Uncle Jim’s Thanksgiving

Maybe I just don’t remember a Thanksgiving celebration quite so impactful, but this one certainly goes to the top of my favorites list.  As I surveyed the faces, I recognized the presence of countless miracles gathered in one room.  In particular, God used the miracle of Uncle Jim to teach me perhaps one of the most important lessons of my lifetime.

Table set and ready for the gathering.

Right at three years ago Uncle Jim received a terrible diagnosis.  It was lung cancer – stage 4. The uninvited and unwelcome malignant tumor had made itself at home between a lung and spinal cord.  Quickly following discovery treatment began. The pressure to make life altering decisions in the fast lane must have been overwhelming.

In my quiet times of reflection, I thought of King Jehoshaphat.  He had once faced a seemingly impossible situation. Enemy forces loomed large over God’s people and land.  In response, King Jehoshaphat called all the people of Judah and Jerusalem together in prayer. Honestly and humbly, the king prayed, “O our God… We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You.” 2 Chronicles 20:12

Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
2 Chronicles 20:12 NIV

Two years passed and I began to sense that I needed to do more than pray the King’s words.  I sensed the Lord nudging me back into direct contact with my uncle. I cared deeply for this man who had been more like an older brother in our youth, but I felt awkward reaching out across years of silence. There was no discontent between us. Quite simply I had delegated communication responsibilities to my parents. They kept me informed of all the latest news. The busyness of life and miles of distance I now realize are a poor excuse!

Uncle Jim and his son, Jon, fried turkey chefs. They came to visit and cooked too!

The main point of all of this is that you know you are loved.

Sensing an urgency, I wrote a long overdue letter to my uncle.  I told him that I had been praying for him, and I referenced the words of James 5:14-15.  I carefully wrapped a small vial of oil, prayed for God’s favor, and mailed the package in absolute obedience to God.  Once received, Uncle Jim called me. He was curious. Skeptical, yet pleasantly surprised to receive this type of mail from me. For about an hour we enjoyed wonderful conversation full of laughter and honest questions.  I had very few answers.  

Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.
James 5:14‭-‬15 NIV

Before we said goodbye, I asked if I could pray for him.  I encouraged Uncle Jim to contact a local pastor and seek Godly wisdom.  He said he would think about it. Finally, I said to Uncle Jim, “The main point of all of this is that you know you are loved.”

Weeks passed without a word. Then unexpectedly Uncle Jim called to let me know the rest of the story.  His son’s youth pastor had enthusiastically gathered nine other men to anoint Uncle Jim with the oil I sent, and pray a simple prayer of faith. 

My own faith was encouraged as I listened to my uncle relay the details. “It wasn’t weird”, he said, “and I didn’t really feel anything unusual.”  My response was simply this, “Did you feel loved?”  

Fast forward a year later, Uncle Jim received the good news from his doctor.  The beautiful word remission had replaced the terrible word cancer. With strength returning, Uncle Jim and his children made the long drive from South Florida to join us for Thanksgiving.  We joined hands around the feast and called out to God with thankful hearts.

Uncle Jim kneeling in the front. He’s showing off his renewed strength!

So many times in life we do not know what to do, but we have a choice.  We can put our eyes on God. We can trust the fight to Him. We can reach out to touch another human being with encouragement.  Just as critical, we can make sure someone feels loved in the middle of the battle.

Do you feel loved?

This is my #dontforgetthanksgiving story. What’s yours?

Eyes on Jesus and Shine, 

Lisa

Saturday Share with Lisa

SS colossians 2.2

The best Saturday of my Life

This day, May 21, 1988, at 2 PM in the afternoon marked the fulfillment of many years of dreaming and months of planning for yours truly and groom.  After a week of South Florida spring rains and my incessant begging of God for a sunny wedding day, my perfect day arrived!

Sunny, humid and low 90’s with barely a cloud in the sky.  Yes, exactly what I had in mind!

Then again, the hair appointment results were not at all what I had hoped.  She, the hair stylist, didn’t believe in hairspray.  What hairstylist doesn’t believe in ‘mucho’ amounts of hair product?  In 1988? Are you kidding me?

Good thing I wore the hat rather than the tiara!

Join me over at my new website to finish reading Saturday Share May 19, 2018

household of faith.png

 

He didn’t settle

Have you ever felt you were stuck squarely between a rock and a hard place?  It doesn’t feel like a comfortable place to dwell, does it?  And so naturally we would mostly agree this is not a great place to settle.

And yet when there seems no way forward and too much strain to go back and undo, don’t we sometimes feel we want to just settle for the “rock and the hard place” living quarters?Hebrews 12.2

I’m thinking of the two times I was experiencing the onset of labor contractions as a natural part of giving birth to both of our sons.  There was the point of extreme tension.  I had confidence the end result would be joyous and yet I also recognized the painful valley I would need to traverse to get there.  For a time (a very short time) I contemplated whether I could just settle in the in between.  Fortunately, the pain and intense natural urge to push through took over.  The end result times 2 was JOY.

There’s a multitude of “rock and a hard place” scenarios my mind could ponder.  Sometimes the outcome doesn’t seem quite as assuredly joyous as the birth of a baby.  The rocky place of unemployment and serious health concerns in which we currently find ourselves offers decidedly daunting outcomes.  None of the options are appealing right now, and there’s a temptation to throw hands in the air and just settle.

Yet, Jesus is our example of the best way to respond when feeling stuck between two unpleasant options and an outcome requiring total faith and trust.

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”  Luke 22:42 niv

Jesus was in between the rock of impending brutality and the hard place of obedience to His Father.  The victorious fulfillment of God’s rescue plan for all of humanity would be the outcome on the other side.  However, the temptation to settle was there or else Jesus wouldn’t have asked for the option to avoid the bitter cup of suffering at the hands of His own creation.do not settle

Hallelujah!  Jesus didn’t settle.

He cried out to the Father, “… not My will, but Yours be done.”

And so, for all of us who find ourselves feeling stuck between two no good options, may we follow the author and pioneer of our faith trusting the outcome into His faithful hands.  I am choosing now to trust Him.  Will you too?

…Because His heart was focused on the joy of knowing that you would be His, He endured the agony of the cross and conquered its humiliation, and now sits exalted at the right hand of the throne of God!  Hebrews 12:2 tpt

Ponder:

Does it help you to persevere through the hard, rocky place knowing Jesus didn’t settle for less than total obedience to the Father’s plan?

Do you think it was hard for Jesus as fully man/fully God to trust the Father’s plan?

No matter the fiery trials of this life I must choose to believe in God’s goodness and give thanks to Him for the way He’s going to bring me through – even before I am able to experience the outcome.  Lord, I need You to fill me with the faith and the perseverance to obey You.  Teach me to fix my eyes on You, Jesus, and follow Your lead all the way home.  Jesus, don’t let me ever settle for less, for Your glory and to make Your name great. Amen.

Eyes on Jesus…you’re shining!

~Lisa

FMF-Square-Images-settleToday I am joining Kate and her wonderful community of faith writers for some Five Minute Friday writing fun.  The word prompt for this week is {tired}  If you’re in the least bit intrigued, come join us for the Five Minute Friday link up

All you have to do is ponder the word prompt, set your timer for 5:00, and start typing. When time’s up, publish and link up.  Oh so simple!

Saturday Share with Brad Milford

Welcome to Saturday Share!  

Saturday Share coffeeThe purpose of this weekly feature is to provide a space for regular people to share their real-life encounters with Jesus.  It’s about living in the middle – on the way to the finish line.  If we still have breath to tell our stories then our race isn’t finished.

I believe we sharpen one another and delight God’s heart when we testify of His great work in our lives.  Be encouraged to put one foot in front of the other, and spur someone on while you’re at it!

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12 niv

I am honored to introduce to you, my feature Saturday Share writer:

Brad Milford

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Living The Dream

by Brad Milford

Dear Elias,

It’s almost like I’m speaking to you from a completely different life. In a few days, it will be four months since our family has been reunited. It’s been the best four months of my life.

I have never felt so much devotion from mom. She has been giving this family her all, and it’s so important for you to know that. I guess I’m writing you today, to explain that.

SS Brad and fam casual

When you were 1, I already wanted to tell you so much. At just 1-year-old, I could sit down and talk to you till the crickets start chirping, but I still wouldn’t be able to get my message across. So I began writing. Pages after pages, filled with so much hope and fight.

I wanted to give you the best life I could, and I wanted to be with you and mom every single day. Pouring out my heart was in a way therapeutic, but was also in a way meant to be informative.

 

Dreams came true, prayers were answered, miracles happened, and before I knew it, everything was different. Our family is united, it’s whole, we are a team. There’s a little smirk I get on my face when I talk about it as if I’m giving myself a pat on the back.

But if you really want to know, this has been just as much your mother’s hard work and grace to get us here. She’s such an awesome woman, bug. What she does for us, can’t be faked. She pours out love, like any woman who truly loves their family. Despite the persecution for past mistakes, I see a glimpse of pride, like a twinkle in her eye, when she shows the world what God has given to her.

I pray that you will realize the victory in every battle she has conquered for us to the extent that I have. It’s not easy being mom, bug, but you wouldn’t say so by the way she makes it look.  I also pray that you can take her as an example for your own life.

SS Brad and fam

Someday you’re going to find your love, you’re going to dream about being with her for the rest of your life, and sooner than you can expect, life is going to try and rock your devotion for your loved ones. It’s going to shake you up and bring you down. The family God has given to you, the one you are being raised in now, is a prime example of what can become if you hold true to your loved ones. It’s a story of victory and devotion. If your willing to take a look around, you will notice God giving you the tools you will need to succeed every day.

If many stepped up to the plate, and gave their family their full heart, as much as your mother has, I’m sure the divorce rate would dwindle to none. Our family’s a forever family, I pray that it gives you the tools and morals to create a forever family of your own as you grow older. Always stay devoted.

I love you so much bug.

I’m so proud of you son.

Love,

Dad

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Brad and his cup 031518 SS

To read the backstory on dad, mom, and son, Elias, aka bug, click here

You can connect with Brad at www.deareliasblog.wordpress.com

on Instagram: @bradmilford119

or

on Facebook 

 

 

Lavish Grace & Steadfast Love

Prodigal, what does it really mean?

I’ve pondered long over this English word and its meaning for a number of days now.  Knowing how the word is most often used I felt sure I knew the definition.  So, without looking it up in a dictionary, I wrote out my own definition of the word prodigal.Genesis 3.9 esv BP

From my journal: one who has wandered far from home; one who set out to have his/her own way leaving their upbringing behind; taking one’s belongings and setting out alone.

Wanting to be accurate, however, I decided to consult the Merriam-Webster online dictionary.  Maybe you already know, but I was a bit taken back by the true and actual definition of the word.

prodigal: characterized by profuse or wasteful expenditure: lavish; recklessly spendthrift; yielding abundantly: luxuriant.  synonyms: extravagant, profligate, spendthrift, squandering, thriftless, unthrifty, and wasteful.

My eyes locked onto the word {lavish} and my heart skipped a beat.  Instantly I was reminded of the Lord’s tenderness toward me a few years back as He chose {lavish} to be my one-word focus for that particular year.  I wondered then if the word was actually found in scripture and was delighted to find this precious truth nugget in God’s Word.

In Him, we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.  Ephesians 1:7-8 niv

During that year, as I prayed and asked Holy Spirit to be my teacher regarding His idea of lavish, Holy Spirit placed in my heart an acronym for the word based on the truth of our Christ bought identity found in Ephesians 1:1-13.

Loved

Accepted

Victorious

Innocent

Secure

Holy

For the entire year, and still to this very day, the Lord continually reminds me of His lavish grace for me, and the true identity He has given me as an adopted daughter purchased by the blood and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  I myself am the prodigal daughter of the good King.  Additionally, I am the prodigal mother of prodigal sons for whom I pray continuously.  With gratitude and anticipation, I often ask Father for their return home and into their true identity as sons of God, knowing He did this very thing for me.Lavish-ly loved daughter BP

Today though, I continue to ponder the word prodigal with even greater enthusiasm because of the word’s true meaning.  Instead of a focus on leaving or turning away, the true focus of the word is extravagant spending and luxurious gifting.  Who but God is the epitome of extravagance in sending His own Son to be the perfect Sacrificial Lamb in our place?

It is my honor to be a guest writer with Beloved Prodigal today.  Please click here to finish reading my story of Lavish Grace & Steadfast Love with the Beloved Prodigal community of Jesus followers and prayer warriors on behalf of many prodigals.

 

“Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
    and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
    and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.  Isaiah 55:6-8

Saturday Share with Quantrilla Ard

Saturday Share coffeeWelcome to Saturday Share!  

The purpose of this weekly feature is to provide a space for regular people to share their real-life encounters with Jesus.  It’s about living in the middle – on the way to the finish line.  If we still have breath to tell our stories then our race isn’t finished.

I believe we sharpen one another and delight God’s heart when we testify of His great work in our lives.  Be encouraged to put one foot in front of the other, and spur someone on while you’re at it!

So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.  1 Thessalonians 5:11 NLT  

I am honored to introduce to you, my feature Saturday Share writer: 

Quantrilla Ard

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The Gospel Changes Everything

By Quantrilla Ard

I love watching animated bible stories with my kids on Friday evenings and Saturdays after church. It brings me joy to see them learning about biblical truths and taking them to heart. Many of the stories are tailored specifically for children, so I watch a bit distracted, to say the least. But every now and then, something will grab my heart and move me in such a way that I can’t help but respond to the message.SS popcorn movie QA.png

Today (I’m actually writing this on a Saturday), I happened upon a trilogy of videos on one our streaming services about Jesus, the disciples, and the spreading of the gospel.  Focusing on Christ’s ministry years, the second video drew me in when it highlighted the story of the woman caught in adultery. This particular thing isn’t my sin-issue – if it is or isn’t yours either, just keep reading – God has a way of making the ground level.

When the Pharisees brought the woman to Jesus, He was teaching the crowds that had gathered. Hoping and eager to trap Jesus with religious semantics, they proudly announced that they had caught her in the act of adultery.  In John 8:1-11, this ordeal plays out in public, to the great horror and shame of the woman. The religious leaders “told” Jesus about the Mosaic law stating that a woman in a compromising situation such as this one should be stoned. Then they asked Him what He thought. I submit to you that they didn’t have any idea what was coming.

Jesus proceeds to write in the sand, right where they are standing! The bible doesn’t give us the details of what was written in the sand, but the woman’s accusers immediately retreat after Jesus’ powerful words, “The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her (vs.7, CSB).” He then continues to write in the sand, until not one of the men who shamed her was left.

… I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love..Ephesians 3:17-18 CSB

I watched this scene with intense interest and the tears began to pool in my eyes. Jesus asked her who was left to condemn her. She answered that no one was left. He tells her to go in peace because He didn’t condemn her either. Can you imagine the immediate relief and the weight that was lifted from her? I absolutely can because I’m struggling with a thing also. A thing that makes me feel defeated every time I fail.  I can relate to the anguish and guilt this woman felt as these treacherous individuals presented her to Jesus. They presented her not in the way they should have as the spiritual teachers they pretended to be, but as agents of wickedness and deceit; and in the process, they compounded more pain on this woman who was no more than a pawn to them.John 8.7 CSB.png

As agenda-driven as these men were, God had another in mind. A heavenly one. One that hasn’t changed since the dawning of time. Regardless of the accuser, the sin-issue, the crowd to whom we are exposed, God’s heart for us is to know the length and width, height and depth, of His faithful love for us (Ephesians 3:18).  His love reaches deep down into our souls, forgives us, and redeems us to Him. Then He picks us up by the hand, asks us where are those who condemn us, and shows us they are no longer there. He gives us peace and sends us on our way.  I am so thankful for the gospel in that bible story. It changed the life of a woman over 2,000 years ago, and it changed mine today. The gospel truly changes everything.

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Quanny Head Shot SS 021018Quantrilla (Quanny) Ard is a faith-based personal and spiritual development writer who lives in the DC Metro area with her husband and three littles. In addition to being a dedicated wife and mother, she is an entrepreneur, doctoral student, and curator of all things lovely. As a woman on her own quest of shining a light on the shadowy, hidden places in her life, she writes as the PhDMamma about things she knows to be true in hopes to encourage others to do the same. Her spiritual goals and her love for Christ propel her quest to share the spiritual journey with other women- to walk alongside them and encourage them with words, deeds, and wisdom. Quanny believes in the power of collective strength, community, and fellowship. You will find her wherever people are sharing stories of triumph.

Lessons of a Good Father

Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach.  It is not up in heaven so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?”  Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?”  No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.  Deuteronomy 30:11-14

In Deuteronomy 30:15, God sets out very simplistic choices for His people.  He sets before us a choice of life and prosperity or death and destruction.  Immediately, He tells us how to have the best choice of the two.  Then, like a good Father, very clearly and concisely, tells us the consequences of turning away in disobedience.choose life

Today I am reminded of a story our late pastor often told about disciplining his children in love.  He wanted to teach them to stay out of the street.  So, he set up a boundary for his children and told them not to cross it.  Repeatedly, he told his children the truth that they could get hit by a car possibly resulting in death.  His children continued to disregard the boundary, which frustrated and saddened their father.

Finally, a brilliant idea came to mind.  He would show them the consequences of disobedience by running into the street.  He took a watermelon outside, and when he glimpsed a car coming down the street, he rolled the watermelon across the boundary line and in front of the car.  As you can imagine the car squashed the watermelon.  The children wide-eyed and a bit overwhelmed caught the lesson.  Our pastor gathered his children in his arms and spoke to them of his love for them and his desire that they not become like the watermelon.

Our God is good and in His Fatherly love for us He makes His desire for us very clear.  And yet He lets us choose – life or death, blessing or curses.  Let’s choose to love the LORD, our God and obey Him.  Let’s choose life!

Buddy Hoffman

This story is shared in remembrance of my late pastor – Buddy Hoffman.  I am grateful he answered God’s call to preach.  I’m even more grateful he shared stories that live on as they are passed along like the one I’ve shared here today.  We’ll all catch up soon for a cup of coffee and stroll down the streets of New Jerusalem with Jesus leading the tour this time!

 

 

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I have the honor and privilege of writing weekly devotionals for Daughter of Delight on Instagram.  This post with some slight variation was first posted as an original devotional for Daughter of Delight on Instagram – 2/3/2018.

I invite you to please take a moment to visit @daughterofdelight on Instagram.  I feel certain you’ll be encouraged and refreshed!

Eyes on Jesus… you’re shining!

~Lisa

Just stop all the fussin’

“What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it.” James 4:1-2, NLT

 

Years ago I ran the ‘mom taxi’ for my two middle school sons and friends.  Rarely did we taxi about town sans an argument.  “I call shotgun!”  “You cheated!”  “Stop looking at me”  “You’re a ­_”  “I HATE you!”  “I’m tellin’…”

Be completely humble

I scolded, gave consequences and quoted Scripture.  To no avail, I demanded teen boys speak only edifying words to one another.  Heart-broken over these word-brawls, we purchased an SUV with three-row seating.  Problem solved.  I claimed the front row with each son one behind the other.  No more carpool unification strategies.  I simply chose to divide to keep the peace and protect my sanity.

Afraid of being awarded ‘worst mother’ designation, I’m tempted to scrap this post and pick another topic.  However, Holy Spirit reminds me of truth.  My sons aren’t the first, nor are they the last siblings to treat each other with such selfish and jealous contempt.  My brother and I were no better, but we can trace sibling rivalry through the generations all the way back to Cain and Abel.

The truth is that such behavior is the natural condition of our flesh.  Unfortunately, all of God’s children, myself included, at all ages and stages of life are capable of similar unhealthy, unproductive and simply sinful behaviors.  And it breaks the Father’s heart.

Be completely humble and gentle, be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Ephesians 4:2 NIV

Is the Father’s solution separation?  No the plan to divide and conquer is the plot of the evil one.  Instead, our Father calls for humility, gentleness, patience, and forbearance all wrapped in love.  To seek to live peaceably with all and in unity with His Spirit in love is to bless our Father’s heart and bear much fruit.  (Romans 12:18, Colossians 2:2, Ephesians 4:2-3, NIV)

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I have the honor and privilege of writing weekly devotionals for Daughter of Delight on Instagram.  This post with some slight variation was first posted as an original devotional for Daughter of Delight on Instagram – 1/13/2018.

I invite you to please take a moment to visit @daughterofdelight on Instagram.  I feel certain you’ll be encouraged and refreshed!

Do you want deep and hidden things revealed?

“Praise be to the name of God forever and ever… He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things; He knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with Him.” (Daniel 2:20-22, NIV)

A year or so ago I decided to make Daniel’s prayer of Thanksgiving into my own prayer of anticipation.  I had so many questions.  My heart was torn and in need of wisdom regarding the spiritual well-being of many loved ones.

One life, in particular, a son, threatened to bring me to despair.  I remember when he memorized Bible verses for VBS, his profession of faith in front of the church and his baptism.  And then what happened?Reveal the deep and hidden things

I wanted God to reveal the deep and hidden things.  I asked Him to uncover the truth and give me the wisdom to pray against the schemes of the enemy.  Most importantly, I praised God in advance for His answers and His power to save lives.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard to pray this for people you love.  My imagination wanted to run to all the most horrible things that could be uncovered.  That’s a tactic of the enemy.  He hopes we’ll be afraid to know the truth, and so we’ll just leave it covered up.  Demons already know the truth on which we should stand firm: “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32, NIV)

Recently, in the process of cleaning out closets, my husband dug through a suitcase left behind by this same son after graduating from college.  He sensed Holy Spirit prompting him to keep digging.  What he pulled out was a precious treasure.  It was his Bible, and tucked inside was written our son’s declaration of faith to the Lord God.Are we willing suitcase.png

Our son is on his own faith journey.  His story isn’t complete.  Mine either.  And we have hope because God revealed a deep and hidden truth.  Are you seeking truth and wisdom from God?  Don’t be afraid to ask for the hidden things to be revealed.  Trust Him.  He is faithful.  The truth God reveals will set you free, especially from fear.  Be free in God’s truth and light!

 

 

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I have the honor and privilege of writing weekly devotionals for Daughter of Delight on Instagram.  This post with some slight variation was first posted as an original devotional for Daughter of Delight on Instagram – 1/06/2018.

I invite you to please take a moment to visit @daughterofdelight on Instagram.  I feel certain you’ll be encouraged and refreshed!

Christmas Awakenings

For this reason, he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.  Hebrews 2:17, NIV

This Christmas may end up being one of my all-time favorites.  It’s been difficult to get here, but I’m beginning to see the Light of my Savior and recognize it really is He who is standing at the finish line.  He is the PRIZE!  Jesus, He is my Treasure!!

I wish it weren’t so, but for me at least it seems hardship causes me to pause and look deeper for truth.  The difficulty of a season creates in me a need to look back and see where I’ve been.  It’s a recalibrating.  Throughout this year, and the last three or maybe I should include the last ten, the temptation to quit has been strong.

So many times I’ve thrown my hands in the air while scrying*, “I can’t do this!  I’m done… it’s all too hard!”  My husband, parents, and sons can all testify to this truth.  They’ve all watched me come completely unglued over the last ten years.  And it’s been the best thing that could have ever happened to me.

Truly, this is the best place for each of us to find ourselves.  It’s a breaking, which needs to take place in each of us individually and in the Church corporately.  We want to appear on the outside like we have it all together.  We’re rock hard solid.  We’re tough.  Pretty, but tough.  And we’re not going to let anyone hurt us.  We won’t even let anyone get close enough to attempt to hurt us.  It’s a perfect plan!Hebrews 2.17

It’s a lie.

The enemy has sold us all a lie and we’ve bought into it – individually and corporately.  It’s a huge scheme of the enemy to keep us isolated.  We’re deceived into thinking we’re doing a good thing for our families by protecting ourselves behind sturdy walls.  But then, we’re frustrated when we feel ineffective.  We all come to a place in our faith walk (or at least we should) where we look around and wonder how we got here.  We’ve been circling the same old territory without realizing we’re not getting anywhere.

This has been the all too effective strategy of the enemy.   The deception of protection has lulled too many of us into thinking we’re being good for God.  However, it is a deception, and it is not obedience to God.

We need a shaking.  We need an awakening.  We need to look up and recognize the rut we’ve dug ourselves into.  We need to be asking the question, “Where’s the abundant life?”

Hard ground is famine ground.  A harvest will only come when the hard ground is broken open, fertilized with the stinky stuff of life, seed sown and watered.

Hard rock is a dam.  The refreshment of cool, clear springs will only come when the rock is broken open.

The blessing of this Christmas is wrapped in the ordinary brown paper and string of lean times.  The glory of the true Christmas story found in the gospels of Luke and Matthew shake me out of pretense.  Having to journey through the real difficult stuff of life to arrive at the manger causes me to reflect on foundational truths learned long ago.

Abundant life is found in an obedient life.  Living obediently to God means going out.  He said, “Go!”  And Jesus came to show us the way.  He’s always been here.  Jesus has never left me.  He is the Pioneer.  He’s been calling me out of the wilderness – the dry barren land He previously and purposefully escorted me into.  Do you see Him with your heart?  Can you hear Him calling your name?brown paper and string

Will you allow Jesus to unwrap your heart this Christmas?  Will you stay still long enough to allow Him to break you free of the trappings and the lies of the enemy?

I pray for you and for me this is the best Christmas ever because it’s the Christmas our eyes are opened to the very best gift of all.  Jesus, He is our Prize.  Jesus is our Treasure! Jesus, Living Water and Bread of Life.  Jesus, Lord of the Harvest.  Savior and soon coming, King!

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.  Revelation 3:20 NIV

 

*combination of screaming and crying