Sunday, February 28, 2016

It's In the Details

Exodus 35-40

As I continue my reading plan of moving through the Bible in a year, this past week has found me in the book of Exodus.  The beginning of the book starts with the birth of Moses.  The end of the book finds us with all of the pain-staking, mind-numbing details involved in building the tabernacle. Originally, I took a quick "skim" of those chapters.  Although it can get a bit mind-boggling with all of the intimate details of every nook and cranny of the tabernacle, the curtains, and the garments, it helped me to think of so many things where life is "in the details".

In this particular case, God is instructing Moses on EXACTLY how the tabernacle is to be built - from the materials, to the dimensions, to the rituals, etc.  Everything is provided to him with the utmost detail.  Although much work was put into this incredible creation, how wonderful was it for Moses to have God tell him exactly what needed to get done!!  Don't you wish God would have a conversation with you on exactly what needs to get done?  Maybe He does, let's explore!

I think of some of the major events in my life within the last few years.  Are these the details God put into my life?  I had cancer - not exactly the detail that you believe is a gift from God.  Yet, when I look back at that part in my life - it truly was a gift.  The details of watching doctors and nurses perform miracles was at my doorstep.  Absolutely amazing.  The details of watching kindness and generosity from so many was what God wanted me to see.  The strength that HE gave to ME when I so desperately needed it was a detail I needed at that point in my life for what was to come.  I needed all of those details to get to the next chapter.

When I look at all of the details that surrounded my divorce, as hard as it is to relive those times, each difficult conversation, each moment of desperate prayer, each challenging day was the detail that I needed.  Those details showed me God's grace.  Those details gave me a glimpse to the mercy and grace that our Heavenly Father gives to us.  Each of those details also provided me for the next chapter.

The details of my dad's suffering and ultimate passing showed me how patience and simple faith can have an indelible impression upon others.  Through my dad's suffering, God gave him certain people to influence - to show that no matter how difficult days are when you are in pain, God is there with us.  Until Daddy's last day, he shared that message.  That detail needed to happen so that others may come to God.

So let's go back to the original question - Don't you wish God would have a conversation with you on exactly what needs to get done in our lives?  He DOES have that conversation with you - when we go to Him in prayer.  When we ask His advice and counsel over situations before we act, He helps to guide us to where His details lie.  No, it may not always be comfortable for us, but the details that we learn along the way prepare us for those new chapters in our life.  God's got this - we just need to listen and pay attention to the details. 

Yes, I did go back over the mind-numbing details throughout Exodus.  I saw the beauty that God provided for the Israelites.  I saw the opportunity He provided for them to use their gifts and talents.  I saw an incredible picture in my mind of what it was to look like.  When I searched for a picture of the tabernacle to provide in today's blog - many of the images looked very much the same.  I can certainly understand why as I re-read those details.  Our life is in the details that God gives to us.  We just need to have the simple faith that He loves us so much that He provides those details to us.  Just ask!!

"Dearest Lord, sometimes we race through our lives in mind-numbing speed, without looking at the details that YOU have provided to us.  We don't stop to ask you which way to go, we just make our own path.  Please help me, to stop and talk to you - asking for me to see the details that You have given to me to live this life on earth.  Help me to live as You have chosen, not as I choose.  Give me the details, Lord, for the plan You have for me.  In your gracious name I pray.  Amen"

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Individual Gifts

"But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect.  No, I worked harder than all of them - yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me."  1 Corinthians 15:10 (NIV)

I'm not sure why, but moments strike us, don't they?  A certain song will come on the radio, a breeze in the wind, a scene on tv, and all of the sudden we are transported to a different place or a memory will come flashing back.  Sometimes they are great memories, sometimes they may be sad, but all of those memories shape who we are, what we have become, and what our future holds.  Such is today!  Sarah, my oldest child, recently sent me a beautiful piece on the "Ten Things You Learn by Being Raised by a Strong Mom."  I felt honored that she sent it to me and it made me think of our beautiful children and all they have given me.  I hope that you will give me a few moments to share that with all of you.  Starting left to right in the picture above!

Krystina  has brought to me the gift of persistence.  When you are around her, you know how driven she is - her passion shines through so that when she wants something, she goes after it and nothing stands in her way.  Whether it is how Krystina goes after a job she wants or her goal of double majoring with the first of its kind at her school (Accounting & Sports Management), her persistence has led to much success.  It has also helped me to persevere towards accomplishing goals I want to achieve.

Gabby has brought to me the gift of compassion.  When you meet Gabby, you can see a huge heart.  She blesses everyone that she is around - especially young children.  Her patience and kindness can be seen as she bends down to get on a child's level - having them gravitate to her smile and happy words.  Her compassion has led to a great heart.  It has also helped me to be compassionate to others.

Christian has brought to me the gift of humor.  Whatever the situation, Christian finds a way to bring humor and smiles to everyone's faces.  The moment may be difficult and frustrating, but he shares a joke or happy thought and immediately changes the dynamics of the moment.  He certainly had us laughing much during our family dinners.  It has also taught me to let humor be present during serious times.

Sarah has brought to me the gift of creativity.  Whether it is how Sarah looks at a certain situation or whether it is her decorating eye, she brings a sense of creativity to our world.  You can see her creativity from the moment you meet her - how she puts together fun outfits as well as how her words are put into a beautiful note.  Her creativity has taught this mama who has a lack of creativity to think a little differently.

Each of my children has brought their individual gifts that our Dear Lord has given to them to our family - to round out our family in a way that makes us all better through their own personalities.  It's hard sometimes to see individuality as gifts.  When I watch the news or read posts on the Internet, many people look at our individual differences as a way for us to scorn them or to be mean to them.  God didn't create us that way.  God, as shared by Paul in our verse for today, made each and every one of us in such a beautiful and special way.  HE gave us gifts, HE showed us the path on how to use them, HE wants our gifts to shine through to others to be celebrated. 

As we continue the journey of this Lenten season, may we appreciate the individual gifts that our God gave us.  More importantly, may we celebrate those gifts in others.  May we rejoice with our Lord when those individuals gifts are shared.  And most of all, may we give thanks to our Lord for those special gifts.  May we simply rejoice, just rejoice, in the gifts of our Lord.  To my children, thank you for blessing my life so richly!

"Heavenly Father, we thank you for the individual gifts you have given to each of us.  You have made each of us so wonderfully.  Many times, we don't look at the differences between us as gifts, but as ways to put each other down.  Help us to look at these differences as a moment to celebrate how YOU are seen in each of US.  May we rejoice in these wonderful blessings.  In your name we pray.  Amen!"

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Greatest Love of All

Yes, it is Valentine's Day.  I always looked at this day as more of a family day versus a couples day.  That was due to my father.  He and my brother would cook for my mom and me every Valentine's Day, making us feel so special.  My mom is visiting my brother this Valentine's Day and I believe he is upholding the tradition.  Nice job brother!!

Many people are so vested into this day.  Please don't get me wrong.  I love my family and adore my husband to pieces, but guess what.  I love him EVERY day, not just this day.  Hopefully, he knows that by my actions each day as well.  Okay.  There may be some days where it isn't as evident as other days.  Sorry honey.

Yet, when I think of love and the best love story of all, my mind can't help but focus on our Jesus.  He showed us how to truly love.  To love without limits.  To love without justification.  To love unconditionally.  To love so large that we just can't comprehend the shear magnitude of that love.  To love that He was willing to give up everything - including his life - for us.  For each and every single one of us.

When Jesus loves us, we EACH feel that love.  It's not that "Sally" gets more love than "Joe", we all get the same incredible love.  And here's the real kicker - He loves us THAT much before we even love Him.  Before we are born.  Before we fully understand the immensity of Jesus' love.  He loves us THAT much.  

Many say, "I want to feel Jesus' love, and can't because He's not on earth".  Well, my friends, let me share an incredible thought with you.  We can feel His love because He is here!!  When He left this earthly life, He left the Holy Spirit - inside each and every one of us.  All we need to do is simply believe.  Yes, SIMPLY believe.  That truly is it.  We can feel His love all around us.  Yes, maybe His love can be found in that special someone in our lives.  Maybe His love can be found in our family.  Maybe His love can be found in friends.  Maybe you can even feel His love when you see the beauty of His creation.  Jesus' love is truly all around us.  We need to simply believe. 

Take this moment.  Just stop and fold your hands.  Let us simply ask Jesus to share His love in a way we can see it.  Let us thank Him for the love that He has given us.  Not just on THIS day, but every single day.  He loves us regardless of the mistakes we have made.  He loves us even when we don't love Him.  He loves us - simply loves us.  Enjoy the rest of this day knowing that the Greatest Love of All is seen in our Lord and Savior, Jesus.

"Dearest Jesus, may we take time today, and every day, to simply be still and see your love around us.  Help us to feel your love with those around us.  May we be the love to someone else, a friend, a family member, someone special.  Thank you, Jesus, for loving us so much that you gave up your life on this earth for all of our sins.  All glory be to you, the Greatest Love of All.  Amen."

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Burdened Trees

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"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."  (NIV)
Matthew 11:28

As beautiful as the unexpected gift was last Sunday with weather in the fifties, we were gently reminded that it is still winter in New Hampshire this Friday as snow quickly pushed through the area.  We celebrated that gift as well, as the snow came through fast and left a cover of white on everything.  When I headed out early Saturday morning, I couldn't help but notice the snow on the trees - it certainly seemed like a winter wonderland!  Yet, the snow weighed down the branches on the trees, the burden of the snow almost breaking the branches.  We also have had other storms that have lasted days, and the accumulation of the snow also weighed heavily on the branches of these beautiful trees.

I couldn't help but think of times in my life when a storm came through and the burden of that storm fell strongly on my shoulders.  It was a fast moving storm and dumped a bunch of "snow" in my life.  As I remember those times, my life was changed forever.  The day I was diagnosed with cancer.  The day my dad passed away.  Those were times when I felt an incredible burden that came from a very quick scenario, just like the storm this past Friday.

Then there were times that were longer storms.  Times in my life that the "snow" accumulated and left a huge burden.  A difficult job project, tough times with the children, a problematic first marriage.  All of these scenarios, as well as others, seemed to build up the burden that I needed to deal with.  It seemed as if brick upon brick was being laid upon my life, and it was hard to get out from underneath all the weight of those burdens.

Whether the burden is quick or long in coming, when burdens hit our lives, we feel as if we can't move forward.  During those times, I found it difficult to wake up the next day and continue to live life.  The burden can seem so strong that we feel as if we are going to break - life the branches on the trees laden with snow.  Yet, as our verse of today tells us (and one of my favorite verses), there is someone who WANTS our burdens, someone who ASKS us to bring our burdens to him, our Dear Savior Jesus.  He is there for us, no matter what the burden is.

When we bring our burdens to Jesus, He is able to give us the rest we so desperately need.  He can provide us comfort in despair, peace in conflict, healing when sick, and hope when defeated.  He is the great, "I AM".  When I take my burdens to Jesus, he gives me the strength to get out of bed, to live another day, to move forward.  Have you ever had that kind of burden?  Maybe you are experiencing it now.  Take your burdens to Jesus - give Him your troubles.  Tell Him what your heart feels - let Him bring you peace and comfort.  He will take your burden from you so that you can see the Son!

"Dearest Jesus, help us to come to you and give you our burdens.  So many times we want to keep those burdens as we believe we can fix them.  Yet, the longer we keep our burdens, we bend until we break.  We know that you can handle it Jesus.  We know that you can give us the rest we so very much need.  May we lay our burdens at your feet and find the rest you want your children to have.  Thank you, Jesus, for bringing us strength, hope and love.

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Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope we can share how God's grace has been life changing and that SIMPLE FAITH, getting back to a life that is rooted in the basics, can truly set us free to achieve so much in our lives.