In Between the Holidays

Have you ever been in the middle of something & felt like you’re kind of in limbo?  Sometimes, I feel like this between Christmas and New Years.  There’s a nice exhale after all the frenzied Christmas flurry but I can also feel the New Year coming into focus, even though I’m not quite ready for that yet.

Limbo land is kind of a weird place.  It’s the middle area between starting & finishing, so it can be a short little jaunt, like a quick trip to the grocery store, or the entirety of life between birth & death.  When I think about this middle space, I’m reminded of lots of Bible folk who found themselves in this experience:

  • David in his flight from Saul lived for many years in this middle space, where God cultivated strength, committment & maturity in him.
  • Moses lived in limbo land between his flight from Pharoah and the burning bush, where it looks like some of his youthful hubris was deflated over the course of 40 years, making him ready for the burning bush experience that launched his destiny to liberate the Israelites from slavery and so much more!
  • Peter had some limbo time between when he betrayed Jesus and was reconciled to Him after Jesus’ resurrection;  perhaps those days helped Peter see his utter dependence on Jesus in sharp contrast to his frail flesh, being reconciled through the loving interaction with Jesus in the Q&A session about Peter’s love for Jesus

Let’s be sure to keep a laser focus on Jesus in between the holidays 🙂

Wrapping Presence

It’s defintely true that I can struggle with the right spelling of words from time to time.  But in this situation, the title for my blog isn’t a misspelling.  Instead, it’s an intentional play on words to catch your attention & maybe challenge you to some ongoing generosity with Jesus.

How so?  What Jesus likes more than your words, money, service, clothing, church attendance, etc. is your self.  When we give all of ourselves to Jesus, it seems to me that this gives Jesus the greatest pleasure!  So here are some wrapping ideas for your presence with Jesus:

  • time:  we can give Jesus time in all kinds of ways – as we drive, in those unexpected moments of pause with a cancelled appointment and in the morning / night to be present
  • words:  it’s always good to give thanks to Jesus (for daily things, miracles, unexpected blessings, rich conversations, etc ), as well as some worship for who Jesus is
  • attention:  let’s ask the Holy Spirit to increase our awareness of Jesus’ presence, since He said He’d never leave nor forsake us.  I ask, throughout the day, for help with my focus and attention to sense Jesus

Be sure to wrap your presence with time, words and attention, to give your self wholly to Jesus!

Late Wrappers

Wrapping Christmas presents isn’t in my top 5 thrilling adventures. So I’m a late wrapper. In addition to being a late wrapper, I’m also not a very good wrapper. I have the “get ‘er Done” mindset. But lest we miss the whole point, keep in mind that we’re endeavoring to express genuine love & generosity, regardless of the wrapping or when we wrap our presents
I’d propose that our Heavenly Father wants to let us a know a few things this Christmas to reinforce His genuine love & generosity to us:

  • Wrapping: Jesus, the Fathers ultimate gift to us, came wrapped in human garb, as a newborn
  • Timing: Paul says that in the fullness of time, Jesus became flesh to live among us. God’s timing is perfect!
  • Spectacular: despite being wrapped in human garb, Jesus’ arrival was announced with splendor, grandiose display & jubilant celebration.

It’s ok if you’re a late wrapper, a crummy wrapper or if you’re a timely & spectacular wrapper! No matter what, let’s keep genuine love & generosity our primary goal!

Christmas Shopping

Do you have people for whom it’s very difficult to buy gifts? What do you get the person who has everything? Or even more importantly, what do we give Jesus in this Christmas season?
Here are a few ideas:
Presents – the Wise Men brought Jesus gold, frankincense & myrrh, gifts befitting a King, from the resources they had. Let’s be generous with our resources!
Fame – the shepherds, upon finding Jesus lying in a manger, went out & spread the news about His birth & heavens announcement to them via the angles. Let’s be committed to promoting Jesus more than anything or anyone else!
Presence – never diminish the truth that Jesus enjoys your company, so don’t overlook the pauses & moments throughout this season to give your attention & your self to Jesus 🙂

Ready for Christmas?

Now that Thanksgiving is in the rear view mirror, Christmas is ready to take center stage. And with Christmas , come all the associated activities: decorating, parties, concerts, shopping, cookies, wrapping, etc. In the midst of the hub bub, let’s keep our hearts & focus attentive to Jesus. He’s a really quick video that could help you keep your focus on Jesus throughout this holiday season:

Fruit, Gifts or Fruitcake?

I’m trying my hand at making fruitcake, since were on the cusp of the holiday season. Most people don’t like fruit cake, but my husband says that’s because they haven’t had “good fruitcake”. So we’ll see how this goes.

In the meantime, take a quick minute to watch this short clip about fruits & gifts – maybe something helpful for the holidays 🙂

What Do You Think?

I seriously want your feedback!!  Every Christmas season, I do a blog series about looking for Jesus & I post goofy pictures of baby Jesus in various settings, to reinforce the reminder to look for Jesus in the busy-ness of the Holidays.

So where would you like to see Jesus in the upcoming Holidays?  Please give me your suggestions in the comments below, on FB, twitter, etc.  Last year, I took Jesus to the ICU at a local hospital, He drove with me in my car (Jesus take the wheel), I perched Him on a park bench & did lots of other creative things.  So what would you suggest for me to do this year, in the theme of looking for Jesus?

Thanks LOADS for your input / help!!

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