it to yourself frequently, When you get aggravated with each other, sing it to break the tension. Or when something is difficult, sing it to add a little levity to the situation. Let it help to remind you to be thankful for each other. Let the music of Christmas set your heart on him and remind you to be grateful and content in every situation. I hope it will change my heart forever. I am planning to use the song idea throughout the year and change it monthly or weekly if I feel the need. I think it will help me have more joy in the journey and be content in whatever circumstance I find myself in. Hope it helps you too!

Don't forget to check out our book, 'The 12 Days of Christmas' at www.12daysbook.com

Monday, December 7, 2009

December Seventh

Wow! We are here already! One whole week gone. Christmas will be here before you know it!
Today I had an interesting experience, one that you will have to go to my personal blog to read. It is www.damazingmama/homeschoolblogger.com Suffice it to say that I decided that I was not meant to be on the road this morning. I am ever so thankful for Gods protection.

Today's scripture is Colossians 3:15
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
I love that verse. It is so short, yet so full of meaning. I am able to let Christ's peace dwell in my heart. It is my choice to be frantic or peaceful. So many times I choose to fret, stew, get upset, or wallow in self pity instead of realizing that whatever happened was in God's controlled plan for my life, and that the chaos I am choosing to see it through doesn't have to be my only choice. I can choose his peace. How do I let his peace rule in my heart? By knowing him, and knowing that in his loving infinite wisdom, this trial did not take him by surprise, and that he knew I needed this to walk more deeply with him, so I trust him in the midst of it and let his peace be my rock.
Additionally, our families and churches should be a place of peace. It is amazing to me how selfishness on my part disrupts the peace of the whole family. We have to be so careful that our kids see a good example- of walking rightly, and humbly asking forgiveness when we don't- but that is for another discussion!
The rest of the verse seems to me like a little add-on. Like Paul was saying, "Oh yeah! And don't forget to be thankful. But that is so true, isn't it? That is one thing that we so often forget: to be truly thankful.
So one day this season, take your family and go watch a sunrise. If you live near the ocean on the east coast, maybe you could go down to the beach in the dark and watch it from the beach. Take along some hot cocoa, coffee or tea, and as you watch and sip, discuss what kind of mind thought all this up and created all we know. Then think about the fact that he humbled himself and became one of us. Only he could have devised such a plan. Can you imagine him saying, "hey! I think I will leave all of this (heaven) and become one of them. Then they will KNOW how much I love them!" Thin, if you are able, get some breakfast together. Continue the discussion about God creating all the varieties of food for us. Imagine: there are so many things that God knows that he has yet to reveal to us. We only see what is here and now. I think there are so many more varieties of flowers, fruits, foods, animals, beings, all kinds of things that God has yet to reveal to us. So give thanks and enjoy the bounty and your journey.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

December sixth, the real one

I have chosen to do this post in a new format, and hopefully it will work for you! Our scripture today is also taken from Colossians. I think we will be here for another few days. Not sure where God will go, but I am happy here.
Col. 3:1-2
1Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

Do you know what it mean to be raised with Christ? I hear it often quoted in Baptism services, Risen with Christ in baptism, raised to walk in newness of life. Do we live in that newness of life, once the freshness has worn off?
What are some ways we can set our minds on the things above? I want to say this again: Daily time with him and focusing on walking with him all the time is so important to this. I find that I worship other things when I focus on them more than him. Maybe that is what being double minded is all about for me.
What can you change so you do not focus so much on earthly things?

One day very soon, Get up early and watch a sunrise. If you live near the ocean on the east coast, drive to the beach in the dark and watch it from the beach. Take along some hot cocoa, coffee or tea, and as you watch and sip, discuss what kind of mind thought all this up and created all we know. Then think about the fact that he humbled himself and became one of us! Only he could have devised such a plan. Can you imagine him saying, “hey! I think I will leave all this and become one of them. Then they will KNOW how much I love them!” Then, if you are able, get some breakfast together. Continue the discussion about God creating all the varieties of food for us. Give thanks and enjoy the bounty.
The Sunday after Thanksgiving, I had to take my daughter to the airport to fly back to Sacremento, where she is currently living. Her flight was at 6:30, so we had to be there by 5:15. Two of my other children wanted to see her off, so my 9 year old daughter and my 13 year old son accompanied us. After we dropped her off, we saw that the sun was beginning to rise, and we were only about 10 min. from the beach, so we drove there and watched the sun come up. What an amazing experience and as we discussed how busy God had been with his paintbrush that beautiful morning, we had a sense of awe that God made all that, just for us to enjoy. We also looked at all the condos and huge houses and marveled that most of the people inside missed that beautiful sight, and missed out on the Love of God because they do not acknowledge him in their lives. How sad and how glorious; we have the responsibility and privilege to share him with the world. How will we do that today? and how will you live contented in him? I am realizing that one sunrise with the king of kings is more valuable than any painting, jewelry, or anything I own. And I look forward to spending another with him very soon.
Don't forget to check out our book: The 12 Days of Christmas for a great way to refocus into the new year. Visit www.12daysbook.com for more info. Also my personal blog, www.damazingmama/homeschoolblogger.com has great recipes, info, and what God is teaching us in our homeschool journey.

December Sixth

Todays Scripture is again taken from Colossians. I've written it in a little different format, so you don't have to weed through all my ramblings to get to the meat of it! Hopefully you will be blessed by it and can use it with your family.
Col. 3:17
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

How can you do what you do in the name of Jesus?
If you can’t do it in his name, should you be doing it? What about your words?
How can you show more gratefulness this season?

Turn up the Christmas music, gather up you children and go through their “stuff”. We talked earlier this week about the “too much’s” and this is your time to act upon it. Think about the things you really need and use, and what is just taking up space. Make a pile to donate or re-gift. As you do, thank God for blessing you with it, and that you are now going to be a conduit of his love to someone else. Pray for the person who will receive your gift, and help your children see that by their sacrifice, others will be blessed and feel loved. Remember that Christ sacrificed his all for us.

Remember to check back daily for new posts. Also check out our book, The 12 Days of Christmas at our website www.12daysbook.com and my personal blog at www.damazingmama/homeschoolblogger.com where I post recipes and ramblings on our homeschool journey.

December Fifth

Ok, I did it. I missed a day. With all the busy running because it was my youngest daughters birthday, a book signing, and one of my closest friends birthday, I missed it.
I usually get up early and have my 'tea time' in my garden with God and I missed that too. In fact, I usually get up around 5:00am and while it is quiet, try to communicate with God, then go back to sleep and get up around 8:00am and go to the garden, but I missed all of that. In the busy-ness of the day, I missed my time with God, and my blog with you.
My intentions were good- I planned on getting up in time to do everything I needed to do, and in fact I did, but it was raining, and the couch was so inviting, curling up next to the birthday girl and watching tv, that I abandoned my plan and vegitated. Now I am not saying that spending a little time with my daughter is bad. On the contrary; being the last of 5, I have little time to spend all alone with her, so this was a good thing. But abandoning God was not. The rest of the day was so busy and full that I didn't talk to him all day. I talked about him all day, but I did not spend the day "with him". Which is what I am trying to practice- living in his presence.
When I woke up this morning at my usual 5:00am, I had a little bit of a tummy ache. I think it was too much birthday. (either that or the bloomin' onion and cheezy fries at outback!) Anyway, I was talking to God about it, telling him that I was going to suffer today for my lack of propriety yesterday. As I was talking, he gave me the thought that I had eaten bad manna. I didn't think of him all day...didn't interact with him, just floated on the faith from yesterday. If I would have focused on him, I would be in much better shape both spiritually and physically this morning. He reminded me that my experience was like the children of Israel in the desert. They had fresh manna every morning. They could not keep it overnight (except on the Sabbath). If they did, it got rancid and was unfit for consumption. It would have made them sick to eat it. I believe that is a great reminder for us: We need to go to God with our hearts daily. He will supply what we need daily.But if we neglect him and try to live off yesterdays blessings, we will feel sick and eventually become malnourished and be ineffective for him.
I don't know about you, but I want to have fresh food. Tasty morsels from the hand of my loving provider. And when I go to him, he does not fail to show up.
Just so you know, I will post today the Advent Devotional for yesterday and today in one later today.
Remember to check out our website and book: www.12daysbook.com and The 12 Days of Christmas. Also, I have a personal blog at www.damazingmama/homeschoolblogger.com
where you can find recipes, fun ideas and general ramblings about our homeschooling adventure.
May you have joy in your journey today, and don't miss it!

Friday, December 4, 2009

December fourth

Today's scripture is again from Colossians. I think God has me there because Paul was forever practicing the grateful contentment that God is hammering at my heart. And Paul lived in the presence of God. If he didnt, he couldn't have been content like he was.

Col. 2:6 says:
So then just as you have recieved Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught and overflowing with thankfulness.

How do we practically do this? How did Paul do it? We need to get in the habit of living in his presence. Everything we have should remind us of God's goodness to us. And we have so much. I used to wonder how people who have so little could be so happy. Then I realized several things:
It is not stuff that makes you happy. In fact, it makes you miserable sometimes. I have a friend who says, "the price of ownership is maintenance." I often feel chained to my house because I have so much to care for.
They have more space in their lives for God. They haven't filled up all the empty spaces as a tribute to self. There is more time for him, too.
They have to depend on him for everything. He is their only source, so they have to be intimately involved with him.

I have decided to put little reminders all over my life to keep me looking up and dependent on him. One of the ways I am going to do this is to take the old baby cradle and put it up by the Christmas tree. I am going to fill it with quilts that I am making for the Crisis Pregnancy Center this season. I am doing this to remind myself and my family what He gave up to come to me. He gave up the comforts of heaven and the indescribable communion with his Father to be with us. He came as a poor baby, not a rich king as he deserved. So as my reminder of his gift, I want to bless others. This way I will use up some of the fabric stash I have horded, and bless others that have much less than I.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

December Third

December Third....what a day it has been! We started off by going to WRMB radio station to do an interview for our book. It was a great interview, and we were ever so grateful for the blessing it was to be able to share our hearts. It will be weird to hear ourselves next week on the morning and afternoon drive time on 89.3 WRMB.

Today was a treat from God. Not every day is like that. Some days you want to end before they really get started. If fact, you sometimes wish you could rewind and start again, but you can't. The reality is that some days go on for months and you are forever changed by them. The difficult thing is finding joy and gratefulness in the midst of them. Sometimes its just the simple things; the monotonous things that keep a sense of normalcy- those things that would usually drive us crazy help us keep our sanity when times are tough.

So why not let those same things make us grateful now; content in our lives, our relationships and what we have been blessed with? I suffer from the 'too much' disease: Spending too much, eating too much, trying to do too much, expecting too much and wanting too much. But what I am trying to do this season, one day at a time is being grateful and content with what I have been given and the situations I find myself in instead of living with the too much's. I want to be content and know that what I have is more than enough.
Colossians 1:21 & 22 says: Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight without blemish and free from accusation- if this were the only thing I had to be thankful for, it would be enough. But to that he has added so much. I am more grateful now than I ever have been, and want to focus on being content in him.

Remember our book signing on Saturday, Dec. 5 at the Walden books in the Wellington Green Mall from 1-3pm. Bring a friend and recieve a free gift with purchase! Until tomorrow....may you have joy in the journey!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

December Second

Today is the second day of the Christmas Season....joy, gratitude and contentment are the words of the day. God has been hammering away at our hearts on how truly blessed we are and how ungrateful we as Americans have become.
For many years, we have been able to acheive a cheap (really expensive, in some cases) immitation of Christmas. We have been able to afford the 'finer things of life' and replace the joy and contentment that comes with a real relationship with Christ with 'stuff'. Gifts, events and all the busy-ness has become a poor substitute for the real joy and gifts which are family, friends and the memories we make with them. We have done this for so long, that it is hard to remember what this season is supposed to be about. But with the financial downturn, we are now forced to take a good hard look at what is real and what is artificial about our Christmas celebrations. And that is a good thing. We have so much to be thankful for...and its not the stuff. We have freedom in Christ, we have friends and family that love us unconditionally, and food, shelter, air, and on we could go. So how can we close "pandoras box" and reverse this tide now that it has run rampant for so long?
Repentance is an outdated word, but it is what we need. Literally, it means "turn around and go the other direction". I know it is difficult to turn the ship around, but it is so worth it. So it is time to refocus. We have been using the wrong lens, and now we need to change it to the right one.
Col. 1:12 says: Giving thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the kingdom inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.
So be thankful for Christ. Be really thankful, by focusing on what is true, lovely, righteous and holy. Think about what really needs to be done, and what will make the most of this precious time with friends and family. Get the kids involved and thinking more about who they could bless, and why it is important. We decided to do a "Family Motto" for the season to help us remember what we are all about. We got the family involved, and tomorrow you will know what we came up with.
Until then, may you have joy in this day, and the season!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

December First

We have finally made it to the countdown to the 12 Days of Christmas! Which of course means that Christmas day is only 24 short days away. Which has me thinking a little (and by that I mean alot) differently this year. I haven't bought a thing for my family yet. Not because they aren't wonderful and deserving, but because we don't need anything. In fact, we don't want for much either. Which also has me thinking: If we have everything we need, and most (by that I mean all that is within our reach, financially) of what we want, why are we discontent? We are not discontent with our stuff, but with our lives in general. And by that I mean I have been discontent with my "situation". And that leads me to think that I have been discontent with the people around me, but what it really means is that I have been discontent and disappointed with God.
I came to this realization as I studied several books, most importantly God's Word. But Beth Moore's "Finding Your Purpose", Brother Lawrence's "The Practice of the Presence of God" and a Bible study by Women of Faith about contentment. It is amazing how God orchestrates events to coincide with each other to bring us to that "AHA" moment. Suffice it to say, I had mine today.
I knew something was amiss; I just didn't know what it was. So I went to God and he showed up again. (I don't know why it suprises me when he does that. It happens all the time:) He showed me through Beth Moore that I was not seeking his purpose for my life, which is just to fall deeper and deeper in love with him. And that in order to do that, Brother Lawrence's work showed me I had to practice being in his presence all the time and do all things, even the most menial task to his glory, as if it were literally for him. And today, he showed me at Bible study that I have not been content in the situation that he has placed me in. I have been grumbly and complain-y and just plain difficult. Most people probably did not notice it. (That is most likely a bad indicator that nothing is ever good enough for me. I am a "recovering perfectionist" and learning that teenage boys, 8 year old girls, and easy going husbands don't care about neatness nearly as much as I do. You might think that this should be their problem and that they should care, and God is working on them, but I need more character development in this area than they do!) But God did. And our merciful and gracious God has given me forgiveness and hope and here is what he is teaching me:

Be in his presence always. Stay there. Ask him everything. What should I fix for dinner? What decorations should I put up? What should I wear? and talk to him constantly. Dont be a drippy faucet, be an outpouring of praise. "You are amazing. I thank you for my family that I have so much laundry from. I thank you that I can carry baskets, I can breath, I don't have to beat the clothes on a rock or hand wring them. I love my husband, and whatever brings him joy. It is my honor to serve, love and be loved by a God-fearing man. I gave birth to 5 wonderful children. I thank you for them and the honor of training and rearing them in the fear of the Lord." And so on. I could thank him from now to the end of time and not ever finish or repeat.

On Thanksgiving, when we were full, we pushed away from the table and with gratefulness, took a much needed rest. When we are in his presence, do we allow ourselves to "fill up" on him, and then look around the corner expecting something else to come out of the kitchen? or are we content with his "fullness"? Push back from the table and be satisfied.

Remember that he knows the situation we are in, and in fact put us there to teach us to rely on him in contentment. So when that crazy driver pulls over and cuts you off, or the copier won't work, or you have picked up the same toy out of the middle of the floor for the 15th time today, look up and with thanksgiving, be content. Thats what the Apostle Paul did. And I was never in prison for my faith, nor hungry, thirsty or in want. What in the world do I have to complain about?
Look it up! James 1:17, Romans 12:2 Col.3:23. Try it in the Message version or another one that you are unfamiliar with at Biblegateway.com. Comment and let me know where you are in this journey, too. And check back tomorrow for the countdown, day 2!
And by the way, we have our first book signing tomorrow at Barnes and Noble in Boynton Beach on Congress Ave. From 5-7 pm. And then one at Walden Books in the Wellington Green Mall Saturday Dec. 5 from 1-3pm. Stop in and say hello. Purchase a book and get a free journal if you bring a friend!!