Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A New Year, A New Perspective

It's the week of New Year's and many of us are thinking about changes we will be making and goals we will strive for in 2015. Entering a new year is always exciting because it's like a new beginning - a clean slate.

I especially love a new calendar with those small, white, empty boxes just begging to be filled with things to do, places to go, events to celebrate. Yes, I'm talking about a paper kind of book calendar that you actually write in with a pen or pencil.

On January 1, I'm looking at 2015 through new eyes.

With every sunrise God invites us to start our day afresh with Him, to wake up immediately aware of His presence, and to experience life to the fullest each and every moment in His presence.

Even if I fail or succeed with my personal goals and resolutions, I know that every day with Jesus I'm graced with a new beginning. Every day He invites me to spend the day with Him in all areas of my life, not just for a few minutes at the beginning, middle, or end of my day. He wants me to experience Him ALL day long.  That is something to look forward to. I can still hear my dad singing, "Every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before."

We will never learn all there is to know about our eternal Savior, but in our earthly life spans it's pure joy to seek and know Him the best we can. The more time we spend getting to know Him, the deeper our love for Him grows. The deeper our love for Him grows, the more we anticipate every single day we are graced with.

I pray your year begins and continues with an acute awareness of God's presence very near and real in your life, and that you look forward to each day with great anticipation. Every day can be sweeter than the day before when you're in love with Jesus Christ.

You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11 NKJV) 

Have a JOY-full New Year!

My Pleasure,

Saturday, December 27, 2014

'Tis the Season to Remember - Christ

Advent. The time has come! 

Christmas Eve. The last candle to light - the Christ candle.

It was a holy night. Passing the flame one by one to light candles, we sang carols. Such a warmth and spirit of Christmas filled the room. I glanced down the pew. Rick, Mimi, Turner, Madison standing with me singing and celebrating our Savior, ALL together. Since we sang a cappella, I was able to join my family in the pew instead of sitting on the piano bench. A rare occurrence these days with our different roles and responsibilities in our churches and lives.

Lifting candles high, we remembered the reason for the season - Christ, the Messiah, the Light of the world!

A Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:11 NIV)

The Savior was born for you, for me, for all mankind. How will we continue to remember Him, not just during the holidays, but all throughout 2015?  Let us remember and remember Him well.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

My Pleasure,

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

'Tis the Season to Remember - Love

She cries a lot these days, especially now that the holidays are here. A vital piece of her is missing this Christmas - the piece with whom she became one almost 63 years ago. 62 Christmases as man and wife. Seems like a lifetime ago in some sense, but like yesterday in others.

It's Christmas Eve, and she is choosing to spend it alone. She's remembering. As she is remembering the lifetime of love spent with the love of her life, the Christmases that have been, we will be celebrating and remembering as well. A huge part of our family will be be missing - her husband, my husband's dad, my father-in-law, and my kid's Papa.

The anticipation has escaped her this year. There seems to be more dread than excitement, more tears than laughter. The twinkle in her eye has dimmed, but not gone. It's just not as bright this Christmas.

What is at the root of all this grief?

LOVE. A very deep, unconditional, unwavering, forever kind of love.

Advent week 4 - LOVE.

"God is love." (1 John 4:8b) The Bible says so.  We can love only because we are made in the image of our Creator. He loves, therefore we can love each other.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. That whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life."  (John 3 :16)

Christmas is the manifestation of God's love. Jesus. Immanuel. God with us.

Love came down to dwell among us and reveal to us the indescribable love of God for all mankind.

Hug your loved ones a little tighter and more often this Christmas. Take some time today, tonight, or tomorrow and read the Christmas story (Luke 2 is where our family reads from) - the greatest event in the history of mankind- the Advent of the Promise- when anticipation became reality. When the God of Hope, Light, Joy and Love stepped out of heaven and into a broken world and into the hearts of those who would believe.

Merry Christmas!

My Pleasure,

Monday, December 22, 2014

'Tis the Season to Remember - Joy

"Joy to the world the Lord has come. Let earth receive her King." (Isaac Watts, 1719)

We've sung this beloved Christmas carol so much of our life time that sometimes we forget it's message... JOY to the world!

As I was finishing up some shopping the other day, here are a couple of non-joyful comments I heard around me:

A woman snapping at another woman while standing in line to get boxes: "You just stepped in front of me. I was in line ahead of you." 

A grumpy elderly husband to his elderly wife as she stopped to look at some Lilly Pulitzer items: "Why are you stopping to look at that stuff? You aren't going to buy any of that crap. Move on to the make-up counter where we were headed." 

Advent, Week 3 - Joy! 

An attitude. A frame of mind. A heart filled with the gift of Christ.

These two were anything but joyful as they shopped. I was first horrified for the young woman humiliated in front of all of us in line behind them. The non-joyful woman was next anyway, and she was carrying on a conversation with the lady behind her. I didn't see who actually was in front of who, but I know that girl could have crawled in a hole.

The grumpy old man was so cruel with his speech to his wife (and I'm assuming they were married) that I really wanted to go pour some Christmas cheer all over him, but I refrained and just repented of all the times I'm snippy with my husband. It's demeaning and humiliating to be talked to in such a tone.

You may have read one of my earlier posts about how I grumble under my breath sometimes when things aren't done the way I think they should be done. Well, I decided shortly after that post that I need to immediately move into a grateful attitude and thank God for the person or thing that has just caused me to grumble. Exchanging grumpy for grateful!

Gratefulness is a much better state of mind than grumpiness.

A heart of gratitude delivers much JOY! Neither person with the grumpy attitude delivered joy to those around them. My thoughts stalled on those who were the recipients of their ungrateful hearts displayed in a very public way. God gave me a picture of myself when I'm not in a joyful frame of mind. It's not very pretty.

This Christmas and everyday of the year, let's work to sift our thoughts before we speak, allowing only the good to flow from our lips. The world will be a much more joyful place to be.

"Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person." (Colossians 4:6 NASB)

Thank You, Jesus, for caring about the words we speak and the attitude we speak with. Thank You for the mirror you placed in front of me today. Forgive my unkind words and grumpiness with others and especially with those who are closest to me. Help me to speak with grace, seasoned with love and truth, as I seek to point people to You and not away from You.  In the JOY-full name of Jesus, Amen.

My Pleasure,

Monday, December 8, 2014

'Tis the Season to Remember - Peace

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7 NIV)

This past week was anything but peaceful. My calendar was on overload with rehearsals, performances, shopping, teaching, speaking, and trying to care for a husband who strained his back the first part of the week. Whew! I wasn't sure if I was coming or going half the time.

On this foggy, seasonably cold morning, I'm settled into homemaking. I'm swiffering the hardwoods, washing clothes, waiting for windows to be delivered and eventually replaced. (That's a whole 'nother story in itself.) But in the midst of it all, I'm stopping. I'm listening, and I'm remembering what this season brings.

The Advent candle for week two shines with the light of...


PEACE on earth.

PEACE to all men.

The missing piece in the scurry of the season is God's PEACE.

His PEACE replaces chaos with calm, short tempers with patience, and grumpiness with gratefulness.

Wars and rumors of wars will always be until Jesus returns to earth to reign, but until then we have access to the true PEACE of Christ in our hearts- where real peace takes root and from where real peace spreads.

May the PEACE of Christ reign in your hearts this Christmas and into the New Year.

My Pleasure,

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

'Tis the Season to Remember - Hope

In all the busyness, the hustle and the bustle, we must make moments where we stop, look, and listen - to remember the reasons we celebrate Christmas.

Over the next several weeks, I want to give you some powerful reasons to remember during this holy season.

'Tis the season to remember...

Hope in knowing that God's best is yet to come. Hope in the promises of God.

During this Advent season leading up to Christmas, let's remember how God's people anticipated the coming of the Savior.

The first candle burns bright with and represents the Hope of the Messiah's birth.

Hope was prophesied. Hope was promised!

For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; (Isaiah 9:6a)

'Tis the season to remember....

May all your days be merry and bright with the Hope we have in Jesus Christ!

My Pleasure,