Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Because I Need the Beatitudes...

LORD, REMIND ME  NOW AND ALWAYS...
Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to Him,2and He began to teach them, saying:
3Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.
8Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.
10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Making Christmas Matter


I'm discovering that as my children get older, Christmas feels different to me.  As teenagers, they are no longer buzzing with excitement to sit down and talk about plans for the season ("Ugh, I have exams." "Logan (boyfriend) is coming home..." "We'll make it to help the less fortunate, but can we hang out with these guys first?"), instead our Christmas calendar conversation was filled with their distraction.  The rest of the conversation seemed to center around why Christmas parties had moved when they'd always been at other times and which parties have what type of presents: stockings, "white elephant", big gifts...  Even these things weren't said with excitement and anticipation, but rather with expectation.  I sat there with a headache, and I realized something: I spent too much time trying to make Christmas magical for my kids and not enough time trying to make it matter.

Christmas has a magic all on its own without trying to make it so...  The lights, the candles, the beauty seen everywhere, it all adds to it, but Christmas, the real Christmas has a magic that can't be fulfilled with decorations, parties and gifts.  I spent a lot of years trying to fulfill Christmas with all of those things. There will still be gifts under the tree Christmas morning and yes, our decorations have been up since the first, but I'm spending time trying to make it more...  More about an infant that came to save us, more about those who will be alone on Christmas, and more doing and less saying...  And I'll place my whole heart into the real Christmas, so nothing can make it "feel different to me".

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. - Isaiah 9:6-7


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Candle of Love


“Turn around and believe that the good news that we are loved is better than we ever dared hope, and that to believe in that good news, to live out of it and toward it, to be in love with that good news, is of all glad things in this world the gladdest thing of all. Amen, and come Lord Jesus.” 
― Frederick Buechner

The Love candle for the second week of Advent represents the Son of God.  We humbly light this candle in acknowledgement that we have atonement of our sins because Jesus Christ first loved us.

3:8 But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day.

3:9 The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.

3:10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed.

3:11 Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness,

3:12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire?

3:13 But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.

3:14 Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish;

3:15a and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation. So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him. 

2 Peter 3:8-15a 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Joy to My World

I love Christmas!!!!




Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the LORD, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his faithfulness. - Psalms 96:11-13 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Chaos and Perspective

    

Do you ever have a day that you think if one more thing happens you'll check yourself into a home? Sunday was my day.  Tori, Wyatt and I had a productive fun day grocery shopping, getting Orange Leaf and watching the Bengals (barely) win. We came home feeling it was a great day, so I think a few little demons decided to dance through my house to ruin it and aggravate me to no end. I had been knocked down sick on Friday, recovering on Saturday and was exhausted by the end of our outing on Sunday, so was in no mood for the chaos that followed. The turtle filter clogged and overflowed, the girls' sink backed up and flooded, and the dishwasher flooded the kitchen with bubbles and water. These three events were completely unrelated, yet happened within an hour of each other. I was trying to finish a paper, my reading and the rest of my field study work for the quarter to no avail.  Sam was gone, Tori was ill and Wyatt was playing football through the kitchen thinking the pouring bubbles were awesome.  I'd had it.

I felt the stress and frustration pushing up as a knot in my throat, but instead of cursing the situation or crying (even though I really wanted to), I put my face in my hands and started to pray.  I didn't pray for magical repair of the issues, but I prayed for patience, for endurance, for peace and for a reprieve from any further catastrophe.  I looked around at my son running through the house singing Christmas carols and playing football simultaneously.  I thought of my girls: Tori was watching her movie, feeling poorly with a mild respiratory infection, but otherwise healthy. I prayed for Sam's safe travels from Ohio Northern and thought of all the great things that were coming up in our lives.  I considered that my home had suffered no damage from the mess.

I realized there is so much to be gained from meditating on things for a moment and putting situations into perspective (now to master this when getting impatient with my kids), so I took a breath, spent two hours cleaning up the messes, repaired what I could and went back to my schoolwork. Psalm 28 tells us to trust God. Our hectic, stressful days can be handed over to Him.  He is our shield and stands by us, even when we are undeserving, even when our humanity falters.  Our strength can be found in Him alone.
Praise be to the Lord,
    for he has heard my cry for mercy.
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
    my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
    and with my song I praise him.
The Lord is the strength of his people,
    a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.
Save your people and bless your inheritance;
    be their shepherd and carry them forever.  
- Psalm 28:7-9

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Advent - Week One


"The birth of Christ is the central event in the history of the earth -- the very thing the whole story has been about." -- C.S. Lewis
DERIVED FROM:

Celebrate the First Week of Advent

By Lisa Robertson
DAY ONE: LIGHT

             "Come, people of Israel, let us walk in the light of the Lord." (Isaiah 2:5)
"The people walking in darkness have seen a great light -- on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned." (Isaiah 9:2)
The prophet Isaiah describes how God was preparing to bring His great light to the dark confusion of the world. Darkness in the Bible describes a society in chaos and rebellion. Throughout the Bible, we see that God's light heralds His presence and His truth.
In this passage, Isaiah invites the people of Israel to "walk in the light of the Lord." The prophecy was fulfilled through Jesus who boldly declared, "I am the light of the world" (John 8:12). Therefore the invitation is no longer just for the people of Israel, but for all humanity.
64:1 O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence--

64:2 as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil-- to make your name known to your adversaries, so that the nations might tremble at your presence!

64:3 When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.

64:4 From ages past no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who works for those who wait for him.

64:5 You meet those who gladly do right, those who remember you in your ways. But you were angry, and we sinned; because you hid yourself we transgressed.

64:6 We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

64:7 There is no one who calls on your name, or attempts to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity.

64:8 Yet, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.

64:9 Do not be exceedingly angry, O LORD, and do not remember iniquity forever. Now consider, we are all your people. 
- Isaiah 64:1-9

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Abundance to Give and Abundance of Need


Today has been an incredible day.  Our youth group, SUMTeens, adopted three families, and my family adopted a boy who was alone for Thanksgiving.  We shopped for them on Sunday night during youth group with the intent of cooking for the families today and delivering dinners tomorrow. Two of the families found another opportunity for their meal and one did not return our call, so, as of Monday, we were left with the boy who was going to a family's home, but had some extra needs through the weekend.

Yesterday I prayed that we would find an opportunity to use all of the items SUMTeens bought to help people who truly had a need for Thanksgiving.  Last night I received a call from Pam, who knew a family that had needs for Thanksgiving and Christmas. This morning my son, Wyatt, and I went to drop a Christmas tree, wreath and garland to Friends Who Share knowing a family might like to have it for the Christmas season.  The interesting thing is that I had been trying to drop it for over a week and today was the only day that worked. It's amazing how God works. I asked the kind man working the counter if he knew of families that might need assistance for Thanksgiving.  He had already turned families away since they had run out of food for a Thanksgiving meal, but didn't know names. There was one woman in the store at that time who had several needs, so we made plans for her to come back to our home to pick up a Thanksgiving dinner. I saw another family leave that seemed visibly upset and felt God urging me to them, so, much to Wyatt's embarrassment, I followed them. When we reached their home a short way up the road they were completely overwhelmed and tearful that they would have the opportunity to have a Thanksgiving meal.  There were two families in the car, so we were up to four families to help.  I was overwhelmed with joy that God had answered my prayer.

Wyatt and I went to Kroger to shop for the fourth family.  While in Kroger I received a call that someone had heard we were doing this and had a family of eight and nothing for Thanksgiving, so Wyatt and I decided our family would purchase a meal too. He was amazing in shopping for a full meal. When we finished shopping, divided up and delivered the food, we received another call from a family that needed a meal.  We were out of food and time, but went to their home with a Kroger gift card and the last pie.  They were elated.

Delivering the meals was incredibly overwhelming.  These families wanted so much to celebrate a traditional Thanksgiving holiday, but a meal like that, especially the turkey can be a week's groceries for a family that is financially stretched.  I know there have been times in my life that I would not have been able to celebrate with the traditional meal without friends and family contributing.  Two of the families were single mothers, two were young families, one was a couple who had lost their young children to an accident and the last was a boy whose mom is in dependent care, but he had Thanksgiving dinner with extended family, so we took him food and some fun things for the days he is out of school. All were kind, grateful and a blessing to share a moment with in this time Thanksgiving.

I am so proud of our youth group for shopping for these families, for the fundraising they do for events like this throughout the year and for their willingness to give.  I wish they could have seen the joy they created. Even if I did not have a Thanksgiving celebration tomorrow I would be thankful for today and every day, not because of what I have, but because of what I can do with what I have and with the resources available to me.  The hugs that I received today and the tears of joy that were shed because of sharing were a gift to me that I will not soon forget. Thank you, SUMTeens, for being disciples.  Thank you, God, for showing us who... and for teaching our hearts in the process.

I pray that all of you have found joy in thankfulness and that you have a Happy Thanksgiving!!!

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. - Colossians 3:15-17



Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Love Slowing Down...


I am officially finished traveling for work for the fourth quarter.  While things will still be busy, the enrollments at all hours of the day are winding down. This has been the most difficult season yet in this bi-vocational, kid-filled, school filled life.  The transition from quarters to semesters made for a long fall!  I have learned my lesson in trying to take more than a single class during fourth quarter. (Did I say that once before?)  Still, school is coming to an end.  One (late) assignment remains and I am slowing down...

I hope to spend this interim time in outreach to others.  Sometimes, the combination of school and both jobs seems to be defeating the purpose of life as a mission...

Servants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters,[b] not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. - Colossians 3:2-24

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Overflowing


What great joy the world would have if we celebrated our thankfulness, and lived in the excitement that we show as the holidays progress, all year round!  When our thankfulness is in Jesus, not things, we will!

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him,rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. - Colossians 2:6-7


Friday, November 21, 2014

LIVE!



Live in joy, live for others, live to love...

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. - James 4:13-17

Friday, October 24, 2014

Things To Look Forward...


Because for every time there is a season and sometimes we simply have to remind ourselves what we have to look forward to...

- The last few football games

- Mornings, Devotions, walks, family prayer...

- The SumTeens Harvest Party - Chance to reach out to new youth

- Good Business

- All Saint's Day - to know we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses

- Wyatt's 10th party - memories of my (not so) little blessing

- Traveling with Amber (helping clients, good food, hot tubs, Christmas movies and time away)

- Completing our "Enabling Others to Act" presentation - knowledge and completion

- Making everyday an "outreach" day

- Adopting families for Thanksgiving - sharing

- Sharing the Word of God

- Newness

- A break from school and celebrating Thanksgiving!!!

-  Black Friday

- The end of the semester!!!!!

- Sharing with and helping families for Christmas

- Celebrating with our family

- Paying debt

-  New beginnings

- Relaying the Word of the Holy Spirit

What do you look forward to in the coming weeks?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Growing


My 21 day cleanse went well.  I adhered to discipline I had been lacking for my mind and soul and made changes for my body.  It didn't feel as legalistic as usual.  I offered myself more grace which is a learning experience for me.  I am continuing my 40 day journey and intend to go further, adding more life changes, reevaluating time and again.

Spiritual:
My prayer life grew in the cleanse and has continued to grow for myself and others.  While family devotions are not as consistent as I'd like, I believe the kids know they are prayed for daily and see my changes.  There has been beauty in seeing answered prayers.

Emotional:
My tolerance for others and responses to people has been strengthened.  I am living in prayer for the things I cannot change.  I reflect on the areas that I struggle to stand strong.

Physical:
I am down 5 pounds from the cleanse for a total of 18 pounds since I returned from Costa Rica surprised by the weight I had gained in 2013.  It's a process to maintain and I want to lose 22 more pounds by the end of the year. I am participating in chiropractic care and am caring for my ulcer.  I feel better every day.

I continue to grow in personal and spiritual discipline, and more importantly I continue to grow in Christ.  Sometimes I feel like I have grown tremendously and others I feel I have so far to go...  Maybe we all feel this way at times?

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. - Ephesians 4:14,15

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Psalm 86

Being Lost Quotes

Listen, Lord, and answer me,
for I am poor and needy.
Protect my life, for I am faithful.
You are my God; save Your servant who trusts in You.
Be gracious to me, Lord,
for I call to You all day long.
Bring joy to Your servant’s life,
because I turn to You, Lord.
For You, Lord, are kind and ready to forgive,
rich in faithful love to all who call on You.
Lord, hear my prayer;
listen to my plea for mercy.
I call on You in the day of my distress,
for You will answer me.
Lord, there is no one like You among the gods,
and there are no works like Yours.
All the nations You have made
will come and bow down before You, Lord,
and will honor Your name.
10 For You are great and perform wonders;
You alone are God.
11 Teach me Your way, Yahweh,
and I will live by Your truth.
Give me an undivided mind to fear Your name.
12 I will praise You with all my heart, Lord my God,
and will honor Your name forever.
13 For Your faithful love for me is great,
and You deliver my life from the depths of Sheol.
14 God, arrogant people have attacked me;
a gang of ruthless men seeks my life.
They have no regard for You.
15 But You, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
slow to anger and rich in faithful love and truth.
16 Turn to me and be gracious to me.
Give Your strength to Your servant;
save the son of Your female servant.
17 Show me a sign of Your goodness;
my enemies will see and be put to shame
because You, Lord, have helped and comforted me. - Psalm 86: 1-17

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Loss

When we think of loss, we think of loss through death of people we love. But loss is a far more encompassing theme in our life. For we lose not only through death, but also by leaving and being left, by changing and letting go and moving on. And our losses include not only our separations and departures from those we love but our … losses of romantic dreams, impossible expectations, illusions of freedom and power, illusions of safety—and the loss of our own younger self."

Judith Viorst, Necessary Losses 

Psalm 18:28  “You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.”