Friday, December 30, 2011

LACED WITH GRACE...Pruning has purpose

My husband is currently reading a book by Dr. Henry Cloud entitled, “Necessary Endings”. He pointed out a chapter in the book to me about pruning. Even though the book is referring to the necessity of pruning in business at times, the same concept is just as imperative in our spiritual being. The book defines pruning as…

“removing whatever it is in our business or life whose reach is unwanted or superfluous.”

When I think about pruning, I think about a bonsai tree. As the tree grows, the pruner must be careful and intricate about cutting the branches to develop the correct size and shape. What is interesting ....


Thursday, December 29, 2011

THANKFUL beginning!

It is hard to believe that we have arrived at the last THANKFUL THURSDAY post for this year. As I reflect back over the past 12 months, I see alot of things. In our family we had a wedding, a birth, and a death. In my spiritual walk, I have experienced some persecution, some growth, and a change of direction.

2011 seems to have been a year for change for me. Some good change, and some awkward change. But thru it all God has been with me, in fact, He has been one step ahead of me, preparing the way, preparing my heart and preparing for my tomorrow.

In the man's eye, we put things in a box that is regulated by time. If we cannot regulate events of our life according to the calendar or the watch, it is difficult for us to have control or even understanding. But God does not limit Himself to the expectations of man or the time restrains of the calendar. He cannot be restrained by the habits of man. Man dictates harvest according to what his calendar says. He hunts during one season so he can have plenty for another season. God  is not like that. In fact, He makes a way in the wilderness and a way for rivers in the desert...

"Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert…" (Isaiah 43:18-19)

I think that the prophet is asking a very timely question for you and I today, "Can you not perceive what He is doing?"  The pharisees were hard in heart, and refused to see that their self righteous attitudes stood between them and seeing what was clearly in front of them...God and His righteousness! It is my prayer that I do not become like a pharisee, and miss out on what God is doing. It can be easy to get caught up in my agenda, my plan, and my way and totally miss out on what God's plan is.

If God can make a way in the wilderness and provide running waters in the desert, how much more can He make something new for you and me? 2011 is gone. We cannot get that back. But 2012 is just around the corner and I believe that God is making something new for each of us. We need to be open to it, embrace it and trust Him for it!

I am very thankful for everything that has happened in my life in 2011. The joys, the tears, the heartache, the sadness, the blessings, the hardships...all of it, it has made me who I am today and because of God, I can look forward to a new year as He prepares a new way for me.

Today is THANKFUL THURSDAY, I am joining Iris who is hosting TT this week. Please join your grateful heart with ours by linking your post. Next week, TT will be found right here at womentakingastand! :)

Sunday, December 25, 2011


Another Christmas has come and gone. So much thought, work and decorating goes into this cherished holiday, but almost as quick as it comes, it passes quickly. The presents are opened, the cookies are eaten, the guests have gone home. Now there is only one thing left to do...pack away Christmas!

In years past, I have not always been patient with packing away the Christmas decorations. By the end of Christmas night, I have looked at the twinkling lights, the shiny balls and the fallen pine needles long enough and I am anxious to put it all away. In the hustle of trying to get my house back in order, I have not always wrapped precious ornaments like I should. I usually do not notice the effects of my carelessness until the next Christmas when I unwrap my treasures and find that my carelessness from the year before caused damage.

One thing that I have always taken tender care of packing away is my large porcelain nativity figures. I don't just use plain tissue to wrap them like I do my ornaments, I use thick towels and wrap them tight. The resting place for all of our Christmas decorations all year is out in the garage, except for my nativity figures, they have a special place in my back storeroom in the house.

Isn't it funny that I take more care of those than my other treasures?

Spiritually speaking, I think we do the same thing. Some things are easier to take care of than others. I would never dream of mistreating my Lord and Savior, but yet when it comes to some other treasures, such as joy, peace, and patience, I don't take as much care. I can become careless with those things along with my kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. We may not see it right away, but just like my ornaments, eventually over time our carelessness will cause damage.

 GALATIANS 5:22 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control."

As you pack away Christmas, be sure to not pack away Christ! Take tender care of the treasures that God has placed within you!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A PIECE OF MY HEART...what does the wrapping have to do with it?

If you are anything like me, you are probably knee deep in wrapping. With just 5 more days until Christmas, we are all feeling the crunch. The dining table is easily turned into a array of paper, ribbons, bows, scissors and tape. With each gift, creating the perfect package is almost as important as finding the perfect gift.

I always said that "presentation" was everything. If you had two gifts wrapped under the tree, one in beautiful gold foil and bright ribbon and the other wrapped in day old newspaper tied with string, which do you suppose would be more attractive and appealing? Most of us would overlook the one in newspaper and go for the shine and beauty.

But the truth is, the wrapping does not reveal what the gift inside contains. After all, Jesus was not born in a palace, with golden archways and marble floors. He was born in a stable. He was clothed in rags and laid in a feeding trough. Jesus was the most amazing gift ever given to us, but the presentation of His arrival, the wrapping of such a wonderful gift did not diminish the importance of His birth.

If anything, the wrapping of that first Christmas gift reminds me of the beauty that lies within simplicity. Jesus Christ came to us in the most simple and humble way. Wrapped in swaddling cloths, layed in a manger, born where the animals rest ... I can't think of anything more simple and humble.

So, as I wrap these last gifts this week I can't help but to think back to that first Christmas gift and realize that the wrapping has nothing to do with what the gift represents. Love, joy, peace and forgiveness is the best gift you will ever unwrap.

LUKE 2:9-12 "And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. And the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. "And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger."

The beauty is in the gift, not the wrapping!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Not just an ordinary ornament!

One of my favorite things about Christmas is putting up the tree. After 30 years of marriage, we have so many ornaments that have special meanings. It's funny that even after many years have gone by, we still can look at the ornament and be flooded with memories.

For instance, on our tree, we have an ornament that my grandmother (who has gone to be with the Lord) made many years ago. My daughter this year pulled it out of the box and said "What's this?" and proudly I said, "My Grandmother made THAT!"

Also on our tree are some very cherished ornaments. The ones that the kids made in school when they were younger have so much meaning. But, I remember one year I was going to decorate the tree in all blue ornaments and my son (now 21) said, "NO MOM! You have to put our ornaments on the tree!"

This year, we have adorned our Christmas tree with yet another special ornament. An ornament that last year we received as a gift that was hand painted by one of our kids.

As I gaze over at our tree adorned with such beautiful memories, I can't help but think about how we often times attach memories to certain objects. The emotions that often come attached to those memories can instantly turn a common, ordinary object into a wonderful treasure!

I would imagine that is how it was for Mary. Every time she saw a manger after that first Christmas Eve, it must have taken her back to memories of the stable. Her thoughts must have raced back to that one life changing moment when her baby was born a Savior. A stable, hay and animals set the stage, there was nothing extraordinary about that, but yet from that, a wonderful treasure was brought forth.

“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Luke 2:19

I wonder, this Christmas, what kind of ornaments have memory and special meaning for you? Not just the kind that hang on your tree, but maybe you have something that appears ordinary to the common eye but when you look past the outer appearance you see the beauty, the treasure of it.

That is exactly what God does when He looks at us. He does not see what we see. He sees beauty in His masterpiece. What we see as ordinary, He sees as a wonderful treasure. He sees the ornament in all of us.

Monday, December 12, 2011

LACED WITH GRACE...The grinch that steals Christmas!

Today I have shared a devotion over at LACED WITH GRACE entitled "The Grinch who steals Christmas" The Who's of Whoville are not the only ones who have to contend with a slimy, present-stealing grinch...there is a grinch lurking around your household trying to rob you of your gifts also, the ones that God has bestowed upon you. CLICK HERE to read this post!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

THANKFUL THURSDAY...stoking the fire

This time of year, when the air is crisp and cold and the furnace is working overtime, there is nothing like sitting close to a rip roaring fire. Nothing like pulling your chair close to the fire, curled up with your favorite blanket and a good read. Every once in awhile, as the fire snaps and cracks, you may need to add another log to the fire to keep it going. Some call that "stoking the fire."

Spiritually speaking, "Stoking the fire" has another meaning. Stoking the fire means doing things that really causes us to focus on God. Our love and passion for Him and His ways take on purpose when we stoke the fire.

Just like the fire in the fireplace, if we do not add more firewood, eventually the fire will go out. Our spiritual firewood comes from reading God's Word, communicating with God daily in prayer, seeking His will and not ours, giving sacrificially both monetarily and with our time, having a servants heart in all that we do. Each one of these things have a purpose and the more we do for Him and His Kingdom, the more our fire will be stoked.

"I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes One Who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire." -John the Baptist (Matthew 3:11)

Many times we associate a fire with getting burnt and even though it is true that we can easily become burnt by a consuming fire, the kind of consuming fire that John the Baptist experienced is the kind that God offers. The kind that will never leave us disappointed or burnt. But it isn't enough to just HAVE the fire, we have to KEEP the fire stoked!

Aren't you thankful for the fire? It is so important that we keep that fire stoked, it is so easy to slip on our time with God and slowly see the embers begin to fade. I am so thankful that my daily walk with God keeps those embers glowing and fire ablazing. What are you grateful for today? Iris is hosting THANKFUL THURSDAY today, please join us!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Making Christmas count!

If you have been to the store lately, than there is no denying that we are inundated with the Christmas shopping season. Christmas trees, Christmas lights, Christmas ornaments, Christmas cards, Christmas dishes, Christmas towels...the stores have not missed out on merchandising what they believe Christmas is all about. The sale ads dictate to us what THEY think that WE should buy.

But as THEY count down the number of days left for shopping for Christmas, I would like to suggest that we don't just count down to that final shopping day but instead may we make these next couple of weeks count!

This year, I have decided to put alittle more effort, alittle more work and alittle bit more heart into our Christmas. Instead of buying those high dollar toys, over priced Ugg boots or underrated PS3 games, I am making most of my gifts this year. For those of you who do not know me personally, you cannot appreciate what a stretch this may be, seeing as I am not the craftiest person. However, after a 3 hour trip to our local Hobby Lobby, I have found that making, creating my own gifts this season is not as hard as I have made it out to be.

I have found that a small bottle of paint, a wooden letter, some ribbon and a hot glue gun can make something from nothing! And when I add a very special, personal photograph, it makes it so heartfelt. It makes a memory come alive!

LUKE 6:38 "If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure  you use in giving - large or small - it will be used to measure what is given back to you."

Christmas is not just about giving gifts, whether they are store bought or made at home. Christmas to me cannot be found in your local mall, but it is found in your heart. Making Christmas count may just be putting that long to-do list aside and doing only the things that matter, such as calling an old friend who may be spending this Christmas alone; baking some cookies and visiting your local nursing home to share some love, letting the frazzled mom with two screaming kids go ahead of you in the checkout line, surprising a stranger by paying for their lunch while at your local Cracker Barrel.

Just like I have found many creative ways to express love with my Christmas gifts this year, there are so many other ways that we can express love to others this busy season.

All we have to do is slow down, seize the opportunity and make Christmas count!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: the stone rolled away!

"That is impossible!"

Have you ever heard that said? Maybe someone has even said that to you. Alot of things are difficult but I don't know if I agree that things are impossible. Well... with God anyway, nothing is impossible!

After all, the life of Jesus on this earth starts with an impossibility and ends with an impossibility: a virgins birth and an empty tomb. I once heard it said that Jesus entered thru a door marked NO ENTRANCE and left thru a door marked NO EXIT!

Many times we face very difficult situations that seem nearly impossible to overcome, such things as sickness, death, divorce, addictions, persecution, loneliness and depression. But I am glad to tell you my friend, that Jesus is standing at  your door that is marked NO WAY and He is waiting for you to open the door and let Him in.

LUKE 24:2 "And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb."

Many stood around that day and probably gasped with surprise when they saw the stone rolled away. The mission was for Jesus to die, to keep Him down for the count, but as that first Easter story unfolds, we see that there was a "Mission Impossible" planned... one that would have a different ending than predicted.

Sometimes in life, we find ourselves in one of those "impossible" situations. The kind that feels like a BIG stone has been rolled in front of us and the door of difficulty seems like it will never be opened again. I have been in some of those kind of situations before, where it felt like the mission was to keep me down, to kill me, destroy me. In the process of my tomb being closed up I found myself to be alone. Some of those friends that I thought were my closest of closest friends even deserted me. Some even betrayed me.

Sound familiar? I think that is exactly what happened to Jesus. Only a few believed. Only a few stood watch. And only a few were not surprised at what happened on Easter morning. He arose! The stone was rolled away! He was alive!

If you find yourself in one of those "mission impossible" moments like I was, you may need what I found in my impossible Easter morning experience. Allow God to show up in your situation and roll away your stone,  you will once again feel alive and brand new and your mission will no longer be impossible but with God, all things will be possible!

Today is THANKFUL THURSDAY, and I am very grateful not only for His resurrection but for giving me hope when I need some stones rolled away in my life. Please join your grateful heart with ours by visiting IRIS who is hosting TT this month!