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"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house." Matthew 5:14-15

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it." Matthew 13:45-46

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Obedience at All Costs

"“Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD?
To obey is better than sacrifice." 1 Samuel 15:22

 Hear my cry, O God;
   listen to my prayer.
 From the ends of the earth I call to you,
   I call as my heart grows faint;
   lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been my refuge,
   a strong tower against the foe.   Psalm 61:1-3

"But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”  Joshua 24:15

Sometimes the path before us twists and turns through the wilderness. We become thirsty and weary in the dry wasteland spread before us. Discouragement settles upon our shoulders, pushing down with an overwhelming force. We question why the path is rocky and strewn with heartache. We may be tempted to relax our guard. Perhaps we sit, thirsty and searching, but no water is in sight. When all of a sudden, a gentle breeze whips our hair, cooling our skin. We feel the brief reprieve, but just as quickly it disappears, leaving us longing for a respite.

Perhaps we feel like a toy boat, tossed and turned on the waves, with no control over where we are heading. We desire to be in a different place, but can't seem to break free of the tendrils of doubt and despair. We know where we should be heading, but are unable to move, gripped with fear and insecurity. Chains shackle and hold steadfast, at times visible and others unseen.

We need to remind ourselves to look at what is concealed, instead of what may be seen and felt. Jesus calls us to obedience at all costs, whether we feel like it or not. Our obedience is not based on what others are doing, or how they respond to us. He calls us to rest and trust in Him, to follow Him no matter what the cost. I choose this day to serve Him.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What's Ahead?

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:11-13

It seems hard to believe in three short days 2010 will be coming to a close. The end of year usually signals for me a time to reflect and think about how things have gone. I question whether or not I've drawn closer to God. Where am I in my spiritual walk? What things do I want to improve or change as I plan for the coming year?

I wouldn't exactly say that I make resolutions with the beginning of a New Year, but I do seek God's will in discerning what things He desires me to focus on. Over the next few days I'll begin the process of seeking His face for wisdom concerning the direction He wishes me to head.

How about you.... do you make New Year's resolutions and how do you go about keeping them? What ways are you desiring to improve?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

23 Wonderful Years

I praise God for my wonderful husband. He is a blessing in my life. Today we are celebrating our 23rd wedding anniversary.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Jesus is the reason we celebrate. I pray you have a blessed Christmas with family and friends.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Two Days Till Christmas

" For to us a child is born,
   to us a son is given,
   and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
   Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
   Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
 Of the greatness of his government and peace
   there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
   and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
   with justice and righteousness
   from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
   will accomplish this." Isaiah 9:6-7

Each day my son reminds me of how many days it is until Christmas. I guess we started advent calendars when our boys were quite small. I don't even remember how long it's been. It's a tradition in our family, as we prepare our hearts to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior.

With our 'to do' lists, it's so easy to get caught up in the busyness of the season. At times I need to stop myself, and remember the reason why we rejoice. I pray each of you experience the depth of God's love in a new and special way this Christmas. He is the reason for our hope. We are nothing without Him.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Simple Act of Kindness

"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." 
1 Thessalonians 5:11 

My heart was touched this afternoon by a simple act of kindness. I had been feeling a little overwhelmed as of late. So many things on my plate, along with experiencing daily pain with my sore shoulder. has left me a bit worn out and lacking much joy. It probably didn't help that I'm also sleep deprived, after being up with my husband several times through the night when he wasn't feeling well.

While my husband rested, I decided to work on Christmas cards, to see if I could make any progress with them. I was interrupted by a phone call from my dear friend, asking if it would be all right if she stopped by for a few minutes to return something to me. I agreed, but asked her not to ring the doorbell, so my husband wouldn't be disturbed.

My friend and her husband arrived about ten minutes later with a surprise for us - a beautiful wreath to hang on our front door. I was so blessed and moved by this simple gift. I knew it took time and effort for her husband to craft this present, and I am so appreciative. 

I pray my heart will be open to hear when God calls me to encourage someone through a simple act. This season is a wonderful time to touch people's lives and share God's love and light. I'm blessed to be on the receiving end, but also pray I can be a giver too.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Simple Prayer

"The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." James 5:16b

I sat in the waiting area this morning while my son underwent an MRI of his shoulder. The news came on at noon, from a station in VA. I watched as snow befell their area. The forecast showed snow through most of MD and VA. The cutoff for precipitation seemed to end right at the MD/PA border. I sighed in frustration.

As I drove my son back home, I prayed a simple prayer of "Lord, could you make the snow come a little further north so we can get some too?" I knew, it was something God could easily perform. I didn't doubt His ability. I had little faith it would be a prayer He would answer though.

Minutes later I was waiting in line at a fast food restaurant to pick up a quick lunch, so I could meet with a dear friend. As I looked out my window, I saw a single snowflake. I looked again, wondering if I had imagined it. By the time I left the parking lot, an extremely light snow was falling. While we ate our lunch and conversed, the snow continued to thicken and fall, covering sidewalks.

Most people think I'm crazy because I love snow so much. I can't describe it, but it brings me such joy to see the earth being blanketed. It's a constant reminder to me of how Christ paid the penalty for our sins, and wipes our hearts clean when we come to him.

I praise God for answering my simple prayer this afternoon and bringing joy to my heart.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Living in the Unexpected

"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair." 
2 Corinthians 4:8

It's been an interesting week, and hasn't turned out at all like I anticipated. My youngest son has been having shoulder issues, that have been aggravated since we came home from vacationing in Maine in November. It probably didn't help that he returned to swim practice right when they began intense sessions.

After a doctor appointment, x-rays and physical therapy evaluation, it appears he is out of swimming for at least the remainder of December. It's unclear at this point whether or not he'll be able to swim in January. It depends how his shoulder responds to resting it and working on physical therapy exercises.

I find the news a mixed blessing of sorts. I hate to see him in pain and missing out on a sport he enjoys, but I also am looking forward to having the evenings free to spend family time together. It allows me extra time to work on things as we prepare for celebrating Jesus' birth. We finally were able to finish decorating this afternoon. It's been a long drawn out process this year.

I remind myself Jesus is not surprised by this shoulder injury. He knew about it well before we did. Even though we don't always understand, we know we can trust Him, even when life throws us a curve ball.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Permission Not to Stress

 " Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7

I had lunch with a dear friend today. It was such a joy to sit down and reconnect with her after being gone on vacation to Maine. I was able to share with her some of my photos and materials I picked up while we visited Camden. She blessed my heart by being excited about what was important to me.

After I left her, I walked over to the Fashion Archives, which is having a show on the clothes of the nineteenth century. This was of particular interest to me, since this is the time period that I am writing about in my Christian historical fiction book. While I perused the display of old dresses, my mind ruminated on the discussion my friend and I had just had.

I was telling her about how my time has gone, since we returned from Maine. I mentioned not being able to write yet, and stressing over all that needed to be accomplished. She suggested taking a break from writing until January, and instead focus on what needed accomplished for Christmas.

A simple remedy, but one I hadn't come up with before now. As I walked back to her office, I felt as if a huge weight had been removed from my shoulders. She gave me permission to not stress and try and get everything accomplished. She assured me it was all right to take a break. I had been feeling guilty about not being able to get everything done that needed to be.

Sometimes (maybe often) we need a friend who knows us well enough to advise us and tell us ways we can improve. I'm thankful for this dear woman who had the keen insight to know I needed permission to not try and do it all. I praise God for this incredible friend!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Have the Funeral Before You Die

"I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?
   Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Corinthians 15:50-57

Yesterday morning I sat at the funeral of a dear friend, with my two sons by my side. The past few months I have experienced a number of viewings and funerals. I was reminded of the importance of keeping short accounts, and make sure you aren't harboring anything in your heart. Perhaps this is good to take into account, especially in the midst of the Christmas season.

Maybe it's time to have a funeral. What do I mean? Not literally digging a pit in the ground, but in your mind instead. Then ask God to show you if there are any areas in your life where you are harboring bitterness, unforgiveness, sinful habits, etc. When God shows you, ask Him to throw them in the hole that's been dug, and cover them with His shed blood on the cross. Pray you won't dig up the soil again, but choose to walk in the beauty of His forgiveness and love.

This year in late December, it will be twenty years since my Dad died. I'm thankful I had time to make things right with him before he left this earth. We didn't have any major problems, but some miscommunication and misunderstandings through the years. We cleared those up a year or two before his body was ravaged with cancer. When he died, I was able to release him, knowing that he loved me. We kept short accounts, not holding onto bitterness or hurts.

As you prepare your house and heart for Christmas this year, don't forget to examine your life and heart to see if you are harboring those hurts from the past. Dig a hole and bury them, asking the Holy Spirit to reign in your heart instead.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Heart Preparation

"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:29-30

As I turned the calendar to December this morning, my first initial inclination was panic, especially when my son and I wrote 24 days to Christmas and started our countdown to celebrating Christ's birth. My brain ticked off all the things waiting to be accomplished - find photo for Christmas letter, print Christmas letter, write Christmas cards, figure out what gifts we have already, and what we still need, finish decorating the house, search for a Christmas tree, decorate said tree, make cookies, wrap gifts, make gifts..... The list swirled in my head. I also remembered the 30,000 words or so I still need to finish on the novel I'm writing. My goal is to have it completed by Christmas. Ahh!!!

Then I stopped, took a breath, and remembered a conversation I had with my friend from Georgia on Monday. We were discussing preparation for the holiday season. I started listing all the things 'to do', and she commented that she decided she wasn't going to be stressed this Christmas season. After all, we are celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior, it's all about Him. So perhaps my cards will be a little late this year, and I won't get to all the things I would like to do. The most important thing to focus on is preparing my heart for celebrating Christ's birth. He is the reason for the season.