Thursday, December 31, 2009

Reflections on 2009

We are embarking on a new year. It’s kind of exciting to think about that. I like the whole idea of starting over, of beginning again. Not only do I look at the New Year as something to look forward to but I also like to use this as a time of reflection. It’s a time to also look back and recount the many ways that God has blessed me and my family. I like to remember the things He did in 2009 and discover what can be learned from all of it.

You see, to move forward I believe we need to also look back. In looking back, we are able to see what changes still need to be made…what relationships need more work…which priorities need to be revamped…habits that need breaking…steps in obedience that need to be taken and the list goes on.

Some people like to leave the past so far behind all they see is the dust. But we must never fail to see the lessons that can be learned from even the painful and difficult moments.

Being on Facebook, I have been noticing over the past couple of days a lot of different status messages about the past year and hope for the new one. I have read some statuses where 2009 was a very painful year. My prayer is that the pain of this past year will be used as a guide for the future. Everything that happens in our lives is for a reason. There is a purpose and a plan behind everything. It may have been a rough year but God was with us. You might have learned more about grace, appreciating life, and just who your real friends are. There is a lesson, even if it is a small nugget of one, found in every circumstance in life.

Use this time to reflect, recall and remember what God has done. For our family, I would definitely have to say that the highlight of 2009 was when we became foster parents. There were so many lessons learned through that experience. It would be a shame to consider the challenges of that time and dismiss them as just being something that happened, something that I can now tuck away and forget about. God doesn’t want us to forget! He wants us to take what we learned, what He has shown us, what He has done for us and use that to move forward in the greater things that are before us.

As you look forward to the New Year, take some time to also do some reflecting. Then be sure to thank God for all that He has done in the year 2009.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

You Are the Reason for the Season

Well Christmas is behind us. Or is it? Personally, I would like to keep the spirit that is part of Christmas going. There is something very sentimental, joyous and uplifting about this time of year. I love the whole idea of giving and showing love to others. I love time spent with family and friends. I love celebrating the birth of Christ. The feel of it all is something that we should carry with us throughout the entire year.

This Christmas I felt like God was showing me something new and it all started with a song. Music is very inspiring to me. I appreciate how God uses music to speak to our hearts.

The song is by Avalon and it’s called “We Are the Reason.” Apparently this isn’t a new song. A friend mentioned that Amy Grant sang a version of this but I don’t know it. I only recently heard this for the first time. Some of the lyrics are:

As little children
We would dream of Christmas morn'
Of all the gifts and toys
We knew we'd find
But we never realized
A baby born one blessed night
Gave us the greatest gift of our lives

We were the reason
That He gave His life
We were the reason
That He suffered and died
To a world that was lost
He gave all He could give
To show us the reason to live

We often hear during this time of year that “Jesus is the reason for the season.” Although that is very true, that we celebrate His birth this time of year, I felt like God was showing me through this song that WE are the reason for the season.

We must never forget that in celebrating the birth of Jesus, we have another reason to celebrate. You see, if there was never a need for us to be saved, Jesus would never have had to come to this earth. There would have been no reason for Him to leave His place in heaven and come to this earth, born as a baby in a manger.

The greatest gift that we ever received was Jesus Christ—His birth, His life, His death, His resurrection—it was all for us! But not only did He give us the gift of Him, He gives us other gifts. Sometimes these gifts are beautifully wrapped and when we open them, we squeal with delight. Other times our gifts come in plainly wrapped paper and when we open them, there is a sense of disappointment. We may be let down. This wasn’t what I asked for! This wasn’t what I wanted!

What gifts have you received this past year? Were you blessed in some way? Those are the gifts we joyfully open up. But did you receive other gifts, such as illness, death, or some type of loss whether it was in a job or in a relationship? Perhaps something you have been wanting for a long time still hasn’t come. Those are gifts we don’t ask for. But all the same, they are gifts from Jesus.

You see, sometimes we believe that gifts are supposed to be all good, the things we want. We become like children (or teens) at Christmastime that have this long list. They want everything on that list and if they don’t get it, they are going to be very disappointed!

Did you ever receive something you didn’t ask for but the truth was you really needed it? Those are some of the gifts that we receive from Jesus. God knows what we have need of. It is not always about what we want. The key is how we receive that gift. Are you going to stomp your feet, pout and proclaim, “This isn’t what I wanted!” Or will you obediently and joyfully accept what has been given you?

James 1:2 says to Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds… Sometimes our gifts are trials. Sometimes we receive many gifts of this kind. Are we going to try and exchange those gifts? Are we going to sulk about it? Are we going to become angry? Or will we joyfully accept and receive those gifts?

It’s the day after Christmas and many will be out exchanging their gifts. What are you going to do with the gifts that God has given you this season? What are you going to do about the greatest gift that you have ever received? For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23). YOU are the reason for this season. YOU are the reason that Jesus came to this earth. YOU are the reason we celebrate His birth. YOU are the recipient of the greatest gift of all.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Exchanging One Problem For More!

Abnormal behaviors may include:

• Aggressiveness
• Agitation
• Hallucinations
• Confusion
• In depressed patients, worsening of depression including risk of suicide may occur

Allergic reactions such as:

• Tongue or throat swelling occur rarely and may be fatal

Side affects may include:

• Unpleasant taste
• Headache
• Dizziness
• Morning drowsiness

These are actual conditions that could be associated with taking a certain product. I was watching television one day and this commercial came on. I was stunned by the lengthy list of possible side affects and behaviors that could occur upon taking this medication. The crazy thing about it is that this medicine was to help you sleep! All of this risk just to so you can get a good night’s sleep?! You mean there isn’t an easier way?

It sounded a bit crazy to me. After listing all of these possible affects the commercial offers a free 7-night trial. Oh yeah, sign me up for that!

I have often been amazed at some of the commercials I have seen for medication. If you want to cure your sleep problem, then you have to possibly create another problem. Doesn’t make much sense, does it?

Strangely enough, it made me think about marriage. You see, we have this “problem.” It may be that our marriage wasn’t quite what we thought it was going to be. We are pretty sure that we may have married the wrong one. We rationalize that we weren’t saved when we got married so surely there must an out. Or we think that God wouldn’t want us to be so unhappy. He surely must see the way our spouse is treating us! God would understand, right? So we take care of the problem by ending the marriage—or we stray from it. Yet, in our attempts to “cure” our problem, we have just created a whole list of new problems. The side affects are an endless long list of possibilities that just don’t seem worth it.

The problem is, it’s too late. We take the sleep medicine without reading the label and now we have gone from having trouble sleeping to some serious health problems. We bail on our marriage and now we have more than just a troubled or less than ideal marriage to contend with. We have some serious problems and consequences to deal with!

As a personal testimony, I was not saved when I married my husband. In fact, the biggest thing that drew me to him was the fact that my parents weren’t thrilled about my marrying him. I was always a bit rebellious so the more they pushed for it not to happen, the more I pushed to make it happen. Now don’t get me wrong, I did love him. But the foundation to our marriage was not based on “godly” love, it was on worldly love. It was pretty messed up from the day we said, “I do.”

For the first five years of marriage, we went through some pretty trying times. Everyone who knew us was convinced we were destined to divorce. In fact, I’m sure we both thought the same thing—there was absolutely no way we could make it. But then a year after our oldest son was born, I had an encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ and about a year later, my husband did, too. End of problems, right? Not on your life! In face, it seemed new problems erupted. Just because we had changed the course of our life did not mean everything was easy street.

We still had a lot of that old baggage to deal with. You see, it didn’t just go away. Some of it still creeps up even after the 18 years we have been married. But now we know how to deal with it. In fact, a couple of years ago we sought some marriage coaching because of some old issues that had never been dealt with. You see, marriage takes work. There will NEVER be a point in a marriage when you can sit back and say, “Whew! Glad all that’s over with…finally time to enjoy a problem-free marriage.” Life happens. Disappointments come. Circumstances arise. Problems rise up. New seasons in marriage only bring new problems. The great thing, however, is that we don’t have to deal with it by taking a path that is going to lead to other problems. We deal with it by remembering that A cord of three strands is not quickly broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12). Husband, wife, and the Lord Jesus Christ…with these three working together, it becomes a cord that CANNOT be broken! And guess what? NO SIDE AFFECTS!

Friday, December 11, 2009


It is very hard to swallow your pride,
to stay silent when you want to speak,
to walk with your head held high when all you feel is shame,
to not defend yourself,
to find the good in difficult and painful situations,
to forgive when you have been wronged,
to love the unlovable,
to trust in uncertain situations,
to hope when nothing is going right,
to believe when it seems impossible,
to be content when you are not where you want to be.

But the hardest thing of all is to go through all of this without the grace and love of the Lord Jesus Christ!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

How Do You Greet God?

Not that long ago I got home from work earlier than usual. Shortly after I said hi to the dogs and walked past my daughter’s bedroom, where I saw our cat lying in her bed, something really struck me. I thought about the different greetings I had received.

At the door, eagerly waiting for me was our Golden Retriever, Clover. She was so happy to see me. At times we literally think she is smiling, she is so happy. She was bouncing up and down, so anxious to get my attention and let me know that she was happy to see me home.

Then there was Coco, our pug. She was unable to greet me at the door because she had gotten herself into a little predicament. Every once-in-a-while this happens to her, where she ends up falling behind our couch and is stuck. She sits on top of our couch looking out the window but either she gets worked up seeing someone outside and loses her balance or she literally has fallen asleep on top of the couch and fallen off.

So there she was, stuck behind the couch and so I had to rescue her. She was very happy to see me but I think it was more about getting her unstuck. I have no idea how long she had been back there. But at that moment, I was her rescuer.

Then there was Scamper, the cat who was snoozing away on my daughter’s bed. She never bothers to greet any of us at the door. She comes to us when she has a need (food, water, a rub). She was just content to be where she was at.

So what does any of this have to do anything? Well the thought that struck me was how much we are like my pets when it comes to our relationship with God.
How do we “greet” God? Are we eager, ready to receive Him? Are we joyous about being in His presence? Or are we like my pug, just needing someone to rescue us, to get us out of our predicaments? Worse yet…do we not bother with God? But only when we feel it’s in our best interest or at our most convenient time?

I don’t know about you…but I would rather be like my dog Clover when it comes to greeting God. When I go to church tomorrow, when I open the Word, the next time I pray…I want it to be that I am so overcome with joy about God, that I can hardly contain myself. I don’t want to get myself so worked up about things that I fall away from God and then call on Him to rescue me. I don’t want to get sleepy in my walk with God and then when the going gets tough, I call on Him. And I most certainly don’t want to sit in a comfortable spot where I could care less about His presence.

How do you want to greet your God?