Tag Archives: God

Preparing Our Hearts

Several years ago I discovered the tradition of the Jesse Tree, a tradition of using ornaments that represent the people, prophesies, and events leading up to the promised Savior. This has been life changing for me.

I am one of those people who struggle emotionally at Christmas. I stress over choosing gifts that I think others will like, I worry about finances, I become irritated as stores become crowded with holiday shoppers. I simply didn’t enjoy Christmas for many, many years.

Thankfully, I discovered the Jesse Tree. The first year I created ornaments out of Shrinky Dinks to hang on a little wooden tree. I used a guide that I found online and each night we read the corresponding scripture and hung the ornament on our tree. It was simple but effective. I felt a weight being lifted off of me as Christmas approached and I found myself actually enjoying Christmas for the first time in years.

Each year our ornaments have been improved a little and we’ve used different reading plans, some with devotions to accompany the scriptures each day.

Last year I purchased The Greatest Gift by Ann Vonskamp. I have to say this is one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. This book is beautifully written and the daily devotions that go along with the scriptures helped me focus on the true meaning of Christmas, the promise of a Savior. I can honestly say that last year was the best Christmas I have had in years.

My circumstances didn’t change. There was the ever present traffic that comes along on Black Friday and hangs around with us until the New Year, the stores were crowded with shoppers, I had a full schedule of events that surround Christmas, the indecision of holiday gifts still plagued me and yet, my heart was at peace. The things surrounding me weren’t changed, I was. My heart was prepared for my Savior.

This year I decided to share my secret with others. I am hosting a Jesse Tree Ornament Swap. I started very late and haven’t found the required number of participants but I have adapted the plan so that we can still complete the swap. This year I have 7 friends each making 8 copies of 3 different ornaments in the set, and I will be making the remaining 4 ornaments in the set.

I am very excited about this event. It’s added one more thing to my already full plate but somehow it is already making life easier. I’m busier than ever but more intently focused on Christ. That is the magic of the Jesse Tree. Each day we are focused on Jesus and that makes all the difference in the world.

I hope you find a way to focus your heart more intently on Christ this holiday season. Don’t forget to stop, step back, and make time to spend with The Lord during this busy time of year. I promise, you won’t regret it.

You Can Only Sit on the Fence For So Long

Today has been a turning point for me. My pastor has been preaching a series on the book of Nehemiah over the last few weeks which he finished up today. Through these sermons God has shown me that I have allowed some of my protective walls to decay. I have let things come between me and my relationship with Christ. I have gradually become desensitized to sin in my life and those around me.

One of my favorite movie quotes comes from the movie Remember the Titans. When the team captain sees that one of his best friends purposefully stepped aside and refused to block for one
of his teammates he goes to the coach. One of this coach’s rules is that nobody who wants to play will be cut. When Gary, the team captain, speaks to the coach about cutting his friend Ray from the team the coach reminds Gary of his rule. Gary replies to Coach Boone, “Sometimes you gotta cut a man loose.” The coach replies, “You are the team captain. You make the call but remember you’ve got to stand behind your decision.”

I have had a lot of difficult decisions to make. I had to decide whether I was still playing on my old team or on my Daddy’s team. (the new coach calls himself that early in the movie) I struggled with trying to remain loyal to the old team while at the same time being loyal to my Daddy’s team. Jesus warned us that we would have to face tough choices sometimes. I have been straddling the fence for a while now and just decided it is past time I jump onto one side or the other. I found a photo that perfectly exemplifies how I have felt for a long time. Here it is, I hope you get a laugh out of it.
href=”https://sweetpea0944.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/20110330-092020.jpg”>20110330-092020.jpg

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35 For I have come to turn
“‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’[a]

37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me."

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Standing at the Screen Door

My parents divorced before I was old enough to retain any memories of the time they were together. There is not one picture of me with both of my parents. Not one trace of evidence from the life we lived together. For that reason I find it impossible to imagine that we ever had the same last name or lived together as a family although we did for only a short time.

In my earliest memory I am standing at a screen door crying for my parents. From what I can remember I believe it must have been springtime which means I was less than two years old. My mother’s sister is telling me that my Mom is at work and that my Daddy will be here soon to pick me up. That first memory is one of loss, abandonment, fear, and confusion. It explains a lot about who I am and how my personality was formed. I understand so many things about who I am and how that first memory held me prisoner without me realizing it.

I spent many years feeling like a victim. Social situations almost crippled me. I scrutinized every conversation and became my own worst enemy. Fear and shame were my constant companions until I slowly started seeing myself the way God sees me. Little by little I gained a new self image and stopped worrying about what others thought so much. Those feelings have not gone away but I have learned to control them instead of letting them control me.

Lately I’ve been feeling somewhat like that little girl; confused, afraid, alone, abandoned, unloved. I know that those feelings are real and justified but unlike that baby girl standing at the screen door I don’t have to let those feelings define me or hold me prisoner. I have a new identity in Christ. He will never leave me or forsake me. He shelters me beneath His wings.

Psalm 17:8-9 (KJV)
8Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings,

Trip to the Desert and Back

A few weeks ago God began a change in me. I started to feel His gentle tug on my heart and faintly hear the sound of His voice calling me. There has been a drought in my Christian walk. One that I couldn’t seem to find my way out of. To be totally honest, I didn’t try very hard to look for a way out of the dry and desolate place I found myself. I became content to sit there and slowly dehydrate to the point that my spiritual cup was down to a few drops instead of overflowing as God says it should be.

The first thing God told me was my husband needed to spend time bonding with other Godly men. You may say, “I thought you said God called you. Now you say He wants your husband to do something.” The answer is simple. I crave my husband’s time and attention which are in very short supply. He works two jobs which total 55+ hours a week, not including commute time. He doesn’t get home until after 9:00 every week night except Fridays and works half a day on Saturday. I need time to take off my Mommy, teacher, cook, playmate, caretaker hat every once in a while. Having a child with special needs means that I take every step my child takes and sometimes I get burned out but God showed me that my husband gets tired and discouraged too. That is why God spoke to me. He wanted to guide me on the path to being a better wife to my husband. He asked me to put my husband’s needs above my own.

The second thing God reminded me of was that it is my responsibility to teach my child about God. Our family needs to be in God’s house learning His Word. It is my duty to take Sweet G whether he wants to go or understands the importance it holds.

Step three, I started reading my Bible and being more purposeful in my walk with Christ. For the first time in a long time God’s Word was fresh and alive to me. I was getting it, growing. Then I started feeling the familiar sting of satan’s fiery darts. Someone verbally attacked me on a social site over my view of an issue. My son misunderstood a couple of comments I made. My mother seems to think I am a vile and unfeeling monster because I disagree with the family on a very delicate family issue. Everywhere I turn it seems someone is misunderstanding what I say or questioning why I see things in a different way than they do.

I finally broke down in tears tonight questioning why this is all happening to me. The answer came through the post of a fellow blogger. She wrote about parenting. She reminded me that sometimes a child asks for something when in reality it isn’t good for them. Her children prefer the cardboard boxed macaroni and cheese with the fake powdered cheese over her homemade nutritious Mac-and-cheese. They don’t understand that she sacrifices much more time and energy to make the dish from scratch because she loves them and wants the best for them. As my Heavenly Father, God will not settle for the easy Mac way of life. It is not good enough for me, His beloved child. Even if it is hard to swallow and I’d be much more pleased with the instant heat and serve version He patiently gives me what I really need.

My prayer has been for God to lead me out of that dry place I’ve been sitting. As we walk the sand is hot and makes my steps unsteady at times. Walking in hot dry sand is difficult but it’s the only way to get out of a desert. The amazing thing is every now and then I take a peek inside my cup and see that instead of becoming empty it’s gradually getting fuller. Every step I take and each sip of water I drink fills my cup a little more.

I Hear His Drum

I am not a sinless person. There has only been one perfect sinless person and His own people crucified Him. He was blameless. He not only loved; He is love. Yet, He was accused of things He didn’t do, His words were twisted into things He didn’t say, He was beaten, forsaken, betrayed, misunderstood, left to carry His burdens alone in His darkest and scariest hour. His best friend denied knowing Him three times in one night after just telling Him that he would never betray Him. He prayed and cried alone in a darkened garden because His closest friends were too tired to stay awake to watch and pray with Him. He was so anguished that his sweat became as blood yet the ones who loved Him the most couldn’t see how much He needed them that night.

I do not believe that people are basically good at heart as I have heard people say. That my friend is not a fib, but as a three year old little girl once told me, “that’s a lie.” I am sorry if that offends you but it is merely the truth. God’s Word tells us that all have sinned. There is not one who is good. We are born in sin, it is who we are to the utter core. Lost, wretched sinners. Selfish, lustful, hateful people trying desperately to justify our actions.

I am a detailed person, an information freak, a person who hears about a strange new disease and immediately writes it down so I can research it as soon as I can find a computer. I have to see it for myself so I am able to process it and make up my own mind.

I am a doubter. I can relate to Jesus’ disciple Thomas. I feel like Thomas got a bum rap. He was just the kind of person who wanted to see it for himself. If I see Him, hear His voice, and touch His nail scarred hands, then will I believe. That is me. Not about Jesus but about almost everything else. I don’t want to take your word for it, I don’t need the opinions of anyone in deciding whether something is true or not. I am an educated woman and am capable of looking at the evidence and making up my own mind on a matter. I will go to the source for the information I need and not take the word of others when there is evidence available for me to look at and decide for myself. I guess that rubs people the wrong way. I am sorry if you can’t understand that I will not blindly follow the popular path.

I march to the beat of a different drummer and will rise when the sound as that drum turns into the blast of a trumpet when my Jesus returns. I am His, and He is mine. I count it all joy when trials come to me. I know He is perfecting me, allowing me to be broken apart so He can mold me closer into His image.

Jesus Weeps

Tonight as I was casually browsing through my long list of blogs I came upon a post entitled “Love Never Fails” from Big Mama‘s blog. That post as well as an article a friend linked on facebook today have spoken to me or rather God spoke to me through them.

Today was Sweet G’s long therapy day so I met my husband for lunch. As we ate we talked about all that is going on in our lives. We questioned how our intentions and feelings could be so misunderstood. We are heartbroken that others see us as the bad guys in a situation we had nothing to do with. We saw where things were headed and in our obviously poor communication failed to get our message across clearly.

I told my husband after he prayed over our food that I cringed when he prayed for those involved. I went on to say how wrong I know it is for me to feel that way. Realizing my feelings are wrong is the first step toward forgiveness. I know I need to, that I am commanded to, but right now I just don’t want to. I am hurt and feel like I have been backed into a corner. That isn’t such a good place for me to be! I don’t like being bullied and don’t stand in corners for long. I know that is something that God is working on because He keeps allowing me to face situations that place me directly into the corner so to speak.

I also need to ask for forgiveness from a few people. Don’t ya just love doing that. I am struggling with feeling justified in my anger because I keep hearing a little voice say, “They started it. They yelled at me first. The first insult came from them and was aimed at me.”

The truth is that I don’t want to be the kind of person who won’t ask forgiveness or give forgiveness. I will do both in time but it is hard to ask forgiveness when you have been accused of things you didn’t say or didn’t mean in the way the person perceived what you said. It is also impossible to explain your point of view when the other person attacks you verbally and won’t give you a chance to talk without being interrupted.

The article I read today spoke about overcoming fear. Although I am not experiencing that particular emotion right now there were things in that article that spoke straight to my heart. One thing the article said was to imagine Christ kneeling in a room of your house praying for you. I will describe what I see.

I see His nail scarred hands folded in prayer. I hear Him as He pleads for God to show me grace and mercy. Tears fall as He asks the Father to soften my calloused heart. He begs for me to be comforted and protected from the fiery darts being shot at me. “Keep her safe Father. Send healing to her heart. Forgive her stubbornness and remove the scales covering her eyes so she may see Your truth. She’s mine, Father. Pick her up and hold her in Your loving arms. Whisper comforting words in her ear. Surround her with Your presence. Dry her tears and lead her to the throne. Strengthen her to make it through another day. Renew her joy and fill her with your Holy Spirit until it splashes all around her. Carry her through this storm until she is strong enough to walk beside You. I love her Father. She is covered by my blood. I paid the cost for her. Show her she has a future and a hope and thank you dear Father for the plans you have in store for her.”