Strength

On Monday, my hubby gave me one of the greatest gifts. He gave me a day off. I curled up with my Kindle. I lit candles. I drank coffee. I had peace. No rambunctious boys running around knocking things over. No TV (until the girlie movies came on). Just me and my doggie (also a girl).

Then, I caught a cold. What’s up with that?!? I am not surprised. I have been running so hard that my body physically hurts. We all do it, especially at Christmas. Why do we do it? Why do we run ourselves until we are exhausted?

One answer: Lack of trust. Lack of trust that God will provide. When I am running 90 to nothing, it is usually in the wrong direction. I am pulling myself up by my bootstraps (got new cowboy boots for Christmas, so I can literally pull myself up by my bootstraps) and trudging through in my own strength.

When did this happen to me? Somewhere between our trip China and today I stopped reading my bible and having quiet time in the morning. “I have three boys and don’t have time.” Thanks to my church for my Advent devotional, Sarah Young for her beautiful Jesus Calling devotional, and my Good Morning Girls email group for keeping me in the Word. 

Having devotional time/quiet time with Abba in the morning and a true Sabbath day once a week shows God that I trust Him to take my days and my weeks and do SO much more with them than I ask or imagine. Relief, ’cause I cannot keep doing it on my own. Ironically, yesterday’s devotion in Jesus Calling was about how the busier we are, the more we need time set apart with God. Today’s devotion is about how God is our refuge and strength. 

Psalm 46: 1-3 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.

Isaiah 40:31 But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

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Peace

Image

So, as I was trying to take an picture of our Advent wreath for this post, I found myself moving around to make the shot “perfect”. At first, I was taking the shot from the other side where there is less mess. However, I thought you might like to see my boys’ chairs and the schmutz all over the table. This is more true to my life anyway. We generally read the Advent lesson while food is flying. (My boys like to eat!) This week, we lit the “Love” Candle. The first week was “Hope”. The second week was “Peace”. The third week was “Joy.

One of the hardest things for me to maintain this time of year (anytime really) is peace. We are so busy! Even when we consciously try to limit our extracurricular activities, we still seem to be strapped for time. The hustle and bustle, the traffic, the obligations, the stress, the loneliness all suck the peace right out of me.

What of Jesus’ birth was peaceful in the worldly sense? After all the drama of the birth announcement and marriage, Mary and Joseph have to travel miles from home. Jesus is born in a cave. No snugly warm blanket. No soft cushy bed. Nowhere for Mary to really rest and bask in the glow of being a new mom. I would say no fanfare, but the shepherds saw fanfare! 

“Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Luke 2:14

And on earth peace. And on earth peace. And on earth PEACE!

The old song says, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.” It began with JESUS!

How do we get it?

Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.

 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.  John 14:22-27

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
 
How do we maintain it?
 
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:4-5
 
Come, O children, listen to me;
    I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
What man is there who desires life
   and loves many days, that he may see good?
Keep your tongue from evil
   and your lips from speaking deceit.
Turn away from evil and do good;
   seek peace and pursue it. Psalm 34:11-14
 
True peace comes from believing in Jesus and obeying His commandments (love God and our neighbor). Because, if we truly believe and love Him, we will WANT to please Him. We maintain that peace by staying connected to Him. Through study. Through prayer. Through service. We have to pursue peace. It will not necessarily come naturally. Our flesh does not want peace. Our flesh wants to party like it’s 1999.
 
We can have peace when the kids are screaming, the house is a wreck, life is not going as we planned, we are dying, a family member/friend is dying, someone hates us, we have no money, we lose our job, we don’t know the next step to take, or [insert situation here]. 
 
I leave you with this:
 
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

                  Christmas Bells

    I HEARD the bells on Christmas Day
    Their old, familiar carols play,
        And wild and sweet
        The words repeat
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    And thought how, as the day had come,
    The belfries of all Christendom
        Had rolled along
        The unbroken song
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    Till ringing, singing on its way,
    The world revolved from night to day,
        A voice, a chime,
        A chant sublime
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    Then from each black, accursed mouth
    The cannon thundered in the South,
        And with the sound
        The carols drowned
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    It was as if an earthquake rent
    The hearth-stones of a continent,
        And made forlorn
        The households born
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    And in despair I bowed my head;
    “There is no peace on earth,” I said;
        “For hate is strong,
        And mocks the song
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

    Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
    “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
        The Wrong shall fail,
        The Right prevail,
    With peace on earth, good-will to men.”


Written during the American Civil war, the above poem can be found in:
  • Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth. The Complete Poetical Works of Longfellow.Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1893.
  • Stevenson, Burton Egbert , ed. The Home Book of Verse for Young Folks. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1915

Merry Christmas!

Love, Lori

 

Food

Thanksgiving

I made a funny on my Facebook page today. My comment was that I now live in a house where there are hardly any uneaten leftovers, even if I eat them to survive. However, it is true. How many times have I told my family that we waste so much food? Of course I add that there are starving people all over the world who would love to eat what we throw out. Now, those people live at our house and eat our food. It is wonderful! They have become a tad picky, but just a tad. Our oldest has been venturing out and trying some different things (survival I think).

I thought bringing two new members into our family would change the family dynamic so much that we would have to struggle for a while. Nope. These guys have brought us even closer together. We are more careful about the money we spend eating out. We eat at home a lot. We sit down as a family to eat more often than not. These times lead into family discussions, reading of scripture (like from our Advent Devotional provided by our church), etc.

Matthew 4:4 ESV But He answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”

Oh, if I lived this way. Our church has started an outreach called No One Home Alone. We do not want anyone home alone for Christmas or any other time. We want everyone to know the love of Christ. With Him, we are never alone.

If you are struggling and need someone to pray for you or need someone to talk to, please let me know.

Lori