November 29, 2016

The Class Christmas Gift Exchange

As a child growing up, my mom and I loved the library in the small town we lived in outside of Cincinnati, Ohio. You could borrow books for a month at a time and we both carried out stacks of books and then my mom would say, “Don’t go through them real fast, take your time, make them last.”

We didn’t have many books in our possession in our home, but we certainly enjoyed the vast selection at our library.

When I was just a little girl learning to read, one of the library books my mom read to me was A Little Princess. The classic story of Sara Crewe and her escapades in the attic of the girls’ school were exciting and vivid adventures in my mind.

A few years later when I learned to read well, and my mother was recovering from pneumonia, I borrowed the book again from the library and read it to her. She said no one had ever read a book to her and she was quite soothed by the evening readings while she rested. I finished the book and returned it to the library, admiring its beautiful cover and pictures inside. I wished I had my own copy of this wonderful book.

In my class at school that year we exchanged names on folded pieces of paper for the Christmas Party. Every year there was a class gift exchange and Christmas cookies and punch on the last day of school before the holiday break.

I wish I could remember what I bought for the person whose name I drew, but my memory has failed me on that. But what I do remember is the gift I received. When it was my turn to open my gift and was opening the package in my hands, and as the wrapping paper slipped away and the ribbon fell to the floor, I saw something very familiar in my hands. My gift was a beautiful copy of A Little Princess. 

The girl who drew my name called out to me, “My mom picked that out, I’m sorry she got a book, I know you are probably disappointed it is just a book…”

Was she ever wrong, I was thrilled! I was holding in my hands my very own copy of A Little Princess. I knew what I would do over Christmas vacation. I would read my book. When I was too young to read, my mom had read it to me. And then I read it to her. This time, I could read and savor my very own copy of this beautiful book. And keep it and treasure it for years to come. It was the best ever class Christmas gift exchange!

November 13, 2016

Place of Rest

Philippians 4:6-7
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

When I try to figure things out all on my own it seems like it becomes more complicated with each angle I attempt to analyze and fix. When I admit it’s not mine to figure out and leave it in God’s hands, a sigh of relief escapes and peace envelops me. When I leave everything in His hands, I find that I am wringing and twisting mine a whole lot less.

Whatever made me think it was mine to figure out? How thankful I am that He asks me to trust Him, seek Him first - and He’ll take care of the rest. When I rest in knowing this, I find a joy and peace I could not know when I was trying to manage everything myself.

I’m often asked how did I find this place of peace and joy and my answer is, I have learned through my life experiences and walk with God that because my life is in His hands, all my worries and cares can be placed there too.

There were painful times in my life long ago that were difficult to endure. There were disappointments I could not understand. There were hurts I could have held on to, but chose to let them go and give it all to the Lord. The faith I have placed in Him gave me the courage and strength to do that.

He taught me to cast all my cares on Him, and He showed me He would bless this step of faith. What a difference it made in my life when I stopped trying to figure everything out myself.

When I let Him have His perfect way - then I found myself in a new place - a place of rest. This new place of quiet rest in my heart was also a place of peace and great contentment. Most of all, the place of rest and confidence I found in the Lord was a place of blessing and joy.

Isaiah 26:3
You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.

November 9, 2016

Can You Hear Leaves Falling?

I took a walk around the small lake at a nearby park and I noticed a sound I couldn’t identify until I stood still, watched and listened, and then I knew it was the very soft sound of leaves falling and drifting to the ground on the very lightest of breezes, yes, you can hear leaves falling…

Can you hear leaves falling
As they drift
Carried by the autumn breeze?
Leaves are swirling
Dancing all around
And I just take it in
Yes, I hear the sound of leaves falling.

Lord, I want to hear You
I want to hear Your voice
And in the still small whisper of leaves drifting to the ground,
I can hear You
I hear You in my heart
I hear You all around me
For You fill up the whole earth!

Isaiah 6:3b The whole earth is full of His glory!

Your beauty and favor surround me….

Psalm 5:12 For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous;
With favor You will surround him as with a shield.

I can hear the sound of autumn leaves falling, softly and beautifully falling all around me.

November 6, 2016

Stephen, Full of Faith

Acts 6:5 And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith…

In Acts chapter 6, Stephen and six other men were selected by the apostles to be the group to attend to the needs of the widows in the early days of the New Testament church. He is described as a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit.

Stephen spoke boldly of Jesus and caused quite a stir which led to being falsely charged with blasphemy, although while under this duress the council of his accusers observed that his face shone as an angel.

He answered their accusation in Acts 7 as he takes them back to the days of Abraham, Moses, through the Patriarchs and all the way to the days of Jesus and points out that they are the ones who murdered Jesus and continues to speak to the truth of who Jesus is–which they absolutely do not want to hear.

The angry crowd despised him and picked up stones and threw them at him. Their hatred for our Savior and for Stephen was aimed at him with every hurling rock that resulted in a horrific killing. Stephen died uttering these words in verse 60, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.”

What a strong man of conviction. He didn’t back down and he was murdered for standing for Jesus. Yet, his dying words were of love, compassion and forgiveness to those who killed him.

I want to be someone who doesn’t back down when the world attacks me for what I believe. I want to be known as someone who lives by their convictions. I want to be like Stephen—full of faith, standing for Jesus. 

1 Corinthians 16:13-14 
Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love.