Friday, December 30, 2016

One Word 365 - My Word for 2017-ABIDE...

For the past several years I've chosen a word for the upcoming new year.  It would actually be more correct for me to say that God has led me to a word that became my focus, my guiding principle for the upcoming year.  The first year, my word was HOPE. The following year was TRUST.  Then there was JOY.  The year after that was ENDURANCE.  This year my word was LISTEN.  Each year God begins speaking to me about the word for the coming year in the months leading up to the years end.  Typically the word begins to pop up frequently, in a rather obvious way, in my devotional reading and in other things that I read or hear.  Sometimes I've received the word with happy expectation, like the word JOY.  Other times very reluctantly, as in the case of the word ENDURANCE. Yet, some of my richest spiritual treasures were gleaned from my studies of everything the Bible had to say about endurance and its sister words, perseverance and steadfastness.  I needed endurance the year God gave me that word, in ways I couldn't have foreseen, but even more I needed to know the great importance God places on endurance and the rich promises He has for those who endure to the end.

Two thousand sixteen, my word for the year has been LISTEN.  The Lord has emphasized to me that true listening involves both hearing and heeding God.  My most significant lessons about the word listen were found in the sweet and tender way God began to speak to me personally.  I am not, by nature, a morning person.  Neither am I a night owl, for that matter.  Let me fall asleep somewhere around 11 and wake up sometime after 7 and I'm good. Until, this year.  God began waking me up anywhere between 5:30 and 6:30. I would come wide awake with this sense of eager expectation to gather my Bible and journal, and of course my morning coffee, and to spend time with Him.  I sensed Him wooing me, morning by morning, eager for us to spend time together.  His Word was rich, my prayer times especially Spirit led.  As the year drew near to the end,  I was still waking up early but I began to let other distractions either delay my time with the Lord or cause me to rush them so I could get on to other things.  Which brings me to my word for 2017, ABIDE.  I want 2017 to be the year that I learn to ABIDE in, (dwell in, live in, stay in, continue in, wait in, remain in, and even to endure in), the place of sweet and intimate communication and connection with God that He led me to in 2016. That is my heart's desire, my most important resolution for the coming new year.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Post Christmas gratitude...

I went unexpectedly MIA from my blog for most of last week.  I was busy with family gatherings, baking and other pre-Christmas busyness.  And now, another Christmas has come and gone.  I don't take lightly the blessings of the Lord that I am reminded of at Christmastime. The reality of the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God born in the flesh, is always on the top of my list of things to give thanks for. My family, all of my children and grandchildren gathered together, is precious to me beyond words. My church family gathering together on Christmas Eve, worshipping and taking communion by candlelight was especially sweet and meaningful this year. There was joy in receiving texts from our siblings and friends throughout the holiday, wishing us a Merry Christmas from across the miles.  The more than enough provision of God, seen in the gifts beneath the tree and the abundance of food as we feasted together, is not taken for granted. God's lavish blessings are evident all around me. I neither earned nor deserve them. I am so very grateful for His great grace seen, not just at Christmas time, but every day all around me.
Since 2009 I've been counting my blessings thanks to the prompting of Ann Voskamp.
 I continue to count my thanks
piling up gratitude day by day
in my journal.
(and capturing some of my blessings via my camera or iPhone)

-the homey comfort of washing and ironing the table linens after a large gathering at our house
-God's provision-thank You, Lord!
-having the whole family over for taco soup and the annual dipping of the pretzels in chocolate with the grandkids
-the two youngest granddaughters spending the night over afterwards,
 sleeping in the living room near the glow of the Christmas tree

-the hubs bringing me coffee in bed, with the two girlies snuggled up near me watching cartoons
-Papa taking the grand girls out for a treat
-the quiet of snuggling and watching a movie together after everyone went home

-the first day of winter
-morning fog
-my daughter letting me borrow her Kitchenaid mixer when mine quit in the middle of kneading the bread
-homemade cinnamon cranberry bread
-a visit from friends
-getting the last of the Christmas cards done

-sleeping in a wee bit
-some quiet moments in God's presence
-a late afternoon walk when the Christmas lights in the neighborhood first come on
-my friend coming by and visiting with me while I baked cookies

-a phone call from my oldest sister before the holiday hustle and bustle
-my oldest granddaughter texting me and asking me for recipes to try
-youngest daughter, who is almost 5 months pregnant, ok after having an allergic reaction,
and the unexpected blessing of getting to visit with her when I took her to the doctor 
and we had dinner together afterwards 

-Christmas Eve!
-our church Christmas Eve candlelight service
-going to our oldest daughter's for a sleepover-we are all having Christmas at her house

-our whole family together, plus youngest daughter's in-laws, (who are family as well!)
-my husband reading his annual blessing over our children
-playing a fun new to us card game together
-all of us, plus the dog, going on a Christmas day walk
-lots of thank yous spoken and texted
-more than enough

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Saturday, December 24, 2016

The LORD has come!

May the JOY of the LORD be your portion this Christmas and in the coming New Year!
Jesus came because of God's great love for you.

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Monday, December 19, 2016

You shall call His name Jesus...

(lyrics by Bethel Music)
The name of Jesus.  What a powerful, wonderful, beautiful name!  The meaning of the name Jesus is, in essence, God saves.  The Person behind the name is what makes the name full of hope, full of love, full of wonder, full of power, and full of beauty because the Son of God's character is all of those things and more!  As we sang the song quoted in the photo above at church on Sunday morning, I was reminded again of how worthy of my wholehearted love, praise and gratitude Jesus is.
Since 2009 I've been counting my blessings thanks to the prompting of Ann Voskamp.
 I continue to count my thanks
piling up gratitude day by day
in my journal.
(and capturing some of my blessings via my camera or iPhone)

-the hub's watching the youngest grandson for me while I went on my walk
(we watched three of the grandkids for a few days while their parents celebrated their anniversary)
-making their favorite dinner, homemade spaghetti and meatballs 
-a fun evening driving to Longview to look at the Christmas lights

-praying with and singing to my youngest grandson when I put him to bed

-finishing the last of my Christmas shopping online
-a nice hot bath while the baby naps
-a hectic afternoon getting ready for our small group at our house,
 but the prayer time together was so worth it!

-another snowy day!
-youngest granddaughter's funny video of her hands hurting from the cold and saying "my hands feel jiggery" 
(her made up word for this unpleasant feeling)
-my daughter and her hub's flight home getting in safely and without delay inspite of the weather

-a walk with my husband in the snow
-a nap after a tiring week
-a cozy, quiet evening

-our humble King
-Friday Date Day!
-blue skies, cold temps, snow on the ground
-"It's A Wonderful Life" on TV

-encouragement in praying from Stormie Omartian's books
-my oldest granddaughter coming over to help me get ready for tomorrow's dinner at our house for our church leaders
-feeling ready for tomorrow!

-"Your name is life, Your name is hope inside me, hope inside me
Your name is love, a love that always finds me, always finds me"
-my husband's message
-another wonderful Christmas dinner with our church leaders

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Saturday, December 17, 2016

The fullness of time...

My oldest granddaughter loves the movie The Nativity Story.  In the span of a few days at my house she watched it through twice.  It is a beautiful telling of the story of the birth of Christ.  What it does not do is romanticize or cover up the reality of the circumstances that Christ was born into.  The Romans were oppressive in their rule over and taxation of the Jews.  The Jews' own king, Herod, was wicked and corrupt. Smack dab into the middle of that mess, Father God decided that it was the now moment for His Son to be born.

Does God's timing frustrate you?  It sure does me!  It seems that He always takes longer than I'd like Him to take.  And why is it that He seems to love to do things at inconvenient times?  I'm sure if I could answer all of the questions we have about God's timing that I'd be able to write a best seller.

The truth of the matter is, trusting God with the timing of things in our lives is one of the hardest, but most important areas for us to learn to trust Him.   It's important to pray for and trust God's will in our lives, but we should also pray for and trust His timing (Join me for the rest of this post on Sunday, December 18th, at Woman to Woman Ministries where each Sunday I share a bit of Sunday Soul Food!)

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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Friday Faves...Christmas Mantel 2016

Last week I promised I would show you a bit more of the detail on my Christmas mantel.
Every year I change things up a bit.  
This year I wanted the colors in my living room Christmas decor to be neutral.
In my kitchen and dining room I decorated in traditional reds and greens.
You can see more of my Christmas decor in this post.
I've seen these little ceramic houses from the $3 bin at Target in lots of online decor photos this season.
  I can understand why!  What a great bargain and they're so cute.  
Those styrofoam balls that I covered in faux snow to resemble snowballs have been around for many a Christmas!
 The tiny gold colored deer were ordered online from Amazon.

I made the wooden bead garland that hangs from the mantel and is wrapped around the grapevine wreath out of natural wood craft beads purchased at JoAnn's fabric and craft store.
The natural wood candle stands were also purchased there.
Ten sleeps 'til Christmas Day!  
I've got cards to still get in the mail, grocery shopping and baking to do,
 and a sit down dinner for our church leaders and their spouses at our house this Sunday evening!  
After a busy week, today I took a nap.
It's amazing how letting yourself rest puts things back into proper perspective.
That nap helped me to remember that Christmas cards, baking and dinner parties aren't some external mandate, but something I voluntarily do to show love to others.  
That nap helped me remember that these things aren't "I have to-s" but "I want to-s".

Well, it's almost Friday, friends.
Have a HAPPY, HAPPY Friday
a SAFE and BLESSED weekend!


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