Monday, December 23, 2013

A Name Like No Other

Christmas is in just two days!!! I love Christmas. For me, Christmas is not just a day. I'm sure we've heard so much about the joy of Christmas and maybe by now you're getting tired of it.

This morning, I sat in my dark living room, drinking my coffee, looking at the Christmas tree all lit up with my three year old son curled up in my lap. As I sat there cuddling with my son, my mind began to wander through all the wonderful blessings I have been given.

The ones that struck me the most were the blessings of my children. Blessings, not because they are perfect little angels, but because they bring an opportunity for me to learn grace, mercy, self-control, and a myriad of other things I fail at daily. The blessing of a wonderful husband. Our marriage has not always been easy, but a blessing that has taught me forgiveness, commitment, and what love really means. The blessing of having children and family that have gone before. A blessing that has helped me realize that God really is in control and I can fully trust in Him. The blessing of struggle. A blessing that has taught me that God keeps His promises.

In case you haven't noticed, many of the blessings I see in my life have come through the trials and storms I have endured. But the greatest blessing of all is the one that we celebrate this time of year. The gift of Jesus.

No other gift can compare to a Savior who pursued me. Nothing can compare to a God that loved me so much, He chose to open my eyes to my need for Him. He chose to open my heart to receive Him. He chose to send His Son to take my place, so I can know Him.

Nothing can compare to that.

I LOVE Christmas. Sure I like gifts, but what I love most of all is that I was given the greatest gift, a gift I can celebrate all year.

This past year has been a year of struggles and rough patches, but my soul has never known joy this great. I am so thankful God keeps His promise to continue to work in me until the day of completion.

This joy, the joy that fills my heart and soul, the joy of Christmas is Jesus.

What a powerful name! Try saying it out loud where ever you are right now. Sing it. Shout it. Can you feel the power that name carries?! If you cannot, I pray the Holy Spirit continues to work in your heart.

I love to sing songs of worship and praise and honestly cannot help but dance. But if you want to see me hands raised in the air, smile from ear to ear, voice as loud as can be, sing the name of Jesus. Speak the name of Jesus.

There is no other name that captures my heart to that extent. There is no other name that uplifts me from the depths of despair. There is no other name that brings with it the power of real JOY!

As you celebrate Christmas, remember that Jesus was not just a baby born in a manger. He is a Savior born to rescue us from the captivity of sin. He is God in human flesh, that we can trust to know our pain and our struggle. He is CHRIST who defeated the grave so that we may know life!


Don't just know His name. Know Him.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Repeat Lessons

This past week I have been reminded that not everything will go according to the way I have planned. Yes, this is something we are reminded frequently each day with all the little things, but we still seem to be unprepared when it happens in the "big" things, or at least what we consider as the "big" things at that time. At least for me anyway. 

So, things were not going my way. I'll be honest, I was upset. Almost to the point of tears. While I was able to contain those emotions for quite some time, the tears eventually came. But not from the upset of life not going according to my plan.

The tears came, because I realized that I was making MY plan more important than HIS plan. How dare I be so selfish? The tears flowed as my heart grieved my pride. In a flood of tears I was reminded that not only is His plan bigger and better than mine, it always has His and my good in mind. My plans are always so limited to what I can see, what I know, what I can envision, what I can imagine. How do I ever get to a place where I think I can possibly come up with some plan that rivals God's? 

As I was hit with this, it got me thinking. What would my life be like, if everything had gone according to my plan? Since I do not know all things, I am only able to go back through what has happened in my life and how certain things would be different if I had had my way. 

One thing I am for sure, I would not have nearly as many blessings in my life as I have now. I will not expand on the reasons why these would be true, but here is a list of things that would be different if I had my way throughout my life:

1. I would be a professional dancer. This sounds like a good thing, but I would be a dancer not using their talents for God's glory.

2. I would not be married to Josh. If this had happened, I would also not have any of my beautiful children whom I love so much.

3. Even if I had married Josh, I would be divorced already. 

4. Some of my children would have never been born. Those I have lost, would have been born.

5. Josh would have a nice, cushy job - and I would never have learned to trust God's provision.

6. I would have an amazing body - and would never have learned the meaning of true beauty.

7. I would have lost my virginity to a married man as a teenager. 

These are just a few of the "big" things I thought about. In comparison to the situation I was dealing with last week, that situation just shrunk more and more by the moment. It's so easy to get caught up in what is going on right here, right now, that we forget the One who is over all things, knows the bigger picture and knows how this moment, right here, right now, plays a part in that bigger plan. We think we know how it plays a part in the "bigger" plan of our lives, but our lives are just a breath of eternity. Does not God's plan for our lives, for life in general, far exceed our own? Yes. Every. Single. Time. This doesn't mean we shouldn't make plans, that we shouldn't prepare or make decisions. What it means is that we shouldn't get so caught up in our own plans, that we don't allow for His plans. You would think with all I've been through in this life, I would have learned this lesson by now. Apparently, I'm a hard learner. Anyway, I'm just glad that God keeps on teaching me, even if it means many repeat lessons.