Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain.
Amen? You see, it's all in our focus. What do we dwell on? We can always point to what's going wrong in our lives, but that's when we need to shift our vision to what's going right. And that's where our emphasis needs to be, along with "Thank you, Jesus!"
That's why I hope you took time to share gratitude with your loved ones and with your Father in heaven the last few days, during the Thanksgiving holidays. What I am seeing happening in our country, and I don't like it one bit, is that we get down to what should be a time set aside to be grateful, and it is becoming a season of greed. Now the stores are open ON Thanksgiving Day...instead of waiting for Friday. Or they open at midnight to get a jump on "Black Friday". It's all about the almighty dollar. The stores want your money...and you want to save it, so you go early...or plan your whole weekend around where all you plan to shop to get the "bargains".
Please don't get me wrong. I am a bargain shopper...I love to shop the clearance aisles, refusing to pay full price for anything. I'm not a big shopper, though, so I'm not as tempted to get out in the crowds as some people are. I don't condemn them. My problem is with the commercialism of our holidays...both Thanksgiving and Christmas. It doesn't focus as much on spending time with family as it does spending money. I would prefer simpler times. I'm living in the wrong era, or my age is showing...which is more likely the truth.
So...the Season is upon us! Will you spend it shopping or sharing? Grateful or grumbling? Singing or sighing? The choice is yours. I want my focus to be on pleasing Jesus, showing gratitude, loving others.
This past week found me working at the ILNC office a couple of days. The office was only open one day this week due to Thanksgiving holidays. We had our Thanksgiving meal on Thursday with some co-workers and their large family...16 of us. I didn't have to cook a thing, and the meal was plenticious...plenty of it, and very delicious. We were even sent home with leftovers.
Friday we met with Paul's family at a restaurant in Hastings for the noon meal. Then we strolled around the little town (mostly resale shops and antiques), and then spent the rest of the afternoon at his parents' house. So food preparation has been very easy on me the last few days. We had our Thanksgiving leftovers for our Sunday lunch today.
I did do some shopping, just to get out of the house and to walk. We've had some rainy dreary days lately. I went to a small town south of here, Three Rivers, on Wednesday to walk through three stores. Mostly got groceries. Then on our way home from Paul's parents house on Friday we stopped at a Walmart and Walgreens to pick up a few things on my list. So, as you can tell, I am not against shopping...I am against the attitude of greed...grab all the customers you can...grab all the sales you can...beat the others. I don't do crowds...whether at an amusement park or a store. I like to browse through life, take my time, give thought to what I am doing. Take Jesus with me...keep the right attitude because I represent Him.
Hubby and I have been playing Sequence often in the evenings. He usually beats, and that's okay. I started decorating the house for Christmas. Not doing much. Each year I unload more stuff at the summer "donations only" tables. I don't even have a tree this year. I have a wreath on my front door, and the olive wood nativity set from Israel on my buffet, and a few other touches of red and green around the kitchen and living room. Keeping it very simple this year. I do love to have lights on our roof and on the pine trees outside...but that's a hubby project, and I try not to nag.
I've started getting ready for our Christmas trip to be with our family. We'll be together for a week, and we plan to cook at the resort rather than eat out...huge money saver for all of us. So I'm planning meals (requesting their favorites from them) as well as planning to bake cookies with the granddaughters...also fulfilling requests. I have planned a game where everyone will eventually get a prize...their personal favorite candy. We'll have that to munch on while we watch movies. "The Crippled Lamb" (Max Lucado) is going to be our Christmas movie. It will allow our littlest one to understand Jesus coming as a baby, God's love gift to us.
We'll be honoring three birthdays while we are together...Jesus, my oldest son, and my youngest granddaughter. Then I have two rounds of gifts planned. One is a round of white elephant gifts...giving each person something from our house to take home to theirs (small items). The second round is a craft kind of gift...something for each of us to work on all together around the table. I can share more about those gifts next month...after the fact. I think it will be fun. We keep gifts to a minimum and very simple.
We started doing a time share Christmas with our family back in 2003 to focus more on making memories than giving gifts. We get together every other year, so they have the in between years to be with the other side of their families. Thus far we have gone to Orlando, Hilton Head, Phoenix, Orange Beach (Alabama), and now this year to Branson. One week to play together. Games, food, movies, food, crafts, food, side trips...even a little shopping. And time to talk, time to pray, time to love, hug, and laugh...and even cry. We try to be vulnerable to each other...trusting each other...knowing we have each other to count on. I hope you have those kind of feelings in your family also. They are precious!
Now, on to my weekly devotional reading:
The Word for You Today
1. "You've Got to Pay Full Price"
"When you get what you want in the struggle for self,
and the world makes you king for a day;
just go to the mirror and look at yourself
and see what that man has to say.
For it isn't your father or mother or spouse
whose judgment upon you must past;
the fellow whose verdict counts the most in your life
is the one staring back from the glass.
He's the fellow to please; never mind the rest,
for he's with you clear to the end.
And you've passed your most dangerous, difficult test,
if the man in the glass is your friend.
You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years
and get pats on the back as you pass.
But your final reward will be heartache and tears
if you've cheated the man in the glass." (author unknown)
2. "Why You Need Courage"
- to honor God - to bring honor to His name
- to encourage others as they see your faith in the face of difficulties
- because your attitude and influence passes down to your children and grandchildren
- The earnest prayer of a righteous man has great power and wonderful results. (5:16)
- Open my eyes to see wonderful things in your word. (119:18)
- Keep me far from every wrong; help me, undeserving as I am, to obey your laws, for I have chosen to do right. I cling to your commands and follow them as closely as I can. Lord, don't let me make a mess of things. If you will only help me to want your will, then I will follow your laws even more closely. Just tell me what to do and I will do it, Lord. As long as I live I will wholeheartedly obey. Make me walk along the right paths for I know how delightful they really are. (11:29-35)
- O, Lord, the earth is full of your loving kindness! Teach me your good paths. Lord, I am overflowing with your blessings, just as you promised. Now teach me good judgement as well as knowledge. For your laws are my guide. (119:65-66)
- A man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful. But if he confesses and forsakes them, he gets another chance. (28:13)
- Dear friends, God the Father chose you long ago and know you would become his children. And the Holy Spirit has been at work in your hearts, cleansing you with the blood of Jesus Christ and making you to please him. May God bless you richly and grant you increasing freedom from all anxiety and fear. (1:2)
- There is wonderful joy ahead even though the going is rough for a while down here. These trials are only to test your faith to see whether or not it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests gold and purifies it---and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold, so if your faith remains strong after being tried in the test tube of fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day of his return. (1:6-7)
- ...you have been chosen by God himself---you are priests of the King, you are holy and pure, you are God's very own...(2:9)
- Show respect for everyone. Love Christians everywhere. Fear God and honor the government. (2:17)
- Don't be concerned about the outward beauty that depends on jewelry or beautiful clothes, or hair arrangement. Be beautiful inside, in your hearts, with the lasting charm of a gentle and quiet spirit which is so precious to God. (3:3)
- And now this word to all of you: You should be like one big happy family, full of sympathy toward each other, loving one another with tender hearts and humble minds. Don't repay evil for evil. Don't snap back at those who say unkind things about you. Instead, pray for God's help for them, for we are to be kind to others, and God will bless us for it. (3:8-9)
- If you want a happy, good life, keep control of your tongue, and guard your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Try to live in peace even if you must run after it to catch and hold it! For the Lord is watching his children, listening to their prayers; but the Lord's face is hard against those who do evil. (3:10-12)
- The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore be earnest, thoughtful men of prayer. Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each others, for love makes up for many of your faults. (4:4-9)
- Do you want more and more of God's kindness and peace? Then learn to know him better and better. For as you know him better, he will give you, through his great power, everything you need for living as truly good life; he even shares his own glory and his own goodness with us! And by that same mighty power he has given us all the other rich and wonderful blessings he promised; for instance, the promise to save us from the lust and rottenness all around us, and to give us his own character. But to obtain these gifts, you need more than faith; you must also work hard to be good, and even that is not enough. For then you must learn to know God better and discover what he wants you to do. Next, learn to put aside your own desires so that you will become patient and godly, gladly letting God have his way with you. This will make possible the next step, which is for you to enjoy other people and to like them, and finally you will grow to live them deeply. The more you go on in this way the more you will grow strong spiritually and become fruitful and useful to our Lord Jesus Christ. (1:2-8)