Thursday, December 27, 2012

I am Resolved

The Christmas presents are unwrapped. The Christmas treats are (mostly) eaten. And I'm thinking about putting away the decorations today. We had a blessed Christmas. So many small moments of wonder and beauty. I hope you can take the time to reflect on your Advent season and remember the many ways God smiled on you.

Now in a few days, we will ring in the New Year. I swore off making New Year's resolutions several years ago, but there is something about a New Year that prompts me to consider changes I want to make in my life.

Last year at this time, I thought I knew what 2012 would hold. I thought I had a plan (Oh, how God must laugh at mere mortals making plans!). Let's just say, it was a different year than I anticipated. And many of my plans simply were not meant to be. We have had challenge after challenge this year, but with those challenges, I have seen and experienced amazing growth in our faith in God, in our confidence that "All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose," Romans 8:28. We have held on to that verse these last few months and will continue to cling to it.

So, as I look to 2013, I lay my plans at the cross. I confess that I will accomplish nothing without God's strength and direction. I place my life, my family, my goals in his hands and will choose to dwell in the shelter of his wing. I have just one resolution this year. I am resolved to follow the Savior, Faithful and true each day; Heed what He sayeth, do what He willeth, He is the living Way.

I am Resolved words by Palmer Hartsough

I am resolved no longer to linger,
Charmed by the world’s delight,
Things that are higher, things that are nobler,
These have allured my sight.

I will hasten to Him, hasten so glad and free;
Jesus, greatest, highest, I will come to Thee.
I will hasten, hasten to Him, hasten so glad and free;
Jesus, Jesus, greatest, highest, I will come to Thee.

I am resolved to go to the Savior,
Leaving my sin and strife;
He is the true One, He is the just One,
He hath the words of life.


I am resolved to follow the Savior,
Faithful and true each day;
Heed what He sayeth, do what He willeth,
He is the living Way.


I am resolved to enter the kingdom
Leaving the paths of sin;
Friends may oppose me, foes may beset me,
Still will I enter in.


I am resolved, and who will go with me?
Come, friends, without delay,
Taught by the Bible, led by the Spirit,
We’ll walk the heav’nly way.


I am resolved, and who will go with me? Come, friends, without delay.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Mary Christmas

I know many of you may still be rushing around in a panic trying to make things perfect for your family this Christmas.  I have had my share of craziness in trying to get prepared for this Christmas as well.  It is not always easy with church activities, end of school exams/parties/get togethers, making sure all of the gifts are bought and wrapped, work parties, and whatever else might get thrown on your plate.  As women, I think we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to try and make everything picture perfect.
The truth is, God doesn't want perfection, He wants YOU!  He wants your time.  He wants your heart.  He wants your focus.  He doesn't care if you have 3 different choices for desserts.  He doesn't care if the floor doesn't get vacuumed one more time.  He doesn't care if your family's outfits all match.  He cares that you remember that He is the reason for all the celebration.
If you remember, Jesus came to Mary and Martha's house.  Martha did like most of us would do - cleaned, cooked, hosted the visitors.  Then she got frustrated because Mary was not helping her.  Mary, however, was not concerned about all of those things.  She sat close to Jesus, gave Him her complete focus and her time, and listened to Him.  That is all Jesus wanted from her.
So as we finish up what we NEED to do (not want we WANT to get done), make one of those things spending some extra time focusing on Jesus.  Sit with your children for a while.  Read from the Bible together.  Focus on what God would have you do this Christmas.  And have a Mary Christmas!

Image credit: google images

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas without Lights?

It's Christmastime. Carols and presents. Crazy elves and visits to Santa. Garlands and wreaths. Ornaments on trees with lots of sparkly lights.

Except at my house. No tree lights. No Christmas candles. And definitely no driving at night to look at Christmas lights on houses. It's so strange.

See, my oldest child has migraines. He has had a constant headache since the beginning of November. And while the severity has lessened, one of the worst triggers is flickering light. He will even react if a TV show has flashing or flickering lights. Flourescent lights? Forgetaboutit.

So we have adapted. We just don't do Christmas lights. Actually, we don't turn on many lights in the house at all.

An amazing thing has happened this Advent despite the lack of twinkling lights this season. There is a light shining brighter than ever before in my kids. JESUS.

We have an elf that visits our house each year. Every day he brings a Scripture card with him, so that we are reading through the Christmas story a little each day. His surprises for the kids each day often point to Jesus. Spelling I love Jesus in blocks. Rearranging the Nativity scene. Opening Bibles to the Christmas story.

We also have a jar that a kid opens each day that contains 2 strips of paper. One is a name of Jesus. We have daily conversations about what the different names mean. The second piece asks the child to do something kind for one of his/her siblings. P1 said this is his favorite new tradition.

At night, we read Christmas stories. At least one of them is about Jesus. We talk again and again about why Jesus came. P2 tells me, "God came as baby Jesus. He grew up and loved people. He died on the cross to wash away our sins. And rose again so we can go to Heaven." He is so close to truly understanding God's amazing grace. I know the Holy Spirit is moving in his heart.

After stories, we sing Christmas hymns instead of our usual lullabies. A few nights ago, after singing Joy to the World, Sweet P said, "I want to sing my own song," and sang the most precious song about God coming to us as a baby because he loves us so much. My heart was glowing.

I said, "Oh, that was so beautiful. I know God loved hearing your song. I bet he is teaching the angels your song right now."

"No, Momma," she said. "I learned it from the angels. I heard them singing it."

Oh, I thought I would melt right there. The Light is shining bright in the hearts of my kids. So bright that I don't miss those twinkling lights at all.

John 1:5,9

5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.

Hope you have a Merry Light-filled Christmas!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

God With Us

Reading: Psalm 46

Key Verse: "How we thank God for you! Because of you we have great joy as we enter God’s presence."---1 Thessalonians 3:9 (NLV)

Confession time... I am a Facebook junkie! I find the mindless downtime to be an entertaining distraction from the structured activity of my day. I especially love the "insightful" quizzes that reveal everything from what your favorite color says about your relationships to which dessert best describes your personality. (By the way, mine is chocolate.) Perhaps one of the most humorous quizzes I have taken was in regards to my name. After answering five seemingly unrelated questions, I found out my name was all wrong. Who knew? Too bad my parents didn't know about Facebook when they were choosing the perfect name for their precious baby girl.

Even without the help of Facebook, God reveals much to us in The Word through His many names as well. My personal favorite is Immanuel. Though the name usually conjures up visions of sugar cookies and Christmas carols, I find so much more significance when I consider it's meaning. Immanuel...God With Us. In all we do. Wherever we go. Whatever we face. God is with us! It's a promise.

God is there as we confront uncertainty, doubt, and despair. Indeed, there is not a moment in this journey called life when He is not with us, for the LORD is "an ever-present help in trouble." (vs. 2) We are assured that we are not alone for "God is our refuge and strength." (vs. 1) Fear need not cripple the saints, for "The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress." (vs 7) Doubt cannot confound us if only we choose to bear witness to the glorious "works of the LORD." (vs. 8) Truly,we need only place our trust securely in Him, as we commit to "be still, and know that I am God." (vs. 10)

God is with us in all things. He is with us right now, this very moment. He will be with us in all our days to come. And in His presence, we can be sure He is FOR us as well. Nothing happens in our lives outside His sovereign control. Therefore, circumstances, no matter how troubling, cannot separate us from His love. For He is Immanuel, and His very name promises we do not go alone.

Heavenly Father,
You are with us...Hallelujah! Nothing can separate us from your gracious hand. You weep with us in our tears and hold us tight in our failures. You rejoice with us in triumph and sit with us in our silence. You are always near, always here. You are with us. Thanks be to God!