In His Keeping-For His Time

A couple of months ago I wrote concerning what to do when the jolt of the unexpected shows up unannounced. It can be a wild ride.  I wrote from a deep place in my heart because one of those out the blue situations had just shown up at my doorstep. I prepared myself to deal with it, focus on God to get through it, and then get through it.

However, I hit a snag. I expected something to fall into place on my time table, which surely was God’s time table. I discovered, once again, it isn’t. Again, I am struck with this truth: Waiting on God continues to be one of the hardest things I face in life. What have I felt? Irritated, frustrated, confused, fatigued. I find I’m not alone in this.

As I accept the reality of the situation I have a choice to make. I can stay in a place of desolation or entrust all to God knowing He loves me and He really will work it all out for good. I choose to let go of what I’m holding onto so He can do His deeper transforming work in me. That’s what I desire the most anyway.

I want to become more and more shaped into becoming the person God desires me to be, whole and complete.  The way to get there sometimes includes having to go through the turbulent waters in the trial of waiting.

At least forty years ago my husband and I were in a difficult place of ministry. My heart had been deeply wounded by some people I thought were friends. I remember thinking, “How long, Lord? How long will this heartache last?”

I happened to be visiting some relatives and came upon a book in their home written by Andrew Murray. If ever I’ve known that God was there to comfort me, it was then. These are the words that jumped off one of the pages of that book. These words renewed my hope for being strengthened, healed, and brought through.

First, He brought me here, it is by His will I am in this strait place: in that fact I will rest.

Next, He will keep me here in His love, and give me grace to behave as His child.

Then, He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me the lessons He intends me to learn, and working in me the grace He means to bestow.

Last, in His good time He can bring me out again—how and when He knows.

Let me say I am here

By God’s appointment

In His keeping

Under His training

For His time.

Today I dug out my old Bible where I wrote those words many years ago. I needed them again. Maybe they’re for you, too.

What place of waiting does God have you in, today? How can you apply the words of Andrew Murray to your life, today?

We know that those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength (Isaiah 40:31). Oh, Father, help us to trust You and wait well.

Surviving Turbulent Waters

I fell in love with the white sand beaches of Florida 40 years ago when my husband and I made a trip to Panama City Beach. We discovered other beautiful beaches too, but there’s nothing quite like these white sandy beaches that border the emerald green waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Since discovering the awesomeness and wonder that come with the beauty of those vast bodies of water that give us sandy beaches, we’ve done an annual beach trip. We are now reveling once again in one of our happy places.

I’m an early morning riser who delights in sitting on the balcony which overlooks these gorgeous waters. There’s always so much to wonder about. This morning it was fun watching the orange floats, which mark the way for the jet skis to travel within, bobbing up and down. Those floats keep the jet-ski driver aware of where he can safely go.

 God has a good path for us to go on, too. It is a wise person who stays within the parameters God lays out. If we leave that space of safety, we will find ourselves in danger of drowning. As I watched the bobbing up and down of the buoys I imagined myself being one of them. What keeps the floats from going under? They are attached to a cable which is attached to a large and heavy object. As long as the float stays anchored to the cable and the cable to the anchor, all is well. However, there are two things that can go wrong: The cable can get weak and a strong enough hurricane that can dislodge the anchor.

Difficult unexpected things will happen in life. The storm clouds do come in. I visualize our faith being like that cable that connects the buoy to the anchor. It has to be periodically checked to make sure it’s strong enough to hold in turbulent waters. It’s like that in our spiritual lives: our connection with God is our faith in Him.  Our faith needs to grow in order for us to get stronger. This strength isn’t only for our benefit but it’s also for others in our life who need encouragement, help, and hope in their journey with God.

Is there a way to keep ourselves afloat, living above our circumstances when the unexpected storm comes? Absolutely! We stay attached to the Anchor! Our anchor is an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving, unlimited-strength God. If we believe and cling to these absolute truths about God, we will not be defeated and lost at sea when turbulence shows up.

There have been times in my life when I felt like I was sinking but God held me up. Those difficult times have helped my faith muscle increase in size. What can we do to help ourselves stay strong when the storm hits instead of cowering down in fear, depression, hopelessness, and helplessness?

  • Daily meditate on the character of God. How do we know His character? We learn of it through the scriptures.
  • Be aware of what our thoughts and feelings are when hard times come. Is there fear? Is there sadness? Is there hopelessness? What attribute of God do I need to cling to during those moments? 
  • We can talk to God about what we feel. He knows all about it anyway. Conversation with God always strengthens us.
  • Seek God’s face through reading promises found in scripture. Memorize specific scriptures that you know are filled with words of strength, encouragement, and hope from our Abba Father who calls us his beloved sons and daughters.
  • Recall the ways God showed up in the past, and with faith expect Him to do it again. He will come through!

A few weeks ago one of those unexpected and shocking turns came. It jolted me. Even though I sensed God’s hand and direction in all, I found myself moving to dread, fear, and distress. But then I remembered a promise I put to memory years ago from Isaiah 41:10: “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

As I cling to this promise, the dread, the fear, and the anxiousness cling less to me. His strength is securing me.

How about you? What turbulent waters roar around you? What are you doing that keeps you from going under or swept away? What keeps you safe, secure, and serene?

A New Look at Sabbath

Growing up, going to church every Sunday was a common practice. I loved that this was a rhythm that was deeply engrained in me. Even though I didn’t have a deep understanding of what the Biblical word Sabbath actually meant, I now realize we practiced its essence. Sabbath is a time to stop and rest. It’s a time to enjoy God, enjoy being with like-minded people in our faith community, enjoy a family meal, enjoy a nap, and anything else that was life-giving. This change of pace and shifting of focus is a gift from God that provides a way for our souls and bodies to be replenished. God knew we needed this. He established a day of Sabbath from the beginning of time.  It demonstrates God’s loving care for us. When I was growing up it was easy to set apart that day to rest and recharge since there was no cable or satellite TV, no retail stores beckoning me to shop (they were closed) and no internet. It wasn’t complicated to practice “Sabbath”.

Times began changing dramatically in the 90’s . . . but, our souls have not changed. The reason for Sabbath has not changed. We still need the weekly rhythm of practicing Sabbath which provides a way for our souls to be restored and replenished for another week. God knows our human limitations. He says in Jeremiah 31:25 that He will refresh tired bodies and restore tired souls.

A few years ago my husband and I discovered how easy it is to fall into a trap that was depleting us of joy when we allowed technology to steal peace and joy from us on the day when we could be filled up with things that satisfy. We never gave up our weekly habit of going to church, but we’d lost God’s original intention for Sabbath – a day set apart so that we can be reminded of who and what is most important, particularly our relationship with Him. The reality: you can do Sabbath. Here are some tips:  

  • Pick a day. It doesn’t have to be Saturday or Sunday. Our preference is Friday evening through Saturday evening, but you can choose what fits you and your family best.
  • On this day, with God’s help, let go of anxieties and worries that are taking up space in your hearts and minds. Give the mind a rest from troubling thoughts. This makes room for delighting in the peace, joy, and love of God.  Gwen Smith of Potter’s Inn ministries suggests writing down those things that are sucking life and energy from us and putting them in a little box she calls a Sabbath box.  
  • Take a rest from work and any kind of technology that is life-draining instead of life-giving.
  • Do something fun and playful. Allow for spontaneity.
  • If Sunday is the day you practice Sabbath, then enjoy celebrating Creator and Redeemer God with your faith community.
  • Take longer periods of time for contemplative and reflective practices such as silence and solitude, reading and praying the Scripture, journaling.  There are numerous ways to delight in the presence of Jesus. Linger in this sacred place as you enjoy time with Him soaking in His love, grace, goodness, and peace.

 I remember three years ago being in a listening group discussing ways to practice Sabbath. For most of us our Sabbath Day was always on Sundays. However, for this particular group, Sundays were a work day and that was not going to change. We realized being a legalist about the particular day had to go. Freedom came to us as we discovered that the Sabbath rest can be celebrated on another day of the week.

God desires that we become more whole in body and soul. That means He’s okay when we take our Sabbath rest on a different day than Sunday. It’s out of His care and love for us that He established the weekly rhythm of Sabbath. We’ve been intensely blessed through making this part of our Rule of Life. It’s one of the most transformative things we’ve ever done.

Rhythm > Balance

We all know music will not be pleasing to the ear if a steady beat and rhythm are not established. The composer knows what tempo is right for his/her composition. They desire to draw you into to their music. When the rhythm fits the music and it flows in an ordered way, the music draws a person into it, bringing the listener delight.

There’s another kind of rhythm that brings delight to the soul and to our God. It’s called a Rule of Life. In Latin, rule, is “regula.” It refers to a trellis that supports a grapevine, for instance. The trellis supports and guides the vine so that it produces more fruit. This rhythmic pattern is actually a way of living that helps us further develop our inner life that brings more joy, sustenance, freedom, and peace.   A rule of life is not legalistic at all. Developing a rule of life is one of the most positive things you can do.

You often hear people say, “I need to get my life in balance.” Living life in rhythm is greater than balance. It’s virtually impossible to live a “balanced life”, but we can live in rhythm. You may be asking the question, “How do I do this?”

To begin, think about your deepest and best desires and longings. Do your habits, behaviors, and attitudes support those desires and longings? Do your habits, behaviors, and attitudes bring life and help you flourish? It’s important that these practices are life-giving. Too much of life is life-draining.

Second, think about what helps you grow into becoming more of the person you know God designed you to be. What are practices and habits that will develop you into that person? Remember the trellis metaphor, it supports and guides the plant so that it grows, flourishes, and thrives.

Next, keep this rule of life as simple as possible. It needs to be sustainable and life-giving to you. Like the trellis supporting the vine, the rule of life supports and guides you.

A rule of life enhances and is applicable to every area of life:  Spiritual, Emotional, Relational, Physical, etc. But for now, let’s first think of your spiritual life. What are some daily and weekly life-giving rhythms you could establish or enhance? Good daily rhythms could include times of silence, reading, maybe a walk or other exercise, ect. Weekly rhythms: church and life group attendance, coffee with a close friend, discipleship or accountability groups.  

Please understand: Having a rule of life is not about goal setting, New Year’s resolutions, or achieving something. It’s about knowing who you are in Christ and becoming who He designed you to be. It’s not about achieving but about becoming.

Annie Dillard says, “How we spend our days, is of course how we spend our lives.” Our daily pattern of life matters and it shapes us.

Some questions to ponder:                                                

Does my current “rule of life” (my current way of living) draw me closer to God? Are my current daily habits transforming me into one who can genuinely reflect Jesus to others?  How would writing a rule of life help me to live life more abundantly? The exhausted life is not the abundant life.

Remember: “A good rule can set us free to be our true and best selves. It is a working document, a kind of spiritual budget, not carved in stone but subject to regular review and revision. It should support us, but never constrict us.” Margaret Guenther

In my next blog, I’ll share more details about my Rule of Life and why it is so important to me. Living this way is one of the best things I’ve ever done!

How to Navigate the Hard-Experiencing Grief(and Joy)during the Holidays

The seventh anniversary of Mother’s death was October 23. One way I’ve honored her since that day has been to choose a passage from Psalm 119 to reflect upon. I always read that long chapter on the anniversary date of her death because I read the entire chapter out loud to her the morning she breathed her last breath. This year the words that I pondered are from verse 28, “I am weary from grief: strengthen me through your word.” It’s not surprising that this verse jumped out at me at this particular time in my life. For the past four months I have felt surrounded by death. I lost my brother-in-law to COVID 19. Others died from other causes: my Uncle Gene, my daughter’s pastor and his daughter, a neighbor, and a staff member of my own church. Most of these losses were unexpected.  So much death! So much grief! So much loss!

I know in my head that we don’t live forever. But, knowing it in my head doesn’t mean losing someone or something isn’t excruciatingly painful. The sadness can be intense. In fact the loss of anything that is dear to us or brings us security can bring suffering. Loss is inevitable. Change is inevitable. Transition is inevitable. The Wisdom writer of Ecclesiastes says it this way, “There is a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven.” Another word for season or time is rhythm. The ebb and flow of a wave has a rhythm, life has a rhythm. There is rhythm within rhythm. Grief has a rhythm.

Everyone goes through the rhythm or process of grief in their own way. Grief is not linear. We may have been taught there’s a certain right way to grieve, but there isn’t. Yet, there are some key elements we need to be aware of as we handle our own grief and walk with others through theirs.

  • For a while after a loss, many of us will feel as if we are in a daze. The thought, “This isn’t real, this can’t have happened” may overwhelm us. This could become a place of denial.
  • All kinds of emotions will surface, especially anger. It can be anger at ourselves, at God, at the loss itself and at the reasons it happened, at friends, at family.
  • Overwhelming sadness, despair, emotional and physical fatigue, numbness, and depression may show up.
  • Expect that the first year may be the hardest as we remember the anniversaries of the loss. It may be birthdays, holidays, or the memory of other certain events. 
  • Accept that there may be days when God seems far away and silent.

How do we respond to God, to ourselves, to the situation, and to others when moving through grief? There are some things I have found helpful when trying to find my way through grief and loss.

  • In honesty I share with God, with myself, and with safe persons exactly how I feel. I make sure those I share my heart with are those who listen and don’t seek to “fix” me through advice. It’s a safe place to just “be”.
  • For some of us crying and even screaming is helpful. Of course, I find a place to be alone when these erratic outbursts need to be expressed.
  • I picture Jesus sitting or standing with me saying “I understand all you’re going through and I’m with you. I will not leave you.”
  • I find comfort in reading Psalms of lament.
  • I do physical things like outdoor walks or house cleaning, really anything that gets me moving helps. Physical movement informs the soul that we are alive and that there is hope.
  • It’s not always easy, but I work at extending grace to myself and to others.

Remember, joy does come in the morning because of our hope in Jesus and his death, burial, and resurrection. Know also that joy and mourning can abide together. Make room for both.

Suffering and grief come in all kinds of packaging. Are you in the midst of sadness that comes because of loss? What have you found that helps you the most as you move through these difficult seasons of life? How have you seen your joy return?

Living from the Inside Out

Four years ago a dear friend introduced me to the book, “Embracing Soul Care” by Stephen Smith. Everything I read resonated with me. Somehow God had already placed in me the hunger for more of Him that came through some of the themes mentioned in the book, and yet I’d only scratched the surface of what soul care really meant. My husband’s interest in soul care was also piqued. God in His goodness and sovereignty laid out a plan for us to discover together what this “caring for the soul” was all about.  

We cannot talk about Soul Care without understanding what the soul is. In its simplest form it is the total self. The total you, the total me. That includes our body, our mind, our emotions, and our spirit. These parts are all connected.

I recently visited with a friend who has dealt with chronic back pain for the last three years. She had a knee replacement 6 months ago. Much to her amazement, after that knee replacement surgery she realized her back pain was gone. I looked at her and said, “This is proof that everything in our body is really connected.” It’s the same with our soul. Every part of our soul is important and needs to be cared for. Caring for one part helps another part. I find myself more settled, more at peace, more pressing into the person God has designed me to be when I am caring for my soul. When this is happening, I understand how to love and care for others in a more healthy way. It’s a journey of becoming more whole and complete in Christ.

So what are essential components of soul care?

  • Leaning into my belovedness in Christ. I lean on these truths:  Jesus’ love for me is unconditional. He loves loving me and will never change his mind about loving me. He loves to bless me. He delights in me. He completes me. He never takes His eyes off of me. He likes me.
  • Rest – spiritual and physical. My body needs 7-8 hours of sleep every night. I do everything I can to help that happen. When my body is exhausted it is difficult for the spiritual rest to happen. Spiritual rest is being able to experience the love and peace of Jesus throughout my whole being.
  • Living life in rhythm, not balance. It’s impossible to keep everything balanced in my life. I have discovered certain rhythms which are essential to daily and weekly living in a more satisfied, settled and contented way. It’s somewhat structured but never confining. Describing some of these rhythms will comprise my next blog.
  • Practicing stillness and silence with God in solitude.

Reading “Embracing Soul Care” began the movement of soul care in our lives. Soon after reading “Embracing Soul Care” we discovered there was a retreat offered that would help us learn and experience more of the needed “how to’s” of soul care. It’s now been three years ago that my husband looked at me at the retreat center nestled in the Rocky Mountains and said, “Do you want to do Soul Care for the rest of our lives?” I said yes! The rest is history. We will never be the same.

Questions for reflection: Are you living life out of the place of your belovedness? Are you getting the amount of sleep that replenishes your soul?  Does trying to balance multiple plates at one time leave you worn out and empty? Are you regularly quieting your soul in solitude with God?

For us, this has been life changing. We are passionate about sharing with others how to care for their beautiful soul.

I would love to come alongside you in your spiritual journey. If you’re interested, check out my website. www.kristicoaching.com

God’s Protection-Building Faith

My husband and I took daily one-hour walks during the months of the COVID 19 lockdown. These walks helped us not go stir crazy, allowed us to wave and smile at real people in our neighborhood who were also needing some fresh air to deal with the agony of being stuck indoors. It gave us a sense of being able to do something normal.

There were times we took our walks solo. It was on those walks that I began noticing some things I’d not seen before. One being a large prickly pear cactus growing in a neighbor’s yard. I was stunned at this sighting! I am a native Texan who spent a lot of time in New Mexico where it’s common to see prickly pear cacti growing wildly in open spaces and in yards. I discovered there’s only one variety of traditional looking cacti that grows in Tennessee. It’s the Texas Prickly Pear. It makes me proud seeing Texas as the adjective describing this type of cacti! Since then I discovered another Texas Prickly Pear growing by a mailbox on a road I take weekly on my way to church. Both these are now in bloom: one with yellow flowers and the other with red. They are stunning!

Every time I eye the one of these unique beauties, I remember a run-in I had with cacti. It was when I was 10 years old and attended a week of camp at Plains Caprock Camp with a group of girls from my grandmother and granddaddy’s church in Floydada, Texas. This camp is located in the Blanco Canyon and was my first adventure of being away from home for a camp experience.  I wasn’t too fearful since I already knew some of the girls and leaders I’d be spending the week with and I knew my grandmother wasn’t too far away if I needed her. Since the camp was located in a canyon I’d been warned to look out for rattlesnakes. Fortunately, I didn’t find one nor did one find me. However, Prickly Pear cacti were everywhere. It’s part of the beauty. And, they’re big enough that you’re not going to run into one or at least you’re not supposed to.

On the first day during free time, we did some hiking. We hiked up a small hill that took little exertion for a 10 year old.  Coming back down should have been easy but it was steep enough that it put me in a too-fast stride so I fell and started rolling. When the downhill roll came to a halt, I was left with only some ugly scrapes and scratches on my arms and legs, but nothing else! I’ll never forget looking back up at the path I’d just rolled down and seeing all the cacti with barbed needle like bristles that had not touched me. I’d just experienced my first miracle. God was watching out for and protecting this little girl at her first camp. The nurse cleaned and bandaged up the bloody scratches. I had the option of calling my grandmother to come and get me. I mean this was a rather traumatic experience! But, I chose not to.

This encounter with the wildness of nature taught me some things about the intrinsic nature of God and my own nature.

  • God has a “will” and his “will” will be done. His desire was to protect this little girl from being assaulted by cacti needles. He wanted me to stay at camp. He wanted me to hear the Jesus stories and the missionary stories. He wanted me to play and have fun with my friends.
  • I learned some things about myself. I found an adventuresome spirit inside of me that is full of courage and strength. I could overcome fear. Why? Jesus was with me.

I am no longer a young girl. I have passed the young woman season, the middle aged season and am now in the last season. The funny thing is that I still have to work at pressing  forward through times of fear that show up in new planned out experiences or unexpected life events that show up out of nowhere. But two things I know: Things do work out according to God’s plan and will. Therefore, I will be okay no matter what comes, and so can you. I will rest in the truth that I am a woman of strength and courage because of who I am in Christ . . . and so can you.

Where have you seen miracles in your life, big or small? What did that do for your faith? How does that help you press forward with more faith?

What unexpected life event are you dealing with right now? How are you handling it?

The Three Brains – Did you know?

“Coaching as a Learning Catalyst” was an important course in my Life Coach Training. I was intrigued as Jane Creswell taught about our “multiple brains” – Heart, Gut, and Mind. I was astounded to learn that the heart has 40,000 neurons and the gut up to 500 million. Of course, those are small amounts when compared to the almost 100 billion in the brain, but it’s still significant.  We are truly and wonderfully made!

Therefore, with reason we sometimes ask: What does your gut tell you? What does your heart say? What do you think?  It’s good to know how to pay attention to these three intelligences, the heart, the mind, and the gut (the body). The spiritual implications of this have opened up my understanding of how I can daily intentionally worship God with my whole being, loving Him with all my heart, my mind, my strength. It’s a way to offer ourselves up anew to God each day.

How can I love God with my mind? I have a say so about what my mind focuses on. I can focus on one thing or many things that are mentioned in Philippians 1:8: things that are true, gracious, and beautiful. Not knowing what to put in those categories is a telltale sign we need to take a good look at scripture focusing on the attributes of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Lately I’ve been drawn back to a book on my shelf regarding the names of God. As I read and pray, God is revealing certain names that I need to meditate more deeply. God is revealing some present weaknesses where I need His power and active movement in my life to help me find victory. This is being transformative for me.  These specific names of God are helping me stay more centered on Him as I allow Him to address some of my weaknesses.

How do I love God with my heart? When I meditate on the things of God there is every likelihood that those things will make their way to my heart. Emotions, values, feelings of love for God and for others are found here. Joy in the Lord and in life can flourish here and spring forth in action. That action is carried out through the body.

Another fascinating thing about the gut or body brain is that is it has something like a radar that senses when there is danger. The danger or fear may be real or perceived. It’s never a good idea to just follow what our gut is telling us since our instincts come from this place within us, unless we know it’s telling us to run for our life! We need to pay attention to it while also allowing the other two intelligences and our all-loving God to help us discern the right action to take.

We live life to its fullest when these three God-given intelligences are in harmony, integrated. How is that done? I was fascinated when I heard of the vagal nerve. This nerve extends from the brain to the gut. These three brains are connected because of this nerve. Messages flow from “brain to brain” through the vagal nerve. It’s not good to listen to only one brain.  We really need all three working together. When all three are in good alignment, there is peace and calm. That’s something I know I’m always in need of! Jane Creswell shared that a good way to have the three in harmony is through taking 3 deep cleansing breaths from the diaphragm. Take 6 seconds to breathe in and 6 seconds to exhale. Doing this three times has a calming effect upon every part of our being. It’s a place of peace with our Creator. It’s in this place that we can worship God freely and perhaps hear Him more clearly.

I’ll be the first to admit that there are mornings I get up and none of my brains are working! What can I do then? I make the decision, which is made by my mind, to get moving. Any kind of moving which gets my blood pumping is good. There are times running the vacuum cleaner works wonders for my soul!! That doesn’t work very well if my husband is still sleeping, but there are many other quiet things I can do to rev up this God given soul of mine. Researchers have found that even short exercise sessions can help our mind focus on the positive instead of the negative. As Christ followers we have many things to focus on which are good and lovely.

Another interesting finding for me is that these three intelligences play an important role in using the Enneagram personality tool for transformational growth. This personality theory teaches that there are nine different basic personality types. The nine personalities are divided into three triads: The Head, the Heart, and the Body. This is similar to the three intelligences.

Of course, we have all three intelligences, but we may not be in the practice of drawing upon all three as we live out our life each day. We really are wonderfully made by God!

For you to consider:

Which intelligence is the one that you most rely on? What are the dangers of leaning only into that one? Which other intelligence needs greater development? What are some ways you can develop it?

I love feedback. What questions do you have? Let’s continue the conversation . . .

Speaking Christmas like God

christmas-love-came-down-1

This year the Broadway version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas was again on stage at a theater in London. Yet, this time there was no live audience. The filming of it meant people like me could enjoy it safely from home. How I love Broadway musicals!! Everything in this production of The Grinch Musical was outstanding! One of the best gifts of my evening was a very special “audience” by my side: three of my six grandchildren, Lily, Levi, and Lyla. The story, the cast, the props, and the music had us mesmerized.  

One of my favorite songs of the musical is “Where Are You Christmas”. When the Whos wake up on Christmas morning everything pertaining to their Christmas is gone, stolen, lost.  Shock, grief, sadness is in the air. Cindy Lou then sings: 

Where are you Christmas

Why can’t I find you

Why have you gone away

Where is the laughter…

Why can’t I hear music play

My world is changing 

I’m rearranging

Does that mean Christmas changes too.

I’m so glad Christmas hasn’t gone away this year!! It’s impossible for that to ever happen. Yes, there’s rearranging that we’ve all had to do and everyone’s rearranging is different. We’ve all experienced and are still experiencing losses. Some are small, some are in the middle, and some are massive.  But because of a love that has always been, Christmas will always be around. It will always be here because of love, the perfect love that God gave the world when He sent His one and only son, Jesus, to come to Earth. That Love changed everything and is still changing everything, especially people like me and you. God demonstrated His love for us by sending us Jesus! 

The grandchildren and I had some good discussion the morning after we watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas. We talked about our favorite characters. One favored Max the dog. One, Cindy Lou. It was no surprise that the one who favored Cindy Lou is an 8 year old granddaughter, Lyla. As we were talking about the story, she said, “Cindy Lou teaches us that we are to be good to other people even when they do bad to you.” This has a familiar ring to it, doesn’t it. The Love that came down from Heaven and dwelt among us said, “Treat other people exactly as you would like to be treated by them.” “Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love one another.” 

Because of Jesus, Christmas isn’t going anywhere!! We carry Christmas—the Light of Jesus—around in our hearts every day when we love one another in action, especially when we treat those good who treat us “bad”. It shows who we really are. Without doubt—if the characters in Whoville can do it, Jesus followers can too.

Who is it that you are to show love in action to today? I’ll bet there is someone. There are definitely “someones” in my life. 

“For God so loved the world that He gave . . .” God spoke love! What language are we speaking? It will take some big time courage, but let’s check our hearts. What are others hearing my life speak? Is it the language of God’s love? What changes does He need to make in me? 

Merry Christmas!

Blessings in Affliction

 

 

 

It was a sacred place, being with Mother in her bedroom the morning she died. She had such a flair for decorating which meant we were in a place with beautiful surroundings in the physical realm as well as the spiritual realm. God was present.  That was 6 years ago. I’d been with her and Daddy for three weeks. Sleep for me had been restless. Each morning I woke up before 6:00 and quietly went into her room to see if she was still breathing. Hospice had been telling us we didn’t have long with her for the last 14 days.

That morning, October 23, 2014, I sat in the chair beside her and read “my” Psalm for the day. It was Psalm 119. That morning I decided to read the entire Psalm out loud to her. Her eyes were closed but I know her spirit was alive and that she was getting closer and closer to seeing Jesus.  I stood and walked around the room, reading the Psalm and praying out loud when something from the Word caught my attention that I believed warranted prayer.

This Psalm is full of affirmations about the Word of God and living according to it. I prayed for all of Mother’s family, even the ones not yet born; asking God’s protection over them, and salvation for them. In prayer, I expressed my longing that all those current and future little ones would read, love, and live according to the principles of God’s Word. Psalm 119 has a lot to say about the Word of God.

A way I honor and remember Mother on the anniversary of her death is by the yearly tradition of reading Psalm 119, again, in its entirety, knowing there will be certain words or phrases that shimmer.  The word that stands out to me this year is “afflicted.”  We all know what it’s like to be afflicted.  We’ve all had a lot of it this year. What do we do when afflicted? This Psalm guides us in knowing what to do.

  • We open our eyes and contemplate the wonders of our great and mighty God.
  • We offer prayers of thanksgiving and praise throughout the day, even at midnight if we are awake. We can always find things to be grateful for even in affliction.
  • We cry out to God for help. He shows up.
  • We hope in the One who is our shelter and shield.
  • We trust in the only One who gives salvation along with all that is needed that sustains us when afflicted.
  • We trust in the One who instructs us in the way to live. Meditating on His ways takes us to deeper places of understanding when we want to give up on life.
  • We go through the wall of affliction knowing that it draws us closer to God, takes us spiritually deeper, and gives us a greater desire to walk in the way of right living that God commands.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, always in prayer. Romans 12:8