Celebrating Life

We sometimes have a conjured image of what Christmas should look like. It is often based on a precious memory.

We do not know the true value of our moments until they have undergone the test of memory.

Georges Duhamel
We have the innate ability to edit our memories. That is why two people at the same dinner table can give different accounts of what happened.
Today delight in today. You woke up and have another day. Count your blessings and just this once don’t stew in the wouldas, couldas and shouldas, but celebrate all the good that you have experienced. Then purpose today to spread joy wherever you go.
Create new memories, share laughter with others and love deeply. See it through the Father’s eyes for He created you for such a time as this.

Light Your World

The week before Christmas anticipation mounts. Yes, there are always last minute things to do, but it is the hope of Christmas that carries us through.
Don’t get so busy that you forget to spend time with the Lord in His Word and in prayer or you will soon find yourself running on empty.
Many will travel and some will enter a time warp of how things used to be. The problem is you are no longer the same person.

Sometimes family gatherings become a vortex of emotions that can suck you down until you feel disabled. One of the ways to avoid that helpless feeling is to not have false expectations. If Aunt Betty has always been argumentative and controlling, don’t expect her to be suddenly polite this Christmas. Instead of taking her to task for being so judgmental, simply listen, really listen,  and when she takes a breath, say, “That’s interesting.”
She has a deep need to be heard. Give her the gift of listening. You don’t have to agree with her or take in her barbs, just nod and smile.
If we go without expectations and with the anticipation of finding ways to show love, we will have a much better time.  Let it be a time of socialization, not social media. Look at the person when you are talking and truly listen.
Once I got out of my needs and began to approach life with a “how can I serve you” view, life became incredibly simpler. The bonus was instead of trying to get my needs met, while loving others, all those needs were either erased, changed or met.
I tell myself now and then, “Get out of your navel and into the Father’s heart.”
I pray, “Lord, help me to see today what you see and feel what you feel and love as you love.”
On my own, I can’t love the Aunt Bettys even though I know deep inside I was once one, too. But with the love of the Father, I can provide a safe place for the wounded and needy to heal. Isn’t that why Jesus came?
He said, “The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,...” Luke 4:18
If He was about His Father’s business, should I not do the same?
Don’t be misled. I am not there yet, but I want to be.
Thankfully my Father judges the intents of my heart, not my imperfect attempts to show His love and His mercy.
It’s a journey – just one step at the time. The important thing is to keep going forward.

Romans 5:5 encourages us:

And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

This Christmas SHINE with your love for others.

Go Light Your World

Wherever You Are…

For many Christmases, Christmas was the same traditions, but as we get older, big changes take place. My mom who was the Christmas matriarch, moved in with my brother and sister-in-law who had their own traditions. The change rippled down. At first, it was unsettling. Finally I accepted it.

W e can remember the memories, cherish them, but we do not have to grieve the loss. Each year we get to choose to be grateful for what we do celebrate and remember that each day is a gift.

Last month, a dear friend, Jackie Brown, brought me one of her paintings. She did not know that I had a thing for sparrows. We used to have a shop called The Little Sparrow. But the significance of this painting is that it went perfectly with two birds that my daughter, Margie, bought me last Christmas. The timing was perfect as it tied last Christmas with this Christmas and was a reminder that “His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.”

Matthew 6:25-26 is a good reminder when things don’t go as planned.

Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?  Behold the fowls of the air: (the little sparrow) for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
You have probably caught on now that all birds are sparrows to me. The song by Ethel Waters carried me through a very dark season over 30 years ago. I have never forgotten how He provided for us when there seemed no way, how He healed me when it seemed impossible. He provided our every need and then abundantly provided in ways we had not dreamed.
So even today when I face a challenge, I remember His eye is on this sparrow (and you) and He watches me (and thee.) Take a couple minutes and listen to this song. It has often been my prayer of faith and hope.

Merry Christmas

I shared this a couple of years ago and wanted to share it again.

For as long as I am allowed to say, Merry Christmas, I will. For Happy Holidays doesn’t capture the love our Father had for us when He sent His only Son.
Merry Christmas!
Got this email. I don’t know the author but I support most of it so I thought I would share it with you:
Letter from Jesus about Christmas —

It has come to my attention that many of you are upset that folks are taking My name out of the season.

How I personally feel about this celebration can probably be most easily understood by those of you who have been blessed with children of your own. I don’t care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate My birth, just GET ALONG AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

Now, having said that let Me go on. If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn’t allow a scene depicting My birth, then just get rid of a couple of Santas and snowmen and put in a small Nativity scene on your own front lawn. If all My followers did that. there wouldn’t be any need for such a scene on the town square because there would be many of them all around town.

Stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a holiday tree, instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made all trees. You can remember Me anytime you see any tree. Decorate a grape vine if you wish: I actually spoke of that one in a teaching, explaining who I am in relation to you and what each of our tasks were. If you have forgotten that one, look up John 15: 1 – 8.

If you want to give Me a present in remembrance of My birth here is my wish list. Choose something from it:

1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way My birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers away from home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know, they tell Me all the time.

2. Visit someone in a nursing home. You don’t have to know them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.

3. Instead of writing the President complaining about the wording on the cards his staff sent out this year, why don’t you write and tell him that you’ll be praying for him and his family this year. Then follow up… It will be nice hearing from you again.

4. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can’t afford and they don’t need, spend time with them. Tell them the story of My birth, and why I came to live with you down here. Hold them in your arms and remind them that I love them.

5. Pick someone that has hurt you in the past and forgive him or her.

6. Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless? Since you don’t know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm smile; it could make the difference.

7. Instead of nit picking about what the retailer in your town calls the holiday, be patient with the people who work there. Give them a warm smile and a kind word. Even if they aren’t allowed to wish you a “Merry Christmas” that doesn’t keep you from wishing them one. Then stop shopping there on Sunday. If the store didn’t make so much money on that day they’d close and let their employees spend the day at home with their families.

8. If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary–especially one who takes My love and Good News to those who have never heard My name.

9. Here’s a good one. There are individuals and whole families in your town who not only will have no “Christmas” tree, but neither will they have any presents to give or receive. If you don’t know them, buy some food and a few gifts and give them to the Salvation Army or some other charity which believes in Me and they will make the delivery for you..

10. Finally, if you want to make a statement about your belief in and loyalty to Me, then behave like a Christian. Don’t do things in secret that you wouldn’t do in My presence. Let people know by your actions that you are one of mine.

Don’t forget I am God and can take care of Myself. Just love Me and do what I have told you to do. I’ll take care of all the rest. Check out the list above and get to work; time is short. I’ll help you, but the ball is now in your court. And do have a most blessed Christmas with all those whom you love and remember :

I LOVE YOU,

JESUS

Is There a Shortage of Fruit and Nuts?

I am having a fruitcake crisis. Both Ingle’s and Wal-Mart are sold out of Claxton Fruitcake. How can this be? It is way too early.

People have said that the only good use for a fruitcake was a doorstop. but I LOVE fruitcake.
Perhaps it is because it conjures up memories of Christmas past. Both my grandmother and mother made fruitcakes. They lined the many loaf pans with heavy brown paper- often grocery bags. It took several days to prep and bake and wrap.
They were a treasured gift among extended family memories. I even remember my mom hiding it. It was no ordinary fruitcake. There was none of the bitter citron. Instead there were cherries, pineapple and lots of pecans. In fact, it was so chocked full of goodies there was little actual cake- just enough to hold it all together.
My granny never baked one, but she would take a store bought one and soak it in brandy for a week. Something my teetotaller mom would never do.
Mom doesn’t make fruitcake any more.
Enter Claxton fruitcake. Well, until this year…
http://www.claxtonfruitcake.com
Thank goodness for the website because unless you live in their region, you are probably not going to find it on your shelves. It is moist and rich. You can only eat a little at the time. I love it ice cold from the fridge so it slices thin.

Three years ago a friend of mine at church whose wife was born in Claxton, GA, had the audacity to tell me there was a better fruitcake.
Blasphemy!
But he won me over that year when he sent me a special pack of four different fruitcakes from Collin Street Bakery. Alas, even at Collin Street the fruit is diminishing and pecans are the star. Their pecan cakes are outrageous.  Texas does have great pecans.
If you get fruitcake for Christmas and you hate it, send it my way. If it isn’t the right one, I will doctor it up like Granny did.

What Song Are You Singing?

Even in Christianity we can sing the same song over and over until it loses its meaning. It may have been a great song, but when we have milked the essence from it, it is time to sing a new song. If we don’t, our Christian walk will become ordinary, even mundane.

Now that Christmas carols are on the radio and other media, we sometimes to fail to really listen to the words.

Pastor Adrienne mentioned once that “new song is in the Bible nine times. If it is there nine times, I believe God is trying to get our attention. I was convicted that I was singing the same old song and He is wanting me to sing a NEW one.

They say that doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. Yet many Christians live their faith that way, not expecting new things, not growing beyond the fundamentals.

As I dug into “new song”, I discovered that there are actually 185 songs in the Bible for all occasions from battles  to splitting seas to dirges. Over three-fourths are found in Psalms. So why am I not singing a new song when He is definitely doing new things? Have we lost the ability to celebrate because we are so busy with dead works?

I can remember when praying in the Spirit was normal, but today it is occasional. Are we so burdened with the cares of the world that we can’t break through in song?

This little girl missed her mother who died and sang from the heart.  Her music has taken her around the world. I encourage you to listen to it once and then listen to it again joining her in song. Ask the Lord to give you that new song from your heart.

Here I Am    (I own no rights to this)

 

 

Light Your World This Season

Since my youth, one of my favorite verses has been Isaiah 60:1-2.

Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.
For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.

It is a prescription for bringing God’s glory into this world. We must first, ARISE. Which means we cannot be passive. We have to come on the scene and get involved.
Note though that we arise and then in verse 2 it says the Lord shall arise. Here’s the promise. We get involved in the loves of others and He will “rise, come forth, break out, arise, rise up, shine” upon us. Then it will not be anything in us that people see but they see His light, His glory dispelling the darkness of their hearts and lives.
A dear friend shared this at open mic at my church Friday night and the switch was flipped once more. Our light can dim if we do not stay charged with His word.
During this holiday season share His light and Be His light.
Light Your World Today!
Remember during this season, it is not YOUR presents, it is HIS Presence that make the difference. Let it shine through you.
I think this song says it all: Light Your World
Don’t just sing it. Do it!

Living a Life that Counts

No parent should ever have to bury their child. I was not prepared for my daughter, Carrin’s death over five years ago. It shook a lot of things up. There are some things you take for granted…like there will be a tomorrow. For Carrin, there wasn’t and it showed the rest of us how precious each day really is.

For a while, I was sure the sky was falling. It was as if Carrin’s death began a series of events that seemed overwhelming. One of these was that Ray needed and received a quadruple bypass, Ray has always the strong one.
Suddenly he was restricted to lifting nothing heavier than a gallon of milk.
When roles change in a marriage, “in sickness and in health” comes front and center. Suddenly you see things in your own attitude that are not all that pleasing.
Why do we resist change? Why do we continue to want things the way they were?
When selfishness raised its ugly head because things were inconvenient or just not going my way, I would repent and then go into self-bitterness and self-hatred because I wasn’t doing everything right.
One morning while in the waiting room at the hospital where Ray was getting his first post-operative stress test, I opened my Bible and read  1 John. There I found a lot of answers to  not only why I do not love myself, but how to love myself. While I suggest you read the whole epistle, let me pull out a few verses.

My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.
He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.
Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning.
Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.
He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.
10 He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.
11 But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.
12 I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake.

We know we cannot love others unless we love ourselves. We hate ourselves when we don’t do things “the way we are supposed to.” Well, who told us that?
Certainly the enemy.

 Verses 1 and 2 say we have an advocate in Jesus Christ and he is our offering, our atonement for our sin.
Self-hatred says, “No, thanks. That’s not going to be good enough. I need to punish myself!”
Not only is that insanity, but it is self-idolatry declaring that hating oneself is a substitute for His death on the cross.

Yet I have done it for years.
12 I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake.
“For his name’s sake”
Can you ponder on that a moment?
“…your sin’s are forgiven for his name’s sake.”
We have nothing to earn, nothing to prove, nothing to pay.
12 I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake.

Receive His gift today. Tomorrow isn’t promised, but if it comes, live it fully.

Give the Gift of Authenicity

The greatest tragedy of Christmas is that the true meaning is unknown, commercialized or just plain neglected. Some even argue that Jesus wasn’t born in December. I say well, probably not, most likely not, but at a time when more and more religious freedom is taken away, I choose to celebrate on the popular date. More important than the actual date is a relationship with the one whose birthday we celebrate.

Loving others and serving one another is a way to share the true meaning of Christmas. However, so many have broken heart and can only give broken love. 

Most probably feel it has been broken and trampled enough. So we try to protect ourselves by building filters and walls to keep abusers out. The problem is there are some people who are about as lovable as a porcupine who could bring a lot to your life if you ever got past their filters and walls.

We are a society of great pretenders who hide behind our personal style of fabrication. Behind it we experience fear and isolation, but dare not risk interpersonal relationship. This escalates during the holidays.

Many divorces happen because two pretenders married and when they got real, it wasn’t pretty. To forge a true relationship, you have to go through the pain of reality.

Ray and I married from two different worlds. I had been abused a greater part of my life when we married. His past wasn’t a bed of roses either. Fortunately, his response to abuse was to try harder and try harder is what he did when he discovered he had a wounded tiger by the tail.

The more he would try to love and protect me, the more I would rage. I knew in my inner being he was going to leave me like everyone else, so I kept pushing him away. He was as tenacious as a bulldog. Bottom-line, his unconditional love won. We have been married 38 years.

If I had bailed at the first hurt or even the tenth (most were self-inflicted through self-sabotage), I would have never known the love, happiness and sweetness being a couple has brought me.

He taught me to give others a chance as well. He was my safety net when I let my walls down. What I learned through that is often times the person I run from is the person who genuinely has something to deposit in my life. The very thing I don’t like in them is all too often a character flaw in me. Funny how that works.

Thousands of years ago, God said, “It is not good for man to be alone.”

That is true today, not just in marriage, but in meaningful friendships where you share your heart and that very thing that you were trying to figure out comes spilling from your own mouth. To listen to another is to allow their genuine self to come forth.

Dare to let the walls down and be real. Give the gift of your authentic self this season. The results may surprise you.

Don’t Lose Your Joy

To be a good writer, you have to be a good reader. My problem is I often read several books at a time. I have always done that. I am a bit of a book-aholic. Even at thrift stores I look at books. I especially enjoy the collection of short stories you can find there for they are not my normal genre.

I want to share a story with you I found in a fifty cent paperback called Christmas in Our Hearts by Charles Allen and Charles Wallis. This is a paraphrase but I want to give credit to the author. 

A pastor in the Midwest had a woman come to him for healing. She had exhausted all medical venues. There was nothing more that could be done medically. She had a severe limp. She asked him to pray for her that she might be healed.

He said that he would only pray that she would get close to the Lord. “Don’t pray about anything else,” he told her. She prayed and they prayed several times together. Still she continued to limp.

One day she came to the pastor and confessed that she had been convicted of a wrong spirit she had against another person. She felt she should go in love to that person and make things right. However, she kept putting it off. Yet as she continued to pray that she would be closer to the Lord, she felt more convicted that she had to face this. She made things right with that person and continued to pray for a closer relationship with the Lord. Shortly thereafter, she began to walk without  a limp.

To me this is the simplicity of sanctification. Don’t let unforgiveness cripple you and interfere with a close relationship with the Father.

James 1: 17 tells us:

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

Could the very thing you are seeking come from a closer relationship with the Father? Is unforgiveness keeping you from receiving? That is a high price to pay.

This is a season of great joy. Don’t let the “right to be right” steal your joy. Love unconditionally as the Father loves us.

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