Dream with me for a moment.
See the manger behind the inn. Listen to the cricket choir in the pasture beyond the stable.
Smell the sweet straw and musky night air.
Hear the occasional bellow from a cow, or snort from a horse.
Welcome the footsteps of approaching shepherds. Believe the miracle.
Suddenly the cries of Messiah born in Bethlehem's stable crescendo.
A world suddenly silent.
Speechless, in awe and wonder of the miracle born. Hope. A gift to a weary and sin exhausted world.
Mary pondered the mystery of it all.
God wrapped in flesh, redeemer. Born to give--His all.
This December reflect on the miracle.
Stare at the stars. Wonder.
Imagine the angels proclaiming His birth. Find a quiet place to be still and know.
Let your mind and emotions become quiet with God's love.
Author Unknown (As printed in "No Greater Joy" December Issue)
A Classic Christmas Story
I remember a day one winter that stands out like a boulder in my life. The weather was bitter cold, our salary had not been regularly paid, and it didn't meet our needs when it was. My husband was away much of the time traveling from one district to another. Our boys were well, but my little Ruth was ill. None of us had decent clothing. I patched and re-patched, with my spirits sinking to their lowest ebb. The water gave out in the well, and the wind blew through the cracks in the floor. The people in the parish were kind and generous too; but the settlement was new, and each family was struggling for itself. Little by little, at the time I needed it most, my faith began to waver.
Early in life I was taught to take God at His word, and I thought I had already learned my lesson well. I had lived upon His promises in dark times. I knew like David in the Bible knew "my Fortress and Deliverer." Now a daily prayer for forgiveness was all that I could offer.
My husbands overcoat was hardly thick enough for October and he was often obliged to ride miles to attend some meeting or funeral. Many times our breakfast was Indian cake and a cup of tea without sugar. Christmas was coming; the children always expecting presents. I remember the ice was thick and smooth and the boys were each craving a pair of skates. Ruth wanted the impossible. A beautiful fancy doll. She insisted on praying for it! I knew it seemed impossible, but oh! I wanted so very much to give the children the presents they longed for. It seemed God had deserted us, but I did not tell my husband all this. He worked so earnestly! I thought he must be as hopeful as ever. I kept the sitting room as cheerful as possible with an open fire. I served our scanty meals as appealing as I could.
The morning before Christmas James was called in to see a sick man. I put a piece of bread for his lunch and wrapped my plaid shawl around his neck. I tried to whisper a promise as I often had, but the words died away upon my lips. I let him go without it.
The day was dark and hopeless. I coaxed the childen to bed early, for I couldn't bear to hear their talk. When Ruth went to bed, I listened to her prayer. She asked for the last time most explicitly for her doll, and for the skates for her brothers.
Her bright face looked so lovely as she whispered to me, "You know I think they'll be here early tomorrow morning Mama." I thought then that I would move heaven and earth to save her from the disappointment. I sat down alone that night and gave way to the most bitter tears.
Before long James returned, chilled and exhausted. He took off his boots; the thin stockings slipped off with them and his feet were red with cold.
"I wouldn't treat a dog this way, let alone a faithful servant!" I said bitterly. Then I glanced up and saw the hard lines in his face and the look of despair, it flashed across to me---James had let go too.
I brought him a cup of tea, feeling sick and dizzy at the very thought. He took my hand and we sat for an hour without a word. I wanted to die and meet God and tell Him His promise wasn't true. My soul was so full of dispair.
Then there came a sound of bells, a quick stop and a loud knock at the door. There stood Deacon White.
"A box came by express just before dark," he said. "I brought it round as soon as I could get away. Reckon it might be for Christmas. 'At any rate,' I said, 'they shall have it tonight.' Here is a turkey my wife asked me to fetch along, and these other things I believe belong to you."
There was a basket of potatoes and a bag of flour. Talking all the time, he carried in a box, and then with a hearty goodnight he rode away.
We opened the box. We immediately pulled out a thick red blanket. Underneath the blanket was a lot of clothing. As we knelt by the opened box, our hearts broke with repentance for all the dark bitterness we had held onto. At that moment it was as if Jesus stood before us. Sweet promises of joy filled my soul. I became lost in praise and gratitude, I forgot everything else.
There were so many treasures in the box. An overcoat for James, a dress for me, fabric, and shoes. As I tenderly pulled out the gloves for James a slip of paper fell to the floor. Written on the paper, "I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand saying unto thee, 'Fear not, I will help thee."
The box was wonderful! By this time, I could hardly see for all the tears flowing. Then at the center of the box was another box. Inside this box was a perfect china doll. I burst into tears again. It was too much. At the bottom of the box was two pairs of skates, books to read, yards of ribbon, needles, thread and an envelope with a ten dollar gold piece.
You should have seen the children the next morning! The boys were estatic at the sight of their skates. Ruth picked up her doll, and hugged it tightly without a word. Then she went into her room and knelt by her bed. When she returned, she whispered to me, "I knew it would be there Mama, but I wanted to thank God just the same, you know."
Hard times have come again and again, but we have trusted in God knowing that "They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing."
It is said that thankful people are 25 percent happier than those who aren't thankful. Living in a country where we are daily bombarded with materialism, it is easy to see what we think we need rather than what we have. We cannot open our mailboxes, or turn on our computers without someone trying to convince us that we need something more. A truly thankful heart is a content heart. So this Thanksgiving Day when we sit around the table may we realize all of the blessings that God has given, and let us not forget to share our blessings with others.
How to have a Happy Thanksgiving: (Note: Can be practiced everyday.)
1. When you open your eyes in the morning spend sometime thanking God for life, breath, and the new day.
3. Keep a thankful journal, each day write down what you are thankful for.
4. Let go of worry. Give your burdens to God and leave them there.
5. Help someone less fortunate.
8. Savor the moment, each one is a gift from God.
10. Let go of the past and anything else you can't change.
The school bus pulled into the circle in front of West Central Elementary. This had been my first year in my new school since we had recently moved. I was in third grade and my brother, Bobby, was in fourth. As we stepped off the bus, I saw some of my girl classmates and as usual they had their little carrying cases with them because it was Thursday. Every Thursday several little girls in my class had ballet classes after school. How I envied them; not so much for the dancing, but for the little pink ballet slippers they got to wear. I really wanted to have a pair of pink ballet slippers. I spent a lot of time at home curling my toes under and standing on the tops of my toes pretending I had ballet slippers on my feet.
Times were tough at home and there was no money for ballet shoes or lessons. However,that did not stop my intense longing. I felt a little out of place in third grade anyway because since I had started first grade at five years old I was now only seven and the smallest one in my class. I dreaded to go to school on Thursdays because I knew the girls would have their lessons and I would have to hear about it all day long.
This Thursday proved to be different than all the rest. My school bus came thirty minutes after school which allowed me time to play under an oak tree on the playground. There were no girls to play with this day since they had gone to lessons or home. My brother was some distance away playing marbles with the boys. I was all alone under the tree. Suddenly I saw a small rectangular box sitting between the exposed roots of the tree. I removed the top and inside was a brand new pair of pink ballet slippers just my size. I knew they had not been left by any of the girls because they would not have fit since they were all bigger than I was. Even though I was only seven years old and had not been brought up in church, I knew God had sent them by an angel. It gives God great pleasure to give good gifts to his children. To this day, I am thankful and my poor toes are too.
Lucy Martin gripped the embroidery needle shakily with her left hand. The worn oak rocker gave a cocoon of comfort to her tired soul. A few months earlier she suffered from a stroke that caused her right hand to rest motionless in her lap. Her halo of gray white hair reflected the soft lamp light of the room. She gingerly reached into her sewing basket. With clumsy movement, she managed to pull out the baby blanket she had been embroidering. Stitch by stitch. Just a few more stitches and it would be complete. If only her right hand would work the way it had before the stroke. Every stitch was made with painstaking effort. Each thread sewn, a symbol of persevering love. Her eyes watered, it was just so difficult. She must complete it soon. The baby would be born any day now. The new mother would need a blanket for her infant daughter, to protect her from December's icy chill. She completed as many stitches as her left hand would allow, and placed her handiwork back in the basket. The daily ritual continued until the day arrived when the final stitch was knotted. The blanket was gently folded and wrapped. Finally, it was lovingly given.
The baby was me, 42 years ago. Lucy Martin, an elder sister in Christ, had a stroke which left her with many challenges. She loved a young couple, (my mom and my dad) and their baby. She showed her love with her gift. Stitch by stitch she persevered in spite of her disability. Many years have passed and Sis. Martin has gone on to her reward. She will be remembered for her selfless giving. We will never forget the dear lady who made the blanket, stitched with sacrifice and love.
The strong Florida winds ripped through the trees. Lighting flashed, creating a light show which illuminated the cab of the swaying truck. I gripped the steering wheel more tightly. The safety of home was a few miles away. I could make it. I hated to drive in rain, much less a thunderstorm of this magnitude. I was used to the tropical weather, had survived several hurricanes, but at the moment I felt like my heart would pound through my chest. Suddenly a bolt of lighting struck a transformer. The loud crack, and power surge that connected from the heavens to the power pole lit up the sky. I needed to get home, but was aware of the danger that surrounded me. I started singing, "Our God is greater, our God is stronger, God you are higher than any other..." My daughter in the front seat began to sing with me, trying to calm our frayed nerves. With each deep puddle splash that washed over the windshield, our song got stronger. My five year old in the back seat wasn't singing, so I said, "Sadie, you should sing with us!" She said, "Mom, I'm praying." Snails pace driving, praying and singing, we made our way home.
There are storms that arise in our lives. Our fear mounts. Our knuckles become white with worry. Will we make it? Will we survive? Will the elements of the situation tear us apart? Where is God in the midst of this? God is the creator and controller of the storm. No he doesn't have plans to destroy us. He doesn't have plans to harm us or crush us. He has plans to give us hope and a future. Sometimes all we can do is hang on for dear life to the hope He has given us. We are safe in Him.
Sing and pray your way through the storm and know that our God who made the storm, can speak to the storm and say, "Peace Be Still!"---j. jones
"So let the storm rage high, the dark clouds rise, they don't worry me, for I'm sheltered safe within the arms of God. He walks with me, and none of earth can harm me. Sheltered safe within the arms of God." Sheltered in the Arms of God
by Dottie Rambo
The Hebrew word shalom is understood world-wide to mean "peace." Shalom is commonly used to greet people and also bid them farewell. However, each Hebrew word has a deeper meaning and emotion. Shalom actually means complete peace.
Shalom: Completeness, health, wholeness, peace, welfare, safety, soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord. It comes from the root verb which means complete, perfect and full. In modern Hebrew the related word Shelem means to pay for and Shulam, fully paid. (Strong's Concordance #7965)
So how do we have Shalom in our lives? We need to meet Sar Shalom, or Yeshua, Jesus, Messiah the Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6) "and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace. (Sar Shalom)
When you say "Shalom" you are making a powerful statement. Not only are you speaking peace into someone's life, you are speaking the whole definition of Shalom.
This weekend my prayer for you is SHALOM! YHWH* bless you and keep you. YHWH make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. YHWH lift up His face upon you and give you SHALOM. Numbers 6:24-26 In the name of YeshuahaMashiyach SAR SHALOM- The Prince of Peace. *YHWH are the four Hebrew letters which are Yod, Hey Vav and Hey. These letters are given as the name of God. (Exodus 3:6 "When I judge the creatures I am Elohim and when I have mercy with my world, I am YHWH.")
I pray you would bless my friends this weekend with your peace. Lord we know that You are the Prince of Peace. Bless my friends with SHALOM. Let them know that you are in control, even when circumstances and life seem out of control. In a world filled with chaos, evil, disaster, and hopelessness, let them find you, Sar Shalom, Prince of Peace.
Just to know that He's there and His hand is leading me,
Though the World pass me by, though her ways let me be,
Just to walk with Him means everything to me. --Steve Richardson, songwriter
One morning while sitting on the patio in our backyard, God began to speak to my heart.
Stay on my path, don't rush too far ahead, take one day at a time. I know the end from the beginning and therefore I know what is ahead of you. Your worrying as well as your rushing ahead, is getting you nowhere. If you stay close to me, walking with me daily, I will protect you. I will lead you in paths of righteousness for my name sake. You don't have to be afraid, for I know the way you take and you can trust me. Take one day at a time...
To walk with Him means EVERYTHING!
May your weekend journey be blessed as you Walk with HIM!
Dear Child, I want to remind you today that you are beautiful. As you know there is a father of lies who will try to deceive you. He will tell you that you aren’t enough! Good enough, righteous enough, or smart enough. He will tempt you to doubt Me and then, after you do, he will accuse you of being a failure. He will also tell you that you have broken too many promises, lived one too many lies, and fallen one too many times. He will try to discourage you and tell you you’ve been going in the wrong direction and that it is pointless to turn back now. “You,” he hisses, “Are unimportant to God.”
Guess what? You do not belong to Satan he is not your father. I AM. I am your King. You are born of my thought! Every part of you I carefully put together by My hands. You have my thumbprint on your life. You are my workmanship! You are My creation! You are my joy! My very own!
You not loved because you are precious. You are precious because you are loved…by Me your KING! There is nothing that can separate you from my love. There is no ocean too deep. There is no mountain too high. Yes, sin did change my perfect creation. Yes, you live in a broken, fallen world. Every human being is born in sin because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience. However, I could not turn my back on them. I will not turn my back on you. I robed myself in flesh and came to earth to pay for you with my own blood. I am your redeemer and you are covered with My grace. I have done everything there is to do and given all there is to give–for you! Your life is precious because I created it and redeemed it! My love for you is everlasting, unfailing and eternal.
The father of lies may whisper in your ear; “Did God really say…?” He ignites flames of doubts. But I am unchangeable. My Word is truth. I desire to spend time with you, every moment of every day. My love for you never grows cold. My promises are never broken. My character never changes. You, my child, have been made in my image. You are beautiful. You have purpose. You have destiny. You have hope in every situation, because of Me. Read my Word, the letters I wrote to you in the Bible. Believe My story for your life. Love me with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Be renewed in my spirit, as they were in Acts chapter 2. Come to me, rest in me and My presence will fill you with the fullness of my joy. Love others as I have loved you. Love with a love that dares to see beyond the tattered dirty coats, of the Lost. Love with a love that confronts evil. Love with a love that forgives, as I have forgiven you.
I love you unconditionally, dearly and completely. I know your emotions. I see your tears. I see your thoughts. When you don’t know what to pray, My Spirit prays for you with words deeper than any sigh. I know all about you. I know your secrets, fears, weaknesses and failures. None of this changes my love for you. My faithfulness is eternal. Learn of Me! Believe Me! Trust Me! Find order in the midst of your chaos with Me. Begin each day with me. Calm your nights with Me. Entrust your heart to Me, I hold it close to my own.
"There is always, always, always, something to be thankful for."--author unknown
It is impossible to be unhappy and thankful at the same moment. Thankfulness breeds happiness.
Psalm 28:7 -The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him.
Psalm 69:30 I will praise the name of God with song, And shall magnify Him with thanksgiving.
Psalm 95:1-6 - O Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the LORD is a great God, And a great King above all gods, In whose hand are the depths of the earth; The peaks of the mountains are His also. The sea is His, for it was He who made it; And His hands formed the dry land. Come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.
1 Chronicles 16:8 -Oh give thanks to the LORD, call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the people.
1 Chronicles 16:34 O give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
Psalm 100:4Enter His gates with thanksgiving, And His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him; bless His name.
Jonah 2:9 But I will sacrifice to You With the voice of thanksgiving. That which I have vowed I will pay Salvation is from the LORD.”
Ephesians 5:3-4 But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.
1 Peter 5:6 "Casting all of your care upon Him for He careth for you."
My mom, always a ray of sunshine in my life, taught me this song when I was about 3 years old.
"He careth for you, He careth for you, through sunshine and shadows,
He careth for you."
I can remember her strong alto voice filling me with comfort. Such comfort.
Through the years the words of this simple song have carried me.
Through the laughter.
Through the births of my children.
Through bitterness of soul.
It's the comfort of knowing the "He" in the song.
Knowing that "He," God, cares for us, is amazing. That "He" loves us, unfathomable. That "He" cared enough to die for us, uncomprehendable. That "He" wants to spend time with us, awe-inspiring. Simple but deep and true, "He careth for you."
Loved ones forsake, friends abandon, family rejects...Jesus cares, through it all. He wants us to "CAST" our cares on Him. He knows we are but fragile humans, weak in our own strength.
In 1900, Frank Graeff wrote the following words.
Does Jesus care when my heart is pained Too deeply for mirth and song, As the burdens press, and the cares distress, And the way grows weary and long?
Does Jesus care when my way is dark With a nameless dread and fear? As the daylight fades into deep night shades, Does He care enough to be near?
Oh yes, He cares--I know He cares! His heart is touched with my grief; When the days are weary, the long nights dreary, I know my Savior cares.
Rest assured this weekend, Jesus cares for YOU.
"Who am I that a King would bleed and die for? Who am I that He would say not my will thine Lord? The answer I will never know, why He ever loved me so, and to an old rugged cross He'd go, who am I?"--Rusty Goodman, songwriter
This week my husband and I will celebrate 20 years of marriage. Can't believe it! So this week my post is short and sweet. Very thankful for every year Mark and I have shared. God is the one who keeps us together.
Col. 3:14 "And above all these things, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity."
Something to meditate on through the week:
Lord Use Me to Do Your Will.
Blessed are the available.
Blessed are the conduits, the tunnels, the tools.
Deliriously joyful are the ones who believe
that if God has used sticks and rocks to do His will,
This is a re-post from a couple of years ago. I dedicate this blog post to those who are in the military as well as to those with family in the Military. You are appreciated and loved! The following story is told by my husband's uncle.
From Pocket Miracles by Lois Jones
as told by Rev. John Brigmond
During one of my tours of duty in Vietnam, I was housed in the countryside while my army buddies were housed in the city of Saigon. Vietnam was celebrating the New Year and I was off duty for the weekend. Not knowing what was going to happen, I decided to visit my buddies in the city. We planned a barbecue and even invited Saigon's Chief of Police. We bought a case of chickens and other food that we needed for our celebration. The Chief of Police stayed for a while and then went back on duty. As we were finishing our meal the Viet Cong invaded Saigon. Their army gained control over two-thirds of the city, in what is now known as the TET offensive. The place where we had just enjoyed our feast was part of the city that came under the control of the Viet Cong.
As we listened to the Armed Forces Radio, we heard that if any of the military were in that part of the city they needed to stay indoors until help arrived. Explosive gunfire was all around us. The enemy raided the city destroying anything related to our military. As we peeked through the curtains of the house, we saw the Viet Cong military marching and killing people in the streets. This went on for ten days as we continued to hide. While we were hiding in the house, our Army jeep was parked outside in plain view. I believe God placed a shield around this vehicle during our time of hiding. If the enemy had seen the vehicle, it would have alerted them to our hiding place. If they had noticed it, they would not have only destroyed the jeep, but killed us as well.
With all the bombings and destruction around us, others lost electricity and water. We were never without power. Another miracle, the Armed Forces Radio was never interrupted and kept us updated. Not only did we have water, electricity, and radio communication we also had plenty of food from our New Years feast to keep us alive ten days. Looking back, I realize the danger that surrounded us. I know the hand of God protected and hid us from the enemies view. God provided both provision and protection. Is anything too difficult for HIM?
God has a plan for every life. In every situation God's hand can be seen. "All things work together for good, to those who love God..."The rest of the story of the life of John Brigmond is that God called him to preach. God used him as a pastor and church planter. God always has a higher purpose and a plan. He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.