For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. —Romans 15:4

Friday, December 28, 2012

My New Year's Goal

Proverbs 16:2-3
All a person’s ways seem pure to them,

    but motives are weighed by the Lord.
Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
    and he will establish your plans.

I never count on being awake late on New Year’s Eve. Some years my husband and I watch the ball drop with Dick Clark (for many years) or Ryan Seacrest and some years we fall sound asleep long before midnight chimes. While many folks make resolutions, I’ve learned from experience that I might as well write them down then run them through the washer, because I’ll either lose them or simply not do them. But, I do set at least one realistic goal.

Last year for Christmas my sister-in-law gave me a journal where you answer a question everyday and repeat the process for a span of five years. I looked at my January 1 entry from this year and found that I had set the goal of finishing my novel. I did finish the rough draft. So this year I’d like to edit it to fit into the Christian romance genre.

I know that God is with me as I challenge myself to complete the task he put before me. You see, I know that God called me to write. He gave me the story and he wants me to finish. With every step, he’s provided people and resources that I need to complete the story. I’m excited that he’s set this before me, but sometimes I’m a bit fearful that I will fail. But I am reassured by the words in Proverbs. I’ve committed the writing to God and I seek his help. He knows my motives and he sees my heart. I thank God for his constant assurance. Do you have a resolution or goal for the New Year that you want to talk over with God?

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Merry Christmas!

“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.” Luke 2:6-7 NIV

One of my favorite Christmas decorations from childhood sits on my bookshelf. I remember this particular piece of memorabilia being one that I was allowed to pick up and look at. The hard brittle plastic that was formed into a nativity scene features baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph. The roof, adorned with glitter, holds a star and an angel. A few animals stand near the manger, along with the wise men (who actually visited a few years later) and a pine tree. To me this symbol of Christmas represents “the reason for the season.”

My quest for Christmas begins in October, when I prepare lists of what I hope to accomplish. I can barely wait for Thanksgiving weekend, when we put up the tree. The ornaments hold so many memories. The lights and decorations bring a joy to my heart that only comes at Christmas. But as much as I enjoy the fun festivities, the holiday will not be complete until Tim and I worship in church this Sunday, and celebrate the birth of our Savior. Whether Jesus' real birth date is December 25 or some date in the spring, I’m thankful that we designate a day to praise him and celebrate his life.

May God bless you with peace and joy this Christmas season.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Meteors and Angels

Luke 2:13-16
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.

This time of year I enjoy the fresh, crisp air in the early morning and the stars in the dark night sky. When I heard that the December Geminid meteor shower would be visible, I wanted to see the flash of light for myself. As Tim and I walked the dogs, I stood on the sidewalk in the park and watched the sky.  Within minutes I caught sight of a meteor as it streaked across the night. 
The tail followed and faded into the dark. Before I went into the house, I saw a second one. I stood amazed at God’s creation.

As excited as I was to see the radiant glow streak across the sky, I can’t imagine how the shepherds felt when the angels flew before them and sang out about Jesus’ birth. There they stood in the middle of a field, minding their business, mingling with the sheep, when a heavenly host of angels shined before them. Not only did they see angels, they traveled to the stable to see the Prince of Peace. Jesus. They must have stood in awe. I want to capture that amazement and adoration as I think about the birth of my savior. The meteor was exciting but Jesus is eternal. Praise God for the gift of his son.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

His Humble Servant

Luke 1:45-48
Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her! (Spoken by Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist, when Mary visited her.)
And Mary said:
  My soul glorifies the Lord
  and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
  for he has been mindful
  of the humble state of his servant.

Have you ever been totally surprised by the blessings of God? Time and again I am amazed at the way God works in my life. He provides opportunities for me that I never imagined were possible. As a child, my shyness stood in the way of accomplishment. I cringed if I had to read out loud in class. And my anxiety kicked in if I had to stand in front of the room and recite. But, God worked in my life and has given me the courage and confidence to stand before women and speak about his amazing love.

As much as my anxiety and shyness bothered me, I cannot imagine how Mary must have felt when she was told that she’d carry God’s son. A young teen, engaged to Joseph, living a simple God-fearing life and all of a sudden she’s pushed into the spotlight. Not just as Jesus mother, but as an unwed mother who brought embarrassment to her fiancĂ©— not because she’d done anything wrong, but because she served God. Yet, she chose to praise God for her blessings. As Christmas draws near and I think about the miracle of Jesus birth, I praise God for the people who allow God to work in their lives so that I might better understand his grace and glory. Mary’s willingness to follow the Lord brought Jesus into the world. Praise God for sending his love to us.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Generosity of Saint Nick

Matthew 6:3-4
But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

I am going to go out on a limb here and say that I still enjoy the mystery of Santa Claus. No, I don’t expect a jolly man dressed in a red suit with fluffy white fur to climb down the chimney. But I do appreciate the story surrounding the real Saint Nick. Legend says that a man named Nicholas was born around A.D. 280 in the small town of Patara (Turkey). As a believer in the Bible, Nicholas showed great compassion for others. When he left gifts, he gave them in secret. Eventually someone figured out that he sneaked into homes and left presents, but history says that he remained humble until his death. Eventually, Saint Nicholas became an icon of generosity.

Jesus encouraged believers to give to the poor, take care of widows and orphans and be generous. He wants me to do this without boasting or calling attention to myself. Even as I buy or make gifts for my loved ones, I want to keep a humble attitude and honor the recipients. “It is better to give than to receive” is so true.  A large part of the joy I experience at Christmas time comes from giving. With this attitude I don’t worry anymore about getting just the right gift. Instead I focus on the pleasure of giving.