Thursday, December 30

Year End Finish Line

How is your year ending? With what was it filled? Which side of the scale tipped over with the most weight...the positive side or the negative side?

Each year usually brings its own blend of...

* tears and smiles
* faith and unbelief
* strength and weakness
* pride and humility
* peace and unrest
* joy and distress
* a positive attitude and a negative one
* love and hate
* forgiveness and bitterness

But each year ends a little differently.

Some years, we feel like we are riding high and we almost fly across that year-end finish line...

Jon 'ShakataGaNai' Davis
Wikimedia Commons

Sometimes, the year goes by so quickly that we feel like we zoom across the finish line as if we were in a race car...

Occasionally, the year has such a crushing effect on us that we crawl across it like Holland Reynolds...

Though each year may hold its share of trials and/or tragedies, we endure the hardships with the help of the Father. At times, we are broken and stumble in agony across the finish line as Derek Redmond (Olympics 1992), who was helped by his father...

Paul said, “What a wonderful God we have-He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of every mercy, and the one who so wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials.” (2 Cor. 1:3 TLB)

Not only do we have a heavenly Father that comforts and strengthens us, we also have a heavenly host as our cheering section, as the writer of Hebrews tells us, “Since we have such a huge crowd of men of faith watching us from the grandstands, let us strip off anything that slows us down or holds us back, and especially those sins that wrap themselves so tightly around our feet and trip us up; and let us run with patience the particular race that God has set before us.” (Heb. 12:1 TLB)

No matter how this year played out for you, the New Year offers you a new beginning. Whatever it brings your way, the Father will carry you through it all and bring a host of others to lift you up in prayer and encourage you in your walk.

My prayer for each of you is that your back be to the contrary circumstances of the year now closing, that your feet be firmly planted in the present, that your heart be guarded with the hope of a better new year, that your hands fulfill your calling, that your feet follow the Lord’s steps in all things, that your spirit be filled with faith, joy, and thanksgiving, that your life be filled with blessings, and that you will experience a new and special touch of the Lord’s presence upon all you do.


Monday, December 27

What's in Your Eye?

“Keep me as the apple of Your eye.”
Psalm 17:8a NKJV

David, in praying to the Lord, asked to be kept as the apple of His eye. What do those words mean?

According to the Hebrew definition, keep means to hedge about as with thorns, guard, to protect, attend to, observe, or give heed.

Apple means the little man of the eye, or the tiny reflection of one’s self in someone else’s eyes. As they watch you, focusing their attention on you.

Actually, apple is two words. The second word means a daughter, used in the same sense of relationship, as a personification, also descendants, towns, and villages.

David was asking God to guard and protect him as that tiny personification or reflection in His eyes by keeping His focus on David.

When I go to a wedding, I love to focus on the groom’s face. Just to see the expression on his face change from one of nervous disaster to one of pure delight as he watches his beautiful bride glide down the aisle. A glint appears in his eyes. He never takes them off his beloved. And if you were to look very closely into his eyes, you would see that the glint is her reflection.

If you could look closely into the eyes of your Beloved Lord, you would see that glint of yourself, your reflection.
Because He focuses on you. His object of great devotion. Guarding you. Protecting you, as with a crown of thorns.

David wrote, “Behold, the Lord’s eye is upon those who fear Him [who revere and worship Him with awe], who wait for Him and hope in His mercy and loving-kindness.” (Ps. 33:18 Amp)

And He desires that He be that glint, that reflection, in our eyes. The author of Hebrews tells us that “We must keep our eyes on Jesus.” (Contemporary English Version) The NIV says we need to be “fixing our eyes on Jesus.” While the Amplified says, “Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus.”

Vine’s says looking means “to look away from one thing so as to see another,” to consider attentively.

It means to fix your gaze on your Beloved.

When you were a kid, or even as an adult, did you stare at an object for one minute and then look away? What did you see?

Your eyes projected the focused image onto the second object as a reflection.

That’s what God the Father wants us to do with Jesus,
to look so intently at Him that everything else that comes into view has the reflection of Jesus on it. Therefore, as Paul told the Corinthians, “We don’t focus on the things that can be seen but on the things that can’t be seen. The things that can be seen don’t last, but the things that can’t be seen are eternal.” (2 Cor. 4:18 Common English Bible)

We focus on Jesus, the Unseen.
A single eye focus. As Jesus said, “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.” (Matt. 6:22 KJV)

So, what interferes with your focus? What parades before your eyes, giving you double vision and darkening your view? What distracts you from having that divine Little Man reflection in your eyes? Keeping your eyes focused to maintain that holy reflection is essential.

How do we do that?

* Make time to pray
* Study God’s Word
* Put the Word into practice by obedience
* Live in love with others
* Practice peace and patience
* Have a positive outlook and attitude
* Don’t let your eyes view things that you know will throw a blanket of darkness over the light of the Lord.

So, what do others see reflected in your eyes?

~~This post is part of the One Word Blog Carnival on the topic Reflection. Hop on over to Peter Pollock's site to see the other submissions.~~


Thursday, December 23

And the Word Was Made Flesh

Advent King in straw-lined splendor,
swaddled gently at mother’s breast,
God incarnate in a pink suit,
not knowing yet His future test.

In the gentle hush of silence,
soothing sounds of cattle lowing,
angel hosts sing Him their praises,
all creation in glory knowing.

Destiny pressing upon His life,
as crossed shadow falls on His face.
The miracle of the manger
now filled with man’s future grace.

I'm over at my friend Susan Panzica's site, Eternity Cafe. Come visit us!


Monday, December 20

Draw Near

Draw nigh to God... holiness
Draw nigh in repentance, for the forgiveness of sins

Draw near... silent adoration
Draw near in unrestrained awe and praise

Draw close to the Lord... that Intimate Friend
Draw close to the Beloved of your soul

Draw alongside...

...kneeling as a petitioner
Draw alongside as a listener, in deepest affection

Draw closer still to the Babe in the manger...

...listen to the sweet sounds of the Newborn, as a foreshadowing of grievous sobs for a world of sinners
...smell the scent of the timbered cradle, as a harbinger of the distinctive fragrance of a destined, wooden cross
...see the Babe’s tiny hands reaching out, as impending vessels for prophetic iron spikes
...hear the gentle beat of His humble heart, as the antithesis of the future, rhythmic clanking of a metal hammer

Draw near to receive...

...a salvation so freely offered
...the power and strength you are lacking
...the guidance necessary to proceed through life’s events
...the tender touches of love to ease your pain and suffering
...overflowing streams of peace into your tired and hurting soul
...words of comfort and encouragement to soothe your broken heart and wipe away your tears

Draw near... moments of anger moments of praise
Draw near... moments of emergency moments of stillness
Draw near... moments of deep sorrow moments of great joy
Draw near... moments of despair moments of thankfulness

“Something better has been brought to us. It is God’s promise. And by that promise we come near to God.” (Heb. 7:19b Worldwide English) Therefore, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Heb. 10:22 NKJV)

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”
(James 4:8 NKJV)

Draw near to the King of heaven and earth! Draw near to sing Happy Birthday!


Thursday, December 16

In Search of Bethlehem's Babe

As darkness swallows up the day, the black-velvet expanse of night displays a bazillion, shimmering constellations.

Shepherds gather around a flickering fire to dispel the evening’s chill, the flames casting a warm glow across their faces, while others keep guard from the watchtower.

Peace and quiet surround them, except for the soothing crackle of the fire.

Their flocks lie still, serene.

The night’s shroud abruptly parts, revealing the radiance of an angel of the Lord. The shepherds fall on their faces, trembling.

The angel assures this cluster of caretakers, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:10-12 NIV)

Heaven then severs the night sky to display more of its glory, unfolding a host of angels, as their voices ring out, “Glory to God in the highest. On earth, peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14 NKJV)

Rising to their feet, the shepherds agree, “Come on! Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this wonderful thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” (Luke 2:15 TLB)

One unusual star emblazons the eastern sky; one divinely-appointed beam of light illuminates the way to this heralded wonder.

Weaving their way through those rushing to find a place to stay, those having been summoned here to register for taxation, the shepherds follow the beam of light, seeking the site of this new Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths.

From a chorus of angelic voices to the clamor of the street, a multitude of sounds reaches their ears: the bleating of sheep, the braying of donkeys, the lowing of cattle. Suddenly, the cries of a newborn resonate above all the rest.

Finding their way inside a stable, the shepherds find the Babe of Bethlehem, wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a hayed trough.

The shepherds encounter the Savior of the world. What they sought, they found.

Oh, to know the wonder of that holy night. To follow the Light, to find the Babe of Bethlehem.

Lord, take me to those fields filled with Your glory. Draw back the black curtain of my night and spill out the glory of Your heaven.

Lead me to that humble manger that I may learn to make my heart a humble manger-place for You. Reveal my life’s emptiness and fill it with the same joy of heaven that filled that night’s air. Guide me always by the Light of Your Life.

Give me willing knees to crouch before You in lowly reverence and awe. Give me listening ears to hear the rush of angels’ wings, to hear their glorious hallelujahs and the holiness of their worship.

Oh, that my heart would always be filled with the glory and wonder of that precious night.

Have you encountered the Babe of Bethlehem? Have you sought and found the Savior of the world? I pray your heart will be filled with Bethlehem wonder and glorious worship this Christmas.

~~Today, I'm over at the site of my precious friend Susan Panzica, Eternity Cafe. Please visit us.~~


Monday, December 13

Let All the Earth Rejoice!

“Rejoice greatly, O my people!
Shout with joy!
For look-your King is coming!
He is the Righteous One, the Victor!”
(Zech. 9:9 TLB)

Shepherds oversee their flocks in the field.

A blazing star illuminates an ebony sky.

A choir of angels bursts forth to announce a Divine Appearance, proclaiming, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14 NKJV)

The veil of time rips.

The King of heaven bows low, entering earth’s time capsule.
A Child’s cry pervades the cool, night air with new life.
The Babe Jesus...dressed in a suit of humanity...arrives, just as Isaiah prophesied...

“For unto us a Child is born
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end.”
(Is. 9:6-7a NKJV)

As Mary exuded to Elizabeth, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.” (Luke 1:46-47 NKJV) Even though my surroundings and circumstances are not what I’d like them to be, my soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices for His coming as a Heavenly Visitor.

Is your soul magnifying the Lord and your spirit rejoicing this season? No matter what the circumstances?

Paul exhorts us, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4 NKJV)

“Jehovah is King! Let all the earth rejoice!”
(Ps. 97:1 TLB)

~~Hope you enjoy this beautiful O Holy Night from Josh Groban~~

~~This post is part of...

* One Word at a Time Blog Carnival hosted on Peter Pollock's site. Check out the other entries on his site.

* blog tour. Check out the other entries in the sidebar.~~


Thursday, December 9

When Wise, Men Come to Bethlehem Part 2

~~Link to Part 1~~
When the wise men came to Bethlehem, they came bearing gifts, first out of their hearts’ fullness, for they fell down to worship the Christ-child, and then, out of their treasure bags’ fullness of precious things, for they offered gifts of sacrifice.

When the wise men came to Bethlehem, they brought gold, one of the purest and most valuable of all metals. It serves to remind us of that which is of genuine worth and value, as it was lavishly used to cover the articles of the temple and the temple itself. It reminds us, too, of the pure worth and value of Christ, and that He fashions our hearts into the pure gold for His temple, the home of His holiness and pureness.

When the wise men came to Bethlehem,
they brought frankincense, a sweet, aromatic perfume, burned as incense, and, among other things, was an ingredient in the anointing oil.

It serves to show us the precious Holy Spirit, anointing us to be in the presence of the Father, as the incense mingles with the sweet-smelling sacrifice of prayer, rises to the throne room and lingers at the Father’s feet.

When the wise men came to Bethlehem,
they brought myrrh, a fragrant, costly perfume, used in purification rites and for cleansing, also as an ingredient in the anointing oil, and used for preservation in death.

It represents the costly perfume of Christ as His blood purifies and cleanses us, preserving us in death.

The wise men found their way into Bethlehem and Bethlehem found its way into their hearts.

Have you found Bethlehem?

* Do you bring the sacrificial gifts out of your heart’s treasury to the Christ-child? The purity of holiness? The costly fragrance of continual prayer? A cleansed soul, preserved from eternal death?
* Do you offer Him your heart as His manger, as the vessel of His resting place? Or is it full of jealousy, envy, hatred, unforgiveness, self-pity, lust, anger, or prejudice? Is there any room left for Him to come and “lay down His sweet head”? Have you said, “Sorry, there is no room for You in this inn”?
* Does He plead, “But where will I be born; where will I find My resting place? Your manger is full, full of unforgiveness, full of your own self. I see no room for Me. I’ve been turned away from inn after inn; where do you wish Me to go?”

The only way you will find Bethlehem is when you remember to kneel in worship to the Christ Who loved you so much that He came in a tiny, human form.

And where will Bethlehem find you?

* In the car sitting in snarling traffic, snarling back at it?
* On the way to Grandma’s house, Aunt Sophie’s, or Mom and Dad’s?
* On a plane, or a bus?
* Or perhaps at the mall, rushing to find that last minute gift? Will it really find you there?

How does it come?

* Does it come rolling in as with chariot wheels rumbling?
* Or does it come silently, as with a gentle whisper?
* Does it come in a season, or in a moment, as in the twinkling of an eye?
* Does it come decorated in beautiful wrappings, resting under the tree?
* Or does it come in the sacrifice of your heart’s gift?

Wise men give Christ room to dwell.
Will you be a wise man (or woman) this year? Will you visit Bethlehem this Christmas? Will its Visitor visit you? Will Bethlehem come and leave again, finding you not because your heart’s inn is full?

Make room for the Christ-child; make room for the Christ-Man. Give Him the lodging place He deserves. Be as the wise men when they came to Bethlehem: worshiping on bended knee, grateful, and bringing gifts.

“O come all ye faithful…O come ye to Bethlehem…Come and behold Him, born the King of angels! O come, let us adore Him…Christ the Lord!”

When wise, men (and women) come to Bethlehem!

I pray abundant blessings for you and your family, for a Christmas filled with the presence of the Christ-child and the Christ-Man. May you find Bethlehem and may it find you.


Monday, December 6

When Wise, Men Come to Bethlehem Part 1

All the prophecies converged in one moment, for “the fullness of the time had come.” (Gal. 4:4 NKJV) So, a young, pregnant girl named Mary and her espoused, young man named Joseph left their home in Nazareth to travel to the homeland of their forefathers in Bethlehem that they might be enrolled according to their families for taxation.

Once in Bethlehem, they searched diligently for a place to rest as the baby was about to be born. In their search, they could only find an animal shelter, because there was no room for them in the inn.

As a hush descended over the earth
in the wee hours of darkness, the cries of a newborn pierced the gentle silence. Meanwhile, wondrous songs of praise, offered by a host of angels, saturated the skies over the fields tended by shepherds, filling the night air with the glory of God.

During those dark hours, Christ came to earth.

In that humble stable, to the gentle lowing of the cattle and the bleating of the sheep, Mary gave birth to the Savior of the world. Swaddling Him lovingly, she placed Him in a wooden trough, and there, the miracle of the manger took place.

The empty manger,
the vessel cradling the tiny body of mankind’s salvation, became full - full of love, full of expectation, full of holiness, and full of humanity. It was an earthly visitation of the heavenly realm.

A divinely-appointed star blazed triumphantly in the eastern sky, proclaiming, “This is the way to the Christ-child.” Its brilliance appeared even in the distant land of the Orient. Men, wise in astrology and the prophecies, set out from this land to seek the One upon Whom the star shone, the newborn King.

In time, the star led the wise men right to the King’s front door.
They came in expectation and great joy. “And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” (Matt. 2:11 NKJV)

When the wise men came to Bethlehem,
they came bearing gifts, first out of their hearts’ fullness, for they fell down to worship the Christ-child, and then, out of their treasure bags’ fullness of precious things, they offered gifts of sacrifice.

~~Please join me next time for the continuation of this post on Friday.~~


Friday, December 3

How Do You Measure a Woman?

Measure defined means a unit or standard of measurement; the extent, dimensions, quantity, of something; any standard of comparison, estimation, or judgment; and so on. Some of the synonyms are model, example, scope, portion, scale, test, pattern, and gauge.

So, how do you measure a woman?

*by how tall she is?
*by the size of her brain?
*by the size of her gloves?
*by the size of her shoes?

Well, yes and no. We, as Christians, usually use Proverbs 31 as the standard against which a woman (or wife) is measured; her worth being far above rubies, so it says.

But how do you measure that?

*By the love for her in the eyes of her family and friends, you can measure how tall she is.
*By the scope of her thoughts, words, and prayers, you can measure the size of her brain.
*By the extent of her giving and doing for others, you can measure the size of her gloves.
*By where and how she walks, you can measure the size of her shoes.

I guess if we went by that, a valuable woman would then be very tall, have a very large head, and have large hands and feet. Well, I know that sounds silly. But not if you apply it spiritually.

I love this quote, “The measure of a woman’s character is not what she gets from her ancestors, but what she leaves her descendents.” ~ unknown

So, how large am I, spiritually that is? How do I measure up to all this? How do I leave my daughter and my sons those values and character that I desire them to have? How do I make my husband and family proud of me and not bring shame to them? How am I an example to others?

To be and do all that is necessary, my life must mirror one pattern, one example, one standard…Jesus

Other than the character traits of Proverbs 31, Paul listed several other traits in his letter to Titus, “The older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things - that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.” (Titus 2:3-5 NKJV)

All this, plus grace, strength, and faith, was passed on to me by my mother and my grandmother…so what am I leaving to my children? How do they see me? How do others see me? How am I being measured?

What are you passing on to your children? How do others measure you?


Thursday, December 2

Inspired Design blog tour

Sorry, guys! This is strictly a girly book tour. Today, I bring you a blog tour of Inspired Design, written by designer Roxanne Hughes Packham and her 16 year-old daughter Hannah. They will inspire you to create a home that touches the souls of those within.

If you enjoy beautifully photographed interior design books and stories of treasured family traditions, then you will love this one. Be sure to leave a comment at the end of this post as I’m giving one away.

Why did you write Inspired Design with your daughter?

My grandfather (silversmith Allan Adler) passed this love of design to me, so it just seemed a natural to write a book about the design and subsequent use of our homes, infused with family heritage, and that my daughter take a large part of the powerful subject of “the home.”

I also wanted to create a place where we could initiate, create, and complete a project where my daughter, Hannah, could learn alongside me both the practical and ethical implications of a project this size, where all the profits go to a charity that is dear to our hearts, Heart of Hope Ministries, International.

I wanted show her an example of using our talents and gifts for the enjoyment of others, while benefiting others, not ourselves. It wasn't to be pious, but just a fun way to give back and truly make a difference while doing something together that we loved!

What is Inspired Design?

It is a book about three aspects of the home and how its power to touch the souls of those within. Those three aspects are designing for warmth and beauty to nurture others, meaningful touches and gestures to celebrate and honor your loved ones on special occasions and ordinary days, and, lastly, that it is not what we have or do not have that blesses others and changes lives but how we use what we have. It is about incorporating YOUR family heritage, and your unique gifts, into making a beautiful, family home.

Inspired Design has had such a wonderful response, without a traditional publisher, distributor, or agent, why do you think that is?

It resonates in the spirits of women who want to make a positive impact on their families and loved ones. The blessing of word of mouth publicity has really caused this book to sell and touch the hearts of every woman that has read it.

They tell one friend, and so on and so on. For example, Jill Foster, author of Creative Cakes Anyone Can Make, raves, “Your Inspired Design is amazing. I have devoured it, sipping coffee as I have enjoyed reading each page. Your family legacy is depicted in beautiful illustration. Having Hannah's words throughout the book is wonderful.”

We heard that one customer in Coronado, California, has reordered about ten books, each one as a gift for a friend’s birthday, what is it that she finds so touching?

She is someone I have never met, but she said she found it so real, beautiful, and uplifting. She said it has a realistic perspective of touching others with the bonus of spectacular homes and photography. The combination makes her want to give it to all her friends for their birthdays. She loves the blog, InspiredDesign, as well which has weekly tips and suggestions to make others feel special.

I know that a mother-daughter ministry, Inspired 31, has begun along side of Inspired Design, why do you think it has resonated so powerfully?

Especially in this economic climate, so many women are more resolute than ever that their families are the most important thing in their lives and their daughters, or close friends, should be celebrated and cherished. Without exception, our gatherings (3 so far, in it's first 3 months) have attracted hundreds of mother/daughter/sister/friend combinations wanting to come for 2 hours and celebrate what is good, pure, and worthy of praise, especially in each other.

Inspired 31's mission is to teach girls (and now even woman of all ages) to find and follow God's unique path for their lives. We have inspiring speakers and a wonderful positive and uplifting program. We have people inquiring about beginning a chapter in their area in many cities.

Where can we purchase a copy of Inspired Design? Also, we heard this book is helping orphans and teenage girls as well.

Inspired Design makes a perfect gift with so many ideas for making Christmas, or any holiday, more special with all kinds of thoughtful little details.

One hundred percent of the profits of this book go to charities: Heart of Hope, Local Food Pantry, Inspired 31 and more, produced and made 100% in America.

Please visit my web site at InspiredDesignPublications.

If you’d like more opportunities for a free copy, go here to enter.