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Friday, December 28, 2012

~ Christmas Reminds Me ~

1)  Christmas reminds me that Love saw and Love came. 
2)  Christmas reminds me that Love is not a 'force in the sky',
but a real actual Person that wants us to know Him.

3)  Christmas reminds me that Love doesn't ask us to look inside ourselves for the Answer,
but rather look inside the manger.

4) Christmas reminds me that when powerful things happen,
it's not necessarily comfortable or glorious for those involved.

5)  Christmas reminds me that Mary was an ordinary girl who let God do extraordinary things through her. The impossible became possible.

6)  Christmas reminds me that Love comes humbly -- even in the form of a child.

7)  Christmas reminds me that God loves surprises!  (What a surprise the shepherds had!)

8)  Christmas reminds me that angels are real.

9)  Christmas reminds me that God controls the 'bright setting' on the stars.
 (that must be one huge remote control! haha!)

10)  Christmas reminds me wise men don't need to wish upon a star --
they seek the One it's pointing to.

11)  Christmas reminds me that big things do come in small packages. ;)

12)  Christmas reminds me that God is crazy about families --
and crazy enough to put Himself smack in the middle of one! ;)

13)  Christmas reminds me that all 'cast members'
 participated in the Original Christmas Story.

14)  Christmas reminds me that God's timing is perfect ...
even if it doesn't look like it on the surface.
(like the timing of Mary going into labor).

15)  Christmas reminds me that You come in our darkest of nights.

16)  Christmas reminds me that practical gift giving is perfectly acceptable.
(The wise men's gifts were used to live off of.)

17)  Christmas reminds me that God loves music
and His holiday soundtrack included angels and animals. 
(I'd love to see that available on itunes! ;)

18)  Christmas reminds me that we, too, can sleep (and live)
 in Heavenly Peace, here on earth.

19)  Christmas reminds me that God will even use politics/leaders
to set the scene for His plan.

20) Christmas reminds me that God has been known to visit the work place.
(The shepherds were in the middle of their night shift :)

21)  Christmas reminds me that some may 'travel afar'.

22)  Christmas reminds me that Mary did not have to worry about cooking, cleaning or decorating for her first Christmas party. (Should I follow her lead? ;)

23)  Christmas reminds me that when you ask God, it's okay to ask BIG!
(No kid limits themselves when whispering their requests to Santa! ;)

24)  Christmas reminds me that out of pain (in this case, Mary's labor pain)
can come Great Life.

25) Christmas reminds me that our Daddy loves to spoil His kids, too!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Dear Santa,

A visit to see Santa is no small thing for a child.  Some have their list memorized like they are going to give a speech at the Oscars.  They know what they want and they don't put a cap or limit on their requests. 

I remember hearing about one child who asked for their parent to come home from serving overseas.  And, why not ask?  There's no sign in front of Santa that says,

"Please keep all requests within reason and possibility.  Thank you." 

There are no adults standing by to make sure each child isn't too outlandish with their requests.  Certainly no adult would ever tell a child that something is impossible with Santa -- who would discourage the faith of a child?  So, the children make their lists and in faith ask BIG -- believing they will receive what they ask for!

Us big kids can do the same. 

Our Father loves when we come and 'sit on his lap' -- when we get close and look with wonder at Him.  He loves when we have child-like questions about who He is and want to know more about such a Jolly Happy One.  His heart is thrilled. His Laugh is pure.  His Delight is sincere.  He LOVES it!  And, He wants to hear from us.  He wants to hear it all. 

And how He loves when we bring our requests!  He loves when we begin rattling off our lists!  He's thrilled to hear each one.  He loves the fact that we are letting Him in on our lives and taking Him up on His offer to find all we need in Him.  He loves that we trust Him enough to whisper our secret lists into His attentive ear. 

And, just like Santa, there are no signs posted in front of God to limit what to ask or how big to make it.  I have never read anything in the Bible where God told the person their request was too big for Him. (Though, He did challenge some about their faith!) 

So come!  Make your lists or just spit it out on the spot.  But, come with wonder and faith -- unafraid to ASK!  SEEK! and KNOCK!  We may be surprised at what is given, what we find, and the gifts we open!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sleep in Heavenly Peace

There is nothing quite as peaceful as a sleeping baby.  I could watch one for hours.  (Actually, with having children of my own, I probably have watched them sleep for hours!) 

What is most amazing to me about it is the fact that though they are the most vulnerable human beings on the planet, they are the ones that often get the best sleep on earth!  When their physical needs are met, many of them have no problem drifting off into a deep slumber -- anywhere and anytime -- even in a noisy restaurant, a room full of screaming children, a home that echoes with phones ringing, TV blasting and dogs barking.  No matter their circumstances, they are able to rest. 

What a beautiful picture for us as adults who probably haven't seen such rest in decades.  And, I don't mean a physical rest.  I mean a 'heart rest' -- without the aid of wine, drugs or food.  A peaceful heart.  So peaceful that, like a baby, no matter where you are -- a stressful work place, a lonely empty home, a place far from home, or anywhere else and in any situation -- you are resting, you are at Peace.

You may say "Nice thought, but impossible, Valerie!"

For some of us, being peaceful would be like a Christmas miracle.  There is just way too much to worry about, way too much violence in the world, way too many reasons to be on edge and live in fear.  You may reason that if you are resting, you're letting down your guard.  You may reason that you have a family to protect now -- the idea of being peaceful was gone the minute your precious child entered the world.

As a parent, I still fight with these feelings.  But, I'm learning that when I choose to worry and stress, I am doing no one any favors.  If anything, I am bringing anxiety into my home and, ironically, doing damage to the place that I most want to protect. 

But, when I REST -- when I choose to rest in God and agree with Him that He is the stronger Parent/Person in any situation, then suddenly the pressure comes off me and onto Him.  I become like the infant who is able to rest, not because it is strong enough to protect itself, but because it has placed all its trust in its parent's hands.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Trust Shift

Many of us have been there. 

After eating a certain food we end up violently sick.  Then from that time forward, whenever we smell or even see that food, we begin to feel sick.  We choose to avoid it forever based on that single experience.  Even if we know that it was probably an isolated incident, and we would probably be fine if we ate it again, we still want nothing to do with it, regardless.

I'm sad to even think how many people have this feeling toward God -- and I'm not excluding myself.  People have been burned.  Burned by people that they should have been able to trust.  Burned by multiple people, even multiple scenarios.  They walk away from them with a taste in their mouth that they will never forget. And, then, when God or His People are mentioned any time after that point, their stomach turns, they back away slowly, and then run.  Who can blame them?

So where do you go from there when you still desire a genuine relationship with God and His People?

I have found that one of the first steps is having a trust shift.  You realize that if you are going to move forward, you must come to grips with the fact that people are just that -- people.  They are not perfect.  They will mess up.  They will disappoint us.  They will flat out fail us.  God has never asked us to trust man. He asks us to love them and trust HIM. 

When this trust shift happens, we may still be apprehensive and need to ask God to help us with our fear, but we can be confident that we are safe.  We can be assured that even when trials come and life happens, and flesh fails us, and we are even struck down --  we are not destroyed by them because we are no longer trusting in man, but now trusting in the One who promises to never disappoint us. 


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Space to Cry, Room for Anger

I've experienced both sides of the spectrum.

1)  Focusing on the problem without the Solution in mind or even realizing there was a Solution.  I spent years in this place.  Judging myself.  Frustrated with circumstances I couldn't control.  Condemning myself and looking in instead of up.  Trying to solve things myself.  Then, sad and fearful as I realized that I may never find peace and hope.  It was a dark abyss.

But, then I did find Peace and Hope!

God's Love broke through.  I was stunned, amazed and blown away.  I had no idea how real and close God was (is).  It changed me forever.

But, somewhere along the way I started to think that if I now have Peace and Hope, I should not think about the negative....  like, at all.  There were now too many reasons to smile, give thanks and stop complaining.  The effect of this, though, was that I started ignoring the things in my heart that God was genuinely interested in dealing with in me.  He would point to things and say, "Let's deal with this sad part of you."  And, I'd push the thought away (not knowing it was Him) and say to myself, "Valerie, don't dwell on the past.  Keep your eyes on Him."  2) I ignored the problem and wasn't honest with myself or God as a result.

Here's where I have landed.

God gives us space to cry and a chest to beat on in our anger.  He knows we are human.  He doesn't ask us to be so spiritual that we stop being real about real thoughts, real emotions, real problems, real pain.  He WANTS us to be real.  He doesn't want us to pick up the rug in our hearts and sweep things under. 

But, as we are real about things, He wants us always to keep the Solution in mind.  He asks us to be honest with things, not solve them ourselves.  He doesn't pull out old heart wounds and then ask us to heal them.  He points things out so we are then aware of what we can hand over to Him for Him to heal.  Just like a repair man comes into a home.  He points out the problems -- not to ask the residents to fix them themselves, but so that they are aware of the things that need fixing and can then give the repair man permission to come in and fix it for them.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Addressed To You

If you have ever been a recipient of a gift that was intended for other people besides yourself, you understand.  Companies send out Christmas cards and Holidays wishes to their clients, every year.  Sympathy cards and flowers are delivered to grieving families for funerals.  They are sincere gifts, for sure, but it's understood that the gift is to be shared and therefore, it may feel less personal to those receiving it. 

Love gave the world a Christmas Gift 2,000 years ago.  A gift given for ALL.  If you're like so many others, you see may see it like the office Christmas card.... "What a beautiful thing to do for us" you might say.  You see it as a sincere act of love, but not take it very personally. 

And, here is where God wants to make Himself clear. 

Yes, He gave for all.   But, He gave with each of us individually in mind.  He knows us by name.  He created our inmost being.  And, His gift is PERSONAL.  Personal to Him and given for us to open PERSONALLY

If you look close enough, you will see your name written on the Package.