Christmas Traditions

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This blog was first posted on December 8, 2017.   Over the next 5 weeks as the holidays and my life transitions, I will be sharing some of my favorite Christmas time post.  I hope you will enjoy these past post over the holiday and the new year – 2019 will bring a new life and new post of God’s Blessings.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. 

Christmas Season

Christmas music is playing now everywhere I go and the lights are shining bright.  The season is here.  I want to enjoy more and stress less as Christmas day approaches.  I want to remember why we celebrate this season.  I always find myself this time of year thinking about the past. Thinking about Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with my girls.  The fun, the laughs, the surprises, and most importantly the family traditions we have created together and continue to create over the years.  I believe that traditions are important for families and can be past down to the next generation.  Paul reminds me of the importance of traditions in 2 Thessalonians 2:15, “So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.”

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Family Traditions

My family has a few old traditions like the mouse calendar countdown to Christmas.  Our girls would almost fight to get to move the mouse each day.  They loved for the one whose turn it was to forget, so later in the day the mouse would secretly be moved. This simple purchase so many years ago has brought so much joy to our family.  Even now my husband takes pictures of Harley moving the mouse and sends it our now grown daughters.  It is a special memory and tradition in our home, and one I hope continues in the homes of our daughters one day with their children.

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Jesus Birthday Cake

Another great tradition for our family is baking Jesus’s Birthday Cake and singing Happy Birthday to him on Christmas Day.  Today my girls bake the cake and decorate the cake together instead of me, but I enjoy watching them back home together in the kitchen having fun carrying on our family tradtion.  We still gather round the cake on Christmas afternoon and sing and eat his birthday cake!  This is definitely one of my favorite Christmas memories and traditions!  “And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” Luke 2:7

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Even the Cake Decorations are important to our family.

Sharing Traditions

As an educator, I could not help but wonder about the traditions of my students, so I asked them to share favorite Christmas traditions with me on a Chalkboard in the school library.  It is special to hear them talk about the little things their families do together that are important to them.  Here are a few from this years board:

  1. Enchiladas for Breakfast on Christmas morning.  Why?  Her family is from Guatemala and this is just something her grandmother has always done.
  2. Crab Legs for Christmas Eve.  This student was super excited to share how much the night means getting to eat the crab legs!
  3. Lights.  One student just shared how much she enjoys lights and lots of lights.  She and I have that in common.
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These are just a few shared on the board and in discussions with my students.

Over the years I have heard some wonderful traditions that families share.  Some I wish I had even thought of.  Some that brought a great laugh but was still so important to the student.

  1.  One tradition that I wish I had known and started is only receiving three gifts for Christmas.  “And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.”  Matthew 2:11
  2. Several years ago a student shared that on Christmas Eve they had to eat their meal with a different utensil from the kitchen.  This was a long family tradition and brought lots of laughter around the table.  Who knew what you would get?  How do you eat with a whisk?

The Gift of Jesus

Traditions are important in families and even school communities.  God shows us how to celebrate him Everywhere.  This is a like a tradition.  Praise the Lord in all that we do as Psalm 150:1-6 exclaims, “Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!…”

During this  Christmas season with traditions being shared and even created remembering the reason we have this season is the most important.  God loved us so much that he gave us the greatest gift of all.  He gave us His Son.  He gave us Life.  ““For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16.

Closing Verse: “Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you.”  1 Corinthians 11:2

Challenge: During this Christmas Season full of traditions don’t forget God’s traditions and gifts in your life.

Eve and Me

I am a Sinner

Yes, I am a sinner and have always known that, but it seems even harder when God reminds me of it such as with the verse that I mentioned last week in my post The Sinner in Me, “for all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God” Romans 3:23. So I fell short, I listened to the devil on my shoulder and not the angel.  I did not seek Christ as my example, so I found sin.  I allowed the devil to explain right and wrong when I knew the difference because James 4:17 tells me, “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”  

Choices

I knew I was wrong because I made the choice.  Two wrongs have never made a right, yet that was the path I chose.  A path that did not allow for God’s truth to be revealed but for the devil on my shoulder to reign supreme.  “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32 focuses me on the right path, the path of truth.  How did I allow this sin to override all the work I have been doing in my heart?  I have been striving to be a better person, yet I was lying to myself about who I was.  I was Eve in the garden.  Eve  according to Genesis 3:20 is the mother of all living things, “The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living”.  Yet, Eve found sin. 

Eve in the Garden

I was Eve in the garden listening to Satan and lying to Adam.  God reminded me of this example and placed it on my heart, so I study the scripture on Eve and pray that I will learn how Eve found grace in God’s eyes after bringing sin into the world.  “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.” 1 Timothy 2:14. Eve had consequences, yet I know God blessed her as the mother of man.  “And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, “God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.” Genesis 4:25.  Yet, her sin did bring consequences.  

I stand now in Eve’s shadow and pray that I can heal the wounds that I have opened and in the words of George Santanya, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” May I not repeat my past once again.  

Seeking Forgiveness

So how does one find healing and forgiveness in the midst of sin and hurt?  I seek it in scripture such as verses like 2 Corinthians 7:1, “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.”  Scriptures like this one should be written on my heart in order to find my way back to Christ.  I long for Christ!  “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me,” John 5: 39.

Closing Verse:  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9.

Challenge:  Seek Christ by listening to the Angel on your shoulder

The Sinner in Me

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Who Am I?

I have been writing for over a year now, but today I find myself in deep examination of who I am.  God has placed me between two verses of scripture.  I have had a glimpse into the darkness and ugliness inside of me, and I fear I am a hypocrite.  I study His Word and share His Love in my life, yet I hid from others.  I lie about who I am, I lie to those close to me by pretending I am someone I am not.

I Am a Sinner

Yes, I am a sinner and have always known that but when God placed this verse he fully reminded me of my sinfulness before I had to face my sins.

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Funny, I shared this verse out of social media because it touched me and had lots of responses and reactions to it which now is just a reminder to me of our sinful nature and how haunting it is just as God opened my eyes and exposed my own.  I am thankful and grateful for his love in opening my eyes, but I so struggle with the Why?  Why? am I hiding my sins knowing the pain it could cause.  How did I let this happen?

A Simple Prayer

I pray that God will some how bless these words from a sinner.  I don’t usually stop and pray in my writing, but I feel strongly that I need to stop and pray now.

Father, give me the wisdom and strength to shine light on my sinful nature, my lies, and the pain I have caused.  Bless these words that from within healing will come and that the truth will cleanse and make whole that which is broken through your grace and love.  Amen

Saying this prayer brings the verse that God brought to me today:

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I cling to this verse now as a goal for my life.  I am headed toward this cleansing by publicly and personally committing to cleaning myself of my flesh and moving toward more holiness.  A path I should have already taken in my life.  I will walk to this scripture knowing that God promises in Romans 8:28, “We know that God is always at work for the good of everyone who loves him.  They are the ones God has chosen for his purpose,”  I cling to these words that I am a child of God and long for Christ in my heart.

Ethics

Oh the irony of sitting in a class on Ethics and reading this quote today by George Santayana, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  A stabbing reminder of my ethical sins.  As I become overwhelmed and humbled by my unworthiness, I can only fall before the throne and beg for forgiveness for my reckless sins and the hurt these have caused.  I am hiding behind God instead of him living within me.  The irony continues to drip in this class as I examine my own ethics. How have I been fraudulent to those around me?  The words are painful but necessary.  I see a sinner and liar in the mirror today but tomorrow I want to see Christ.  The only way to see Christ is to seek the truth.  As I close I want to share something I really learned in this class today and that is not to just apply the Golden Rule from Matthew 7:12, “Treat others as you want them to treat you.”  but maybe just maybe we should treat others the way they need to be treated in that moment.  I need to stop and see how my sins affect others around me.  Then maybe then I can truly call myself a Christian and feel like one.  Sin is hard to bear.

Closing:  (Prayer)  My Father, may you place the words of truth on my lips and guide me to share my sin of not choosing to follow you but my flesh.  Cleanse me and bring Your Glory.  In Jesus Name I pray.  Amen

Challenge:  When the devil and the angel sit on your shoulders, listen to the angel – Listen to God.

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Jeremiah 29:11.

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This verse has always been one of my favorite verses and now I am leaning on these words from God more than ever as a new season of my life is beginning.  I look back over so many years of my life, so many good times, and I know that this will just be another great chapter.  As always a new season brings apprehension and uncertainty.  As I sit at this juncture and look back at the past chapters and how God has worked then I know that he will walk with me once again through this time.  “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105.

Walking back through God’s plan for my life 

 

I guess my adult story begins with meeting my husband.  God placed a great man in my life.  As I continue to walk through life with him, I pray that I am the mate that he always wanted because I am more than thankful and blessed to have him.  Our story began in May of 1989.   “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24.  When we reflect on this time in our life now, we wonder how we made it.  Sometimes being young makes you more resilient.  Although we struggled as a young couple, we endured and entered that next phase of our life in November of 1991 when our first daughter came into our lives, and again in November of 1994 with the birth of our second daughter.

 

Babies

November 1991 and 1994 our family grew and changed me so that I was no longer just a wife but a mother.  God blessed us with two beautiful daughters who to this day we are so proud of.  They are now strong independent woman.  “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 2:6.  Learning to be parents as a young married couple is both challenging and rewarding.  We learned many years later the reward was they left our home while we were still young enough to enjoy life and each other.  Life continued to change as they grew up, entered school, played sports, danced, etc.  While they were still young, I took the steps to receive my Masters in Library and Information Studies.  Leaving the classroom for the school library was a big step but one that has made my career a special place.  I have loved my job.

Next Phase for Everyone

Sometimes their busy lives consumed ours and as they entered high school, my husband and I realized we needed to find each other again.  No regrets on our children and our time with them, but we needed to reconnect.  This became easier as they were older and heading toward high school graduation.  During this time we added Harley to our lives, a new puppy.  Our daughters had lived on a farm with dogs and horses, but never experienced a puppy.  We all fell in love fast!

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Each transition in losing a child from the home was bittersweet, but we reveled in watching them soar on God’s wings.  “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.” Isaiah 40:31.  High school graduation came for them both and off to college they went.  Both in different directions to different types of schools.

 

We began enjoying the life as empty nesters and learning to enjoy each other again.  This chapter of our lives was watching our daughters grow into adults and soar while reconnecting with each other and enjoying life to the fullest!  College graduations came and went.

 

 

Our oldest daughter married and entered graduate school while working full time.  Our youngest entered graduate school working full time and Mom and Dad are just not as needed in their lives anymore.

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Next Step

Now, here I stand again at a major life change and a new chapter to write.  But as I wrote these few memories and dug out these pictures, I was able to revisit so many memories from horses to motorcycles, Myrtle Beach to the Caribbean trips, and all those special memories from Christmas to soccer tournaments and golf state qualifications.  We have had so much fun.  Then the memories of my career.  Remember above I spoke of entering the school library and becoming a school librarian.  This career is deeply planted in my soul.   I love the kids, literacy, research, and the learning that happens in a school library, but it is time for me to write another chapter of my life.  I am ready to  hand over these reigns and enjoy day to day life with my husband.

I am planning retirement….

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Yes, I am excited about the future, but torn with the deep love of my job.  I didn’t know it would be this hard to let go, so I lean on my verse again.  For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Jeremiah 29:11.   I know that God has plans for my future and has already written these chapters.  I trust in him as I walk this new path.  I trust in him as I venture into the unknown.  I trust in him to show me his glory and that I might have opportunities on this new adventure to share his love and grace with others.

Closing Verse:

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Challenge:  God knows the plans he has for you.  Walk in his Word.

The Tongue & Apologies

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Rotten Fruit

How many times have my words cut someone down?  I can honestly say that I am not sure I really want to know the result of my tongue and the lack of my apologies.  Sometimes it is hard to stop and think about the wrongs I have done until I feel the impact of someone’s tongue toward me.  When I eat the fruits of someone else’s tongue, I only taste the fruit of my own.  I have to stop and linger over the rotten fruit that I have produced from my own lips.  “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” Proverbs 18:21.

The Tongue

I believe my biggest sins sometime come straight out of my mouth.  The tongue is such a work of evil that I pray constantly for the Lord to help me bring mine under control.    The Word tells me the only way to keep my tongue in check and I know that I alone can not do that without God working in me, so that my tongue brings more glorification than hurt to those around me.  “Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.” Proverbs 21:23.

Apologies

I want my tongue to bring healing and not hurt.  I want my tongue to spread God’s Love not the Devil’s hate.  I want my tongue to show love in all that comes forth, but I fail at this everyday.  When I fail I must sow the seeds of forgiveness by asking for forgiveness and giving it when I am hurt.  I must apologize and bring healing with my tongue when I bring hurt with my words are swords of hurt.  “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18.  As I pray and seek God’s word to help keep my tongue in check, I turn my eyes to Jesus and know that following his example is the way to the Father.  “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6.

 

 

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Closing Verse:  “For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit;”  1 Peter 3:10.

Challenge: Seek the Lord in your words.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good Morning, Lord

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Mornings

Recently, I read a blog post from IBelieve.com about praying before getting your day started and before getting caught up in the day.  Making that connection with the Father first thing in the morning.  After reading this blog, I thought about my mornings because I try to connect with the Lord before I start each day.  I strongly feel taking this time makes me a better overall person, wife, mother, friend, and employee because I started  my day working on my relationship with my Lord and Savior.

How does my morning begin?  I start each morning not just with a workout and walking my dog, but by spending time in God’s Word.  I open my day with devotion and prayer.  I stop and thank him for all the good he has given me in my life.  I count my blessings.  I find joy in the morning which carries me through the rest of my day.  This time lifts me up for the rest of my day. “Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.”  Psalm 143:8.  As I was writing this blog post, I ran across this picture on Facebook.  This is another reminder of why we should begin our day with the Lord and thank him for his blessings.

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Spreading Love

My mornings have changed over the years, sometimes I have been real exact in my time and other times I let the Lord lead the way.  There have been times when I focused on others in prayer and times when I have focused on my needs from the Lord.  There have been times where my devotions have been guided and other times where I just opened his word.  I have always tried to find his love for my life and then spread his love to others.  The only way I have found to make this impactful in my life is to begin the day with Him.  “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days” Psalm 90:14.

 

Closing Verse:  Lamentations 3:22-23

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Challenge: How do you begin your day?  Consider beginning your day with the Lord. and see the way he will bless you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Anthem

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The Star-Spangled Banner

O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight
O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there,
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

September

This month I remembered 9/11 and as I remembered such a difficult time in our nation’s history, I started thinking about the national anthem.  As the national anthem of the United States is making headlines over and over but not in the way, Francis Scott Key ever intended when he penned the words so many years ago on Sept. 13, 1814.  As he witnessed the attack at Baltimore’s Fort McHenry and then raising of the US flag to show their victory over British forces in the War of 1812.  He penned these words after a night full of fighting and years later our country took these words as our national anthem.  These words for me represent pride for my country and respect for the men and women who have fought and died to protect my rights and freedoms.  As I ponder the Star-Spangled Banner and its words, I see a connection to Christ.

Connection to Christ

Christ who paid the ultimate price and sacrificed himself for me, so that I might live eternally with my Father in heaven.  “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,” 1 Peter 3:18.  This sacrifice reminds me to not just be proud to be a American but proud to be a Christian.  “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”  Matthew 23:12.  As a proud Christian, I must show myself as a humble servant not one who stand and looks down on others.  I must live by example so that other may find Christ and have the same sense of pride in their relationship with him.  “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.” 1 Peter 2:21.

Proud American

So just as I show by living for Christ, I must stand as an American that others can see my pride in this country.   “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”” John 8:32.  It is sad to see so many in this country state so firmly their disgust for a country that was founded to protect their rights.  Sometimes I even wonder where I am living and long for my eternal home.  “But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.” Hebrews 11:16.  As long as I am here, I will choose love not hate.  “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.” 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8.

 

Closing Verse:  “Let all that you do be done in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:14.

Challenge:  Stand up for Christ in your life! Live as an example for others of his sacrifice.

A Favorite Rendition:

Did you know?  The song has 4 verses.

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream,
’Tis the star-spangled banner – O long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a Country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with vict’ry and peace may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the power that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto – “In God is our trust,”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Eye of the Storm

Peace in the midst of the Storm

Today, I sit and wait on Florence to arrive at my home. She has ravaged the NC coastline and kept me in the dark for days about my daughters well-being.  Today, though, I received good news for a change.  All is well where she is and her home is still standing with minimal damage.  Praise God!  Watching the rain and wind now brings me little anxiety as compared to the past few days.  God has answered prayer.  “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:24.  As I praised God this morning, I just felt this song in my heart.  I needed to hear it and sing it.  The emotions of the last few days are wrapped up in these words by Ryan Stevenson.

When the solid ground is falling out
From underneath my feet
Between the black skies and my red eyes
I can barely see
When I realize I’ve been let down by my friends and my family
I can hear the rain reminding me

In the eye of the storm, You remain in control
In the middle of the war, You guard my soul
You alone are the anchor, when my sails are torn
Your love surrounds, me in the eye of the storm

I know that as I watched, waited, and cried these last few days, God was with me and he comforted me and cared for me.  “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4.  He loved me like no one could in such circumstances.  He was my rock and anchor when I felt like everything was out of control.   He provided my solid ground.

Faith in the midst of the Storm

This past week when I felt out of control and helpless, it was my faith that kept me going through the storm.  “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1.  Walking in my faith has been the strength God has provided as I waited and waited for word of the storms impact.

When my hopes and dreams are far from me
And I’m running out of faith
I see the future I pictured slowly fade away
And when the tears of pain and heartache are pouring down my face
I find my peace in Jesus’ name

In the eye of the storm, You remain in control
In the middle of the war, You guard my soul
You alone are the anchor, when my sails are torn
Your love surrounds me, in the eye of the storm

Faith is all that can bring peace in the midst of storms in life.  Whether the storm is real or just storms of life the only peace can be found in faith.  “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Romans 5:1.  Guard your soul with the word of God.

Trust in the Lord

So this storm has taught me to trust more in the Lord.  To give my worries to him and stand in his strength and faith.  He is my protector.  “He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.” Psalm 91:4.  I will hid under his wings through the storm.


When they let me go and I just don’t know
How I’m gonna make ends meet
I did my best
Now I’m scared to death
That we might lose everything

And when a sickness takes my child away
And there’s nothing I can do
My only hope is to trust You
I trust You LORD

In the eye of the storm, You remain in control
In the middle of the war, You guard my soul
You alone are the anchor, when my sails are torn
Your love surrounds me, in the eye of the storm

In the eye of the storm, You remain in control
In the middle of the war, You guard my soul
You alone are the anchor when my sails are torn
Your love surrounds me in the eye of the storm

Closing Verse:  “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.”  2 Thessalonians 3:16.

Challenge: Find refuge and peace in the eye of the storm under your Father’s wings where peace and faith live.

 

 

Visit Ryan’s website: http://smarturl.it/ryanstevenson

Connect with Ryan Stevenson:

Facebook: http://smarturl.it/ryanfacebook

Instagram: http://smarturl.it/ryansinstagram

Twitter: http://smarturl.it/ryanstwitter

 

 

Good, Good Father

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Summer is Almost Over

As life starts to get busy and summer is coming to a close, I think about the many different openings to school I have had over the past 28 years.  I have always loved watching the excitement of students, even my own, as a new school year begins.  Everyone is ready and excited about the new year, new experiences, and new relationships.  As students begin a new adventure in a new classroom, the excitement of searching for answers and writing a new chapter of their lives seems reachable as a new school year begins.  It gets me excited about what is to come.  For some reason this experience brought the song Good, Good Father by Chris Tomlin to my mind.  I guess just watching students at the middle school level searching for who they are and who they want to be just reminded me that God is where all the answers really lie.  “But test everything; hold fast what is good.”  1 Thessalonians 5:21.

I’ve heard a thousand stories of what they think you’re like
But I’ve heard the tender whispers of love in the dead of night
And you tell me that you’re pleased
And that I’m never alone

Searching for Answers

I love watching middle schoolers search for their identities and acceptance.  This can be such a hard time for so many and sets them down particular paths in their lives.  I pray for the students that I get the honor of building relationships with each year.  I pray that God will somehow shine through me and they will find hope and strength in who they are.  These students are seeking so many answers for their future.  I pray that those who need a Good, Good Father may find the peace of God sooner in their lives.  “May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.”  Jude 1:2.

I’ve seen many searching for answers far and wide
But I know we’re all searching
For answers only you provide
‘Cause you know just what we need
Before we say a word

You’re a good good father
It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are
And I’m loved by you                                                                                                                     It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am

Love Speaks Louder Than Words

As this new year begins and students enter my life one more time, I pray that I will bring love and peace to their lives.  That they will see a deep love within me that they will want to seek for themselves.  I pray that I have the opportunity to plant seeds and share his love.  As I watch students walk through a day with little love in their eyes and in their lives, I know that I might be the only person to call their name or smile at them that day.  This is a reality for many children.
1 John 3:1 “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”
Oh, it’s love so undeniable
I, I can hardly speak
Peace so unexplainable
I, I can hardly think
As you call me deeper still
As you call me deeper still
Into love, love, love
Because you are perfect in all of your way                                                                                You are perfect in all of your ways                                                                                                You are perfect in all of your ways to us
You’re a good good father
It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are
And I’m loved by you
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am
Closing Verse:
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Challenge:  Share the Good Father with those who need Him.

 

 

Final- Searching For a New Heart

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Renewed Heart

God knows our heart, but it is still our heart.  Scripture does provide me with so much hope for a heart that can be renewed!   Reading how God works in our lives provides so much hope and comfort to me, especially in a world full of hate and evil where our hearts can run wild. Watching this horrific tragedies that unfold around the world make me thankful that I am putting my heart in God’s hands.  I fear the evil that it can bring.  I honestly wish the news was filled with the stories of heroes and their compassion which touch my heart and soul.  God is Good!

God Searches the Heart

I pray for a heart like Lydia from Thyatira.  Acts 16:14 tells us of her heart, “One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God.  The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.”  My prayer is for an open heart to hear God!  God opens hearts and hardens hearts scripture has revealed, so I pray for an open heart from God.   As I have said earlier the heart leads and shows what is important in our lives.  Just thinking of those in our society with hate in their heart should stop us all in our shoes.  Where are their hearts?  God has searched them just as he has ours.  1 Chronicles 28: 9 reads, “And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought.”  I am shaking.  Be Still.  Lord please open my heart and make it yours to love and understand.

God Knows the Heart

I want to pass the “heart test” found in Jeremiah 12:3 “But you, O Lord, know me; you see me, and test my heart toward you…”  I want to pass that test for the Lord.  I know there is much work to be done in order for me to pass the test of God searching my heart, but I long of that day.  The Lord’s testing is sometimes difficult, but he always knows!  He knows where my heart will take me.  He knows me through my hearts.  Psalms 44:21 reveals this secret to us; “would not God discover this? For he knows the secrets of the heart.”  I want God to look at my heart and see Jesus holding it in the palm of his hand.  I want my heart to lead me to Jesus.

God’s Light Shines

2 Corinthians 4:6 shares with us the light God wants to shine from our hearts.  “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”  I want to be enlightened by my Father, and for that to happen I must also be patient and willing to wait on my Lord.  The Lord has work to do in my heart and I must trust that work.  In Psalms 27: 14 it is written, “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”  I am waiting Lord and will be still and follow my heart that I am giving to you.  I will wait Lord in order that Jesus has prepared my heart for you.  I have opened my heart to be yours…..

 

Closing Verse: 1 Thessalonians 3:13, “so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.”

 Challenge: May God’s will be done in my heart and yours!

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