My sun porch

My sun porch

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas! He Came...for You!

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but the save the world through him." -- John 3:16-17

Merry Christmas my friends!

Are you feeling overwhelmed this holiday season? Are you running from here to there? Are you worrying about getting the right presents? Are you worrying about paying for those right presents? Are you missing someone who is gone from your life? Are you fighting depression and fighting back tears? Are you feeling abandonded or discarded and alone? Are these feelings not limited to the busy holidays, but are creeping into your daily life?

If you answered yes to any of those statements, you are most definitely not alone. Instead of being the "holly jolly Christmas" we hear about in song, the holidays are a tough time of year for many.  All of the things that are wrong in our lives seem to get amplified over the holidays. We feel more alone, more worried, more afraid.

But I am here to tell you that God doesn't want you to feel that way! The Bible says he sent his Son Jesus into the world  to save the world!

Yesterday, I sang a song in our church's Christmas musical called "He came." I have been practicing and learning the words for weeks, but it wasn't until yesterday when I was singing it in front of the congregation that I really listened to the words coming out of my mouth. Those words can be of comfort to those who are hurting.

Through the years His love remains.
He blood has washed away my guilt and shame.
The lamb of God.
Holy one, Redeemer, Friend.
His faithfulness and mercy have no end.

He mend the broken hearted.
He set the captive free.
He heal the wounded spirit.
Savior of the world...He came.

Oh come to my heart
Lord Jesus.
There is room in my heart for you.

He mend the broken hearted.
He set the captive free.
He heal the wounded spirit.
Savior of the world...He came.

Dear Loving Father God, I thank you for loving us, the people of the world, so much that you sent Jesus to us. The name Immanuel means "God with us." YOU sent Jesus so YOU could be with us! We are all hurting in some way today, Lord. Help us to remember that if we open our hearts to Jesus, he WILL come in and mend our broken hearts, heal our wounded spirits and set us free! I personally celebrate this Christmas that Jesus lives in my heart and allows me to let go of the hurt and show others how to feel this way too. Bless our world today, Lord, and open the eyes of the closed hearts out there so they can realize that He came for them too! Amen.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The end of the "too much and too many" world

“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only." Matthew 24:36

Well, it's December 21,2012 and so far...the world is still here. So hey, Myans...I think you got this thing all wrong. But today, I'm calling for the end of the at least parts of our world.

There is too much and too many in this world...too much hate, too much greed, too much envy, too much pain, too many harsh words, too many acts of violence, too many wounded minds, bodies and spirits...too many and too much!

What if those of us that believe in and follow God listened to the advice and direction he gives us in the Bible? What if we fought against the too much and too many in this world, using the tools and weapons God gave us?

When you have God and Jesus Christ in your life, God says the Spirit comes to live in you. The Spirit works with you to produce "fruit" or make good and Godly things happen. In Galatians 5:22-23, we are told that the fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. I have found in my life when I am intune with God's presence in my life, and as I have matured in my faith in Him, these "fruits" are produced more easily and more often in my life. It is easier to be patient and loving with difficult people. I find I have more self control over my emotions and my greedy feelings. I am able to live in peace with more people. I don't believe that is because I am a "good person..." I believe it is because God's Spirit is living within me, helping me.

There are have been more and more people posting things on Facebook and sending emails that we need to bring prayer back into schools and we don't want the word God taken out of our pledge or off our money. But I think God wants more from us than the image of him on our "stuff." He will not FORCE us to come to can't FORCE kids or adults to pray and think that is going to bring the fruits of the spirit out in everyone. Instead, those of us who are followers of God just need to be bolder and braver and make those fruits more visable. The more love and kindness we show to people...the more patience  and gentleness we exhibit to the challenging people in our lives...the more we will fight off the too much and too many in the world. Those fruits can be used to draw others to God!

So, lets stop wasting time fighting about gun control and political issues. Let's stop fighting with other PERIOD! No, it won't be easy. It is just too easy to fall back into the too much and too many habits. Let's use the "end of the world" craze today to work on tearing down the old world and building up a new, kinder, gentler world! That doesn't have to sound like a a too good to be true statement...If each of us did what we could to allow God's Spirit to live in us and help us get rid of the too much and too little, we CAN create a new world that God can be proud of!

Friday, December 14, 2012

"Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket..."

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun." -- Psalm 19:1-4

This morning I am very thankful I listened to that little voice that kept whispering to me to go out and look at the stars. I am not a huge star gazer and I don't know a whole lot about astromomy...I can find the big and little dippers when looking at the stars at night, but that's about it.

It was very cold, but I wrapped up in my blanket and headed out into the early morning. I leaned back on my frosty car and stared up at the stars. I had no idea which direction to focus upon, so I just took in as much as I could. I did find the Big Dipper...then the Little Dipper. Then...there is was...a flash across the sky! A falling star! Well...actually it was part of the the Geminid Meteor Shower. As my eyes got accustomed to the darkness, I saw a couple more! I stayed out for about 35 minutes. I read later that to really have gotten a show, I should have stayed out for at least an hour...but, my shivering body had had enough!
By now, you know me well enough that I couldn't let this experience pass without writing about it! All I could think about was the expanse of the stars and heavens and how small I felt in comparison. I am but a speck in the vast universe that God created. But...even though I am but a speck, I know in my heart I am just as important in the eyes of God as any other piece of God's creation.

My problems, pain, fear and disappointments seem so large to me. They become all I can think about...they overwhlem me at times. But, when I stop and remember to give all those huge things to God, I feel a relief. God is SO huge and SO issues are but a speck to him. I picture him taking my fears and flicking them away with his fingers. They are THAT insignificant to him. But, I even though I too am small, I am his child. He loves me and wants to flick away all my problems.

"What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? -- Romans 8:31

Looking at millions of stars, seeing the amazing beauty of the heavens, and being amazed by the blaze of a meteor falling across the sky was a good reminder to me of God's power and his love for little ol' me!

The skies do proclaim the work of His hands! The stars silently communicated to me this morning and revealed this knowledge to me.  Thank you Lord, for showing me just a bit of your glory today! Help me to keep that falling star feeling in my pocket all day long!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The joy of Christmas music...

"Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; and let us shout aloud to the Rock of our Salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song." -- Psalm 95:1-2

I love Christmas music. There is something about the old Christmas carols and standards that make me smile and have a warm feeling inside. When I am working around the house around the holidays, I seem to work harder when "White Christmas," "Frosty the Snowman," and "O, Little Town of Bethlehem" are blaring from the radio. When I work in my office at the library, I have the sound track from "A Charlie Brown Christmas" or even sacred music like Handel's Messiah playing on my computer. Holiday tunes just put me in a good mood!

But I know that there are those who do not agree with me. My husband and I were in the car together the other day when a Christmas song started playing on the radio. He automatically switched the channel and growled something about being tired of those songs already! I called him "Scrooge" as a popular holiday song played in the quiet of my head.

And I have talked to more than a few people lately who are really mentally and emotionally struggling this holiday season. Friends who have recently lost family members...friends who don't have enough money to buy the presents their children want...friends who are just sure that the world is going to end on December 21...

I have been in their shoes many times in my life...when the Christmas season is just a reminder of the things that I had lost. Why in the world would those friends have reason to sing for joy?

Well, while it is hard, I think that pushing through those lost feelings is what is best for us. How do we do that? The answer to that question is different for each person, and some never are able to push through. But, when I am depressed and blue, I make a list in my head of all the things that I DO have in my life. I talk to friends...I talk to family...I talk to God. Even when we have lost everything...God us still there with us and will never leave us! That fact is enough to get me through. I KNOW in my heart that one day I will be with God and that the pain and tears I have on this earth will be beind me. That is enough...

THAT gives me hope enough to sing for joy and praise the God who will save me from my deepest and darkest hurts! I will pray for those friends who cannot sing for joy right now and hope that they find even a little joy this Christmas season.

So, I will join the Charlie Brown kids in the picture above..."Hark the Herald Angels Sing! Glory to the Newborn King!"

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

When a friend is hurting, we hurt too...

"Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge." Psalm 62:8

My tender heart aches this morning. When a friend calls in panic and fear and asks me to pray, I drop whatever I am doing and pray. But that phone call sticks with me. Her tears become my tears, my heart hurts for her.

But then I remember my words to her and say them to myself. Stay calm, know that God is with you and he will take care of you, no matter what. And he will take care of her and her problems as well.

It is so hard to remember that when you are in a place of fear and panic. I know, I have been there too.

Your mind can play tricks on you when you are under stress and have had no sleep for the worry that is in your heart. You forget the things that sustain you. You forget and are only left with the fear and uncertainty.

But, my friend was wise enough to know she needed someone to pray FOR her. God gave her a moment of clarity that allowed her to reach out to someone else. So many of us retreat into ourselves when we are afraid and hurting. We don't want the world to know how we are hurting. But, I believe THAT is exactly the time we need strong friends around us who can remain calm and pray.

So today, as my friend is worried, tired, afraid and sick...I remain strong and reach out to God on her behalf. He has shown me over and over how he is always with me...that when I pour my heart out to him, he hears and will comfort me and bring me a peace that allows me to get through whatever comes my way. That has allowed me to learn to TRUST God and HOPE in him in my own life. He placed friends in my path who have blessed me in so many ways. My way to give back is to lean on that trust and hope for them when they can't.

When a friend is hurting, we hurt too. Don't you think God put others in our lives for just that reason?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Believe and Know

"So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us." -- John 4:16

Polls taken across our country show that many claim to believe in God. Although, in a recent Pew Survey (June 2012) people 30 years of age and younger have more doubts about the existence of God than in past generations.

In my heart, I know there is a great difference between believing in God and KNOWING and BELIEVING in the love that God has for us...for each and every one of us. I know this because I have experienced this difference myself.

I have "believed" in God my whole life. I went to church as a child, youth group as a teen, and even though I was not a consistent church-goer in college and in my 20's, that belief in God was always in my mind and heart. But, it wasn't until the last few years that I have been drawn to a deeper, stronger relationship with God. Something has happened inside my heart AND my head that makes me not only believe in God, but to know and understand how much he loves being all human beings.

A relationship with God sounds like a strange notion, doesn't it? It seems a little one-sided. God doesn't "speak" to me or participate in a conversation with me the same way my friends or family members do. But I do believe God does communicate with me in ways that both creates and sustains HOPE in my heart.

I wish I could explain to you in words that describe this process in my heart. All words I seem to use seem lacking. Just please understand that I don't believe that this is something that only I am capable of. If you open your heart and your mind to God's love...If you reach out and ask him to make himself known to you...If you look in the Bible, God's word to us, for verses that explain God's love for will find it. How do I KNOW this is true and will happen for you? Because it happened for me!

Why are young people doubting God's existence more today than in the past? Those of us that have come before have stopped believing and knowing. We have become lost and disappointed in our world. We have not passed on our faith...we have not encouraged our children enough to search and find that belief and knowledge for themselves. We have become apathetic and have allowed our children to go searching on their own...

I hate to think of people young or old not knowing and believing in God's love for us. But, our God is a God of second, third, fourth choices. I don't believe it is ever too late. It can start with you! Find ways to believe and know God's love for you!

Friday, December 7, 2012

What does God think of me?

"If you want to claim credit, claim it for God. What you say about yourself means nothing in God's work. It's what God says about you that makes the difference." 2 Corinthians 10:17-18 (The Message Translation)

The world around me sees the me I want them to see...God sees the me I AM. He sees when I scream like a banshee at my daughter. He sees when my gluttony leads me to eat ANOTHER piece of cake. He sees my poor financial decisions. He sees when pride takes over my brain. He hears the words I say under my breath when I am frustrated. He hears when my "venting" gets out of hand. He hears when gossip slips out of my lips. So, what DOES God say about me?

Several years ago, I read the book The Purpose Driven Life. Author Rick Warren talks about how we use our "SHAPE." That is, how we use our spritual gifts, our heart, our abilities, our personalities and our experiences. God gave us all those things...well, he didn't give us our experiences, we got those through our own choices. But, the other things didn't come from us, but from God. I want people to think the best of me...that I used my gifts to the best of my ability. But ultimately, it doesn't matter what PEOPLE think of me...only what GOD thinks of me. Rick Warren says, "The point of living your life to the fullest in every aspect is not to increase your reputation; it’s to make your life count for God."

If you Google "What does God think of me?" you will get THOUSANDS of results. If you look in the Bible, you will see around 100 verses that describe what God thinks of his human creation...of ME and YOU. Some of my favorite verses are about what God thinks of me.

"But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God" -- John 1:12

"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." -- Hebrews 13:5

So, as a child of God, I want to live my life in a way that will give HIM glory, and not myself glory. I want to please my Heavenly Father and make him proud of me. Does this mean I will never make mistakes? Absolutely not! But it does give me hope to keep get back to good decisions after making bad ones. My Heavenly Father is loving and forgiving (more things you will find out when you go searching his word for what he thinks about you.) and wants the best for me.

My ultimate goal is to hear the following words from God when my time on earth is done:
“Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” Matthew 25:23

God may not approve or like everything I do, but I know he loves me and wants me to use my SHAPE to the best of my ability. So, that's what I will continue to try to do. When I fail, I will get back up and try again. THAT is what God thinks of me...the Bible tells me so.

Monday, December 3, 2012


"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." -- Colossians 3:17

This is the beginning of the Advent season, where we celebrate the birth of Jesus. It is said that Christmas is the "season of hope." I believe that to be true. It's about new beginnings and finding hope in a God who deals in hope.

Yesterday at my church, hanging behind the pastor as he spoke about the hope of the season, was the word HOPE...big, white, sparkly letters that caught your eye as soon as you walked into the sanctuary. I've thought about that word a lot in the past several hours.

A lot of good things have been happening to me lately. In the last few weeks, things that I have been wanting for myself and my family have been coming true. After a year of frustration and disappointment, this is a welcome change. I am incredibly grateful for the blessings that have occurred both lately and through my whole life. But there is something in me that doesn't totally trust good things. Under the happiness and gratefulness in my face and heart right now is fear and doubt. I wonder and worry when something bad is going to happen to mess all this up. I HATE that those thoughts that fly through my head, but find that they are there nonetheless.

I even started wondering about those silly Myans and the end of the world that is supposedly going to happen in a few weeks. It would be my luck that I am finally getting all the things I have been wanting my whole life and I won't even have the chance to enjoy them because the world will end on December 21st!

But wait...if the world ends, I will be in heaven, so I REALLY WILL be getting what I have always wanted, right? No worries!

I find HOPE in Jesus. HOPE makes it possible to keep going. HOPE makes it possible to put those negative fears and thoughts out of my mind. HOPE makes it possible for me to do everything I do in the name of Jesus and give thanks and praise to a God who knew we needed HOPE and gave us his son to fill that need. HOPE brings me joy!

So, today, I will put on my sparkly JOY pin and live my life in the HOPE that Jesus brings! I hope the next 22 days bring you HOPE and JOY as well!