December 6, 2018

Savoring Christmas

Curled up in my favorite comfortable armchair and carefully sipping a cup of hot spiced tea, listening to carols on my favorite Christmas cd in the glow of the Christmas tree lights, is the way I most enjoy the season of Jesus Christ’s birth.

In the glow of those sparkling tree lights is the Nativity that sits on our hearth, that small and cherished visual of the Christmas story which has graced our home for over twenty five years. Joseph, Mary, and Baby Jesus are surrounded by animals, shepherds, wise men, and angels.

Above the hearth hang the stockings for our family. All our names are monogrammed in a stylish script on these beautiful stockings that invite us to fill them with goodies by Christmas morning.

Traditions are a treasured part of our Christmas celebrations each year. The cookies we bake, the candy we make, the cards we send, the gifts we buy, the Christmas Eve service we attend, and the family gatherings and parties we go to are the activities we participate in to enjoy and observe this special time of year. Much time is spent furiously rushing from one Christmas activity to another - between school, work, church, and home.

Somewhere in the mix of all these obligations and activities, we find our schedules growing fuller and our days busier and busier. Next thing we know, each Christmas season becomes a time of stress and overwhelming busyness and we can feel like we are on a fast, spinning merry-go-round that won’t slow down.

If we are going to savor and reflect on the meaning of Christmas as we should, we must slow down.  We will enjoy our celebration of Christmas more when we find a balance between activity and Nativity. I have learned that I cannot be involved in every program, activity, and every party, and must make choices to limit the busyness by only selecting certain ones.

The Christmas season becomes the most difficult time to be still. If we don’t intentionally take the time to slow down and be still, Christmas will pass by in a flurry of activity, and not enough Nativity.

Will we take the time to pause and with awe remember this miracle of Christ’s birth?  Will we make the time to rejoice in knowing God’s plan to come to earth in the person of His only Beloved Son Jesus, was for me…and for you? Will we think about that Holy night in Bethlehem while we sit in our comfortable chairs listening to carols in the glow of the Christmas tree lights?  Will we open our Bibles again to Luke 2 and read how a Savior was born?

If we want there to be more Nativity than activity, we will pause…and savor Christmas.
Luke 2:11-12
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.

December 4, 2018

Faith That Grows

There was a lady in my Sunday school class years ago whose ex-husband was in jail and she was severely struggling financially to provide for her two sons. I saw Melinda wrestle with her faith to trust God to take care of them.

I often encouraged her because I sincerely believed God would meet her needs and provide for her and her two boys. She would tell me that she wanted to trust God but the whole situation just looked so impossible.

One Sunday she came in especially discouraged because a car repair had emptied out her checkbook and she desperately needed groceries. What she didn’t know was that we had already decided to fill her pantry and every lady in our class had brought in a bag of grocery items and we had hid them in the classroom closet. We were able to surprise her with this blessing of groceries and see the joy on her face when she saw what we had done for her family.

We definitely saw her faith begin to grow after that. She still struggled but now she would say, “I know God will provide!”

At Christmas she worried she would not be able to buy any presents for the boys, but what she didn’t know was that several men in our church had taken on the project of collecting money to buy two bikes and other presents for these young boys. Melinda was right. She didn’t have enough money to buy gifts that year. But she didn’t have to because they were bought by others in our church who knew she was in a very difficult situation and wanted her boys to have a good Christmas.

When I urge someone to trust God and to have faith that He will see them through a difficult circumstance, these are not empty words. They are words to live by because I have seen God grow my own faith and trust in Him throughout the days and years of my life, and because I have witnessed it in the lives of others who have also seen God work in amazing ways to demonstrate His loving care for them. 

Philippians 4:19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Faith That Grows is an excerpt from my book, First Breath of Morning: Where God Waits For You Every Day - A 90 Day Devotional

To purchase click on my Amazon page HERE.

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November 28, 2018

His Magnificent Presence

In a conversation with a dear friend who had recently finished several months of intense chemotherapy treatment for lymphoma, she talked about the deep and intimate closeness to the Lord she experienced while going through cancer treatment. Her treatment was successful and she is now cancer free.

What she shared reminded me of the very similar way I felt when my husband and I grieved in 1992 for our baby who only lived on this earth for two days. I told her I literally felt as though God’s arms were tight around me, comforting me and holding me in the midst of deep pain.

Both of our experiences were the evidence of every Bible verse on God’s comfort and every verse and teaching that He is always with us and we are never alone and that His grace is sufficient.

My friend and I agreed that we want that indescribable special closeness to continue even though we are not in those dark valleys anymore.

As we continued to discuss our thoughts, we both also admitted that even when life is “normal” we can still have a close and intimate relationship with the Lord as a result of intentionally pursuing Him and drawing near. We can experience His magnificent presence any day of the week when we genuinely seek Him.

It might not be exactly the same as the uniquely powerful and comforting grace He provides in a valley or trial. Yet, every normal and ordinary day we still have the humbling honor to draw near and know His magnificent presence ever near to us.

Let’s not allow another day to pass us by that we don’t enjoy and appreciate God’s magnificent presence up close and personal in our lives.

James 4:8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

His is a very near presence that we can know, and we genuinely will know, when we draw close to Him.

You will find more devotions like His Magnificent Presence in First Breath of Morning: Where God Waits For You Every Day - A 90 Day Devotional

A great gift for Christmas and  a great choice for a 2019 devotional.

To purchase click on my Amazon page HERE.

Books-A-Million HERE 

November 25, 2018

Where Can I Find God?

Someone posed the question, “Where can I find God, how can I find Him?”

I carefully thought about my answer and this I know.

He is not a God who is far off.

The truth is we can find Him early each new day. We can find Him in the morning. 

He’s waiting for us before the night sky turns to dawn. He’s waiting for us before our sleepy eyes are wide awake. 

Early each new day is the place I meet Him with whispered words and grab His hand and never let go the rest of the day.

He is already there waiting for me. While my body needed a night’s sleep to rejuvenate, He never slept or wearied for one moment. He who never tires or sleeps refreshes me each morning.

I will ask the question again. Where can I find God? I find Him first in the beauty of each new morning.  

There is so much beauty in the way a day begins. God offers to us a gift to enjoy, a brand new day – a gift for our delight. And I breathe it all in, slow, calm, serene as night turns to day … this is where I find God every morning. 

Isaiah 40:28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. 

Psalm 121:3-4 He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

Jeremiah 23:23-24
“Am I a God near at hand,” says the Lord,
“And not a God afar off?

Can anyone hide himself in secret places,
So I shall not see him?” says the Lord; 

“Do I not fill heaven and earth?” says the Lord.