Monthly Archives: December 2013

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WAITING WITH EXPECTATION IN 2014

Wait with Expectation

The telephone rang and I rushed to answer it. I’d been waiting to hear some news from my husband, Michael. He had recently interviewed for a higher position within the company he works for.

When I picked up the phone, Michael’s words were sweetness to my soul. He exclaimed in a boyish way, “I got the promotion, Babe!”

I squealed loudly in a high-pitched tone for what seemed like a minute or two. I sounded like the moms of American Idol contestants when they’ve heard that their children made it to the finals. It was long-awaited news that made my heart leap.

Four years earlier, Michael sensed the Lord guiding him to return to college with the goal of earning a degree that could be used to combine his previous computer skills with the medical diagnostics field. After being laid off from four different jobs and facing the disappointment of several business failures, he was elated to finally be reaping the harvest of the good things he had sown.

Michael had been in the Information Technology field for over two decades. But due to the IT field being over-saturated with new graduates and his lack of updated certifications, he hadn’t been able to get rehired in that field for many years. During the interim, we barely scraped by while I worked low-paying, part-time jobs to be a home-schooling mom and Michael earned a living by delivering pizza, working as a package courier, and so on until God opened the door to his dreams.

I’ll never forget the day in February of 2012 when Michael’s long-time dream to use his IT skills in the medical field came true. There isn’t a way to fully express what this job promotion meant to our family. After time and time again of thinking we had come to the right door of opportunity only to find out that it wasn’t yet our time, we took a sigh of relief when we realized our doorway to revel in joy had arrived. We had waited for decades to see God fulfill this desire and dream. This fulfilled desire pushed us closer to many other dreams we had.

Waiting makes it so much sweeter than it does to get our desires met instantaneously. I would relive every difficult trial one-thousand times over to experience the joy I found in Christ during all those years of waiting on Him to show us His perfect plan for our lives.

I remember when I was a little girl; there were movies that I had to wait a whole year to watch. We didn’t have DVDs or videos back then. So every year, I was excited beyond measure to watch Sound of Music or to watch Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer at Christmas time. It didn’t matter that I had to wait a very long time to see the shows and movies. The waiting made it blissful when the time arrived for me to see them again.

Waiting can be hard. We can begin doubting that good things are coming. But as followers of Christ, we are promised that all things work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28).

There is an old phrase I remember hearing, “Good things come to those who wait.” I love that saying, but I would add a few words to it…Good things come to those who are surrendered to Christ and waiting in faith.

Are you waiting for something that you know in your spirit is coming? Are you getting weary in the waiting?

As stated in Mark 9:23, Jesus, said, “Everything is possible for the one who believes.” We can rest in His words and know that as we are waiting and believing, His good plans will unfold.

It’s worth the wait for sure. It’s worth it because when you finally receive your blessing, you will have so much joy that you will feel as though you may burst with glee.

Hang on and trust Jesus in 2014. As you live fully surrendered to Christ and live according to His will, your time of blessing will come.

“And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.” Hebrews 6:15 (NIV)

“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14 (NIV)

“Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.” Isaiah 40:31 (NASB)

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

This post has been revised from a piece I wrote previously.

A Christmas Prayer

Winter

Father, I thank You for the gift of Christ. Thank You for sending Your son to save the world from darkness. Thank You for all that He gives us and how He enables us to live with an abundance of hope, joy, peace, and love. Let us take hold fully of the gift You have given us through Jesus Christ. Let us meditate on Your great love and celebrate our amazing Savior. Oh, how we love and adore You, our Redeemer. In Christ’s name, I pray. Amen.

Merry Christmas from my home to yours!

RESTING IN GOD’S PRESENCE

Rest in Christ

The rain was gently and slowly coming down. I could hear the pitter-patter on the roof over my head as I knelt down before the Lord. I was quiet and still. There was no sound around meonly the gentle, soothing sound of the raindrops. It reminded me of the softness of Christ’s Spirit, His soothing love, and gentleness.

I asked the Lord to pour out His Spirit all over me like rain. He did. A soft, gentle love came rushing over me. I was frozen in the moment. His Spirit was holding me tight. I knew He was there with me. Suddenly I knew the vastness of His being. I realized how small I am in his presence. I am nothing without Him. He is everything to me in this dark world.

Tears came over me as I thought about the many times I have bowed before Him with selfish motives. Many times I had made it about me. This was very different. It was all about Him, His power, and His strength. His love consumed me. I better understood what it means to die to myself.

In those moments, my needs were far from my thoughts. I was in the midst of the Famous One. I was in awe. I was overcome by Him. I wanted time to stop. I didn’t want to move. In His presence, I was speechless.

Lord, You are beautiful and holy and perfect. Thank You for Your never-ending love and grace. Let us rest in Your presence this Christmas season and always. I pray in Your name, Christ. Amen.

The Lord replied, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14 (NIV)

This post was originally written in 2009.

4 TIPS FOR KEEPING CHRIST THE FOCUS OF CHRISTMAS

Keeping Christ in Christmas

The very essence of Christ is peace, yet we often let the celebration of His birth be filled with stress and chaos. I remember a time many years ago in my twenties when I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off during the holidays and ended up with a pounding headache and so much stress that I barely enjoyed Christmas. That year, I began rethinking my priorities and started making big changes in the way I celebrated Christ’s birth. I put together a list of some ways to truly enjoy the holiday season.

Let Peace Rule the Holidays

To keep from getting swept away in the whirlwind of holiday festivities, we can first set our hearts and our minds on the real purpose of the season. We are celebrating the birth of our Saviorthe Lord of peace who gives us His peace at all times and in every way (2 Thessalonians 3:16). His peace can rule in our hearts and in our holidays as we pray daily and ask Him to fill us with His Spirit. In Luke 11:13, it says, “How much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” Simply asking Christ to be with us is all it takes to live and walk in His peace during the holidays and during all our days throughout the year.

Make a List of Priorities

If we make a list of what is most important for us as individuals and then stick to those things, we won’t fall into the trap of getting over-extended. For me personally, my priorities are maintaining a peaceful household, spending time with my family, and carrying on a few Christmas traditions like having an Advent calendar and decorating a gingerbread house.

Don’t Try to Keep Up With the Jones’

It can be so easy to compare ourselves to others and what they’re doing. Just because someone else has the greatest light display in the whole town, doesn’t mean we need to have one too. I actually love and enjoy those beautiful light displays. But I know that with having a full life as a mom, I don’t have time to place an award-winning light display on my home. For me, decorating for Christmas is low on my priority list. I used to spend hours and hours decorating my home. Now, I simply put up a Christmas tree and a few other simple decorations. Decorating in a simple way can be beautiful, yet saves us a great deal of time and energy. For simple decorating, I love the ChristWreath.

As followers of Christ, our identities are in Him, not in what we own or what we accomplish. If we are tempted to play the comparison game, we can pray for contentment, and God will grant us our desires, so that we can maintain our true priorities.

Keep the Gift-giving Simple

Giving at Christmas time represents who our Father in heaven is. He is the Giver and we want to carry out the nature of our heavenly Father. However, we don’t need to stress over it. Every year, I am tempted to worry. Thoughts will fill my mind as I begin shopping. Will I find the perfect gift for every family member? Through prayer, I resist those temptations of worry.

At the times when we don’t have the finances for gift-giving, we can give home-made gifts, write love letters to our loved ones, give our time and talents…on and on the list goes. There are countless ways we can give without stress. In our family, we have decided to minimize our giving to each other and give instead to people who are truly in need.

The Spirit of Christmas is with us always so we can spread our gift-giving throughout the year. This helps us to focus on the birthdays of our loved ones, rather than making Christmas the only time to give.

Do you have any tips for keeping Christ the focus of Christmas?

I pray that your holidays will be happy. May you have a peace-filled and stress-free Christmas season.

The photograph was taken in my neighbor’s yard after a beautiful snowfall several years ago.

THE ABUNDANT LIFE

John 10.10

During one of the hardest seasons of my life I learned the most about abundant living. My husband had been laid off from a good job, I was working tirelessly to make ends meet and life was very stressful. I wanted desperately for my circumstances to change.

While battling hardships and trials, I sought the Lord for the answers to my problems, and He diligently answered me. He led me to a Scripture in the Old Testament that jumped off the pages when I read it.

Deuteronomy 30:6 says, “The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love Him with all your heart, and with all your soul, and live.”

In these verses, I found the answer to what my heart longed to know. The word ‘circumcise’ is derived from a Latin word meaning, to cut. In the midst of excruciating trials, it felt like my heart was being circumcised. God was cutting away the things inside me that were hindering me from fully loving Him and fully living life. The process was, at times, excessively painful. But ultimately it led me to the abundance my soul was longing for.

Everyone wants to live abundantly. The Bible says that Jesus came to give us life, and to give it more abundantly (John 10:10). Yet how many people truly tap into the abundant life that Christ offers? Could it be the way we view our lives, or what we equate happiness with? For a season, I was seeking abundance in the wrong places, which led to more disappointment.

In God’s infinite grace, He took me through a season of testing because He wanted to lead me to the true source of abundance.

Are you in the midst of being pulled and stretched? Do you feel as though life is caving in around you?

To be rebuilt, a house needs to be torn down first. It can be an excruciating process. Do not lose heart. God is building a beautiful house out of your life. He uses every loss and every struggle for our good. Nothing He allows in our lives is in vain. He uses it all.

The things in my past, that were the hardest to endure, are what led me to the abundant life in Christ—a life of genuine joy and peace—that is not determined by things or circumstances.

Through the hardships, God gave me a new heart—a heart that rejoices because of His love.

It really is pure joy for a child of God to face trials because we know that no matter what is happening, Jesus is walking along beside us, carrying us, allowing us to bask in His great love at all times and in all circumstances.

Jesus is everything—when we know this, then we know that any other good thing we have in life is only the icing on the cake.

Lord, I thank You for the abundance of joy and peace that You give to us. Help us to look to You as our only source. Let us be content in all circumstances and know You are all we really need to live abundantly. I pray in Your name, Christ. Amen.

“You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:5 (NASB)