Thanksgiving Thursday, Happy New Year!

DSC01588I could not have asked for a sweeter celebration of the birth of Redeeming Love. Our little haven-home was filled with the happy, noisy sounds of laughter, music, and toddler toys, the floors were strewn with paper and ribbons that were pulled off of boxes and bags of love and blessings, our tummies were full of delicious, homemade holiday goodies, and our hearts were filled with wonder and gratitude.

 

Glorious Mess

 

And then Christmas was over. The floors were still messy and the tummies growled once again, but our hearts remained full. God with us didn’t leave. And as we look forward to the beginning of 2013, no eye has seen or ear heard or mind conceived what the Creator of Love and Joy has prepared and appointed for those who are lovers of Him.

 

What God Has Prepared

 

These words have been applied to the state of glory in a future world; but they certainly belong to the present state, and express merely the wondrous light, life, and liberty which the Gospel communicates to them that believe in the Lord Jesus Christ in that way which the Gospel itself requires. Such a scheme of salvation, in which God’s glory and man’s felicity should be equally secured…[no] mind but that of God [could] have conceived the idea of so vast a project, nor could any power but his own have brought it to effect.” Clarke’s Commentary

 

This is the promise of God with us: a blessed assurance of right standing with God and the accompanying joy that is prepared for those that are lovers and followers of Christ. May you have a happy New Year, friends, one that is filled with the unimaginable blessings of good and faithful God.

 

My Thanksgiving List 12/27/12

 

649. Toothpaste

 

651. Colorado sunsets

 

660. Unexpected blessings and lots of love piled under our tree

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664. Celebrating old traditions, beginning new traditions

 

676. Having my husband home on vacation for a week and a half!

 

665. The joy of Christmas morning

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677. The promises of God that find their “Yes!” in Christ

 

666. Mimosas

 

672. Watching a child play in the snow on a white Christmas 

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674. The feeling of safety when I’m wrapped in the arms of my husband

 

678. Excitement over the coming year

 

673. Lying beneath the tree, talking and snuggling with my child

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Please tell me, what gifts have you unwrapped this week?

Thanksgiving Thursday, Advent’s Victory

God With Us

I pressed post on my blog last Thursday morning with a breath-prayer that God with us would make strong the hearts of the fragile. Less than 24 hours later, babies at Sandy Hook Elementary died, Jesus wept, a nation mourned, and I read and reread the post: “Believing in miracles before life makes sense…believing in a God bigger than the burdens…This is how the fragile are made strong.” And, once again, I prayed God with us would make strong the hearts of the fragile.

 

Carolyn Arends tells the story of a jungle missionary couple’s encounter with a larger-than-man-sized snake that had slithered into their home. Seeing the snake, they ran outside, terrified and screaming for someone to show them what to do. A neighbor with a machete calmly entered their home and beheaded the serpent with one slice. He stepped outside to rejoin the frightened missionary couple and told them the reptile had been killed, but warned them that it would take a while for the snake to realize it was dead! A snake’s neurology and blood flow make it such that it will thrash and slither even after decapitation.

 

The couple waited outside for several hours while the serpent whipped violently against walls and windows, wreaking havoc and causing much destruction in their home, until the body of the massive reptile finally succumbed to the unyielding truth that he no longer had a head, and had indeed lost the battle.

 

The couple had this to say about their encounter, “Satan is a lot like that big old snake. He’s already been defeated. He just doesn’t know it yet. In the meantime, he’s going to do some damage. But never forget that he’s a goner.”

 

This Christmas, mamas and daddys and siblings and grandparents and friends are suffering, and their hearts are forever broken and their eyes know nothing but tears, because the down-thrown serpent still rages. “Healing may not come in fullness until we are face-to-face with our Victor,” Carolyn says, “but come it will. Guaranteed.”

 

The story of the Victor over the Serpent, the Reason for Christmas, is told from the beginning of the Bible, and seals the Serpent’s real and certain defeat: “He will crush your head, and you will strike His heel.”

 

Ann Voskamp writes about Carolyn’s story, and echos the promise of the Word: “Bare-fanged evil may have – did – slither into that classroom in Newtown….But Advent dares proclaim that there’s a way out of this trap – because Christ shockingly stepped right into Satan’s trap – and snapped off his sickening head…

 

Never doubt it, wondering world: Even if the tail still rampages, the snake’s head is crushed.”

 

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” Hebrews 2:14-15.

 

Merry Christmas, friends. This season, may you feel the sweet Presence of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, our Victor, Healer, and Reason. May you unwrap many gifts from the Lord this Christmas, and may your Christmas celebration be thanksgiving-filled and fit for a King!

May You

 

 

 

My Thanksgiving List 12/20/12

 

 

637. That the Lord is close to those who are of a broken heart and saves such as are crushed with sorrow Ps. 34:18

Brokenhearted

 

632. Fabulous finds at ARC thrift store

 

618. Going shopping and watching the change, the smiles, the joy in the hearts of others when they hear a cheerful, Peanut-sized voice say,”HI!”

 

638. That Jesus came from God’s heaven to a manger, and that this babe has grown to be my sovereign Lord

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644. My sweet husband closing the bedroom door and playing quietly with Peanut to let me sleep in after a late night

 

625. Knowing that God guided a project I was doing to reflect His glory and grace

 

633. A sweet friend to watch Shelby while my Date took me to a Christmas party

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639. The simple, still, small voice heard in Christmas music

 

634. The pure, simple, amazing joy and blessing of watching our daughter advance to the next stage of life

 

640. That He came for me!

He Came For You

 

 

Please tell me, what gifts have you unwrapped this week?

Thanksgiving Thursday; Yes, Virginia, There is a Reason

 

Eleven years ago tomorrow, December 14th, my daddy took his own life, and my world changed forever. The hard and the hurt of life often happens near Christmas, sending a vivid reminder of our broken world.

 

And for those of us fragile from the hard and the hurt, we feel like Virginia O’Hanlon, who asked the editor of The New York Sun, “Is there a Santa Claus?” We, too, request an answer: “Some of my little friends say there is no Reason for the season except axial tilt. God says, “If you see it in the Son, it is so.” Please tell me the truth: is there a Reason?”

 

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And the answer from the Son comes, “Your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see…Yes, there is a Reason, and He created the axial tilt. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Reason…Thank God! He lives and He lives forever. A thousand years from now…nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, He will continue to make glad the heart.”

 

Isaiah9_2

 

He has shattered the yoke that burdens them and the rod of their oppressor…For unto us a Son – our Reason, Salvation, Hope, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace – was born.*

 

Yes, Virginia, you bet your britches there is a Reason. “And our Christ, He can be hoped in, believed in, trusted in; He came and is coming again and He caresWhen hearts are fragile, that’s when they may be most faith-filled – believing in miracles before life makes sense. Believing in the miraculous coming – so there is real living in the moment now. Believing in a God bigger than the burdens….This is how the fragile are made strong.”*

 

My Thanksgiving List 12/13/12

 

601. Taking a day off of everything to play with my daughter

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588. Snuggling under the tree

 

605. Jehovah Jireh providing wood for the winter

 

604. Head rubs from Peanut

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616. Snow!

 

607. Catching up with old friends and meeting new ones at a fun Christmas party

 

582. That Peanut doesn’t touch the Christmas tree or tear apart the presents underneath (but if she did I could find out what was in the small Louisa Graff Jewelers box!)

 

609. Eating, drinking, watching movies, and playing games with my husband and my mama

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610. Winning those games!

 

621. Crawling into Shelby’s crib to cuddle with her when she’s just waking up

 

620. That my God has shattered the yoke that burdened me!

 

504 Two guitars…and hearing them both played at the same time!

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Please tell me, what gifts have you unwrapped this week? Are you fragile from heartache this Christmas? God is bigger than the burdens, and this is how we are made strong!

 

 

 

*Photo Credit

*Isaiah 9:4&6, paraphrased

*Ann Voskamp, A Holy Experience, when it’s hard to believe in miracles this Christmas