Psalm 143:8

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.
Psalm 143:8

Monday, December 7, 2015

In His Grip...

Luke 2:1-20
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria.  And all went to be registered, each to his own town.   And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,  to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.  And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.   And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.   And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”  And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.  And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.   And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.  But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.  And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

When I was a child, I used to lay on my stomach on the floor in front of our Christmas tree, my chin resting on my hands.  I would lay there just gazing at our little nativity scene that my mother always placed in the front…with gifts piled beside and behind it.  I would look at each tiny figure and imagine what was happening there, the day Jesus was born – what each person was thinking, feeling, or saying.  I wondered what it was like to be spoken to by an angel. 

Now, as a mother, I wonder what thoughts might have gone through Mary’s mind as she held her precious firstborn son.  The one promised by an angel’s visit, conceived in a miraculous moment, carried all those months and finally born in humble surroundings with her husband-to- be as her birth attendant.  When I held my first son, I remember feeling so awed by his tiny features, his soft skin, his fine hair and minuscule fingernails.  I am sure Mary felt much the same when she looked at Jesus…and yet, knowing how he came to be her child…could she have even imagined what He would become to the world?

A tiny little fist grasps onto her finger...four miniature fingers and a thumb wrapping round with a tight grip...holding on.  That hand will grow in size, in strength, in power, in the One who came as a babe shares the love, joy, peace and hope of his Father in heaven.  We know only bits and pieces of Jesus’ childhood, but we can imagine that Mary went through many of the same worries, struggles and fears as many parents go through now.  Yet, I have always hoped she had an extra measure of strength and grace given to her by God over the years.  I imagine she never forgot the feeling of that tiny hand holding on to hers.
That hand now holds you in a grip of grace that imparts strength and peace, as well.  When worries come, when illness strikes, when bodies fail us, when circumstances are overwhelming and we feel we can’t hold on any longer….we need only remember that the hand of Jesus is always holding onto us.  We are ever in his grip.  (Isaiah 41:13) “For I am the Lord your God
 who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”   

Merry Christmas to you.  May the greatest gift you unwrap this season be the one that opens your heart and mind to the wonders of faith in the One God who loves you more than you could ever imagine.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.   (John 3:16)

Thursday, September 3, 2015


 Matthew 6:9-15 (NIV)
This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

The word “forgive” is defined as this:  to stop feeling anger toward someone who has done something wrong; to stop blaming; to stop requiring payment of money that is owed (cancel a debt).    It’s not a feeling, it’s an action we choose to do or not.  Sometimes it’s easy to forgive, especially when it is for someone we love or hold in high esteem.  Sometimes, it’s not so easy and we find that we would rather hold onto the anger or resentment that we feel as a result of something someone has done to us or someone we love. 

In the verses above, we read the Lord’s Prayer which includes a petition for forgiveness.  We ask the Lord to forgive us…as we have also forgiven others.  Have you stopped to think about that phrase before?  For me, it typically slides off my tongue without a whole lot of thought, other than how nice it is that God forgives me!  But if you really look at the words, and the order they suggest…God forgives us…as we forgive others.  As…which really means, we MUST be forgiving, if we want to be forgiven.  Not sure that’s really right?  Take a look at the last two verses.  “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”  Jesus is telling us that we have to be willing to take the action to forgive, if we also want to be forgiven. 

Perhaps we should think about this from Jesus’ perspective.  He laid everything on the cross for us; for our forgiveness.  He forgave our sins before we even committed them.  In advance!  He takes those sins and throws them away from us - “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”  (Psalm 103:12)  He doesn’t hold on to our sins, the anger he might feel regarding our sins…he doesn’t let them fester into bitterness or ugly hatred toward us.  When we ask his forgiveness, he gives it with grace and mercy.  Freely.

If that’s the case, why is it so hard for us to forgive others when our own sins have been so graciously forgiven?  Why is it easier to stay angry, to hold onto grudges, to repeatedly make someone “pay for” the sin they committed against us?  And, is it really easier?  What price do WE pay for our unforgiveness?  When we harbor anger or resentment, it can cause us to become bitter, cranky, whiny, depressed or hard-hearted.  It can turn us into a person others don’t really want to be around.  It can use up our energy by focusing on the past instead of what our future could be, ahead of us.  Many times, we actually end up hurting ourselves more than the person we resent!  And not only that, but it blocks forgiveness of our own sins from God!  Matthew 6:15 says, “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” 

To forgive then, requires obedience.  Mark 11:25 says, When you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”  We must choose to obey, to let go of our resentment and anger and to forgive.  So pray.  Pray for the strength and grace to forgive others.  Let go of the resentment and anger.  Cancel a debt.  Choose to be more like Jesus…and forgive.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

I will THRIVE in 2015

Over the last few days, since God revealed my guiding word for 2015, I've been thinking of what it might mean for me to thrive in the coming year.  I thought back to when I did my first Christian Life Coach training and we were asked to fill out a "Wheel of Life Balance" - to find the areas where we could improve balance or satisfaction in different areas of our lives.  We rated health, relationships, career, faith, family/friends, community involvement, finances, and peace.  (Currently, I would also add my home to this wheel, because there is a definite lack of satisfaction in the state of my home.)  Some areas I rated fairly high, others were quite life was obviously out of balance.  While I think I have improved some areas in the last couple of years, there are obviously still areas where I am only "surviving" and not "thriving."   I know this because for one thing, there is an overall lack of peace.

So, how will I thrive in 2015?  My plan (and I say this knowing that God may have other plans for me that I don't know yet!) for the moment is to take a look at each of these areas during the year to come and find ways to grow and flourish, to progress, to prosper.  How can I shine for God if I am not taking care of myself the way I should?  How can I give generously to those in need if I don't even manage my finances for my family properly?  How can I love those around me if I don't give attention to relationships?  How can I live a life of balance if I don't put God first in everything?  How can I thrive if I am focused only on surviving?

What would God have me change?  What can I let go of, say no to, or take on in order to live in the peace that God offers through His grace?

  The Lord gives strength to his people;  the Lord blesses his people with peace.
Psalm 29:11

The area most on my mind right now is my health and fitness.  I will be very honest here and say that while I used to workout and walk regularly, it's been a long time since I have had any sort of regular fitness routine.  I joined a group at church a year ago that focused on the Daniel Plan - a wonderful program that encouraged good health, nutrition, faith, and support from friends and family.  I lost a few pounds, and when the formal group ended at the church...I let what I had learned slowly fade from my daily routines.  Now, I could stand to lose about 30 pounds, and have a stack of jeans that fit about two (or three) sizes ago....  I have started to stress eat more and more often...and it's usually junk.   

I think about what I could do if I felt better overall.  I think about how the added pounds have made even simply going up and down the stairs in my house tiresome some days.  I think about how tired I am because I don't drink enough water each day, or eat foods that give me healthy energy.  I think about how God would have me take care of my body...and I realize I am not doing a very good job of taking care of His handiwork. 

For this month, I will be focusing on my health and fitness habits, allowing God's Word to help me learn to thrive in this area.   I want to be healthy and fit so that I can do the things I need to do without my lack of fitness getting in the way.  I want to take care of myself in a way that glorifies the One who created me.

 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 
 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
Psalm 139:13-14

I will thrive.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

One Word 365 for 2015

For several years now, I've chosen one word to focus on for the year.  Last year, my word was ponder...and as you can tell, I didn't write a lot here at the blog.  It felt like such a big word...and not a talkative word at all.  I spent the year thinking a lot about what I was doing, where my life was going, relationships, finances, my home, my children.  I spent a lot of time holding things in my heart and praying on them.  I was given a wonderful opportunity to write devotionals for a special project and even found some new things to ponder in those assignments - and perhaps even some healing.

So, we are now at the beginning of another new year.  I'm still amazed at how quickly time goes by and it's already January first again.  So much has changed in a year, and so much has stayed the same...but I have not.  I find that I have a new sense of....something....I have this urge to clean up and clean look forward with seek God's will for all I THRIVE.

If you've read many of my blog posts in the past, you know I like to look at the definition of words.  What does it mean to thrive?  Here's the definition from the Merriam-Webster dictionary:

1: to grow vigorously : flourish
2: to gain in wealth or possessions : prosper
3: to progress toward or realize a goal despite or because of circumstances —often used with on <thrives on conflict>

Flourish, prosper, progress.  It certainly feels like it's time for all those things!

 Proverbs 11:28 says: 
Those who trust in their riches will fall,
    but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.

The righteous will thrive - grow, flourish.  Seems this word comes with many facets and I am looking forward to seeing what 2015 will hold for me.  I don't want to just just be here in my little spot of the world...I want to THRIVE

Want to choose your One Word?  Check out this website for more information and ideas....

Monday, December 8, 2014

A little obedience...a little abundant gift

I wonder if Peter had any inkling just how much his life would change when he met the Messiah.  I wonder if he knew just how many times his strength, his faith, his obedience would be tested. 

The very first time they met, Jesus gave him a new name.  A new definition of who he would become - a foreshadowing, if you will, of just how Peter would change.  Simon became Peter - the rock.  But it didn't happen right away.  Just like most of us, Peter didn't always learn things right away - but one night he quickly learned the lesson of obedience, faith, and confession.  He also learned just how abundantly Jesus would provide for him in return.

In Luke 5, Jesus is on the shore of lake Gennesaret and there is a very large crowd gathered there.  They wanted to hear him speak on the Word of God.  Jesus notices Peter  his up after a fruitless night of fishing.  I can imagine that Peter is tired, worn, discouraged and ready to get away from that boat and go home to rest.  Can you?  He's probably thinking of a bit of a meal...some fresh bread, a little wine, some fruit. But wait, what's that?

Jesus has walked up to his boat, and gesturing at the crowd, he climbs right in and asks Peter if he could take him out on the water so he could talk to the people.  No telling how long Jesus spoke while Peter sits and waits...and then, THEN, when he finishes, Jesus tells him to do one more thing.

When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.”  (Luke 5:4, NASB)

Say what, now?  But Jesus, we fished all night...for nothing!  Peter's voice has to be just a bit incredulous...kind of "are you kidding me?"  But he must have seen something on Jesus' face...something in his eyes...his demeanor, because Peter turns right around and says, " but I will do as you say, and I will put down the nets."  That's obedience.  That's faith.  Somehow Peter knows this man wouldn't be making a fool out of him.  Somehow Peter sees that this man he just met is a man of integrity, a man worthy of trust.

And so those nets go in the water, and next thing Peter knows...they are filled to overflowing.  They are so full, Peter has to call for help to pull them up.  Those fish fill not just Peter's boat, but a second one as well - to the point that they are beginning to sink as they carry the load back to shore.

Abundant.  Overflowing.  Gifts of grace.  Peter obeyed, Jesus graced.  Peter had faith, and Jesus did not disappoint. What can we learn from Peter?  What areas in our lives are not being led by obedience?  Where is our faith faltering?  Are we willing to trust Jesus, even when the odds are against us?

Try putting your nets out in faith...and see where God takes you next....

Saturday, June 21, 2014

How do you spell relief?

Do you remember the old Rolaids commercials?  "HOW do you spell relief?"  I'm feeling like I need a little "Rolaids" action in my life right now.  One upheaval after another lately and I'm feeling a bit dragged out, tired, pulled in different directions, financially insufficient and just plain cranky.  I was asleep tonight until a phone call from one of my sons with some not-so-great news.  Now I find myself awake and feeling a bit edgy.

I need to sleep...have to get up early and travel to pick up my other son in the morning. 
Yet I cant seem to stop my mind from rolling and my stomach from churning.  Know that feeling?

So, how to get relief?  The words from this old hymn came to mind as I was laying here trying to sleep and feeling overwhelmed by all that life has dealt to me in the last month or so....

What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised Thou wilt all our burdens bear
May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded there will be no need for prayer
Rapture, praise and endless worship will be our sweet portion there
 by Joseph Scriven, 1855

Jesus said  these words....
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33 (NIV)

...and also these...
" Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."  John 14:27 (NIV)

Need some relief?  Pray.  Need to unload some stress?  Pray.  Need to know that Someone's got your back?  Pray.  Turn all those worries, cares, burdens over to the Lord.  Consider how "big" your problems are and how BIG your God is....there's no comparison.  

So, I"m going to pray put all my burdens, my fears, my worries, my hurts at the foot of the throne of my God who is bigger than any problem I have.  And I will gladly accept the grace and peace that He offers.  And I might just hum a few bars of that old, precious hymn while I'm at it...

Friday, January 3, 2014

One Word for 2014 - Ponder

Well, a new year has begun.  I have spent the last several days thinking on what One Word I would choose for this year...or, more correctly, that God has chosen for me.  I've finally decided...after much thought and prayer and listening...that God is calling me to ponder in 2014.

The dictionary defines it as this:
: to think about or consider (something) carefully

I sometimes speak...without thinking.  I sometimes act....without considering.  I sometimes make decisions...without praying....without pondering what is the way God would have me go.

So this year...I want to be more like Mary:

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
Luke 2:19

I want to take the time to speak words that encourage and uplift.  I want to behave the way God would have me behave...not the way my own selfish flesh would encourage me to behave.  I want to be wise in the decisions I make and seek God's guidance for my choices.  I want to slow down, be more thoughtful and just....ponder...

Great are the works of the Lord;
they are pondered by all who delight in them.
Psalm 111:2