Odd Man Out

Feeling Excluded

Recently, I had that feeling that I was the odd man out.  That feeling that everything happened around you but you failed to see it and be included.  I admit that I felt a little pain in my heart, but I look to see what God is teaching me from this moment in my life, and what is to be learned. God has felt this isolation from his people.  Jeremiah 2: 1-5 tells this story,

” The word of the LORD came to me, saying,  “Go and proclaim in the

hearing of Jerusalem, Thus says the LORD, “I remember the devotion of your

youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me in the wilderness, in a land

not sown.  Israel was holy to the LORD, the firstfruits of his harvest. All who

ate of it incurred guilt; disaster came upon them, declares the LORD.” Hear the

word of the LORD, O house of Jacob, and all the clans of the house of Israel.

Thus says the LORD:  “What wrong did your fathers find in me that they went

far from me, and went after worthlessness, and became worthless?”

I pray to seek the devotion of my Father and not the devotion that always let me down.  God will never let me down, and this is the lesson to be learned.  I return to my relationship with my Father where I am safe and find his full love and devotion because he loved me enough to save me from myself – my sin.  “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”, Romans 5:8.

Learning from Exclusion

The empty feeling that I had during and even after this experience eats at my heart.  Why?  I continue to ask myself why did I believe and trust in man over my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Deep down I know it was not intentional, so I have to stop myself and realize something even deeper.  When have I done this to others?  Have I made someone feel excluded?  Did I put myself before others so much that I overlooked someone around me and their feelings.  I remember the words in Philippians 2: 3-4, “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”  I know that my hurt is just a result of the hurt I have given others around me.  So as my own heart is aching, I realize that I must love others.  I must live the words of John 13: 34, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”

The Lesson

As I study his word and search for his lesson, I begin to wonder if this experience where I found hurt was really God showing me how to be a Christian.  How to separate myself?  How to be an example in a world that is different from me?  Sometimes standing alone is what Christians are called to do and that is ok.  “Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.”  1 Peter 4:16.  So even as I rise from this lesson stronger and I pray with eyes opened more to the world around me, may I know I have received the ultimate gift from God in a Savior, Jesus Christ.  ““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:  When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.  Psalm 34:17-20.

Challenge:  Cry out to the Lord when you are walking a path of troubles and the Lord will listen, teach, deliver, and love you.

Uncategorized

Seeing Sin Through Rose-Colored Glasses

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Life of Sin

I know I want to write this post but my mind and fingers just can’t find the words to type what I feel deep down inside.  Although, I know that I am born a sinner and will die a sinner, as a Christian, I do strive to be an example of Christ’s love to others.  This means not letting sin shine from me but allowing Christ to shine the brightest in my life. But, sometimes sin can really bring me down into the trenches of life.  I know that my flesh is sin as Galatians 5: 19-21 states, “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”  I want to shine, but I find myself buried in the guilt of sin, and in need of some time with my Father to seek myself again.  To know that I am loved and forgiven.  This is hard when I feel like unconditional love should not belong to me anymore.  I don’t want to deceive myself, but recognize my sins, cleanse myself, and as 1 John 1: 8-10 reads not believe that I am not a sinner, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

Rose-Colored Sin  

Knowing that I am a sinner and a Christian, my eyes are open to my sin.  I can not be a Christian who appears better than others, who does not understand others, and one who believes less of others.  Galatians 5:16 reminds me, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”  I know that I am blessed to walk with my Lord and Savior through life and I pray that I am an example to others, but I can’t do that if I am looking at my sin through rose-colored glasses.  I can’t compare my sin and believe it is less than others.  Sin is sin.  My sin can not be sugar-coated or viewed differently than others.  “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”  Romans 3:23.  I know wearing rose-colored glasses to look at my life is easy to do.  I want to see how good I am and not the sin.  It is easy to compare myself to others and believe the lie that I am better, but I know deep inside that I am not.

God’s Word

So what does one do, dig and dig and dig into God’s Word and know that He is my Father.  Yes, He is a Father of wrath, but his is also a Father of forgiveness.  God provided me a gift through the sacrifice of his Son.  A gift of forgiveness that I can not even fathom.  Just thinking of this sacrifice makes my eyes water and tears fall.  “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 6:23.  and “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.  I search scripture to cleanse myself of unrighteousness and seek the comfort of His word for forgiveness.  I find myself on my knees with head bowed praying and begging for the forgiveness and love of my Father.  Thank you Lord for your gift, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:16-17

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Sin Scriptures for Study

Closing Verse:  “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”  James 4:17

Challenge: Look closely at your life and ensure that you don’t perceive your sin differently from others.  Sin is Sin and the rose-colored glasses will not change it in God’s eyes.

My Linus Blanket

Conversation with Friends

Recently, while hanging out with friends and having some life conversations that lead to one discussion about what is one thing that could make our life better right now, and second what are the security blankets that keep us from really reaching for our dreams and making our life better.  While eating wings, watching some football and having this discussion my friend turned and said this may be your next post… and so here I am exploring the path of God’s plan for me and how I hold onto my security blanket that can hinder God’s plan for my life.  My challenge to you as you continue to read is to think about what your security blanket is? What hinders you from living out God’s plan for your life.

Security Blankets 

Everyone remembers Linus in the Charlie Brown comic series.  He carries his blanket without fail everywhere he goes.  He doesn’t believe that he can do anything without the blanket.  Many times it appears the blanket gets in the way of what Linus wants to do but without fail he will only continue on within the safety of his blanket in tow.  When this question was asked in the conversation, I knew my security blanket was the safety of my hometown, where I have always lived,  and my career.   Over the years I have enjoyed lots of adventures in my life, but my desire to live a daily adventure, although great, is hindered by the safety of home.  I need to make my home within the Lord like Psalm 16:8 reads, “I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.”

Drop the Blanket

Over the Christmas holidays, I read an article about the only time Linus drops his security blanket is in A Charlie Brown Christmas when he begins to tell the Christmas Story and the real meaning of Christmas with these words, ‘And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”, Luke 2:10-11.  Linus found God’s security in his word – “Fear Not” and he no longer needed to hold the blanket.  I hear God’s word calling me to “Fear Not” and take the steps to release my security blanket and “Live Life”.  “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:14.  Go and find the beauty of his world, and explore the handiwork of his hands.  “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:16-17.  Go and watch the dolphins jump and the sun set over the water.  Go and listen to the waves crash and smell the sand and salt.  Go and experience the simple and slower life that I hear him calling me towards.  I will need to seek God’s strength to drop the blanket.  The strength found in 1 Chronicles 16:11, “Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!”

Fear Not

I must walk in the words that Linus spoke when he dropped his blanket, “Fear Not, and know that God is with me.  As I open my eyes to my security blanket and seek the strength of the Lord to fulfill my life and allow me to let go and enjoy!   Psalm 34:4 encourages me to seek the Lord, “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.”  I have to unwrap myself from my blanket in order to feel the freedom that Christ can provide for my future.  I seek the freedom of John 8:36, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

Closing Verse: “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

Challenge:  Find your blanket and let It go.

Charlie Brown pictures are courtesy of pixabay.com

A Simple Life

Shining God’s Light

Sharing Christ’s Love

As the new year is beginning, I do want to look toward the future with a brighter lighter.  This new year, I am beginning my day with three strategic ways to encourage myself so that I might be a better example of Christ’s Love for others.  I don’t usually plug specific apps or websites, but I am today, yet I challenge you to find what works and motivates you to get moving everyday for the Lord.  I know for me it can sometimes be hard to get going and put others above myself.  I want others to Christ in me.  I want to serve others not myself!  I want to be the catalyst that brings out the best in others.  Here is how I am starting each day in 2018. Let’s look at one day of my new year and what the Lord delivers to me.  Here was Tuesday January 9, 2018.

KLOVE Radio

I listen to KLOVE radio each morning as I drive to work.  This is a time of worship and prayer for me.  Although it is a short ride each morning, this time is significant for me each day.  Sometimes it is the music as I have written about before and then again it could be a story that is shared, but many times I end my ride in tears with the Lord.  Before I even begin this ride to work, I wake each morning and open my email to read the KLOVE verse of the day.  This past Tuesday the verse read, “This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you:  God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all.”  1 John 1:5 (NLT).  As I began the morning reading this verse, I listened to Jesus sharing his Father and mine with me that God is the light in my life and darkness is not found with God.  I set my eyes on the sharing the light of God.  I challenge you to bring KLOVE into your life just a little each day if you don’t listen to their station now.

Shine Text App

Since the New Year, I read about this app that delivers motivational text to you each day.  I was intrigued and decided to sign up.  There is also an app so you can choose how the text is delivered either through text or notification from the app.  I have really been inspired by these text that I receive right after I get to work each morning.  You get to choose the time that your text is delivered.  I like to get to work, get a cup of coffee, begin my day greeting students, and then receive some more motivation from this text before the day really gets rolling.  On Tuesday, I received this text: ” “Anything we do takes time away from something *else* we could have done, Allie.  Rather than try to tackle *all the things* today, prioritize the moves that matter most.”  Powerful!  What a great reminder as I get my day started to make smart decisions and prioritize my day.  I need to choose what matters for the day and accomplish these task well.  It is better to a job I can be proud of then just to do a long list of stuff!.  What Matters Most Today?!  Another Challenge, if you need some motivation in your life then check out Shine Text.

YOUVersion Bible – Daily Bible Verse

Just before lunch around 11am, I received my Verse of the Day from YouVersion Bible app.  Getting one more bible verse in the late morning hours of my day keeps on the path of remaining focused on the Lord as I walk through my day.  Just another reminder that I want to be an example of Christ in the lives of those around me.  The verse I received on Tuesday:  “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”  Proverbs 16:3 ESV.  On this day this is a perfect verse as I reflect on my work and how I can continue to do what is best for the students and staff that I serve.

Making Connections

As I reflect on the gifts that the Lord gave me just on this past Tuesday, I realize that there are connections.  I began with a reminder that God is the light in my life, followed by the motivation to focus on what matters most in my life that day, and then to commit the work that I am doing to the Lord.  How can I not have a great day each and every day if just Tuesday was this motivational and reflective for my life.  I challenge you to make some connections for your life.  Find some motivation for you each day that will bring you closer to the Lord and show you what is important for your life.  Have a Great New Year in 2018!

Closing Verse:  Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

Challenge:  Find Inspiration and Motivation for you life each and every day.  Don’t overlook the little ways God can speak to you.

 

Be Awesome! Be You!

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New Year Resolutions

As the new year begins, so many of us make resolutions or promises to ourselves and our futures.  A resolution according to the Google Dictionary, is a firm decision to do or not to do something.  Many of these resolutions go unfulfilled each year, so I am struggling as this new begins to decide whether I will make any promises to myself for 2018.  Or, I could just choose to be happy, grow closer to my Father, and just Be Me!.  I am leaning toward the latter decision, but I stumble at Being Me because how easy will it be for me to actually be me.  Can I even be true to myself?

The Scale

I have to stop and be honest here.  Coming out of the New Year, I look in the mirror and struggle to find love for myself.  The holidays are not always physically nice to me, and especially on the scales, but as I work to make a decision on a resolution, keeping the ultimate resolution of weight loss also on my mind, I found this quote…

To be honest, after reading the quote, I added the Be Awesome, Be You, it seemed like a perfect ending.  I  believe that this quote means that if I can Be Me, then I will not have anything to really worry about from the scale.  If I put Me first, and work to bring deeper meaning to my life then the scale will take care of itself.  I know I need to be conscious of it, but not driven by it.  I need to stop the worry of the scale and Be Me!

Choosing Happiness

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4 is a direct reminder to seek the Lord to find the happiness that my heart desires.  2018 will be a year for me to really work harder on my relationship with the Lord.  I seek his love and path for me, and will spend more time praying for his guidance in my life.

Relationship with the Lord

James 4:8 reads, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”  This is a promise from scripture that if I want deeper relationship with the Lord then God will meet me.  1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Pray without ceasing”.  As I enter the new year I will pray. My constant prayer will be to build a stronger relationship with the Lord and the promise of Jeremiah 29:11 will be more fruitful, “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.”

New Me

This will be my new year resolution for 2018.  I will seek who I am.  I will stop allowing society and others to drive and determine who I am, but will turn inward and dig to find the scattered pieces inside that make me – ME.  I will seek the presence of my Father even more.  I pray for his guidance in walking a path of self discovery.  I have let the world create Me and somewhere along the way, I believe pieces of me have been lost. Psalm 139:13-14 reminds me that God is my creator, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”  God knows my heart and he created me, so together we can find ME.  I believe the beginning of a new year is about reflection and moving forward and that is the path I am going to choose to Be Me.  Happy New Year.

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Closing Verse:  You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.  Song of Solomon 4:7

Challenge:  Seek Yourself!  Be Awesome!  Be You!

 

Voice of Truth

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Voice Of Truth – Casting Crowns

Oh what I would do to have
The kind of faith it takes
To climb out of this boat I’m in
Onto the crashing waves

To step out of my comfort zone
Into the realm of the unknown where Jesus is
And He’s holding out His hand

As 2017 is coming to a close and I am beginning to look toward the future and what 2018 will bring.  As I plan and look at 2018 and my future, I realize that I am going to need the faith of Peter to take the steps to make my dreams come true.   I need the faith he had to step out of the boat and know that Jesus had him.  I need this faith when I step out to know that I will walk and not fall.  “He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. ” Matthew 14:29.

But the waves are calling out my name
And they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times
I’ve tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me
Time and time again. ‘Boy, you’ll never win!’
‘You’ll never win!’

Although, I have failed many times in my life and know that feeling sometimes the fear of failure and how it will affect your life is just too daunting to take the steps out of the boat.  Yet, I know that God is with me and holding me as I make that leap onto the water.  I Corinthians 10:13 makes this promise, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”  Temptation or failure.  God will be there and not allow more than I can handle.
Chorus:
But the voice of truth tells me a different story
The voice of truth says, ‘Do not be afraid!’
The voice of truth says, ‘This is for My glory’
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth

If I stop and listen, I hear God’s voice telling me to write a new and different story in my life.  I hear him telling me to reach and grab a dream.  As long as I have God first he will be glorified.  I know that big changes bring great fear, but I know that God is near.  I believe that God will glorify this decision that he can find a way for him to be glorified in any and all that I do.  “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”, 1 Corinthians 10:31.

Oh what I would do to have
The kind of strength it takes to stand before a giant
With just a sling and a stone
Surrounded by the sound of a thousand warriors
Shaking in their armor
Wishing they’d have had the strength to stand

But the giant’s calling out my name
And he laughs at me
Reminding me of all the times
I’ve tried before and failed
The giant keeps on telling me
Time and time again. ‘Boy you’ll never win!’
‘You’ll never win!’

As 2018 approaches, I hear the giant laughing, but I feel the strength of God telling me that I can take the next step in my life.  I can be David before what seems like Goliath and conquer!  “Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” 1 Samuel 17:45.  I walk in the name of the Lord and he will be by my side, so I look to the future may God show me his path that I might glorify him.
But the stone was just the right size
To put the giant on the ground
And the waves they don’t seem so high
From on top of them lookin’ down
I will soar with the wings of eagles
When I stop and listen to the sound of Jesus
Singing over me

I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth

I choose to listen and believe the voice of truth, the voice of my Father and his son Jesus Christ.  I will not let my heart worry, but know that God is in control.  “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. John 14:1.  I will find my strength in the Lord on his 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.

Closing Verse: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1

Challenge:  Find Faith, and listen for the Voice of God.

 

The Empty Manger

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The Empty Manger

As I look down into the manger this Christmas season, I want to remember the simple birth of my Savior.  The manger was empty so that Jesus could fill it with His glory so many years ago.  “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  As I remember that empty manager, I see my life as the manager and I pray that my advocate, Jesus, will fill my life simply, yet fully as He filled the manger. This simple manger when filled with Christ became a beacon that called many to seek him so long ago just as we continue to seek him today.  His simple beginnings remind me that He has walked my path and knows my struggle.  As I struggle, I pray that God will fill the manger of my life, and He will take root in my heart.

Heart of the Manger

Prior to Christ’s birth the manger was empty and man struggled with his sin and evil heart.  God knew that only the sacrifice of His Son would bring salvation to His people. How can we plant the seed of Christmas in our hearts and weed the evil from within?  During this Christmas season, I hope that we all are reminded that we need Christ in our hearts.  My desire is not for the heart of Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” but for the heart that God creates in Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”  Christ in my heart is a promised blessing from Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”  I pray that blessing for all this Christmas season.  “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”  Matthew 7:7.

Seeking the Manager

The first Christmas when Christ was born the heavens rejoiced and many sought to find the manger and worship this Miracle Baby.  The shepherds were in the fields with their flock that night so long ago when the heavens opened and the angels brought the great news to them. “When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.  And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.” Luke 2:15-16.

The wise men in Matthew 2:2  saw the star (link), “For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” They prepared for the journey to worship the Child in the manager.  “After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was.  When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.”  Matthew 2: 9-10.  Following the star the wise men found the child, “and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.”  Matthew 2:11.

Gift of the Manger

I often ponder the wise men and their travels to see the Christ child.  I wonder about the gifts they brought.  I have researched and studied the meaning of each, but I guess I have often been drawn to why they brought three.  What does this mean?  The number three can be found throughout scripture, but my curiosity was more interested in why the wisemen brought only three gifts and did these gifts somehow symbolize the gifts Christ’s birth brought to man.  As I searched and read scripture, I found these verses in 1 John 5:6-8 that explain the three gifts Christ birth brought, “This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.” Christ did not come by water only into our lives which is the outward symbol of cleansing, but by blood which is his sacrifice so that His people might be saved.  Christ sacrifice brought the Spirit which is the inward symbol of our cleansing.  These gifts created the Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”, and John 15:26, “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.”

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Closing Verse: Matthew 1:21, “She will bear a son, and you shall his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

Challenge:  Fill the Manger of your heart this Christmas with Christ.

Jesus, My Advocate

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Why Christmas?

During this Christmas season it is hard not to get caught up in the hustle and bustle the season can bring, but I should stop and remember why I celebrate this season.  Jesus Christ came to earth as a gift from our Father to save us from myself.  “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.  Jesus became our advocate.  I am remembering this precious gift this week because sometimes smooth road become bumpy and rough.  Sometimes we just need someone to have our back, and this Christmas season reminds me not just of the gift God gave me, but of the friend who has walked in my footsteps so he could understand and advocate for me before God.

My Advocate

Having Christ as my advocate brings peace and comfort to my life in times of confusion that this world brings.  His advocacy also bring joy and love to my life when the road is smooth and life seems easy.  Either way he is teaching me his truths and loving me with grace in order to show me himself in my life.  “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  John 1:14.  As I walked through a week of struggles in this Christmas season, I know that Jesus is my advocate and the advocate for my family.  He is teaching and loving me through the ups and downs, so that I might show his love and mercy through my life.  He is standing before God for me.  “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven,”  Matthew 10:32

Advocate for Christ

As I move through this Christmas season remembering how Christ has stood by my side, may I advocate for him with others.  I pray that I can stand for him as he stand for me.  May my life be a light, a model, and a source of comfort to those around me.  May I provide for others a way to know Jesus and all things that he has provided for me as my advocate.  “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:19.

Closing Verse: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, ”  Isaiah 9:6

Challenge: This is a time to stop and remember why we celebrate Christmas and celebrate Jesus our Advocate.

Christmas Traditions

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Christmas Season

Christmas music is playing now everywhere I go and the lights are shining bright.  The season is here.  I want to enjoy and let the stress of the weeks that lead up that wonderful day that is gone so quickly.  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

Jesus Birthday Cake
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 engaging 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 I wish I had thought of 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 anywhere.  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 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.

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