A Canvas of Thoughtfulness

Our days are fleeting like a blank canvas soon full with the artist’s desire.

One moment fresh and new we enter the world, and a few breaths later the Gallery Cathedral of the Great I Am.

It is silly for me to even think I have a sense of measured control in life.

I have control over my responses to events and the pursuits that I so choose. However, so much else is much like grasping water in my hand; impossible to control.

Laying in bed last night this thought struck me, “I cannot control my death.” Startling is it not? I sometimes fool myself into thinking I am assured of my next breath.

The last two days with the children have been as ideal as it gets with this mama’s limited patience combined with that of a two and four year old.

In the surprise moments of revealing in God’s created world, thankfulness for gifts each morning have been so sweet.

As the brush holds midair awaiting it’s next stroke, I pause to tell God thank you for this moment and this moment and this moment.

Then the next moment, when I forget and hasten to sigh, roll my eyes, clench my fists, and demand my own way.

The brush strokes black.

Next movement, the ultimate Artist’s Son’s blood washes it clean in the cup of everlasting life and brushes a vibrant color onto this canvas in it’s place.

So thankful that the Gallery awaits wretched sinners turned saints like me. Thankful for His brushstrokes. Thankful that I have this family painted on.

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Happy Birthday Beloved

How many candles press into a cake before you stop adding them? Hopefully some form of celebration never stops, but sometimes the candles do.

When my husband became a daddy, it was only a few weeks after his 30th birthday. Then two years later he was sandwiched in with Joshua’s birthday just one week before his. Emily’s a mere two weeks after.

 

Maybe all fathers who truly live up to the title of “dad” find themselves sandwiched between children in some way: reading books on the couch, tickle monster times, stooping low to teach a huddled crowd of eyes and ears.

The righteous man walks in his integrity; his children are blessed after him.

Proverbs 20:7

Today marks the 34th birthday for my beloved, Ron. The very first time I saw my husband, little did I know that we would share in this marvelous love. Not everyday, nor every moment, would either one of us describe our marriage as marvelous, but we would marvel that God brought us together and has redeemed us both.

Today I celebrate your birth, Ron. I thank God for the man that you are and that you are striving to become in Christ Jesus. Thank you for being the ‘sandwhiched’ kind of dad that you are. Emily, Joshua, and I love you past the moon to the sun and back!

I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of you hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward  us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places

Ephesians 1:17-30

 

Linking with Rachel.

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A Prayer Practice for the New Year?

Two weeks ago I was hit by a driver who fled the scene. When the police called him and he returned to the scene of the hit and run accident, the young man told me he was sorry. However, upon questioning from his father, “Did you know you hit her? You must have felt it.” The offender did not take responsibility, but said that he was not sure he had hit me.

What kind of sorrow or apology is one that does not confess guilt?

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Psalm 51:17

A true spirit of humility; to be contrite is to recognize my sinful state before the Holy God in whose presence no evil can stand.

The only way that I can approach God, is to not only say that I am sorry, but also come to Him with godly repentance that leads to everlasting life.

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.

2 Corinthians 7:10

Worldy sorrow says, “I am sorry that I am caught in my sin.” Godly sorrow conveys, “Against a Holy God I have sinned and I ask you to forgive me and lead me in Your paths of righteousness.”

This year I would like to propose two new practices for us.

First let us, like the man in the video below, confess to Jesus our sins and the sins of our people and ask Christ to have mercy on us.

Secondly, would you join me in praying for the nations via Operation World? Click here to subscribe for the 60 day prayer e-mails that will be delivered to your inbox. The prayer prompts feature Prayercast videos that can guide your prayers for the nations. They also highlight unreached people groups within each country. Unreached means that less than 2% of that population has ever heard of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I hope that you will join me.

Let us all learn from the humble prayers of brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus around the globe.

Linking up with:

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Things I Should Know

As I re-wipe counters that were morning clean, fold and put away the same shirts and underwear as last week, and re-sweep floors that were a few days ago Swiffer fresh, I should know…

Since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, everything here on planet earth is temporary.

Man is like a breath, his days are like a passing shadow. ~Psalm 144:4

That I like Moses should pray,

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

~Psalm 90:12

Feet will not always dangle from seats too high.

Imaginative play lasts only for a season.

Even tantrums, the “no” stage, and time-outs will eventually fade away.

Then the little girl and little boy stand up and take their place in God’s world.

Time on earth is temporary and fleeting. Eternity lasts forever.

Shouldn’t I work for the eternal? See my children and their fleeting days till adulthood as a gift and a heritage to be cultivated in tiny hearts? Seek to serve the poor and the persecuted?

Indeed.

I should know that each assignment the Lord gives me on this earth will last, at most, only a lifetime. Perhaps that is why I was drawn to the quote in a Joan Walsh Anglund book this week:

Where is the yesterday that worried us so?

I should know that today is a gift, yesterday a memory, and tomorrow is a hope yet unrealized. I want to be a good steward of today and the resources God entrusted to me within it.

There is pressure in this knowledge, but also freedom.

Dear Father,

Please teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Help us to live for the eternal, hold onto things loosely, and work for Your glory and fellow man’s good. Help us to seek the things that are above and remember that all victories or defeats in this life are but fleeting. Help us to delight in You and spread your fame through all the earth. Help us to be rich in good deeds and pursue a godly and peacful life. Let us do the work you give us with joy and sow a godly heritage in the children you have blessed us with.

In Jesus Name, Amen.

 

 

 

 

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The Water Ripples and Wrinkles Time

I had not been there in years.

The creek at my father’s birthplace.

A few miles from the house that he and my mother now call home… yet really a world away.

Standing on the slippery, wet rocks took me back to elementary years when trips were more frequent and apprehensions of falling in ran a bit higher. Reminded of the thoughts of long ago that only encompassed myself and held no room for the two that we now call our own.

The water ripples and wrinkles time and this home is temporary.

A few decades back would have found my father and his family here playing and bathing in this same creek; full of water to the brim then. Yet now it finds him the grandfather of three and one on the way.

Present. The present is all that we really have and it is ever fleeting. Yet we choose to run ahead to grayer hair and “the day when,” although I dare say that day will not find me all “caught up” and content unless I choose to abide in the this day.

Our trip to Daddy’s land was a gift on the cusp of the new year, as was visiting with a cousin. Both I will treasure these next twelve months and in years to come.

Linking up with Rachel.

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Of Christmas Without “Them”

I can still hear her voice quiver as each year she gathered her houseful of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren around the table. Just before the blessing, she would recount her love for her family and her thankfulness to God for being alive to share in the celebration of Christmas with those she loved most.

via Pinterest

My great-grandmother was a mother to five, three girls and two rambunctious boys, but known as “Mama” to most. I called her Grandmother Cost. She lived through the depression, along with her husband and children, and her life-long work ethic was a testimony to this.

Each Sunday she would prepare a home-cooked (usually home-grown) meal complete with a made-from-scratch, scrape the plate clean, chocolate cake. For any and all family that would gather to eat after church, Mama’s was the place to congregate.

via Pinterest

Her home would not grace the spreads of any fashionable magazines, but rather was a place of memories made. I can picture in my mind the brown and gold shag carpet and worn linoleum floors. Feel the coolness of rooms long ago filled with laughter and quarreling, that in the later decades remained shut to sustain heat in the main living areas.

It always felt to my childhood mind that the presence of those past memories and people,  namely at that time my great-grandfather I  never knew, roamed about in those rooms, but that is probably attributed to the overactive imagination of a child.

Mama worked her own garden and mowed her own lawn until her death in her mid nineties.  If the Braves or Crimson Tide were playing, you could find her in her matriarchal recliner occasionally arguing with calls made.

Sunday’s you would find her at church.

via Pinterest

My Grandmother Cost knew that her days were numbered, but she did not know the number of her days. That is why with tears and a quivering voice each Christmas before grace was said and thanks was given, she would let her offspring know of her love and appreciation for us all.

When we were ready to eat, we knew that Mama would be making her yearly speech and the room would grow uncomfortable with the thought of not having her presence at the table in subsequent years. They were the words of a woman who loved and was loved and needed to tell you one more time.

As we are entering Christmas week, my thoughts turn to broken hearts that have lost loved ones this year. How they must weep with their loss. I can recount the lives that I know have passed this year. A father, husband, and cop. A daughter, mother, and sister. A friend, co-worker, Papa and dad. These are only three lives who have in someway intersected with mine, but who bring hot tears when I think of their loved ones who miss them so much.

What about us? Who is it that we need to express our love, extend our gratitude, or grace with verbalized (perhaps unsought) forgiveness this Christmas?

This may be the last Christmas… or the beginning of more meaningful friend and family-filled Christmas’ to come.

I would much rather be remembered for a quiver in my sentimental voice than have regrets that I did not say, “I love you, He loves you, and the only real decision that will matter in light of eternity is:

What did we do with Jesus?”

When the coffin is closed, when death has stung, when our time has come, what did we do with the baby born in Bethlehem? The Christ-child turned crucified Savior and finally the risen King of Redeeming Kings?

We may have some regrets as we contemplate the thought of one last Christmas or that last Christmas with the one we loved. Our Father knows that we are but dust-formed lives. He sees, He knows, and He forgives those who ask. I pray for healing in hurting hearts that may read this post. After being a wreck earlier this year, I know even more fully that it is God who numbers our days.

As we joyfully celebrate this blessed season, may we seek restoration in Him and seek to restore others who are hurting and broken over Christmas without them.

If you are reading via e-mail subscription, get out your tissues and click here to watch the accompanying music video by Matthew West.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ye39mgcHC3E]

Raise the Risk Challenge:

  • Say, “I love you, I forgive you, or thank you,” to those whom God speaks on your heart.
  • Write a card or word of encouragement to someone who is spending their Christmas without a dear family member or friend.
  • Help a family in need in spiritual and physical ways this Christmas.
  • Watch this message by my pastor, Dr. Willy Rice.

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Why Santa Doesn’t Deliever Presents to our House

I remember defending his existence in fourth grade, then finding out I was wrong soon thereafter. A man I had never met in the flesh, but looked forward to his coming on December 25th every year.

Santa Claus.

via Pinterest

The good-will ambassador for many girls and boys across the world is truthfully presented as a character along with Charlotte, Wilbur, Rudolph, and any other fictional characters we encounter in the children’s literature in our home.

As far as I know we are the only people in our family who do not teach our children to believe in Santa Claus. We have not been ridiculed for our choices, but I want to lay out my reasons here to prompt your thinking on the matter. Truth is too important to flippantly follow the status quo, and therefore, I want to give you some meaty measures to add to your milk and cookies for Santa this year.

First, there are  attributes we assign to Santa that are only manifested in God: omniscience and omnipotence.

Omniscience, means that one is all-knowing.  The holiday song, Santa Clause is Coming to Town, goes, “He knows when you are sleeping, he knows when your awake, he knows if you’ve been bad or good. So be good for goodness sake.” 

Only God knowns our thoughts and ways, our lying down and waking up.  He judges the thoughts and attitudes of our hearts like no one else can.  Omniscience belongs to God in His triune state alone.

Omnipotence, or unlimited power, is attributed to the man who can fly around the world in one night, fit down chimneys or pass through locked doors, and magically provide your heart’s desire one day every year.

Unlimited power is only found in God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Second, and equally important, Christmas is a religious holiday about the birth of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. This Christian holiday has been secularized so that it is more palatable to non-Christian’s worldwide. Yes, there is an atheistic movement to quiet or extinguish the celebration, but Christmas is largely a money-making secularized holiday.

We have run the risk of making Christmas more about ourselves than the King born in a manger. A jolly old man bringing us more material presents is not the presence that should be celebrated this time of year.

Please understand that I genuinely love Christmas movies, music, and decorations. You will find me glued to Hallmark on many occasions during the Christmas season. Honestly, one of my favorite creations of my artistic mother is a two foot Santa and Mrs. Claus that she painted in ceramics. However, I have chosen to make Santa a fictional character in limited books and movies for my children so that they will not miss the message of Christmas found in the nativity and Christ-centered books on our shelves.

Growing up, my parents followed the three gift rule like many other parents I know. They gave my sister and I three gifts each Christmas just as the wisemen presented to the Christ-child. (Albeit there could be ten pieces to the “one” gift.)

My mom and I.

However, this post by Ann challenged my perspective on even this practice. Jesus is the gift and the three gifts were given to Him on His birthday not the opposite. What do we give Jesus on His birthday?

That is why we, along with multitudes of others, choose to give to Gospel for Asia, Samaritan’s Purse, Operation Christmas Child, World Vision, and Compassion International at Christmas and throughout the year. In serving the poor, needy, orphaned, and unreached, we are presenting sacrificial thank offerings to God and His Son, Jesus at the celebration of His birth.

Does this mean that we cannot exchange gifts with others? I would say no. To show our love and appreciation for each other as an extension of the gift of Christ Jesus in our life is a blessed privilege. Must we exchange gifts to celebrate Christmas? Likewise no.

We have had the Kneeling Santa figurine since a Christmas Wedding Shower 10 years ago. As I reflect upon its meaning now,  I am unsettled in my spirit. Yes, Santa is bowed worshiping the New Born King, but this even implies that Santa preceded Christ. The true “Santa” was actually St. Nicholas who lived after Christ and gave to the poor in the name of Jesus.

via Google Images

The face of the Father of Christmas may indeed be merry and bright, but it is not found at the North Pole. Conversely, He chose the lowly and humble stable to make his glory known. Then brought forth wisemen from across the earth and angels soaring in the sky to announce His coming and celebrate His Son, the gift of Christmas. He brought His Messenger in this way so that the heart of every boy and girl could know the favor of their Creator through Christ the King.

However you choose to celebrate Christmas in your home, I hope that you will submit these practices to God and seek His will. I pray that you will make Christ predominate in your hearts, homes, and heritage this Christmas and each one to come.

Raise the Risk Challenge:

  • Read Ann’s post referenced above here.
  • Consider who the face of Christmas really is in your family and make any necessary changes.
  • Give a gift to Jesus by sponsoring a child locally or either here, here, or here.

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Protected: Pictures of Joy

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This Is About Home

Reading this says what I wanted to convey.  Her story will touch your hearts and point toward HIS.

Choose Joy: Gitzen Girl Looking Homeward

Home is a place called Heaven,

Brooke

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