Wednesday, December 31, 2008

"Out With Fear and In With Faith"

This is a wonderful devotion on "FEAR" by James MacDonald that I came across today. So fitting for me (and you, I pray) as I let go of 2008 and greet 2009 with faith! Enjoy!


You can dress fear up in all kinds of costumes, but it’s never very far away for any of us.
Let’s talk about what we fear. One word says it all; we fear the future. No one’s afraid of the past. The past has other problems. No one’s really afraid of the present. We might be upset about the present, but we don’t fear it because we know it. Fear involves the future. Fear involves the unknown. "Something’s up ahead and I don’t want it." Fear is about as accurate as the local weather forecast, but it’s scary nonetheless.
When we think about the future, we fear loss and pain.
We’re afraid of losing people. Will my spouse always love me? Will my kids walk with the Lord or go their own way?
We fear losing possessions and position. I’m barely able to make ends meet; will I be able to keep my house? Will I have enough?
We fear emotional pain. Somebody’s not happy with me. They don’t want me anymore.
We fear failure. I’m not happy with myself. I could have, I should have, I would have, I didn’t, I’m not; I failed.
Let us agree that fear is a universal problem. It hits us like a wave, threatening to swallow us in its undertow. Scripture identifies the overwhelming emotion of fear almost 1,000 times. The word fear is used 441 times; afraid, 167 times; tremble, 101 times; and terror or terrified, 121 times. The words dread, frighten, and faint are also repeatedly used throughout Scripture.
Fear is the opposite of all that Christianity is to be. Fear is the opposite of faith. Faith says, "Whatever it is, it’ll be okay because of God." Fear says, It’s not going to be okay, and doesn’t think much about God at all.
Fear is the complete state of anti-God. God is seldom further from you than when your heart is filled with fear. An anxious, frightened reaction is never good and never from God. Romans 8:15 tells us, "You did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear," and 2 Timothy 1:7 says, "God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control."
I think you get it. Fear doesn’t belong in your life. Out with fear and in with faith.

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began. - 2 Timothy 1:6-9

Happy New Year



Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

-Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Let the closet go!

This is the day which the LORD hath made;
we will rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24

Ahhh! The chance to sleep in. I kissed husband good-bye and crawled back in the bed, snuggled under the blankets, got all comfy and dozed off to sleep. Sweet slumber.
But not for long. The telephone rang interrupting my dreamland. The voice on the other end was familiar. Could I please come and help at Pop's office? The nurse was out sick and they were short-handed. Too groggy to think up any valid excuses, I hesitantly agreed. As I stumbled to the shower muttering to myself, I wondered what my day would be like now. Instead of sleeping in and leisurely attending to one of my many holiday projects of cleaning out a closet I would instead face people with with coughs, fevers, and all sorts of ailments. Lovely. Not my idea of a good day.

In the silence of the shower, I heard it. I heard His tender voice speak my name. "Gina, this is the day I have made. Rejoice and be glad in it." So I stood there, letting these words wash over me, cleansing me of my selfishness. I asked Abba to give me what I don't have on my own - whatever these sick people would need from me today. Give me strength, Lord. Me, this wife/mom/grandmother/teacher and reluctant substitute nurse. I wondered what He would choose to do. And marveled at what He had already done.
At the office, most of the people I came in contact with were well beyond my age. Most were elderly (over 70). One particular lady was 96. On February 10th she will be 97 to be exact. Other than the fact that she has to walk with the assistance of a cane and her eyesight is failing, the woman is in perfect health. She had a beautiful smile, great wit, and unblemished skin. (she uses Oil of Olay, if you're wondering like I did) I felt drawn to her and we struck up a conversation easily. She needed some assistance undressing and dressing because of a bad shoulder and she was so grateful and appreciative for my help. I didn't mind at all. She was a gentle, humble spirit sharing stories of her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. She told me how she had to give up driving because of her bad eyes. She said she still loved to get out and do things and admitted that she would soon have to be getting a wheelchair to get around because her balance is a little off. She said she had been a member of a woman's club for over 70 years and that she was a postal clerk at one time. I enjoyed hearing her tell about her life. She was a classy southern lady, this lady twice my age. When her examination was complete and she was fully dressed, all three layers, she hugged me and told me "it was so nice to meet you, you are so kind, and you made my day, this day He gave me," then she kissed me on the cheek.

Me? I questioned. I made someone's day? Then I remembered that encounter in the shower this morning. I kissed her cheek and told her "You have blessed me so much and it was a pleasure to be able to share this day with you." And it was. This day that He made. And I rejoiced! And to think I could have missed it all cleaning out a closet.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Slow us down




In the name of Jesus Christ,
who was never in a hurry,
we pray, O God,
that You will slow us down,
for we know that we live too fast.
With all of eternity before us,
make us take time to live --
time to get acquainted with You,
time to enjoy Your blessings,
and time to know each other.
-Peter Marshall, 1902-1949

Friday, December 26, 2008

Some Christmas Photos

Christmas with Cousins at Mema and Papa's
Nativity on Buffet
Travis and Savannah-Jane

Obama Santa
Christmas Cousins - Malli and Grayson

Griff(19), Savannah-Jane (16), and Taylor(21)

Taylor surprising Dominica
with a diamond necklace

Malli
Christmas Breakfast with those we love

Malli, Missy, and Griff

Christmas Dinner on the porch
Birds and Twig tree
Hutch with Christmas dishes

Dining table

Breakfast Table
Greenery on banister

Guy serving up Christmas punch
Griff, Savannah-Jane, and Taylor

All of us, including 'significant others'
at Mema and Papa's

Christmas Cousins - Baby Malli and Baby Alexis

Two proud new grandmas -
Gigi holding Malli and GrandMolly holding Grayson
Kameryn cooking with Aunt Gina
Graceanna cooking with Aunt Gina

Poinsettias on the porch

My first (and maybe last) scrapbook project - ever!

Malli dressed up for Christmas
Me doing what I love to do

Back to the 1000 Gifts List

403. Christmas at Moma & Daddy's with the Griffis Family
404. Hosting this year's Morgan Family Christmas
405. Watching Malli open her first Christmas gift
406. Candles throughout the house
407. Christmas cards from near and far
408. Filling Christmas stockings for my grown children
409. hugs from my sons
410. sleeping in with hubby
411. grocery shopping with daughter
412. Malli's laugh

My Exceeding Joy

"Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you…" Psalm 43:4

Perparing for Christmas in most households begins weeks, even months before December 25th. So much energy and effort goes into making the day a memorable one, then suddenly it's over. All that seems to be left is the dirty dishes, wilting greenery, and torn wrapping paper.
I heard a report on the news today that is quite common for persons to experience "post-Christmas blues."
Well I have some news, and it is good news...
If you find yourself lacking joy, feeling a little empty, then take the time to just sit at His feet, praising Him. Open up your Bible to Psalms. Devour the Word. His Word. Only He can truly satisfy. The lustre of those new gifts will fade, but His love endures forever. He is 'my exceeding joy.'

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I Seek You and Worship You

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. Matthew 2:1-2

The cakes are baked, the presents wrapped, stockings stuffed, and everyone is asleep. Except this one. I am wide awake in the first few hours of this Christmas Day. In this pre-dawn hour, I find solace and solitude from the hustle of the day. With my side and his side celebrations on two different days, I have been in overdrive preparing food, wrapping gifts, and cleaning house, etc. It happens every year. I have the best of intentions. But somehow it happens. A real struggle for me. To relax. To enjoy it. To keep my focus on Him.
So here I am seeking you, Lord Jesus. I worship you and adore you, Lord Jesus. I have nothing to give you. No gold, frankincense, or myrr. I have nothing - except my worship. Nothing. But strangely, that is enough. Yes, I come empty, yet I am filled. Filled with your love, your grace and your continual mercy. No greater gift.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

"Think it out! ..."

"...The only way for Jesus to get us out of our spiritual poverty and into spiritual riches was to get out of his spiritual riches into spiritual poverty. This should now be the pattern of your life. Give your resources away and enter into need so that those in need will be resourced.”
- Timothy Keller, The Gospel and the Poor

Friday, December 19, 2008

Humility, not discouragement!

“I hope what you find in yourself by daily experience, will humble you—but not discourage you.
For if our Physician is almighty—our disease cannot be desperate. Our sins are many—but His mercies are more. Our sins are great—but His righteousness is greater. When our sins prevail, remember that we have an Advocate with the Father, who is able to pity, to pardon, and to save to the uttermost!
It is better to be admiring the compassion and fullness of grace which is in our Savior—than to dwell and pore too much upon our own poverty and vileness.”

—John Newton, Letters of John Newton (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth: 2007)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Come Thou Long Expected Jesus

“On this side of eternity, Christmas is still a promise. Yes, the Savior has come, and with him peace on earth, but the story is not finished. Yes, there is peace in our hearts, but we long for peace in our world.
Every Christmas is still ‘a turning of the page’ until Jesus returns. Every December 25 marks another year that draws us closer to the fulfillment of the ages, that draws us closer to . . . home.
When we realize that Jesus is the answer to our deepest longing, even Christmas longings, each Advent brings us closer to his glorious return to earth. When we see him as he is, King of kings and Lord of lords, that will be ‘Christmas’ indeed!”

- Joni Eareckson Tada, “A Christmas Longing” in Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus ed. by Nancy Guthrie (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2008), 137.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Grinch That Stole Christmas


O. K. admittedly, the presents were cheap, but good cheap. And keep in mind that anything wrapped or packaged is considered wonderful in the eyes of a child. This is the Christmas season and any teacher worth her salt will provide something for her little angels so I figured the bubbles, pencils, kaleidoscopes, coloring books, and crayons would surely be a hit with four-year olds. And they would have been. No doubt about it.

But, wait, let me take you back to 12:30 pm today. The time that the crime was actually discovered. That's right. A crime.

Children nestled all snug on their cots. It's less than 24 hours til our class Christmas party in Pre-K. Excitement is mounting. Christmas cd playing softly. There is rumor that there will be a visit from the real Santa tomorrow, and we are ordering pizza! And there will be presents! "Presents. Hmmm....the presents. Now, where are those presents,?" (Yes I talk to myself) "They were in a large Rubbermaid box. I need to wrap them today. Where is that box?," I continue. So two frantic teachers look, search, plunder. They turn classroom upside down, searching for the presents but sadly come up empty-handed. So, it was obvious. Sad, but true! The presents were stolen! Those good cheap presents snatched. The thief took the entire box with its contents!

Now, if you think this is something I have made up in my foggy little noggin', you are wrong, my friend! This is non-fictional posting! It is a fact! The presents were really stolen, stolen from right under our noses! They are nowhere to be found. No joke! I'm serious! The bubble, the pencils, the kaleidoscopes, the coloring books, and the crayons ... all snatched up ... even the cute little gift bags ... all gone! If you found yourself thinking this sounds a lot like a tale you have heard before, then you are correct! Even if it is a Dr. Seuss tale.

Remember the Dr. Seuss story of How The Grinch Stole Christmas? The Grinch, jealous of the Whos' happiness, descends on the town taking all their Christmas presents and decorations in an attempt to "prevent Christmas from coming." However, he learns in the end that despite his success in stealing all the Christmas presents and decorations from the Whos, Christmas comes just the same. He then realizes that Christmas is more than just gifts and presents. His heart grows three sizes larger, he returns all the presents and trimmings, and is warmly welcomed into the community of the Whos.

Well, I don't know who our Grinch is. And since I am really not into crime-solving matters, and I doubt the gifts will ever be returned, I decided to just go to Wal-Mart and buy some more good cheap presents. I just can't bear the thought of a gift-less party tomorrow for these precious ones. I am not going to let it spoil my day! That's right. The Grinch can't touch this! Or the party tomorrow! We are ordering pizza after all!
But more importantly and more seriously, I am reminded today that Christmas will still come, no matter what. No matter what is going on around me. No matter who attempts to take my joy away. I believe nothing and no one can steal it away. The joy I possess is because of that gift that was given long ago. A free gift. The gift of love. His son. Jesus! Have you unwrapped the gift?

Hold tightly

Let us hold tightly without wavering
to the hope we affirm,
for God can be trusted to keep His promise.
Hebrews 10:23

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Come for repentance ...

... if you cannot come repenting.
Come for a broken heart,
if you cannot come with a broken heart.
Come to be melted,
if you are not melted.
Come to be wounded,
if you are not wounded.”

- Charles Spurgeon, The Precious Blood of Christ

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Having a 1Corinthians 13 Christmas

If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows,
strands of twinkling lights, and shiny balls,
but do not show love to my family,
I'm just another decorator
If I slave away in the kitchen baking dozens of Christmas cookies,
preparing gourmet meals,
and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime,
but do not show love to my family,
I'm just another cook.
If I work at a soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home,
and give all that I have to charity,
but do not show love to my family,

it profits me nothing.
If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes,
attend a myriad of holiday parties, and sing in the choir's cantata,
but do not focus on Christ,
I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child.
Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the spouse.
Love is kind, though harried and tired.
Love does not envy another's home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love does not yell at the kids
to get out of the way,
but is thankful they are there to be in the way.
Love does not give only to those who are able to give in return,
but rejoices in giving to those who cannot.

Love bears all things, believes all things,hopes all things, and endures all things.
Love never fails.

Video games will break. Pearl necklaces will be lost. Golf clubs will rust.
But giving the gift of love will endure forevermore.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Gifts for the List ...

394. making plans for girl's night out with my sister

395. a freshly baked cinnamon roll with milk

396. sweet family time

397. laughing with Lisa on the telephone

398. a heating pad for my back

399. Bob's soft peppermint

400. a nap

401. pimento cheese and crackers

402. dancing with Pre-K children

We are not mushrooms!


“Remember, the growth of a believer is not like a mushroom—
but like an oak, which increases slowly indeed—but surely.
Many suns, showers, and frosts, pass upon it before it comes to perfection. And in winter, when it seems to be dead—it is gathering strength at the root.
Be humble, watchful, and diligent in the means, and endeavor to look through all, and fix your eye upon Jesus—and all shall be well. “
—John Newton, Letters of John Newton (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth: 2007)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Priceless moment


20 large, pre-cut Gingerbread men cookies - $15.00
sprinkles, candy, and raisins - $7.00
watching twenty 4-year olds search for and find missing gingerbread men -
PRICELESS

Praises and Gifts for the 1000 Gifts List

390. an answered prayer, a breakthrough

391. dinner with those I love

392. son visits classroom to help out

393. a foot rub from husband

Mary, Did You Know?


I sat down and listened to several Christmas songs performed by all types of artists on youtube.com with Griff tonight. Some of the artists included Selah, David Phelps, and even pop-artist Christina Aguilera. We came across one of my favorite Christmas songs, Mary Did You Know. I discovered that the lyrics for this song were written by Mark Lowry and the music was written by Buddy Greene. Go here to read about the inspiration behind the lyrics. http://www.christianitytoday.com/tc/2002/006/16.18.html

This song has been sung by many talented artists; however, I will never forget the first time I ever heard this song or the beautiful voice of one who sang it when I took part in a church Christmas program back in December of 1989. I remember I was asked to be Mary, Guy was Joseph, and Griff, just a newborn, played the part of baby Jesus in the manger. The person who sang the song so beautifully was the late Michelle George. When Michelle sang, I wept openly and unashamedly in front of a very large crowd. The Spirit of God moved in that church that night!We were actors on a stage but the Holy Spirit flowed so powerfully that there was no need for our humble, inadequate performance. Even Baby Griff raised his hands lying in that make-shift manger, as if to praise God.
I still weep when I hear that song. It is truly inspired by God.

As a mother, I often wonder ... did Mary have the same emotions, thoughts, and feelings for her child? And as she held that child, the Christ child, and kissed the face of Abba Father, God, I wonder... did she doubt, did she ever question, did she worry, did her heart break?
Of course the answer is yes. In her sacrifice to be a vessel for the Savior of man, she was just a regular, common mother. Yet in that, she was a servant of the Most High, the great I AM. That's all He asks of me. To serve Him and to be a vessel, too. This regular, common mother.


Did you know
That your baby boy will one day rule the nations?
Did you know
That your baby boy is heavens perfect lamb?
This sleeping child youre holding
Is the great I am.

Monday, December 8, 2008

It Came Upon A Midnight Clear



O rest beside the weary road,

and hear the angels sing!

The words above are taken from the beautiful Christmas carol, "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear" written by Ed­mund H. Sears.. These words remind me that Jesus gives rest, yes, peace right in the middle of trouble, right in the middle of turmoil, pain, heartache, and stress. He leaves us with peace, yet He never leaves us. He will calm the storms, and the waves that toss us. Because of Jesus, we can rest beside the weary road and hear the angels sing! Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you; I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (John 14:27).
[Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. - Colossians 1:15-20

Friday, December 5, 2008

One more for the 1000 Gifts List ....

389. a comforting verse I read tonight -

Isaiah 40:28-29:"Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak."

I Heard the Bells ...

Bok Tower - Winter Haven, Florida


I love the sound of bells. One of the most vivid childhood memories I have is a family trip taken to Bok Tower in Winter Haven, Florida. I was amazed at the 60-bell carillon that played on the hour. There was something so soothing about the sound of those bells. So peaceful and calming.

There are plenty of desperate situations going on in our world, even in my little world, that could trigger one to become cynical and even depressed. The gloomy skies today and the bitter rain mirror my tired, weary soul and my aching heart as I look at circumstances that seem to be getting no better. Circumstances that irritate, frustrate, and even grieve me. I long for peace and calm.

I listened and read the words to the carol, "I Heard The Bells" this afternoon and researched its origin. One
of my favorite poets, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote the words to this carol. He battled depression after his wife’s tragic death in a fire in 1861, the Civil War had erupted that same year, and his son was tragically injured in battle. Sitting down at his desk one day in 1863, he wrote the poem "Christmas Bells," now recognized as the carol "I Heard The Bells." These particular words spoke to my heart today...

And in despair I bowed my head

'There is no peace on earth,' I said,

'For hate is strong and mocks the song

Of peace on earth, good will to men.'

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:

'God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;

The wrong shall fail, the right prevail

With peace on earth, good will to men.'


I admit, sometimes I have felt like my prayers are not heard, as if evil profits, as if God is asleep.

But Psalms 34:15 says God doesn't sleep at all. "The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry." I can't rely on my feelings. I must rely on truth. And the truth is found in God's Word. Psalms 121:4 says "He who keeps Israel does not slumber or sleep. God is eternally vigilant and eternally alert." He is aware of our needs. To wait for His will is difficult, but, He has perfect timing. He will take action when it will glorify Him the most and honor His name. I must trust. And wait. Without complaining. "'...He is not dead, nor doth He sleep; the wrong shall fail; the right prevail with peace on earth, good will to men.'"

I heard the bells!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Proud Mom with Son

Thanksgiving Weekend - 2008

I couldnt resist! I just had to post this picture of college-son #1 and his proud Mom. Being stressed with upcoming finals he certainly deserved some special attention last weekend. I love you, Taylor!
*Hotel: $140 for two nights
Dinner: $75
Movie tickets: $35
Converse Keds at Target: $39.99
Time with son: priceless

* a steal of a deal at a new Holiday Inn Express for the Thanksgiving weekend

What Child Is This?


"He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: 'I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.'

Matthew 18:2-4


Now that I am with 20 four-year olds for approximately 7 hours daily, I must say, honestly, being a teacher of four-year olds is akin to Hollywood stardom! The smallest things I do excite them. When I sing, they get so excited and when I share a silly story or rhyme giggles are aplenty. They fight over who is going to sit next to me at lunch. They want to hold my hand all the time. It is exhausting, this life! I am a star for sure, at least with my four-year old peeps!


Now preparing for the Christmas season with these little ones is just over the top! Nothing is more fun than being a child at Christmas time. There's been a trip to the Tree Farm this week, ornament making, candy cane tasting, jingle bells ringing. Oh yes, Christmas as a child is fun!

Being a child. His child. That's what God desires of us each day. To become like little children. Coming to Him with anticipation and trusting Him that He will pour out His love and His goodness.

In my devotional time, I chose to meditate on "What Child Is This" (William Chatterton Dix) today and my favorite line of this song is ...

Come, have no fear;
God's son is here,
His love all loves exceeding


This Christmas I want to celebrate the simple joys in life, coming to Him as a child. His child.

Joy To The World ...


I bring you good tidings of great joy.
Luke 2:10

At our wedding, my husband and I left the church after being pronounced husband and wife to the beautiful, triumphant carol "Joy To The World" (Isaac Watts) played by a talented organist named LaRue Rains. It was December 21, 1985 and it truly was a joyful time in my world - marrying my life partner, the love of my life. That is enough reason for this carol to be special to me; however, upon further examination and meditation of the words I have found more reasons why I am so fond of it.


Let every heart prepare Him room ...
This particular line of "Joy To The World" is the secret, the key to living a joyful and victorious life, in my humble opinion. To experience joy I must first prepare my heart. To 'prepare' means to put it in proper condition or readiness. In order for Christ take up residence in my heart I must get my heart right, making room to receive Him. If my heart is filled with anything contrary to the fruit - that is, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control then He can not reside there. I might as well post a NO VACANCY sign on my heart.
One of my biggest pet peeves is clutter. Admittedly, I have learned to live with a lot less in the past three years, but I am still surrounded by things I really have no use for. Things that collect dust and are really in the way. I get a lot of satisfaction from cleaning out and getting rid of unnecessary things in my closet. I wonder what would happen if I took on the same attitude with the closet of my heart. Throwing out anxiety, hurt, shame, past sins, guilt, etc. Emptying out so I can be filled. With His love, His goodness, His grace, His mercy.

"Christian hope is not ...

about wishing things will get better. It is not about hoping that emptiness will go away, meaning return, and life will be stripped of its uncertainties, aches, and anxieties. Nor does it have anything to do with techniques for improving fallen human life, be those therapeutic, spiritual, or even religious. Hope has to do with the knowledge of ‘the age to come.’ This redemption is already penetrating ‘this age.’ The sin, death, meaninglessness of the one age are being transformed by the righteousness, life, and meaning of the other. What has emptied out life, what has scarred and blackened it, is being displaced by what is rejuvenating and transforming it. More than that, hope is hope because it knows it has become part of a realm, a kingdom, that endures. It knows that evil is doomed, that it will be banished. This kind of hope has left behind it the ship of ‘this age,’ which is sinking. And if this other realm, this place where Christ is even now ruling, did not exist, Christians would be ‘of all people most to be pitied’ (1 Cor. 15:19). Their hope would be groundless and they would have lived out an illusion.”
- David F. Wells, The Courage to be Protestant (Grand Rapids, Mi.: Eerdmans, 2008), 206.

Gifts for the 1000 Gifts List ...

384. listening to Ava Maria before my day starts

385. special plans for dinner with husband

386. new friends

387. singing Christmas songs with four-year olds

388. walking on a treadmill when it's too cold outside

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

O Come, O Come Emmanuel


And the Redeemer shall come to Zion,
and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob,
saith THE LORD.
Isaiah 59:20



It's Day 2 of my commitment to seek out a meaningful Christmas. Today I have, again, chosen a Christmas hymn as my devotion. The hymn is "O come, O come, Emmanuel." The original hymn was written in 8th century Latin, author unknown, and was transferred to English by John Mason Neale in Medieval Hymns and Sequences, 1851.


Here's some of my favorite lines from this beautiful hymn ...

O come, O Come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

I remember back in 1972, during the Vietnam War
I wore a P.O. W. bracelet bearing an actual American soldier's name, a real man who was held by the enemy. I have heard emotional accounts of both Vietnam veterans and WWII veterans who were held as prisoners of war. To be imprisoned, to be bound, with all freedoms removed must be a horrible sentence.
I may have never experienced that life ... a life of being exiled, imprisoned, held in captivity in the same sense that a P. O. W. has. But, I admit I have experienced spiritual imprisonment. Anger, bitterness, blame, resentment, shame, fear, or hostility toward others and myself.
The Word says "... escape the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 2:20). Although I was freed from the power of sin by the blood of Christ when I accepted Him as my Savior, I can still become a captive to sin again, entrapped by the enemy, Satan. (see Acts 8:22,23)


Today my heart cries out. Emmanuel, God with me ... O Come, O come, Emmanuel. Liberate me me from my sin. I am alone and separated. Until you make your presence known. I rejoice knowing You will come to me.
"Sin and the child of God are incompatible.
They may occasionally meet; they cannot live together in harmony.." -John R. W. Stott

Monday, December 1, 2008

To seek for a King was their intent...


A Savior has been born to you;

he is Christ the Lord.

Luke 2:11


Wandering,
grasping
in darkness ...
Seeking,
Searching...
Leading me ...
Guiding me ...
to the Light.

December is upon us and so is the Christmas season. Each year I attempt, often failing to make this a season where my heart is prepared to listen and truly receive the greatest gift ... Jesus Christ. So many distractions. Is it that way for you, too?
This December with everyone going in different directions and me returning to work, I am setting out on a new plan, determined to etch out, set aside a meaningful moment daily to meditate on this Holy Season. One of the ways I may do this is to read a different Christmas carol several times a week. I invite you to join me. If you do, please leave a comment on my blog or send me an email at ggmorgan61@hotmail.com. I would be blessed to hear from you.
I am already humbled by the carol I read today. A beautiful, traditional English carol called The First Noel. Here are few of the lines I re-discovered in this familiar carol that absolutely convicted me.

To seek for a King was their intent,

And to follow the star where’er it went.



The wise men came seeking, looking for, searching for the King. One that would reign eternally. That was their objective, their goal. They were determined to follow the light no matter where it took them.

Am I that driven? Is that a priority in my life today? Or am I wandering aimlessly? Am I truly seeking the King, the One who needs to reign in my cold heart? To guide me? Am I willing to go wherever He leads me? To the Light?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Reflections

photo of our pond - November 2008

And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by name, am the God of Israel. Isaiah 45:3

Thanksgiving for my family of five and our extended family has been held at our home for the past several years. My mother always brings the tasty turkey and dressing, my sister always brings a delicious pumpkin roll, and my sister-in-law always brings some of her yummy dishes ... sometimes even chicken nuggets for my picky nephew. Some of my favorite things to prepare are the sweet potato casserole, wild rice, fresh green beans, pecan pie, pumpkin cake, and cranberry jello salad. Mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, and even some 'significant others' have joined in our annual celebration. This year will be different though. Very non-traditional and out of the ordinary. Since one son will be working and another son is away at college, husband, daughter and myself will be going to visit college son and have Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant with him. I am not sure about this arrangement. It's different and I am definitely a creature of habit and comfort. I like things the same, constant, familiar.

I thought about all this today and even cried a little. This unusual Thanksgiving seems to go along with the entire 2008 year. It's been all about change, adjustment, reminding me that nothing in this life stays the same. We have definitely had our share of change this year - financial stress, cancer, life threatening car accidents, grief (losing four close relatives, including my mother-in-law this year). In spite of all the change that has affected us, I am thankful. Because in the pain of the adjustment, blessings came too. Treasures, hidden riches of secret places that caused me to know my God better and trust Him even more.
I realize this world is not meant to be so comfortable. If it were, we may not long for home. The home that awaits us. Beyond this life. Heaven.
So as I pack my suitcase for a Thanksgiving away from this home, my little nest, I pause to be thankful, truly thankful ... more than ever ... that He never changes. My God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

“We cannot remain faithful and question God’s own faithfulness. His love for those who are in Christ is beyond question. His character is a constant and his love never fails. He is not loving and gracious toward believers at one moment, only to turn into a malevolent deity the next. He never changes.
In this light, it would be sin to question . . . whether God really loves us, or if He is really faithful to his promises. This is not the questioning worthy of a believer, but of an unbeliever.”
- Albert Mohler, “
Is it Legitimate to Question God?




These reflections were written in response to an invitation by L. L. Barkat.

You are cordially invited by
L. L. Barkat to join a Thanksgiving Celebration. Just post about a Thanksgiving memory, something you are thankful for this year, a special family Thanksgiving tradition, your favorite "thanksgiving" Bible verse, or anything else you can dream up. Be serious, spiritual, creative, beautiful, humorous, whatever … it’s a celebration and good celebrations welcome all kinds of expression!

More gifts for The 1000 Gifts List ...

375. girl talk with my sweet daughter

376. a husband who really loves me

377. a "Joy"-ous phone call

378. watching a Christmas movie

379. sharing spaghetti with two precious teens

380. laughing at my flat chocolate chip cookies

381. heart to heart with Griff

382. hearing Taylor's voice

383. packing for Atlanta

A Sweet Gift ...

374. Malli - is there anything sweeter?

Forsaken

At the cross, He cried out,
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
Mark 27:46
I have felt painfully alone lately. Alone, surrounded by family and even dozens in my return to the workplace. Fear has crept in and taken up residence in this heart. No one knows the depths of my hurt, the disappointment, the anxiety, the loss, the sorrow, and the grief I feel.
But truthfully, I am not alone. Jesus was the only one who was ever truly alone. On that cross, He cried out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mark 27:46). When I feel alone, believing the lies of the enemy, looking at my circimstances instead of looking to Him, I, too cry out. But then I must listen, trust, believe the only One who truly knows loneliness, the One who took my place. He was forsaken, abandoned, and left alone so I would not be.
Writer Marvin J. Rosenthal notes, Jesus was forsaken to a degree that no other man has ever known - He was forsaken utterly and utterly forsaken. He was forsaken by the world He created.He was forsaken by the nation from which He sprang. He was forsaken by the village in which He lived. He was forsaken by the brothers with whom He grew up. He was forsaken by the disciples He had trained. He was forsaken by the Father with whom He had eternally fellowshipped. Jesus was forsaken that you and I,through faith in Him, need never be forsaken. Here then, is grace –grace greater than all our sin.
His closeness does not depend on my feelings or my situation. Whenever I am so anxious and overwhelmed I can believe He understands, my heavenly Father is there.

Monday, November 24, 2008

What we have lost God will restore –
That, and Himself, forevermore.
- John Piper, Job (Desiring God, 2008)

With Thanksgiving ...


Since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.
Hebrews 12:28
366. comforting, encouraging words from my sweet Moma
367. Savannah-Jane's homemade carrot cake
368. preparing for a non-traditional Thanksgiving in Atlanta
369. unpacking Christmas decorations
370. antibiotics for my sore throat ... sick again
371. a week at home, away from school
372. a phone conversation with Taylor
373. a hug and kiss from Griff

Uncle Mark


Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror;
then we shall see face to face.
1 Corinthians 13:12

Obviously, I have not seen Christ, but I have seen pictures created by artists. As beautiful as these images are, they do not compare to the experience of seeing Him face to face. When we finally see Him face to face, all our suffering will be gone…all our worry, pain, doubt, anxiety, fear, depression, and darkness shall have passed away.
Born into a hard-working rural south Georgia family, my Uncle Mark would know the struggles of farm life early on. His eyes may not have seen the world like some of the other family, having been born legally blind, but I believe he had a clear view of what mattered in life. He lived simply, loved Jesus, had a good sense of humor, was gentle, kind, and had a big heart for others.
Last night when I saw his body lying in the casket dressed in denim overalls, his straw cowboy hat lain carefully on his breast, through my tears I smiled.
Because I remembered the many times as a little girl I followed him around on that farm. I was always astonished at how quickly he could figure math in his head, no pencil or pad needed.
Because I remembered how he managed to care for those stinky, squealing pigs with limited eyesight and how I couldn't help but laugh each time when he got mad at their stubborness, muttering under his breath.
Because I remembered it was in his bedroom that I first heard Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner sing on his 8-track player.
Because I remembered he actually drove a truck with me by his side, guiding him along the dirt roads on the farm (and sometimes venturing onto the paved ones). Me, too young to take the wheel, directing my Uncle Mark as he sat behind the wheel of that truck saying, 'now slow down, there's a stop sign coming up, ok, now stop' ... or, 'veer to the right a little, ok, now turn ...'
We were living dangerously!
But, mostly I smiled because I know he is home. No more worry, pain, doubt, anxiety, or fear. It's gone.
There is a quote, by John Milton that goes "To be blind is not miserable; not to be able to bear blindness, that is miserable."
Uncle Mark bore his blindness and everything else he was dealt in this life with humility, grace and quiet strength. He has gone home now, his body made perfect in Christ.
Lord, help me to see what matters in this life. Take away my spiritual blindness so I may see what you would have me to see, until I am in your presence ... face to face.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Mercy

This is something I struggle with.
My feeble, finite understanding of how merciful my God really is.
It is hard for me to grasp that truth, that reality
that He actually extends His mercy and grace to me
new and fresh every day.
What a threat to the Enemy when I believe this truth.
This truth that I am free.
No longer a slave to sin.
All because every day He is faithful and ready to forgive me again.
That is amazing!


This is an powerful excerpt from a book by Paul David Tripp called


“If you are one of God’s children, there is something in your life that will not wear out. In fact, it has the amazing capacity to be new day after day after day. Scripture says that God’s mercies are ‘New every morning.’
Now, you know you need mercy, because you know you need forgiveness and help. Almost every day you mess up in some way. Almost every day you face things that are bigger than the size of your personal wisdom and strength. You and I constantly need the mercy of forgiveness and the mercy of enablement. And so, it is very encouraging to know that God’s mercy is new every day! God’s mercy never grows stale and it never loses it’s transforming power. God’s mercy is brand new morning after morning after morning.
This also means that God’s mercy is form-fit for the problems that you are facing right here, right now. Each morning you are given new mercies for the particular things that you will face that day.
So, you can wake up tomorrow with courage and hope. And you can do this, not because of your strength and wisdom, but because you know that the most important thing you have ever been given will never wear out. You can also have hope because you know that the God who has given that new mercy, knows exactly what you are about to face.”

Through the LORD'S mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Somthing to consider...

Said one demon to another: “One of our great allies at present is the church itself. Do not misunderstand me. I do not mean the Church as we see her spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners. That, I confess, is a spectacle which makes our boldest tempters uneasy. But fortunately it is quite invisible to these humans.” (from C. S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, cited in Alan Jacobs, The Narnian, 217)

Gratitude ...

the Gift List continues ...

361. a long nap

362. one more day til vacation

363. hot soup and yeast rolls for supper

364. daughter shares her heart with me

365. comforting words from husband
Give me revelation
show me what to do
Cause I've been trying to find my way
I haven't got a clue
Tell me should I stay here
Or do I need to move
Give me revelation
I've got nothing without You.
-Third Day lyrics


There is a distinct point in our experience when we cease to say—“Lord, show me Thy will,” and the realization begins to dawn that we are God’s will, and He can do with us what He likes. We wake up to the knowledge that we have the privilege of giving ourselves over to God’s will. It is a question of being yielded to God.Has God been trying to bring into your life the fact that he is supernatural, and have you been asking Him what He is going to do? He will never tell you. God does not tell us what He is going to do, He reveals to you who He is (John 14:12-13).All of God’s revealed truths are sealed until they are opened to us through obedience. You will never open them through philosophy or thinking. But once you obey, a flash of light comes immediately. Let God’s truth work into you by immersing yourself in it, not by worrying into it…Even the smallest bit of obedience opens heaven, And the deepest truths of God immediately become yours. Yet God will never reveal more truth about Himself to you, until you have obeyed what you know already. -Oswald Chambers

Monday, November 17, 2008

356. a soothing pedicure

357. husband folded laundry

358. a phone conversation with Mary

359. Malli's sweet self

360. sleeping in pajama pants

Battle Weary

I am battle weary. These past few weeks have been more than trying on my 40-something nerves. Not only have a fought a serious, hacking cough that made me feel as if my brain was going to explode and made me consider purchasing "Depends," but I have also engaged in warfare with Pre-K students. I am subbing at the Pre-K Academy for a teacher on maternity leave. Granted, I have knowledge and experience in this area (nine years experience to be exact) but nothing prepared me for the challenge of this particular group of darlings. They are quite a uniqe group! Tonight after talking to my dear friend, Mary who is a wonderful listener, the Holy Spirit reminded of this scripture “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.” Psalm 37:5-6

Some comments on Psalm 37:5-6 by Charles Spurgeon ...

“Commit your way” literally means to “roll your burden” and so Spurgeon urges us to:
"Roll the whole burden of life upon the Lord. Leave with Jehovah not thy present fretfulness merely, but all thy cares; in fact, submit the whole tenor of thy way to him. Cast away anxiety, resign thy will, submit thy judgment, leave all with the God of all....The ploughman sows and harrows, and then leaves the harvest to God. What can he do else? He cannot cover the heavens with clouds, or command the rain, or bring forth the sun or create the dew. He does well to leave the whole matter with God; and so to all of us it is truest wisdom, having obediently trusted in God, to leave results in his hands and expect a blessed issue."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

more for the 1000 Gifts List ...

349. being with sweet baby Malli after a rough day

350. a slice of pizza

351. my pillow

352. a funny email

353. a happy, content daughter

354. an understanding husband

355. the good-humor of a son

Faith beneath the ashes ...

The root of faith can never be torn from the godly breast, but clings so fast to the inmost parts that, however faith seems to be shaken or to bend this way or that, its light is never so extinguished or snuffed out that it does not at least lurk as it were beneath the ashes.
—John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 3.2.21

Monday, November 10, 2008

Definition of FAITH

“Faith is transferring your trust from your own efforts to the efforts of Christ. You were relying on other things to make you acceptable, but now you consciously begin relying on what Jesus did for your acceptance with God. All you need is nothing. If you think, ‘God owes me something for all my efforts,’ you are still on the outside.”
- Timothy Keller, How Can I Know God?


In this journey with my Lord, I am constantly reminded over and over and over again to put my trust in Him alone.
He does the impossible.
It's true!
It's all about faith.
It it so easy to slip and get in a funk, so to speak, of putting my faith in my efforts or
to rely on my present circumstances to dictate my emotions and feelings.
Father, thank you for reminding me today that you accept me, empty and poured out.
I only need you.

So very thankful for...

345. coughing less and headache gone

346. substitute teaching Pre-K til March

347. a reminder that things can be replaced - daughter's car vandalized

348. pictures safely removed from infected computer

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

With Gratitude

340. voting rights

341. doctors ... Malli and I are sick

342. medicine

343. chilli for supper

344. my bed

Election Day

Malli gets the message out!


I was drawn to a scripture in Daniel 2:20-21 today.

Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,to whom belong wisdom and might.He changes times and seasons;he removes kings and sets up kings.

Many people are distressed concerning this election. Some recent comments I have heard are ...

*these are tough times for everyone and the future of our country is at stake

*both candidates promise change but I wonder who is telling the truth

When I read Daniel 2:20-21 today I was reminded that God removes leaders and places them in office. Whoever wins this presidential election will do so because God has decided to put him there. No matter who takes office, our God is on his throne.
When we wake up tomorrow, we will have a new president. Regardless of whether McCain or Obama wins, the Lord God still reigns. My trust is in the Him alone.
Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God. -Psalm 20:7

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Top 10 Predictions ...

I received this via email from a friend and thought it worthy of posting.

TOP 10 PREDICTIONS NO MATTER WHO WINS THE ELECTION

1. The Bible will still have all the answers.
2. Prayer will still work.
3. The Holy Spirit will still move.
4. God will still inhabit the praises of His people.
5. There will still be God-anointed teaching and healing.
6. There will still be singing of praise to God.
7. God will still pour out blessings upon His people.
8. There will still be room at the Cross.
9. Jesus will still love you.
10. Jesus will still save the lost.

ISN'T IT GREAT TO KNOW WHO IS REALLY IN CONTROL?!!!!

Friday, October 31, 2008

So grateful!

330. sleeping under quilts
331. birthday dinner celebration
332. birthday cards
333. phone calls w/ birthday wishes
334. Taylor home
335. a borrowed laptop
336. watching Griff play with Malli
337. Savannah-Jane's hugs
338. a hot bath
339. Brunswick Stew ... again

Blogless

OK.
If you have been even remotely curious as to why I have not posted any of my muddled thoughts lately, I want to put all your wonderings to rest.
The simple explanation ... my computer is in ICU. Diagnosis: potentially fatal viral infection.
Please put it on your prayer list.
Seriously.

Sadly, if my computer does not recover and ... gulp ... dies, well, then thousands, yes, thousands of pictures will die along with it. These photos stored on my infected computer are irreplaceable ones I should have long ago burned to cds, but foolishly didn't. Hard lesson learned!

I am currently using son Taylor's laptop. He mistakenly thinks that the use of his computer is the reason I am so happy he is home for the weekend. Silly boy.
Actually, it does feel good to have my fingers tap these keys ... it has been almost a full week after all! Seriously though, I am one happy mom when he comes home... especially when it's my birthday! What a great present!

While Taylor is home I will enjoy cooking for him and having endless, deep, thought-provoking discussions late into the night. (mainly about the hotly contested presidential drama, er upcoming election)

Although there is a working computer temporarily in my presence, son is limiting my use of his Dell so I still can not promise much production on the blog scene. Apparently, he has some relatively important assignment due ... a term paper on economics and the presidency. Until I return to the blog world permanently, keep my computer in your prayers!