“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.
We were riding down the road talking about how today was my moms birthday. Our youngest corrected me, saying it is my moms birthday. Death does not cancel out an important date of someone you love very much. Several times I caught myself thinking about my mom and missing her help. She was always the first person my sister and I called in any situation. We would call her first and then the doctors office. She was a help line to many. I miss that.
I recently read a quote that made me think of her. It was talking about how our purpose is to help other people find their purpose. My mom definitely helped me find mine! Because of so many things she instilled in me, I am the kind of mom I am today. She was honest about her mistakes, so I could avoid them and encouraged what was important. She told me we should grow old gracefully. She said older people are heroes for all they have seen and lived through. She cared for others quietly and loved children fiercely. My children were blessed in many ways because she loved them. How delighted the Lord must be to have her home with Him today!
“The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.” James 5:16
One of our boys is turning twelve years old today. He is so full of life and determination. He is as comfortable with adults as he is with any age child. He makes any event fun and you want him apart of whatever you are doing. Even grocery shopping can turn into an adventure with this one. As fun as he is, what I admire most about him is his sensitive heart and his prayers for others. He is never afraid to ask the Lord for answers. It is a childlike faith, boldness and confidence in who the Lord is and who he is, that makes him unique for his young age. And if this is twelve, what must the Lord have planned for this one? Thankful to have a front row seat.
“So if you are offering your gift at the altar and remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23-24
Before we come to our tables, may we all be reconciled if possible. Extend forgiveness, ask for it if needed and then come to the table. And maybe this will be our best thanksgiving ever as we pass grace around like your favorite dish.
This morning I found a note one of the kids wrote to me years ago. Then there was a note a friend had written inside a book by one of my favorite authors. Other days I will find notes exchanged between my husband and I that make me smile. And if you open up a drawer in the kitchen, you will find it full of already read lunch box notes. I slide those in just to remind them that they are loved and I am praying for them. Maybe scripture is a little like that too. It is God’s word given to us to believe, apply and live while we are walking towards home. It is powerful, true and beautiful. It serves as a guide, source, and daily light. His word reminds us of who we are, whose we are and where we are going. Yes, there is much life to live now and we all need what He has graciously, lovingly supplied. It is the longest love note we have ever been given. Now that is something to be thankful for!
“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger., and give no opportunity to the devil.” Ephesians 4:26-27
For years I dreamed of writing a book, until I realized it would only have one word in it – forgive. The key to marriage, parenting and family is forgiveness. Do not let the small offenses pile up. Obey the wisdom of God and not give the enemy an opportunity for all manner of sins to take rootby withholding forgiveness. I am by no means an expert or do this perfectly, but I will fight the enemy on this one. And maybe it is because I am overwhelmed by how much I have been forgiven by Jesus, so how on earth could I withhold forgiveness from others?
So as we enter this holiday season, let’s go ahead and decide we will forgive. And when the new year begins, perhaps we will look back and be amazed by all the grace we have received and extend because we have chosen forgiveness.
When we go through trials of any kind, we can get tired. Sometimes the weariness of the circumstances can flat knock you down. I found myself here and just needed to rest. I know we cannot stay unengaged forever, for that is not living, but you never know what the Lord will use to get you back up on your feet. For me, it was a message taught at church on Sunday about the armor of God found in Ephesians 6. After that I felt myself able to stand, a bit wobbly, but standing. Then to put that fire back in my bones, I heard a song that reminds us of God’s authority and what we have been given as His child. So back into battle I go, a little weak, but stronger in spirit and with gratitude. And friend, if you need encouragement during a trial or are in need of rest, please let me know. I would be honored to pray for you and I also know how valuable small things can be to a weary heart.