Christmas Right Here

Can you believe it is already December?  At times this year it felt like the days were dragging, but now we have begun the last month of 2020.

In this last month of the year, I want to focus on the gospel at Christmas.  Some have said that Christmas is only a commercial time when retailers take advantage of people and feed greed.  While greed is a reality, so is generosity.  Negative happens, so why don’t we combat negativity with some positive truth?

The truth is that because we are sinners, Jesus Christ came to earth to be born under humble circumstances.  He grew up to die on the cross for our sins.  He chose to become a man and suffer the same way we do.  The difference is that He never sinned. That is part of the glory John 1:14 is talking about.  Due to the grace and truth that comes from God the Father, we can have hope and joy for the future. 

If you do not know Jesus Christ according to what the Bible says, then I hope you will seek the truth.  I am happy to share what God has taught me.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus Christ, to a humble birth so I can know grace and truth. Please help me to share this with everyone I meet.  I want them to know the joy that only comes from knowing You.

I pray this in Jesus’ name.

God is so good.  

Gathering in Jesus Name

Today I am thankful for those who gather in the name of Jesus.  My church family has commented on how much we missed gathering from March – May this year.  If you haven’t learned what gathering around the name of Jesus is, you have missed out. We aren’t perfect, but when we have our eyes fixed on God, the fellowship is wonderful.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for my church family and others who gather in Your name.  Thank you for the joy when we are in tune with Christ.  Thank You for the unity we can have when we put You first. Please help us to focus on You and all You have done for us.

I pray this in Jesus’ name.

God is so good.

Gracious Seasoning

Hello, friends.  How has your week been?  I think some places feel a little more normal, some are still facing various limitations.  Based on the advice of a friend, I am trying to get back to normal as much as I can.  Restrictions are being lifted and let’s face it – I still need groceries (and now home improvement stores are becoming a need). 

We are still facing heightened emotions based on all the things we hear and read as well as what we are living through.  Friends who claim to know and serve Christ – we have a job to do no matter what. We need to make wise use of our time and be gracious in our speech.  Right now, it is hard.  We are being hit in areas of our lives that we are not used to.  This scares us.  Fear can push us towards ungracious words and behavior.  We need to keep praying for wisdom and grace to navigate our circumstances in a way that honors the One Who has given us eternal life.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Please help me to navigate my current circumstances with wisdom and grace.  I want others to see Who You truly are.  We need the truth to prevail.  Please help me to encourage truth and not get in the way with foolish, ungracious speech.

I pray this in Jesus’ name.

God is so good.

Fall Memories of Faithfulness

A year ago, I spent several days helping a friend pack up her belongings so she could move from Minnesota to Texas to live closer to family.  When I said goodbye I told her, “Till we meet again”.  This friend had placed her trust in Jesus Christ.  While I didn’t expect to see her again in this life, I knew I would see her in the next.

I had no idea that God would take her home to heaven so soon after moving to Texas.  Shortly after she got there, she found out she had terminal cancer.  She died a couple of weeks later.

The verse I chose today fits her personality.  She lived through so many very hard times.  Appendicitis (which I think caused a miscarriage), a kidney transplant, being widowed with two children, Parkinson’s caused by anti-rejection drugs – and that is only what I remember.  This woman lived through many trials.

One word that described her life is faithfulness.  She was faithful in her service to Christ.  She didn’t have a flashy life; she was a wonderful example of simply and faithfully serving God despite hardship.  She didn’t do this in her own strength.  She didn’t have much strength.  She was often weak, but God gave her strength to keep going.

Isaiah 40 29

Hugs from God

Life is full of various challenges.  We face the trial of living in a sin cursed earth which includes our own sin nature as well as that of others.  I find as I wade through the muck and mire of difficulties that I can feel weighed down with negativity.  As God teaches me to pray, He sends many hugs.  The hugs don’t get rid of the effects of sin, but they help me through.

One hug God has sent me this summer is through hummingbirds.  I have a hummingbird feeder on my deck.  I don’t often see them, although the sugar water levels have consistently gone down.  A few times in the evenings and on the weekend I have seen a hummingbird come up to the feeder and take a drink.  One night the hummingbird even flew towards my back door where I was standing and watching.  It was amazing.

God often sends blessings through people.  One such blessing came from friends of mine.  I was chatting with a couple of friends while one member of the household was working on a car.  When he brought in an old license plate from one car, I joked about the Vikings license plate cover on my car.  I wanted to remove it, but hadn’t gotten to it.  I’m not into football and I didn’t want to look like I was a Vikings fan.  About 5 minutes after the conversation, he comes back into the house with the Vikings license plate cover.  This is one of those “little things” that may seem silly, but is still fun.  I like my car much better without the Viking logo on it.

Friends, I know life can weigh us down and blessings seem few and far between.  However, the more I watch for blessings the more I believe God shows me.  If I am willing to receive as God chooses to give (knowing what is best for me), I will gain more.  I pray you see the many blessings (hugs) that God sends.

Little Things that Grow

Readers of my blog will have noticed that I enjoy sharing stories about “little blessings”.  These stories are very important and special to me.  The next two stories are little things that became bigger.

One day a friend from church gave me a small package wrapped in brown paper.  On the paper she wrote, “I thought of you when I saw these dear friend. You will make them pretty.”  I know her exact words, because I kept the paper.  I was so touched by “dear friend” and built up by her compliment that I would make the gift pretty.  This was during a time when I felt worthless.  I knew that I was capable of many things, but I had been through a tough situation that shattered my confidence.  God used her compliment to build me back up. Reminding me of who God made me to be.  

What was the gift you ask?  Two packages of cards that need to be colored.  One of my favorite things.  I remember the story every time I color one; I remember how this friend invested in me.

This next story happened while I was working two jobs. I had posted a request on Facebook about the gutter on one side of my house (it was falling off).  When I got home that night (after my second job), I found someone had taken the gutter off the house. I was blessed that someone had taken the time to help.  I did not realize the full blessing until the next day.  Someone had mowed my lawn and removed some bush trimmings that I had left.  That summer mowing the lawn was hard due to the food issues I had not figured out yet.  One week of no mowing was a nice treat. 

I enjoy storytelling so I take great pleasure in sharing these stories.  However, I also hope to encourage my readers to consider this with others.  Both when you have the opportunity to give and when you receive.

The little things matter.  God uses them in big ways for His honor and glory.

My Birthday Reminder

Last week my birthday reminded me that little things can be just as important as big things.  (Sherlock Homes said, “To the great mind nothing is little.”)  Let me share some stories.

While on vacation the week before, my friend sent me a picture that she and her family thought I should put a verse on.  She knows how much I enjoy that and she wanted to encourage it.  Then her daughter-in-law sent me a message about putting verses on pictures from their recent trip to Israel.  Pictures from the Holy Land?! Oh yeah! I am honored to be asked.

While on vacation, my friends daughter found something that she thought I would enjoy.  She was right.  When I opened the gift I went right for this set of cards that I could color.  I enjoy anything creative.  I was so blessed that these friends (who know me well) would be thinking of me on their trip.  I have already enjoyed creative time with my gift. 

I have learned from experience how much those little positive things can bless me.  Some of the stories I have shared happened years ago.  Some are more recent.  No matter when they happened, they bring a smile to my face again and again.

Father God, thank you for the reminders of how much You love me through the thoughts and actions of my friends.  You have blessed so much.  I praise Your Name.