Thursday, December 20, 2012

Plans to prosper you...

I was given a verse this week by one of my dear friends who is currently a neighbor but who will no longer be a neighbor once we find someplace else to live. 

"For I know the plans I have for you" declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:11-13

What a wonderful verse to hold on to in this time in our lives and in the scheme of recent events.  God has plans to prosper us, not to harm us.  He has plans to give us hope and a future.  All we need to to is seek him with all our hearts. 

As we walk through this valley, I find myself seeking Him more and more.  Perhaps that is one reason for us to go through this upheaval.  In the midst of the busyness that is Christmas, I am keeping my mind and heart more firmly focused on Him because I realize I cannot do it without Him.

What a blessing to have a Heavenly Father to lean on.

In His Grace...

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Recent Tragedy

As a mom to a little man that will be attending Kindergarten next year, last weeks school shooting took a special place in my heart.  I have felt moved to pray for the moms of the children that were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newport Connecticut. 

This evening as we read our advent devotional it touched on something similar back in the first few years after Jesus was born. 

"When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious and gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.  Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more."  Matthew 2:16-18

In Jesus' time, in the town of Bethlehem, all the boys 2 years old and younger were killed.  I cannot even fathom this kind of atrocity.  "Why hollow-souled tyrants (or young men) must kill innocents to satisfy their need for power, wealth or influence will always remain a fathomless mystery to most of us.  Yet somehow God can turn even the greatest of human rights offenses for His good" writes Dan Belt in our Hope Arriving Advent Devotional. 

We cannot understand, and at this time, we cannot fathom how God can  use something like the shooting last week for good, but I do know that " all things, God works for the good of those who love Him..." Romans 8:28.

Join me in praying for the families affected in the atrocity last week.

In His Grace...

Monday, December 17, 2012

God With Us

"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel."

This is today's advent scripture in our Hope Arriving Advent Devotional by Dan Wilt.  Again, the perfect message at the perfect time. 

We are still looking for a house and will need to be out of ours by January 18th.  In the hustle and bustle of this season, we have added a whole extra dimension - that of panic and slight desperation.  When can we pack?  When do you search for a place to live with your 4 year old out of preschool for winter break?  When do you go house hunting with tickets to the Nutcracker and plans to visit Zoolights?  How can you be everywhere all at the same time? 

Answer: obviously you can't.  Something has to give.  But with all of that, it is easy to lose focus on the one thing that is most important.  God with us...Immanuel...the name Immanuel means God with us. 

In our devotional, it says "What is holding you back from seeing God as with you this Advent season?  A circumstance?  A worry?  A fear?  A loss?....Lay each hurdle at the feet of the God who steps in, comes close, and gets His hands dirty."  I can lay claim to each of these things:  A circumstance - losing our home; A worry - how can we find a place to live; A fear - what if we don't find a place to live; A loss - we are losing our home (I am still struggling with this one). 
I can identify with each one - but as it says, I need to lay each of these things at God's feet and he will take care of it. 

Thankfully, he is "God with me".

In His Grace...

Friday, December 14, 2012

Being Overcomers (Part II)

Also taken from my earlier posts, another great reminder to continue to seek God through this trial.  I will overcome "through Christ in me".

"I have overcome the world..." John 16:33

"...and the gates of Hades will not overcome it..." Matthew 16:18

"...but the Lamb will overcome them..." Revelation 17:14

"He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son (daughter)" Revelation 21:7

How amazing that when we got to church on Sunday, one of the things that kept coming up again and again during our Pastor's sermon was to overcome.  As I mentioned in the previous Overcome post, this topic keeps coming up in my life.  And I have prayed about what it is that God is wanting me to learn.  The only thing I keep coming back to is that He wants me to understand that we can and will overcome. 

Whatever it is that you are struggling with right now - whatever sadness, whatever illness, whatever difficulty, whatever trial, whatever sin - you can and will overcome through "Christ in you" Colossians 1:27.  He lives in you when you ask him into your heart.  And even though it may not feel like it right now, as you keep looking to Him through the tough times, He will lead you to overcome any difficulty you might face here on earth.  He is preparing a home for you in heaven and you are His beloved child.

I pray you know this truth...

In His Grace...

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Being Overcomers

I am currently overwhelmed by things I would like to get done before Christmas and the search for a place to live.  I was re-reading some of my past posts and this one stood out.  It is from June 1st and it is a great reminder of who I am in Christ and the fact that I will overcome this challenge as well.

I am not sure why but lately I just keep hearing/seeing the word overcome.  In songs on the Christian radio station I listen to, in the Bible as I read through God's word. It seems to be a very important concept but one which I did not think much of previously.

I have struggled with many things since becoming a Christian - depression, fear, anxiety.  And with God's help, I have overcome.  I think this is why the term has come to mean something to me.  Following Christ has enabled me to overcome things that for a time were disabling.  I had allowed depression to overcome me, to keep me from reaching out to others, to stop me from leading a full life in Christ. 

I had allowed fear to freeze me in my tracks and prevent me from fulfilling God's dream for my life.

I had allowed anxiety to prevent me from following God's leading in my life.

But I know that "God did not give us the spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline" 2 Tim 1:7.  And so each time I encounter these things that threaten my relationship with Jesus, I try to remember to look to the Lord and have verses memorized that relate to each.  Obviously, I look to the verse in Timothy to assist when I am fearful. 

I look to a verse in Phillippians to assist when I am anxious "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" Phil 4:6-7.  This has been a favorite of mine for quite a few years.  I think it was the second verse I ever memorized after giving my life to the Lord. 

And the Psalms that David wrote are particularly helpful whenever I feel that I am falling into the hole of depression "I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.  Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame" Psalm 34:4-5.  There are numerous Psalms that encourage me and lead me toward Jesus instead of into the darkness and self-centeredness that is depression. 

I pray that one of these verses might be a help to someone reading this.

In His Grace...

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Trusting God

Ironic isn't it, how we can pick up something to read, thinking that we are picking it up of our own volition...but realizing, as we read, that it was no coincidence that we picked this particular thing at this particular time in our lives?

So it would be for me as we continue reading our advent devotional by Dan Wilt.  Today, "In God We Trust"...again, a message that feels as if it was written just for me, right now.

"...He will swallow up death forever.  The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; He will remove His people's disgrace from all the earth.  The LORD has spoken.  In that day they will surely say, 'Surely this is our God; we trusted in Him; let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation."  Isaiah 25:8-9.

As we continue in this advent season, giving thanks for the coming celebration of the birth of Christ, I feel as though God has personally reminded me to trust in Him.  Trust in Him and lean on Him. 

He knows that is is hard for us to trust in Him.

He knows what is happening in my life right now. 

He sends his reassurance through Scripture. 

All I have to do is open my heart to it.

In His Grace...

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


As I mentioned previously, we are reading an advent devotional every day as a family.  We are hoping it will help us to teach our little man the true meaning of Christmas and it is also helping us learn the true meaning of advent. 

As we read the devotion on Sunday, it was speaking of "shalom" which in Hebrew is the word for peace.  I was, of course, reading aloud to my family as I read about God's peace. 

The tears started to stream.  I am feeling anything but peace right now. 

The hustle and bustle of getting ready for Christmas. 

The search for a home.

Even the idea of packing up all our belongings (I haven't started yet).

It hasn't felt peaceful.  I feel an inner turmoil that I try to give to God...and then I snatch it right back as I dive into the next item on my list.

I couldn't finish reading the devotion - my husband had to take over for me.  "Allow the peace, the shalom of Christ to rule and reign in your own heart this Advent season.  Know that God's intent is to make you whole in every area, inside and out, until the day He renews all things and establishes justice on the earth." Hope Arriving by Dan Wilt

I pray that I can find the shalom of Christ in the days ahead.

In His Grace...

Friday, December 7, 2012


We will most likely need to be out of our house by January 18th. 

I thought I was okay with all of it. I thought I was doing pretty well at trusting God - following His will for us.

When a date so soon was announced, I found that I am not okay with it.  I am saddened by the idea of leaving our house.  I am frustrated by needing to try to find a place to live during the Christmas season (a place that will take 3 people, 3 cats and a dog).  I am overwhelmed by all that I need to get done in the next couple of weeks.

My sister stayed for dinner tonight.  Prior to going home, she prayed with me.  I hope I can keep part of what she prayed at the front of my mind. 

I cannot (must not) let this steal away the joy that is Christmas. 

The joy of the birth of our Savior. 

The joy of remembering the amazing gift that is Jesus...the true reason for this wondrous season.

God loves me and wants what is best for me and my family.

I am trusting in Him.

In His Grace...

Thursday, December 6, 2012

O Come All Ye Faithful

Instead of singing the usual lullabies to my little man during our cuddle time before bed, I have started signing him Christmas carols.  Of course I try to choose ones that will have a calming affect, not "Deck the Halls" or "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer".  Tonight I sang "O Come All Ye Faithful" and I really paid attention to the words.

"O Come, all ye faithful,
Joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem.
Come and behold HIM,
Born the King of angels!
O come, let us adore HIM,
O come, let us adore HIM,
O come, let us adore HIM,
Christ the Lord.

Sing, choirs of angels,
Sing in exultation,
Sing, all ye citizens of heaven above;
Glory to God
In the Highest.
O come, let us adore HIM,
O come, let us adore HIM,
O come, let us adore HIM,
Christ the Lord."

'Tis the season to adore HIM.  I want so much to teach my little man to adore HIM. 

Thank you Lord for the opportunity to adore You and to teach my son to adore You.  Thank you for the gift of your Son and His amazing, saving love.

In His Grace...

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Putting Christ in Christmas

I want so much for my little man to know the true meaning of Christmas.  I know it can be a difficult thing to teach to a four year old in our commercial, materialistic society. 

He already knows he will get presents.  He loves to help choose the Christmas tree and then come home to decorate it.  He is looking forward to helping me bake cookies and make caramels.  We will be taking him to see the Nutcracker Ballet for the first time this year.  We play Christmas music whenever we have music going.  He chose an advent calendar at Trader Joe's (as he has for the last couple of years). 

These are all special activities that we reserve for this season alone.  But none of them help him to know the true meaning of Christmas. 

Our church has provided us with at least one tool to help.  They gave out advent devotionals this year.  At the beginning of Advent, December 1st, instead of just letting our little man open that day on his advent calendar, we read from the devotional as a family beforehand. 

Truthfully, I don't know how much our little man is absorbing of what we read.  But I like the idea that we are teaching him the meaning behind having an advent calendar - and that it isn't just a count-down to when he will get to open his presents. 

"For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
Isaiah 9:6
In His Grace...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

It's challenging to feed a four year old

My four year old was, at one time, a terrific eater.  He didn't ever like baby food (the pureed kind or cereal kind) so we just cut what we were eating into very small pieces and that was what he ate.  He ate all sorts of things - zucchini, peas, green beans, cauliflower, carrots, pears, apples, plums, strawberries, pasta, rice, bread, chicken, beef, lamb - whatever we ate, he ate.

Then he turned two.  And the eating came to a sudden halt.  Of course he still eats, just a very small selection of what he used to eat.  He somehow knows that a fruit is a fruit or a vegetable is a vegetable even if he has never seen it before or heard what it is called.  He can spot the tiniest piece of vegetable mixed into his food.  And he has a stubborn streak a mile wide (unfortunately he got it from me). 

We can have the same fight I had with my father - I sat at the table not eating the fried green tomato on my plate until he sent me to bed.  Fortunately it did not show up on my breakfast plate in the morning or the stand-off would have continued.  Or I can do as it seems the current thought is - not worry about it.  He'll start eating it when he's ready. 

While I understand not making food an issue (I must pick my battles), it also seems like by not forcing the issue we are giving him alot of control.  Control that he might not be ready to handle at the ripe old age of four. 

It also seems somewhat unbiblical.  After all, the Bible does say "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right." Ephesians 6:1  By giving him control over this relatively small issue, are we giving him the impression that he doesn't really need to obey us in everything?  I have recently come to the conclusion that I think we are. 

I am unsure of the solution, but I will be praying about it and seeking the Lord's help.  After all, God does want what is best for our little man.  He wants to build his character even if it means he won't be quite as comfortable, just as He does for us.

In His Grace...