Peace and Hope

A Christmas piece for this year.  I have made a few–they aren’t always my favorite to make, so they don’t turn out very often.  🙂

Americans have a lot of “traditions” we are supposed to do.  This year I actually got family photos and am sending copies to dear friends and family.  My husband has taken over ALL gifts this year (hallelujah!).  I am not baking a single thing.  (sigh of relief)  We aren’t doing Advent much this year, which I miss, but the kids just aren’t all home at the same time most nights.  I put up decorations, but then quickly realized I needed some clear spaces, and took half of it down.  (much better)  So I guess you could say we are simplifying things in terms of American expectations.

What I am including more of this year is the whole concept of PEACE.  Being happy with what is really important, my friends and family.  Relaxing in the peace of quiet.  Being still and resting.  Finding hope in our Savior.  Sharing love with the ones I can.  Being a beacon of hope when I can be.

I hope you are enjoying your holidays this year and finding how you can celebrate them best–with traditions or not.  For this season is supposed to be about readying our HEARTS for the celebration of Christ and the family he baptizes us all into.  His birthday celebration was pretty simple in the beginning.  Nothing fancy.  Just hope and love beaming and spreading.

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
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Same Power

Time for a music inspired post.  This song has been inspiring me a lot lately.  When I think about the power of our Creator Savior I am amazed.  When I consider that that very power is inside me, I am overwhelmed.  When we let Christ rule our actions He gives us the strength to do what we need to do.  To stand up, and not be overtaken.  We can stand in victory knowing the greatest of all powers fills us, saves us, gives us hope.  It explodes in love from our hearts and souls.  Enjoy the song…

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He Calls Us

And here are all of our benefits!  Rejoice in these my fellow herd members.  I will see you on our path.  Be blessed.

he calls us

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Self Sacrifice

I love how the Bible repeats itself, but in different wordings.  So if one passage doesn’t hit the mark, if we don’t quite get it, understand, whatever, there is another place where it can.

This verse in Matthew is along the very same lines as the other two this week.  But it reiterates that not only do we need to not follow the mischief makers and stray from the path/herd, we need to give up ourselves to Jesus.  We have to admit we are not the most important individual, that the good of the herd and the path to God’s glory are.

It also promises not just forgiveness, not just leadership, not just confidence though.  It promises that we will find our one true best self.  For that is what we are in Christ.  Our best.  His path, the work for Him, is what will lift us up to our full potential and then we get to bask in God’s glory with all of the herd.

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Like Sheep

It is easy to go astray.  It is part of being human.  The hope that we have in Christ is that we are forgiven.  That we have clean slates.  That we can improve and be better servants of Him because He took all of our sins.

I don’t know about you, but having that hope makes me want to try to be a better person even more.  I am so thankful that I have this opportunity, this confidence through Christ.  It makes me want to do what I can in thanks for what He gave to me.

Part of my gift back to Christ is being humble that I mess up, admitting that I stray that I get things wrong.  That I am one of those sheep.  And that I need His constant teachings and reminders to follow His path.

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Mischief

It is soooo hard not to get mixed in with the mischief makers.  This verse really hit home when it showed up in my devotions a few weeks ago.  It can be really hard to discern who you can trust sometimes.  It can be really easy to listen and think what is being said or done is okay.  It can be really hard to stand back, look at a situation through the lens of Christ and decide how to really react. It can be even harder when you realize that Christ does not want you mixed in with such people, and you know it is going to be a difficult road to buck the system.

But we are called by Christ to stand up to the mischief makers.  We are called to stand up for the persecuted.  We are called to encourage others to do what is right.  We are called to be the examples.  No matter how hard it is.

We don’t want to be drug away with the mischief makers.  We should want to be held tight to Christ and his followers.  No matter how hard. No matter the consequences.

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Clothed in His LOVE

My new FAVORITE song!  And it is the perfect culmination to this week.  This is a shout out to all the ladies who reached out, who helped me remember I have my armor that is keeping me safe, that is filled with the love of Christ and keeps me close in His love.  Faith, Hope, and Love are an armor we can wear to keep us safe, it is just one of the amazing benefits of being a Christ follower and creation of our God and Lord.  Blessed be HIM!  Blessed be you–I pray that you feel clothed in the love of Christ as well.  Hugs.

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Who satisfies?

There are something about kind words that help melt away stress, and make you feel not only lighter, but maybe even younger.  More carefree– maybe like a child–or a soaring eagle.  Renewed.  Free, untethered.  Light.

Do you ever feel like a weight truly has been lifted from your shoulders?

With each person that came to me last week, it was easier to give up the the pain and hand it over to God.  Each encounter reminded me I was worrying and fretting over things that were not for me.  They were for God.  I can’t fix those things/people.  God has to.  And I have to wait for them to turn it over to God as well.

And with each person, each revelation, I gave more to Him.  And I felt the weight leave.  I felt my shoulders truly relax.  What a benefit?

What have you handed over?  What has God resolved?  How have you felt lighter?  Think on those things today.

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
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Don’t Forget His Benefits

Here is the next verses.  Do you see why these verses cornered my attention?  So many good questions to ponder.  So much to think about and remember.  For God truly does redeem us from our lows.  Just last week several women in my school building knew I was struggling and reached out to help pull me up.  I know God sent them.  I know that it was His steadfast love, His mercy that made them feel it was important to speak kind words, give small gifts that helped me remember His love and mercy.  I felt the benefits of His love coming through each person, I felt His spirit present each time.

How has He lifted you up recently?

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Bless The Lord

Psalm 103 really inspired me this fall.  In fact I ended up spending 3 days going over the words and used several of the verses in art.  Mostly with just doodly flower patterns.  Something that let me ponder the words and let them sink in.  Painting and drawing that let me focus on all the ways I can bless His holy name.
Here is the passage:

Psalm 103The Message (MSG)

A David Psalm

103 1-2 O my soul, bless God.
    From head to toe, I’ll bless his holy name!
O my soul, bless God,
    don’t forget a single blessing!

3-5 He forgives your sins—every one.
    He heals your diseases—every one.
    He redeems you from hell—saves your life!
    He crowns you with love and mercy—a paradise crown.
    He wraps you in goodness—beauty eternal.
    He renews your youth—you’re always young in his presence.

6-18 God makes everything come out right;
    he puts victims back on their feet.
He showed Moses how he went about his work,
    opened up his plans to all Israel.
God is sheer mercy and grace;
    not easily angered, he’s rich in love.
He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold,
    nor hold grudges forever.
He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve,
    nor pay us back in full for our wrongs.
As high as heaven is over the earth,
    so strong is his love to those who fear him.
And as far as sunrise is from sunset,
    he has separated us from our sins.
As parents feel for their children,
    God feels for those who fear him.
He knows us inside and out,
    keeps in mind that we’re made of mud.
Men and women don’t live very long;
    like wildflowers they spring up and blossom,
But a storm snuffs them out just as quickly,
    leaving nothing to show they were here.
God’s love, though, is ever and always,
    eternally present to all who fear him,
Making everything right for them and their children
    as they follow his Covenant ways
    and remember to do whatever he said.

19-22 God has set his throne in heaven;
    he rules over us all. He’s the King!
So bless God, you angels,
    ready and able to fly at his bidding,
    quick to hear and do what he says.
Bless God, all you armies of angels,
    alert to respond to whatever he wills.
Bless God, all creatures, wherever you are—
    everything and everyone made by God.

And you, O my soul, bless God!

The Message (MSG)Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

 

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Remember the Wonderful

Autumn is such a season of contradictions–it is bright colors of leaves, pumpkins, berries.  It is the long awaited and needed harvests.  It is a season of gratitude for plenty.

But all of that comes at the expense of death.  Judgements–from nature, from humans.

Frost instantly killing and turning plants black.  Leaves and stalks withering.  Fruit rotting.  Fields being stripped.   It is hunting season when humans create sport out of harvesting animals that will feed families and control extra population, but due to humans upsetting the natural predator cycles.  It is when the homeless and destitute start to worry where will they stay warm at night?

Bittersweet, huh?

There is good and bad in everything.  We must remember that.  There is a balance to all that happens on earth.  There are judgements uttered.  There are cycles that will occur of plenty and scarcity.

Luckily God has programmed us to look for the plenty.  To enjoy His wonderful works.  Because really the evil is fleeting and God has planned for the cycles of life to be MUCH LONGER and LASTING.  We must fight past the bitter and focus on the sweet.  Evil likes to stand in the way of that, creating a screen of negative fog that can hide the wonderful.

Reach through the fog.  Focus on the colors.  The harvests.  The life.  The growth.  The time of rest necessary to make the growth and life that much greater.  Depend on a God of promises and hope.  Depend on a God of light.  Remember the wonderful works that happen each moment.  The breath that fills your lungs and the blood that pumps through your veins.  For love is every molecule of oxygen that keeps your life sustained.  And it comes from God.

 

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Seek Him

It is so hard during the midst of the storm to remember to reach out to God and remember that He is with us, carrying us.  He is there.  He does not leave us.  He knows what others do, he knows what nature is doing.  He knows.  He never promised that life on earth was going to be easy.  In fact He promises that it will be hard.  And the Bible actually says that we will be persecuted and tested MORE due to our faith because the devil and evil are constantly trying to turn us away.  And the devil makes it so easy to fly up into that storm and stay there swirling in its midst.

So what do we do?

SEEK HIM.  SEEK God.  SEEK Jesus.  SEEK Holy Spirit.

Call on them.  Look for them everywhere you can.  Keep looking and listening and tasting and smelling and feeling until you feel the Spirit calming your whole self.  From the top of your head to the tips of your fingers and toes.  Surround yourself with reminders of God.  Music, words, talismans, people.  Iron sharpens iron.  And those people are all the more necessary when fighting the beasts of evil.  For they are the ones who will help pull us away from the storms and keep our feet rooted in our faith.

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Storms

It seems to have been a year of epic storms.  All around the globe the earth is shaking, blowing, pouring out its angst on the land and its inhabitants.  The monetary numbers don’t mean much to me…yes it is the loss of comfort and security.  Our homes are our sanctuaries.  These disasters rip those away and create a lot of headache.  I think too often we put too much emphasis and worth on our homes and possessions.

Because there are other kinds of storms that can rip away comfort and security as well.  Illness.  Job issues.  Family issues.  Drugs.  Politics.  Inequality.  These are equally destroying storms.

Even the holidays…this next season can be very difficult.  I know the “anticipation” of the holiday season creates enough anxiety in me to create a tornado of my own!

So what do we cling to that is lasting, true, complete, and free?  God’s love and hope.  It is our hope in Him that will carry us.  It is His love that gives us refuge.  It is in His arms that we are made whole by His merciful grace no matter how we handle a situation, no matter how other people treat us, no matter what natural or human made disaster strikes.  In. HIM.  Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord.  HE calms the destroying storms and holds us close while they pass us by.  And He promises that our FAITH here on this earth will be paid with the HOPE of His LOVE for ETERNITY.  A storm can last minutes.  Our Creator, the creator and ruler of all nature, is eternal.

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Cultivate Contentment

Sometimes we can’t just let contentment pass us by…we must cultivate it.  We have to find that quiet time and altar in our home or life.  We have to watch for the single moments that touch us.  And we have to reach out and grab them, own them.  It isn’t easy.  There are down and horrible days that are no where near quiet or content.  We must hold on to HOPE, for that is the best thing there is.

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Autumn

Autumn is such a pretty word.  And season.  I decided I better share this art before it gets too late.  And I am going to share this Facebook post from my sister, Sarah Plymesser Beard:

Here’s my morning musing: I was driving home after dropping off the kids at school and noticed how beautiful the tree colors are. Then I noticed how quickly they seem to have gone from beautiful color to dropping leaves fast. But it was beautiful how the leaves looked like they were raining off the trees…. like this beautiful shower of color. God’s glory, right? But then I noticed….. this one leaf. Just taking it’s time from tree limb to ground. Swirling, floating, drifting. Not in a hurry to end it’s moment. Realizing that even though this is probably it’s last breath of beauty, it was soaking up the bright sun, the cool breeze, the scenery around as it floated. It was different. It would really make a beautiful children’s book. The life of this 1 leaf. 1 leaf amid all of the beautiful ones that stood out to me and made me pause and enjoy. Reflect. Mind you I was driving, so it really was a fleeting moment, and yet I’m sharing it with you. There is real joy in not hurrying to get to the next…. thing on the list, stage of life, whatever. God said rest. Enjoy life. All the way to the end. I hope that my life is like that little leaf. Enjoying and dancing all the way to the end. Standing out by being different, against the grain of what everyone is doing, but recognizing This is my life, this is my opportunity to enjoy what God has given me and what He made me to do. …. Now funny end trailer. The next block over, there was another dawdling leaf. He hit my car on the way down. Should have landed faster.

Image may contain: plant, flower, nature and outdoor Image may contain: tree, sky, plant, outdoor and natureImage may contain: tree, plant, sky, outdoor and nature

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
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