It’s Flu Season again….woohoo!

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This is a very quick post to ask for prayers from each of you reading today.  Somehow I think I have been lucky enough to get the beginnings of the flu.  Yay me.  No, I did not get a flu shot.  My thought process went like this:  the kids don’t go to school or day care, and I don’t work outside the home, therefore, we are not at as much of a risk as others.  I won’t get one…..DUH!  Didn’t think about going to Walmart, the post office, the book store, the library, friends and family for Christmas, and oh, here’s a biggie:  HUSBAND GOING TO HIS JOB THEN COMING HOME!!!!  Boy, am I smart these days!  LOL….ok, well, now I’m paying for my complete and total lack of forethought…..so, um….I humbly ask for you to pray not only for my intelligence to return soon, but for this to pass quickly and be more like a bad cold than the flu.  Or better yet – like a SLIGHT cold!  I am really looking forward to our church’s New Year’s Eve celebration on Wednesday, and hope to be well…..I’d greatly appreciate your prayers!

Oh yeah, as afraid as I am to ask for this particular prayer, I need some patience!  I volunteered to take my 3 nieces and nephews for a few days home with me.  Although they are behaving pretty well together (which says a LOT for 5 kids roughly the same ages!), they are wearing me out!  I need some patience, a little ingenuity, and LOTS of stamina!

Well, that’s it…I’m heading to the couch for a little peace and quiet while the kids fish with Pawpaw Doug.  Peace….quiet….won’t last long!

Have a blessed New Year’s!  And don’t forget to sign up for our Bible Reading Challenge!

Resting,

Toni

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Hope you had a fabulous, blessed and peaceful Christmas!

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I know we had a great one!  The Christmas season seems to pass by so quickly within the worldly scheme of things.  And yet, we know, that Christmas, as our teacher said yesterday at church, is not simply a “winter event.”  Christmas is a miraculous, wonderful, blessed encounter with the Incarnate Christ!  Immanuel!  Let’s remember that throughout the year – as well as reminding others of the miracle of His birth, His death on the cross, and His resurrection.  As our teacher pointed out, again, these are the very pillars of our faith.  (Ok, he pointed us to Paul, who pointed that out.)  It was an awesome sermon/teaching session.  I think our teachers/church leaders always do a fantastic job, and yesterday they did not deviate from their goal of providing excellent “meat” for us to chew, and making sure they were in line with the Word.

May we Christians spend the entire year being true to the Word – not watering down the Gospel as we present it to the lost world.

Have  a blessed New Year…..and don’t forget to share a few of your New Year’s Goals with us!

Blessings,

Toni

Christmas Poetry

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Christ came to earth, one blessed
Holy night, to offer
Redemption to a world, so lost in His sight
Immanuel is His name, our
Savior He chose to be.
Three gifts were brought to Him, by the
Magi, for the One who would be
Atonement for sins – offering
Salvation to you and me.

Christmas Trees

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Have you ever noticed the differences in Christmas trees?

Some are simple – others are ornate.  Some are flocked – others are a beautiful evergreen.  Some are real – some are artificial.

It seems Christmas trees are a very personal thing in our country.  One person may have a designer tree full of gorgeous department store ornaments, ornate ribbons, and hundreds of lights.  Truly a sight to see.

Others may prefer a simpler decoration – perhaps just lights and some tinsel.  Or maybe all homemade decorations.  There are trees with ornaments depicting our hobbies and memorializing our deceased loved ones.  Some of us use garland, others use ribbons, some tinsel, and others pinecones.  Trees run the gamut from truly country-style to high-end upscale fashion.

Yes, Christmas trees are a personal expression of ourselves.  For us, our tree this year is one with multi-colored lights (I generally prefer clear, but am outnumbered by 3!) and decorations of all kinds.  There are the beautiful ones my Mom bought for my sister and I a couple of years ago.  There are ones the girls have made with no help from anyone.  A few were purchased at the girls’ first or second Christmases.  One is a photo ornament of my late father-in-law given to us by my sister-in-law last year.  Perhaps the most sentimental to me are the ones that John has chosen for the girls each year.  It is a special gift from him each year to his girls, and they all look forward to the tradition.  There are puffs of white tulle in various places on the tree (my attempt at simulating “snow” – actually very cute!), wonderful large ribbons of varying colors and types of ribbon – all made from bows received on ornately-wrapped gifts in the past.  Tucked in the tree in a few cozy spots are small teddy bears – remnants from a set of 12 we bought for Alexis when she was a toddler.  She insisted on using the red beaded garland, so that encircles the tree, as well as a 4′ length of cranberry garland she made this year.  With the exception of ONE – every ornament we have, I believe, is on the tree this year!  And, to top it off, they are all on the front 2/3 of the tree!  LOL….When I asked the girls if I could move a few to the back and rearrange a little – they both said, “NO!”  So, the tree remains a little “front heavy.”  Hopefully it will stand straight until Christmas!

The night our tree goes up, I always like to stay up after everyone goes to bed with the lights out and only the tree lit.  It somehow really helps to put me in the Christmas spirit.  This year was no different, and while I sat, God gave me this thought:

We (God’s children) are like Christmas trees. 

How?  Easy.  We are all different.  No two of us are exactly alike – we all come with different experiences (ornaments) and backgrounds (the tree itself).  The tree itself represents the whole of our lives, and the lights reveal His presence.  Like our individual Christmas trees are to us, we are all very special to Him, indeed. 

He sees the absolute beauty in each ornament as it adds something unique to our lives that no one else has.  He put it there!  The ornaments of our lives are used by the Lord to shape our hearts and bring us closer to Him, while showing an outward sign of what He has done for us, and can do for others.  The ornaments are one way for us to show the love of Christ.

He is the Light that illuminates our trees and shines so that the holes where ornaments are missing, or broken ornaments are placed, can be seen.  Clear or multi, the lights reveal empty spaces and magnify mistakes.  The Light of Christ reveals unrepented sin, and therefore, the lights are the most important of all the elements.

The tree itself was grown and handpicked specifically for us – God knew the exact tree:  shape, size, type, flocked or not – and He knows why that tree was chosen.  Sometimes we are disappointed in His choice of trees, but we shouldn’t be – #1 – we can’t change it.  Our past is our past and our background is what made us who we are today.  And #2, God has reasons far beyond our comprehension for choosing the background we have had.  He can and does use any circumstance for good, and for His purposes.

So, you see, your Christmas tree can remind you of more than the birth of Christ this year, although I am in no way taking that away.  I merely want to add that your Christmas tree can remind you, if you allow God to use it that way, of what He has brought you in your life.  Of what He has brought you out of in your life.  And when you look at the top of the tree – the star, the angel – let that be a reminder to know where He is taking you in your life.

I hope that after reading this, you look at your Christmas tree a little differently.  And I hope that you spend a little time in the Light of your tree, looking to the One who decorated it so beautifully.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Tell us about your devotion times

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In an effort to jump-start devotions for those who haven’t yet begun them, or to reignite the fire for others, I’d like to talk about devotions.

Of course, I mean:  devotion times, quiet times, Bible reading, morning devotions, etc.

Would you be willing to share some of what you do?

Do you get up early or have your devotions late? 

Is it the first thing you do, or do you fix your coffee, etc., first?

How do you choose where you read in your Bible? 

Do you use a prepared study for this time, or is your time strictly Spirit-led?

Do you sing hymns, take walks, light candles, etc.?

Do you have a set length of time for your devotion or end when you feel God is “done for the moment?”

Do you take notes, and if so, do you do this by subject, or book?

How much of your quiet time do you devote to prayer, and what part of that prayer is speaking vs. listening?

Do you have additional family devotions?  If so, apply the above questions to those also, if you will.

If there is anything else you’d like to add, feel free!  Looking forward to yet another discussion!

The Wicker Basket

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I received this in an email and wanted to share it…timeless.

The story is told of an old man who lived on a farm in the mountains of eastern Kentucky with his young grandson.  Each morning, Grandpa was up early sitting at the kitchen table reading from his old worn-out Bible.  His grandson, who wanted to be just like him, tried to imitate him in anyway he could.

One day, the grandson asked, “Papa, I try to read the Bible just like you but I don’t understand it, and what I do understand, I forget as soon as I close the book.  What good does reading the Bible do?”

The Grandfather quietly turned from putting coal in the stove in the stove and said, “Take this old wicker coal basket down to the river and bring back a basket of water.”

The boy did as he was told, even though all the water leaked out before he could get back to the house.  The grandfather laughed and said, “You will have to move faster next time,” and send him back to the river with the basket to try again.

This time the boy ran faster, but again the old wicker basket was empty before he returned home.  Out of breath, he told his grandfather that it was “impossible to carry water in a basket,” and he went to get a bucket instead.

The old man said, “I don’t want a bucket of water, I want a basket of water.  You can do this.  You’re just not trying hard enough,” and he went out the door to watch the boy try again.

At this point, the boy knew it was impossible, but he wanted to show his grandfather that even if he ran as fast as he could, the water would leak out before he got far at all.  The boy scooped the water and ran hard, but when he reached his grandfather, the basket was again empty.

Out of breath, he said, “See Papa, it’s useless!”

“So you think it is useless?” The old man said, “Look at the basket.”

The boy looked at the basket and realized for the first time that the basket looked different.  Instead of a dirty old wicker coal basket, it was clean.

“Son, that’s what happens when you read the Bible.  You might not understand or remember everything, but when you read it, it will change you from the inside out.”

The Lord said in Isaiah 55:11

So shall my Word be that goeth forth out of My mouth:  it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

I know many people, and I have been there myself, who struggle with reading their Bibles daily because they “just don’t get it.”  I am a firm believer in the KJV only approach (with much to back up my opinion), and therefore, some of the writing is a little more difficult to understand.  What’s more, sometimes the Word itself is challenging.  I think God is very VERY clear in His Word about everything, but I think our understanding requires obedience and a sincere desire to understand, thereby showing our love for Jesus.

About four and a half years ago, the person I charge with being my spiritual mentor (you know who you are JG!) gave me this sage advice:  “Pray and ask God to show you what He wants you to understand before you even open the Bible.”  Ask God to bless your reading at that time so that your spiritual eyes may be opened, paving the way for God to give you the understanding of whatever passage you are reading.

Sometimes, it takes reading, and rereading, and rereading again, before you “get it.”  Other times, it happens instantly.  But, one truth remains:  God can’t speak to you and show you His thoughts if you don’t read His word.  He speaks to us first through His written Word, and if we refuse to stay away from it – even out of fear of not understanding – we are shutting down a supply of blessings that would span our entire lifetime. 

New Year’s is coming up, and with it, New Year’s Resolutions.  Now, while I won’t make a “resolution,” I will have goals for the upcoming year.  How about you?  Will you make it a goal for the new year to read your Bible daily, and spend some time each morning with your Savior?  You will be blessed.  And that’s a promise from the King.

Happy Thanksgiving, and Grace be unto you…

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Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.  I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;  That in every thing ye are enriched by Him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;  Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:  So that ye come behind in no gift;  waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:  Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.  1 Corinthians 1:3-8

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving today.  I do truly count this blog as a blessing, in that I get to speak on behalf of our Lord, and pray that something I write can and will be used by our God to enrich your life in some way.  My prayer is that there will be people who will find the Savior through this blog, or that at least a seed shall be planted.  Not my will, but His be done.  I write to be invisible so that He may be seen through me.

May you be unable to count the multitude of blessings that are given to you this Thanksgiving and in the year to come.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone, and thanks for reading.

Giving thanks in all things,

Toni