Thursday, December 31, 2009

The True Prize

Happy New Year - almost! Today is the last day of 2009 - it is the last day of the first decade of the
2000's - a new century; and what a decade it has been. As I ponder all that has transpired in these last ten years I am amazed at all that the Lord has done in my own life and in the lives of my family members. In the past ten years I have witnessed the weddings of all four of our children; we have experienced the joy of the birth of 11 grandchildren; we have celebrated our 25th & 30th wedding anniversaries - and we have beheld the glory of God - breathtaking!

Today as we embark on the beginning of a new year and a new decade we can forge ahead with plans, hopes, and dreams for a bright future filled with promise at God's hand, or we can tread cautiously fearing the unknown; in reality we will probably do a little of both having a desire for the promise, but stepping hesitantly at times because of fear - that can be okay as long as we turn our fear into faith. "What time I am afraid I will trust in thee." Psalm 56:3

We have often heard the saying "when God closes a door somewhere He opens a window;" I have also heard it phrased "when God closes one door He opens another, but sometimes we stare at the closed door so long that we fail to see the open one." Some folks will spend today pondering all the difficulties they have faced in 2009 and fail to see that there is a new door opening in 2010. It reminds me of when we dropped our kids off to school for the first day of Kindergarten - some kids were excited to begin and kissed their moms goodbye ready to enjoy their new adventure - others clung to their moms and took days or weeks to acclimate to their new environment; both adjusted to the change, but some kept looking back at being home with mom making things more difficult for themselves while the others began their journey with joy.

Today we are opening the door to 2010 and leaving 2009 as a door that is closed behind us - let us face the future and not stare at what is past. Oh, to be sure we will carry the lessons that we have learned, the memories we have treasured and some we would rather forget. 2009 will always be a part of who and what we have become...but don't stop here! Don't stand looking at the closed door behind us, turn around and behold the wonderful future ahead! "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:13, 14

Today as many folks will set goals, make plans, and New Year's resolutions - let's not forget to realize that the true prize is fulfilling our high calling in Christ Jesus!

Happy New Year! Have a wonderful day!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Presents!

Merry Christmas Eve! As a child I always remember being so excited on Christmas Eve because that meant that soon I would be getting presents! I thrilled as the wrapped gifts mounted under the tree and I would find myself nearly beside myself with anticipation over what I would soon receive. I am sure that most of you can remember how hard it was going to sleep on Christmas Eve because you just couldn't wait to wake up and have it be Christmas.

I remember when my children were young the many Christmases that my husband and I would stay up into the wee hours of the morning wrapping presents for our children. It became a tradition that after the children went to bed we would watch "It's a Wonderful Life" and wrap gifts. It seemed that we no sooner pillowed our heads when our children would be knocking on our door asking if it was time to get up yet. Those are precious memories to me - what a joy it was to see their huge smiles as they opened their gifts.

My favorite present at Christmas time is being able to be in the presence of my family. When it is my birthday while it is nice to get gifts - my favorite gift is to have my children and grandchildren all around me. At Christmas we are celebrating Jesus' birthday - I believe that perhaps for Him a great gift would be to have us, those He came here to seek and to save, "come before His presence with singing." Today if you want to experience the real joy of Christmas be sure to spend time in His presence. I promise you there is no sweeter time than the time spent in the presence of God. "Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore." Psalm 16:11

While children have such joy because of the presents - the real gift of Christmas is His presence. It is the fact that we are celebrating the birth of Christ that makes Christmas the special Holyday (I know how I spelled it - it should be a Holy day, not just a holiday). It was His presence that made that night so special so long ago.

As you enjoy the time opening presents and watching those you love open the gifts that you lovingly purchased for them, remember the gift that God gave us on Christmas - His Son; remember that the real joy of Christmas is not the presents, it's His Presence!

"Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations."
Psalm 100

Merry Christmas! Have a wonderful day

Monday, December 21, 2009

Its Always a Miracle

This week it is Christmas! In my desire to carry the heart of Christmas I have determined to read the Christmas story through a different portion of Scripture each day. I have often tried to put myself in Mary’s place and imagine what it must have been like for her. As I was thinking about all that happened to Mary, I saw some things that I believe every mother can learn from the Christmas story.

1. "And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee:" Luke 1:28

As a Christian mom I am so comforted to know that the Lord is with me – he promised before He left when he said, “lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

2."And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end." Luke 1:31-33

Now, I know that not a one of us will ever be as Mary was – but from these verses I see that God determines when a mother will conceive, the gender of the child, and that He has a plan for the children even before they are born – He knows their beginning and their end, and all their accomplishments in between.

I also see an example of the attitude that we as mothers should hold so that we don’t get in the way of God’s plan.

Mary said in Luke 1:38 “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” Mary submitted to God knowing that the circumstances would be difficult and that she would face possible judgdment by others.

She further praised the Lord saying, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour...For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name...He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath holpen his servant Israel... Luke 1:46-54

Mary realized what a Great and Mighty God was performing this miracle in her life. Moms, I say to you, to all of us – every birth is a miracle. We of course will not be the mother of Jesus, but we as mothers should strive to raise our children to honor Christ. We should realize that our job is to seek to raise our children to glorify God. Let’s learn from the Christmas story the attitude that allowed Mary to be used of God.

1. Allow God’s will to be done in your life and submit to Him regardless of the circumstances
2. Seek to magnify the Lord
3. Praise the Lord
4. Give Him Glory for the great things He has done

Let's remember that motherhood is always miracle and that every child is a precious gift from God. It is my prayer that this Christmas we will all remember the wonder of it all - the love that God sent to us and the privilege that we have to honor and glorify Him. Merry Christmas and have a wonderful day!

Friday, December 18, 2009

It’s a Celebration!

Merry Christmas! It is hard to believe that Christmas is just one week from today. This morning I have been thinking about Christmas as I have 90% of my shopping yet undone. The word Christmas itself means to celebrate Christ – so I began thinking about celebrating. To celebrate means:

1. To observe (a day or event) with ceremonies of respect, festivity, or rejoicing.
2. To perform (a religious ceremony)
3. To extol or praise: a sonnet that celebrates love.
4. To make widely known; display

I love celebrating! I believe that we should celebrate life everyday that we wake up breathing! As Christians we should celebrate Christ everyday through our actions by observing those things that are important to our Saviour – make reading your Bible and praying a daily ceremony with rejoicing for all that God has done for you; make singing to the Lord as much a part of your shower as cleaning your body and most importantly make all that Christ hath done for you widely known!

I don’t know about you, but when we celebrate an occasion like a birthday I tell everybody. As I shop for the gifts I tell the person at the register that my purchase is a gift; I tell the checker at the grocery store about the meal I am preparing for the celebration and how happy I am to be able to celebrate another year of life for my loved ones – and if it is for my husband, kids, or one of my grandkids then of course I have to tell them how special, brilliant, talented, and precious my family is to me. Now they may not particularly care about my family – but the joy is contagious and I usually find the checker smiling and sending me off with well wishes for the celebration. Shouldn't we all the more spread that joy about our Saviour? Let’s make the joy of Christ widely known – it's Christmas let’s celebrate Christ! "And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth." Luke 1:14

Merry Christmas! Have a wonderful day.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Its CHRISTmas - really!

This year as we began the Holiday season at Thanksgiving, I must admit I did so with concern that with everyone living in different homes, and especially with "Mom and Dad" (me and my hubby) living out of the area that things just wouldn't feel the same. Well, that is true, it did not feel the same; but that doesn't mean that it wasn't special. I feared that without having all of my decorations up or having the kids come to my house for Christmas that I wouldn't enjoy my holidays...sounds so shallow even as I type it, so I determined that if Jesus could be born in a manger, certainly I could have one year without all my decorations and traditions .

Now, I know that I said that, but in my heart I was still carrying a "poor, pitiful me" attitude until I really got a glimpse of Christmas. Our family went to Bethlehem where they did a re-enactment of the Christmas story. I enjoyed the time with my kids and grandkids and thought it was so neat to see the camels and the other animals - I enjoyed walking around the "town" and seeing the various folks in costume - but when I saw a very pregnant Mary riding on a donkey and Joseph going from inn to inn to no avail I got a glimpse of the lonliness they must have felt.

I saw a young married couple that knew God was doing something extraordinarily miraculous facing rejection. I saw a young mother frightened at the prospect of having a baby with no place to go, a man that couldn't provide his best for his wife and coming child...and then considered that what God provided for the place of the birth of His only begotten Son was a lowly manger amongst animals in the cold, dark night. I saw a picture of God's greatest gift of love and realized that the most precious things can come in the most meager of circumstances. I realized that for His love He was willing do without what most people take for granted.

I bawled like baby as I heard "Oh Holy Night," and as my mind and heart pondered all of these things I felt so convicted over the things I was concerned about- Christmas isn't the decorations or the tree - it is the fact that God so loved us that He gave His only begotten Son; it is the joy and peace that we receive through the love of God - when we receive His only begotten Son as He is indeed - our Saviour!

As I enjoy my country home and see the majestic showing of stars each evening I am reminded of that Holy Night and the Star that led the Wise men to Christ - as I sense the presence of God through the Holy Spirit when I pray and read my Bible each day I have the joy and peace that was promised on that night so long ago in Luke 2:9-14, "And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."

I am so thankful that though things are not as they have been in years gone by, Christmas has new meaning - or maybe I should say "True" meaning - the celebration of the birth of our Saviour! I pray that you will with me marvel at the miraculous gift of love God has sent to us - wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. Merry Christmas to you! Have a wonderful day!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Do You Know the Way?

I have always enjoyed reading. I like to read all kinds of books and I have quite an extensive library of my own. One thing that I don't read well is maps! I guess you could say that I am "directionally" challenged. I get turned around very easily - in fact if I am shopping in a mall I have to determine the direction I am heading by the surrounding stores before I go into a store or I will not know which way to go when I exit the shop!

I am normally not a ditsy type, but for some reason I just am not good with directions. One good thing that has come as a result of my "weakness" is that I pay very close attention to detail when I travel, so if I am willing to give you directions I will be able to tell you not only the street names but all the landmarks that will help you to find your way. Of course as I mentioned before that is only if I know the way - if I have to check a map I am definitely not the person you want in charge of giving directions...my family can attest to that!

For as many years as I can remember our family has always travelled together to cut down our Christmas tree. While the tradition has been to cut down the tree, we have through the years tried out different tree farms. I recall one year we went to Groveland (near Yosemite) and it snowed while we were cutting down the tree - that is a special memory to me. The time I am thinking about today in particular is one year when we went up towards Colefax - we had never been to that area and all we had was a map - and for some reason I was the one holding the map as the navigator. BIG MISTAKE! Anyway, I kept directing my husband to different areas to find the many tree farms in the area (or so I thought) - finally as we kept turning up empty my husband decided to ask me how I knew where the tree farms were and I told him that I was following the little green triangles that were on the map - oops. I thought that since they looked like Christmas trees it meant that we could find Christmas Tree Farms in those locations. Now, just so you know typically a triangle on a map stands for a US Mineral or Location Monument.

I was falsely leading my family because I didn't understand what I was reading. Had I taken the time to read the legend I would not have mislead my family to waste so much time driving to the places where there were no Christmas Tree farms. As I was chuckling at the memory of my "gaff" I was reminded of how important it is that we understand, truly understand what we are reading - especially if we are going to try to lead someone else to follow our interpretation; that is what is so dangerous about listening to TV or radio preachers - they are often misinterpreting the Scriptures and misleading their listeners.

I am reminded of I Corinthians 2:12-14 which says, "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." The key to understanding the Bible is to be taught by the Holy Spirit which God gives as a seal to those that receive Him as their personal Savior. (Ephesians 1:12-14, "That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.")

Without realizing the purpose of the map legend my lack of knowledge led us in circles; don't let that be you especially when it comes to God's Holy Word! If you don't know for sure if you have trusted Christ and been sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise - please let me know and I will happy to show you the way!

Needless to say my husband doesn't ask me to be the one to navigate using a map any more, but fortunately now I can google the map WITH directions before we leave for our destination. I am thankful that I know the Word of truth, the gospel of my salvation and that I know the way to heaven! I pray you do as well.

Have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Whose Making You?

As long as I can remember, I have always loved to cook and bake. I remember being a nine-year old girl and cooking dinner for my family - not that I was forced to do so, but because I wanted to prepare the food. One thing that I especially enjoy doing is tasting something, guessing the ingredients, and then preparing it for myself. For the most part I have been pretty successful, but there have been a few times when I just couldn't quite get the right flavor. When that happens I look up several recipes and then assemble what I believe my husband will best enjoy eating.

I guess you could say that when it comes to cooking I like to be able to make meals that are not only nutritious, or something used to fill our tummies, but also something that is made well and enjoyable to eat. When I begin to cook I always imagine the flavor I expect for the meal I am making to produce. I have thought a lot about making things and how that in order for most anything to be made you must follow a plan, a recipe, an idea, or even your tastebuds!

For the last several weeks I have had a verse on my heart that Jesus spoke in Matthew 4:19, he said, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." In Mark 1:17, He is quoted as saying, "Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men." I know that we are commanded to "go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature;" but not everyone is obeying that commandment. As I pondered the verses quoted above and thought of the Great Commission, I realized that if we were really following Jesus - He would make us to be fishers of men - if we haven't been made thus its because we aren't following!

God promised to make us...

* Fishers of men" - if we follow Him (Matthew 4:19)
* Free - when we know the truth (John 8:32)
* "...to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men" - by faith (I Thessalonians 3:6-12)
* "...perfect in every good work to do his will..." - through the blood of His everlasting convenant (Hebrews 13:20-21)
* "...perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you." - after you have suffered a while (I Peter 5:10)
* "...that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." - as we grow in grace (II Peter 4:1-8)

I would love to be made all of these things for my Savior and what a joy to know that I can be by following Him and His Holy Word! I don't want to follow the wrong recipe and be made into something that is not savory or undesirable. It is my prayer that I will follow the Lord and let Him make me - after all He is the potter and I am the clay. I believe our greatest joy is found when we fulfill the purpose for which we were created - and become what we were made to be. May your joy be full and may you become all that God has intended for your life!

Have a wonderfu day!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

My Cup Runneth Over



The empty nest sounds like such a sad transition – it has even been named as a syndrome for when parents experience sadness and emptiness when their children leave home. We have had an empty nest for several years now as our youngest child has been married 4 ½ years now – however we have always had all our children living near to us – in fact for a short while 3 of our 4 children all lived on the same block with us! So now that we are living away from all of our children our nest really seems empty.

One of the best ways to prepare for the time when your children are living away from home is to make sure that you and your husband share time together as a couple not just parents. Be sure that you make time to be sweethearts; go on dates with just the two of you; and work at being best friends with each other. I am so glad that my husband and I always considered the fact that one day it would be just the two of us again – and now here we are. I will say though that we look forward to any time we can spend with our children! It is a special treat for us to spend time with our kids and now grandkids as well.

This morning as I was reading my Bible I read Psalm 65:11 which says, “Thou crownest the year with thy goodness.” As I read that verse I thought of the wonderful time we were able to enjoy for Thanksgiving as we had all of our children and grandchildren together – all 21 of us! Though we planned various activities for the week we were together to me it didn’t matter what we did, it was just being together that made the time special. Now, if anyone were to view the video that was taken of the craziness that transpires when 11 children aged 5 and under are all together they may not agree with my sentiment; but to me it was sheer bliss.

As I see our children all happily married, serving the Lord and raising their children to the glory of God I say - Thank you Lord for crowning my year with goodness; I am so thankful for our family and for the time You gave us to spend together – I don’t feel empty at all – in fact I can say as David did in Psalm 23:5-6, “my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.”

During this Holiday Season especially please keep Christ at the center “…for consider how great things he hath done for you.” I Samuel 12:24

Have a wonderful day!