An Unexpected Christmas

The first Christmas came pregnant with anticipation and the heralding of angels upon lowly shepherds in a dim-lit field. For thirty-three years Mary would remember the night her son, our Savior, was born. She would ponder the events in her heart and pour over the man the Son had become. On the thirty-fourth year after His birth, she would find herself celebrating an unexpected Christmas: God and Son reunited, mother and Son separated by heaven and earth.

From angels, to now ages without Him, we too may find ourselves celebrating an unexpected Christmas. A Christmas marked by loss even as we are cradled in the cross of Christ.

The Father empathizes with our empty place settings at the table this Christmas. He sees every tear and knows the aching of our hearts. The loved ones who are united now with the Father have left a scar on our souls; a separation that only death can bring.

Thankfully death lost its final sting at the resurrection, and those who were in Christ in life now celebrate Christmas with the One of whom it was prophesied:

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. ~Isaiah 53:4-6

The separation from our loved ones is temporary because Christ first separated Himself from the Father. He brought us peace in His pain and healing in His affliction.

No one comprehends the sorrows of a grieving heart like the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Indeed He sympathizes with our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15) and gives grace in our grief.

As unexpected Christmas’s are celebrated all around the world, petitions are made to the One who brought us eternal peace asking Him to pour His healing balm on temporal suffering hearts once more.

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Peppermint Treats of the Season

The peppermint tastes of the season are many this year. If you haven’t tried the following, then you are missing out:

  • Mint MM’s
  • McDonald’s Peppermint Mocha
  • Starbucks Peppermint Hot Chocolate
  • Peppermint Chocolate Chip Milkshake from Chick Fila
  • Peppermint Bark Squares from Ghirardelli

These temporary taste bud teasers are being savored at our house this season… and if I am not careful will be the cause of holiday weight gain on my part!

This isn’t earth shattering, life-changing news at This Temporary Home, but I cannot wait to tell you tomorrow about my latest read. I was afforded the wonderful opportunity of two hours uninterrupted reading at Starbucks last night by my sweet husband. Thanks to Ron, we will have plenty to discuss tomorrow afternoon on What I Am Reading Wednesday. See you then…but first go grab a peppermint treat. 🙂

What are your favorite peppermint treats and recipes?

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It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

I’ve begun to wonder if we haven’t romanticised Christmas.

The snow, the lights, hot chocolate and fur-fringed attire…I wonder if all of our man-made fluff hasn’t gotten in the way of the real heart of Christmas.

Christmas: a story that only God could craft. The Christ child born to a virgin and a simple carpenter from an obscure town.

Only the King of Kings, holy in all His ways, would write His Son into a story of simple obscurity and then cloak it in heavenly lights and angels heralding His birth to the poorest of the poor: nomadic sheep keepers seldom in the company of people much less the Son of the Most High. In a single night, royalty was tied to poppers, and peasants were afforded the honor of being the first to welcome the Messiah. And aren’t we all the least of these apart from our adoption in Christ?

Christmas is for all people: the rich, poor, the simple, the wisdom seekers, the joyful and sorrow-filled.

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. ~Luke 2:10-11

The sights and sounds of the holiday are a welcome reminder of the reason we should celebrate our Savior all year long. The true gift is the One who was given.

I pray that this Christmas season will find us wrapped in thoughts of Jesus, grateful for the gift of salvation that He brings to all mankind; not pining after a nostalgic ideal that misses the mark of CHRISTmas… God with us.

Yes, partake in all the seasonal festivities as much as the Holy Spirit allows you freedom to do so. However, also steal away from the crowd as Christ himself did and spend time in private awe of The Gift, giving Him thanks and the glory due His name.

May we not rob Jesus the joy of worship in the season that celebrates comfort and joy.

Praising Him along with you this Christmas season and always,

 

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Moments Bathed in Thanksgiving

I pour the water over his uplifted head. He blinks and shakes the water from his blonde hair.

Only a few weeks ago Little E would have screamed and cried at the mention of pourning water over his hair; forget laying back in the tub to wet it.

Next he surpasses my expectations as he plunges his face into the clear water. I know he must have seen Joshua blowing bubbles in the tub. Joshua is altogether unafraid of plunging face first into depths of water. He knows how to kick and splash his way safely to the edge of the pool in summer time.

Yet, even as Little E is splahing his face in the water like a mallard, I gaze in amasement at this gift from God…an unexpected grace pointing to the fulfilled wholeness of a little life in our care. It is in these graces that the daily work is rewarded. Wasn’t it only days before that I had marveled at the love between foster father and son? Emily was pushing E on the park swing and Ron kissing his puckered lips with every swing forward.

The joy of the Father and Son kiss our upturned faces when they are lifted heavenward in repentance and thanks.

May the Lord pour out His joy on us as we gather together to thank him with upturned gazes for the blessings of another year. May your tables be filled with food, family, and faithful thanks to the Giver of all good and perfect gifts.

May we bathe everyday in moments of thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Labor and Contentment

 

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As we celebrate Labor Day, a day to honor the workers of America, there are some points of contentment for us to consider.

In Acts chapter 17, Paul is explaining to the Greeks in Athens that God placed man in his determined dwelling places at their appointed times so that they would seek after Him and find Him though He is not far from us.  God has placed us here at this time for His purposes and our good. Likewise, He has blessed us with the resources that we now posses in order that we would use them for His glory.

The resources that God has granted us are a gift from His hand that can be removed at any moment. Today as we rest from our labors, why not reflect on our present level of contentment with what we have and take time to be grateful?

And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” ~Luke 12:15

But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. ~1 Timothy 6:6-8

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” ~Hebrews 13:5

Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways. ~Psalms 119:36-37

I am very grateful to live in the land of opportunity and freedom. I want to protect these God-given rights and offer up the sacrifice of praise to God, the giver of all good gifts, with a heart of contentment and as a worker approved.

Happy Labor Day friends! Thank you for how you serve your fellow-man and the Risen Savor with your labors. May we continue to work in such a way as to bring Him glory and our brothers and sisters good. May we serve out of a contented heart; grateful for all that we are given.

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Surely Goodness…

 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

~Psalm 23:5-6

 

God’s goodness is that disposition which causes him actively to seek the wellbeing of his creature. His mercy is that quality that inclines him to relieve misery. Because he had seen so very much of God’s faithful care in every conceivable situation, David knew he could count on God’s goodness and mercy every step of the way.

Ellsworth, R. (2006). Opening up Psalms (51–52). Leominster: Day One Publications.

Anointing with oil originated in Egypt and then assimilated to the Greeks and Romans then other nations. Olive oil was used for anointing, not only as a part of ceremony in the coronation of kings, but also at the installation of High Priest and as a hospitality toward guests. Anointing a guest was a sign of hospitality and courtesy; an act to say the guest would be taken care of, provided for, and protected within the confines of the home and their stay therein.

For those in Christ Jesus we are guests at God’s table.

Perhaps today you would say, “I could use a cup that is overflowing, an anointing of my head with the oil of protection, the surely goodness portion of this Psalm.” It is there for the taking my friends! No matter the circumstances without or within our beings the promises and principles of Psalm 23 persist.

This banqueting table is prepared for those crushed in spirit and of a humble and contrite heart who tremble at God’s word:

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

~Psalm 34:18

For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:  “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.

~Isaiah 57:15

All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD.  But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.

~Isaiah 66:2

Yesterday I celebrated my 31st birthday. Sweet cards that brought tears to my eyes and needed encouragement to my soul came in from my mom and grandmother. Ron drew me a card (one of my favorite things he does) and Emily signed her name all by herself.

 

Well wishes and words of affirmation were written on my Facebook wall. These kindnesses were gifts from family and friends, many of whom I have not seen in decades. (When you are 31 you can start saying things like, “I haven’t seen them in decades.”) One such gift was a little video posted to my Facebook wall. I want to share this with you today as you receive the anointing of oil alongside the overflowing cup of God’s goodness. Surely His goodness will follow all the days of my life…
Click here to watch the video.

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Looking Back Over A Decade

Today we remember our covenant we made 10 years ago. The merging of two lives spiritually and emotionally did not happen overnight, but rather transpired as we stayed the course and trusted God. This life provides the only opportunity to experience a relationship of husband and wife. I too often neglect this truth. In this temporary home, Ron Cooney is my best friend and lover. Over the last 10 years we have grown together and matured.

In celebration, I believe some reflection is in order. Here are 10 lessons that we have learned together the past decade:

1. Faithfulness is a choice we make that blesses our own lives and the lives of all we touch.

Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love, but a faithful man who can find?~Proverbs 20:6

Ron quoted this verse to me just before he said “I love you” for the first time. He desired to be a faithful man. He was so well thought out. I, conversely, had not experienced the unfaithfulness of man to a large degree and quickly, though not entirely thoughtlessly, quipped back, “I love you too.”

Now 10 years later I have experienced the aftermath unfaithfulness leaves. I have seen the destruction that broken covenants inevitably produce and I am all the more aware of the gift that Ron continues to give me.

2. Patience is love waiting.

An inheritance gained hastily in the beginning will not be blessed in the end. ~Proverbs 20:21

Waiting to consummate the marriage on the marriage night and not rushing in the development of our relationship were both aspects that we desired in dating. Ron presented this verse to me, and in true Ron style practiced patience with us, with me, and in the progression of our lives from the start.

3. Purity in singleness prepares us for purity in marriage. Likewise, weaknesses in singleness carryover to our marriage.

To keep the marriage bed pure is not only a task of a single but an ongoing work of the married .With the rings is made a promise, with determination a commitment is kept. A good marriage takes work. Otherwise, we produce a relationship that is hardly working.

4. Perfection is a lie and a snare. “Be holy as I am holy.” Not, “Be perfect as I am perfect.”

You never arrive at the perfect marriage because it is a life-long marathon – not a sprint. We are imperfect people in need of purification by Christ which leads to holiness.

As with everything practice makes… almost perfect. Seek a holy relationship not a perfect one.

5. Differences can enliven or divide.

For example… ideals on money, child raising, and the use of our time and talents. It is hard but necessary to communicate our ideas to one another and arrive at a point of mutual agreement and practice.

6. Think before you speak, but speak before you fall apart.

If you think it and expect it, then project it. No man is a mind reader. We must convey our desires to avoid disappointment and conflict.

7. Marriage succeeds as a triune relationship.

It takes man and wife with God at the head to produce a healthy marriage.

Again, if two lie together, they keep warm,  but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. ~ Ecclesiastes 4:11-12

8. Keep it fun!

Continue to be playful and flirt with your mate! Try new things and continue to grow together.

9. Keep learning

… about your mate, marriage, and God via prayer, the Bible, and godly counsel.

10. Work as a team… know who to fight against.

For  we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against  the rulers, against the authorities, against  the cosmic powers over  this present darkness, against  the spiritual forces of evil  in the heavenly places. ~Ephesians 6:12

 

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Easter 2012

 Celebrating on Saturday with our extended family suited everyone’s busy Sunday schedule allowing us to enjoy each other with out the after church rush. Additionally we were able to eat lunch at Olive Garden after the third Easter service on Sunday. In case you were wondering, Little Italy serves up a tasty Easter dish! We hope you enjoy this picture recap of our celebrations.

We dyed Easter eggs on Friday evening and the kids acted as if they were going to Disney world. To say they loved it would be an understatement. I am considering buying more discount egg-dye at Walmart to surprise them.

Easter service ready then a kiss and out the door.

 

He lives, he lives,

Christ Jesus lives today!

He walks with me and talks with me

Along life’s narrow way.

He lives, he lives,

Salvation to impart!

You ask me how I know he lives?

He lives within my heart.

 Happy Easter 2012!

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Like Blue Hydrangeas

He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.  Matthew 28:6

My Easter memories consist of new Sunday dresses sewn by my mother, full Easter baskets, and beautiful blue hydrangeas.

 

Every Easter Sunday we would gather at Mama’s to celebrate our Risen Savior. Just outside her carport to the right was the most beautiful blue hydrangea bush brimming with blossoms. All the little boy and girl cousins would quickly run by them in a game of chase or hide-and-seek. Yet, last night as I paused to give thanks for the white hydrangeas on my dining room table what filled my mind were the beautiful blue flowers  of my childhood Easters of many years ago. The hydrangeas are why I choose the colorful mix from the supermarket initially.

My own mother, as she would remember the women traveling early to anoint the Savior, would spend many hours sewing my sister and I beautiful smocked Easter dresses. Her loving stitches graced many smocked dresses that my little girl wears as she grows and as my sweet newborn niece, Anna Bell, will wear in like fashion.

What Easter memories are we sowing into our children and heritage? When they are grown and making a new home of their own, what will they remember of their childhood Easter’s?

Last night, I tacked the sides of my daughters beautifully smocked pink Easter dress my mom purchased for Emily. As I feebly attempted to stitch, I marveled at my mothers gift of sewing and creating those beautiful dresses each year. I wondered how a mother learns to accomplish all that her children need. Did my mother’s and father’s efforts feel as novel to them as they do to me?

This year, on my table are white hydrangeas, but in my heart are memories of blue.

 

Praise Jesus our Savior is risen! May we be like beautiful blue hydrangeas and testify of the goodness of our Creator and Christ our savior this day and always.

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A Look at the Lenten Season

Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! ~John 1:29

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As we prepare our home for foster children I keep reminding myself that this will only be temporary. Yes, we hope that one of the children will become our forever child. However, going into this I need to remind myself that that may not happen soon, nor honestly, even at all.

Jesus too knew that his time on this earth was temporary. He reminded Pilate that His kingdom was not of this world (John 18-32-34). To his disciples, “a little while and you will see me no longer” (John 16:16).

Jesus came on a temporary basis so that he could prepare an eternal home for us in heaven.

He came to crush his heel on the serpent’s head. He came to redeem us by paying the death penalty for our sins.

What is Lent?

Lent-among Christians originally the period of prebaptismal preparation, later of public penance. Finally it became a forty-day devotional preparation for Easter traditionally based on Jesus’ wilderness fast:

And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him. Mark 1:13

~Harper’s Bible Dictionary

Traditionally, the observance of Lent calls for a 40 day fast from some thing or food of your choosing. Yet the overriding message of Lent is repentance that leads us to the cross of Christ.

This is what the LORD says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the LORD your GOD, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish. Who knows? Perhaps he will give you a reprieve, sending you a blessing instead of this curse. Perhaps you will be able to offer grain and wine to the LORD your God as before.  ~Joel 2:12-14

Today as we embark on the season of Lent that will lead us to Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, may we spend some time in repentance. Confessing our sins before Jesus and asking Him to give us a heart of righteousness.

Perhaps you will choose a food to abstain from during this period leading to Easter Sunday. Each time the cravings overtake us we can use this to remind us that heaven is our real home, Christ is the giver and sustainer of life, and remind us of our utter dependence upon the Lord.

Lenten Resources:

Ways to Intentionally Celebrate Lent and Easter as a Family by Lindsay at Passionate Homemaking.

Uprooted for Good  by Danice at Beautifully Rooted.

How to Prepare a Family for Lent by Ann Voskamp at A Holy Experience.

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