Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Unlikely Places?

In route to West Virginia I made two stops in Pennsylvania.
The first was to see the new abode of a wonderful couple that made the move from Connecticut  this past year.
Besides seeing their home, which is lovely (I don't know how it could be better!), it was so very good to see both of them up close and personal! 
It especially did my heart good to see the mister of this couple looking so well after the scare he gave all of us not that many months ago!

After one more hour's travel I arrived at the friend's house where I would be spending the night. 
It is much more pleasant to dot one's trip with friendly visits and less travel, so I now make the trip to my eldest son's home in two days instead of one.

My hostess has been a close friend for thirty-eight years.  In that time we have weathered much that life has to offer and have had many conversations as to how it all relates to Papa.  At times it seems that she is able to hear and understand more clearly than at others, but upon our next visit she will have reverted back to the mixed-bag of teachings she has carried for so many years.
That bag includes having been raised by a woman who was a psychic of sorts and then as an adult getting heavily involved in metaphysics herself.

In seeking to have a explanation that one can wrap our brains around, we often have to resort to shrinking God down to a manageable size.
That is what my friend has done.

Yet, as the years pass, she seems to want to hear more and more from me.  She is now eighty years old.

Last night she was sharing her struggles with depression and anxiety.  Her beliefs tell her that she should be able to take control of these feelings by herself.
The idea obviously brought her distress.
She was also lamenting over many concerns she has for herself, her family and the world.

Through our conversation I spoke of Papa and His promise of peace.  As I spoke light came to her face and joy came to my heart!

How we all need the Good News of God's great love and the sacrifice that was motivated by that love!

This morning after a lengthy breakfast I reluctantly said goodbye to my friend.  I wanted to stay to take part in bringing more light to her heart and life!
Once settled in my car and traveling down the road I turned on my radio and hit search hoping to find a worship station.  (Much easier in this neck of the woods!)
Shortly after settling upon an agreeable station a song began whose words caused my heart to rejoice.
It spoke of the joy of knowing and sharing the news of salvation.  Part of the chorus goes like this...
"That sweet, sweet story of salvation!"
Oh yes, such a sweet story!  One that first brought joy and peace to my own heart and continues to do so over and over.  The joy of sharing this sweet, sweet salvation stirs up the joy afresh every time!

On the first leg of my trip on Monday morning Papa and I had carried on a long conversation.
I have been tired and not feeling myself for quite a while.
Even though His joy and peace have been present, it has been muted.
I have not felt as animated, as I was my norm, these days.

We hashed out many details and covered many subjects until it seemed that we had exhausted every topic that needed our attention.
It felt good, but I still felt subdued.
After speaking with my friend and one very deep, sweet night's sleep I awoke feeling more refreshed than I had in a long time.
Then Papa and I had a sweet time together, which always bodes well for the rest of my day!

I carry my copy of World magazine with me and read an article or two whenever the opportunity arises.  an opportunity presented itself and I had enough time to read a commentary by Janie B Cheaney entitled The God without Pride.  The subject of the article was the role that pride plays in our lives versus how God lacks any pride, as He is not in need of it.
I highly recommend it and would encourage all to go to WORLDmag.com and look for the latest issue dated December thirty-first.
Ms. Cheaney explored what pride looks like in her life and how deceptive it is.
The thought came to me that the cloak of pride that I often wear is held on by the clasp of pride.

As I drove down the road these thoughts returned to me and I explored them move fully with my Papa.  Confessing the layers of pride He helped me to realize were, indeed, there seemed to stir a new vitality in my soul. 
As those layers fell at my feet, by His grace, I felt unbound and more alive once again!

With that another song began to play. 
One I had never heard before.
It was a song from Papa and one line that was repeated over and over was..
"You're my little girl."
Such sweet words to my ears!!

The Almighty One...
The Lover of my soul...
My Papa..
Is found in what might seem like unlikely places.

Driving along the highway...
In the home of a student of metaphysics...
Speaking through the pages of a magazine...

Heaven would seem an unlikely place to be able to confidently call home...
Home for eternity...
But the God who is willing to reveal Himself wherever we are..
To speak to our hearts in whatever condition they may be...
And then make Himself known through us..
Assures us that it is not only very likely, but a certainty that He wants us to make our home with Him for eternity.

Oh that my dear friend would truly receive that Good News for herself!!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Never-Ending Story!

Here I sit in the midst of the story Papa is weaving of my life.
It is quiet, at the moment.

Our Christmas celebration is so different these days.
Everyone is an adult, which means they have other places to visit along with their momma's.
This means I must share them.

In about two hours the quiet will be invaded by three very masculine voices. 
Mindy and I will attempt to hold our own.

There will be much laughter.
These men of ours are very quick witted. 
So is the lovely Mindy.
The guys take after their father.

An unlikely scene keeps coming to mind over the past few days.
I would have shared it yesterday, but it refused to come back to the surface until now.

I am sitting in science class.
It is my high school freshman year.
The teacher has just thrown a topic of thought out and waits for our responses.

"What if you are simply the figment of some one's imagination?  What if you do not truly exist beyond the confines of their mind?  What if you really have no control over your life, but it is all dependent upon the whim of the one who has thought you up?"
My response was not expressed out loud, as I was extremely timid back then.

Even at that age, though life was not an easy thing for me, I knew in my heart that there was much more to life than the teacher's theoretical offering implied.

I guess this experience came to mind because I have been thinking about the topic of story and storytellers.

Life is not some tidy story.  It can be very messy, but also so very gloriously beautiful.

Take the birth of a child.
It is a messy affair, but very often so beautiful and so satisfying!
As a mother, I know that first cry causes one's heart to leap with joy!

I am sure that Mary's heart responded, as well, with joy when her Newborn gave His first lusty cry!

Were we to have heard that particular cry from that particular Babe, it is certain that our hearts would have involuntarily responded with joy, without even grasping the implications of that cry.

That cry not only confirmed the life of that Infant, but it signaled the life that Infant brought for all mankind. 

What a lovely story!
Not tidy, not easy, but vibrant.
One that does not have an ending...
For it is for eternity...
And it is free to all who would believe and receive!

No, Papa is not some puppeteer nor has He simply thought us up for His entertainment.  He is weaving an incredible story, but we choose whether we only have a bit part or jump in and embrace the role He designed just for us. 
Contrary to the one who would call all the shots, our God has given us the gift of freewill.
The wisest and best thing we can do with that gift is turn it over to Him.

No matter where this adventure takes us, when we trust in Him, we are secure.
I love Psalm One Hundred and Thirty-nine and would encourage everyone to read and meditate on it.  I will share the fifth and sixth verses,
"You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is too high, I cannot attain to it."

It is too much to wrap my brain around, but little by little Papa does reveal more and more to me.  The story, His story unfolds one day at a time and it is lovely!

One of my boys and my favorite stories is The Never-ending Story.
It is a fantasy, which means it is not real.
The gist of the story is that we can recreate a story that is dieing so that it goes on and on.  It is a story that inspires hope.

The story that Papa is weaving is truly a never-ending one. 
The only of its kind!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Storyteller

On December twenty-sixth I will climb into my car and point it in the direction of West Virginia, as I have done for, at least, twelve years now.
Making this eight hour trip alone is made much more pleasant by the company of a book or two on compact disc.
Over the years I have listened to quite a few offerings.  The readers are generally good, if not excellent and their voices usually lend themselves to the stories.

Occasionally the reader is the author him or herself.
They definitely enrich the stories, as they are the weavers of the tales and have the greatest emotional investment in them and they know the characters intimately.

Whether a story is listened to or read it is important to listen for the writer's voice.

Writer Jill Carattini wrote the commentary for Slice of Infinity on Friday.  Her topic was Telling Stories.
She related the story of a woman, Mrs. Boreham, who had been given an unplanned tour of Canterbury Cathedral.  Her cousin, who was to meet her for the adventure of exploring the place, did not appear and as Mrs. Boreham was about to leave in disappointment a gentleman emerged with the offer of a personal tour.
"I am deeply attached to the place," the man said, "and happen to know something of its story."
She decided that for whatever it was worth, she would accept the offer.

Mrs. Boreham found that
"Concerning every pillar and arch, every cranny and crevice, my eloquent guide had some thrilling tale to tell." 
At the end of the tour and before parting she and the gentleman exchanged cards.  With his shoved into her pocket she headed home.  A bit later she pulled the card out and read the man's name.
Charles Dickens. 
A master storyteller!

Jill continued her comments about the influence of story in our lives.  She mentioned that there is, of course, a storyteller behind each story.

We are in the midst of a story ourselves and our stories influence one another, but there is One who is weaving His grand story, picking up the threads of each one's life to make it part of His beautiful plan.

Yes, that Storyteller is in our midst.
We need to pause and listen for His voice.
When we hear His voice...
When He speaks to us...
It is to draw us in and make His story our own.

Having had the privilege of studying the Bible for over thirty years I have learned to recognize the threads of His story that is woven through its pages.
There is one that is referred to by the Open Bible edition as the Scarlet Thread of Redemption.

This thread begins in Genesis with the promise of One who would crush Satan's head.  It  follows through with verses and passages that point to the promised Messiah (Savior).
He will be born in Bethlehem, according to Micah.
Daniel tells us the when of His birth.
Isaiah's prophetic words promise He will be born of a virgin.
There are descriptions of events such as His flight as a child to Egypt (Hosea) and the coming of the forerunner, John the Baptist (Isaiah).

That is just a taste of what the Old Testament holds and doesn't even touch on all the prophecies of the Savior's life on the earth and His death and His coming reign.

Imagine! this Master Storyteller is the Creator God, the Almighty One and He has invited each one of us to take part in His story.  He invites us into His confidence and to join Him in His glorious plan!

I am certain that I am not alone when I say that there are many hurting, struggling people that I cross paths with each day.
Sometimes I just have to look in the mirror.

As I address that reflection or the precious ones around me, I do so with great confidence.

He is weaving the story and it has a happy ending.
He is always at work whether we see His Hand or not.  I, for one, have seen the evidence too many times to doubt.

This morning I read the third verse of the Third chapter of Colossians,
"For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God."
The words gave me such a sense of comfort.
Hidden with Christ.
Just like a treasure is hidden to be kept safe.

Yes, I have died..
To self...
To trying to make it all right myself..
To trying to be in control...
To all the lies that I believed for so many years...
Sometimes I just need a reminder.

This is my Christmas gift to each one of you dear readers.

If you know Jesus, as Savior, then savor the security.
Rejoice in the gift.

If you are on the outside looking in...
My precious one-
Join us!

On that Holy night when the angels came to announce the Good News to those regular guys tending those ordinary sheep, they came to proclaim
"Peace on earth, good will to all men."
That peace and good will is from God to us.
He gave the ultimate gift so we could have peace and good will with Him.

Do not let the temporary stuff deceive you.
If we learn His story we will then learn to recognize His story being woven through our very lives.

Let me close by joining Mary, Jesus' mother, as the realization sank in that God was drawing her into His story.
"My soul exalts the LORD, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!"

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


It feels like ages since I have had the time to sit down and compose my thoughts here.
I was surprised to see that only three days had passed since my last posting.

Yes, only three days, but three days packed full enough for twice that number!
What filled much of those days involved preparing for last night....

My precious friends from the rehab came to my church for dinner!
Papa intended it to be extra-special and that each one of our guests would receive the message of how valued they are to Him and His family.

I was not the only one who realized His heart for these dear people...

Many were preparing for this evening...
Ovens were turned on...
Cookies were baked..
As well as all the veggies that would accompany the roast beef...
Roast beef, as per Papa, which my butcher roasted, sliced and set nicely in trays with gravy, all at cost!
Gifts were wrapped..
Paper goods and all the other miscellaneous items were purchased...
Instruments were tuned...
A short message was prayerfully written...
Drivers got ready to help shuttle my friends to and from the dinner...

Earlier in the day two dear friends joined me in setting up for the party.  Thankfully much was already in place from previous events.  Thank You, Papa!!

When I arrived in the late afternoon to get ovens going and the like I found that others had beat me there!
For the next hour and a half one-by-one the ranks filled.
Men in white shirts and black pants, donning red bow ties, joined by a few women to serve our guests...
Ladies in aprons scurring around the kitchen, making certain that nothing ran low and all was served warm food...
Faithful photographer, Rob with camera in hand capturing the memories in the making...
Dennis sharing from his heart, which Papa used to touch many hearts...
A live band that rounded out the evening...
Way to go Redeemed!!
And later that night, my pastor with his sleeves rolled up at the sink, washing pans!

The precious ones whom we were serving were amazed by everything.
Many asked,
"You all did this just for us?"
"Yes, just for each one of you!"
Oh that they would realize that Jesus did so much more for each one of them!  He went to the Cross with them in mind.  As it has been said, He would have done this if there was just one of us.
Such love.
It is my hope and prayer that His love is what they experienced!

One day last week I read sometthing that got my attention and I made a note in my journal.
I usually jot down the source of my inspiration, but not this time. 
Thus I cannot give credit to the deserving soul.
What I wrote was,
"God declares mine!"
I do remember that the thought behind it is that the Almighty, Creator God looks upon all His creation and declares that it is His.  Papa expanded the thought for me from there.

He looks at each one of us and claims ownership.
Not as a possession, but as one created with love in His image by His own hand. 
Someone He treasures and with whom He desires a relationship.

As I was preparing for last night, this thought kept coming to mind.  I pictured Papa looking with great fondness on every individual.

All that were in attendance, both the servers and the recipients are viewed with immense love by Papa.
There wasn't one person that He disregarded or overlooked.
Not one who He deemed unloveable.
No matter what they had done or would do.

Dennis' message touched on that last night.
Praise God!

The verse that spoke to my hurting heart so many years ago and caused me to see my Savior comes to mind now.
"Come to me, all who are weary and heavyladen and I will give you rest."
He longs to take each one in His arms.

Isn't amazing that the One who made all that exists anywhere, is particularly interested in us?
May each one of us realize what Brennan Manning's elderly uncle knew,
"Papa is especially fond of me!"
After all we are His!!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Tidy no more

My sanctuary has been commandered by the season!
The glow that held such a sweet, serene invitation has now been cast over a chaotic scene.  Bags and boxes with ribbons scattered amongst them have been residing in piles throughout the room. 
Not very appealing.

The treasured, formerly tidy, desk was lost amidst receipts and scrapes of paper.
Lists upon lists.
Even my laptop's desktop has its version of sticky notes in great number.


I have spent the past couple of hours trying to regain some modicum of order.

All the gifts for my rehab friends are now in their gift bags.
Receipts have been duly noted in the appropriate Excel program.
Next will be to sort through all the miscellaneous papers, as well as finalizing the list for what needs to be accomplished on Monday.

The dinner for my friends is shaping up. 
By God's grace.
He knows that I am not a detail person, so He makes certain that the necessary reminders come my way.  Sometimes they are not so much reminders, but informers.  Informing me of what hadn't even occurred to me!

Papa has also surrounded me with wonderful people who willingly step up to fill the many roles that need filling.

This is one of the great blessings of being about His business, in His time and in His way.

The dinner is not something that we thought up just to be nice.
No, it is a God thing.  It is His idea and when something is His idea you know that He will make sure that it is accomplished.
I believe all of Heaven is lending itself to making sure this dinner is a great blessing for each and every guest.
And not only the guests, but all who take part in anyway.

Yes, I know that the blessings of joining Papa in whatever He is doing far outweigh anything anyone could put into serving Him.

Doing anything for Him, as if it were directly to Him, gives great blessing in itself.
In Matthew Twenty-Five Jesus said that what we do to even the least, we are, in essence, doing to Him.
Isn't that wonderful?!

It is my hope that one day, when I see Him face-to-face, I will hear Him say:
"Well done, good and faithful servant....enter into the joy of your master."
For that I will live with the clutter and chaos a little longer!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Divine Intimacy

The pictures that Papa draws for me are captivating.  They often translate into a posting to this blog.

On Wednesday mornings a number of us gather to pray for the ministry of ACTS4.
Our thoughts this morning were exploring the depths of Papa's love for us, which translated into praise.
The words were flowing out of hearts of gratitude.

While we were lost in the wonder of His Loving Presence it was as if He unfurled a banner that filled my mind and quickly enveloped my heart and senses.

The picture was of the Father and Son interacting.
One glance between them spoke volumes.
There was a sense of how deeply and fully they understood one another; of how completely they loved one another.
Their relationship is one of total intimacy and love.
The Spirit wove their hearts together.

They filled my vision.
My heart was full.
The fragrance of their love filled the air.
Joy inhabited the silence.
I had a sense of connection, as if I could touch them.

In an instance I saw how Jesus could willingly leave the glory of Heaven to do His Father's bidding here on earth.  It was both the Father's and the Son's desire that flowed through the Spirit from their intimate union.

The scene stirred up a great desire to enjoy such a relationship with my God and Savior.
That is His desire too.
It is why He came.  To bridge the gap and make the way for us back to our God.  In Romans chapter Five, Paul puts it this way,
"For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.  And not only this, but we also exult in God through our LORD Jesus Christ, through whom we have now receive the reconciliation."
In the Seventeenth chapter of John we read Jesus words, as He prayed to the Father,
"And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent."
The Almighty God wants us to know Him.  Really know Him.  Intimately.

This evening my friend, Laura called to tell me to turn on my radio.  A woman author was speaking and my friend thought I would benefit from her words.

I did not learn the woman's name nor the exact title of her book, but her words were for me.
They were the follow-up for what Papa revealed to me earlier today.

How easy it is to be moved and then the world comes rushing in, pushing aside that which is of infinitely greater value!

Someone had challenged the writer to make a list of a thousand things she could be grateful for instead of focusing on the long list of all that she needed to do for the holidays.
She did and as the list grew she realized how greatly she was blessed.

A comment she made during the radio interview spoke to me.  Actually it was Papa telling me to pay attention and follow through on what He stirred up this morning.

The speaker said that all that comes our way, creation, relationships, struggles, blessings, they are all intended to enhance our relationship with Papa.  In other words, deepen the intimacy of our relationship.
He desires us to be satisfied in Him alone.
Yet we, like the couple in the garden of Eden, seek something else to satisfy us.
Nothing ever does. 
Not really.
Certainly not for long.

I get brief glimpses of this divine intimacy.
It is not Papa who holds back, but it is me who flits off in pursuit of something that will never satisfy.
Only He can fill that longing to know and be known.

Oh Papa to know You so well that there would be no hesitation to do your bidding, but an eager obedience out of a desire to please my Beloved.

I long to join my voice and heart with the Shulamite in Song of Songs....
"I am my Beloved's and my Beloved is mine."

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


A couple of years ago Papa gave me a message to share on the topic of joy.
More specifically it had to do with the joy we are suppose to experience at this time of year.

Papa has been bringing up the subject again.

This year the season seems to be such a jumble for me.
My usual routine is nowhere to be found.

It had been my practice, for many a year, to have finished the majority of my Christmas shopping by Thanksgiving.
Not this year.
The list is smaller these days, but somehow not as easy to get through...

By now I should be baking a few cookies with Christmas music playing in the background....

Instead change is in the air....

Matt and Mindy are moving which means that Ray and I will officially be empty-nesters.
The thought leaves me unsettled.
Don't get me wrong, I do believe it is time for the two couples to live independently, but change can be unsettling, even when you know it is the right thing.

I have been working on the two of us being independent, but it only works so far.
We will just have to take things as they come.
And we will have two of our sons nearby to lend a hand.

So back to the subject of joy.

It cannot be dependent upon externals.
Papa designed it to be a constant, no matter the circumstances.

I think to get it we must first understand what joy is and what it isn't.

My thesaurus offers these words for joy:
Delight, happiness, pleasure, enjoyment, bliss, ecstasy, elation, joyfulness, thrill and wonder.

Some of the feelings described are transient at best on the human level.

I have been experiencing sleeplessness for a number of days.  Sleep deprivation makes it difficult to delight (or any of those other words) in much of anything.  It really casts a dark shadow over most things.

Let's see what Papa has to say about the subject.
Joy is described as a result of knowing Him and of being in His Presence. 
" O come let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation.  Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms."
It is a mark of those who are His.

We are encouraged by Jesus example who was motivated by joy to endure the cross according to Hebrews.
The joy of redeeming us.

Joy is not something that is manufactured.
No, it is the outflow of knowing the truth.

No matter the ups and downs of this life, I know that they are all temporary.
A day is coming when nothing will be a jumble, nor unsettling.

I think it is all summed up in Isaiah Fifty-One, verse eleven.
"So the ransomed of the LORD will return, and come with joyful shouting to Zion; and everlasting joy will be on their heads.  They will obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing will flee away."
That is enough to stir joy in my heart right now!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Need for Rest

At some point in time I heard or read a comment made by someone that I respected.  I have no idea who it was anymore, but their words have resurfaced.

The past few days have been packed-full.
The social scene has been a busy place for this lady.

I am sure that I have shared the fact here that I do not wear well.
Generally, I try to space out all the socializing, but it is that time of year.

Certainly, I couldn't miss the book club's Christmas celebration, nor my church's ladies' Christmas tea.
Unfortunately they were back to back with our annual Christmas party on their heels.

Needless to say, I am spent.

I tried to sleep in yesterday morning, but to no avail. 
Each morning my brain drifts into consciousness about the same time, sans an alarm clock.
My body is accustomed to rising at that point.
No matter what day of the week it is; no matter how much more sleep I could use.

This morning was the day that found all of me succumbing to the need for more sleep.
Thus I slept in today.

I had planned to take it easy this morning and stay home from church.
Good thing because it would have been a mad dash to make it for even part of the service!

As I thought about this, the quote came to mind.
"Sometimes the most spiritual thing we can do is sleep."
Scripture has many references to rest and sleep and encourages us to rest in the LORD.
One that seems to back up the above quote is found in Psalm One Hundred Twenty-Seven, the second verse:
"It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep."
The second half of that verse is so very sweet.  How lovely a picture it draws of our Papa tending to us while we sleep!
This reminds me of a parent lovingly looking in on their sleeping child.
Every caring parent desires their children to get proper rest.
Every child who knows they are loved can rest in that love.

For me true rest flows from time with Him, knowing Him and confident in the One I know in part, but Who knows me in full.

My Bible study group is still in the midst of the study on prayer.
Papa has been augmenting the material for me with a few extras.

David Jeremiah's devotional thoughts, a few days ago, revolved around James One, verses nineteen and twenty.  He focused on the part that says,
"Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak...."
His thoughts were on the importance of really listening to others.
In my journal I wrote,
"Listen with intention."
To not only each other, but to our God.

He pays attention to our words and understands their meaning.
Papa desires for us to listen closely to what He has to say to us too.
When we really listen, we please Him and bless His Heart.
And it will bless us too!

Today I spent some time in the First book of Kings, the Eighth chapter, verses twenty-two through fifty-three.  Solomon had finished building the Temple and this passage is his prayer of dedication to the LORD.

Throughout the prayer words such as; pray, call, supplication, heed, and cry are found.
Papa caused me to reflect on the intent of those words.

They are deliberate actions; they reflect hearts that are focused on God.
Not only speaking and crying out to Him, but eagerly listening for His voice and watching for His Hand.

When we make this our practice, then we can rest in confidence that He is with us and watching over us with care.
Whether we are sleeping or not.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tis the Season...

...to be in a time crunch.

How many times have I reached this time of year and felt this way??
More than I care to count.

The list is a mere shadow of its former self.
Gift giving is much more manageable now.
I have learned to keep it much simpler.

So what is with the crunch?

I have been wondering that myself.
I could say I'm not as young as I use to be, which is true, but not really the cause of this malaise I find myself experiencing.

As I explore below the surface I realize it must relate to more externals than anything within me.

There are too many good things to do.

A few of the offerings from this past weekend:

The Advent Breakfast that has become an annual event for Mindy and me.   A good friend who hasn't fell in love with Jesus yet also looks forward to joining me for this Season kickoff.
That is one morning that is no longer optional for me.

A worship experience on Saturday night.
My heart said yes, my body laid down.

Two friends were in a concert on Sunday.
I would have loved to attend, but I don't wear well. 
After a lovely, moving church service I was ready to put my feet up and do the crossword puzzle.

Throw a few things that needed doing around the house.
Saturday afternoon was slated for the second coat of paint of the kitchen trim.  It had to be done.
The party is next week.

Each year Ray and I throw a Christmas party.
We look forward to having many of our dear friends under our roof at the same time.
It is a grand time without too much effort on our part.

Okay, I have to come up with some game ideas.
I do not know how I will top last year's "Santa and his eight (not so) tiny reindeer."  The sight of our friends singing Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer while wearing on their head pantyhose whose legs were stuffed with balloons still makes me chuckle!

Yes, there is a bit of set up....
Maybe a little shopping for a few goodies and prizes for those games I am working on.

I do have the gifts for the grab bag.
True to form, I will be wrapping them shortly before the guests arrive!  

I do need to get the men motivated on winterizing that porch...
We need it for the party!

Meanwhile the invitations come in for other parties...
One I will be attending is held by the rehab where I volunteer.
That is a must.

Speaking of the rehab....
Every year I gather gifts for my friends to select from, which they can give to their loved ones.
Where do I gather them from?
Friends who Papa leads to give.

Last year one of the men sat wrapping a gift for his little girl.  He looked up, with tears in his eyes and told me that he didn't think that he was going to have anything to give her for Christmas.  He was very grateful.
That is makes all the effort worthwhile.

This year we are putting together a Christmas party for all the residents of the rehab. 
A first!
It will be held at my church.
Papa has put together the menu.
Roast beef and all that goes with it!

Each year we also fill a gift bag for each one of these precious people. 
They will receive it at the dinner.

Needless to say there are a few details involved to pull this event off.
I thank Papa for those who have stepped up to help!

One dear lady is preparing the mashed potatoes for fifty people.
Others are providing the green beans and salad.
Many are baking cookies for dessert.
The kitchen will be staffed by precious volunteers.
A wonderful man, who happens to be a talented photographer, is going to be documenting our evening and making available photos for them to take with them that night.
Our local butcher is supplying the meat at cost, cooking it, slicing it and placing it on trays, at no extra cost!
The men of our church will be serving with their red bow ties in place.
There will be live music!
Of course there is a speaker.  Just a brief sharing by a man who loves Papa.

Now that I thing about it, I am not tired, I am excited!!

So now the picture is more complete.
You may think to yourself, "No wonder she is in a crunch!"

No, no, no....
I wouldn't change it...
Well, maybe we could spread some of the stuff out into maybe January or some other month that isn't so full...
But not our party!
And, of course, not anything that is happening for my rehab friends!!!

Everyone else can change their plans..
Yes, that sounds wonderful..
Then I won't have to miss any of the festivities!!

What do you think?  Shall we extend the season??

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Delight of Giving

Relationships take time and attention.
To count someone as a close friend or better yet a best friend means you know them pretty well.

I have a couple of very dear, close friends.
Through sharing life together we have learned how one another thinks.  That means we understand what stirs our hearts and what, conversely, leaves us cold.
Gifting takes on special meaning in such relationships.

Shopping is not my thing and this time of year just reinforces my disinterest in the activity.
Finding bargains falls under a different class, at least for me.
That is worthwhile shopping for me.

Once in a while I come across something that has a special some one's name all over it.  Quite often it is at a tag sale, consignment shop or the likes.  A perfect gift at a good price-that is when I am delighted to be shopping.

Even more delightful is the anticipation of being able to surprise someone I love with something that I know they will enjoy.
It's a good feeling.

That is my kind of giving. 
Not under obligation, no expectations, just a gift given because it is the perfect thing to do.

That is the kind of giving that makes Papa smile.

My God set the example of gift giving by giving His Son, Jesus.
Truly the greatest Gift ever given!

Yet, many do not receive the Gift, but ignore it as if it had no value.
They do not realize all that is wrapped up in this priceless Gift.

As the church gathered this morning, we celebrated the LORD'S Supper and one of our elders, Mike,  shared a short meditation with us. 
Since this celebration is a time to reflect on Jesus' great sacrifice, it was appropriate for his thoughts to be about sacrifice.

In the Old Testament the LORD God had instituted sacrifices as a means of atoning for sin.  Something that had to be done over and over, as, unfortunately, sin is not a one time thing in any one's life.
Mike reminded us that Hebrews 9:22 tells us,
"...without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness."
That is how it works, whether we like it or not.  God is God and He sets the rules.
And He adheres to them Himself.

Because He loves us so much He wanted to give us the perfect gift; the Gift of salvation. 
He wanted to open the way for us to have an ongoing intimate relationship with Him by making atonement for our sins, once for all.
He wanted to be our Best Friend.

Jesus is my best friend and as such I seek to give Him the gift that most delights His heart.
The sacrifice of worship.

A sacrifice because we must give our time and attention wholeheartedly to make it true worship.

As I was reading in Exodus this morning, my attention was caught up by Moses' encounter in with God at Mount Horeb.
It involved a burning bush that was not being consumed by the flames.
That is because it was a Holy fire.

God instructed Moses to take his sandals off, as the ground was holy ground.
Holy because God was present.

It got me thinking.

God is omni-present, which means He is everywhere at all times.
So what was this encounter that Moses had?  What made it different?

This was the Manifest Presence of God.
Manifest means to reveal, to make evident.

God is present everywhere, but at times He reveals His Presence.
In Psalm Twenty-Two we learn that God inhabits the praises of His people.

Papa often allows us to sense His Presence in a more tangible way when we give ourselves to worship.

Our gift results in us receiving a gift!

What a joy to read in Zephaniah 3:17
"The LORD your God in the midst of you is mighty; He will save, He will rejoice over you with joy; He will rest in His love, He will joy over you with singing."

Our God's gift just keep giving!
He does not stop at salvation, which would be more than enough, but continues to bless us with His Loving Presence.

Papa help me never to overlook the Gift of You!

Thursday, December 1, 2011


The codependency group met here last night.
Our topic was peace.

One of the key verses that we looked at is found in Isaiah's Twenty-sixth chapter, the third verse.
I discovered this verse early in my walk with Jesus and have meditated many a time on it.

Years ago I had found it on a plague at a tag sale; it hung on my kitchen wall until recently.
It may not be on my wall anymore, but it is still on my heart.

It is most familiar to me in the King James translation, in which I first learned it.
"Thou shalt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee."
Papa doesn't say He might give peace to those who trust Him, no it is a sure thing.
Please note that it is perfect peace.
It is intended to be a constant peace.

Now what does that trust, which is rewarded with peace, look like?

It isn't trusting that He will work things out the way we desire.

It is a trust in His character.
Knowing Who He is gives us confidence that He meant what He said in the Twenty-ninth chapter of  Jeremiah.
"I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope."
Once we begin a personal relationship with Jesus it does not mean that it will be smooth sailing from then on. 
It does not mean that if we have trials that the reason is a weak faith.
It does mean that we get to experience God's faithfulness.

This flies in the face of the "Prosperity Gospel" that is being preached in many places.

With Jesus by our side we can be certain that He will supply the strength and wisdom needed for every twist and turn of life.
That gives great peace.

With time we then have our experiences of His faithfulness to add encouragement in the difficult times.

There are quite a number of scripture verses where our God promises to give us peace.
Jesus said He was giving us peace and leaving it with us.

There are also many verses that instruct us to claim that peace.
A gift does us no good unless we claim it as our own.

Last night we encouraged one another to remember His promises and lay hold of them.

This morning I read a portion of Genesis Two.  The devotional "Today in the Word" which is published by Moody Bible made a comment on the passage.
They asserted that though Adam lived in Paradise and had the pleasure of God's company, it was somehow not sufficient.  God recognized what it was.
"It was not good for man to be alone."
The commentary stated that God's intent, from the very beginning, was for humanity to worship and serve Him within the context of community.

I would add that community is also for our own encouragement.

As our group shared last night, our hearts were uplifted.
We need each other.
That is how God designed us.

For those who are wondering how this subject ties into codependency I will tie it in.

Codependency causes our lives to become unmanageable. 
We expend a whole lot of energy trying to control people and situations.
Our minds are always searching for solutions, which we feel compelled to implement.

The more we study the problem, the bigger it gets and the crazier we become!

There is a chorus that I love and often quote.
"Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace."
It is so true.
Whatever we focus on ends up consuming us.
We dare not allow anything and anyone, apart from Jesus, to have our full attention.

The only source of peace is Jesus.