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“It Doesn’t Feel like Christmas”

This Christmas I was not able to be with my hubby. It’s the first Christmas without him since we have been married. He had to be gone with work. I am with the family that God has given me through our marriage and I feel truly blessed for it. The kids and I are surrounded by their love. Christmas morning is only a few hours away, and I am trying not to think about it- how hubby isn’t here… Because it causes an ache in my heart. In fact, days leading up to our trip here I found myself saddened and thinking, “It doesn’t feel like Christmas.”

And I guess this is why I am sharing this, because I have a feeling I am not alone. If you are struggling with missing a loved one this Christmas, perhaps consider this:

When your heart aches for the presence of a loved one… That feels like Christmas. That is why God came in the flesh, because he knew his people longed for his presence, and incredibly he longed for our eternal presence as well. That ache. That void. That feeling like something is missing. That feels like Christmas… That feels like the very heartbeat of our Savior.

He knew we would be missing. He felt the void and he stepped into it, with tiny feet that would grow to be nailed to a cross. All for you. All for me. All for us. That is the message of Christmas.

For those who have never asked Jesus Christ to be your Lord and Savior, I pray you would do that today.

For those who did at some point in your life, but have turned away, I pray you would consider turning your heart back. His heart aches for you.

For those who are missing loved ones today, I pray your heart be overwhelmed by the depth of God’s love for you. When your heart aches for that missing person may you feel the ache that God felt when he considered an eternity without you.

May your sorrow not steal the joy of Christmas, but only cause you to fall more in love with Christ as you dwell on his love and the sorrow he endured for you.

Merry Christmas friends.

Be glad.

God came to be with us.

And he still is.

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Why Marriage?

This past Saturday hubby and I were blessed to attend a wedding. I love weddings. There is something so deeply beautiful and holy about a wedding. In fact, the Bible even refers to the church as the “bride of Christ.” Sounds a little weird until you watch a wedding and it hits you like a ton of bricks, just how much Jesus loves his church. And you…

Jesus loves you. He stands, absolutely beaming, as he watches every step that you take while being guided by the Father straight into his arms. He takes you by the hands and vows his faithfulness, in your sickness and in health, for better and for worse, for richer and for poorer, never to part.

He doesn’t place a ring on your finger but writes your very name on the palm of his hands… Scripture actually says all this.

And he lifts the veil… Oh, my favorite part- when the groom lifts the veil and kisses his bride… Jesus does that. He lifts the veil we wear over our mind and our heart. It has to be lifted, for it is impossible to be truly intimate wearing a veil.

And no, there is nothing physical or sexual involved with intimacy with Jesus. (Side note- I remember the first time I heard a nun talk about her joy over the thought of the intimacy she would have with Jesus in heaven and it totally freaked me out because I absolutely didn’t get it. My mind was veiled and my thoughts perverted. And of course now I am about to sound like the nun… Go figure.)

To hopefully help clarify, intimacy with God is so much greater than the sexual act of intimacy we see within the marriage. It is the beauty of a naked soul, a soul that desires for God to come into the most vulnerable, hidden, places and cover them with his love. Intimacy with God is what causes new life to begin forming in us. Our dreams, our passions, our hope, our very being all begin to form with new life. It all comes from intimate times when we draw close to God in prayer, in worship, in word, and in praise.

So why marriage? Why vows? Why taking a name? Perhaps because when done, we catch a glimpse of God’s love for us. He waits for us. He desires a covenant. He desires to gives us a new name. He too, will throw a banquet for us, and desires to dance with us in his heavenly dance.

Hubby and I never danced at the wedding reception. We took advantage of the opportunity to catch up with friends instead. But what we did do was even better. That night, we pulled up the same song the bride and groom danced to and we danced away in our kitchen. Just he and I, dancing that sacred dance of two souls, two wills, two separate beings, tied together and made one in a covenant that only grows sweeter with time. Dancing there I couldn’t help but consider the awesomeness of marriage, and the awesomeness of Christ’s love for his church.

 

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“Don’t eat that.”

“You should have this down by now.”

“Didn’t you tell them not to do that? They don’t listen to you, and everyone sees it.”

“Look at all of you. What a disgrace, a far cry from the Duggards by far.”

“What were you thinking? A wise mother wouldn’t do that.”

“Why did God choose you to be a mom anyway? You clearly aren’t good at it. He picked the wrong person for this job.”

“Have another one? Ha! You can’t even control the ones you have! You need to quit now, pack it up before it gets even worse, because you know it is going to get even worse. You are barely afloat. Have anymore and you are going to sink the whole ship.”

“They behaved like that in church! Shameful. All that work getting them there for what? Just stay home. Save yourself the work and embarrassment.”

“You act so happy and blessed. Look at you. This is the real you. You are miserable. You are a fake and have no business ministering to anyone.”

Words whispered from an all too familiar voice. He loves to spew his poison in the midst of the seeming chaos. He speaks as clearly as The Lord, yet his words never bring peace. He brings doubt. He brings defeat. He comes with accusations and with lies disguised as truth. He often comes camouflaged as your very own thoughts. At times his voice is so similar to The Lord, but don’t be fooled. His words if ingested lead straight to death. Ask Adam. Ask Eve.

Where good mixes with evil, that is where you find him. Where truth becomes blurred by lies. And God has said, “Don’t eat that.” Yet the enemy slides in whispering, “Eat… Listen… Believe.”

Oh yes, the enemy wants you to be believe. He wants you to believe his words that you aren’t good enough. He wants you to believe that you should have everything in control. He wants you to believe you are a fake. He wants you to believe you are a failure. He wants you to believe you can’t… You just can’t, and furthermore, you shouldn’t. He wants you to believe that others are against you. He wants to isolate you. He wants you to believe that you will never measure up. And most of all, he wants you to believe that God was wrong. God was wrong when he made you and wrong when he chose you. Believe that and you will doubt everything God has said.

Satan whispered to Eve, “Did God really say?” And his whisper hasn’t changed.

Satan lied when he said, “You won’t die.” And he still is the speaker of lies.

Eve was deceived, but you need not be.

Adam ate freely and then blamed God.

Don’t you.

Don’t ingest the enemies lies.

A prayer for today:

“Heavenly Father, we ask that you give us a discerning ear. Help us to recognize your voice and the voice of the enemy. You said your sheep know your voice. Help us to know it. Help us to daily filter the words that approach our mind and heart, for every word is like a seed, capable of producing fruit. May the words we ingest be your words. May they plant and produce much fruit. May the words of the enemy find no place to take root. May we spew them out of our heart. May they wither and die and produce no fruit. Help us to remember that you desire to do mighty things through us, far more than we could ever imagine or comprehend. Help us to be at peace with who we are in you. Truth rise up. Joy rise up. Light arise. Darkness flee. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

 

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When a Man Truly loves a Woman

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A princess gets locked by some villain in a tower. A fair maiden gets carried off as some plunder of war. So many times we see the plot. It is a classic truly, and one I caught a few weeks ago in the movie ” Despicable Me 2.”

“Despicable Me 2” took this classic plot to a whole new level as a macho wrestling villain, his chicken, and army of purple, crazed, all-consuming minions, strap fair maiden “Lucy” to a shark rocket headed straight into the depths of some volcano out at sea. Once-evil villain “Gru” comes rushing into save her with his scientist and adopted daughters, all armed with jelly guns… Quite the creative and imaginative twist on a classic plot for sure.

Watching it with our oldest boys got me thinking about the classic plot of a woman in distress, rescued by a man who is willing to take on any and all opposition and go any height or depth, in order to save the woman he loves.

This is the plot that fascinates and captivates and resonates.

Because deep down,

I believe,

We desire love like that.

Women want to be loved like that.

Men want to love like that.

But how can they?

How can a man today love a woman like that?

He sees no villains, no towers, no purple crazed minions or shark rockets. There are no wars to charge into with sword ( or jelly gun) in hand, no battles to fight, no mountains to climb, no depths to dive into it.

But all to often,

They are there.

They are there, seizing her unexpectedly and trying to bring her down.

Battles of the mind, of the emotions, and the spirit… These are the battles that require the brave.

These are the battles that require a man who is willing to take on any and all opposition and go any height or depth.

When hormones rage,

When the only blood in the fight is the blood filling her menstrual pads,

It takes a man who is willing to take on an army of hormones and stand in the midst of the checkout line with super maxi pads in hand.

When she looks in the mirror and delusions, depression, lies and discouragement try to seize her,

It takes a man who is not willing to see his love carried off into the depths of depression,

Or locked in a tower of fear.

He does not flee the battle but steps in and holds her, and begins to wage war, not with sword and shield (or jelly guns), but with words of truth and words of encouragement.

When sickness plagues her body,

When she is too weak to work,

Or walk,

Or hold their crying child,

It takes a man who is willing to rush in, lead her to the restroom, hold her hair, wash her, feed her, and care for her and the children.

He will not leave post, but he will stay as faithful watchman. And for the true lover, this will be his joy.

For he who fiercely loves a woman’s soul, will fiercely fight.

He will not only provide food on the table.

He will provide food for the spirit and soul.

This kind of love, is not for the faint.

This kind of love is the kind that gets dirty, sweats and bleeds.

This kind of love is the kind that goes the distance.

This kind of love is the kind that refuses to give up.

This kind of love is the love we saw poured out two-thousand plus years ago by a man strapped to a cross,

A man who gave it all,

A man who did not jump ship (or shark rocket), but willingly went down into the deepest depths to conquer them and release the prisoners that were locked in darkness.

This kind of love is true love.

This kind of love is Jesus love.

And oh, when we see it in a man.

It captivates.

It fascinates.

It resonates.

It testifies to our heart,

“That is love.”

 

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Make Time

Thanks to my momma, I have been able to be home alone today, cleaning and listening to music (without crying and messes exploding and the sound of “Mommmm!!!!!”) Yesterday and last night I got to spend alone time with my hubby. I just wanted to share two thoughts as I reflect on this:

#1 If you are a grandparent you can be such a blessing to your child’s marriage. Providing that time for your child to be alone with his or her spouse- loving on those kids that you did not birth and truly you may feel at times too old to care for- those are such great, big, huge gifts. You have the ability to strengthen your child’s marriage. You have the ability to strengthen your family. You have the ability to make such a big difference in what may feel like such a small, ordinary task. I am so thankful for my mom for giving us this gift. You are a blessing momma. May God richly bless you for all you do for us.

#2- Time alone with your spouse is like breath for your marriage- if you spend that time wisely. You don’t have to go out. You don’t have to spend money. You don’t have to make any big plans other than the simple plan to reconnect and draw closer to each other. If you haven’t had time alone with your spouse- time where you have purposed to draw closer to their heart- right now is a great time to make time. Do it. Do it now. It matters most.

 

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Emptied One

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Lift your arms, beautiful one.

Lift your arms like the emptied, barren tree.

That has lost the beauty of leaves afire,

But still stands with branches raised,

Waiting,

Praising,

The Giver of Life.

You are beautiful emptied one.

The light shines through you with ease.

For you have let go of all that has died.

It returns from where it came.

Room made for new beauty.

Yes, new beauty is coming.

And beauty is here,

For you are beautiful,

As you stand,

Waiting,

Praising,

The Giver of Life.

Habakkuk 3:17-18

Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

 

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