Beholding and being held

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”  Luke 2:10-11 (KJV)

IMG_20171221_124155195My history with these verses goes WAY back. In fact, I don’t remember there ever being a time when I didn’t know about them. My parents and extended family saw to that. My teachers did, as well. In fact, years ago–in 5th grade, to be precise–one of our teachers, Mrs. Hayes, gave us the prize of a giant peppermint stick if we could recite Luke 2: 1-14…or maybe, through verse 20…I’m not exactly sure now because that was a VERY long time ago and other teachers encouraged me to learn the longer passages. To this day, I still recite it (in the King James Version, of course, because that’s how I learned it! LOL) whenever it is read or shared during the Christmas season.

I love that the angel starts off with “Fear not…” because I’d imagine suddenly seeing heavenly hosts in the middle of nowhere would have been a little scary. I also love its relevance today because “scary” things still seem to come out of nowhere even now sometimes and we still need that reminder that not all of them are bad–just different than we would have expected…or planned, if WE were in charge.

I also love that next word…”behold.” It’s the King James version of “Stop what you’re doing and look over here at what God is doing for you today!” I still need that reminder, too. Regularly, I need it. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I can get sidetracked and miss out of what God is up to, so this reminder is just as freshly needed today as it was all that time ago. I don’t want to miss a thing that God has planned for me, but I’ve got a history of getting caught up in the details of my own life and, perhaps, missing out on the big picture of what God has planned.

I also love that the word “behold” reminds me that as I am looking for Him, I am actually being held by God. He’s at work doing things for me every day because He loves me and holds me in His more-than-capable hands. This year as I’ve been consumed with business details, He’s been bringing me people to share Him with at our shows. He’s brought us people to pray with and people to bless, people to encourage and people who just need a friendly smile…because He’s holding them, as well.

He’s held us as we’ve faced new challenges and continued to deal with older ones. He’s held us in our joy and held us as we faced the desperate need of it. Through it all, God has given us the constant reminder that He is HERE with us no matter what we face. Being held–a source of comfort and great joy–is available to ALL people because of news that came to shepherds long ago. We have a Savior and He is Christ the Lord!

As we celebrate the Season of His coming, let us also remember to share the good news that He is here to behold and we are able to be held. People need to know that. I know I do.

Grace and Peace…and a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

 

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NCN 2018–Day 30…and beyond

IMG_20181130_071351806_HDRDay 30, and the end of this month is finally here. In this month of Thanksgiving and holiday prep, of increased activity and decreased time allotted for it, of focusing on the good and trying to eliminate the negative, THANK YOU for participating in NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER with me again! Your stories and your encouragements have meant a great deal to me. Once again, I am reminded that I am the most blessed person I know…and that you can be, as well.

As we have chosen to direct our thinking and constrict our voicing of the negative this month, I have found that some days were a lot easier than others…and that THOSE were the days when practicing the discipline of not complaining was most critical for me and those around me. Encouragement is always most needed when it is in least evidence. That will be true going forward, as well. It is the CHOOSING to keep moving forward toward the goal that becomes the mainstay of any decision, and so it will be with this.

Tomorrow we will enter the season of Advent, a looking forward season. What are you looking forward to where you are? Will you continue this challenge? Will you set new goals? Will you heave a sigh of relief and work to find rest or will you keep hurtling along at breakneck speed? Every choice has both blessings and consequences, so I find myself praying that as we go through this last day of NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER 2018, our choices will reflect a greater discipline because of what we’ve learned, a greater joy because of how we’ve learned to look for the goodness around us, and that the world will become a better place because we continue to acknowledge the areas that need work and get busy changing them without taking time out to complain about them first.

May all of your choices going forward be the best ones, so that your blessings will be many and your consequences can be love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). In short, I pray that your choices reflect a life filled with the goodness of God and a ready display of His Presence will absolutely permeate every nook and cranny of your life. He is good–despite all of the hard things in this world–and He loves you! May you learn to love Him more than you ever thought possible and may you–and those around you!–see Him at work in and through you as we celebrate His coming. I pray He finds a home in your heart and that you always find yourself most at home in Him.

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21 (NIV)

Grace and peace!

(and yes, those roses really are blooming out on my kitchen counter today!)

NCN 2018–Day 27

Today is #givingtuesday, a time to be generous and contribute to worthy causes. I don’t know when it got started, but I definitely applaud the whole idea, and it makes me wonder…

  • What if we decided to be make every day a giving day?
  • What if we made a plan (not a wish, but a PLAN) to support worthy causes with regularity…because our priority was to become more worthy, too.
  • What if we looked at our resources with an eye toward blessing those whose needs we’re aware of long after “the season of giving” has passed because we realized that the Source of all blessing has promised to never leave or forsake us…and others need to see that promise in action so THEY can believe it, too?
  • What if our whole lives centered around making those around us know they matter, that they’re loved, and that their gifts are needed to help others, too?
  • What if we decided to become walking, talking, giving billboards for grace and peace and the One whose idea they were in the first place?

What if…?

What will you choose to do today…since you’ve given up complaining…and have all that extra time on your hands? (grin)

Grace and Peace!

Romans 12:21!!

NCN 2018–Day 22

Good morning and Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  Today as I begin working on the traditional holiday feast, I’m remembering the days gone by of this holiday being filled with love, laughter, and more hugs than you could imagine. Playing in the woods, walks after lunch, card games and skeet shooting by the uncles, tables groaning under the weight of all it would take to feed this massive and wonderful family, cousins who were as close as siblings…it was an amazing way to grow up, y’all. I am fully cognizant of the blessing. SO much love!!

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As always, I couldn’t let the day pass without wishing you well and sharing my Grandmother Hodum’s Thanksgiving poem again. For those of you who are new, she used to recite this “piece” for us every year when I was growing up and it is one of my great blessings of life that my Cousin Suzanne had the foresight to have her write it down so that we still have it in her own scratchy handwriting! I can still hear her voice…

“Thanksgiving Dinner”

I don’t believe in eating much

of turkey, pumpkin pie and such.

It make me dream bad dreams at night

and then, besides, it’s not polite.

So I’m not going to stuff and stuff

and act like I can’t get enough.

For me a turkey leg will do

with just a slice of breast or two,

then some liver, gizzard, and a wing,

Lots of dressing, that’s the thing!

Mashed potatoes to make me grow

Squash and cabbages, they’re fine, you know,

And I must have some cranberries, too,

And layer cake–two pieces will do.

Then of pumpkin pie so yellow–

One piece, because I’m a little fellow.

With nuts and apples I shall quit

and not ask for another bit.

For it isn’t good the doctors say

To eat too much on Thanksgiving Day!

No matter where you are or who you’re with, make today a day of true Thanksgiving and enjoy the feast of life.

Grace & Peace, everyone!

NCN 2018–Day 21

IMG_20181121_091302325We sat in our chairs last night and just reveled in the scent of freshly made cornbread. I mean that scent FILLED UP the whole house! My husband kept asking when we could eat some, suggested that I could always make more tomorrow, and just generally made his wishes known about what he thought the purpose of that cornbread should be. (LOL!) He knew it was made ahead so I could do a pan of dressing for Thanksgiving and he was kidding (for the most part! grin), but I had to agree with him…it sure smelled good!! We enjoyed the smell of the cornbread, but waited to taste the delights of it because its actual purpose is to do something even better.

Choosing not to complain is a lot like that, too. There’s a “scent” of peace and serenity about it that permeates the atmosphere around you as you calmly go about your day.  Making this choice also serves a greater purpose for the future–it helps create/foster an environment of harmony as those around you begin to realize that working toward solutions is always better than just railing at the situation and retaining the status quo. Choosing not to complain may not actually be the solution, but it can lead to one and it certainly ensures that the process goes a lot quicker.

I believe that, over time, it will also make you a person of influence and give you a voice that will be heard and embraced with joy by those who are watching you this month. They may never speak it out loud in November, but they’re watching and your choice to participate in NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER will pay dividends in the future. The voice of the complainer is never the one I seek to hear when I need encouragement, new ideas, or solutions to the real problems in life.

Today, I am praying that we will be the voice of solution, of reconciliation, and of tranquility. Choosing not to complain is important, but it also serves a greater purpose: it saves the use of your voice for progress. There’s a lot of that needed these days and we can use everyone who will to join in to create peace and order out of the chaos. This prayer is particularly relevant for those who will spend holidays with those we love, but whose opinions and choices differ so radically from our own.

Make the peace this year. Keep the peace this year. Choose unity over complaining as you celebrate the many blessings God has given you this year with those who are able to join you. You can do it. You’ve been practicing. Now, go forth and celebrate–and enjoy that cornbread dressing!!

Grace and Peace!

Romans 12:21!!!

NCN 2018–Day 20

Change. Sometimes we hear that word and just stop listening. We become resistant without even knowing the details. I know. I used to be that way, too.

And then, God…(Oh, how many things in my life can be added to the end of that beginning!)

And then, God began to deliberately shake up my world in ways big and small to show me that HE would never change even when everything else did. THAT changed me. It deepened my faith and taught me to look for the best and the beautiful–to look for HIM!–even in the tough stuff. Especially in the tough stuff.

In this week of giving thanks in the month of not complaining, I am choosing to give thanks for the beauty of change.

(Photo #1 was taken on November 1st. Photo #2 on November 5th, and photo #3 was taken just yesterday afternoon.)

Are you noticing the changes of NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER in your life yet? You don’t have to have a perfect record to make progress. Gradual change is still change. Any steps toward a more positive outlook and reducing negativity in your world are good ones!

Today, make time to celebrate how well you’re doing and enjoy the beauty of change.

Grace and peace!

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Roman’s 12:21

NCN 2018–Days 17 & 18 (aka Days 10 & 11 that didn’t get posted last weekend!)

I’ve been thinking back to this time last year. Life was quite a bit different for me. God had loaded my plate, I had piled some more things on top, and a few others were trying to do that for me, as well. I was stressed and feeling every bit of it as I worked to stay positive and write posts that would encourage others…and hide how exhausted I was really feeling.

This year, things are quite a bit different. I’ve been on a search for more Margin in my schedule and, although my schedule is still a busy one, right now, I find myself more relaxed than I would have believed possible just 12 months ago. Having more Margin in your life doesn’t mean that you’ll always have giant stretches of empty space on your calendar. It just means that the items that make it there are chosen with purpose and a lot of prayer over them. It means that, while everyone will occasionally have to do something they might rather not do, the majority of the time is devoted to things that are in line with the goals YOU are trying to achieve, so your attitude can be one of excitement and gratitude even when you’re really very busy.

I’m writing this today in case some of you are still struggling because you’re just tired, tired of being tired, and tired of doing so many activities and still not feeling like you’re making any progress. Packing your schedule tighter than you can breathe with things that meet “other people’s goals” and leaves you precious little time to rest and accomplish your own goals does NO ONE any good.

Here’s your weekend challenge: Make peace a priority!! Take out your calendar and start a review. Make sure you include the rest of the family on this, as well, since their items are also part of the mix. Take an honest look at what goals you’ve set for yourself and what items are simply on your docket because they accomplish someone else’s idea of what’s necessary or appropriate. You might just find that someone in your household is only doing an activity because it’s something YOU always wanted to do and it really isn’t a pleasurable thing for them at all. You MIGHT just find some room in there to go do some actual “fun stuff” and you might just make a difference in the way you spend both time and money in the days ahead. At the very least, you’ll be able to see if your activities are helping your meet those goals you’ve set or if they’re just keeping you from meeting them. Hopefully, you’ll also find that having some open communication about your calendar will make it easier for everyone involved to have a better attitude and, therefore, make it a little easier to get through the rest of NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER.

Grace and Peace!

Romans 12:21!!!