Still Present

Another Christmas has concluded & we will soon close the chapter on 2016. Sometimes it’s difficult to say goodbye & sometimes we say with great enthusiasm, “Good riddance!”
No matter what your perspective is on the goodbyes for this year & season, let’s keep in mind that Jesus is always with us, so we never have to say goodbye to Jesus! But maybe we should say goodbye to a few things for 2017:

  • Would Jesus have you say goodbye to some habits that encumber your walk with Him?
  • Would Jesus have us say goodbye to the not so deep walk we had with Him in 2016 to grow deeper & closer with Him in 2017?
  • Would Jesus have us say goodbye to some disorderly priorities that perpetuate unhealthy mindsets & dysfunctional behaviors?

Let’s remember that Jesus is God’s greatest present to us & that He’s always present with us! With the Holy Spirit’s help, let’s determine to be present with Jesus in 2017 more than we were this year!

 

Jesus & Bacon

Because Jesus was a Jew when He lived on earth, I firmly believe that bacon wasn’t in His eating repertoire. However, bacon seems to be more than a little popular for the 21st century palate. Our appetites & eating habits have dramatically changed, some for the good & some not so much.

Which brings me to the question related to our appetites. What tastes good & what do you like to eat? Some of the things we like to eat aren’t good for our bodies just as much as some of the desires that we have aren’t good for our souls.

Let’s be sure to cultivate not only healthy appetites for our bodies but let’s also feed our souls sturdy, life-giving sustenance found through daily Bible & prayer time! Since we’re on the cusp of turning the calendar, let’s not wait for a New Year’s resolution to foster these appetites. Start now & you’ll likely keep a better routine going into the New Year than depending on a date change to facilitate a change in routines.

Some helpful tips could include:

  • set your alarm & get up rather than snooze it endlessly;
  • find a friend that can encourage & partner with some accountability;
  • keep track of the positives from staying disciplined;
  • frequently ask God for help to stay the course

Let’s cultivate healthy appetites!

Watching Jesus

I love this picture because it has several helpful applications for us in the homestretch of the Christmas festivities.

  • Look for Jesus: it’s easy to get lost in the activities, demands, busy-ness of this season. Let’s endeavor to keep watching for Jesus!
  • Time with Jesus: there’s no substitute for quality time with Jesus, at night, in the morning, in the car, on the commute, etc. let’s prioritize time with Jesus even when it’s crazy busy!
  • Jesus’ time: I’m learning that Jesus sees & uses time different than how I do time. We would be wise to trust Jesus with timing, events, seasons, progress, sequence & steps

Heavenly Help Gives Us Jesus!

Jesus birth was a direct result of Heavenly Help. We know this because of Luke 1:35 where Gabriel tells Mary that the Holy Spirit will come upon her. This was his answer to Mary’s question about how she could get pregnant when she’s never known a man.
In this season, we celebrate the birth of Jesus, but let’s not forget that the Holy Spirit was directly responsible for Jesus’ physical existence. With this consideration, how can we let the Holy Spirit help us experience, see & find Jesus today? Let’s remember from John 15:26 that anytime we recognize Jesus it’s because the Holy Spirit is bearing witness to us about Jesus. So let’s think about the ways that we can get closer to the Holy Spirit to help us recognize Jesus more readily! Don’t forget to grab a few copies of Heavenly Help to give away for Christmas presents!

Jesus & Gladiators

  
During Christmas, we celebrate Jesus’ birth & we think of Him as a baby born in a manger. I don’t often think of Jesus as a warrior during Christmas, but He is very much a warrior. Consider a few ways that Jesus fights:

  • Prince of Peace – in a season that can be full of anxiety & pressure, let’s be sure that we embrace Jesus as our Prince of Peace
  • Intercessor – Paul says that Jesus intercedes for us (Rom 8:34), standing in the gap & fighting on our behalf
  • Triumphant over death – Rom 6:5
  • Passes along His victory to us – 1Cor 15:57

Jesus was most certainly a baby in a manger, but He’s also our victorious Gladiator 🙂

Catcher’s Mask

  
You probably don’t think that Jesus would be behind a catcher’s mask – seems very random. However, there can be some fun parallels to think about as the Christmas season possibly heads into frenzy mode for some of us. 
A catcher’s mask is protective gear that a baseball catcher wears so he can safely catch whatever a pitcher throws – very helpful with wild pitches to be sure. 

  • No matter what we throw at Jesus, He doesn’t duck away in fear or shame

A catcher’s mask let’s the catcher keep focused on the ball without getting smashed in the face. 

  • I’m grateful that Jesus stays focused on what’s important in my life & can handle all kinds of pitches & prayers that I throw out to Him

Something interesting to think about, a catcher tells the pitcher what to throw, based on the batter at the plate. 

  • Let’s be sure to let Jesus guide our steps for each occasion & not just fall into mindless ruts & routines. A pitcher & catcher working in synch together can be an unbeatable combination. 

When we have to pitch, let’s be sure that Jesus is our catcher & guides what we do: sinker, slider, fastball, curve & change up ,)

Christmas Presence

  
If you look carefully at this picture, you’ll see that Jesus is inside a transparent “box”, made to look like a present. And it’s not a stretch for us to see Jesus as God’s present to us. John 3:16 comes to mind with God loving & giving Jesus to us. 
But let’s think about this in another way: perhaps Jesus modeled for us God’s core desire – presence equals present or gift. 

When we give God our presence, this is one the greatest presents we can give God. Of course money, serving & worship are vital gifts that we give to God, but giving God our presence is the expression of whole hearted love. Let’s be sure to make time in this busy season to be present with God 🙂

Baby Jesus

  
Jesus was born in kind of a shady way – an unmarried teenage chick, Mary, gets pregnant, supernaturally & gives birth to the Messiah. Maybe her parents were a little suspicious of the “supernatural” thing & maybe it’s good that Mary took a few months to chill w Elizabeth her cousin while they were both pregnant. Although Mary became pregnant because the Holy Spirit overshadowed her & Elizabeth became pregnant supernaturally, their babies were gifts from God, filled with the breath of the Almighty. 

Just because a baby is born in kind of shady circumstances doesn’t make them disposable nor less valuable than a baby born in more “normal circumstances”. 

I love my work with Saving Moses because it’s genuine love in tangible expression. It is a very practical way to walk humbly with God, do justice & love mercy. 

Please join me in this journey & get behind Saving Moses in your finances, prayers & energies. God has a great future for each of the babies we get to love 🙂

Watch This 🙂

Jesus at Work

  
Happy December to you!! This month can overflow with festivities, activities, pressures & responsibilities on the back drop of celebrating Jesus’ birth. So I like to have some fun with the premise of looking for Jesus, everywhere. 
With this premise in mind, I’ll be blogging about looking for & finding Jesus throughout this holiday season. Some blogs will be playful & kind of dorky, but the challenge I put before you & me is to keep looking for Jesus, a central priority, in this busy & demanding season. Love the reason, Jesus, and manage the season 🙂

hot topic: Starbucks & Christmas

large_Starbucks-Red-Cups-2015-2  As I was making my way home from Singapore yesterday, I checked the news & saw there was some kind of uproar about Starbucks & Christmas.  Since I’m a coffee fan, I decided to briefly look into the uproar only to be disappointed.  I’m disappointed because there are many issues in our world today that are super important that need our prayers & attention.  And today, Donald Trump jumped into the conversation, leaving me to speculate about not only cup decorations and caffeine, but now I get to add politics into this busy buzzy world.

All of which brings me back to thinking about what’s important & specifically what’s important about Christmas:  God loves humanity & Jesus’ birth into human existence.

In the grand scheme of things, let’s keep the Main Thing, the Main Thing 🙂

presents and presence

I haven’t wrapped a single Christmas present yet & a few years ago, I didn’t wrap any until 11pm on Christmas Eve – what was the point in that?!???  I don’t think I’m generally a procrastinator, it’s just tricky to remember & find time.  Maybe this year, I’ll wrap our presents soon, maybe.  One question worth a little consideration is what will you & I be giving Jesus this year, to celebrate His birthday.  It seems kind of counterintuitive to give everyone but Jesus a present on Christmas, the day when we celebrate His birth 🙂

So going with the 5 Love Languages idea, here are some gift suggestions for Jesus:

  • affirmation – take some moments to sing one of your favorite praise / worship songs  directly to Jesus or make a brief list of reasons why you love Jesus and tell Him
  • touch – consider giving someone a hug that would appreciate that;  sometimes when we touch someone with genuine love it’s a nice way to communicate genuine love to Jesus (when you do this to the least of these, you’ve done it to Me – Matt 25:40)
  • gifts – think about giving a coat, hats, mittens, socks, etc to a homeless shelter or discretely helping a needy family in your church, maybe make an extra donation to a charity (Saving Moses is awesome – smile)
  • service – every church has extra services, usually, to support the Christmas season:  consider volunteering a little extra to share some love 🙂
  • quality time – consider dropping by a park and taking a brief walk with Jesus or waking up maybe 10min earlier just to give Jesus your presence, which is possibly the ultimate present He desires 🙂
  • coffee – that’s all I have to say on this one ,)

Merry Christmas!

looking for Jesus

Happy December 1!  The beginning of every December, I remind myself that while I’m about to enter an extermely busy season, the whole point of all of these festivities, parties, frenzy & busy-ness is Jesus, full stop.  So I want to look for Jesus every day this month:

  • like the shepherds looking for a newborn in a feeding trough,
  • like the wisemen looking for a King guided by a heavenly anomaly,
  • even in all his perversion & tainted motives, like Herod looking for a newborn who would upend the status quo

Jesus said that if we ask we’ll get answers, if we seek we’ll find & if we knock the door will be opened to us.  So let’s decide to look for Jesus everyday during this season – let’s streamline our focus with the help of the Holy Spirit to look & watch for Jesus, who is daily with us 🙂

#lookforJesus

 

good, better, best!

We are on the cusp of entering the annual holiday season with Thanksgiving & Christmas just around the corner.  While this season is filled with festivities, fun and frolicking, it can also be frenzied and full of fatigue (wasn’t that FUN?!??).  I want to be more intentional with this holiday season.  In many previous years, I’ve felt driven and drained by all of the demands that seem to accompany these weeks so if I’m not careful, I just kind of mentally and emotionally switch off and go into “automatic mode”:  get ready, show up, socialize, leave, repeat.  While the “automatic mode” can be good, it’s not always the better choice and more often, it’s not the best.

So here are a few thoughts about making this holiday season the best:

  • be on purpose – make attentive decisions about what you agree to attend:  some invitations are a command performance & some are optional, don’t try to do everything
  • pay attention to time – it seems to me that time can totally evaporate in the holidays, so I want to be careful and selective with my time during these busy weeks
  • homemade, store bought or hybrid – many of the season’s festivities require us to bring something tasty, so let’s try to plan ahead to be ready
  • breath – with all of the hustle, bustle, excitement and buzz, it helps me to pause, be still and exhale

gifts

During Christmas, it seems like we are frequently aware of the whole gift thing & sometimes that can be kind of tricky.  Here are some ideas for gifts that could be really useful:

  • encouragement:  Christmas is a great time to put into words (even on a card) how important someone is to you, to let someone know how wonderful they are or what you admire / respect about them
  • hugs:  some people really appreciate a genuine hug during Christmas without getting sketchy 🙂
  • time:  I took one of my kids skiing yesterday & we totally enjoyed lots of time together, without phones, email, FB, etc – just being together
  • extra effort:  doing something nice for someone (bring them a cup of coffee, offer to clean their garage, run errands, etc) can be super meaningful – even creating coupons for work can be a nice gift
  • gift:  gifts don’t have to be expensive to be meaningful

The ideas listed above are from Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages book – a super helpful way to express love in ways that are meaningful to the person receiving the gift & not just the person giving the gift 🙂

wish list – part 2

My kids have been working on their Christmas wish lists & I asked one of them yesterday if world peace was on his list – he chuckled 🙂

When I was growing up, I always wondered about the whole thing of Santa coming down the chimney & how he stayed so clean coming down so many dirty chimneys.  Maybe he wore a haz-mat suit for the chimney dives 🙂

But when I’ve been thinking about what might be on God’s wish list, if God has such a thing.  Perhaps God would like the inside of our lives to be clean, of course with God’s help.  It seems to me that particularly during this season, we often dress up, fix our hair to be pretty & look good on the outside, but let’s not forget to let God help us to clean & fix up the inside of our lives as well.  Cleaning out bitterness, strife, unforgiveness, animosity, impatience, . . . .   cleaning out some junk in our hearts so that Jesus has room & space to maneuver in our lives without alot of clutter or interference 🙂

wish list – part 1

Since we’re in the middle of the Christmas season, my kids have organized, refined, amended & advertised their wish lists version 4.5.  Here’s an interesting twist: what if Santa had a wish list?  What would Santa’s wish list look like?  Perhaps Santa would like a chia pet or a vegamatic chopper ,)

More likely, Santa probably wants his reindeer & elves to work together without strife & division.  If you think about it,  both the reindeer & elves have some hefty responsibilities & the last thing Santa would want to deal with would be conflict among the elves or dissension with the reindeer.  Perhaps our Heavenly Father has the same thing on His wish list this Christmas – maybe our Heavenly Father would be super pleased if the strife & conflict with His children was reduced or even eliminated.  Let’s you & me make this goal (harmony with each other) one of our priorities so God can check this one off of His wish list – peace on earth & good will among men 🙂

newborn

During this Christmas season, I’ve been really thinking about Jesus being a newborn & it’s totally rocking my world.  I’ve been thinking about Mary having labor in a room where the sheep, goats, cattle, etc were kept.  I’ve been thinking about what it was like for her to go through labor for her first time, not at home and maybe not in a very comfortable place.  I’ve been thinking about Jesus being a newborn – what a TOTALLY CRAZY thought.  The Son of God, present at the creation of the world, prophesied to Adam & Eve, the Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace, Mighty God, Everlasting Father (Is 9:6) and eagerly anticipated for thousands of years being a newborn baby.

Having had three newborn babies (I have three kids) and getting to work first hand with babies with Saving Moses, I’m blown away to think about the second person of the Trinity being a newborn baby – it takes my breath away to think of Jesus as a newborn 🙂

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pandemonium, pressure and peace

It seems to me that in almost every Christmas season, there comes a time when all of the pressures, activities, demands and general busy-ness shifts into the frenzied and frantic zone and the chaos threatens to swallow me into a abyss of cluttered insanity (sorry for all of the adjectives).  In the midst of all of this, I find my heart getting really still and quiet, seeking to create some serenity, calm and peace.  Even now, I have a few unexpected moments of quiet and while I’m writing this, I find myself letting go of some of the season’s stress and receiving some much needed divine peace.

So my friend, please be sure that with all of this season’s demands and expectations, don’t neglect to take those essential moments to be still and celebrate our Prince of Peace 🙂

Are you ready for Christmas? :D

Confession time: I don’t like to wrap presents & so for many preceding years, this has been a really bad point of procrastination – so bad that I’ve had melt downs on Christmas Eve looking at all the wrapping I needed to do while thinking about all the meal prep I needed to do for our Christmas meal. No one’s fault but mine. This year, I’m trying something different – I’m trying to wrap 4-5 present over each weekend, attempting to prepare for Christmas better than my recent disasters. So far, it seems to be working.
I’ve also been thinking about preparing for Jesus’ birth this season with Is 40:4 where he talks about bringing the valleys up to meet the road level. I’ve been thinking about this in relation to any depressed areas in my life – low spots in my thinking, actions & conversations. While I’m not advocating denial or burying my head in the sand, there are certainly areas in my life that are lower than what God says in the Bible (low thinking, substandard conversations & actions, etc). So I feel challenged to let the Bible confront & help me to shore up those low areas as I prepare for Jesus’ birth during this season 🙂

Christmas plans & cooking

 We are coming to the close of the  Christmas  season & it seems to me that we all do Christmas in our own unique ways – which is cause to celebrate!  Thankfully, I changed a few of my normal habits so that this year has less stress than preceding years (normally, I procrastinate package wrapping because this is the one task I totally HATE, for various reasons).  Anyways, this year we had a wrapping party, so that atrocity has been overcome ,)

I’m now putting my brain into the cooking mode, since today & tomorrow will be filled w food prep.  Here are some things that we’ll be cooking (my daughter is helping me):

  • breakfast:  2 savory bread puddings (spinach / artichoke and ham, cheese & sun dried tomatoes) – I think these hold great promise ,)
  • meats:  turkey & ham
  • veggies:  sweet potato casserole ala’ Isabell & green beans
  • salads:  green salad & my mom’s infamous black cherry jello
  • chorizo stuffing (my husband’s favorite)
  • desserts:  pecan pie & peach cobbler

So what do you cook & how do you celebrate Christmas???

We are having lots of people over, but the whole point of all of this cooking, preparation, celebration, et. al, is 100% due to Jesus’ birth – indeed, the most noble of all events to celebrate.  Merry Christmas!!