Sunday, November 29, 2009

Advent has begun!

On 4 Sunday evenings after supper and a brief devotion one of the five candles is lit.
Each week the previous weeks' candle is also lit.
On Christmas morning after prayer and devotions,
the 5th and last one is lit and then the previous weeks candles are lit.

Each week has a focus. . .

The 1st Sunday Symbolizes HOPE with what is called the Prophet's Candle

The message is that Jesus is Coming

The 2nd Sunday Symbolizes FAITH with what is called the Bethlehem candle

The reminder is of Mary & Joseph's journey to Bethlehem

The 3rd Sunday Symbolizes JOY with what is called the Shepherd's Candle

It reminds of of the joy at the coming birth of Jesus

The 4th Sunday Symbolizes PEACE with what is called the Angel's Candle

The Message of the Angels: "Peace on Earth, God Will Toward Men"

The 5th Candle Symbolizes CHRIST with the Christ Candle

it is lit on Christmas Day for it signifies Christ has come and is coming.

He is the Light of the world.

With the enjoyment of Thanksgiving this past Thursday,

followed by the rowdy football craze and shopping frenzy,

(how very odd we thank God and then run out and go wild on other things),

Advent is an anchoring point in each week

as we prepare our hearts and homes for Christmas.

I pray that you will join me in considering the true meaning of Christmas,

not just on Sunday when you light an Advent candle,

but each day through the month of December and into January

when we celebrate Epiphany (the coming of the wise men).

As we raised our family we ate from our holiday china each night from Thanksgiving until Epiphany.

Eating from nicer plates causes us to reflect upon the difference of this season of celebration.

We gather and light the candles, have a daily devotion

(many reading plans are online or in your local Christian book store or public library).

Then we washed, dried, and re-set the china on the table together.

It brought the family together as we worked, studied, shopped, baked, and all that life included.

It was the anchor for our day and reminded us to invite God into each day and activity,

purchase, gift giving, songs sung, decorations placed, and events attended.

I need not 'do it all' to celebrate,

in fact too many things makes us fractured, unfocused, and weary.

Keep your Christmas season simple and enjoy it throughly for once!

Now our table is set for 2 as our children have homes of their own

but that is all the more reason to celebrate the season. . .

to see God's gift in Jesus,

to consider His gift as the motivation for the using of our gifts,

to give, to share, to care

rather than to do what is 'natural'

to pull in,

to hide,

to be sad and lonely,

to wait to be called,

to hope to be remembered.

Instead let us follow Christ

who came to serve not to be served. . .

and know His joy!

Truth For Life

And again, Isaiah says,

“The Root of Jesse will spring up,

one who will arise to rule over the nations;

the Gentiles will hope in him."

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him,

so that you may overflow with hope by the


of the

Holy Spirit

Romans 15:12-13

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

How could we have said goodbye in 2008?

Have you ever wondered at the meaning of the word 'goodbye'?

Here is its definition which adds richness to it:
It is an abbreviated version of the middle English phrase 'God be with ye',
and is a traditional parting phrase in the English language.

Just over a year ago, we saw our daughter, son-in-love,
and granddaughter off to serve in southern Sudan.
We could do so because we were sending them off, not alone,
but to follow the Great Shepherd and guardian of our souls, Jesus Christ!

And a year later, we still pray for them, bless them, and miss them.

God be with ye til we meet again!

Our household phrase for 2010 is:
Next Year in Nairobi, Kenya!
as we plan to visit them summer/fall of 2010

And as many households in the U.S. of A. are currently preparing for Thanksgiving,
the scripture for the day is a psalm that is labeled as a thanksgiving psalm.
May it bless you and yours, near and far.

Truth for Life
Shout out praises to the Lord, all the earth!
Worship the Lord with joy!
Enter his presence with joyful singing!
Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
He made us and we belong to him;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give him thanks!
Praise his name!
For the Lord is good.
His loyal love endures,
and he is faithful through all generations.

Psalm 100

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

this is where my kids are serving on the mission field.

Truth for Life
Therefore I will give thanks to You, O LORD,
among the nations,And I will sing praises to Your name.

2 Samuel 22:50

Sunday, November 22, 2009

just a spoon, but the set was not complete without it . . .

Lost . . . but now found.

now complete!

I bought a special clear glass tea set last year after Christmas, I had admired it, watched the selection in the store decrease until at last the price was 75% off - then I bought it. I have so many tea pots and yet I wanted a clear teapot for the purpose of serving flowering teas - teas that blossom as they steep, teas which are delicious but beautiful, teas that make you stop, watch, savor,

and you want to share the occasion with others.

The last phrase is why I serve tea. . . it invites you to ask others to join you for one-on-one.

I happily brought it home, unpacked it, set it up, have used it several times. I kept wondering why the sugar bowl had a little spot for a spoon for in the store's display there was no spoon. And then I saw the same tea set in a store in Houston and noticed it came with a spoon. . . my set at home was minus said spoon. Could it have come with one? How could this be?

I had cleared out the box and it was long gone in the trash. I was sad about this from that day this past August. I knew I could not find a spoon to 'fit' the sugar bowl, I had to live with it, all the time having to accept this little small detail: I had thrown out the box with its carefully shaped styrofoam insert that held each piece of this tea set in place knowing that I had tossed out a little sugar spoon along with it.

My mind initially even thought of where it might reside - in the local dump, buried in mountains of garbage, Can't consider that. I pondered asking the store where I purchased it if they could help me obtain another spoon, but I thought better of it, it was my own fault. I did not want to buy another entire set just for a spoon, no way, what a very self-indulgent American thought that was, fleeting though it was. ;-)

And as I used the set, I enjoyed it but always knew, that due to my lack of giving it the full attention as I unpacked it that I had lost part of it. My focus was on the teapot, the fact it came with a sugar bowl and creamer was secondary, that it has a matching spoon was teriary. Sigh, yet it still bothered me a teeny bit.

Until today - in all these months of using it, enjoying it, and sharing cups of tea with friends, family, and neighbors. . . . it wasn't complete. I knew it, I told others about my mistake, they knew it. They felt for me. They wished they could help me and offered any number of work arounds. .

I appreciate their kindness, but I considered it a lesson to pay more attention when I do make purchases.

How not unlike us to accept things as o.k. when a part is missing, to think I'm godly enough, I'm saved, I'm going to heaven. I may even know there is something missing, that I am not enjoying life as some fellow Christian is, they seem to have a bit more, maybe even a little bit more,

but I'm o.k. because after all 'no one is perfect'.

In scripture when we are called to be perfect. . . the meaning of the word is not what our American ears hear, it is fuller and richer than that. No, I don't mean one must try harder, be 'better', be more 'holier than thou'. Perfection, being perfect is becoming complete. . . becoming all that God has created us to be, all He knows we can become as we yield to His Spirit and live for Him, learning the joys of choosing Him,

His ways, and not looking to our ways, our desires, our hopes,

and our dreams as the set goal, set pattern of our life.

I want to become complete in Him, to be complete to serve Him fully, like a complete tea set.

I know that I will become completed, fully perfected when I die or when Christ returns

but I can move toward Him as I learn who God is by His Word,

let His Word impact my heart, my life,

my ambitions, my goals, etc.

And one day, when we least expect it, . . . I will be.

Today I was rummaging in our garage, being very careful to stay within my 10 lb. lifitng limit. and found a box that had a jingle bell in it, curiously I thought 'what is this Christmas box doing out here?" and it was lightweight so I brought it to a surface on which I could open it and found a box, fairly large,

it was sealed up. I opened it and discovered the styrofoam that had held the glass teapot,

creamer, sugar bowl, sugar bowl lid . . and did I dare hope? did I?


Reflecting the light of the garage, nestled into the white styrofoam,

still taped into its little spot was the clear blown glass spoon!

God had somehow let me think I had tossed this box out last January. .

I really thought I had tossed it in the trash months ago.

And yet I had not!

It was within my home all this time, near, but misplaced.

And so my glass teaset is now complete.

It is complete in His time, in His way, and my joy is unspeakable for it shows

in an oh, so material, teeny tiny way, the great love, watchful care,

and delight the Lord has in providing for us.

I rejoiced aloud, found my husband who was raking leaves in our back yard,

showed him the spoon - shared my thoughts on God's love, care, watchfulness,

and on and on (you can just 'hear' it no?)

And his reply?

You want to know that isn't it?

He said "Let me get this right, so today's motto is: don't clean up after Christmas, for you never know what you might toss out, keep every box you get and don't throw it out."

He said the above with his usual cheshire cat grin.

No, that is NOT the motto. . . but that is for another post on another day, dear reader.

You get the motto, the lesson, the Word. . .

He cares. . . . even about such things as my carelessness. Sometimes He will fix things we have done unintentially. He honors us, He is the BEST Father.

And can you not imagine my gratitude towards Him for caring about such a tiny material thing?

It leads me to be more humble and grateful for the things in life I know matter more. . .

like unsaved family/friends/and co-workers,

ill friends, family, and co-workers,

immature-in-faith people,

distance between people both geographical and relationally.

He cares,

He knows.

And sometimes He shows it in ways such as this one today.

This reminds me that He desires that we be complete in Him,

we do our part In Him,

and He makes the changes in our heart,

our mind, and our lives as we set our will toward Him.

Truth For Life

In a word, what I'm saying is,

Grow up.

You're kingdom subjects. Now live like it.

Live out your God-created identity.

Live generously and graciously toward others,

the way God lives toward you."

Matthew 5:48

(obviously the Message version)

Got 28 days for spiritual growth in 2010?

Putting first things first. . . may I recommend planning 28 days and purchasing this book, working through daily to begin 2010 with purpose, focus, and truth that changes you from the inside out.

I am currently working through this book and my, oh, my how I am enjoying it immensely. Each day I can hardly wait to see what portion of scripture will be used for study, for seeking, and for responding. I am so excited about this little book that I am looking forward to leading it in a group study late spring/summer 2010. (why not sooner? I have already committed to completing 2 Samuel with a class and another course following that) I can't wait to talk about it, to share its impact on my life. . . to witness as to the changes and 'ah ha' moments I am finding. If you study this book, write me! I'd love to discuss it with you even if by email!

I will be recommending it to my friends as a 'must read' for their Christmas gift lists.

Do you ever think to include things on your Christmas list that are luxuries for your spiritual growth and development? I am odd in that I do that. I keep lists of recommended books and when I am asked by my dear husband, I share with him my list. I also share where I have found them on sale or used. I keep a 'gotta read' section in our long hall bookshelf. And when I have the need for a new book I know just where to 'shop' for it. I am never without a book to read, or two or three.

I'm home healing from a recent surgery and it requires rest, lots of rest. And I am loving it. I have been given the orders to take it easy . . I knew it was coming and so I planned ahead with knitting projects, Bible study, good deep books for growth, and tasks that I've not been able to find the time to complete. . this opportunity is golden. I am happy to report that I am making good progress in the past week on meeting some of those personal goals/desires.

I know this Sabbath Rest, of sorts, is a treasure. I pray to take what I gather during this time and live from it today and continuing into the weeks ahead when I am once again back 'out there' serving, teaching, working, helping, learning from and listening to others.

In the meantime I am delighting in this time to look to God, to focus on what is truly important in life. Its a pause, a Selah, in the music of life. Its a precious time to reflect, to be grateful more verbally to my dear husband and grown son who have served me in innumerable ways to keep our home going, to help me rest, and to be closer as a family as I heal.

So, dear reader, I plead with you to make it your goal to grow this year, spiritually by:

#1 read your Bible thoughtfully cover to cover this year


#2 to purposely, carefully pick out book that lead you to inner change and outer change as you read His Word and see what we are called to, equipped to do, and must do as His children.

Don't just pick out the top 10 best selling Christian books. Consider this truth: best sellers are RARELY about dying to self and growing in Christ (topic for another day)

Lets grow up, becoming mature children of God as we love Him, cling to Him, obey Him, and live to honor and glorify Him.

Set your resolve with me! Join me in this year, make your plans now, how will you do this, with whom will you share this, and what tools will you need?

Long term investing takes planning and action. Eternal investing takes no less.

Truth For Life

In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

Hebrews 5:12-14

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

They are weak but He is strong. . . .

What does one do when you learn a friend's daughter has given birth
to twin boys who weigh just under and over 2 #?

You knit hats, if you know how!

And so, I searched for preemie hat patterns for their wee little heads to keep them warm as they grow and develop in the neonatal intensive care unit. . .
not an easy task given their wee sizes.

As I searched for patterns, I prayed for them.

As I purchased yarn, I prayed for them.

As I knit, I pray for them.

It is a way to help, a means of caring when you can not hold them,
hug them, touch them, and yearn for them to grow and develop into godly men.

And when the hats are completed,
I will contact the friend who will take them to these grandsons.

Not everyone is strong, not everyone is able to care for themselves, and so as believers and followers of Jesus Christ, we watch for and offer help to those who are weak. Our world boasts of strength, leaders, not followers, not weak. . . . the Word tells us otherwise.

Have you ever sung the song Jesus loves me? Did you ever sing all the verses? They are amazing!!!! I offer them to you before I close, may they minister to you, dear reader.

Jesus loves me!

This I know,

For the Bible tells me so.

Little ones to Him belong;

They are weak but He is strong.

Jesus loves me!
Loves me still,
Tho I'm very weak and ill,
That I might from sin be free,
Bled and died upon the tree.

Jesus loves me!
He who died
Heaven's gate to open wide;
He will wash away my sin,
Let His little child come in.

Jesus loves me!
He will stay
Close beside me all the way.
Thou hast bled and died for me;
I will henceforth live for Thee.

Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.

--Anna B. Warner, 1820 -1915

Truth For Life

And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle,
encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.
1 Thessalonians 5:14