Tuesday, December 28, 2010

It's Time to Catch Up!

It has been a little over a week since I updated you.
Miss me? :o)

Our Christmas was kept low key, as is our preference each year. Years ago we switched the majority of our gift giving to Thanksgiving. However, we do have a precious tradition for Christmas I would love to share with you.

About two weeks before Christmas, we put our five names into a hat and draw them. The week of Christmas - give or take -- we split up teams between "Mom" and "Dad" (aka: the two drivers in the family ;o) ). Nobody reveals who drew who -- but we divide up accordingly so as to accomplish the task yet remain in secret for who it is we are shopping for. Then "Mom" and "Dad" ask our co-shoppers various questions such as "Will Target do or do we need to go to a special store?" We set a small limit on the price of the gift so as to honor our eldest children's desire to use their own funds for the gift they will choose. On Christmas morning, we reveal who drew who and then gift them with the chosen gift. It is a precious way to ensure each knows they are truly valued without allowing gifts to dominant. My eldest son said this year, "Mom, you know I really like that we only do the one gift. It's funny how the smaller the (wooha), the more special it is." (Did a mom's heart proud!)

So, we richly enjoyed a very quiet Christmas. My parents visited us Christmas morning, and stayed for lunch. And then there was the snow that visited us late Christmas afternoon; first time since 1947! Totally wonderful! Talk about giving place and reason to slow down and enjoy the rich gifts of family, fires in fireplaces, hot cocoa, etc.! But I must confess my thoughts did turn to those without such treasures. Snow only represents beauty and warmth in the presence of relational treasures. In the absence of "connectedness" -- it represents a sad loneliness. Even as such awareness came upon me, my heart did rejoice that God is able to reach the loneliest of the lonely. Aren't you glad for Him? Sure hope you know Him!

Over the course of the quiet week leading up to Christmas, we introduced the children to "Charlie Brown Christmas" for the first time ever, as well as "It's a Wonderful Life." That was truly a sweet treat to share them with the kids. Some times there are richer blessings than I even comprehend at the time by not having TV because "firsts" are truly "firsts" -- and to have waited until our youngest child quickly approaches ten was fabulous because they all saw the richness of the stories.

On Christmas Eve, we delighted in a beautiful rich Christmas Eve service at our new fellowship. There is something very surreal about moving on. While I cherish past Christmas Eves at our previous fellowship, the fellowship must fit the season in one's life. To go to a fellowship simply because one has gone there for years is not prudent. If God is nudging your heart to move, I encourage you to follow His leading. Often the obedient step of leaving must come before He reveals where He is directing you to go next. For us, He called us to leave our previous fellowship exactly one year ago this week.

Approximately five months ago, He directed us to a precious oasis. There is an undeniable richness and realness at this present "well." It is without pomp and circumstance; nothing is "worked up" or covered up. It is peaceful, yet its vitality is evident... tangible. The air is rich and clean; it is a place of deep beauty for me as we prepare to embark on the great journeys that lay out before us this coming year. A year ago I was grieving the loss of a fellowship I had called home for eight years. But life has taught me to embrace the hard, confusing things of life because with God, only richness and good things will follow if we are obedient to truly follow Him in the Land of Unknown!

Speaking of oases, as mentioned earlier, I have another one I am enjoying for the next two weeks called "winter break." I celebrated the start of winter break yesterday by staying in my pj's until lunch. Sheer delight, I tell you! I also enjoyed running three miles "at my leisure." I may never have 100% vacation as there are always meals to fix, laundry to do, etc -- but to stop many of the to-dos for two weeks gives the feel of a HUGE break. It is a wonderful "finale" to God's word over me to rest this last quarter of 2010.

Well -- I pray as these last few days of 2010 are before us that you will take time to reflect over your year. I keep a journal; I have done so for years. It is a most amazing gift to be able to go back and re-read my take on previous years. For example, I can go to the last week of December 2007, and read my entry as I looked back at 2007 and as I looked ahead to 2008. Journals are a precious "stake" in time. They are an ongoing record of the movement of God in one's life. I marvel at what God has done in the past decades of my life, and I look forward to recording the decades to come. If you have never journaled, I encourage you to start. They are priceless reminders of God's active presence!

Perhaps I'll be back before the New Year... certainly I know I'll have a little something to say on the New Year.... but until then, do some reflecting on your own. Cherish the days you have here on earth with the Holy Spirit as your escort... ponder what He will show you this upcoming year... dedicate yourself to obedience.... and if you dare, ask Him to rescue you from mediocrity and rapture you into living in the Land of Unknown.... It's prerequisite is obedience, but it really isn't anything to fear. I have come to understand it is where life worth living takes place ....

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways My ways,”
declares the LORD.
Isaiah 55:8

While planning is highly overrated, a life of Godly obedience is profoundly underrated in our culture. What you were meant to do will never be discovered living comfortably with "the pack"....

I implore you:

Don't sacrifice what could be on the altar of 'what if' & fear.

Hold nothing back

Resolve deep within:
"Though none go with me, still I will follow."

And then stop at nothing less than "Well done!"

Love you!

Monday, December 20, 2010

"In the First Light"

My friend, Travis, knocked this one out of the park! As I told him, "You have a gift of preaching through song." Many think of his gift as "worship" -- which he absolutely has -- but he also has a voice anointed with passion that preaches truth! This song preaches the Gospel from beginning to end... and I think it is highly appropriate to share it *this* week! Enjoy!

Rejoice and give the Victor praise!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Ornament Sharing Friday!

This ornament was discovered this year while my daughter and I were out and about one day. For some reason, "penguins" have been a fascination of my children this year, so it immediately caught her eye. Given there are three penguins here and I have three children here on earth with me - it was a fun thing for all of us when we hung it on our tree that day. It has since brought a smile to my face each time I look at it. May it bring a smile to your face, too!

"Winter Snow"

Seems highly appropriate to post this song given the recent winter weather on the East Coast. It is so peaceful to listen to, and I posted the lyrics below for your reading pleasure.

"Winter Snow"
Could've come like a mighty storm
With all the strength of a hurricane
You could've come like a forest fire
With the power of heaven in Your flame

But You came like a winter snow
Quiet and soft and slow
Falling from the sky in the night
To the earth below

You could've swept in like a tidal wave
Or an ocean to ravish our hearts
You could have come through like a roaring flood
To wipe away the things we've scarred

But You came like a winter snow
(Yes, You did)
You were quiet
You were soft and slow
Falling from the sky in the night
To the earth below

Oh, no, Your voice wasn't in a bush burning
No, Your voice wasn't in a rushing wind
It was still
It was small
It was hidden

You came like a winter snow
Quiet and soft and slow
Falling from the sky in the night
To the earth below

(Oh, yeah)
To the earth below
You came falling
From the sky in the night
To the earth below

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Fish Tank

Since the rain moved in today, our plans were shifted. That was actually okay as I was feeling a bit "nesty" and wanted to stay close to home. (Our original plans were going to take us a good distance from home.)

This afternoon we ventured out in search of new fish tank tubing, new rock, and of course -- new fish. Our fish tank had been sitting empty for far too long, and I could stand the sight of it no longer. There is something really serene about watching fish swim that I have missed.

After much-ado running to this store and that, we ended up getting the necessary supplies to bring life back into the tank. It is strikingly beautiful with the jet black rock that compliments the jet black stand. Each of our children picked out a fish. Each of the fish are to grow to be about six inches with big beautiful fantails. I can't wait! They are hardy and beautiful! A win-win for us!

With the rain, hot soup with hot fresh oven bread was on tap for supper tonight. Yum! Hot coffee is made and pumpkin bread is on the way out of the oven in fifteen minutes ---
a satisfactory end to a rainy day.


Friday, December 10, 2010

Ornament Sharing Friday!

Today, I am going to share two out of three ornaments given to me yesterday by a precious sister. Two weeks in a row, two sisters who know not one another have brought me ornaments... precious ornaments. I can't possibly put into words what such acts have meant to me, but to say they have made a permanent mark upon my heart may give you a glimpse.

The visit from a friend is like water to my soul. I drink in each moment and always grieve their departure. Well, in addition to a visit which is gift enough, my friend, upon her arrival, handed me a small gift bag. Inside the bag were discovered to be three ornaments. She said, as I unwrapped the first two, "I couldn't bring you a tree, so I brought these instead."

A beautiful leaf and an acorn. Symbols of the oak tree.

I was deeply touched by the sentiment.

Then she said there was another ornament in the bottom of the gift bag that she made nearly 25 years ago.


When I unwrapped it, I was again deeply touched.

She said, "There were other angels I made, but they were blonde hair. God said to me,'No.The brown one is the one.'"


Again, my Abba has used one of my sisters to touch my heart in a way words cannot possibly convey ... to gift to me gifts most treasured. It was a delight to hang them on my tree in her presence. We found the perfect resting places for them!

I will value the ornaments from these past two weeks for a lifetime and pass them on to my children with the stories of their origins.

May you enjoy the sharing of my two "A's" ....

the acorn and the angel.

Abundant love to you today!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Empty and Beautiful by Matt Haher

Lyrics to Empty And Beautiful :
My past won't stop haunting me
In this prison there's a fight between
Who I am and who I used to be

This thorn in my side is a grace
For because of it the flesh and blood of God
Was offered in my place, my place

You fought the fight in me
You chased me down and finished the race
I was blind but now I see
Jesus You kept the faith in me

Where did my best friends go?
In my defense they disappeared
Just like Your friends did to You, oh Lord

But You were there, You gave me strength
So this little one might come to know
The glory of Your name, Your name

You fought the fight in me
You chased me down and finished the race
I was blind but now I see
Jesus You kept the faith in me

Awaiting, set apart like incense to Your heart
A libation I'm pouring out
Empty and beautiful, beautiful, beautiful

You fought the fight in me
You chased me down and finished the race
I was blind but now I see
Jesus You kept the faith in me

You fought the fight in me
You chased me down and finished the race
I was blind but now I see
Jesus You kept the faith in me
Jesus You kept the faith in me
Savior, You kept the faith in me

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Keeping it real....

Last week was, well, interesting. I had a sibling who resurrected a past wounding to me that she was not involved in, but observed. Her heart was in the right place, but as I told her, "....reconciliation can't be forced. When God has accomplished His will, He brings people back together."

While I had long since forgiven them and left the situation in God's hands, it did bring the past directly back into my view.

I asked, "Why, Lord? Why now?"

Over the years, He has worked in me "staying power" --
a power that refuses to run the other way no matter how much I would like to run.

No, in Him, we are to face whatever comes our way.

So, I sat with Him, seeking Him as to why the past should revisit me now. It was at this point He began to speak to me about the importance of convictions.... thus my blip that I posted on Wednesday about "being right or in relationship."

To me, this phrase is too much of an emotional manipulative. It implies if you choose "right" over the relationship, you have chosen incorrectly. But we must remember Jesus stood for righteousness and let His conviction drive people from Him or to Him.

Our convictions should cost us if we are walking according to them.

Opinions are different than convictions.
The former is rooted in self. The latter is rooted in God.
Opinions change. Convictions don't.

Fewer and fewer people seem to discern the difference. Fewer and fewer people seem to grasp the importance of standing on conviction despite personal cost. Meanwhile more and more people buy into a life of compromise that supports the corrupt thinking: "just don't upset the apple cart" or "do whatever it takes to get along."

While I don't go around looking for a fight, neither do I look the other way when wrong is done. As a result, I routinely find myself in more than lukewarm water. In the heart of truth and transparency, I don't like that this is the case, but as I see it, I don't have a choice. I'll never live a life of compromise. All evidence supports that over the years He has shaped me into a vessel willing to sustain hot temperatures. And the most recent events bring home His objective: to work in me even deeper staying power.

In a day when convictions are easily forsaken, I pray you will be among the few who dedicate themselves to solidly standing on God's Word.

We are to walk upright before God without compromise.
The Message version puts it this way, "We refuse to wear masks and play games. We don't maneuver and manipulate behind the scenes. And we don't twist God's Word to suit ourselves. Rather, we keep everything we do and say out in the open, the whole truth on display so that those who want to can see and judge for themselves in the presence of God....... We're not keeping this quiet, not on your life. Just like the psalmist who wrote, "I believed it, so I said it," we say what we believe."
( 2 Corin 4 )

So my roots were pushed further into the Ground this week.
He is my staying power, my Life Sustainer. I am ever so thankful for His abiding presence that teaches me:

"Let love be without hypocrisy.
Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good."
(Romans 12:9)

Blessings always!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Ornament Sharing Friday!

Okay, so this is turning out to be Friday OR Saturday ornament sharing! ;o)

This ornament was recently given to me by a dear friend. She was unpacking a box of ornaments she made as a child with her mother. When she saw this one, she thought of me. How precious is that? So, now it is a cherished ornament of mine that is some thirty years old! It was made out of a seashell! (Remember you can click on the picture to enlarge it!)

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Slippery Slope!

I am weary of the expression, "Would you rather be right or in relationship?"

That's one of those ill-gotten expressions that has the potential to dupe us into a state of perpetual compromise.

Sounds good when you first hear it, but it's a slippery slope down.

God calls us to live a life of conviction, and we better wake up and grasp it!