Rocks in the Road

When you feel like there is a rock in your road, remember there is a greater Rock.

Last night, I was in tears as I thought about the rocks in the road. These rocks are the things that attempt to stand in the way of our joy…Things like disappointments, illness, bad grades, struggles…On and on.
Then, I remembered Who is my Rock and my tears turned to those of joy. Despite the hard circumstances of life, and life is hard, I know God is working through everything to draw me closer to Him.

The Gift of Christmas Year Round

Today is the day after Christmas. I hope you enjoyed a blessed Christmas celebration amongst family and friends. In a few short hours, I will be on my way to yet another family Christmas celebration. Right now, I am enjoying the quiet by the Christmas tree as the rest of my family sleeps.

So much hype, anticipation, and expectation lead up to Christmas. It can result in feelings of let down after the excitement of the day is over. I want to share with you some reflections from Christmas Eve services this year that speak to my heart of the gift of Christmas year round.

Since our home church does not have a Christmas Eve service, our family has always chosen to attend Christmas Eve services at a local church. We used to attend a beautiful musical service at a church close to our home where we could walk. Although the service was beautiful and walking home in softly falling snow was magical on Christmas Eve, I admit I can no longer stay up until after midnight on Christmas Eve especially since I always work a full day on Christmas Eve. This year, since Christmas Eve was on Saturday and I did not have to work, we opted to attend an earlier service at a church we have never attended. I am so glad we did.

The Christmas story does not change. The meaning of its message does not change. I believe, though, that there are different angles and different personal messages that God may have for us to hear in a different light. This year, that very thing happened to me as the pastor emphasized the ordinary in the extraordinary events of that night.

The pastor began the message sharing about some homeless men in a rural area. As he journeyed deeper into his message, these homeless men became the shepherds on that night so long ago in Bethlehem. He shared the Christmas story message in Luke chapter 2, and about God’s favor resting upon these men, the lowliest in society. He also shared how God chose to use Mary and Joseph, common citizens, as well as the wise men who were wealthy and well-respected men in their society. The point…God uses all people. As the message continued, he highlighted and emphasized Luke 2:20…Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard.

The shepherds had been blessed with the gift of a front row seat with backstage passes to the greatest event of time, yet they did not leave that manger scene with a sense of entitlement. They returned to their flocks. As the pastor reflected…God did not make them smell better, did not elevate their position in society, did not shower them with financial blessings…rather they returned to their flocks of sheep with changed hearts full of praise and love for God and His gift to them.

When you look at the Christmas story through the eyes of the shepherds, you can’t help but acknowledge that God’s ways are not our ways. His way is not the way of the world. God does not value the things that the world values. He does not define self-worth and success through professions, bank account balances, the cars we drive, the clothes we wear, the houses we live in, our titles, our mistakes, or our failures. Our worth rests in Him. Whether we are tending His flocks of sheep or leading an organization as CEO with integrity, God loves us all the same. His gift is available to every single person at Christmas and every single day.

May His joy of this season live on every single day in your heart and life.

shepherds

Hope for a Silent Night

I love the Christmas carol Silent  Night. I love the peaceful significant serenity of being surrounded by candlelight as those around me sing the words.
As Christmas approaches, I find myself thinking a lot of Mary  that night in the stable.  Was it a silent night? Mary trusted God and willingly surrendered herself as His servant. She believed in God’s word and promises to her. Yet, I ponder, what was going through Mary’s mind as they approached Bethlehem? She had to be exhausted. She had to be feeling pain.  Was she worried at all or completely resting in the peace of God despite her exhaustation and pain?  Did she look at Joseph trusting he would take care of her and this baby? Did the animals surrounding her in the stable sense the significance of this event, this birth of the baby? Was the smell unbearable?
We enjoy children’s Christmas plays this time of year. There is nothing cuter than seeing a young boy and young girl dressed up as Mary and Joseph surrounding a wooden manger with a baby, usually a lifelike doll, inside. These plays help children understand the meaning of Christmas. A few years ago, I played the part of Mary in a play at church. It opened my heart to wondering…wondering about Mary on that night.
We sing Christmas carols about silent night, all is calm. Childbirth is a time of great anticipation. It certainly is not a time of calmness. Then, the baby is born…coming into the world screaming…the mother snuggles the baby close and the baby’s screams hush. All becomes calm.
Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright…
I reflect. I think about how so far away that sense of calm feels in my own life  which instead feels so busy and chaotic. It’s not that I am out shopping for the perfect gifts or baking dozens of cut out cookies. It’s a restlessness. It’s a longing for some stillness.
Someone nailed it yesterday in a conversation I was having at work. She expressed the modern day hype of Christmas and  all the expectations that we place on Christmas. Then, we can’t live up to those expectations. Because it’s Christmas, it just seems that much more magnified when the disappointment sets in.
This year as Christmas approaches, I want to choose to focus on expectant Hope. I believe that even though Mary didn’t understand everything going on in her world, she trusted and she hoped in God. Trust and Hope can birth a silent night despite the chaotic circumstances surrounding us. I long for stillness and peace. I long for a silent night where my expectations are in His peace and His hope.
silent-night
I will not let the world define Christmas for me. Instead, I will rest in the expectations of Christmas in His Hope and His Joy. Just as those who witnessed the star guiding them to the Christ child were overjoyed, this joy can consume our Christmas celebrations and our lives every single day.  Just as Mary placed her trust in God despite her circumstances, we can place our trust in Him.
Merry Christmas to each and every one of you! May your expectations of Christmas be in Him…He who is faithful.
 star
Reply
Forward

31 Days of Gratitude: Enough

The week has been a whirlwind of activity. I am awake early this morning, much earlier than I wanted to be. I am leaving in a few hours for a writing conference which I am looking forward to. 

I am tired, though.

I am weary.  I am full of doubts.

I wrote earlier this week about stillness. In this stillness, I am seeking to listen. One of the things I am hearing God whisper to me… that He is enough. 

That’s not an easy thing for me to embrace as a perfectionist, as someone who likes to be in control.

There have been a few occasions in my life where I have felt completely out of control…the labor and birth of my daughter, the adoption process of my son, and most recently, going through the Virtual Dementia Tour. During the virtual dementia tour, you undergo a simulated experience of what it might feel like living with dementia. I remember feeling so overwhelmed that I was paralyzed by my loss of control that I simply sat down.

When we call and claim God as the Father of our lives, then we can trust that He is walking the journey with us.We don’t need to be in control.

He is enough.

The pressures to perform perfectly, to be everything, to seek to please people dissipates as we embrace the truth that He is enough.

All our worries, desires to control, to perform…can be surrendered to Him.

He is enough.

The doubts, the worries, and the hard stuff of life will still come our way, but we have Someone with open arms willing to take those heavy burdens from us. 

My grace is sufficient for you for My power is made perfect in your weakness.

 2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV 

Today, as those doubts attempt to steal your joy and eat away at your confidence of who you are in Christ, whisper a simple prayer of gratitude…thank You, Lord, for being enough….And then allow the joy of His promise and presence to wash over your soul.

He truly is enough.

Thoughts on Growing

A few weeks ago in Sunday School, some verses resonated with me. Sometimes, a different translation brings things into a different perspective.

You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are-no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.   Matthew 5:5-6 the Message

Both of these verses, from the Beautitudes…I’ve read the Beautitudes a hundred times but never in the Message translation.

Contentment…something God has been speaking to me and working on in my heart.

This blog…the name of it….faithhopelovefood….I began this blog as a way to share my journey of the food sensitivity issues I struggle with . I wanted a spiritual component to it because I knew God was using my food issues to teach me things He wanted me to learn and discern, but my initial focus was a blog about faith in God, hope that things will get better, love of God and others who support me and love me, and of course, food. I visualized more of a food blog with recipes…that kind of thing.

God had other ideas.

Food blogs are great….I have tried countless recipes off of wonderful food blogs, but when a friend challenged me to go deeper in my writing on my blog, it opened me eyes to reflect. Why was I blogging in the first place?

I quit blogging for a while…for a few months actually as I tried to figure out if I still wanted to write. And if so, what did faith, hope, love, and food really mean for me and to me? If I wasn’t going to write a food blog, did the title of my blog even make sense anymore?

I realized that my original purpose of my blog was shifting a bit…less about food and me and more about God’s hand in my life. I rested in John 6:35…Jesus is the bread of life…whoever seeks Him will not be hungry or thirsty.

These verses in the Message translation from the Beautitudes resonate with me. I blog to connect with others. I blog to share my heart and thoughts. I blog to share my story, my journey, my love of Christ in hopes that it might encourage someone, inspire someone, bring a smile to someone, or simply help someone to realize they are not alone in their journey either.

So, as I grow, as I journey through the mountains and valleys of my life…I know I am working up a good appetite for God. He is the center of my faith. He is my hope. He is the love of my life. He is the food and drink in the best meal I will ever eat.

Although my originial intent of my blog has changed and my focus is on blogging my thoughts and my journey in my faith, I am learning and growing in this faith journey. God has a plan and a purpose for everything in our lives….to use the challenges to grow us, to help open our eyes to our worth in Him…to help us grow towards being content with just who we are…flaws and imperfections and scars…all beautiful to Him.

God can and will use anything in our lives to grow us.  Keep the faith. Always have hope. Surround yourself with love. And keep a healthy appetite for God….He truly is the food and drink in the best meal you will ever eat!

IMG_20160323_085118753

Joy

sky.jpg

Through the fig tree may not blossom,

Nor fruit be on the vines;

Though the labor of the olive may fail;

and the fields yield no food;

Though the flock may be cut off

from the fold,

and there be no herd in the stalls

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,

I will joy in the God of my salvation.

The Lord God is my strength;

He will make my feet like deer’s feet,

And He will make me walk on my high hills.

Habakkuk 3: 17-19