Rebecca Duvall

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Love

StrawberryThe Fruit of the Spirit this week is Love. I’ve chosen a strawberry since it’s often used to represent love due to its shape that’s similar to a heart.

When you love someone, their happiness is important to you. You behave in a kind and caring way toward them and wish to protect and support them, in a selfless manner.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.1 Corinthians 13:1-3

The above scripture tells us that it’s pointless to say, know or do anything without love. Love is the key to making an impact for the Kingdom of God. What are ways you can demonstrate love in the way you speak, through what you know or how you react?

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

These verses tell us, as discussed in an earlier post (Godly Love), what love, in the eyes of God, look like. I use this scripture as a checklist to see where I’m struggling (usually in multiple areas). It helps me know what I should be praying for. I find myself having a hard time not keeping a record of people’s wrongs, which then causes me to have a hard time trusting. What aspect of love are you struggling with right now?

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:8-13

This piece of scripture opens with the statement ‘love never fails’ and ends by telling us that the three gifts from the Holy Spirit to remain are faith, hope and love, with love being the most important to have. The speculations, words and knowledge of man will fade away, but our faith, hope and love in God will never fail us. This makes me want to focus my attention more on the Word of God, than of man, because the Bible is the key to our hope and faith, which will lead us to a love that never fails.

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for Your Word, and the guidance it gives with the help of the Holy Spirit. I pray we would love You and others, even those we see as enemies, the way You love us, Amen.

Godly Love

Bible heartFebruary is the month everyone is talking about love; how good it makes them feel when they receive it or how much they wish they had it. Many people talk about love as if its something they should receive because they are entitled to it.

In Matthew 22, Jesus says the two greatest commands are to love. We are to first love God with all our heart, soul and mind and then love our neighbors as ourselves. But what does it look like to love?

  • Love is patient
  • Love is kind
  • Love does not envy
  • Love does not boast
  • Love is not proud
  • Love is not rude
  • Love is not self-seeking
  • Love is not easily angered
  • Love keeps no record of wrongs
  • Love does not delight in evil
  • Love rejoices with the truth
  • Love always protects
  • Love always trusts
  • Love always hopes
  • Love always perseveres
  • Love never fails

Over the past few months, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 has been rattling around in my head. In this passage of scripture, God gives us a clear definition of what love is and is not. I confess, the first time I read this passage, I used it as a checklist for others and how they were failing to love me the way God wanted them to. I use to pray for God to help them love me the way I deserved to be loved.

Then God changed my heart. He gently reminded me I didn’t deserve love any more, or less, that anyone else did. We were all equal in His eyes. Because God loved me first, I was to love others first, to be the example of love.

We are called to love everyone, no matter what. If you come across someone you feel you can’t love, which we all will, many times throughout our lives, we can ask for God’s help. Pray, confess the difficulties you are experiencing while trying to love this person. Ask God to change your heart. Ask God to help you see this person the way He sees them. Ask God to show you, and help you understand, the gifts He has given them. Ask God for opportunities to love this person in a way only you can. I believe God will give you the ability to love this person, because He will change your heart, soul and mind.love never fails

I looked up each of the words that describe what love is or is not in the dictionary. This is what I came up with:

  • Love bears provocation, annoyance, misfortune, delay, hardship, pain, etc., with fortitude and calm and without complaint, anger, or the like.
  • Love desires to help others, is considerate or helpful.
  • Love does not feel discontent or covetousness with regard to another’s advantages, success, possessions, etc.
  • Love does not speak with exaggeration and excessive pride about oneself.
  • Love is not having or showing a high opinion of one’s own dignity, importance or superiority.
  • Love is not discourteous, impolite, harsh or ungentle in a deliberate way.
  • Love does not seek one’s own interest or selfish ends.
  • Love is not easily displeased.
  • Love does not intentionally remember being treated unfairly or unjustly.
  • Love does not receive pleasure, satisfaction or enjoyment in wicked, harmful, or immoral acts.
  • Love is delighted and joyful with acts of honesty and integrity.
  • Love always defends or guards from attack, invasion, loss, annoyance, insult, etc.
  • Love always sees others as confidently reliable.
  • Love always looks forward with desire and confidence.
  • Love is always steady in a course of action especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.
  • Love never falls short.

I don’t know about you, but this list seems overwhelming. Thankfully, God loves us and offers His grace to us regardless of how we fail to love the way He loves us. Also, we are not called to love in our own strength or ability. God will enable us to love, but we must first seek Him and His love for us.

God gifts us each in a way we naturally love. I usually find it fairly easy to be patient and kind toward others. How has God gifted you to love? I struggle with protecting and trusting others. I’m fearful of being hurt. What part of loving others do you struggle with?

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for the love you have for everyone everywhere. I pray Your love for us would pour out onto those in our lives, Amen.

 

Social Media

18 Social MediaIn January of 2010, I first ventured out into the world of social media to help promote a district wide campaign to raise funds for schools. I think the ‘world wide web’ is a great tool to get people’s needs known by others. It gives others the opportunity to help, if they desire. Sometimes we just need to know how to help. The needs of others can be met more efficiently when there’s a greater number of people aware of the help needed.

18 Proverbs 16-28

Unfortunately, the ‘world wide web’ isn’t always used for a positive purpose. Often it’s used to be hurtful and bring shame or embarrassment to others. People use it to glorify themselves as they judge and tare down others. When you see someone talking disrespectfully about another, beware. They may talk that way about you when you’re not around. It does tell us in Proverbs 16:28 that someone who speaks falsely of others becomes isolated from friends.

18 John 15-12

The greatest commandment is to love God and the second is to love one another. This doesn’t mean ‘only when we are face to face’. We are to love everyone, always, in all ways, even when on social media. Everything you post on social media should be truthful and done in a loving kind way. There is no reason, ever, to do or say anything in a hurtful or disrespectful way. Are you using social media in a loving, kind way? How can you be a positive influence on your social media sites?

I’m thankful for those who offer kind and encouraging words, to inspire and uplift, through social media. I’m thankful for the opportunity to share what’s in my heart, to possibly help another through a tough time. I’m thankful I can connect with people all over the world. I’m thankful for the many smiles and laughter I experienced from other social media sites all over the world. I’m thankful for those who share their silly, crazy moments in life to bring laughter and comfort to others.

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for the Holy Spirit, which offers us encouragement and comfort. I pray we would be more aware of the words we chose to speak and write. May our words always be helpful, not hurtful, Amen.

God’s Love

heart crossI’m thankful for the great and mighty love God has for me.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. ~ John 3:16

Isn’t that amazing! God loves us so much, regardless of how messed up we are, that He offered us His Son, Jesus, so we would have the choice to be in a close relationship with Him. There is truly no greater love than the love God the Father has for His people, us.

I find it fascinating that when God created us, He knew we would turn from Him and sin. He not only created everything on heaven and earth, He also created a plan to redeem us. A plan that would allow Him to look past our sinful ways and pour out His blessings upon us. He has continually pointed His people to this merciful and gracious plan since the beginning of time.

Romans 8 38-39

Romans 8:38-39

God’s love for His people, us, is so intense, that nothing can ever come between His love and us. For those who choose not to believe in Him, He still loves them and continues to reach out to them through the people and circumstances surrounding them. For those who have wondered away from Him and been captivated by the world around them, His love will never fade. He continues to patiently wait for you, while offering guidance for a safe return to Him. Have you wandered from God? How is He calling you back to Him?

Those who earnestly seek after God will continue to see Him through answered prayer, the words or actions of others, His Word and His stunning creation. How has God revealed Himself to you recently?

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for your plan to save us through your Son, Jesus, so we may draw close to you. I pray we would feel the love you have for us in our heart, mind and soul, Amen

 

Love

hearts across

There are many different definitions for the word love. The following are just a few.

As a noun:

  • A profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.
  • A feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.
  • Beloved person or sweetheart

As a verb:

  • To have affection for
  • Take great pleasure in
  • To embrace and kiss
  • To benefit greatly from

In my experience, it seems everyone has a different idea as to what love looks like. We all want it or desire it. No, actually, we all need it, because we are all created to love and to be loved.

During the night of the last supper, Jesus gave his disciples a new command. This is a command to be followed by all believers in Christ, always and forever.

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. ~ John 13:34

The thought of loving one another, to me, sounds so simple. Of course I am to love everyone. Why would I not? Unfortunately, as I said earlier, everyone has a different idea what love looks like. This makes loving others go from being a simple task to being an almost impossible task.

The other difficulty is that as we grow, physically and emotionally, the way we see and expect love changes. When I was a child, love was being taken care of. I felt loved by my parents because they took care of me. I felt love from my teachers because they cared enough to teach me what I needed to know so I could go out into the world some day. I felt love from my friends because they spent their time with me doing fun things and exploring life.

Then, as I became a teenager, my definition of love changed. It was no longer a warm personal attachment I felt from those around me. This no longer satisfied me. I desired a special love to call my own and thought this was to be filled by a special someone.

I was always out looking for this special someone. Someone who would love me the way I needed to be loved, even though I didn’t quite know what that looked like. Someone who would accept me and the love I had to offer.

Today, being married and a mom, I see love differently. When my kids are happy, or content, and compliant I feel loved by them. When my husband helps me with life and/or spends time with me I feel loved by him. It’s sad, but when things don’t look like this, I feel unloved or that I have failed at giving love.

Because we have such high expectations of what love looks like, we often feel unloved. We tend to focus on the expectations that we are not receiving or feeling that we miss the love we are receiving. Then the person giving the love, that you didn’t notice, doesn’t get the reaction they were expecting and they now feel unloved.

Lets go back to the command given to us by Jesus in John 13:34

Jn 13.34

 

Jesus loved us first. He died for us. His love for us is greater than any love we can receive from anyone here on earth. Yet, he calls us to love each other. That makes me ask myself; How does Jesus love me?

Jesus gave all for me. He helps me with the Holy Spirit given to me as I chose to believe in Him. He offers me His grace and love each day, regardless of whether or not I deserve it. I receive His mercy by receiving His love when I deserve otherwise. He intercedes for me in prayer to God the Father.

Now I have the question; How do I love others the way He loves me? I can use the gifts given to me by God, simply to help, without expectations from them. I can give of my time and/or money to others when needed, without worrying about not having enough for my family and myself. When someone messes up or treats me in a way I feel is wrong, I can treat them with grace, not by judging them, but thinking about what they may be going through. I can pray for them, ask God to help them and give them His peace.

I believe that as we seek to have a relationship with God, He will fill us with all the love we could possibly need and enable us to love everyone around us. This love will ooze out to all those we come into contact with and it will be contagious. Remember, we are called to love, not judge. Judging, at times, seems easier and more natural, but it’s not what we are created to do.

I challenge you to pause when you feel the desire to judge, and call upon Jesus, and then let the Holy Spirit lead you. Let Jesus show you how He desires you to love. Beautiful things will happen, I believe it!

My prayer for us today ~ Lord Jesus, You care for us and offer your amazing love to us each day and for this we thank you. Lord, I pray you help us to see everyone we come in contact with through your eyes and give us the desire to love them the way you love them, Amen.

Advent

advent candles 2I must confess, in the past, I have not payed much attention to the lighting of the advent candles on the Sunday’s leading up to Christmas, which is called the advent season. This year, however, I have payed close attention to what was being said during the lighting of the candles.

At the church we attend, Covenant Community Church, a different family or group of people participate in the lighting of the candle or candles each week.

The 1st candle is purple and is the Candle of Hope. We can have hope because God is faithful and will keep the promises he made to us. Our hope comes from God.

And again, Isaiah says, “The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations;
 in him the Gentiles will hope.” May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. ~ Romans 15:12-13

I’m in awe of God and how much he loves us. He not only sent His one and only Son, Jesus, to die for us, but He also gives to all believers of Jesus the gift of the Holy Spirit, which will not only guide and direct us, but also enable us in all we are called to do. Hallelujah!

The 2nd candle is purple and is the Candle of Peace. God kept His promise of a Savior who would be born in Bethlehem. Help us to be ready to welcome You, O’God!

As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:

“ A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all people will see God’s salvation.’” ~ Luke 3:4-6

I’m extremely grateful for the sacrifice Jesus made for me, and for you, so we could have direct access to God.

The 3rd candle is pink and is the Candle of Joy. It’s because of the hope we have in Jesus and the peace only He can bring to us we can experience true joy.

…and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

An there were shepherds living out in the fields nerby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on the earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” ~ Luke 2:7-15

The more I know Jesus, the more my heart is opened to see those around me, as it is filled with a deep desire to help them as Jesus helps me.

The 4th candle is purple and is the Candle of Love. God sent his only Son to earth to save us, because he loves us!

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. ~ John 3: 16-17

As I’ve said before, John 3:16 is the first scripture I ever learned. I believed it before I understood it. That’s the wonderful thing about God. He helps us to understand Him and His will for us. We must simply seek Him.

The 5th candle is white and is the Christ Candle. The white candle reminds us that Jesus is the spotless lamb of God, sent to wash away our sins! His birth was for his death, his death was for our birth!

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” ~ John 1:29

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” ~ John 3:1-8

Isn’t that beautiful? Jesus’ purpose of becoming flesh here on earth was to die for us so we could be reborn. This helps me trust and believe, even more, God’s almighty plan and timing of it all.

May prayer for us today ~ Father God, we thank you for the precious gift of your son Jesus, whose birth we will celebrate on Christmas. I pray each and everyone across the world will experience hope, peace, joy and love that only comes from You, Amen.

Discerning My Path

Discernment PathsWhenever I have a new idea or plan of action, I like to seek out those close to me for advice and opinions.  I do this for several reasons.

First, because it forces me to put what I plan to do into words.  As I do that it forces me to think through the situation more clearly which helps me have a better understanding about what it will look like as I walk through this plan.  Secondly, I seek others because they can sometimes assist me in working out all the details. Details I had not thought of before.

Over the past few years, as I’ve worked on my book, I have often gone to others for advice.  And I have often found myself in a pickle!  You see, as much as I enjoy hearing others thoughts and ideas as to what I should and should not do, it can cause confusion.  Yes, yes, I know, I am easily confused.  😛

I value the opinions of those I love and trust so I find myself in a pickle because the opinions of those I go to for help don’t always match.  A few people will tell me I should look into one thing when a few others will tell me to stay away from that and do something completely different.  Then I’m stuck!  What to do, what to do?  I don’t want to hurt the feelings of those I went to for help, but at the same time I like the idea of the others as well.

“First seek the counsel of the Lord.” ~ 1 Kings 22:5

Thankfully I have learned that its great to get assistance from others, but its God who I need to go to for the final answers.  Hopefully, when I come up with a new idea or plan it’s because God has given me the desire in the first place.  Even then, I don’t believe God gives us a desire and says ‘there ya go, have fun making it happen!’  No, God gives us a desire and has the plan and knows the timing in which it is to be carried out.

God will purposely puts people in our path to help us carry out the plan He gave us, but ultimately we need to go to Him for guidance and assurance.  The more we do this the more clearly we will be able to discern the correct path for us as we go forward in our journey through life.

The definition of discern in the dictionary is to sense, see or recognize.  

Earlier this year I continuously heard people ask for prayers of discernment.  I honestly didn’t understand what they were asking for.  I figured since they were asking for it, they must have known they needed it.  Then recently, when finding myself confused by all the advice, I realized I too needed discernment. (Well that’s not entirely true.  A friend suggested I pray for discernment.) I needed to sense, see and recognize God in all aspects of my life.  So how was I supposed to do this?  I felt I needed to get back to talking to God about my confusion.  I needed to talk it out with Him.  Then I needed to listen and watch for His answer and guidance.

I don’t know how God does things with you, but with me He only reveals one step at a time.  He knows I am easily distracted and confused if I look to far ahead.  But what do I usually do?  I usually take matters into my own hands and try to peek down the road so I can try and figure things out before I get there.  I try and give myself a ‘heads up’.  It never works, so I don’t advise it.  What I do advise is looking to God and trusting He will give you all the ‘heads up’ you could possibly need.

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, you are so awesome! You are always caring for us and loving us.  The patience you have with us is incredibly amazing! Thank you. I pray we seek you in our daily lives so we may sense, see and recognize the wonders of You all around us, Amen. 

The Path by Karen Mayes

Who Would You Be?

 

My 10 year old son loves to ask me questions like:

Would you rather eat a cat or a dog?

Would you rather clean vomit or poop?

Would you rather get stabbed in the foot or hand?

Whose better, Batman or Spiderman?

questionsA few weeks ago he asked me “If you could be anyone, who would you be?”  After a few seconds of thinking I said “That’s easy, I would be me!”  With a puzzled look on his face he asked me why I would want to be me if I could be anyone.  I smiled and told him being me meant I got to be his mom and I thought that was pretty cool.

I believe God prompted my son to ask me that question that day.  You see, I’ve been struggling with my place in this world lately.  Questioning if I should be doing more than ‘play’ mom.  I’ve been feeling less than everyone else.  Feeling as if I need to be contributing more to this world.

In the moment my son asked me the question, I realized being a mom is what I enjoy.  Of course I want to continue doing what I enjoy.  Anything else that comes along in this lifetime is an extra perk or bonus.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying being a mom is easy or always wonderfully pleasant.  It’s usually complete chaos and overly exhausting.  That’s what I love most about being a mom.  There’s never a dull moment.  I would pick being surrounded by my family, filled with chaos and exhausted, over boredom 95% of the time.  Not 100% of the time because everyone needs a break from time to time, and I do look forward to those times just as much as being thrown into the thick of it with my crazy weird family.  I am the queen of crazy and weird and I am the one who taught them how to be that way.

When I say chaos I don’t mean it in a bad way….usually.  I mean everyone needing something at the same time; Five things going on at once.  My favorite part about being a mom is having many things to get done and figure out, knowing God has it all covered.  I love seeing God work within my chaos.  What’s hard is when I forget God is in the middle of it and think I have to do it all on my own.

Praise God for the moments I begin to feel alone or overwhelmed and He steps in to reassure me He is there and He loves me.  By a gentle whisper, a song, a friend, a story or even my son.  Isn’t it beautiful how God can change our perspective in a matter of seconds?  How has God helped you see things differently recently?

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever” John 14:16

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, I thank you for the gift of family; mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children and all our other family members.  I pray we always remember they love us. I pray we see them through Your eyes Lord, when it feels difficult to love them, Amen.

* My answers to the above questions: Whichever is smaller;  whichever is less runny; hand because I wouldn’t be able to do mommy chores for awhile; neither, Ironman rocks!

 

Overwhelmed

sunflowerA few weeks ago my husband, Robert, was told, by the doctors, he needed to have a biopsy done on his new kidney.  The most recent blood work, which he has done every three months, looked a little suspicious. The doctors needed to see IF anything was going wrong.  The earliest date was about a month out.  So it was time to play the wait and see game.  No worries.  Both my husband and I know God is good. We began praying for the kidney to be well and this to just be a small glitch.  For the biopsy to show all is well.

A few days ago, while still waiting to have the biopsy, Robert had his routine appointment with the transplant doctor.  He found out he completely misunderstood the reason for the biopsy.  The blood work showed his body already started rejecting the kidney.  The biopsy was to find out how much damage, to the kidney, has occurred so far.

Thankfully, the doctors already have a plan set in motion.  Once the biopsy is done, and they know the condition of the kidney, they will start him on a 30 day plan.  It will begin with two days of 6 hour sessions of IV meds.  They say everyone reacts differently to the meds, but most patients get extremely sick for a week or so.  The next step will be 15 days later with an 8 hour day of IV meds.  This will have a severe side effect of nausea and exhaustion.  The last step, in this 30 day cycle, will take place 15 days later with another two days of 6 hour sessions of IV meds.  The point of the meds is to kill the antigen in his body, from the new kidney, so his body will stop rejecting it.  If it doesn’t work with the first 30 day plan of meds they have a couple more, stronger meds, they could try.

According to the doctors, this (AMR~Antibody Mediated Rejection) only happens to 7% of kidney transplant recipients.  They also say there is only a 50/50 chance of the meds working and his body going back to fully accepting the new kidney.Matthew 19 26

When Robert first found out about the biopsy he asked me not to tell anyone.  He said he didn’t want anyone to worry.  I told him I could not keep this to myself.  I said I didn’t think it was a good idea.  For one, I thought it would be best having more people than just us praying about this.  Second, how could he go around acting as if everything was ok when it wasn’t?  I’m happy to say he did take my advice and reached out to a few close friends he trusts.

When we discovered the seriousness of this and what Robert would be going through over the next few months I knew it was time for ME to reach out and ask for prayer.  This was much bigger than I could handle alone.

I am OVERWHELMED with love!  The calls, notes, messages, hugs and beautiful words of encouragement have filled me with God’s love.  I know the next few months may totally and completely suck in regards to what Robert will be going through.  But you know what?  That is okay.  I believe God will continue to be in every detail of my life as well as the lives of my family.  There will be many many blessings given to us along the way that only come from God.  I will search, each day, for these blessings from God.Love never fails

Will you pray for me and my family, please?  Prayers that we look past our circumstances and focus on what God has planned for us each day.  That we focus on the day in front of us and not worry about what the next day may bring.  Prayers to be filled, daily, with God’s love and His peace that surpasses all understanding.

The song Word of God Speak by MercyMe is my prayer for us today.

Merry Christmas

baby JesusUp until five years ago I thought Christmas was all about Santa Claus, decorating trees and presents.  Lots and lots of presents, which meant lots and lots of shopping.  The greeting I gave this time of year was always, and still is, ‘Merry Christmas’.

My Christmas was all about planning for the arrival of the fat jolly guy in the red suit who lived at the santaNorth Pole with the elves making presents all year long.  As a child I worried about whether or not I was on Santa’s naughty list.  I always made a Christmas wish list for Santa.  To make sure he knew exactly what I wanted, I would tape a picture of the item and list the stores where he could get it.

Now my Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus, my Lord and Savior.  We still do the same things at Christmas. We still decorate a tree and shop for presents.  I do feel different though.  I notice things I never noticed before, like the to-do list of things that most people could care less if I do or not.  The to-do list is something that brings stress, not joy, to my life.  This year I decided not to do a few of my to-do list items.  I’m not sending out Christmas cards and we didn’t even attempt to make baked goodies this year.

I find myself being bothered by the extra long hours many stores are open.  I use to love it because it gave me extra time to shop.  Now I feel sad for the employees who must work extra hours instead of being home with their families.  I do realize some families look forward to working the extra hours, but I still think the stores have gone a little too far.  Shopping on Thanksgiving Day and in the middle of the night, I think, is not necessary.christmas presents

Last week at church the sermon was about not being haunted by Christmas present.  We were challenged to buy less presents and be more present.  I love that!  I think the most valuable gift you can give someone is your time.  That doesn’t mean you can’t give gifts.  You can make them.  There are so many great gifts to give that can be made.  Pinterest is full of great ideas.  I know its kind of late in the game this year to decide to make Christmas gifts, but think about it for future Birthdays, Anniversaries and certainly for next Christmas.Love Joy Peace

Whether you celebrate the birth of Jesus, Santa Claus, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, nothing or whatever it might be, I wish you and your family a season filled with love, joy, peace and togetherness.

My prayer for us today ~ May God who understands each need, who listens to every prayer, bless you and keep you in His tender loving care, Amen

John 3 16

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