"Count it all joy when you fall into various trials."

Posts tagged ‘Christmas’

The Lonely Season Redeemed

Well, I had everything planned and then things changed. Becoming a widow does that.  Before there was someone I belonged to and he belonged to me.lonely

Christmas this year will be different, but then I knew that.  It will be with my dear and oldest friend in Wichita.  She is a widow also and understands this very unwelcome season of life.

I have always been strong and capable; perhaps a bit too much in charge, but all of that is changed as I am learning to flow with this season in a new way.

When my Mom got married at 91, I knew it was because she wanted someone to be with and now, more than ever, I understand.  But for me, I would rather be alone than to be with the wrong person.

I am learning that the only One Dear Godthat I can depend on is the Lord and I think it is a lesson He wanted me to learn long ago.  All too often, we look to family and friends to fill us up with their warmth and love.  Now it is time for me to love them right where they are and fill them up with the warmth that the Lord gives me..  He has them in the palm of His hand and He has me as well.

I remember Mom saying when I came to visit that I didn’t spend enough time with her.  I had so many friends to see.  Today, in this season, I understand that she was wanting me to be there with her.  Perhaps I am reaping what I sowed or maybe it is just the lonely season of life.

I got the most wonderful massage yesterday.  The whole time she was using her healing hands on me, she prayed with me.  It was a time of refocusing on the important things.  I have so much to be thankful for and so many things to accomplish.  I am grateful to her.

I am going to have a Merry Christmas and I am looking forward to a New Year of fulfillment and love.  Merry Christmas everyone!

 

 

 

 

A True Merry Christmas Story

Today I want to wish you a very Merry Christmas, and I want to bring to mind the real reason that we pause this time of year.  In a world that is trying to neutralize all of our beliefs and traditions, there is something wonderful and real.  He is Jesus and this is how He came to save us:

The Creator of the Universe, Father God had been betrayed by the created being closest to Him in Heaven.  His name was Lucifer and he led a revolt, with some of the angels; he lost of course.  He realized too late that He could never again be exalted alongside of Father God.

He was exiled to the earth and here he raged around and wrecked havoc everywhere destroying the beauty of the planet.  He became known as Satan and because He was a created being filled with life, he could not be destroyed – even by Father God.

It is hard to believe, but Father God longed for a family and He had only One Son.  They decided that they would multiply the family and make more beings in the god class to live on the earth and take it back from this rebellious fallen being.  Father Himself planted a garden in Eden and gave life to another son, Adam.  He formed him in the soil of the earth outside the garden.  He then brought him into the garden and told him to dominate the earth and expand the garden.

Adam got to name all the animals and loved the Garden and spending time with Father God.  But God knew that Adam was missing a companion made like he was.  So He separated his wife from Adam’s body so that they could share in this adventure together.  Father came down from heaven often and spent time with them.  He gave them only one rule – not to eat from a tree that was called the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Satan was listening and saw this as an opportunity.  He slithered into the garden and began creating doubt in these two amazing people.  Soon, they took the bait and took a bite out of the fruit of the forbidden tree.  Too late they found out the error they had made.  Suddenly they knew they were uncovered from the wonderful Light and Glory of God and made a feeble effort to cover themselves.

When Father came to them, he asked them what happened and they blamed each other and the serpent.  It was the first time that blame was used.  Father couldn’t cover them with Light and Glory anymore, so he killed some of the animals and made coverings for them.  When the animals shed their blood, Adam and Eve’s sins were forgiven and they were covered.

Father spoke over them the results of their actions. They had to leave the beautiful garden.   To Adam he said, “Man would labor to bring forth with great effort what had previously been available without toil.”  To Eve, he said  ” Woman would have pain in childbirth, but her kind would have a Son that would be bruised by Satan, but he would crush Satan’s head.”

Eve herself was not the one to physically give birth to the Christ Child. Many centuries would pass until a young woman who had never known a man would be chosen to bring forth Jesus, the Christ.  (Christ means the Anointed One.)

So here we are, over 2000 years since the birth of Jesus remembering that He came with a purpose.  It was to redeem us and to take the keys of death, hell, and the grave from Satan.  He did it all through His birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven. He shed His blood, just a God shed the blood of animals for us in the Garden, and out sins were forgiven.

In Heaven Jesus is now seated with Father praying for each of us every day.  When we accept what Jesus has done for us, He gives us the Holy Spirit to live in us .  He is our Guide, Teacher,  Comforter and much more.  Now Father has a family of people who believe in the finished work of His Son and He has given us meaningful work here on earth, to bring more of those who fell as a result of the disobedience of our first parents, back into His family.

He longs for each of us and waits for us.  No matter what we have done, He still wants us.  The Scripture says, “For God so loved the world (you and me) that He gave His only begotten Son (Jesus) that whosoever (you and me) believes in Him should not perish (die) but have eternal life.  He did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved.”  Isn’t it great that there is NO Condemnation when we choose Him.

Satan doesn’t want us to know about the amazing love of Father God and His Son, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.  He does everything in his power to damage the name of Jesus and God the Father.  He wants us to think that the Holy Spirit is powerless and that we have no power to be who Jesus made us to be.  He gets us to do his work and we steal, kill, and destroy others and then he blames it on God.  But God only gives life and He gives it fully.

When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we change our citizenship and our family.  In that moment, we are citizens of heaven and part of the royal family of God who is now our Father, and Jesus is our big brother.  So, if you accept the finished work of Jesus, I promise you a life of excitement and adventure.  Find a church that understands both the Word of God (Bible) and the Spirit of God.

To accept Jesus, use your own words and pray something like this, “Father, Thank you for sending Your Son Jesus to earth to save me.  Jesus, come into may heart and forgive me of my sin and teach me to be all you have for me to be.  Lead me to people who know you so that I may learn your ways.  Thank you.  Amen

I promise that when you pray this pray, all the angels of heaven will rejoice with great joy.  This is my Christmas prayer for you.

Send me a note that I may rejoice with you. If you want to e-mail me with questions or to tell me of your decision, you can do so at joyinthejourney@gmx.com.

Aside

Legacy of Love

She is always so glad to see me when I come for a visit.  I am watching her grow old.  She held me when I was born,  kissed my hurts, held me when I cried and when I fell down.  She stood by me when I married – and divorced.  She never waivered when I went through the crazies between marriages.  She has always been here for me.

Her memory is not as good as it once was yet she remembers all the important stuff.  When I take her shopping the arthritis in her knees require a wheel chair and she goes at it with enthusiasm and wears me out.   I never thought she would live to her 96th year but on Christmas Eve this year, she will celebrate her birthday.

She loves the Lord and her family.  She prays for each of us as we go through all the ups and downs of life.  Her two daughters had a total of six children who have sixteen children and there are even some great-grandchildren that I have lost track of.  She loves each of us no matter what.  We have disappointed her, hurt her, made her proud, made her cry, and surprised her.  Nothing moves her.  We belong to her and that means that we are always loved and always prayed for.

I know that one day she won’t be here and I will miss her.  I am so thankful that she is my Mom.  I know that I have been blessed to have her for such a long time.  I don’t take it for granted.

She was born in 1916 and times were so much different then.  She lived with outhouses and wood burning stoves.  She worked for a bank in the depression and her boss embezzled money.  She married my Dad and they took their honeymoon to Sioux City, Iowa, and stayed in a hotel for $2.50 a night and wrote home that it was too rich for their blood and moved to another hotel across town.  They began their life together with $25.  The rented a farm and raised a few head of cattle which they milked.  They had chickens, pigs and lambs.  The horses worked the land.  Eventually they acquired and a steel wheeled tractor.  (I loved the farm.)

Daddy got recruited by a distant relative to become a salesman   We moved to town and life changed forever.  She worked to supplement the family income as a secretary, a manager of a sewing machine sales outlet and still managed to be there for my sister and me.

When Daddy started traveling on the road all week, she saw to it that when he got home on Friday night that there was a hot meal and a welcoming family to greet him.  They were known and loved by friends and neighbors.

We moved to the city in 1961.  I had left for college and it was shock not to go back to our comfortable small town.  She carried it all with grace.  In the 90’s, Daddy left to go home and be with the Lord.  She had been his care-giver as he had Emphysema.  He just wouldn’t give up smoking when he found out.  He lived to his early 80’s.  She missed him very much.

Four years ago she married a man (who has COPD).  They take care of each other and keep each other company.  They have had health concerns the last couple of years.  He beat cancer and she recovered from a broken hip.  She walks with a walker but struggles getting up and down on her old knees.  The picture at the top of this post is their wedding picture.

When I go visit, I try to help her with organization and this year, I wrapped Christmas presents.  She loves to give to others.  Every year she says, “This might be the last time,” and I always say, “You don’t know that!”  And we don’t.

When you look into the eyes of your loved ones, value them and each moment that you have them.  May you leave a legacy of love just like my Mom is doing with her life.

Aside

Repitition 101

When the Autumn colours began to riot over the hillsides, I took a ride to take in all the beauty.  I did this last year although I don’t think the variation in the hues were as beautiful.  As I drove, I thought, “What other things do I do year after year and day after day?”

There are a couple of special things that I get to do only once every four years.  Joe and I got engaged on February 29 and so it is a special day for us – every four years.  This year was our 8th celebration which translates into 32 years.

Another event, that happens only once every four years,  is the opportunity to vote for the President of the United States.  It is both a privilege and a responsibility.  This year, all of the choices are important and require prayer.

Year after year with the beautiful Autumn comes the fall!  Each year there are so many leaves from the big Oak trees in our yard and the neighbor’s that require mulching or burning.  It is a bitter-sweet activity as I know I am preparing for the Winter and colder weather.  On a happier note, I get to wear boots and sweaters which I like a lot!

Annually, I prepare for Christmas and spend many happy hours thinking of the greatest gift of all, the amazing Baby in a manger that grew up, just like we do, and became the One who put the upside down world right again.  Even more amazing, He redeemed each of us and when we embrace His gift, we are restored to the Kingdom.  It is also a time to reflect on my loved ones and to choose carefully gifts that will delight and encourage.  Last year, I made books for the children.

Another annual event is the Autumn Assembly of Prayer in Branson.  We pray, hear wonderful teaching, and connect with friends from around the world.  It is this week and I am anticipating it with joy.

Month after month, I pay bills.  Enough said.

Day after day, I straighten up the house, cook meals, make the bed, get ready for the day, have a quiet time, do laundry, blog, work, to to church, and enjoy friends and family.

As I reflect on all of the things that I do over and over again, there is a comfort in the repetition  but it is the serendipitous moments of the totally unexpected that bring delight and laughter spicing my life with joy.  Come to think of it, I have been there and done that before too!

Christmas

The season is festive, full of colored lights and beautiful ornaments.   There is shopping and shopping and shopping.  Our entire economy depends on this season of the year.  How did that happen??  We all want to give the perfect gift.  One that will be just right and memorable.  We want to be rosy-cheeked as we come home with our treasures.  We want to be smiling as we prepare our Christmas feast.  We want this to be a family time without strife and without pain.

But just before the big day, the Visa bill arrives and – yikes! – we didn’t realize it was going to be that much!  We notice a headache and an uncomfortable feeling in the stomach.  Then, we try to reconcile this with the thought, “It only happens once a year!”  And then we think, “It’s a good thing too, or we would be bankrupt.”  Is this the way you want this time to be?

We even have to fight with the government just to say “Merry Christmas” and display a Nativity scene.  In some ways, it has become such a ridiculous event that we just think, “This year, we will just forget it!  We will take a cruise or go to a desert island.  It won’t cost much more than buying gifts that will be re-gifted next year.”

So what is this all about?  Is Christmas just a social gathering of family and friends?  How did it begin?

The event is described in Scripture.  A young girl from Nazareth is minding her own business and she is visited by an angel.  Our minds can’t wrap around that as we have never had an angelic visit us.  We have an angel on the shelf and we even have an angel lapel pin, hoping it will bring us favor.  As we read the story, this angel actually talked to Mary!  He told her that she would have a baby and she said, “I have never known a man.”  This is just unbelievable and I know it doesn’t make sense, but stay with me.

The story continues.  The angel said, “The Spirit of God will come upon you and you will conceive and get pregnant.  The baby will be a boy and you are to name him Jesus – in Hebrew – Yeshua – which means salvation.”  So she was to have a baby and name him Salvation. His Daddy is the Spirit of God!  How do you wrap your head around this?  It was a very strange event but for some reason, this young girl, who was maybe 15 years old, said, “I accept this. I will do it.”  When the angel left, she sang a song of praise.  Really?

Her fiance wasn’t quite as excited about the whole thing as she was.  When Mary told him what had happened, he thought, “This is a fable and I don’t believe any of it!”  He fled her presence.  “Oh,” he cried in anguish, “How could Mary do this?  I care about Mary so much, I will just break it off quietly and not have her stoned.”  (That was how they did it in those days.  Be unfaithful to your husband-to-be and they would take you to the edge of town and put an end to you.)

As he was thinking it over, the angel shows up again.  (How can that be?  I want an angel to visit me.)  He tells Joseph to cool it.  This thing with Mary is not what you think it is.  The Spirit of God is the Father of the baby and Joseph is to marry her but keep his hands off her until after the baby is born.  Wow!  How would you feel?  But, the angelic visit changed his heart.  He believed that the baby Mary was carrying was the Son of God.  He agreed to continue with their plans.  That, too, is amazing!

About this time, the government gets involved and the couple have to make a long trip to Bethlehem to register to be taxed.  So, Joseph takes Mary who is near her due date and they head out.  When they arrive, the hotels are all booked.  (They should have called ahead.)  But, the inn-keeper saw the circumstances of this young couple and he wanted to help them.  He offered his barn.

Image DetailI spent my early years on a farm and I know that barns are really organic.  There are animals, hay, manure, owls, and pigeons.  It has no fireplace but the animals give off a certain heat.  Joseph and Mary gladly accepted the offer and moved into one of the stalls.  They found clean hay and made a place for Mary to lay as she birthed this special child.  When the baby had arrived, she fell asleep and Joseph rigged up a place for the baby in a feeding trough.

There is more to the story, but this is how it all began.  No shopping malls, no colored lights and carols.  Just the sounds of animals breathing and braying.   All alone, in a barn, helping each other bring the baby into the world, when they had never been intimate with each other in the way of men and women.  A young girl and a man following the leading of an angel messenger, and quietly changing the world.

This special baby comes into the world without anything.  He is totally humbled.  God is his Father, but he is fully human without the special privileges that religion has assigned to him.  We can touch him and kiss him.  He cries, poops and sucks on Mary’s breast.  He gets the hiccups and he smiles.  This baby is destined to bring salvation to the world.  He is even named Salvation.  No pressure there!

Rumors get out and soon Mary and Joseph are visited by another angel.  They find themselves fleeing to Egypt as already the government wants to kill him.  How dangerous can a baby born in a barn be, for heaven’s sake?

This is the true Christmas story.  It has little relevance to what we have made of it.  He came to bring us back to Spirit-life like we had in the Garden.  Because this baby was the Son of God, he came to live through all the junk we do, so he could set us free.  He made it possible for us to hang out with Father in the beautiful life that He designed for us.  Jesus – Salvation is our big brother but we have to invite him in.  We’ll look at more of “his-story”as we go on, but for today, enjoy the lights, the holly and the tree, and remember that He is how this all came to be.  Ask Him to make your Christmas special by inviting Him into your heart to spend it with you.  He is waiting . . . . . . . . . .

It is easy to do.  The Bible says that those who call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved.  Read John 3:16, 17.  Find out how much He loves you and that He is just waiting for you to call out to Him.  Each of us come to the realization of who He is in a different way.  For me, I was driving down the road, listening to the radio preacher when God took over his voice and I knew for sure that He was real.  I just began to say, “I’m sorry Jesus.  I just didn’t know.  I didn’t know.”  So it isn’t a formula, it is a heart thing.  Ask Him to make Himself real and I promise that He will.

Matthew 1:18-25, 2:1-23

Luke 1:26-56, 2:1-7

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