This time of year, we are so busy putting things up, buying things, organzing our calendars to fit it all in....I re read over some past christmas post, and found this one still relevant. I do hope you and your family have a wonderful celebration season of our Lord's Birth this year: With that said, read on.
You know the drill. What goes up, must come down. So with that said, you probably know where I am going with this. To the not-so-fun part of Christmas….trying to fit those oversized decorations back into their tiny elf-sized boxes. Mission impossible if you ask me. But someone has to do the dirty work, so I press on. I start first tackle the tree’s ornament then the garland, then back to the ornaments – the ones that escaped and evaded my first search. Once those are safely put away, I tackle the tree itself. This is where those tiny elf-sized boxes come into play. I precisely remember taking the tree out of its box at the start of the season– but for some unknown cosmic shift in the universe….it does not fit back into the box when I try to return it to its home. So I result in pushing and shoving tatics. With limbs purtruding out of the corners of the box it the tree gets stored away in the basement until next year. Onto the stockings, the poinsettas, the wreaths and nativity scene; with each job usually ending up with me having to sit, stomp or jump on to get them into their boxes.
By the time the day is done – I am plum worn out, and it is times like these in which I am thankful it comes but once a year! With “Operation Christmas Down” complete I go sit on the couch with a warm cup of coffee to bask in my victory. As I sip creamy french vanilla java, I look around and notice vast empty spaces that were once filled with color, it looks gloomy and bare. My eyes have gotten so used to seeing all the decorations for so long, they now focus on the bareness they left behind. So I found myself moving furniture and décor around to fill in the bare spots. I moved the couch over, and decorated a table and shelf. All this comotion got me thinking.
If my eyes focus on the emptiness the Season leaves behind, what would my spirit focus on if there were a spirital “Operation Christmas Down”? My spirit is so used to the peace and joy of the season. Does taking down Christmas take those things away too? Would peace fit back into a box, would it require a lot of pushing and shoving to do it? What about joy? Will its limbs protrude out of the corners if packed away? What would I fill my corners with, the ones that were once occupied by peace and joy ……what could possibly be a suitable substitue in these vast empty spaces left behind. Would it be other spiritual furniture and décor? I could move hope over, maybe even decorate with a little future and purpose…..but as I searched within, I could not find anything that would work in those spaces as well as what orignially occupied it. Because without peace and joy, there would be no hope. Without hope there would be no future, and without a future there would be no purpose.
My spirit concluded, without peace and joy filling the corners of my life and my inner most being – I could fill them for a time with other things – but because peace and joy have grown to enormous sizes within me, nothing else could fill them. My spirit has gotten so used to them, it would only focus on the emptiness of the truth – that nothing could take their place. For God gave me those through His Son Jesus – a Gift. One that does not need to be packed away and stored until needed, One that would never fit nicely back into the box from which it came – because it has grown! Taking Christmas down is not an option when talking spiritual things – for within me is Christmas – a forever part – growing with each breath I take – a season that will not end! So as you take your Christmas décor down, and rearrange your furniture – take time to consider your spiritual mission and the things that fill its corners! May the Season Christmas live within your soul and the Gift be your eternal salvation!
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
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I was attending a women's leadership conference recently with some wonderful women! We had some awesome experiences. When attending these types of events, you hope to gain some insight, some encouragement as well as be an encouragement to others. You hope there are times where you can be "a mentor" or moment of inspiration for the younger women growing in their leadership.
Well as all things do, something not only goes horribly wrong but it also takes a twisted turn to the crazy! With all my leadership skills and my wisdom of age - I was headed to the elevator with one of the younger ladies in our group. I had already been to the parking gararge of the hotel earlier that morning to pack my stuff in the van. We were now headed there to meet the rest of the group. I remember having to push the UG button from earlier that morning - meaning upper garage. So as we entered the elevator I shared my wisdom with confidence about pushing the UG button. The other lady quickly replied, "No I think to get out its CL". Of course with all my newly aquired spiritual enrichment and leadership enlightenment, I continued to say "No, I think it's UG" explaining the upper garage location.
She genlty went into an explaination, "Julie, that's from the hotel, we are in the conference building across the street!" We couldn't help but bust out into laughter, I am sure I turned alittle red as well! Not only was I basing the current moment on what I had done earlier, I was basing it on an entire different location! I thought I knew where I was headed since I had been there before, but I was in the wrong elevator, looking for the wrong buttons, in the wrong building. If I kept to my wisdom, we would have ended up nowhere, or better yet, lost. And believe me there is a difference between the two.
As we walked out of the conference building toward the hotel parking garage I began to think. If I am this directionaly challenged in my physical life, how much more in my spiritual. I can' t count the the number of times where my own wisdom has lead me to the wrong spiritual elevator, to the wrong spiritual buttons and even to the wrong spiritual building. I thought I was going the right way, I even compared it to my previous trips to the same place - but God ever so gently points out, as my young friend did, "Julie, you are in the wrong buidling."
Sometimes instead of consulting God for spiritual direction, we rely on our own wisdom or wisdom of the past. We spend so much time pushing the wrong buttons to places that aren't even there! Ending up going nowhere, or better yet, lost. I don't know about you, but I want to be in the right elevator with God. I want to be pushing all the right spiritual buttons that God has for me. I want to be in the right building God has prepared for me.
One lesson I have taken from that moment in the elevator with my young friend, wisdom on all matters is not settled by age nor is it settled on past experience - it is settled by God and His plan for your life. Don't get lost or delayed, rely on God today!
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding" Proverbs 3:5
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Just a quick Merry Christmas for now. I hope each of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and a smooth transition over to the Christmas Season.
For me it has come quick this year...I do not know where time has went...into that cosmic clock that seems to tick faster the closer you are to 40 I suppose!
I did not do the "Black Friday" shopping thing...I'm just not that brave anymore, or I may have gained some wisdom over the years, I do not know which. For those of you who did..congrats, hope you came out with all your limbs!
Anyways, Have a wonderful Holiday, I will be posting some crazy things soon! So stay tuned!
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So recently I have spent most of my days with a phlebotomist. It was not a social gathering! I have been
undergoing some tests, which all happen to involve giving blood. Now needles do not make me squeamish or light
headed one bit – I sit there and watch it most of the time. However these past few weeks have tested my
The first few days passed with just giving one vial, maybe
two; so it was not much to consider.
However as the days and weeks went on, one vial became two, two became
three, three became four, four became five….so on and so on…….all at once I
tell you! And it was not just a one-time event, but a few! I am in the medical field and know a little
about blood. Like how much you
approximately have in your body at all times, on the average it is about 5
liters. So logically I knew there was
nothing to consider. But…..weren’t
talking logic here…we were talking my crazy mind! All it took for me to consider strange and unusual
things is one sentence: “ma'am, wait here for 20 minutes, we want to make sure
you are okay since we had to take so much blood at one time!” The sad part about this is that I have been
told this on three separate occasions in the last two weeks! So yes! That gets
my mind all curled up! As you can imagine, I wasn’t too happy. I was
not feeling warm fuzzies, if you know what I mean!
One appointment stands out among all the others, my most
recent occasion – yesterday. The female
phlebotomist was striking up small talk and I was at first participating enthusiastically. By the time we got to the fifth vial my
enthusiasm was wavering to the point….I was going to tell her what was on my
mind! Now, if anyone knows me just a
little bit – you know it wouldn’t be a bad thing! (most of the time). She reached for the sixth vial and I blurted
out “with all you people taking so much of my blood lately – I am so glad I
have the blood of Jesus: Because right now, His blood is the only thing keeping
me alive!” Well as you can imagine, she was a little surprised by my statement;
but hey, I was just speaking truth!
She smiled, and to my surprise, replied back with a “Halleluiah!
I know that is right!” I looked up at her and smiled back – she was a sister in
Christ! As she continued to take more of my blood – we shared a bit of
commonalities. And she shared her concern about an unsaved co-worker: we
discussed different ways she might be able to reach her and the obstacles that
lie ahead. Don’t get me wrong – just because
she was my new found sister, didn’t mean she stopped syphoning my blood supply out…I
even tried to use the scripture Hebrews 13:1 against her. “Let brotherly love
continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for some have
entertained angels unaware”.
Well she was having none of that. She looked
right at me and said “I am no longer a stranger, and I am pretty sure you are
not an angel……good try though!” And there went another vial!
What a wonderful appointment that ended up to be – and I am
not talking medical! Despite the fact I weighed less than when I came in – it was
a refreshing few moments! Not only did they get enough of my blood to run every
test known to man, but I was able to share the Blood of Jesus my sister in
Psalm 34:3 “Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt
his name together”!
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I was working in the vegtable garden for most of the day. The sun was setting and I knew I was running out of daylight. I still needed to spread some straw over the seeds I spread earlier. I headed inside to get a pitch fork. We had two bales of hay left over from our Fall decorations that dressed the front porch in a seasonal display. We had decieded to moved them to the back to use in the gardens. I tried using the pitch fork and it was not going well, more straw fell through the openings than reamained. So I put that aside and did it the hard and true way....I used my hands. Grabbing bunches of hay and walking it over to the area that needed it. The first three batches worked fine, but as I reached for my forth batch and pulled it away from the larger bale, three baby snake heads stared me down. I backed up so fast and did what I call the :snake dance" in my backyard. If anyone knows me well, they know there are two things in this world I do not like...snakes and worms...worms becuase the are snake wannabies!
So after my skin reattached to my body and all the weebie jeebies went away, I took a closer look. I was on gaurd becuase I knew if there were baby snakes there had to be a momma. As I got closer I saw the snakes had not moved, they were still sticking out of the middle of the hay stack, frozen in time it seemed. Maybe they were dead, I could hope anyway. I reached for the pitch fork and did some proding. The snake heads fell with ease. Another "snake dance" was in order because this was just too creepy. I called my husband on my cell phone becuase he was not home. He suggested they may have been in the field when the bale of hay was made. That made sense, I felt a little better but not much. Now I did not want to continue with my hay spreading, until I had a brave soul over to investigate.
I saw my son playing in another yard, I called him over. "Can you go next door and ask the dad to come over for a minute, I need his help with something." My son asked what I needed help with so I did a quick summary of my recent events. His eyes lit up and he wanted to see them firsthand. I told him he could if he was careful and quick. We both walked over to the hay stack, with caution. Chris peered down toward the snake heads which I so bravely knocked to the ground with my pitch fork and said "Mom, they're mushrooms!" What? Mushrooms? I don't think so. They are baby snake heads, this boy doesn't know what he is talking about. I rebutted with "no I think you are mistaken, they are snakes, look at those heads." So then my son, not in his right mind, bent down to pick one up. I gasped in shock, before I had time to argue he had it in his hand observing it up close and personal!
"See mom, mushroom" He was laughing hysterically at this point. I came closer - still with my doubts. I squinted at the repulsive snake head and noticed it had no eyes or scale like skin for that matter. He was right, they were mushrooms! I started laughing so hard - a mixture of relief and embarrasement. Chris just shook his head in pitty at me. Now he doesn't think mom has lost it, he knows it!
So the snake (a.k.a. mushroom) scare was over. I went back to spreading the last couple batches of straw - but I had to admit, not as carefree as I started out. Though they turned out to be mushrooms, who knew for sure snakes weren't out there....somewhere!
It's funny now, a month down the road, and it brings a smile everything I think about it. But it also rings some spiritual truth as well. I know as I dig through the spiritual hay stack in my life, I come across the same problem....mushrooms...that parade themselves as snakes. Sin, doubts, fear, the past.....they seem frozen in time just like the mushrooms in my garden hay.
I get serious about covering the seeds God has spread in my soul so they may be safe and grow, but Satan likes to bring doubt and fear into my life, and he knows how to do it. He also knows me well, he watches and takes notes. Snakes. Even the spiritual ones give me the weebie jeebies and throws me off course from the task at hand. What better way to interupt my tending to the words God has given me than to place the snake of doubt into the mix. That's when I ask God for help, I need a brave soul to come and investigate the snakes as with my garden hay that day. And to my relief, God sends His Son, Jesus to point out to me that they are just mushrooms, they can't hurt me, and to continue my work so that the seeds that God has planted in my life grow to the fullest.
I have to admit, just like with the garden hay, I go back to spreading batches of spiritual hay over the seads, but not as carefree as I would like....the thoughts still creep in once in awhile, I have to continually lean on Jesus and all His wisdom - because when left to my own thoughts.....there are snakes, real spiritual snakes out there....somewhere!
I have given you authority to trample on snakes
and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.
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“Mom, don’t worry, I will use my right arm…it has the extra power in it!” This statement came from my son, regarding helping with pulling up all the solar lights in the yard. Some of them would be hard to pull out since the anchors were seeded deep within the ground. So why did he has super human strength in that arm? Well, to understand that, I must take you back two days.It was Friday morning, and time for his checkup. We were finishing up when the doctor came in and said “while, I have you here, you may has well get your shots that are coming due”. Chris was not happy at that announcement and I had another appointment to be at. So a call into Edward to see if he could come sit with him and finish it up and bring him back to school.As Edward arrived, off I went to my appointment. It would be a busy day and I would not get home until late that night.
When I arrived at home, Chris was still up watching T.V. This gave me a chance to ask Chris how his shots went and catch up on the day with Ed.Here came the story! Chris had to get FOUR shots; he told me with such bravery. The doctor had decided at the last minute to give him his booster shot series which he had not finished up. Chris then goes on to tell me about the rest of the day once he left the doctors office. He went back to school and all of his friends were referring to his arm as bionic….why you ask? Well Chris had a ready answer for that. “Since I got my booster shot, it was a boost of power…like steroids mom! They were asking me to do all the things that needed full strength for.” I had to cover my face in order not to burst out laughing. Power from his booster shot. Okay.
Well the story didn’t end there.Ed mentioned they went to the movies that night – usually Chris tries to pull down those arm rest they have were you fit your drink into. Most of the time, the arms are in a position where it is hard if not impossible for him to pull down. Not that night. Ed said “with his bionic arm, he reaches across the seat and pulls the arm rest down with ease.” Chris chimes in validating the events. By now, I am almost in tears. But I also try to hide my laughter, because Chris seriously believes he has extra power in his arm.The night ends and the next day goes without event.
However Sunday afternoon we decide to do some yard work in the back flower garden. Ed has asked Chris to help with pulling up all the old solar powered lights, but we warn Chris that some of the stakes may be hard to pull up. That brings us to the opening statement of this writing. Chris swoops in to save the day with his power boosted arm! He makes the statement matter of factly. A smile forms on my face as we go about our chore.
This got me thinking. What if there was a Booster shot for Spiritual power; one that gave you extra strength to get through the day. One to help your friends do all the jobs that needed full power. One that helped us reach across the seat of life and pull down those hard to move obstacles; one that gave us confidence to approach the tough anchors in our life and yank them up with ease. What if!
As I pondered on that, I came up with a conclusion. God does provide that shot, via the Holy Spirit! It may not be full of steroids – but it does help us stay spiritually strong and gives us the means to draw power from the True Physician of life. As I look back on Chris’ tale, it is hard not to smile and giggle at its innocence, but also hard not to see the underlining truth it possess. I look forward to utilizing my “boosted power” in the days to come, and encourage anyone else who needs spiritual strength in the coming days…to make an appointment with the Physician, our Lord – and roll up your spiritual sleeve – for a well needed Booster shot!
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalemand in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Acts 1:8
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In March of 2009, I was diagnosed and had surgery for facial cancer. They would cut me from the corner of my eye to the bottom of my nose i n a wide diamond shape that crossed my cheek; as you can imagine it was not very eye appealing. When I heard the initial diagnosis and treatment options, I was devasted. From out of the blue this had hit me. Everything just seemed to come to a crashing STOP! The loud crashing sound was “life as I knew it” colliding with “a life of uncertainty”.
Everything seemed to change from that moment on. From what I thought about, to what I talked about. I was in the middle of a full college semester, a 30 hour a week job and I had a family to take care of at home; I didn’t have time for surgery and I certainly didn’t have time for cancer! I can’t even put what I felt into words; it was as if every emotion I could possibly experience happened all at once. I can tell you I felt scared, sad, and even angry. But what I felt most was tired. I immediately felt the effects of what it would take to get through it. I ended up having two surgeries that year.
My story may not be the same as others, but I know some of the emotions were; the anger, the sadness, the anxiety, the fear, the grief, and the weariness that the word "cancer" brings. I understand it. Having to go around with a huge bandage on my face with bruising and swelling, not to mention Frankenstein stitches would bring a new meaning to feeling out of sorts. What it all boiled down to was CANCER….a 6 letter word that has a way of turning your world upside-down.
As I’ve talked with others – I’ve heard stories of sorrow and pain; but that’s not what I saw. It’s not their sorrow and pain that greeted me, no! It was their strength: A strength known only to those who have experienced cancer of any kind. It is a strength that runs so deep; you don’t even know it exists, until you need it. After the surgery, I had to literally face the world again: it was hard, but you know what was harder? Facing myself in the mirror. There were days I couldn’t even look at myself – I didn’t want to accept what I had become – a victim of cancer and of the scars it left behind..
Once I accepted I was much more than my cancer, and much more than the scars on my face – I realized I had made it through the worst part and I found a new strength! Strength to get through the night, strength to get up the next morning and go to class and work, strength to go through the painful healing, strength to deal with those awkward glances, strength to start living again – not just existing; but living with a purpose. By the Grace of God, and His source of strength, did I truly come through it.
My experience with cancer along with my scars is no longer a sore subject in my life; they are a symbol, a sign of what God has worked in me, through this experience. It reminds me of how far I have come. I eagerly share my story so that others will be encouraged and know what awaits them on the other side of their pain….. victory and life!
I invite you to join me in celebrating our victories, and remembering that God has already gone before us to clear the way. We may have endured pains, we may have suffered losses, we may have many scars, but with God we are more than conquerors! And I am determined to finish well! Stay encouraged, stay strong, and stay in the presence of God – He is ALL the difference!
…….No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.......Romans 8:37
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So how did I end up here! It is crazy when I think about it. Of all the places I could be right now, I am here, sitting with tea on my head! Let me explain. I heard about all these different varieties of shampoo and thought I would test it out. Yes, I know, it is probably a waste of time; but we will see.
While going down the isle I spied many shampoos promising, well let’s just say – the impossible! There were bottles that promised your hair would be revitalized, energized, renewed, massaged, and fuller. Other bottles promised things like; renews your spirit, experience new realms, and therapy for your hair. When did people decide that their hair was in need of therapy? Is it stressed out, over worked, and burdened by the daily grind? Does it need to lie on a couch and express its inner most feelings about the latest moisturizer? It became ridiculous as I read the many labels.
I started comparing the ingredients of one shampoo to another, and found the basic contents were almost identical with the exceptions of color or frangrance. It is a mystery all its own how they get shampoo to smell like a flowers in a garden, the ocean breeze, an apple blossom, wild berry, or exotic coconut. Not to mention the shampoos that claimed to be inputed with minerals, vitamins, extracts, exotic moisturizers, or rare sea salts. How is a person to know which one is the best? What ever happened to the good old days when shampoo was shampoo? A cleansing agent that cleaned; nothing more, nothing less. It was not infussed with anything special, no promises made other than your basic cleaning, no hype, no top dollar colored label. So when did shampoo alone become “not good enough”?
As I sit here with tea on my head, I begin to wonder what else have we prettied up, infussed and energized just to sell? Then it hits me. We have done the same with Jesus! He is no longer the Jesus from the Bible, the Jesus of the Old or New Testament, the Jesus God sent – pure and holy. No, He has now become the New Jesus, the generational Jesus, the non-condemning Jesus, the Cool Jesus. It becomes ridiculous as you go through the many labels. What ever happened to the good old days when Jesus was Jesus? When a person knew He was the best choice! Now with so many versions of the True Jesus, I can see where it may get a little confusing as to which one is which! We have added so many additives to the Holy One, it is hard to recognize the original. Why do we think we have to “shampoo” Jesus up, to sell Him? When did Jesus alone become “not good enough”? It is sad to think about.
He offers everlasting life, peace beyond understanding, salvation, a restored relationship to God, and a daily strength beyond all others – yet we display Him, infuse Him, extract Him, and add to Him as though He is a product on the shelf to sell. I say let’s get back to the basics, let’s stop wondering where the gold old days went, where Jesus was Jesus and return to an awareness that the gift God gave us is enough without any of our fleshly addiditivesI will enourage you think about what you have added to Jesus – did you sell out to the true Jesus? Or have you bought into a “shampooed” version?
I know the real Jesus, the One God sent to be my Lord and Savior, I hope you do too! . I will wish you on your way as we contemplate these latest thoughts together, you where you are…..and me, sitting here with tea on my head.
"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6
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