Faith

Thanksgiving Comes First

Blog_AutumnLeavesThe last of the leaves take their final stand against the impending cold. Soon, the branches will be empty, the ground paved with a glittery blanket of snow. Autumn’s season of beauty and death is coming to a close. In its midst—Thanksgiving.

Before holiday revelers haul out the holly, trim trees, and haunt the malls, Thanksgiving comes, quiet and gentle. Before gifts are exchanged, Thanksgiving. And before the clock turns to welcome a new year—Thanksgiving.

We want to skip the season of death—when color is gone and trees, barren. The rush of the holiday season promises to suppress the feeling of loss. Deals at the stores await, beckoning us to forget. Maybe we just need someTHING new, someTHING tangible, someTHING to hold our attention captive. Or maybe we just need a whole new year.

But Thanksgiving comes first, putting everything into perspective if only we still our souls to listen and learn the secret.

Death becomes a thing of beauty. We’re able to let go, no longer needing to fill the empty spaces with the latest and greatest distraction to hit the holiday shelves. We no longer need to wait for a New Year for change to come.

Gratitude reminds us that we have all we need. It tells us that loss brings life. It leads us to transform in the glory of knowing God’s mercies are new EVERY morning.

The holiday season is upon us. And Thanksgiving comes first…as it always has, and as it always should.

Advertisements

Blessed with Battle Scars

Blog_DepressionIf given the option, would you choose the path of suffering? I would guess the average person would answer “no.” Were it up to me, suffering would not be on my radar, and most definitely not on my bucket list.

Compared to most of the world, I can’t say I’ve suffered much. But I do have my share of battle scars. There was a season in my life when it seemed I’d escape the fires of one trial only to encounter the next. And while it wouldn’t have been my first choice to endure what I did, in retrospect I’m grateful for that season.

If anything, I’m more real now than ever before. There was a time when I lacked genuine empathy when someone else was struggling. I wanted to understand, but couldn’t. Now I can say, “I’ve been there.” Maybe not in the exact circumstance, but I’ve been in some deep valleys and survived. And because of it, I can not only relate, but I can encourage others through their own valleys.

Going through the adoption process has given me understanding for anyone waiting for something they’ve always longed for. Having a special needs child has given me greater love for other parents in a similar situation, and for children who are uniquely created. Having another child with health issues and dealing with my own chronic fatigue has given me deeper compassion for the sick. And enduring a long season where we didn’t know where our basic provisions would come from has given me empathy for the unemployed, the homeless, and anyone struggling.

The list could go on. I admit, there was a time when I’d rather pull the covers over my head than face another trial. But I can now say that my faith has been refined in the fire, and I’ve come out stronger. I’ve seen the depths of some pretty dark caverns, but I’ve also seen the point when light breaks through and darkness is overcome. My battle scars are blessings in disguise. Because of them, I can say with confidence, “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.”

Quote by: Corrie ten Boom

Photo Credit: Free stock photos of depression · Pexels

At the End

Blog_SunsetCliffs

At the end of our lives, do we want to be known for building, or for destroying? For loving, or for hating? For bringing freedom, or bondage? For living to gratify our fading flesh, or to benefit our generation…and generations to come? Because only God knows when we’ll take our final breath.

 

Photo Credit: Free stock photo: Cliff, 12 Apostles, Australia – Free Image on …

Love is…SAFE

Romans 13:10 from Google Images Dear, precious child,

Do you know how loved you are? You were specially created for this time in history, to do great things in your generation. You were uniquely designed to love and to be loved with supernatural, self-sacrificing, unfailing love.

My heart grieves for you. I’m burdened because you’ve settled for so much less than what you were made for! Love is so much more than what you know, so much greater than what you’ve seen.

Right now, there is a grave deception battling to turn you away from true love to a counterfeit replica. This imposter tells you that you lack value and worth so much that you deserve to be horribly abused and robbed of your very identity to gain any sense of intimacy. Please, hear this ancient truth: love will never bring you harm. Love is SAFE.

You do not need to be chained and beaten by a sadistic monster to gain true affection. Love does not manipulate you with fairytales of diamonds and penthouses and helicopters. Love does not seduce you with lies only to leave you tortured, broken, and alone. Love ALWAYS PROTECTS.

If you find yourself in a dangerous situation, you CAN walk away. Get out as fast as you can. The chains that bind CAN be broken. It’s better to walk alone than to be bound to a lie that will destroy you in the end.

And, please. Be careful what you see. Be careful what you hear. Lies most often come cloaked in light, poised to lure you in only to leave you blind. Don’t allow yourself to be entertained into the delusion that you are less than what you are.

Sincerely,
Love

Source: Love is…SAFE

New Every Morning

Blog_SnowSunriseThe New Year brings with it the promise of new opportunities. When the calendar turns, we see a clean slate before us. Things we’ve been waiting to change finally meet the resolve that comes with a fresh start. As we reflect on the year that’s fading into memory, we consider the year to come and all we desire it will bring.

Unfortunately, many of the resolutions made with the turning of the year never come to fruition. A few weeks pass, and discipline wanes. Desire for change is overcome by the monotony of life, and it becomes easier to slip back into old patterns. It isn’t long before our resolutions are forgotten, and the guilt of not meeting our goals is buried beneath the tyranny of the urgent. “Oh well,” we think. “We can always wait…’til next year.”

Why must we wait? Why put off change for another year, when there’s an opportunity to change…now? God’s Word carries the good news that change is possible every day: “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning…” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

With God, every day is New Year’s Day. He supplies the power we need to change. We don’t need to keep putting it off. When we stumble and fall—when we wrestle with our old habits and ways, we don’t have to wait long for another chance to turn it all around. Every minute of every day is a new opportunity for transformation. Today is the day of salvation, this moment is the moment for renewal and change. We don’t have to wait another second, another minute…another year. This is the time for new beginnings—a new season, a new day.

Yet with this hope comes the somber reality that tomorrow is not promised. We never know when we will take our last breath. So why not spend our every breath living the transformed life we desire, rather than living dead in the grave of regret? Change is possible. Today is a new day. We may not have tomorrow, so let’s make the most of the gift of the time we have.

Restored and Renewed

blog_christmasnewcreation

God has promised to make all things new. Because of Christmas, broken hearts can be restored, lives can be renewed. When all is lost, everything is gained. It’s then that we find life that is truly life—a hope that can never fade away.

So it’s not really over. Christmas is the beginning of all things new.

 

Photo Credit: Happy New Year And Merry Christmas Free Stock Photo – Public …

The Gift We Can Never Repay

Blog_ChristmasGiftsChristmas is a time of giving. As God gave the gift of His Son to us, so we give gifts to one another. The blessing of a gift is that it comes without cost to us. While there may have been great cost to the person presenting the gift, the gift is free to the one receiving it.

Too often we allow Christmas to become a contest in gift-giving. We want to see who can give the most costly or creative of gifts. If we receive a gift from someone, we feel obligated to give one in return—even if we had never initially intended to present a gift to them. A sense of guilt or shame comes upon the one who has nothing to give in return for a gift they’ve received.

God, unlike man, has given a gift that can never be repaid. Many times, we think that we can out-give God: that our earthly offerings can somehow surpass His offering to us. Even if God were never to give us more than salvation, it would be impossible for us to repay Him—for everything we have comes from Him. It’s like a child asking her Father for money to buy him a gift: truly, the child has sacrificed nothing to buy the gift. Her resources for her father’s gift came first from her father.

God has given us life and light. HE has given us all creation, and every good thing to enjoy. In Christ Jesus, He has given us abundant life here on earth and the hope of eternal life in His presence. What do we have that He did not give?

Our attempts to repay the Lord are an exercise in futility, because apart from Him we are bankrupt. He is worthy and deserving of our praise and thanksgiving: of our lives, and we give these gifts in humble recognition that He is the ultimate gift-giver. He is the source from whom we derive our being. When we give to Him, we are only returning what belongs to Him. When we give to others, we demonstrate God’s sacrificial heart. So let us gratefully receive the abundance He has given! And let us humbly give our lives to Him, knowing that all we have has first been given to us.

“For who has ever given to God, that God should repay them? For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things. To Him be glory forever! Amen.” (Romans 11:35-36)