Monday, November 29, 2010

The Most Inconvenient Christmas.....Ever

This morning, i headed to the kitchen to do the dishes. But before i could begin, i HAD to get my Christmas CDs out & ready to go. I love Christmas music!!! It just fills me with the joy of the season. And i love Christmas. I love celebrating Jesus birthday all year long, but this time of year, especially.

But unless you are super organized, you're thinking about all that you have to do before December 25th. I know that i am. After i finish writing this & posting, i want to get our Christmas letter done & the cards started.....or at LEAST get the letter done. What else is on my To Do List? Let's not even go there today. =) I'm sure there are quite a few of you that can relate. We tend to get so busy this time of year, thinking of all that we have to endure, that we forget about that very first Christmas. It was....

Among the bills that I'd received 
Was a postcard marked apologies
The Christmas gifts you ordered aren't in stock.
So I packed up the kids for Grandpa's house
The blizzard blew in & the car broke down
So we shared a quart of eggnog at a truck stop.

And I said, "Kids, this is unfortunate.
You think it's bad? Well it's inconvenient.

But the most inconvenient Christmas ever was
Was the first one. When God came so far to give Himself to us
So when stressed out each December,
How it helps me to remember
God is with us most when things just can't get worse.
The most inconvenient Christmas ever was, was the first.

By the time we got to Grandpa's house
His Christmas lights had burned it down.
So we had to take him home to live with us.
But he couldn't stand to leave the farm
And now there's cattle in the yard,
Sheep on the rug, pigs in the tub,
And a rooster at dawn.

And I said, "Now Honey, this is unfortunate.
Ya think this is bad? Well it's inconvenient.

But the most inconvenient Christmas ever was
Was the first one. When God came so far to give Himself to us
So when stressed out each December,
How it helps me to remember
God is with us most when things just can't get worse.
The most inconvenient Christmas ever was, was the first.

A young girl expects a child she can't explain
Forced to walk a hundred miles just to give birth in the hay.
While the king at the same hour
Fulfilling the challenge to keep his power
Sent his troops to track them down & wipe them out.

Yep! Hands down!

The most inconvenient Christmas ever was
Was the first one. When God came so far to give Himself to us
So when stressed out each December,
How it helps me to remember
God is with us most when things just can't get worse.
The most inconvenient Christmas ever was, was the first.
(recorded by the Oak Ridge Boys)

"Today in the town of of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you. You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.
Luke 2:11-12 (NIV)

 So this time of year, when you get overwhelmed with all the chores & activities, remember the most inconvenient Christmas ever was, was the first...HANDS DOWN!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Making Every Day Thanksgiving

From a retail observation, Thanksgiving seems to shrink more & more each year. Compare the display space that is given to Halloween & Christmas merchandise, to the space given to Thanksgiving merchandise. If we're lucky we'll find a few cards, some fall decorations, & probably a few displays of turkey roasters & platters. I am guilty of this in my own Etsy shop. I have only 2 items listed for fall/Thanksgiving. But i've had my eyes opened yesterday & will try to do better next year. But, it seems like we have forgotten why we celebrate Thanksgiving...
thankfulness for survival.

In 1621, when the historical feast between the Pilgrims & Indians took place, the Pilgrims had been in America less than a year. During this time, they lost over half their population due to disease or starvation. But the Pilgrims hosted this feast with their new friends to give thanks to God for His provisions in difficult circumstances.

"Your Heavenly Father already knows all your needs & He will give you all your needs from day to day if you live for Him & make the Kingdom of God your primary concern. So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today."
Matthew 6:32-34 (NLT)

Now that's something to be thankful for. And i can tell you that over the last couple of years, God has provided for my household's needs. He's kept a roof over our heads & food on our table & the electricity to cook that food.

So, Thanksgiving morning, before all the chaos begins, even if you have to set your alarm clock a little earlier, stop & give thanks to God for all He has given you, including the privilege to come to Him in prayer. God loves to hear from us & He loves when we say thank you & give Him all the praise & all the glory. In fact, why don't you make every morning a Thanksgiving morning.

"I will thank You, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things You have done. I will be filled with joy because of You. I will sing praises to Your name, O Most High"
Psalm 9:1-2 (NLT)

I am thankful for my Lord & Saviour & for the price He paid for my life. I'm thankful for my family, friends, & cyber friends that He has given me. May you all have a very Happy Thanksgiving.  <><

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thanksgiving Brings Out The Gratitude Attitudes

Thanksgiving is less that 2 weeks away. I love Thanksgiving. The food will be awesome & in abundance. And yes, i'll probably eat way too much. But this time of year, we tend to show more of a gratitude attitude as we remember all that we are thankful for.

The list of blessings that i  have received from God is endless. There is no way to count every one of them, although though the song says, "Count your blessings....." I may have a college education, but  i still can't count that high. And even though, we may verbalize what we're thankful for on Thanksgiving, we need to give our gratitude to God every single day.

"Give thanks to Him & praise His name.
For the Lord is good & His love endures forever
His faithfulness continues through all generations."
Psalm 100:4b-5 (NIV)

Do you remember the story of the woman who washed Jesus' feet with her tears, wiped them with her hair & then anointed them with rare perfume? (Luke 7:36-50) She was looking for forgiveness of her sinful life. Responding to her love & repentance, Jesus forgave her sins. The woman realized the extent of her sins & the extent of God's love. In this scripture passage, Jesus teaches that those who are forgiven much tend to love Him more because they are more aware of their sins that have been forgiven. Now that doesn't mean that we need to sin more to be forgiven more. It just means that we need to really see how much we've been forgiven & will probably need to be forgiven in the future. And we need to express our gratitude for that!

Here are some ways for us to cultivate & show your gratitude to God.

***The easiest way is to remember your past before you came to know Christ. Think of what your life was like: what your spirit was like; what you mind & thought process was like; what guilt, habits & sins were part of your life....Now think about how you've changed & been transformed. Go to God in prayer & give Him thanks & praise for all the changes in your life.

*** Write a thank you note to Jesus for all He endured on the cross for you. It doesn't have to be pretty, just write from the heart. When you're done, tuck it away in your Bible, perhaps in Luke 7, next to the woman's story. This will help serve as a reminder to cultivate gratitude for forgiveness.

***Keep a record of your gratitude. Write down 1-3 things that you're thankful for each day. Write them down on a calendar, a notebook, a journal, post it doesn't really matter what you write them in or on & the things can be anything. As your write them down, just tell God of your gratitude & appreciation.

***For at least one month, read a Psalm a day. They are reminders of God's mercy & that He is the source of everything we have. Go to God in prayer & express your gratitude for anything & everything that comes to mind.

Try one or all of these & see if you don't experience more & more gratitude to our Heavenly Father. 

"Give thanks for the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever."
I Chronicles 16:34 (NIV)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Sticks and Stones....AND Words Can Hurt

"Sticks & stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me." We were all taught that saying as young children. But as we grew up, we learned that really wasn't the case. We learned that words can tear down any relationship or they can build it stronger.

"The tongue has the power of life & death. Those who love to talk will reap the consequences."
 Proverbs 18:21 (NIV/NLT)

When i'm angry or hurt, i have been known to lash out &/or be defensive. But i have learned to go to the Lord in prayer when this happens. And i am trying to go to the Lord, before i say things that i regret. I vent to Him. I pour my heart out to Him. I've found that when i do that, He changes my heart & brings me to a place of calmness & repentance. I might still be a little mad, but i'm able to let go of the anger &/or pain & move on. If the situation calls for it, i'm able to talk to the person in a calm & loving manner & the relationship heals.

Scripture tells us that God's words have the power of life. In Genesis, we learn that God created the entire world with His spoken words.

"And God said, 'let there be light' & there was light."
Genesis 1:3 (NIV)

John 1:1 tells us that Jesus is the Word. All through the Gospels, Jesus heals people with the power of His words. In the same manner, God wants our words to heal & build relationships. We can choose the words we will sow, words of life, or words of death, & we will live with the consequences.....good or bad.

Three things to ask God to help you with to sow words of life:
     *Communicate in ways that will build up relationships.
     *Hold your tongue when you're about to say something that will hurt, or tear down a relationship.
     *Don't let pride, stubbornness, selfishness, or any other sin, prevent you from speaking words that will heal or build up a relationship.

"May the words of my mouth & the meditation of my heart
be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock & my Redeemer."
Psalm 19:14 (NIV)

Guided by God's wisdom & love, may your words to & about another build a protective wall around your relationships.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Fear Not

Did you all get scared enough from all the ghosts & goblins that were out this Halloween? Personally, i prefer the cute & fun aspects of Halloween rather that feeling the fear of the scary stuff. You know what else is scary? Christmas is just around the corner. This time of year, i start feeling the fear or uncertainty of trying to find the right gift, will i have time to get all the handmade ones done, will the budget stretch as far as i want it to, will i be able to get it all done in time. All this can cause an overwhelming fear, if we let it. 

"For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power & love, & self-control." 
IITimothy 1:7 (ESV)

Now healthy fear warns us of danger & prepares us appropriately. Healthy fear tells us to keep an eye on the weather when storms are expected. Healthy fear keeps us from eating only pies, cakes, cookies & brownies. Healthy fear tells us to look both ways before crossing the street.

Unhealthy fear overwhelms us with doubt & insecurity & drains not only our physical strength, but strains our spiritual life as well. It can steal God's peace from our hearts & the joy in our everyday life. Unhealthy fear controls us & is a weapon of Satan to distract us from, & can even destroy our relationship with our Heavenly Father. 

When i think of confidence in God that overcame fear, i think of the story of David & Goliath. David could have cowered in the corner, but his confidence in God was so strong, he actually volunteered to slay the giant. He saw his "giant problem"  through God's perspective. His faith allowed him to rest in God's power & strength in order to defeat the enemy. David relied on the One who supplies our needs.

Giant problems seem hovering at this time of year, especially with our economy & job losses, house foreclosures, rising prices. But if we follow David's example, we will remember that we have the same assurance, that God's very presence will sustain us, as we can use the tools He provides. We can replace unhealthy fear with the courage & confidence that's found in trusting God alone. By placing your hope in God & not your circumstances, we're able to alleviate unhealthy fear & can face any giant in our path with confidence. 

"The Lord himself goes before you & will be with you; 
He will never leave or forsake you. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged."
 Deuteronomy 3:8 (NIV)