Thursday, December 29, 2011

Where Is Your Focus?

"Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."  1 Corinthians 13:12 (NIV)

I fail miserably at videography.  Really miserably.

My first major film disaster was a few years back when I hoped to capture the hatching of some killdeer birds in my backyard.  I'll put it this way.  There was lots of footage of mulch and the flapping lens 10 long minutes or so.  Never even found the nest...with the camera, that is.

Most recently, my talents were tried once again as I attempted to capture the essence of the homes that my daughter and son-in-law were scoping out in hopes of joining the forces of mortgage payers.  My hubby was unable to be with us and...well...every Daddy wants to be in on the action.  Hence the video.

Okay, so first of all, you should know that a Flip camera doesn't really mean that you can flip it in any direction and the picture will be upright on your computer.

And it's really good if you note whether the red button is pushed or not. And that you're filming what you mean to film and not your shoes or the stairs or the rear end of the person going up in front of you.

We almost needed Dramamine to watch...and couldn't even see much of the house.

The video may only be worthy of deletion.

However, the lesson I observed will remain.

I spent way too much time focused on the little...really little...screen in front of me.  And I missed the BIG picture.  There was so much that I didn't even see!

I think that maybe God clapped and said, "Ah!  She's got it!" as the spiritual application struck me almost immediately.

While we're trapped in this earthly tent, we can only see what's playing out on the tiny screen of our lives.  He sees so much more.  And we have to trust Him for the unseen.  That's faith.  "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see."  Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

And He's got a good to prosper us and not to harm us.  He is molding us into the likeness of Himself, shaping us with purpose.  "Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known.  But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is."  1 John 3:2  And then we'll view the widest screen version...and understand.

Lord, as the father in Mark 9:4 cried out, we believe!  Help us in our unbelief.  Help us to trust You, knowing that You hold the future in Your hands.  Thank You for calling us Your children.  We love You.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wednesday Worship

My daughter and son-in-law attend Lee Park Church.  We've had the blessing to visit there with them on several occasions.  This song came to mind during my worship time today, and what a surprise to find it sung by Jason Lanier, Lee Park's minister of music and Becky Justice, the pastor's wife.  Enjoy!

Friday, December 9, 2011

When the "Hap-Happiest Season of All" Doesn't Feel Like It

"For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ."  2 Corinthians 4:6 (NIV)

The airwaves echo with music that declares,
"It's the most wonderful time of the year.
With the kids jingle-belling
And everyone telling you,
'Be of good cheer!'
It's the hap-happiest season of all...."

But what if it doesn't feel that way for you?  What if your reality screams that it's absolutely not? What if it takes every ounce of strength you can muster to work up a smile and pretend to "be of good cheer."

What if...
Your family member lays near death?

Or you've recently watched as their body was laid in the grave?

What if...
Illness ravages your body or that of someone you love?

What if that someone is your child?

What if...
Your child has chosen a lifestyle that contradicts the teachings of the home and the church ? 

A family member faces addiction?

Or mental illness?

Or both?

What if...
Your marriage is fractured...or broken?

Rejection overwhelms you?

What if...
You lost your job and a new one is not in sight?

You're homeless?

What if...
The answer to your prayers was, "No."?

Sadly, these are all situations that are real...that are close by...that have been witnessed in recent days...that repeat over the years.

Wednesday Worship this week proclaimed that "All is Well."  Honestly, after hearing accounts and looking into the eyes of those facing the struggles, I had to go back and listen to the words myself...with my own questioning.  The song doesn't deny that there is darkness in this world...even during this season.   It does, however, proclaim that because of the birth of our Saviour...the One who rescues us, defends us, comforts us, delivers us...because of Jesus, "darkness fell into the dawn of Love's light."

He "made His light shine in our the face of Christ."  That baby in the manger is our promise of hope...and light in the darkness.

Lord, You know every heart that is hurting.  And You came to heal the hurts. Shine Your light into the darkness of this world.  May every heart feel Your presence...Emmanuel, God With Us. Encourage us through Your Word so that "we do not lose heart."  Help us not to be blinded by the trappings of Christmas, no matter how glittery and sparkly and twinkly, and miss out on the True Light...the One that came to save a world in need.  Thank You for Jesus.  Thank You for Your great love.  Help us to be ministers of that love to those in darkness.  And bring on the dawn.

Saturday, December 3, 2011


"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, not the Son, but only the Father....Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come....So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him."  Matthew 24:36, 42, 44 (NIV)

It seems that lately I've spent a lot of time getting ready for one thing or another.

In September, many hours were spent preparing to speak at a women's retreat with one of my favorite churches.  Hours in study.  Hours in prayer.  Even an hour at the nail salon, the hair salon, and sitting on my bathroom floor waiting for my locks to be transformed from dull gray to brownish-black. 


In October, another speaking engagement.  This one with MOPS, darlin' young Moms of preschoolers.  More time preparing a message, praying for hearts to be encouraged, thoughts to be enlightened.  More time at the nail salon, hair salon, and on the bathroom floor.


November brought the excitement of school visits and craft fairs and Christmas festivals to market my Christmas book.  Ordering books, packing and repacking and repacking the necessary items for fun travels across the state.  This time the prayers were for little hearts to hear the true message of Christmas and for safety along the way.  Another nail visit...when you're holding up a book to read or having a book signing, it's nice for your nails to shine.  Somehow November got too busy for the hair salon and the bathroom floor time with L'Oreal. 


It's early December.  My list has become lists.  The house waits to be cleaned and decorated. There are the gifts...some piled, still in bags on my bedroom floor, others yet to be bought.  There's the thrill of upcoming baking day with my girls.  Christmas pageants to of which my class of 5 year olds will memorize 7 verses from Luke 2 in a mere matter of days.  More book events!!  Exam time for my 11 year old at school.  Nail appointment, haircut and color are urgent at this point.


In the middle of all of this busy-ness, I'm challenged to consider what really matters...the preparations that are most important.

Time spent preparing my heart to experience the true meaning of Christmas.  To live in thanksgiving for the gift of a Savior.  To share that gift with others.  To "Be still and know that He is God."  Jesus, that baby, is God incarnate.  The One who died that we might live.  Truly live.

My dear sweet Grandmother is nearing death.  Soon that same Jesus will reach out His hand and usher her into His presence.  She's prepared.  And all of my seasonal preparations won't matter a bit when I'm called to be by her side.  Because of love.  Love that was birthed even before this earth was formed.

And as Matthew 24 tells us, Jesus, the epitome of Love that conquered death will come again.  Only the Father knows the day and the hour.

Are you prepared?  Have you shared His love so that others may be prepared?

Lord, thank You for the Babe that was born...our Saviour.  Thank You for the promise of His return.  Prepare us for Your return.  Still our hearts, minds, and bodies to know You and Your love for us.  Help us to share that love with others this Christmas.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Highly Favored

The pinkish tinge inched its way up the morning sky. The lake was mostly still, stirred ever so slightly by the first breezes of the day and the occasional ripples as geese glided effortlessly across the lake.

I wept at the overwhelming beauty in front of me, the presence of the Lord as tangible and enveloping as the fog in a distant cove.

I whispered, “Who am I, Lord, that you would show me such favor?”

Ancient words pierced my thoughts. “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” (Luke 1:28 NKJV)

My response was, “But God, those words were for Mary, the mother of Jesus, not for one as unworthy as me.”

He replied, “She was chosen to carry my Son in her womb. You were fashioned to carry Him in your heart.”

Highly favored. Chosen. Called by the Creator of the universe. Purposed for His work.

Do you join Mary in asking, “How will this be?” (Luke 1:34 NIV)

Hear the reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you…the power of the Most High will overshadow you….For nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:35, 37 NIV)

“Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.” (Luke 1:45 NIV)

Lord, we are in awe of Your love.  Thank You for choosing us.  Thank You for Your Spirit that dwells within us, and for the power that He bestows.  Accomplish Your will in us.

While at the NCompass Writer's Retreat this fall, I was overcome with the Lord's goodness and His words to me. I shared this message in our worship time that morning. One of our hosts, Edie Melson, asked if I'd write it out and guest post on her website back in October. As we approach the Advent season, I felt compelled to bring those words back to light.  May you savor His favor today.