Monday, January 15, 2018

This is Going to be MY Year

In last weeks post I shared the typical catch phrases of the New Year...

"New Year New Me"

"This is going to be MY year".

"I resolve to" which time I focused upon the spiritual implications of "New Year New Me".  You can read about it here.

This week, I'd like to take a look at a New Year's phrase that, in  my opinion, is becoming more and more prevalent, and that is "This is going to be MY year."  

By the world's standards, this phrase seems to indicate that people have control over the upcoming year to be filled with "sunshine and unicorns".   Now it's certainly nice to have a positive outlook for the New Year.  I'm not at all implying that we should enter the new year preparing for "doom and destruction".   

Having a "This is going to be MY year" mindset can also imply that a person feels they are owed a good year.

I confess that I can join in with that mindset.  For me, 2017 was not a great year, by the flesh's standards. 

And to be honest, I grumbled through the first few days of 2018.  Nothing seemed to be going right...

Which is pretty ironic since I spent the first days of 2018 reading through the Book of Exodus - twice.  I think that book could be subtitled, "The Book of Grumblings".  

The Israelites had been in bondage in Egypt for 400 years after which time God sent Moses to bring them out of Egypt away from their oppressors to a land flowing with milk and honey; the  land He promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob hundreds of years before.    

Their freedom was marked by 40 years in the desert where the Israelites continually grumbled and complained about their circumstances and desired to go back to Egypt, even if it meant bondage.  Moses himself complained when God told him to be His spokesperson to Pharoah, and also grumbled to God about the Israelites complaints.   

I was so struck by God's incredible patience and how He relented time and time again.

As I reflected upon the Israelites time of bondage and time in the desert, it occurred to me that those trials did not make God's promise any less valid.  His promise was just as true then as it was the day He made it to Abraham.  But the Israelites let their circumstances cloud that promise.

Yet not only did God ALWAYS intend to keep His promise, He was testing the Israelites, in Love, for the purpose of showing His power and reliability to them, AND to strengthen them.

How often do we let the promises of God become clouded to the point of disappearing when we go through fiery trials.  Yup, this is me over here raising my hand...

Something else struck me about the Israelites time in the desert, God was always with them!  

For throughout all their journeys, 
the cloud of the Lord was on the tabernacle by day, 
and there was fire in it by night, 
in the sight of all the house of Israel.
Exodus 40:38

But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. "For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior
Isaiah 43:1-3

He never left them alone.  He heard their cries when they were in bondage and He accompanied them throughout their time in the desert.  He would be their constant companion as He ushered them toward the fulfillment of His promise. 

And so it is for us, His children.  All of God's promises are yes and Amen in Christ Jesus.  God is with us every step of the way as He ushers us to each fulfilled promise.

As I was closing out reading my Streams in the Desert devotion for the year, an encouragement was offered to "put your finger on God's promises and say, 'It is mine'."  As those promises come to fruition, record them as a memorial and write, "fulfilled to me".    What an amazing end of year exercise to do!

I wish I could say that we were all going to have a 2018 free from trials, but we know that this side of Heaven that will never be the case.  But that doesn't mean we can't look toward 2018 without hope and anticipation.   God will do an amazing work in and through us; RE-newing us daily - ESPECIALLY through the trials...   Take heart...

for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. 
He will not leave you or forsake you.
Deuteronomy 31:6b

Instead of saying "This is Going to be MY Year", let us proclaim, "Lord, this is YOUR year".  For our times are in His hands to walk in the works He has prepared for us to do.

You might find me on these link-ups:
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Monday, January 8, 2018

New Year New Me

And he who was seated on the throne said, 
“Behold, I am making all things new.” 
Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
Revelation 21:5

We've all heard them, and probably even said them.  The catch phrases of the New Year.

"New Year New Me"

"This is going to be MY year".

"I resolve to"

These are certainly healthy mindsets.  After all, they say that a positive attitude shapes how we view life and circumstances.  And certainly, setting goals helps us to strive towards continuous improvement.

But I was stopped in my tracks on New Year's Day when I read from a new devotional, Fixing My Eyes on Jesus, by Anne Graham Lotz, where she describes attending an event where the speaker asked those in the audience what they thought God expected from them.  Anne thought to herself, "righteousness", "holiness", "love for neighbor and God", "Bible reading", "prayer", "service" and "obedience".    Anne then shared that the speaker said something shocking - "All God expects from you is failure."  I shared in Anne's stunned amazement.  Anne stated that she wanted to raise her hand wildly and say, "I can do that!"  "I can live up to God's expectation!".  lol.

Because let's face it, most people won't make New Year's Resolutions because they know they will fail within the first week or two.

My supervisor at work gave me a book for Christmas called, The Power of Moments, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath.  It's actually a very interesting read about what causes memorable moments in our lives.  In the section regarding life's "landmark" moments, the authors stated that we have a natural hunger for these landmarks in time, specifically mentioning New Year's Resolutions.  The author's quoted Katherine Milkman who said, "at the start of the New Year, we feel like we have a clean slate.  It's the 'fresh start effect'...  all of my past failures are from last year and I can think, "Those are not me.  That's old me.  That's not new me.  New me isn't going to make mistakes."

But to "God's point", the Apostle Paul stated the following:

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; 
for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. 
For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. 
Romans 7:18-19

And we certainly know this to be true...

But does that mean we just give up?

The Apostle Paul continues...

Wretched man that I am! 
Who will set me free from the body of this death? 
Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! 
Romans 7:24-25a

Anne didn't end the devotion with the speaker's stunning proclamation.  She continued by saying that he went on to say "But He has given you the Holy Spirit so that you need never fail."

Does this mean because we have the Holy Spirit we will never fail?  Not at all.  What it does mean is that we have a God who is compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in love.

I recently read through the Book of Exodus and was so struck by God's incredible patience with Moses, Aaron and the Israelites - time, after time, after time...  Talk about a God of second chances!!  Wow!  That kind of patience can only come from Everlasting Love!

For those of us who acknowledge that Jesus death on the cross has satisfied the punishment for our sins and failings, and that our sins have been removed as far as the East is from the West, need not be discouraged when we do fail because we have been washed clean by the blood of the Lamb.  When God looks at us, He sees Jesus righteousness.

Does this mean we accept our sinfulness and failings?  I join with the Apostle Paul and say, "May it never be!!"

Instead, we don't let our sins and failings cause us to spiral nor do we accept that this as our lot in life.

...but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:13b-14

As Believers, we don't need to wait for the New Year for a "new me".  Instead, we have the Holy Spirit to daily teach and RE-new us.  We need only to ask...

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, 
whom the Father will send in My name, 
He will teach you all things, 
and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.
John 14:26

Instead of waiting for January 1st to proclaim "New Year New Me", every hour of every day pray "Lord, RE-new me."

Do not be conformed to this world, 
but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, 
that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, 
what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12:2

and have put on the new self, 
which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
Colossians 3:10

to be renewed in the spirit of your minds; 
and to put on the new self, 
created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Ephesians 4:23-24

Oh what freedom there is to know that God makes all things new!  It's not in our own power, strength or resolution, but by the power of the Holy Spirit.

May you walk in that freedom as you enter 2018 and throughout the year.

You might find me on these link-ups:
Grace & Truth Link-upWoman to Woman Ministries, Inspire Me MondayA Wise Women Builds Her HomeSpiritual Sundays, Soul Survival,  Good Morning MondaysTell His StoryFaith & Fellowship Blog Hop  Tuesday Talk   Faith 'N Friends Sitting Among Friends   House to Home  ,Wonderful Wednesday , Literacy Musings Mondays,Imparting GraceDance with Jesus Booknificent Thursdays  Fresh Market Friday Moments of Hope Wonderful Wednesdays , Tea & Word Tuesday Heart Encouragement Thursday Hearts for Home Messy Marriage Link-up Friday at the Fire Station Link-up Tune In Thursday Faith on Fire Link-upSunday Scripture Blessings Link-up, Sunday ThoughtsWriter Wednesday, Faith Filled Friday Sitting Among Friends

Monday, December 4, 2017

Advent Hiatus

Hello everyone,

  I hope you all had a blessed and happy Thanksgiving!  My family and I sure did!

  We made our annual trek to New Jersey, and left later on Wednesday after rush hour and headed back Friday morning sans traffic thankfully.   Woohoo!  My husband and I were even able to get a nice brisk walk in at our favorite park before the early sunset.

 Saturday evening I decked the halls.  This is the earliest I've ever decorated! 

 Yesterday my son and daughter-in-law; and my daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter came over to decorate our Christmas tree.  We don't have a very big tree and so with all of us converged upon the tree, it reminded me of how the Charlie Brown gang looked when they were decorating the tree for Charlie Brown at the very end of A Charlie Brown Christmas where all you see are hands flying.  lol.

Fun was had by all with lots of belly laughs!

My world right here.  <3

I'm actually happy I decorated so early because it helps to have one less thing to do in this very busy, joy-filled month.

I will also be taking a hiatus from blogging during the month of December in order to be fully present with the Lord Jesus this Advent and to grow more in my understanding of Him.

I will be going through He is...  Experiencing the Power of Jesus' Name written by Kara Holmes.  She is the sister of Gretchen Saffles, the founder of Well Watered Women Co., the on-line store which sold this book.  However, they were only able to produce a limited number of this devotional.   I was  blessed to be a part of the pre-sales.

{If you have an opportunity, check out Well Watered Women Co., where you will find so many wonderful gift ideas from devotionals, to Bible journals, to all kinds of things which will help enhance the walk of your sisters in the Lord.  Treat yourself too!}

Gretchen introduces the Advent devotional as follows:

“He Is: Experiencing the Power of Jesus’ Name” combines narrative prose with a fictional story that will captivate your heart and meet you right where you are. Throughout this fictional story featuring Sarah and Ruth, you’ll be introduced to the four names of Jesus that are listed in Isaiah 9:6—Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. You’ll be given specific Scripture to study, questions to ponder, and ways to embrace who Jesus is in your Christmas celebrations. My mom and I worked alongside Kara to write the reflection questions as well as experiences. Our prayer is that your heart will be enlarged and your vision cleared as you look to Christ in Scripture and see Him in your every day life."

I am looking forward to diving into what sounds like will be a great Advent read.  I'm sure I will be blogging about what the Lord teaches me through this devotional upon my return in January.

I pray you all will experience the presence of Christ in new and wonderful ways during this Advent season.

And may your Christmas be blessed with lots of love, laughter, family and friends.

See you in the New Year!

You might find me on these link-ups:
Grace & Truth Link-upWoman to Woman Ministries, Inspire Me MondayA Wise Women Builds Her HomeSpiritual Sundays, Soul Survival,  Good Morning MondaysTell His StoryFaith & Fellowship Blog Hop  Tuesday Talk   Faith 'N Friends Sitting Among Friends   House to Home  ,Wonderful Wednesday , Literacy Musings Mondays,Imparting GraceDance with Jesus Booknificent Thursdays  Fresh Market Friday Moments of Hope Wonderful Wednesdays , Tea & Word Tuesday Heart Encouragement Thursday Hearts for Home Messy Marriage Link-up Friday at the Fire Station Link-up Tune In Thursday Faith on Fire Link-upSunday Scripture Blessings Link-up, Sunday ThoughtsWriter WednesdayFaith Filled Friday

Monday, November 27, 2017

Planting Seeds for Victory

During our recent vacation, my husband and I revisited our favorite museum in Wolfboro, New Hampshire - The Wright Museum of World War II.  We were actually there on the last day of the season and had the whole place to ourselves!  Their website describes the museum as follows:

"The Wright Museum is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational institution dedicated to recognizing and honoring the contributions and enduring legacy of WWII-era Americans."  

My husband's favorite part of the museum is this room right here...  :-)

Throughout the inside of the museum they have different vignettes set up.  Here are some of them...

My favorites are the war time living room and kitchen.  I literally stand there just crawling into the scene imagining what it was like at that time.  I'm not quite sure why I didn't take pictures of those.  I think because I was just so enthralled in the moment. lol.

The museum also has authentic toys from the era and a doll house!!  :-)

There is also a Time Tunnel; a series of rooms containing memorabilia and interesting facts about each year starting in 1939 and ending in 1945.   In addition, each room has that year's Life Magazine covers hanging along the walls.   My favorite is listening to the popular music which is played for each year.   I LOVE IT!!

I also learned something very interesting while there, and although I heard the term before, I didn't really know what it truly meant...

The Victory Garden...

It made me think of the valuable seeds that we as Believers could be planting...

I wasn't able to find a more recent statistic, except the sad news that the percentage of people identifying as Christians has dropped in recent years, but in 2010 there were 266,630,000 Christians in the United States.

What if we had the same drive as the World War II civilian population of twenty million Americans, who planted Victory Gardens for the cause of the war, in planting the seeds of the Gospel for the cause of Christ.

Imagine if two-hundred-sixty-six million Christians were walking in obedience and were sharing their faith, what an incredible impact that would have on the United States. 

Here in this country, gun control is a hotly debated topic.  Well, maybe the average citizen wouldn't feel the need to arm themselves if there wasn't so much evil and darkness in the world.  If two-hundred-sixty-six million Christians would shine the love of Christ and actively share the Gospel, just maybe the impact would be astounding enough to change our country back to a Christian nation founded upon the principals of the Bible... 

A country where there is no more hate.  A country that would not be divided, but one that would work together.  Where we would see every person as made in God's image...  to see the best in them rather than rush to judgment.

A country where Christ would be King and love would prevail.

Maybe this seems utopian and maybe we won't experience this wholly until Heaven, but I don't believe that the Lord calls us to sit idly by...

The 18th century protestants did not sit idly by or there would not have been a Great Awakening throughout Europe, and the 19th century protestants did not sit idly by or there wouldn't have been the Second Great Awakening which swept through the United States.

The following poem written by L. Young  Correthers, from These Blooming Patriots:  A Little War Garden Gossip (1942), served as encouragement to spur on those twenty million Victory Gardeners...

Vegetables for Victory

Vegetables for Victory
Give Vitamins for health ---
Add riches to the nation ---
Augment our country's wealth.
No go to work good neighbors
With busy rakes and hoes
So that garden diligence
Will help defeat our foes.
The vegetables have registered ---
Each root and bulb and leaf ---
All stand awaiting your command ---
Their General-in-Chief.

And we, as Believers, have the Words of Life to spur us on to plant "Seeds for Victory" in like manner...

Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your body And refreshment to your bones.
Proverbs 3:7-8

and I will give thee the treasures of darkness, 
and hidden riches of secret places, 
that thou mayest know that it is I, Jehovah, 
who call thee by thy name, even the God of Israel.
Isaiah 45:3

Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—
pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. 
The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.
Luke 6:38

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15

Then He said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest.”…
Matthew 9:37

"But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come."
Mark 4:29

Now while they were passing through the cities, they were delivering the decrees which had been decided upon by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem, for them to observe.  So the churches were being strengthened in the faith, and were increasing in number daily.
Acts 16:5

Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing 
one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness
 in your hearts to God.
Colossians 3:16

"This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.
Joshua 1:8

Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
James 4:7

Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven.
Psalm 119:89

"For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
Matthew 5:18

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you.
Matthew 28:19-20

Your Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ

The old hymn, Victory in Jesus, written by Eugene Monroe Bartlett Senior, shares the story of our Victory in Christ Jesus.  May we all share, without hesitation to a dying world, the victory that can be won in Christ Jesus...

Victory in Jesus

I heard an old, old story,
How a Savior came from glory,
How He gave His life on Calvary
To save a wretch like me;
I heard about His groaning,
Then I repented of my sins;
And won the victory.

O victory in Jesus,
My Savior, forever.
He sought me and bought me
With His redeeming blood;
He loved me ere I knew Him,
And all my love is due Him,
He plunged me to victory,
Beneath the cleansing flood

I heard about His healing,
Of His cleansing power revealing.
How He made the lame to walk again
And caused the blind to see;
And then I cried, "Dear Jesus,
Come and heal my broken spirit,"
And somehow Jesus came and brought
To me the victory.


I heard about a mansion
He has built for me in glory.
And I heard about the streets of gold
Beyond the crystal sea;
About the angels singing,
And the old redemption story,
And some sweet day I'll sing up there
The song of victory. 


Monday, November 20, 2017

Thanksgiving: A Few of My Favorite Things

I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart;
I will tell of all Your marvelous works.
I will be glad and rejoice in You;
I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.
Psalm 9:1-2

I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,
    and I will glorify your name forever.
Psalm 86:12

This Thursday marks Thanksgiving, my absolute favorite holiday of the year!  The Lord willing, my husband and I will be traveling down to New Jersey where we will be joined by my daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter to gather at my brother and sister-in-law's home for Thanksgiving dinner along with my parents, my younger brother and his family, and my sister-in-law's family. 

My sister-in-law always prepares a menu that would make anyone's mouth water.  Her famous mashed potato casserole is a family favorite.  Of course the turkey and all the fixings are delicious!  My mouth is literally watering as I type this.  lol. 

We all gather in their hallway between the living room, dining room and kitchen to pray and offer thanksgiving for the meal.  You will then find family members sitting and eating in the living room, dining room and kitchen.  It's a full house, filled with lots of love and laughter...

And ohh the laughter.  I usually have my biggest belly laughs on Thanksgiving which helps with digestion.  Haha.

Another Thanksgiving  Day family tradition is a Denville Dairy Ice Cream Cake for desert courtesy of my dad..

Throughout the afternoon and evening, you will find us playing rousing games of Ping Pong and competitive games of darts.  :-)

My brother has a selfie-stick now which makes for a group shot that can hold all of us.  This was last years...

 Being with family is my most favorite thing about Thanksgiving!

I have two  favorite Thanksgiving memories that stand out to me:

  • When my daughter was about 9 years old, the church we were attending had a tradition of holding a Thanksgiving play on Thanksgiving morning.   Talented seamstresses made Pilgrim costumes for the boys and girls.  Gabrielle looked adorable in her little Pilgrim outfit.   The play was very sweet and a wonderful way to begin Thanksgiving Day focused on the Lord.

  • Another special tradition at that church was the distribution of a tiny loaf of bread to each congregant to be eaten at our individual family tables during Thanksgiving dinner,  uniting us with our church family in one thankful heart.

  • Years later, the church we were attending participated in a joint Thanksgiving  Eve service with a church in a neighboring town. 

As you can see, it is the quintessential New England church!  I remember sitting in the old wooden pews, listening to the wind howl outside, seeing through the window the shadows of the bare branches moving around in the darkness, and imagining brothers and sisters in the Lord many Thanksgivings ago, worshipping inside that very space.

One of my favorite paintings happens to be one that depicts the first Thanksgiving...

My favorite book about gratitude is Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts. 

For those who aren't familiar with this book, shares the following introduction...

"In One Thousand Gifts: A Dare  to Live Fully Right Where You Are, Ann strives to find the meaning of life and fully embrace the surprising truth from the final scenes of Jesus’ earthly life.  In the hours before Jesus’ execution, he took bread and gave thanks.  This fresh, heart-wrenching book unveils the long forgotten wonder that through the imitation of Christ’s thankfulness, we too can experience a life of joy.

With startling lyrical power, Voskamp writes the answers to universal questions:

Where is joy in the midst of cruelty and chaos, duties and despair?
How does one slow down enough for the soul and God to live in synch?
How in the world do we learn to find God and live fully?

The laundry keeps piling up, dishes never end, kids fight and people die.  But regardless of circumstances, the dare of the “gift list” shows Voskamp a way to live even through the dullness and hurts of life.  Through the aches and triumphs, she finally sees what she’s been missing, something that so many women can’t seem to find in their everyday lives.  Ideal for personal spiritual growth or Bible study groups, included within One Thousand Gifts are study questions to provoke additional thought and discussion."

It is no exaggeration to say that I have every page dog-eared!  It is a book that would be beneficial to read through every year.

And finally, my absolute favorite Thanksgiving Hymn is...

Come, Ye Thankful People, Come

1. Come, ye thankful people, come, 
raise the song of harvest home; 
all is safely gathered in, 
ere the winter storms begin. 
God our Maker doth provide 
for our wants to be supplied; 
come to God's own temple, come, 
raise the song of harvest home. 

2. All the world is God's own field, 
fruit as praise to God we yield; 
wheat and tares together sown 
are to joy or sorrow grown; 
first the blade and then the ear, 
then the full corn shall appear; 
Lord of harvest, grant that we 
wholesome grain and pure may be. 

3. For the Lord our God shall come, 
and shall take the harvest home; 
from the field shall in that day 
all offenses purge away, 
giving angels charge at last 
in the fire the tares to cast; 
but the fruitful ears to store 
in the garner evermore. 

4. Even so, Lord, quickly come, 
bring thy final harvest home; 
gather thou thy people in, 
free from sorrow, free from sin, 
there, forever purified, 
in thy presence to abide; 
come, with all thine angels, come, 
raise the glorious harvest home. 

Henry Alford

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing Come, Ye Thankful People, Come

These are a few of my favorite things about Thanksgiving.  What are some of yours?  :-)

Wishing you all a very blessed Thanksgiving.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another 
in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness 
in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 3:16-17

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