Wednesday, December 31, 2008
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
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
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
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
Griff(19), Savannah-Jane (16), and Taylor(21)
Taylor surprising Dominica
with a diamond necklace
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
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
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
- Timothy Keller, The Gospel and the Poor
Friday, December 19, 2008
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
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
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!
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Saturday, December 13, 2008
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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).
Friday, December 5, 2008
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."
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...
Thursday, December 4, 2008
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
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.
- David F. Wells, The Courage to be Protestant (Grand Rapids, Mi.: Eerdmans, 2008), 206.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob,
saith THE LORD.
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.
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.