Friday, December 26, 2008
Thursday, December 25, 2008
I have thought about what to give you for your birthday. I don't have the riches of the three kings that came at your birth, so I have nothing elaborate or expensive to wrap and hand to you. I don't have the power of politicians who reign and rule our world today, so I can't you give any valuable property. I'm not even a leader in the church...so I cannot even install you in a position of authority.
Therefore I have been contemplating what would make you happy, Jesus. After all, you created this world, so you already own everything anyway...and you have all Power, so you do not need a mere "position". You have the final say, for you are Sovereign, you are the ultimate Ruler...King of kings, Lord of lords. So what can one person give you that would make a difference? It was then that I was reminded of what Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Philippians : Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.
I thought to myself, "Yes! That's it! I will give you my mind for Christmas! But then I had to ask what that really meant...to give you my "mind". Well, it's something you have been talking to me about most of 2008...ever since I started preparing my message for the retreat last spring, "Hope Springs Eternal". So, I went back to the words of Paul in the New Living Translation of the Holy Bible, and this is what I read in Philippians 2:5-11:You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
When I was a child at the age of 11 I knelt before you, Dear Jesus, and gave you my heart. When I was a young mother at the age of 30 I knelt at your holy altar, Lord Jesus, and surrendered my complete life to your service. Today, a grandmother who is still learning how to please you, I want to give you my mind...I want my thoughts, my ambitions, and most of all my attitude to be the same as yours, King Jesus, so that you might be exalted in my life and honored above all others. Happy Birthday, Jesus!
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
This is the week that we have our two granddaughters with us in Michigan for a time of bonding, playing, loving, laughing...just enjoying being together. We picked them up last weekend, and Daddy will be taking them back home this coming weekend. Meanwhile my time is dedicated to them. They are still sleeping this morning, giving me a chance to share what I've been thinking.
I'm thinking how GOOD my heavenly Father is. He has entrusted these two very precious lives into my care, not only for this week, but for all time. They are covered by my prayers every day...even throughout the day I will stop and think about them and ask God to watch over them. While they are here I will do my best to make them aware of how much God loves them, as well as how much I cherish them. These girls are so easy to love, so easy to care for. They are very sweet...polite, well-mannered, obedient, excitable, innocent, playful, beyond intelligent, gifted in so many ways. But for me the most important thing is that they have Jesus in their heart, as they become accountable.
I want to be able to spend eternity with them, for I am truly enamored with their creativity and beauty and personalities.
My Princess is old enough now to play games with me...clue, back gammon, and chess with her Grandpa. She assists me in preparing the meals, and we enjoy watching "7th Heaven" together. She is also very good at being an older sister and playing with her sibling, including her in various activities...such as yesterday they were putting on a show together, with a keyboard...a musical show. One can sing beautifully (in her genes from the maternal side of her family, although Daddy has a pretty good voice also), and the other one is called "Rocker Chick" because she is in constant movement when the music starts. Princess and I have "our" song..."You Are My Sunshine". I've sung it to her across the years, and she found a birthday card to send me that had the song in it. I found a singing frog that sings the song, and that was one of her Christmas gifts. (We are having a Granny Bag Christmas...gifts each day they are here...they get to choose from the bundle of packages under the tree). She came into our lives when our Pekingese puppy was a year old, so Tuxedo and Princess have sort of grown up together, and she will give Tuxedo special attention.
My Angel loves to play with things that teach her. She likes using "Leap Frog" to learn her words, and "Big Bird" to play various learning games. We spent time drawing pictures with her new markers yesterday, and playing meal time with her new play dishes and plastic eggs. She gathered up the Christmas Teddy Bears (my collection from across the years) and set them around her table for a tea party. She has declared that Kefli, our Shih Tzu, is her very favorite dog...her best friend. I love to hear her giggle while Kefli is climbing all over her trying to lick her.
Tonight, even though it will be snowing and perhaps in the high teens, we have a Horse and Carriage Ride reservation at Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. We will just bundle up and go out to enjoy the sights and sounds of Christmas. I love to watch the faces of these precious granddaughters...they have so many expressions, and it's fun to watch them light up when something excites them. Yesterday Angel opened her gift and had a box of Cheerios. To observe her reaction, you would have thought that was the greatest gift she could ever receive! Princess had to tell her to look at what was inside the box...Grandma is pretty good at disguising gifts. The little stuffed puppy inside that plays "Jesus Loves Me" didn't excite her near as much as taking the paper off a box of Cheerios! Tonight it will be fun to watch their faces as they see all the Christmas lights in the Sculpture Park as we take our ride, and all the decorated Christmas trees inside, and the model trains going around their various tracks. It will be a special outing.
Well, the day is about to begin...I think I hear voices heading my way...it's time to have breakfast, open a gift, and play!
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Well, now for some highlights of my reading this past week. I feel so in need of a daily tune-up, and I am grateful that God is faithful to highlight those things I need to give thought to and improve on. Here's a few:
1. Love is not rude. I must strive to be a person who is pleasant to be with. I must treat others in the way I want to be treated. Avoiding people, criticizing people, talking about them behind their backs....very, very rude...very unkind. I don't want people to treat me that way, so I must be careful not to do the same to them. I guess it's best summed up in this phrase from my journal: Learn to be a joy...not a jerk!
2. How I think determines my attitude, and my attitude determines my reactions. I often struggle with negative thinking, and it drags me down, leads me into feelings of anger, and it affects my relationships. I know that I should think on whatever is lovely and pure and beneficial to my mental well-being...I know that, but I don't always practice that. Big room for improvement in this department!
3. The Love Dare book has really been challenging me on a daily basis to reexamine what real love looks like...how it displays itself. Going right along with thought #2 above, love will choose to see the positive and best in people, and not focus on the negative. When I determine to focus on the positive qualities of a person, I will find that it creates more blossoms in that relationship, and the garden will become much more fragrant.
4. Lately I've been a little concerned about our finances...or lack of. So when confronted with the question, "Worried about money?", I was reminded that I don't need to be, for God will provide. He gives me this promise in Matthew 6:32-33: Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the kingdom of God your primary concern. Thanks...I needed that reminder!
5. Depression is something that plays no favorites. Not only have historical giants struggled with it (Abraham Lincoln, Mozart, Ernest Hemingway), but so have biblical giants (Jonah, Jeremiah, David). Even Jesus was touched by depression when He was on the cross and felt abandoned by His Father, calling out "My God, My God! Why have you forsaken me?" But there is value to be found in depression. In the midst of our pain we find that God is right there with us, drawing us to Himself if we allow Him to. (I recall how I spent my days basking in His presence when I felt I couldn't face the daily routine of life. I leaned on Him for strength and guidance, and He saw me through that tunnel experience. In fact, He even rewarded me with a trip to His land....the land of Israel. I honestly felt that Jesus was my partner on that trip, and I can only say, "Thank you, Jesus!") So...there are many successful and famous people who suffered with depression prior to or during their greatest achievements. Depression is common, but one must go on with life to get through the tunnel...and we do it by hanging on to the hand of Jesus.
6. Regarding our passion for God....it's much easier for satan to slip in and defeat us when we do not remain close to God...passionate about our relationship with Him. When the circumstances of life close in on us, that is all the more reason to draw in closer to the Source of our strength and purpose. Even as He hung dying on the cross, Christ's passion for us was uppermost in His mind and heart. In fact...it was His passion for us that put Him on that cross. It was part of God's overall plan to provide redemption for us. We are reminded, You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength... Do what is right and good in the Lord's sight, so all will go well with you... For we are righteous when we obey all the commands the Lord our God has given us. (Deuteronomy 6:5, 18, 25)
7. I'll end this blog with God's Word to me this morning: You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God... Turn away from evil and do good. Work hard at living in peace with others. The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers. But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil. (I Peter 3:4, 11-12)
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Like that picture? Hubby and I made a ten day trip up along the west coast of Michigan all the way to Mackinac Island and back home again back in October. We tried to stop at most of the light houses along the way. Have you ever walked in sand dunes? It is NOT easy!! Look again, way out past the light house....see that ship passing through on Lake Michigan? Michigan is a great place to visit, vacation, in any season, but I highly recommend the fall color season.
Well, stop back again sometime...you never know what I'll be thinking!
Any guesses where the above picture was taken? Surely all true blue Michiganders will recognize this spot. It's best gotten to by bike, and the whole area is surrounded by water. In fact, there are no motor vehicles allowed! Bikes, horses, carriages...a step back in time..."Somewhere In Time"!
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
In one particular new book it was noted that no electronic reproduction could be made in any way, shape, or form without written permission of the author/publisher. I respect that. My gut feeling is that if the other books I read were written in this day and technological age, they would contain the same warnings. Therefore, I will no longer quote from any of the books to avoid doing something illegal. Instead I will paraphrase what stands out to me, and perhaps a note about how it applies to me...or what I need to think about. I cannot say it as well as the author, so I am sorry that the actual quotes will no longer be available.
Four of the books in current listing are being read "devotionally". By that I mean I read a chapter per day from each book and comment on it in my journal. They are short, devotional size, chapters, and I feel like I'm getting a tidbit each day from each book. I also treat each book as though it is God himself talking to me about things I need to pay attention to, learn, grow in. So as much as I enjoy my prayer time with the Father, I can hardly wait to get to my four books to see what God has to say to me each day. From there I write my journal notes as I feel inspired. Perhaps I will start sharing that daily, or as time permits, but tonight I will recap my reading/thoughts from the first three days of December.
By the way, not sure I have any followers on this particular blog. I am still continuing my Reflections on Genesis Blog as I have 6-7 more posts to complete the book of Genesis. I will leave that blog up and running once I complete it, but there will not be any new posts after Chapter 50. I had two other blogs...a weekly menu blog and a Journey of Hope blog (my original blog). I shut both of those down. I was conscious that many people may not have sufficient food to eat in a week, and I felt that posting my menu was too much. I obviously eat too much food in a week, and need to cut back and think about those who are struggling with having even the basics of life. My Journey of Hope blog contained many of my earlier writings in life...papers I had written for classes I had taken, sermons I had preached, etc...as well as personal comments about my life. I am sensitive to others and tried not to post anything that would expose others beyond what they have already exposed about themselves. However, there was fear that could happen, since I am such an open book. Out of respect for family members, I shut that blog down. It was during a sad time in my life, and perhaps I jumped the gun too early, but I felt several urgings to do so...so I did. So, for now, this is my only "personal" blog in which I will share my thoughts. However, I will not be mentioning specific people or sharing personal intimate details of my family.
With those disclaimers, I am now ready to recap three days' worth of devotional thoughts:
Monday, December 1, 2008:
1. Depression affects a huge number of our society. I myself experienced clinical depression back in 1987-88. Often depression will cause us to not want to eat, yet not eating tends to only make things worse. We need to eat a balanced meal even when we don't feel like it. Also, how we respond to events in our lives has far more to do with how we feel than what actually happens to us.
2. God has made me unique. The sooner I accept who I am, and quit trying to be who I am not, the quicker I can get on with what God has planned for me to do.
3. When it comes to forgiveness, there are three areas in which forgiveness needs to occur:
-I must forgive others.
-I must forgive myself.
-I must forgive God, as He forgives me. Then I can build a bridge and get over it...no matter what has happened to hinder my advancement in life.
4. If I am going to learn to love, I must recognize that love is first of all patient and kind. I need to control my emotions so they do not control me, and practice extending mercy and gentleness to others by my kind words and thoughtful actions.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008:
1. When we think no one understands us, Jesus always understands. He is so focused on others, rather than on Himself, that even as He was headed to His own crucifixion on the night He was met by the soldiers in the garden, he took time to heal the ear of one of those who had come to arrest him. No pity party for Himself...He still sought to do what was best for others...even His "enemies".
2. A beautiful woman is one who serves others and shares in their lives, allowing God to shine through her. But she does it all without desiring recognition or reward. Her spiritual demeanor is like a fragrance to those around her.
3. Even when we think we are going through horrible persecution, bad things that seem to have no purpose other than to defeat us, God is using that time to draw us closer to Him so that we might better reflect who He is by our attitude and actions. Only through persecution of the early Christians did the church grow. What will God do through those who allow persecution to refine them and make them more in His image?
4. When it comes to love not being selfish, God's Word says it best:
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves. Philippians 2:3
Wednesday, Dec 3, 2008:
1. To avoid being depressed, I need to focus on my accomplishments, not my failures. I need to be patient with myself as much as with others!
2. Each "opportunity" we go through is a time for us to learn and grow and move forward in wisdom. May I be willing to say yes and seek the positive results from the adversities in my life.
3. I must get to the place where Jesus is always my main focus. It is from Him that I receive my purpose and the power I need to fulfill that purpose.
4. Love is thoughtful. Rather than rushing ahead with the words that come to mind, think about how they will be received, and choose to say things kindly and with respect.
5. God honors faith, even faith the size of a mustard seed. He can do mighty things for those who have faith and believe.