“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, becausethe Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor…” Isaiah 61:1-2
This verse stood out this morning, as I read about the foretelling of Jesus, after having just celebrated his birth. It reminded me of the relatable and relational side of our Lord. He knows from personal experience what it is like to be poor, broken-hearted, captive and bound. And who do you want beside you when you walk through these same things? Someone who has been there and can now shine the light of presence and love. Maybe because He has allowed us to walk through these trials, we can go back and sit with others too. Sometimes it does not require words, but presence when all feels dark and alone. Then we become thankful for the trials because they have been used to shape us into more of His image, relatable and relational. We know He is too good to waste our pain and we shine a bit brighter. We join Isaiah in proclaiming that it truly has been a year of the Lord’s favor, even if we did not recognize the training at the time.
Our family attended my dad’s church on Christmas Eve. Someone mentioned photo opportunities. One of the kids leaned over, asking to take a picture. I gave my standard “we will see” answer, already deciding it would be much too crowded. When the service ended, he reminded me again, I voiced my doubts and he told me he had prayed about it. As we walked out, we both saw an empty space and took time to capture a memory. I wanted to mark time where a child asked, prayed and received.
It may not seem like much, but childlike faith is precious and teaches me often. It also makes me thankful for a boy who is an excellent teacher to this mama.
“For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
‘Tis the season of wrapping gifts, with beautiful paper and just as lovely ribbon. We write “to and from” on a coordinating tag and place the thoughtful gift under the tree. Soon the day will come when all will be unwrapped, the paper thrown away, but it is what inside that will remain. For some reason this made me think of people. We dress up in our finery and look simply stunning, but maybe it is our hearts that people could use as a gift too. For it is the overflow of what is inside that will bring a smile, make a lasting memory or bring much needed encouragement after a long year. Let them see what the Lord has seen all year long. It will make a wonderful addition to all those well chosen presents on Christmas morning.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” John 14:27
One of the kids made the comment about peace being disrupted in our home. Such an insightful observation and one that has stayed with me. If we have been given peace from Jesus, then peace we have. It made me think of an extravagant gift I want to open, use and take with me everywhere. Maybe it will become so much apart of us that we aren’t even aware. And then as we let His peace transform us, it has to then spread to those around us, especially in our homes. How does that sound this holiday season? Just a warning though, the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy, so be on guard and do not let him take your gift of peace. It is too precious and needed so badly these days. Imagine the difference it can make!
*Picture of our youngest on her first day in church 8 years ago.
“But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” 1 John 3:17
It has been hard to put into words what happened in our community these past weeks. An organization, that works behind the scenes to fill in financial gaps, brought Christmas to hundreds of kids. Needs were made known and gifts were purchased. All remains anonymous, except for a few who coordinate the event. When the day the families picked up the gifts finally came, I knew I would never forget it. All the long hours were suddenly worth it. Stories were shared, hugs were given, tears flowed and words of encouragement could not help but escape. Because it takes humility to admit you are in need and that had to be acknowledged. It takes an open heart to see a need and love to respond.
May the Lord give us humility to ask, open hearts to see and love to respond this Christmas. I promise it is worth it. Besides, everyone could use a glimpse of God’s love this season.
“We know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you.” 1 Thessalonians 1:4
Our youngest turned eight years old over the weekend. She is so full of light, secure in being loved and chosen. She is a daily example of freedom and joy. It reminds me of how Jesus told us to become like a child when I watch her. He knew the tendency we have as we grow up to live insecure and fearful. She reminds me of grace and mercy. She shows that it really is true, life can begin again after death. And she has a rare beauty that comes from within and just cannot help but be reflected. God knew exactly what our family needed and gave us a live in, up close reality of the life He wants to give us. I want to be like her when I grow up.