Thirsty Thursday: Finding Christmas Spirit

I have been struggling to get into the Spirit of Christmas this year. I’ve cried more than I’d like to admit. I’ve been grumpy and irritable, but I’ve been trying to shake it. I know I’m grieving over the loss of my son, and now I’m grieving over the recent loss of a dear friend’s father.

I have tried everything I could imagine to regain the joy that Christmas brings. I decorated the house. Though truth be told, I only had the heart to put up a few decorations. The tree is up and my Grandmother’s Nativity is up. I have been listening solely to the Christmas music station while in the car. I point out all the Christmas lights to the Littles as we drive past them. I made myself watch It’s a Wonderful Life. I even agreed to attend a Christmas Cookie Swap, which I would not have done if a good friend had not invited me. Cookie swaps are the epitome of hard work for little to no pay off. You bake a bazillion batches of your favorite cookie and receive cookies you pawn off on others. I finally resigned myself to the fact that I am not going to get in the Spirit of Christmas this year. I decided that I was ok with that.

Then it happened.

I was shopping for a Christmas Party to be held at our church when I saw them. In a sea of Santa, reindeer, elves, and snowmen, I saw my Jesus. A lovely illustrated Nativity on a gift bag proclaiming, “The Prince of Peace is Born Today” (This was at the Dollar Tree, mind you, not a “Christian” store). And in an instant, I became joyful. I became hopeful. It reminded me that God will reveal Himself to us.

And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13

No matter what trials and tribulations you face this Christmas season, know that you can find Him when you truly seek Him. He will give you His joy, His peace, and His love.

Photo on 2014-12-18 at 15.02

Thirsty Thursday: A Word on Pain

Hunny and I have been through more hardships in the almost six years we’ve been married than the average person experiences in a lifetime. There have been times when I wondered why God kept allowing pain into our lives. I wondered why God did not intervene on our behalf.

But He did.

By allowing pain in our lives, God has shaped Hunny and me into more compassionate people. We are more loving people. We are more forgiving people. How could we be reflections of our Father in heaven without being loving, forgiving, and compassionate? It would be impossible.

Paul wrote to the Romans:

For I consider the sufferings of this present time (this present life) are not worth being compared with the glory that is about to be revealed to us and in us and for us and conferred on us! Romans 8:18 (Amplified Bible)

Paul knew a thing or two about pain. He was shipwrecked, stoned, beaten, and jailed. He felt like his sufferings were nothing compared with knowing Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:8).

Besides, I am not the only person on the planet going through a hard time. The Bible says that as Christians, we should bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). How can we help someone else if we’ve never been through difficulty? How can we support someone, how can we show God’s love to someone, how can we encourage someone if our lives are always perfect? Who would be able to relate to us? No one.

You may be going through a difficult time in your life. Look at it as the blessing it truly is, because when this storm is over, you’ll be able to help someone else through their storm. God will use you to be His arms to hug, His feet to go, and His mouthpiece to speak life and truth and love.

Thirsty Thursday: Operation Christmas Child

Have you heard of Operation Christmas Child? The first time I did, Hunny and I were dating. Even though the organization had been around for fourteen years, I had never heard of it and I didn’t quite understand it.

Operation Christmas Child started in 1993 to help the children who were facing the effects of the war in Bosnia. It started as a way to show the Love of Christ through a simple gift box. Now over 113 million children have received shoebox gifts and countless lives have been changed.

National Collection week is a month away. It’s never too early to pray for the shoeboxes, volunteers, and families.

Thirsty Thursday: Totally Unprepared

You know how I’m always talking about how God answers prayers? Well, God answered a prayer that has left me an emotional mess. So much so that I have been trying to write this post (and others) for weeks and have found myself completely incapable of writing anything.

Mr. Bill & Mrs. Peggy are Cupcake and Yeeyum’s third set of grandparents. They work in the nursery at church and brag on the kids as if they were their own grandchildren (or great grandchildren). Mrs. Peggy became like a grandmother to me, which was wonderful considering I lost both of mine in 2009. It was nice to have someone to give advice to me and talk about when they were young and care about me.

Mr. Bill & Mrs. Peggy’s family live in the mid east and they have had their house on the market to sell for four years. We have known them almost two years and have been praying about their house selling for as long as we’ve known they wanted to move. Mr. Bill would always say, “We’re never going to move,” and jokingly, “Maybe I should pray to the devil and see if he answers my prayers.”

Even though I was praying for them to be able to move, I kept hearing Mr. Bill say they would never move and I started to doubt. People would look at their house and not make an offer on it. Or they would have a viewing scheduled and the people wouldn’t show up. One couple offered way less than the asking price, and Mr. Bill & Mrs. Peggy had to turn down the offer. When Mrs. Peggy told me last month that their house sold and that they would have to be out in a month, I jumped up and down, hugged her, and burst into tears.

Last night was the final time I would see them before the move. I didn’t know what to say other than I love you. Having them move away is like losing my grandmothers all over again. Painful, emotional, and difficult to discuss.

I don’t know when we’ll see them again. I do know that God will continue to answer their prayers, your prayers, and mine. And I’m praying that God will provide a way that we can visit them!

Thirsty Thursday: The Lesson

Sometimes the lessons we think are for others are actually for us.

Cupcake disobeyed and had to be punished. We were in the car and I explained that when we were home, she would be punished. As we were approaching home, I felt like God wanted me to punish Hunny in her place.

Wow! What a great picture of what Jesus did for us on the cross! I thought.

Once home, I whispered to Hunny the plan and he loved it. Pointing people to Jesus is such a thrilling experience. Especially when you know that it is something out of the ordinary.

Cupcake understood that Hunny was receiving her punishment. She didn’t seem moved when Hunny explained that Jesus took our place on the cross. She did not seem effected at all. But that lesson wasn’t for her. It was for me.

It was excruciating to punish Hunny. He had done nothing wrong. Cupcake disobeyed. As he was being punished, I was torn up inside. Afterward, I just cried and cried. Punishing Hunny instead of Cupcake was a picture of what God went through when Jesus died on the cross. Because Jesus was the sacrifice, we always look at it from His perspective. He was beaten beyond recognition, He was flogged, He was spat upon, He had a crown of thorns hammered into His skull, and He was hammered into the cross. But what about God?

Imagine you’re at a trial. A criminal broke into your house, beat the person you love the most within an inch of their life, stole all your possessions, burned your house down, and left your beloved for dead in the burning house. The judge says this person is to be executed. You stand up. “Execute my beloved in their place.”

That isn’t the half of what the Maker of heaven and earth went through so that you could have the chance of an eternal life with Him and freedom. He went through the pain of losing a part of Himself for you.

God loves you.

He wants you.

He went through literal hell for you.

You are worth it to Him.

Thirsty Thursday: Prayer is Powerful

I know, it’s not Thursday. I wasn’t able to post yesterday because the internet didn’t want to work. I was really annoyed and frustrated about it… Until now.

Hunny and I desperately need a car. We poured all our extra money into fixing the one we have and it still isn’t safe to drive. It is our sole means of transportation (Where we live there is no public transportation that we can use to get places, so a vehicle is our only option). My Sister needed a car, too. Even though she is moving somewhere that has reliable public transportation, she felt she needed a car.

I challenged Hunny to pray that God would give us a car. God knows we need one. He also knows we do not have the money to buy one. Hunny decided since we were praying for a car to be given to us, we would pray that a car would be given to my Sister.

Someone gave her a car. A nice car.

My reaction was, SEE!! We PRAYED that!!! She wouldn’t have a car if we hadn’t asked God to give her one!!!

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mark 11:24

Sometimes we pray and we don’t see an answer right away. Sometimes prayers get answered years later. Sometimes we pray and we see the answer within the week! We prayed for a car to be given to my Sister less than a week ago. You and I, we have to be like Daniel. He fasted and prayed and he did not quit. An angel appeared to him and told him that he was fighting a prince and that is what had detained him. We can’t see what is going on in the spiritual realm, which is why we cannot give up on our prayers.

I will share my original post next week. Until then, share your prayer requests with me and I will pray for you and with you.

Thirsty Thursday: Rejoice – It’s a Choice

It has been said that you should keep positive people around you and keep negative people away. But what if people in your family are negative? What do you do when your boss is negative? How should we react when we are having a great day and a person in our life, who we can’t avoid, descends on you like a tornado of negativity, hostility, and criticism tearing everything down? I loose my happiness. I loose my good attitude.

I shouldn’t be that way.

This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

It doesn’t say try to rejoice. It doesn’t say rejoice until someone treats me poorly. It says rejoice and be glad. You can choose to be glad when things are going badly. You can choose to rejoice when someone’s war path tramples your day.

How?

Sometimes it is a difficult choice. But you can do it. Here are some ways you can have a good attitude:

Sing – Wrap yourself up in the garment of praise. It doesn’t matter what you sing, sing to the Lord until your attitude changes. You can’t sing “Jesus Loves Me” without smiling when you’re through.

Smile – Even a fake smile will release endorphins. Endorphins are hormones that naturally occur in your brain. When released, they increase your threshold for pain and increase your good mood.

Random Act of Kindness – Do something nice for someone out of the blue. It is a great feeling. Even better, do something nice for the person causing you strife.

Laugh – Laughing reduces stress and increases endorphin levels.

Gratitude – List on paper or aloud five things for which you are thankful. It is easier to have a good attitude when you see all the blessings you have been given.

Move Your Body – Dance, walk, run, jump, do something active!

I hope you choose to rejoice in the LORD and be glad today.

Thirsty Thursday: Age Ain’t Nothin’ But A Number

Many people I know are turning 30 years old. For some reason, this is a sad prospect to most people. They are no longer considered “young” by our youth obsessed culture and feel that their relevance is slipping. Dreams vanish. Life is over.

I don’t think so.

In Numbers Chapter 4, God chose people who were aged 30 – 50 years old to do one of the most important jobs: breaking down and setting back up the tabernacle. I know what you’re thinking: That sounds boring.

Does it?

These people were moving the holy of holies. They were moving God’s throne on earth. This physical place was where God came to meet with Aaron and his sons, the High Priests. This was where the sacrifices happened. This is where blood atoned for the sins of the people. Since the Israelites were moving through the lands, the tabernacle had to come along.

The furnishings from the sanctuary were so holy that if the people accidentally touched something, they would die. They weren’t even allowed to look at these things. Automatic death. Aaron and his sons had to go in first and cover all the things in the sactuary before the Kohathites were to come in and move it.  Other guys had to cover up the pieces of the tabernacle correctly and carry it to the next destination. That was a huge responsibility and an honor. I am sure that there were guys who were 29 years old wishing they were 30 and guys who were 51 wishing they were 50.

You have been given a similar calling. You are moving a tabernacle from place to place in order to help bridge the gap from this life to eternity. As a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, you carry holiness inside you: Jesus Himself and the Holy Spirit. You carry a tabernacle with you wherever you go. You can make it available to others or you can close it up. You can clothe it in righteousness or you can hide it.

God has a specific calling on your life that does NOT quit once you reach a certain age and it isn’t waiting for you to reach a certain age. It is now. It is being kind to a stranger. It is calling that family member. It is sacrificing your time to sit with a friend. Or sacrificing money to help out. It is being the arms of God to hug someone, the hands of God to feed someone, and the feet of God to walk with someone. It may sound boring, but when you change your view to look at it from the throne of heaven (God’s perspective), it is everything.

 

Thirsty Thursday: We’re Thomas

What happened after Jesus rose from the grave?

He appeared to different sets of people to let them know He was alive. He appeared to His original eleven disciples, but Thomas wasn’t there. When they told Thomas that they had seen Jesus, he didn’t believe them.

But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of His nails, and place my hand into His side, I will never believe.” John 20:25b

Thomas gets a bad rap for this: “Doubting Thomas.” But in reality, Thomas loved Jesus and did not want to believe something about Him that wasn’t true. Everyone was talking about seeing Jesus, but he hadn’t seen Him. What if everyone were lying? What if they were hallucinating? What if they wanted to see Jesus so badly that they believed it happened even though it really hadn’t? Thomas needed more than his friend’s word.

Eight days later, all the guys were together in a locked room. Jesus showed up.

Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” John  20:27

When Jesus saw Thomas, He didn’t condemn him or judge him. He knew Thomas needed proof and He gave Thomas what he needed.

Do you think God doesn’t know your thoughts? He knows every one of them. He knows you are wondering if He’s really there. He knows that you think He doesn’t see you suffering. He knows what you need. He wants to show His love for you. He will show His provision in your life, and He will prove that He is real in a way that is meaningful to you.

You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13

Thirsty Thursday: Forgiven

Tomorrow is Black Friday. I know the real title is “Good Friday,” but there is nothing good about the perfect Godman taking the punishment for every evil thing I’ve ever thought, said, or done. I am eternally thankful and grateful that Jesus died on the cross for me and for you. The good part about Jesus dying on the cross happens on the third day, the day He rose.

Easter is about forgiveness. Forgiveness for ignoring God. Forgiveness for treating our friends and family poorly. Forgiveness for EVERYTHING. Jesus forgave the people who put Him on the cross.

And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34

Instead of praying, God, these people are ignorant! Repay them for what they are doing to me!, Jesus prayed forgiveness.

What happens next is Hunny’s favorite part of the Bible.

Two criminals were being crucified at the same time as Jesus. One on the right and one on the left.

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at Him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And He said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23:39-43

One criminal believed that Jesus was the perfect Son of God. He believed in his heart that Jesus was Lord. He confessed it with his mouth. He was saved. That’s all it takes.