Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Dig Deep in 2014

Happy Endings, New Beginnings

2013 is winding down and a fresh new year is rolling in.  So did you do everything you wanted to do in 2013?  Did you soak in God's grace?  Did you listen carefully for his voice?  Did you complete the project?  Stop the bad habit?  New Year's Eve has always been a time for taking inventory.   What went well?  What was a disaster? 

Regardless of how 2013 began or ends, one thing remains.  God's goodness.  In hard times and in happy times, God is good.

Lamentations 3:22-23 says:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. 

I love that God is faithful.  Whether I reached all my goals for 2013 or whether I blew it.  He is faithful.  Who knows what 2014 will bring?  Life is full of uncertainty.  Yet, I know that 2014 will be a year of unceasing love, unending mercy and undeserved faithfulness from my God. 

 I'm counting all the ways I was blessed in 2013 tonight.  What a way  to write a happy ending to end the year.

  Happy New Year.  Happy New Beginning.

Faithful God, I love you more with each passing year.  Thank you for the good, the bad and the ugly in 2013.  Most of all, thank you for being with me every step of the way.  Where would I be without you?  Give me eyes to see opportunities to extend your life and peace to others in 2014.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

When you're stretched

Emotions.  Budgets.  Schedules.  Relationships.  They're all stretched in December.  I can't help but wonder, is it possible to get through the holidays without stretching?  It seems like no matter how hard I try to plan and prepare and slow down, I still feel stretched. 

Maybe it's the way God intended.  The first Christmas Mary, great with child, stretched.  Her abdomen swelled and stretched as she endured the discomfort of a pregnancy.  She was full of Christ.   Emmanuel.  God. With. Us. 

So as Christmas stretches, I can remember the first Christmas and the promise of Emmanuel.   I can choose to be full of Christ.

Lord, help me to be full of you today.  Empty me and fill me.  Stretch me.  Forgive me for forgetting I am full of your spirit.  In Jesus Name, Amen.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

When Gingerbread houses are finished

There are three little houses.  Carefully, small hands crafted the tiny homes.  They sit sweetly on a platter, tempting all who pass by.  Houses prepared during this busy season of shopping and baking.  Houses prepared with joy.  Houses prepared for pleasure.  Carefree.  Lighthearted.  Delightful. 

I remember the words of Jesus.

"Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. "In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. "If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.  John 15:1-3

Gingerbread houses are nice.  Heaven-bred houses are even better.  I remind myself to think about the sweet home Jesus is preparing for me every time I see a gingerbread house. 

Thank you Lord for the sweetness of this season.  Help me to remember you in the midst of it all.   The one who came.  The one who loves.  The one who gives.  I love your gentle, ginger reminders to keep you at the center of Christmas.   In Jesus name, Amen. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

When the Cookies Crumble

It never happens in the magazines or  holiday specials on tv.  In their pseudo-world, everything is perfect.  Beside the perfect tree is a table holding a platter of perfect cookies.  Longingly, I see and strive for this perfection.  But I live in a world far  from the glossy covers of magazines.  I live in a real world.  A fallen world.  Where real people endeavor to live this life of grace.  So yes, in my world, sometimes the cookies crumble.  And when the cookies crumble,  Christ can put all the pieces back together. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

When Christmas Comes Tumbling Down

The tree was sparkling.  Reds, greens and blues illuminated the room.  I was on my hands and knees when it all came tumbling down.  Literally.   Strings of lights and branches  engulfed me.  I managed to rummage my way through it all and sat disgusted.  The tree collapsed.  I realized the base was cracked when I put it up.  It was nothing a little tape couldn't fix.  So I thought.  Now here I was with a giant Christmas catastrophe.   "

"Maybe I'll just throw it all away and forget it this year,"  I contemplated.  But I could hear little voices oohing and ahhing as they unpacked ornaments.  Nope.  I couldn't be a Scrooge.  I had to strengthen the foundation. 
Foundations are pesky necessities.  They're not glamorous or glittery.  In fact, no one even notices a foundation unless there's something wrong.  The foundation of my tree was broken.  No amount of lights, tinsel or ornaments could cover up the fact that it wasn't solid. 
Kind of like you.  Kind of like me.  Broken.  Cracked.   This Christmas we can try to cover up the foundation with the razzle and dazzle.  But if Christ is not our frim foundation, it all comes tumbling down.   
Jesus be my firm foundation-
 strengthening and holding me up
 through the holidays and always  
photo courtesy of Eliana Verwers