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And So It Is Christmas

Aand so it is christmasnd so it is Christmas…

A day children awaken with wide-eyed anticipation of presents delivered overnight by Santa or gifted by family and friends. It’s a day that often includes a Christmas dinner or for some, like myself, a day of grazing on leftovers from earlier family gatherings.

And so it is Christmas…

Wrapping paper is torn from boxes and emptied of their contents. Ribbon, bows and gift tags are scattered on the floor as the joyous litter of another Christmas is tossed into an oversized garbage bag.

And so it is Christmas…

Favorite holiday movies are watched throughout the day, family board and card games are played together and laughter is shared amidst all the typical pandemonium and commotion of Christmas day.

And so it is Christmas…

Dusk descends and the day draws to a close. Bedtime prayers are said as the kiddos are tucked into bed. It’s been an eventful day and as the tree lights are switched off, I glance up at the moon and stars that shine brightly against the backdrop of the dark sky.

And so it is Christmas…

In that quiet moment I am reminded of a time long ago when a stable feeding trough was a makeshift crib for a baby destined to redeem our world from the guilt of our sin and disobedience to His Father: GOD.

And so it is Christmas…

My head hits the pillow, exhausted by the activity of the day. I whisper a prayer as I rejoice in the true meaning of Christmas: The peace, contentment and hope that the birth of Jesus gifted to me.

It may not be a peace that changes my circumstances, but IT IS a calm that can fill my mind and heart during the worst storm—contentment that poverty or plenty cannot take away—a sense of hope that God is in control, no matter what happens.

It’s not something I work up, or earn—it is a gift from God, a gift each of us can unwrap this Christmas Day, or any day. The gift of salvation brought through the birth of Jesus.

And so it is Christmas…

Rejoice, celebrate and claim your free gift of salvation because it’s the only gift that really matters at the end of the day. When tree lights are unplugged, presents unwrapped and guests return home and food put away, you are left with the backdrop of the night sky and yourself.

And in the stillness of the night, I pray you choose to embrace the true gift of AND SO IT IS CHRISTMAS. His name is JESUS.

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The Beauty of Pain: It Turns Us to Love

quote-god-did-not-rescue-me-out-of-the-pain-he-rescued-me-through-the-pain-tullian-tchividjian-128-47-56
I listened to a play list of my favorite songs today.  Each song represented a season in my life. Some brought memories of reclaimed joy while others resonated with lyrics that held my emotions hostage to some of my deepest moments of pain.

Letting go of what no longer supports a healthy lifestyle or relationship can be painful. It may be a failed marriage, death of someone deeply loved, feelings of emotional abandonment or quitting an addiction. There are a plethora of reasons and life events that torment our body, soul and mind.

When we fail to seek the divine consult of God and pursue our own desires, there will be consequences. Make no mistake, our heavenly Father loves us deeply, but the outcome of our success requires obedience to HIS will and planned purpose for our life.

If you are like me, you will screw up and it will be a hot mess. But, there is beauty to be found in our pain. How can that be?

God stands ready at any given time to turn our pain into HIS love and take our ashes and replace them with garments of joy. Isn’t that so like God?

And so, as tears filled my eyes in remembrance of the painful times in my life, I remembered that I am a child of an Almighty God who will forever point my pain in the direction of HIS love. It is my heartache coupled with HIS unconditional love that has shaped me into the person I am today.

We all experience physical, emotional pain and challenges of life. The beauty behind that pain is Jesus. He can transform it into joy and love if we allow Him to actively engage in our heartbreaks, hurts, losses and grief.

There is beauty in pain when we give it all to Jesus! It brings to mind the lyrics of an Evie song:

Are you tired of chasing pretty rainbows?
Are you tired of spinning round and round?
Wrap up all the shattered dreams of your life
And at the feet of Jesus lay them down
(Chorus)
give them all, give them all, give them all to Jesus
Shattered dreams, wounded hearts, broken toys,
Give them all, give them all, give them all to Jesus
And He will turn your sorrow’s into joy

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Held to the Flame

flame

There are times in life when we are held to the flames. Perhaps it is divorce, separation or a battle for your health. Addictions, loss of a family member or job can quickly place our faith next to the flame.

I get it, and have experienced all of these ‘held to the fire’ moments within my life. Was it easy, NO! Was God faithful, YES! It is God’s holy fire that transforms us. When held to the flame, our spirit is transformed into something new.

“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. (7) These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” 1 Peter 1: 6-7

We are valuable to God. Giving up His Son to death so that His blood would bring us forgiveness of sin is certainly proof of that. If your life is being held to the flame, God may be trying to tell you something.

Open your ears to hear God’s voice; He speaks to us through His Word. Read it!

Open your eyes to your surroundings. Are you hanging out in places and with people that give cause for concern?

Open your heart to change and the deep inner stirring of the Holy Spirit within your soul. That comes through prayer and meditation with our Heavenly Father.

Sometimes our life is held to the flame for no apparent reason. REJOICE! God is testing your faith for a divine purpose. You may not see or know that purpose while on earth, but eternity holds all the answers.

Dig in your heels, hold tight! Let your faith be increased and proven to be genuine because it has been held to the flame.

“So now, beloved ones stand firm and secure. Live your lives with an unshakable confidence. We know that we prosper and excel in every season by serving the Lord, because are we assured that our union with the Lord makes our labor productive with fruit that endures.” 1 Corinthians 15:58

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Never Under Estimate God’s Purpose

quoteCleaning homes is not something I ever expected to be doing in my sixties. Heck, I had already retired from one job and sold a prosperous LLC company by age sixty.

It’s not that I consider myself above house cleaning; it’s just that the thought never crossed my mind. Apparently it crossed the mind of God and I was assigned to be a house cleaning missionary.

It’s true. Not only that, but God also hand-selected someone I had never before met to work with me in the mission field. Pretty crazy, isn’t it? At my age, nothing surprises me about God and the ways He will use us for His purpose IF we are willing.

THE STORY

A single mom, married multiple times, who didn’t finish college until later in life. A woman broken by life’s struggles; a woman, by the grace of God, who found a secure job with decent wages and benefits to support herself and daughter.

I am guessing many of you have a similar story to share that is filled with shame, regrets and 20/20 vision. It’s that history that gets us to the God-designated place we are today. It takes unplanned events, heartaches and, in some cases, losses to get us to where God wants us to be.

THE WHY

In hindsight, the why is very clear but since glimpses of our future are not made known to us, we impatiently choose to move forward without a God-ordained plan. That is me, even to this day. I want to see the road ahead but when it’s not visible, I forge a path in the opposite direction of what God has planned for my life. It’s what I do and I do it very well.

THE HOPE

Be still my heart for there is still hope for us wayward souls who tend to take the path less taken. The path filled with thorns, burs and barbed wire. The path that ultimately leaves us scarred, wounded and crying for help.

And, then there is Jesus. His mercy and grace beckons us in another direction. A path we never considered, but a path that leads us to still waters; where he can restore us anew.

THE REASON

The life paths and direction God has designed for each of us is as different as our DNA. Our divine purpose on earth is unique because it is eternal based. We can’t see the big picture; we only see what is here and now.

I often ask God the reason I’ve been chosen to be a house cleaning missionary at this time in my life; an age where I can barely step in and out of a bathroom spa tub and scrubbing floors can require knee pads. His answer comes in ways I never imagined.

  • The woman crying in her car across the street from one of our house cleans who willingly accepted our offer to pray with her because her mother was dying.
  • The widow who looks forward to our visits because we make her laugh.
  • The busy doctor and PA with small children who continually show gratitude and thanks for the service we provide.
  • The grandmother who acquired custody of her grandkids because of family addiction issues and needs a sounding board.
  • The single father who needs help with housekeeping.
  • The single mom at the corner store who needs encouragement; so, we left her a goody bag.
  • The guy who noted the name ‘My Magic Mop’ on our vehicle and his laughter when I replied, “I ride the Magic Mop to work.”
  • The retired military man, a widow, who needs help with cleaning.

THE MISSION

To remain sensitive to the needs of others and continue to joyfully serve in the mission field God has placed me in at this time in my life. There are days I come home sore and tired. Other days, I come home exhilarated by the small victories, the challenges I’ve overcome and the new friendships acquired.

Never under estimate where God places you at certain times of your life.

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When God Lifts the Fog

fog

As the fog lifts from the lake this morning, I am reminded of how God lifts the fog from our life when we seek Him with all our heart.

What does ‘all our heart’ imply?

I believe it is a quest of the soul to discover the depth and breadth of God’s desire to lead us into a personal relationship with Him. It’s that simple. When we allow God to get intimate with our soul, He lifts the fog that hinders us from seeing the fullness of His redemptive powers.

What are His redemptive powers and how does that relate to our life?

In more ways than you might think or have considered.

Jesus’ sacrifice at the cross ransomed us from sin. It opened the floodgates of Heaven so we can stand reconciled before the throne of God. It means God is attentive to every aspect of our life because our soul has been given “sky priority” status and stamped with His seal of grace.

The heart (meaning soul) of mankind is inherently evil due to sin. Sin is our disobedience to God’s plan for us.  All the good deeds in the world will never make amends for that broken relationship. Thankfully, God’s love for us is beyond our comprehension. He gifted us redemption through the death of his Son Jesus on the cross.

It is through the blood Christ shed and His resurrection that we are given access to redemptive powers in our life. They are freely given to all mankind and the only requirement is to genuinely ask Jesus to become the ruler of our heart (soul).

What does that mean?

It means God’s truth must dwell within our heart and we give Jesus full rights to call our heart His home. If you want the fog lift, you must empty your heart of ‘you’ and pursue Jesus. Only then will the redemptive powers of God be operational in your life.

To love God with all our soul requires us to relinquish all ownership of self. It’s a process of realigning our understanding to God’s understanding. That’s not easy and it requires us to die to ‘self’ daily.

How do we die to self?

Prayer and ingesting God’s Word (the Bible) are the tools needed to lift the fog that surrounds our life. It sounds easy, yet harder than you think. The opposing force of darkness (Satan) seeks to engulf us in a mist of fog that prevents us from seeing the keeper of the lighthouse.

Our soul must be replenished and realigned from our understanding to God’s understanding. To lift our spiritual fog is an incremental process and one I struggle with daily. It requires effort, desire and time on my part, but when God lifts the fog, there are no regrets.

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CHANCE MEETING or DIVINELY APPOINTED?

God has Diviinely Appointed our LifeAre brief encounters with others a chance meeting or divinely appointed? Are there hallowed moments implanted in our path of life that intersect with others for a divine purpose; moments of which we are unaware, but God-ordained to intervene and change the fate of someone else? I believe the answer is YES!

He has an appointed time to every purpose under heaven. (Ecclesiastics 3:1)

The key word is Purpose

God has designed a perfect plan for our life but in disobedience we follow our own ways. In the process, we end up on a course God never intended for us to pursue. We live in an imperfect world where sin entices and lures certain areas of our life into dark alleys that lead us away from the individual, perfect plan God designed for us.

Every moment of our life is chaperoned by God and He uses chance meetings with others to redirect our steps. No matter how often we deviate from God’s plan, He takes action to divinely redirect our steps and put us back on course to fulfill His purpose.

Staying on Course

I’ve abandoned God’s perfect plan more times than I care to count. There have been marriages, jobs, moves, friendships and choices that required intervention and chance meetings with others to alter the direction I was headed.

There have also been chance meetings when God uses me to unknowingly incite a change of direction for someone who has fallen off course and needs to be reconciled with their God-given purpose.

Whether you are a believer in Christ, or not, everything that happens in your life has a purpose. From the beginning of time, everything is divinely orchestrated by God for a specific purpose; a purpose which only He knows. Unbelief and human efforts won’t change those chance meetings God ordains in an effort to point you in the direction of His saving grace.

Today’s Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank you for divinely appointing a purpose for my life even before I was conceived. The greatness of your love is unconceivable. You chaperone every moment of life to ensure I stay on the path you have individually designed for me; you desire to make all my ways perfect.

“It is God that girds me with strength, and makes my way perfect.”
Psalms 18:32

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Still Waters

IMG_2894[1]A feeling of loneliness seems to envelop the lake today. Except for a few lone ducks that cruise the waterways, there are no boats, no people; only the stillness of waters at daybreak coupled with droplets of refreshing rain.

Any movement on the placid waters is limited to the ripples created by winged wildlife as they paddle to their next feeding area. The calmness of the waterfront awakens my soul to a need for private reflection. I feel compelled to connect the spiritual dots of my life in an effort to reveal the hidden picture.

Fog begins to lift above the distant water’s edge and I look for God’s ordained agenda for today. Will I find still waters, or perhaps identify with others encountering the ripple effects of heartache and loss?

Wherever God places me today, I want to be available to offer encouragement to those experiencing rough waters and point them to the safety of God’s everlasting arms of mercy and grace.

Adverse waters are destined to happen in our imperfect life. They can have a profound impact and cause us to search for life survival skills that keep us buoyant and afloat.

Are you invested in the everlasting arms of God’s grace and mercy that bring buoyancy to your life? Or, are you floating along the fringe of destruction without a life jacket which will eventually pull you into deep waters.

Do you want to sink or float?

Today’s forecast may begin with placid waters, but that can change at any given moment. When gifted with moments of stillness, we need to pursue the skills needed to weather future unexpected storms that will inevitably impact our imperfect life.

Prayer for Today:

Dear God, help me to float when life’s circumstances want to pull me under. In moments of still waters, restore my soul and clothe me with a life jacket to survive future storms of my imperfect life.

He calmed the raging storm, and the waves became quiet. – Psalm 107:29