Tag Archives: gift

Letting go of tradition

Although gingerbread cookies are a common Christmas tradition, it isn’t one of ours.

Our family has always baked cookies at Christmas, but for some reason gingerbread men wasn’t one of them.

However, we have had a family tradition of gingerbread houses.

These were last year’s and we had a good time making them.

But this year, I have needed to let go of some family traditions.

One of them being the baking of gingerbread houses and then the activity of putting them together on Christmas Day.

Instead, Anne and I baked gingerbread men and she is currently busy making frosting so people can decorate their own.

I only frosted two dozen for putting out with the other cookies.

We will have many things which are different this year, but I’m certain it will still be a lovely holiday.

The Lord reminded me yesterday that it is best to hold tightly to Jesus, rather than traditions.

Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, “Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God”— then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition.
Matthew 15:1‭-‬6 NKJV

It is easy to get carried away in trying to follow things as they used to be or to uphold the expectations of others and ourselves.

But if our traditions are encroaching upon our joy at the birth of our Savior the tradition needs to change.

Because it’s our hearts that truly matter, not what foods we eat nor what gifts we give or even how fancy our decorations.

If we manage to fulfill every obligation and check off all on our lists, but fail to worship the One whose birth we are celebrating, then we’ve sadly missed the point.

Christmas is about Christ Jesus.

May we each set aside whatever is needed so we can truly worship the King of kings whose birth we remember on December 25.

I’m thankful to God that He has altered some of our traditions and I’m praying we can remain focused upon Him.

I pray the same for you and your family.

May God bless and keep you dear reader.

Merry Christmas!

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You for Your Word. Thank You for Your birth and the opportunity we have to celebrate it. Lord Jesus, thank You for reminding me of the importance of You in the midst of all our preparations. Lord, please help us to remain focused upon You during the family, food, and fun. Lord, please bless those who are struggling, the hurting, the sick, the needy, and especially those who mourn. For although Your birth was an incredible gift and reason to rejoice not everyone was glad and that led to great loss. May we never forget those among us who are suffering. Thank You that You love each and every one of us. Thank You for Your salvation, Jesus. Happy birthday! Amen.

God can use anything

My Christmas gift this year, from the Lord, is something I never expected.

When I was young, I used to enjoy the worship at church.

As a teen, sometimes, I would hope to be able to join a worship team in the future.

In my early twenties, I realized that wasn’t a gifting God had given me and found contentment in simply praising Him to the best of my ability.

Later, I found great joy in singing and dancing with the children in kid’s church.

Children truly understand making a joyful noise to the Lord and it was wonderful to join them.

It was during this time that we began to realize our oldest daughter was gifted in worship.

I have so enjoyed watching God work in and through her.

First, it was daily, while she lead worship at school, then at church.

The Lord made His will obvious and she spent years at University, where she was able to hone her craft and learn how to teach.

Now she and her husband are in ministry and she’s enjoying leading worship again.

Throughout, my heart has found joy in worship, being so thankful for those He gifts with musical talents.

Including here in our new home with our new church.

Everyone has been so understanding, because for some reason my voice disappears completely when I’m in the church building, and often doesn’t return until much later.

Despite the loss, I have wanted to worship along with our church family, so I’ve been working on learning more Christian signs.

There are many words in hymns I’m not familiar with.

It’s been an adventure to research and find words I can use to sign along with the singing.

And through this God gave me my Christmas gift.

I’ve been asked to sign this Sunday with the worship team.

I am so thankful I didn’t miss the best gift God gave me this Christmas, by focusing on what He had taken away.

For me, it was the removal of the one thing I knew how to use in worshipping Him, my voice.

Instead, He has given me a whole new way to praise Him.

Something I never expected, a chance to worship.

Romans 8:28 KJV — And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:37 KJV — Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You so much for Your blessings. Thank You that You work in ways I cannot see. Lord Jesus, thank You for using my inability to be an opportunity. Thank You that You normally do things in ways which don’t make sense to us. After all, no one would have expected You, the King of kings, to come as a babe in a manger. Thank You that You didn’t come to be served, but to serve, that we might take that example and live it daily. Lord Jesus, please continue to help me to serve You in spirit and in truth, without thought to personal cost, but rather with trust in Your provision and direction. Lord, please help me to wait upon You and not go charging off to “fix” things in my own strength, for that is why Peter cut off the servant’s ear. Lord, I don’t want to damage others, or myself, please help me to be wise and honorable. Thank You for all Your wondrous works, Your love and salvation. I love You, Jesus. Amen.

Unwanted change

Sometimes, we don’t want to change, because we fear what will be lost in gaining the new.

That was me recently.

My husband had ordered me a new cell phone because my old one was falling apart.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t excited when he informed me of my new phone, because I didn’t want a new one.

I’m not very technically savvy.

Yes, I know the age I’m in requires it.

Yes, I’ve been blessed by the ability to access things from home which used to require a trip to town.

No, I’m still not techy.

I have had to learn how to do many things on my computer or cell in the past and when that season was over, I enjoyed the freedom of not having to spend hours on either device.

But the draw back is, I’m sadly behind the times on working with the latest app or program.

Yet, for this season, I feel my priorities are in dealing with the people directly, especially our son as I homeschool.

Thankfully, the Lord has helped me learn many things so I’m still able to do what is required.

But starting over to learn a new phone isn’t what I want to spend my time on right now.

However, it is what was needed.

My old phone was dropping calls, requiring me to talk with the speaker on so others could hear me, and often refusing to work at all.

The Lord has been quietly walking me through another new in the midst of this transition.

He’s been so good at reminding me of His truths throughout.

His peace has been shaping my heart and putting an end to my fears.

For His timing is perfect and His blessing is without limit.

I’m thankful to the Lord for giving me so much new.

I’m blessed to walk into each day, letting go of my personal expectations and clinging to God’s direction.

There’s a good deal of discomfort in change, but it’s been the tool of the Lord to teach my heart.

I keep returning to these words:

Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV — Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

Simple and concise, they bring both encouragement and comfort.

I know this time of year, although often construed as “the jolliest” season, can become anything but “peace on earth”.

Our full schedules and frazzled nerves can make us struggle to find “goodwill towards men” or women or anyone.

My prayer today is for each of us to find both peace and goodwill first in our Savior and then for one another.

That we might be truly filled with joy and gratitude to the One whose birth we are celebrating.

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You for Your Word and the comfort it brings. Lord, thank You for making me learn things I didn’t want to and for stretching me in ways I wasn’t aware were a possibility. Lord, thank You for walking me through these days of uncomfortable and still finding rest in You for all that is required. Lord, You know the long list of things which await our attention and I praise You that You have been teaching me how to wait, not to rush forward trying to get it all done. Lord, thank You that Your timing is perfect. Your truth is my refuge. Your love is enough. Thank You for these days. Please help each one of us not to get list in the busy, but rather to cherish the opportunity to celebrate Your birth. Next to Your Resurrection, it’s the most important event we celebrate. Lord, please help us to treasure the greatest Christmas gift ever given–You. I love You, Jesus. Amen.

Gift from a stranger

The Lord really blessed my heart yesterday afternoon.

Through a list of circumstances, we hadn’t eaten lunch yet, although it was well past.

We’ve been needing to go to the grocery store.

Jase and I were there with a list.

He’d written it as we drove and discussed what we should be purchasing.

Our cart had multiple items and I was heading for the last things when a stranger stopped me.

She was older with kind eyes.

Behind her mask I’m sure she was smiling.

She sat in a motorized cart in the Express Line.

Her hand waved me down and then beckoning, she requested I come near her.

As I moved closer she began rummaging in her large bag.

I couldn’t imagine what she was wanting from me, but I was feeling a bit concerned.

I couldn’t speak to her.

After a quick, silent prayer, I decided the best thing to do was to wait and listen.

I’m sure it was the Lord.

After a bit of searching, she produced the notepad and pen set pictured.

Handing it over, she happily announced,

“This is for your next trip to the grocery store.”

I took them and was filled with surprise.

“I noticed you were being followed by him with a notepad.”

She nodded towards Jase.

I smiled behind my mask, touched by this act of kindness.

I turned to Jase and signed, “Thank you”.

He translated for me.

I then signed, “God bless you.”

Upon hearing from Jase, her face lit up and she replied.

“Why! Thank you! I can always use an extra blessing.”

I signed, “Thank you” again and we walked away.

Jase was as touched as I.

We finished up our shopping.

Jase translated for me when we checked out and we left the store.

And met the same lady.

She was taking her motorized cart to return it.

I signed “Thank you” several times in an effort to let her know how much I appreciated her gift.

It wasn’t until later I realized what a valuable gift it is.

I’ve been told, deaf people always carry paper and pen to be able to communicate.

I’ve been trying to keep such things in my purse, but have had multiple times where it was lacking.

I’ve written on envelopes and receipts to in a pinch.

I’ve had to borrow other people’s pens.

It’s just not something I’m used to planning for and has caused problems.

This notebook and pen are perfect!

As I told my husband about this gift from a stranger, my heart was amazed at the goodness and faithfulness of God.

I wish I could have communicated to the lady how much her gift has blessed me.

Since that’s not an option, I have prayed for her and thanked God for how He blessed me through her generosity.

I’m also praising God with renewed awe at the way the Lord works.

Because yesterday morning I had been telling another about how faithful and good God is.

I had mentioned that I no longer have needs, but simply pray, waiting upon the Lord when something arises and He fills it.

And before the day was over, He proved again He is able through supplying something I didn’t even realize I needed.

Praise God!

Psalm 4:5 KJV — Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD.

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You so much for Your faithfulness! Lord, my heart is filled with gratitude and wonder at Your provision for such a small thing. Lord, I humbly request You bless the lady who blessed me, that she would find all she needs in You. Lord, thank You for proving again to me that You care about the small details as much as the large ones. You work in ways we can not understand to bring about things we may never realize here on earth. Lord, may people be encouraged to place their trust in You no matter the circumstances. May lives be changed by Your salvation. Lord Jesus, may You be glorified such that no one can deny the truth of who You are and what You have done. Thank You, Lord. Amen.

Three days before Christmas

For these last few days let’s look at the One whose birthday we are celebrating.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
John 1:1‭, ‬3‭-‬5 NKJV

The One in a manger was the One at the beginning of creation.

Genesis 1:1 NKJV — In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Jesus is part of the Trinity and was creating at the beginning of our history.

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is  with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.
I John 1:1‭-‬3 NKJV

The disciple John does not want anyone to miss the fact that Jesus is the Son of God.

That through Him all things were made and by Him all mankind is saved.

And that he, himself was witness to the truth of the Gospel.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
I John 1:9 NKJV

Jesus was no mere “good man”, nor was He simply a wise teacher, He was and is God.

His reason for coming to Earth was simple.

Acts 4:12 NKJV — “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Romans 1:16 NKJV — For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.

1 Thessalonians 5:9 NKJV — For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,

It’s the greatest truth of all time.

His birth brought mankind the greatest gift anyone could ever want or need.

His death built a bridge to span the chasm between us and our holy God.

His resurrection brought us hope, a confident expectation of eternal life in Jesus.

He’s the best gift ever.

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You so much for all You have done to rescue us from sin. Thank You for being the greatest gift we can ever receive. Lord Jesus, You are the reason we celebrate. It is Your birthday we are remembering. It is You we are looking toward as we make plans and give gifts. Lord Jesus, You alone are the One Who saves us. This Christmas we want to honor You in all we do, in our actions, our attitudes, and our words. We praise Your holy name, Jesus. Amen.

Grandpa John

I had a dream last night.

My mother’s father was in it.

He smiled big, laughed with joy, and hugged me tight.

My husband and our children and grandchildren were there, too.

I was so excited to introduce each one to him.

But before I did Grandpa just kept one arm around me and looked into my face.

We were both enjoying getting to see one another.

Then, with a smile, he spoke, “You know, you are a real beauty.”

This caught me by surprise.

It also made me feel treasured.

I smiled back.

“Grandpa, of course you would think so. I look like my mother, your daughter, and she looks like her mother, Grandma Ruth.”

He laughed and squeezed me.

I went on to introduce him to our family.

When I awoke this morning, my heart felt rosy with love.

Because I didn’t grow up with grandparents.

My mother’s family are from Michigan and we’ve always lived on the West coast.

My father’s mother died when I was four, I have no memory of her.

My father’s father traveled a great deal and I can’t remember a single conversation he ever had with me.

He died when I was in highschool.

So, this dream was sweet for me.

Although, my memories of my mother’s father are fuzzy and less than the fingers on one hand, I remember him laughing and hugging me.

I was pretty small, small enough to sit on his knee.

But last night’s dream brought me a new gift.

I know it’s from God.

If I can feel blessed by a dream of my Grandfather’s kind words, what an impact my words can have in real life to those I love!

My grandchildren (I love saying that!) are an incredible opportunity.

To love them for Jesus, to teach them about God’s Word, what a wonderful heritage!

The same is true for my own children.

To love them daily, to make sure I am speaking words of encouragement.

To lovingly speak words of truth, and to stir up righteousness in them.

To pray for each one, lifting them before the Lord, that I might be centered on Christ’s will for them instead of my own ideas.

The legacy I can pass on does require being purposeful.

To be open to the LORD’s leading in the day-to-day things so I don’t plant weeds but seeds of life.

But I can’t think of anything more worthwhile than leaving a legacy of following Jesus.

I praise God for this dream of my grandfather.

It has reminded me of my value to Jesus and my opportunity to value others.

Our soul waits for the Lord ; He is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in Him, Because we have trusted in His holy name.
Psalms 33:20‭-‬21 NKJV

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You so much for this encouragement. Thank You for reminding me of the truth, that I can pour into others as You pour into me. Lord, thank You for loving me more than any person on Earth, because it is in You I find myself, a child of God. Lord Jesus, please help my husband and I to be honorable parents and grandparents. Help us to live with integrity and humility. Please shine through us into those around us and our loved ones. Thank You so much for placing us near our grandchildren. We are so blessed to be a part of their lives and the lives of our children. Lord Jesus, may we bring honor and glory to Your name. Amen.

Surprise!

Yesterday was a bit crazy.

But it was a really good day!

Before I got school going my daughter called.

She was requesting our Anne to come help for the day as pregnancy had kept her up most of the night.

Our granddaughter is a busy one-year-old, so we completely understood the desire for extra help.

All of us piled into the car a short time later.

Originally, I was just going to drop Anne off.

When I went in to give my love to Sis, I realized things had changed.

She was having contractions.

We stayed to see if they’d leave.

They didn’t.

Thankfully, our son-in-law was only a little over an hour away, so he headed home.

We are staying at their house so it’s more comfortable for our granddaughter.

Our school day had major changes, but valuable lessons in it all.

It was obvious that our sweet little girl was trying to figure out why her parents had not returned.

But good news was on the way!

There’s nothing like that moment when you see a text from your son-in-law after hours of waiting.

Our precious grandson was born yesterday evening and we are so thankful!

What a wonderful surprise!

He wasn’t due until the 26th of this month, but God’s timing is perfect.

Praise the Lord!

Psalm 40:5 KJV — Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You so much for our grandson. Please continue to heal and strengthen our daughter. Please keep Your hand upon this precious baby. Lord, from the moment we heard another baby was on the way I have lifted them up to You. Please bring this child up in Your ways and give his parents the understanding of how to raise him to love and honor You. Lord, place Your hand upon him and guide his steps that he might be a godly man, a mighty man of valor. Lord Jesus, thank You so much for this precious new gift! We are humbled by Your blessings. Thank You. May Your name be glorified throughout the whole Earth. Amen.

The gift of giving

It wouldn’t have come to mind.

My husband and I were chatting on the patio.

We’d been discussing the begonia.

It’s a beautiful hanging plant, but I’ve been concerned where I’m going to keep it once the weather turns.

My sweet hubby purchased for me, but didn’t realize it’s tender nature.

I mentioned the possibility of it overwintering in our bedroom.

Our windows face the patio and my husband gently pointed out the window lined with four potted Jade plants.

“There’s already several…”

“Honey, don’t worry. I’ll give those away as soon as I know who the Lord wants them to go–oh!”

For a memory flashed into my mind.

Last week I’d asked for prayer for wisdom.

“I have been so blessed by the ladies at the Allergist. I really want to let them know how much I appreciate them, but can’t figure out how.”

There are two nurses, my doctor, and the receptionist.

Four ladies.

Four Jade plants!

My husband was looking at me with a quizzical expression.

I smiled.

“I know exactly what I’m supposed to do. I’ll give them away tomorrow.”

What a blessing!

To use the things the Lord has placed in my care temporarily to give to others.

I’m not exactly sure how I’m going to go about it tomorrow, but I’ll be praying.

It’s in the simple and small things that I want to be diligent.

Those seemingly unimportant details where God speaks so gently.

It’s that still small voice.

I want my life to be a reflection of Jesus wherever I am, whatever I’m doing, and however I possibly can.

Because Jesus doesn’t love people once in a while, or when it works into the schedule.

He loves people.

Period.

I want to do that as well.

I don’t know if the ladies will even want these plants, but I’m praying they will feel loved.

Hopefully, they will feel appreciated.

It’s only a tiny sliver of gratitude for their service to me.

But I praise God for each one of them and for this opportunity to give to them.

I praise God for His provision and the gift of giving.

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You for these ladies. Thank You for the medical field which has come up with treatment and ways to help me and others with allergies and asthma. Lord Jesus, thank You for this opportunity. Please bless these ladies and let them feel Your love. May Your name be glorified. Amen.

A keepsake

The longest we have lived in one place is seven years.

Then the Lord moved us here.

Before that our longest had been five years.

It’s been good for me.

I’ve learned a lot.

One of the lessons has been in letting go.

God never wants me to cling to things.

But He has also surprised me in this season we are walking in.

Not long ago I was in the kitchen when my husband came from the garage.

His new job has required his focus and he’s not gotten his garage just the way he wants it yet, but he’s working on it.

That’s what he had been doing when he came in.

His eyes held mine tenderly as he reached out his hand.

His blackened fingers (something I love about him, he works with his hands just like my dad did) grasped something which he placed gently in mine.

I had no idea what it was.

“Look at the inscription.”

So, I turned it over till I found the initials carved into the metal.

I knew exactly what they stand for.

It was as if time fell away.

And my bare feet were standing upon the concrete of our driveway.

My long brown hair carefully braided and still wet from running through the sprinkler in the lawn.

My father working on Mom’s car in the driveway.

His tools carefully laid out on his work towels.

And there was Grandpa, talking to Daddy, bent over looking under the hood.

It’s not a real memory.

More like a collage of memory scraps all pasted on top of one another, making a whole picture.

So, how did a small piece of initialed metal cause this?

Because it was a tool used by my Grandfather and given to my dad which eventually was passed on to my husband.

All three men worked on machines of one kind or another.

My husband said he’d been going through his tool box and found it.

Tools have come a long way and this one is pretty obsolete compared to the other sets he has.

But he knew I’d want to keep it.

So, now it’s sitting in my room.

A reminder of how incredible God truly is.

It’s also an opportunity to pray for my extended family.

I doubt I’ll keep this forever.

It needs to move on, into the possession of another man who works with his hands.

But until the Lord shows me who He wants to bless with it, I’m happy to let it remind me of my childhood.

To let it spur me to prayer.

And to praise God for His unfathomable love and care.

Truly,

2 Samuel 7:22 KJV — Wherefore thou art great, O LORD God: for there is none like thee, neither is there any God beside thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears.

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You for this keepsake. It means so much to me that You would care about a tiny insignificant detail like this. But You understand things that I will never comprehend. Thank You for all Your love and mercy. Thank You for sustaining me throughout every part of my life. Thank You that life has seasons and in each one You have a plan and a purpose. Please help my eyes to be open to what You are doing in this season. Please help my mouth to speak only Your words of encouragement or exhortation. Please let my feet never stray from Your paths. Thank You, Jesus. I love You. Amen.

Pot holder

I’ve been working on this all day.

It went to the Allergist office with me this morning.

I had just begun one side.

It went to Michaels craft store, as I was not going to be able to finish it without more yarn.

It’s been on my lap during Math and Science.

I worked on it while taking lunch break.

Just now, I finished it.

I’ve never made one before, but I’m happy with the results.

Because it’s not about the time or energy it took, it’s about the love.

I have every intension of giving this away.

Hopefully, with another exactly like it.

As I was praying for someone yesterday, the Lord mentioned my yarn box.

I opened it, wondering what He was leading me to.

When my eyes fell on the cotton yarn, His voice spoke.

Make her a pot holder.

Of course, I was hesitant.

But thankfully, I didn’t argue.

My day didn’t allow for me to start the project, so I simply prayed about it.

This morning God brought it to mind again.

And now I can praise Him, for it is finished.

I’m always amazed at how He uses small things to teach me large ones.

Like making this simple gift for someone I love.

The time, energy, and prayer I put into this was all a joy, because of my love for the person who will receive it.

As I reflected on my joy in doing for another, my heart took another step toward the Lord, for He is always at work upon my behalf.

And His work is simply a proof of His love.

Both are unmeasurable.

My heart swells with the thought.

I deserve none of this and yet He loves me.

And the lesson came from a day crocheting a gift.

Which He told me to make.

Wow.

Praise God.

I’m so thankful for so many things.

I’m grateful He taught me how to do this.

I’m blessed with the ability to move my fingers and create something.

I’m thankful for His heart that shows me how loving and steadfast He is.

Truly, what a blessing it is to serve the Almighty God!

Hebrews 12:28 KJV — Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: