Saturday, December 22, 2012

Merry Christmas, 2012

For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life:
(John 3:16 AMP).

My blog is only 8 months old and I have appreciated all the kind and encouraging comments that many have left. They inspire me to keep writing when ideas come to me.

But it is Christmas and a time to embrace holiday joys with friends and family. 

If you could be “here”, we’d sit and share amidst some of the scenes you see below. How nice that would be! 

So - from my home ( literally ) to yours - a most

Merry Christmas!

Hanging the Bethlehem Star!

This precious Nativity set was purchased in Gudadalajara, Mexico 
in 1978. I had been asked to join a family I know on their vacation. 
I think of that special time often, but especially each year
 when I bring out the Nativity set.

The small carved wooden lamb on the left is a keepsake I purchased
 in Bethlehem, the following year. He brings joy each year, too! 

 The Birthday of the King!

. . .a birthday card from a close friend brings joy. . .

 . . .and heaven and nature sing. . .

. . .some gifts I will open Christmas Eve. . .

In 1990, my Mom painted this oil rendering of 
“Father Christmas".  
It has been a treasured Christmas item ever since. 
After her death in 2001, each family member has had the 
opportunity to hang it in their home for a Christmas season. 
Now, he is here and ever available to any family member 
who wants to have him sparkle for them during the holiday!

May your holiday be a time of joy. 
Thank you for sharing some time here with me! 
God bless you!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Let Light Dispel the Darkness

There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. 
They had set night watches over their sheep. 
Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. 
They were terrified. 
The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: 
A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. 
This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger”
(Luke 2:8-12 -  The Message).

Imagine that special night. Sheep were sedate from a full day of following their shepherds and ready for rest, as were the shepherds. The night was clear except for one brilliant star. 
All was still.
a burst of light 
an angel speaking
 glory outshining that brilliant star 
and they were terrified. 

Some translations record that they were sore afraid. Now that is mighty scared, scared to one’s innermost being. It is a surge of fear.

 A few verses later Luke records, 
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." 
Why was this unexpected honor given to the shepherds? The work of shepherds was not a job of high profile. They lived solitary lives caring for their flocks. Yet God saw their faithfulness and chose to honor them. His favor rested upon them.
How can these thoughts be of help to any of us when the unexpected happens in our lives? We feel far from favored. We often feel solitary and set apart. We tire before day’s end. We expect too much of ourselves, often feeling we have disappointed our Shepherd.
Yet he knows each one of us. He knows the longings of our hearts and the times we are sore afraid. He knows something else.
Light, his light, always dispels the darkness.
How long did the shepherds stay terrified? Once the light and the message being heralded became real to them, they rushed off to Bethlehem. They found the Messiah, yet a babe in swaddling clothes. Then they were proclaiming, to all who would listen, the wonders of what they had seen and heard.

The stars in heaven still sing the same glory. 
The favor of the Shepherd rests upon us. 
We can spread his good news to those we encounter, even during our hardest moments, because light dispels the darkness. Yes, it did long ago, and yes, it still does today.
Lord, in unexpected places, open my eyes to behold your glories. However you choose, help me to rush to a Bethlehem near me, proclaiming as I go,  the wonders you have displayed. Amen.

Look to and follow the Star in the night for that is when it can shine the brightest!

Click on the link below to hear this encouragement in song! 

words and music by Twila Paris

Lynn’s photo of a watercolor sketch by her friend, Dave Peterson. 

It was created to image this text. 
Thank you, Dave.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

As We Journey Toward Bethlehem

This devotional is adapted from one I wrote for Rest Ministries in 2008, then revised for my manuscript of devotionals, Choosing Comfort, and expanded for today’s entry on my blog. 

It has made its own journey to get to you now!

Bethlehem.This word when used in reference to the city in Palestine, a short distance from Jerusalem, has deep meaning to Christians as the celebration of Christ’s birth marks our calendars. His birth is cause for joy no matter the season but Christmas time brings it forth with more intentionality. 

There can be many festivities commemorating this event: gift-giving, card-sending, and love abounding as family and friends gather. The sounds of music may fill homes bringing the messages of this season to our hearts.

Birth. Wonder. Hope. Fulfillment. 

One song that settles deeply within me is,
 Breath of Heaven/Mary’s Song.*

The lyrics convey Mary’s thoughts on her journey toward Bethlehem as she struggles with the weight of the imminent birth of the Child she is carrying. Heavy, too, is the responsibility she foresees in raising him. As she surrenders to God’s plan, she recognizes that the grace she needs for each of the days to come has also been entrusted to her.

The weighty emotions which overcame Mary are echoed in our lives. We, too, carry Christ within us. Challenges can overcome us.They can take on a heavier tone when holidays are being celebrated and our culture presents many Hallmark moments that  image the perfected, be it Christmas or any other holiday of the year.

There are various reasons we may not be able to join in with matched gusto: some face chronic illness, chronic pain, loneliness, grief over the death of a loved one who once made such times of year very meaningful. 

Families may be estranged, marriages on edge, one’s children walking paths different than had been hoped. Our personal hopes and dreams, still on hold, have us wondering if they ever will be fulfilled. 

Loved ones and friends may be facing their own illnesses or conditions over which we have no control but to love them and support them via our presence or in our prayers for them -- perhaps in both ways. 

We all are asked to work through the traumas of life, no matter the season and with an acceptance of whatever season in life we are facing.

Such times bring questions as we seek answers and resolve.

Can I bear this burden for one more day? Can I see a gift in this pain entrusted to me? Can I overcome the grief and fears that loom up large engulfing me? Can my life ever live up to my expectations?

"Breath of Heaven, hold me together. 
Be forever near me, Breath of Heaven."

God’s breath of life created us. We carry the breath of heaven within us. His life sustains us. We do not journey alone. We may question. We may despair. That is fine for we can turn and seek the answers in the One who has them. We then await the peace that only He can bring.

As we ponder Christ’s birth, we can commit to a renewal in allowing Him to rebirth us. We are as dependent upon Him as He once was dependent upon Mary. Likewise, we share in the grace-filled promise that He is forever 

Lord, I exhale my heavy burdens to make room for You and for your help within me this day. Fill me up to overflowing with both the strength and the lightness of your Presence. Amen.

As you listen to the lyrics of this song and reflect on the message in this blog posting, may you relax in to the reason for this season, no matter what season of life you are experiencing. 

Click on the song title to get to the music.
*Songwriter/Composer(s): Chris Eaton/Amy Grant
performed by Amy Grant

Photo by Lynn
Watercolor by Lynn’s friend, Dave Peterson, sketched specifically for inclusion in her manuscript,  “Choosing Comfort”