Saturday, December 27, 2014

I'm OK, U OK?

Do you remember your childhood?  I do.  And what I remember was happiness.  Oh my dad and mom worked hard to make my life good and have all I needed and there were hard times but I was good.  I loved my parents and sister and they loved me and that met most of my needs.  It seemed the hard stuff didn't affect me.

I went on to my teenage years in this fantasy life with my parents making things good.  I hardly looked at the hard stuff.  Even on to my adult and married life.  You might call this living in denial of reality. I was protected and hoped to protect my children.  The older they got the less possible this was.  I put on an image that everything was great.  This is not real life.  We all have issues and hard stuff in our lives.  We were promised suffering.  God saw purpose in it.  We need to enter in our suffering, feel the pain of it all, not be ok and then go to God and be ok.  God is what makes life worth living.  He gives us joy in the midst of it all.  We all have a cross to carry.

I have been thinking about my cross since Thanksgiving and as you have noticed I haven't written.  I couldn't put it into words.  I started thinking about how awful it was to have mental illness.  All the horrible things that happen because of it and how my family has suffered. I couldn't think straight and the sadness overcame me no matter how hard I tried.   I thought about my family and things they had and were going through.  Oh I know how blessed we are but I felt the pain of it all again.  I don't call this wallowing.  I call it reality.  I went through the necessary motions of getting preparations for Christmas but I was dragging.

I started I putting my family in a world where they have to pretend everything is ok when they are suffering?  Do I allow them to not be ok, for a time?  You don't want it to swallow you up, but you don't want to deny it either.  Feeling a emotions, letting them drive you to God and waiting on His rescue, because in due time He will lift you up, is the healthy way to deal with suffering.  There is a way to suffer and let the Lord fill you with trust and know that all things are possible through Him.  This does not mean things will necessarily turn out how you expect, but it means it will be better than you expect in ways you have not imagined.  God is a redeemer.  He is a miracle worker.  He brings life out of death and beauty out of ashes.  He brings resurrection out of the cross.  Expect it, anticipate it, trust Him.

I began thinking of Mary, somewhere between 12 and 14 years old.  She was poor, not educated and received news from an angel that she would be an unwed mother and have a baby in a manger with a long way to travel and a life she had not contemplated.  But she did ponder these things Luke says.  What a life she was chosen to live.  The sacrifices and scandal she might incur.  God understood her to the point of giving her Elizabeth also with a son, who would be beheaded and gifted and would announce the way of the Lord.  He gave her Joseph, but what were his fears.  They were young and alone and scared but then...then there was God and the faith He gave them to be blessed beyond anything they could imagine.  You cannot view the manger without the cross.  Marry was to be blessed.  She was to be remembered as the mother of Jesus.  Their Son would suffer for the sins of the world because of the love of God.  How could this all be.  They were only allowed to see what they could see, but God had a plan and He does for you and me.  It is one of suffering and one of God's glory.  It is a display of love and power and beauty beyond anything we can imagine.  There is a cost.  Consider it and choose God.  Are we willing to enter into it for the joy!

In the suffering can we ponder the things we may endure but may we focus on the glory that is His through us with great joy.  We were His joy is why He endured the cross.  It was the will of the Father.  Is He your and my joy why we endure?  Do we see even the hard things from the hand of a loving God who knows what is best for us.  What sings with His glory beyond any dream we may have.  May we pick up our cross and follow Him, in sadness and contemplation at times but with faith and great joy!  Will we trust Him and His wonderful plan of redemption?  We will only taste His suffering but we will know Him and the power of the resurrection and be blessed beyond anything this world has to offer.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Now I see Him

Have you ever heard stories of someone who never saw the ocean until they were old or older?  The joy and the excitement can not be explained.  They say it is so much more grand and beautiful than anything they imagined.  I think of times I have had the opportunity to go to the beach.  The sky, the rays of the sun on my face, the wind blowing through my hair, the never ending ocean, the clapping of the waves against the shore, the feel of the sand between my toes, the thoughts of what lays beneath it all and the beauty and miracle of it all.  I can try to picture it now and it is good but it is nothing like experiencing it and being there.

What do you think of when you think of Christmas?  Do you dread the hustle and bustle and hard work of it all?  Do you think of Jesus laying in a manger coming to rescue us and set us before the Father as His good work He has accomplished through the gift of the Father to Him.  Some say all you have to do is believe.  We are told the demons believe.  But they do not love, cherish and honor God as their Lord and Savior.  Do we just believe or do we experience Jesus, Father and Spirit.  Our feelings are not to lead us but what difference does it make in your life that Jesus came, died and resurrected.  What difference does it make you are forgiven. Do you live in the freedom that was bought for you. Do you have a clear conscience that knows there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ?  Does it make a difference you are accepted, gifted and radically loved by God? That He fights for you?  How has it changed you and your life.  How does it influence the way you live and love others and love God.  Do you not only celebrate Jesus but celebrated what He has done for you.  How is this Christmas going to be different for you and those you come in contact with because you are a child of the King.  You are no longer an orphan but are adopted and died for.  What difference does the resurrection make to you?  Are you living in the power of the Spirit that raised Christ from the dead?

Some days thoughts come to me that I am not worthy.  That I have failed and just can't get it together.  That I need more than Jesus gives me.  I take these thoughts captive and I declare them as lies and I reject them.  I then claim the truth that is who I am being a Christian.  I have a change of heart and a change of mind.  It is called repentance and it is a gift from God.  I remember who I am as the Spirit reminds me of my sonship and all that means to me.  Then I hear the music of the gospel.  I am filled with joy and it is contagious.  I spill over Jesus to those around me and my mind becomes clear.  I know how blessed I am and I am thankful.  Jesus is Lord of my life and I am living out of Him and His Spirit illuminating my heart and mind.   There is a place for God in my life and it is first.  I am at rest.

A friend of mine gave me a card for my birthday that is a Christmas card.  On the front it says "Be still and know that I am God".  She wrote, this use to seem like a command to me but the more I think on it, it is a lullaby from God.  She had experienced God not just wrote about Him.  Jesus came as fully God and fully man to incarnate and experience us so we could experience Him.  May it began now.  Job wrote I knew Him but now I see Him.  The experience of faith made the difference.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Free to be me

I have been thinking today.  Wouldn't it be great to accept your sister and brother for who they are.  What if we had no judgmental thoughts toward each other.  What if we had no expectations of anyone.  We just let each other be free to be who God created them to be and accepted and celebrated their differences.

I just barely got my artificial stuff up from the fall.  I had ordered my wreaths for the fireplace and the front door a few days ago.  I thought it would be fun to see another friend tomorrow and celebrate Christmas and Jesus.  I love her so and she is such a joy to be around her.  She said I don't have my Christmas tree up yet.  I said Kathy my pumpkin rotted in my car.  I don't know why.  I looked at it every time I got in and got out of the car.  I drove a long way to find this different pumpkin and was excited to get it.  Somehow I just never got it out of the car and one day my son got in the car and put his foot through it.  Now do you feel better about your preparations for Christmas?

But what if you are totally organized and on top of everything.  Your house is waiting for Southern Living to show up and you have the perfect gift for everyone and it is wrapped.  You are now on to charity and buying for others who are less fortunate and you are exciting about giving and blessing someone else.  What about you?  Are you free to be you too?  We all are different.  I had lunch with some ladies I love today.  We were talking about how different we are from our husbands.  Some are introverts and some introverts.  How do you work that with the Christmas parties coming up.  Do you take it personal and get your feelings hurt because he just doesn't want to go?  Or is he free to be him too?  It is a big deal and we all feel loved in separate ways.  We want what is important to us to be important to those we love but it just isn't always.  My husband would go all the time and I am the one that I have to make myself go to things.  I like and function and enjoy mostly small groups or individual times together.  One is not right and one is not wrong.

My friend said today I have to have both.  She has to have her alone time and time with groups.  I suspect this is what we might work towards.  I would imagine Jesus was a lot like that, balanced.  But today I am writing about how Jesus loves us as we are.  He delights and sings over us.  We are His beautiful treasured creation He celebrates.

I ask my pastor yesterday why did Jesus not defend Himself on the cross when He was so mistreated. He said He did not try to get out of the cross because of the joy set before Him.  We are that joy!  We are to focus on that and the value He saw in relationship with us.  How can we ever feel inadequate or unworthy or less that what Jesus says we are.  Children of the King.  We are accepted, favored, and designed to be just as we are and to become more and more like Jesus.

Today as I had lunch celebrating my friends birthday.  They make me feel so loved and accepted.  I am so comfortable with them.  They make me feel free to be me, but yet it gives me a desire to be more that I can be that I have to depend on Jesus to trust and love Him more and others.  People don't change by being critical, cynical about them, or judgmental.  They change by loving them for who they are.  This does not mean that we don't disciple each other but it means what we see in them that might need to change does not depend on our love for them and they must know how much we are for them to accept it.  I love how the Spirit does not leave me alone but prompts me repent and cling to His righteousness.  I have been nudged lately that there is someone in my life I love but needed to forgive again in a deeper way.  It reminded me how much I needed Jesus.  Those who are forgiven much love much.  I know how much Jesus has forgiven me so therefore no one is a bigger sinner than me but His gift of righteousness is mine.  Jesus is mine and I am His just as I am, unique and wonderfully loved.  Knowing this freedom helps me embrace my weakness and my gifts and use them to Honor God.  The more I receive Gods love for me the more I become the individual He has created me to be.

Friday, December 5, 2014

When God Interrupts

How did your Thanksgiving Holiday go?  Was it the way you planned or was there interruptions at every turn.  I had planned for weeks, planting flowers, cleaning, cooking, getting beds ready, planning for Thanksgiving and a day after celebration.  We all were excited that it was the first time in a couple of years that we would be together, all the children.  I had my plan taken to heart and was so excited then my husband got sick and then I got the flu.  My calendar stopped and I fell to the bed and doctor which interrupted several days I had laid out to be ready right on time when everyone arrived.  I thought to myself.  What do you do when God interrupts the plans you have made.  What was to keep me from giving up, going to bed and getting depressed.  I began to ask for help and take on step in front of the other.  I ask myself...Do you make a daily plan?  Are you planning for Christmas?  Is it under the direction and guidance from the Lord?  Do you hold your plans loosely.  Do you say I will do such and such if the Lord wills it so?

My family took over and we had a wonderful Thanksgiving and all of us were well.  Now the days have crept by as they all have gone.  I miss the all night talks and the laughs.  The sitting on the porch in the cold all bundled up.  Special food, hugs given, reminiscing and story telling.  Thinking of the kiddos in Texas and looking at pictures.  Listening to music, the guys hunting and bringing home their find.  I miss it all.  How to I pick up again and began to plan for Christmas and the coming of our Lord celebration.  The thinking of others and extending gifts of meaning and thought.

 I don't think I will make the plans this year like I did for Thanksgiving. I held tight to the way I thought things should go.  When I let it all go and looked to Jesus in expectancy it was better than I could have imagined or planned in my own strength.   I think I might consider, talk to the others, make my plans loosely.  I want to remember the real reason for the season.  Celebrate advent and wonder what it was like riding on a donkey to give birth to our King.  I want to know how I can be a blessing daily to others that will be a reminder of the Love of God for them in sending His Son to rescue us unto eternal life.  I want to hear the music of the gospel and the birth of Jesus again, afresh and new.  I want to capture the meaning that Jesus has given us all in His birth.  It is my prayer now God. I rest in your hands and see how you will bring it about.  For your glory.

2,000 years ago God interrupted and He will do it again today.  How will we respond?  Will we be ready, looking for Him to show up in our day to day lives. Or will we be depressed and angry things are not in our control and come about as we hope?  We sell ourselves so short in the magnificence and power of our Lord.  He is creative and imaginative and is beyond us and our limited mind and ability. Will we be looking for those He brings into our midst to bless and love beyond what we can do.  I am not talking about loving those who are easy to love but those unlike you.  Those that are hard to love, the unloveable.  The lady at the supermarket who has been there sense 4 am.  The mom waiting in line with 4 kids with no idea how she can get the groceries to the car.  Those ringing the bell.  The ones on the streets we can give a meal to.  Remembering them in our giving.  Prayers for those with no family and nothing but heartache to remember.  Our own family and mates.  Sometimes they are the hardest one to accept without criticism and judgmental attitudes. Even the Pharisee loves those like him.   Can we accept how God will interrupt this year and how we can give others Jesus?  Instead of looking at our days as a failure can we look expectantly at what God will do?  Is He willing to give us another surprise in the gift of His Son again this Christmas?  We will have to spend time in His presence, feasting on His word and receiving His love to be able to then give it away.  Are we willing to get out of our comfort zone and control and risk to be surprised by Grace and Jesus in the most profound way beyond anything we might plan.