Tag Archive | God

That’s My Girl

Several years ago, my husband and I had the opportunity to delve into the world of smartphones shortly after the iPhone 5 had been released. Cut to four and a half years and one battery replacement later, the antenna in my iPhone 5 finally went kaput last week. Though I can’t receive or make phone calls, I can still text and use Safari, so we were a bit slow to mosey into a Verizon store.

But it eventually happened, and my new phone arrived this past Friday. While I anticipated the FedEx truck rumbling down my driveway, I scoured Amazon for a new case. It was almost overwhelming, with all the choices available these days. Did I get another Eiffel Tower case…or maybe something with fairies? Those Christmas designs looked like fun, but several inspirational quotes had appeal, too.

This quote, in particular, stood out to me:

“You don’t have to wait to hear ‘Well done.’ If you do it right, you can know every day that God is smiling and saying, ‘That’s my girl.'”

I love that last part. Love the idea that God could be so informal as to say, “That’s my girl.” I know it in my head—that He’s with me every day, that He’s my friend (Romans 5:11)—but when Life takes a curve I wasn’t expecting, it’s hard for my heart to sense the reality of those intimate terms.

However. I do not like the part that says, “If you do it right…”

As a perfectionist and one who is sometimes overly concerned with making sure I’m following God’s will and doing it God’s way and careful not to step a toe out of line, I’m very much aware of my shortcomings and inability to do things right (parenthood, anyone?). How do we know if we’ve done things right, anyway? There’s no sign that flashes above us in reassurance. Sometimes He’ll whisper encouragement, but more often than not, all we can do is try to do things right. (I’m not talking about black and white moral issues. I’m talking about the gray areas. The areas where I can find examples for both sides of my argument/decision/situation, but it’s a matter of what God wants me and my family to do, not what He asked the Joneses to do once upon a time. Make sense?)

On occasion, my father-in-law has said, “The desire to please God pleases God.” And while that is a hard concept to believe when my head is full of murky, depressing thoughts, it gives me a sense of relief when I’m in my right mind. Plus, it correlates to parenting our children, doesn’t it? If my kids desire to please me, to obey me because they love me, that, in turn, pleases me. I’m far more understanding and patient with their blunders when I know their hearts are in the right place.

My heart is in the right place when it comes to following the Lord. I will not always get it right. I will lapse in moments of weakness, say and do things in moments of impatience or anger or when I’m on the defensive. But I’m trying my best.

So, I’m switching this saying around a little. Here’s what I think it should say:

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Image courtesy of Braelyn Germaine.

Now that’s something I wouldn’t mind splashed across my phone case.

But in the end, I went with a different inspirational quote that sums up everything in just a few words:

“If God is all you have, you have all you need.” John 14:8

What about you? Do you have a case that reflects part of your personality? If so, what does it look like? (I admit, I also went with the dancing fairy.) Or are you more sensible (as we all should be when toting around full-blown computer!) and use something like an Otterbox? If that’s the case, what would you rather see covering your phone? 😉 Leave a comment below–and if you have a brand you love, share that, too.

Did You Call Me or Not?

Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to become a published author before the age of forty. Never did I expect that dream to be such a thorn in my side.

Having grown up in a Christian home and coming to faith in Christ at a young age, I’ve long understood that God has a purpose for my life. That He has a calling for each of His children, and while the general calling looks the same—spread the life-giving news of love, forgiveness, and saving grace found in a relationship with Jesus Christ—He asks us to live it out in countless ways according to the unique gifts and talents He’s given us.

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Therein lay my problem. For over three decades, I have heard one story after another of writers feeling called by God to write, whether that was writing in general, or a specific book or series. But for me, I never felt called. I just knew I had a passion for it. On good days, I could write without worry, without second-guessing myself. On bad days, the doubts would creep in and I’d wonder if I was listening to my own selfish desires or if this passion was, in fact, from God. Oh, how I’ve wrestled with it. I’m sure you could find many posts on my blog under the “Writer’s Refuge” tab filled with my questioning, agonizing, pleading with the Lord to just tell me. Just tell me if You want me to write or not. I will give it up if You want me to.

Recently, one of my good friends and local writer buddies, Leah, started a new blog, justwriteinspire.com. Stoked for her, I visited the blog and clicked on the “About” page. The following is a little of what she had to say. (I’ve already shared this with her, so no worries I’m saying something that will hurt or offend her. 🙂 )

“While growing up, I never dreamed I would write. I wanted to be a singer and teacher–not an author.

“However…one day, a plot downloaded into my brain. I thought, someone should write that book. A year later, God planted an idea in my mind, ‘You write it.’ I fought the concept for years. I did not believe I could do it.

“God never gave up on me. He continued to whisper–over and over–‘You are a writer,’ until His words seeped, profoundly, into my heart and soul.”

~Leah, from justwriteinspire.com

At the time I read her words, the irony was not lost on me—how she had felt God’s calling in the area of writing when she hadn’t even been looking for it, while I had prayed for years and continued to question. But still, I smiled, genuinely happy for her.

Come the next day, dark thoughts had descended upon me, and I wasn’t smiling anymore.

I had planned to write that day after cleaning the bathrooms, but as I sprayed and scrubbed sinks and bathtubs, it occurred to me I didn’t have anything to write about. The characters in my two current WIPs weren’t talking, and I was plum out of ideas plot-wise. By the time I finished mopping the floors, I was a mental wreck. If I was supposed to write, why was it harder for me to make up stories than other writers? Maybe I was just fooling myself. Maybe I was a square peg trying to shove myself into a round hole.

So I cried. Hard. And I begged God to speak to me.

I. Needed. To. Know.

Did He want me to write or not?

In late March, I had been sharing my frustrations at Bible study about how my inner critic looks like Jesus, making it difficult for me to always know who’s talking: the critic or Jesus. Sitting beside me, one of my girlfriends promptly texted me this pic from Pinterest:

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I can’t begin to tell you how helpful it has been for me to see these differences written out so I can refer to them whenever I’m questioning the words inside my head. That day cleaning bathrooms, after reading how Leah had felt called to write her story, I remembered this picture and tried to reject the condemning, discouraging words rattling around inside my brain.

But I was weakening.

At last I fell across my bed, my chest aching in that deep way that makes you curl into a fetal position and sob from the core, sob without tears.

How?” I cried to God, glaring at the ceiling. “How can I fight these negative feelings about writing—how can I fight the devil’s lies and deceptions and attempts to bind me—when I don’t know if You want me to do this? How can I combat these attacks with Your promises if I don’t know You’re fighting with me in this area? I’ve wanted to write and be published since I was a kid. Have wanted to write to please You. So many others have felt called by You—why don’t I feel like You ever called me?”

I didn’t expect an answer right away. Hadn’t I pleaded with Him countless other times and received silence in return? Maybe if I kept an open mind and continued to lift up this specific prayer over the next several weeks, I’d recognize His answer…if it ever came.

But that day, God met me in my need, and almost before the question left my lips—“Why don’t I feel like You ever called me?”—a calm, comforting, gentle voice whispered to my spirit.

“Because it was what you already wanted to do. I didn’t have to call you onto a path you were already traveling.”

Oh.

Really?

In my case, yes, really.

And it makes me wonder if other believers can resonate with this.

Often in Christian circles, we get so focused on finding our purpose, finding our calling, our gifts, how we should edify the Church…but for the person who searches for that answer with a pure motive and comes up empty, this quest can be extremely frustrating and lead to feelings of inadequacy.

If that’s you…could it be you might already be on His path for you? Pray about it. Test it. Press into Him with an open heart. And be ready for when He answers.

Yes, I will still have bad days, moments when Negativity wants to tear me down and immobilize me. But now I can resist those thoughts and Satan’s attacks. Now I know writing is something God has called me to do.

And that dream of becoming a published author before the age of 40? Well, I signed a contract with my publisher a month before I turned forty, and my debut novel releases two months before I turn forty-one.

God’s timing is always perfect. And in this case, I’m thankful my timing wasn’t too far off. 😉

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The Writer’s Desert

 

This past November, I traversed into new territory when I signed a publishing contract with Clean Reads. Setting my sights away from the sparkling, intoxicating metropolis of Accepted Manuscript, I ventured down an unfamiliar, inconspicuous path: The Second Book.

Funny thing about this path. The Second Book doesn’t take two authors in the same direction. Some find themselves in a thick jungle, wrapped in an overabundance of words, swathed in the heat of a luscious plot that can’t wait to be written. Others enter the succulent haven of a coffee shop, drawing inspiration from the lives unfolding around them, tears splashing onto plastic lids, laughter bubbling up toward the ceiling tiles.

Still others, alas, take a journey such as mine and step into the barren wasteland of the Writer’s Desert.

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Unlike an earthly desert, it stays cold here even during the day; the sun might shine, but it emits no warmth. The dry ground remains firm beneath my feet, unforgiving in its hard surface, wicking away what little optimism I had armed myself with when I first started this journey.

I thought I was prepared for it. I had my laptop for communication—you know, for those several rounds of edits expected from my publisher, and for that finicky thing called a platform I need to spend time thinking about. But more importantly, I had a canteen of liquid words—others’ words—that were supposed to keep my writing muscles limber and supple until I reached the other side of this empty landscape. Serving as one of several judges on a few writing contests. Swallow. Involvement with an online critique group. Gulp. Offering my help as a beta reader for two different manuscripts. Sip, sip, sip.

But while my muscles stay quenched with others’ words, my soul has become parched at the lack of my own.

Sure, I’ve come across an oasis now and then. Broad ideas for a new story here; a one-paragraph summary for another story over there. Scenes for a sequel to my book that releases in October. But for the majority of the time, it’s just me and my canteen of somebody else’s work.

Oh, and the devil.

He likes to come alongside me at those times when I’m stumbling across the sand and taunt me. Tell me I don’t have what it takes, because other authors—better authors—are thriving in the jungle and there’s a reason I’m stuck in the desert. Better authors are on book #20 after eleven years of writing, and I’m on book #2 after seventeen. Better authors always have ideas cooking on the back burner, and since I don’t, that just reaffirms I lack what it takes to be successful in this field. Better authors have better blogs, more followers, a larger platform, a stronger backbone, a more persistent nature.

Sometimes Jesus is able to edge the devil out of my peripheral vision. For a few moments of time, maybe even as long as a day, I breathe in His clarity. He’ll take my hand in his and with the other, he’ll point to the horizon, and whisper, “Do you see it?”sunset-1331088_1920 And with my flawed incompetence wrapped within His limitless capabilities, I glimpse something hazy on that horizon, something shimmering with promise and strength, purpose and fulfillment. And—

Then the devil shoves his snout in my face and I lose hold of my precious Jesus.

Why is Satan’s voice so much louder than my Lord’s?

Why does Hate have a better grip than Love? Why does self-deprecation feel more comfortable than self-confidence? Why are lies easier to believe than the truth?

The devil, I’ve come to realize, has been leading me in unnecessary circles to keep me floundering in this desert so I don’t gain the promise on that horizon. I reached a certain milestone despite his lies when I signed that publishing contract a few months ago, and he hates it. He knows my fundamental desire—once the selfishness and narcissism gets pushed aside—is to write for the Lord, whether that’s in the form of a Christmas fantasy or inspirational romance, so what better way to keep me from accomplishing anything further as a Christian writer than to blast my negative qualities on “repeat” in this desert that offers no diversion to silence the noise? Wallowing in negativity is a stronghold in which I practically have a doctorate, so long did I once study it.

Once. Several years ago. I’m not where I was several years ago, and the Lord certainly doesn’t want me making a U-turn to head back there.

So this time, I’m on to the devil. I’m on to his pranks, his condemnation and discouragement. It might have taken me a few months to slough through his deception, but better that than several years. I’m learning to tune him out again; to trust, instead, the voice of my precious Jesus, and to believe what He sees as good in me. I’m taking steps toward that shimmering horizon, and while I’m not there yet—I still have weeks of travel through these cold, hard-packed sands—the oases ahead of me look more abundant than those along the trail of my last four months.

I’m confident I’ll be filling my canteen with my own words soon.

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Yellow Light

Yes.

No.

Wait.

When we go to God with a prayer request, we love to hear the first one, frown to hear the second one, but I think the most frustrating answer we receive sometimes is “Wait.”

Why, Lord?

For how long?

Pretty please, can’t I have [insert request here] now?

 

In the spring of 2015, Hubby and I found a track of land for sale in a gorgeous area of Jefferson County, about 20 minutes from Helena, MT. After prayerfully considering the risks, the pros and cons of purchasing the land, and the requirements that would go into creating our vision for the property*, we felt the Lord said, “Yes, purchase the land.” Yay! And yet…because of circumstances outside of our control, we didn’t close on the land until the very end of December. More than two months later than we were hoping to close.

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180 degree panoramic of our little slice of Montana.

 

“It’s okay,” Hubby kept reassuring me. “God’s got this. It’s all in His timing.”

Right. It was all good. We were still on target to building a new house on the land in the spring 2016, and getting the girls into a better, smaller school by the beginning of the 2016-17 school year.

Cut to April 2016, and still nothing had progressed. Well, baby steps, but nothing visible. Between work responsibilities and tax season, Hubby didn’t start making headway on our land project until May. We still held out hope we could start building a house in August and move into it halfway through the school year, so I was still going forward with the idea our girls would be switching schools. Thus, I wanted to find a rental property closer to the new school than where we were at the time, which meant the house needed to be put up for sale.

Then summer vacation came along, with an already-planned trip to MA in June to visit family. I was in no position to move before leaving for MA, and Hubby wasn’t about to move while the girls and I were in MA, so thoughts of putting the house on the market got bumped to late July.

Then August.

The first week in August for sure.

The goal came…and went. Still, I continued packing up the house, because I was determined to make the deadline of getting into a rental property before the start of the school year. For the sake of the girls’ education, right?

On August 10th, I called the realtor so we could sign papers and put the house on the market. We made an appointment to meet on Saturday, August 13th…but as Saturday drew closer, the more panicked Hubby and I became.

And then Hubby dropped the bomb Friday night: the builder had called earlier that day to say he couldn’t start on our house until March 2017.

Before you shake your head at our builder, bear in mind we hadn’t signed any papers, and building houses is his livelihood. We do not fault him for picking up other work. In fact, it reaffirmed what Hubby and I had begun to think ourselves—maybe we should wait until the spring to start building, since the land project was taking waaaay longer to finalize than we ever could have dreamed.

Of course, then my analytical side kicked in. Our original thinking in getting a rental had been to keep our girls from having to switch schools halfway through the year. But if we couldn’t start building a new house until March 2017, that was no longer a concern, since there was no way we’d be moving in until maybe late August next year. So…why were we working so hard to get out of our current house?

Huh.

Crap. Now what?

Pray.

So I called the realtor and postponed our meeting until the following weekend, leaving Hubby and I a week to come together in prayer each day and ask the Lord in which direction He wanted us to go. (Not that we weren’t praying on our own, but there’s something more potent about praying together.)

There were risks and fears either way we decided, but Hubby and I don’t like making decisions based off of fears, especially fears of the unknown, so in the end, based on what was before us, what was tangible, and knowing God was in our corner so we didn’t have to fear the unknown, we decided to…stay.

Sigh. Grumble grumble.

“Wait.”

That’s what we heard.

Wait on building the house.

Wait to put the girls in a different school.

Sit tight, focus on the other tasks at hand, and take this time to better prepare for the spring.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21

During our week of prayer, my father-in-law had advised us not to move until we had complete peace about it. He echoed what I had been thinking. All the other times we’ve had to make big decisions, we’ve always had peace despite not knowing the end product or how insane our decision looked to others. Even when we bought the land, we had peace about the purchase. God had said, “Yes” to the land.

But apparently He’s saying, “Wait” before building our house on it.

The housing market is really good right now. Will it be better next year in the spring or summer…or worse? What will the economy look like next year after the November elections? What will the mortgage rates be? These are just a few of the things that were enticing us to sell now. Move now.

But God says wait. And He’s bigger than the economy or housing markets or mortgage rates. So despite any concerns for the future, despite any economist’s (or politician’s) projection on what 2017 will bring, our hope is in the Lord. He is our Rock. Our Sustainer. Our Comforter. It doesn’t necessarily mean circumstances will look better next year for selling our house, but we can rest in the knowledge we are currently staying on His path for our lives. And in the end, shouldn’t that be our goal?

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*More on our vision for the property in a future post.

Epiphanies in Household Chores

I had an imaginary, future discussion with my daughter the other day.

As a writer, I’m more skilled at hypothetical conversations than real ones, and considering I was alone in the kitchen washing dishes—really, what else was there to do?

This conversation with my future 15/16 year-old (she’s 12 ½ now, so it’ll be here in a couple of blinks) had to do with modesty and her incapability as a hormone-induced teenager to understand why it’s so important that she wear appropriate clothing in public—even at the beach. Despite the fact most of her friends would be flaunting their bodies in the hopes to gain desired attention. Despite the fact she might want such attention (because Christians are humans, too, and when hormones run amok, wisdom and reason usually get shoved against the back wall).

In this conversation, I lovingly (it’s always done more calmly in my head than in reality) encouraged her to trust me, trust in an adult’s perspective from the other side of that hormone-induced state. I told her I wasn’t keeping her from wearing promiscuous clothing to be mean and take away her fun, but rather to protect her (…and for the sake of her Christian guy friends, because those poor teenage boys—who are more visual than we women will ever comprehend—barely stand a chance in this sex-driven society run rampant with girls wearing barely-there clothing).

The point is, as an almost 40-year-old, I understand that children and teenagers cannot look at the world or their decisions through adult eyes. It’s mentally impossible because the comprehension is not there. And I think we’d all agree that 60-somethings know more than an almost-40-year-old, and that anyone over 80 has earned the right to their stubborn ways and opinions (not that those ways and opinions are necessarily correct, but they’ve earned the right to have them). 😉

But as I was carrying on this non-existent conversation, it hit me—again, yet on a different level this time: Why is it so difficult for me to accept that it works the same way with God?

God is eternal. He’s been here since before the dawn of time and He has no end. He’s all-knowing. Like a weaver at a loom, He knows the threads of the past, how each one has been woven together to create the present, and how they’ll continue intertwining to flesh out the future. His ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9), and the things He does sometimes will make you shake your head. (Um, the King of kings was born in a nondescript manger, with only animals and a couple of shepherds to welcome him—shepherds being the lowest on the social ladder, BTW, at that time and in that culture. Camp out there for a bit until the significance of what He sacrificed sinks in.)

But, God is also all-loving. So if He keeps something from me that I want, or doesn’t answer my prayers the way I’d like, maybe instead of automatically thinking He’s doing it to be mean or to take away the fun, I should think of it as a mother to her teenage daughter and realize He’s doing it for my protection. Because He loves me, and He knows how things will work out better than I can from where I stand at the present moment, with my limited understanding.

Will I always like His answers? Nope. Will I always accept them without first stomping off to my room and slamming the door? Probably not. But just like a perceptive teenager submits to and accepts his/her parents’ greater wisdom, so I hope to be a perceptive child who inevitably submits to and accepts the unmatched, faultless, loving wisdom of my heavenly Father.

Hmm, looks like I have laundry to do. Wonder what God will teach me while folding clothes. 😀

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Silver Lining

I don’t own a ton of clothes. Whatever half of the year I’m in (warm or cold), the corresponding clothes are the ones either dangling in my closet or stuffed in a bureau drawer. The outfits I don’t need suffocate in a plastic bin on the top shelf in my closet. The point is, no matter the season, every article of clothing I own is somewhere in the master bedroom.

So imagine my confusion the other day when I went to find a shirt I hadn’t worn in a long time–and it was no where. Not hanging. Not stuffed. Not suffocating. Wait–maybe it was hiding in my garment bag? I pulled out the bag, laid it on my bed… Nope, not there, either. Grrr… So I prayed. “Lord, you know exactly where that shirt is. Please help me find it.” (Because sometimes He’s the only one who has a clue about these things.)

Then I threw on a different outfit and went about my day.

A few hours later, I returned to hang the garment bag back in my closet, but I was standing at a funny angle (way too much stuff on the closet floor), and a couple of the hangers fell off my fingers and slipped inside the bag as I struggled to get them onto the rod. Frustration mounted inside me. Maybe more frustration than the situation called for, but really–could I not complete a simple task without it morphing into something complicated? So I unzipped the bag and reached down for the hanger and vest that had fallen. Hmm. Did I get everything that fell? What if more than one hanger dropped but I didn’t know?

Hey–what if that shirt I’d been looking for had fallen?

I reached down further, patting, searching–ah ha! Triumphant, I pulled out the very shirt I’d wanted to wear that morning. Of course, I immediately thanked the Lord–always nice to receive a quick answer to prayer–and then I paused. He had answered my prayer, had even used this frustrating situation in which to do it–because if it hadn’t been for the other clothes falling down inside the bag, I never would have thought to search for more.

This brough to mind some of those childhood memory verses. You know, the ones that stay with you for life?

“Consider it joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 1:2-3.

“And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28.

Oh, I know what happened to me that morning is a teensy, minor inconvenience on the grand scale of troubling circumstances, but it’s those minor ones that snarl me up the most. I think the point is God wanted to remind me that if there’s a silver lining on some minor inconvenience, shouldn’t I know by now to look for the silver lining on a major inconvenience? ‘Cuz He’s always got my back. Why do I keep forgetting that?

So the question is…the next time I’m frustrated, how long will I stay frustrated before searching for–and recognizing–God’s silver lining? How long will you? 😉

What is Christmas, anyway?

Picture courtesy of my sister at Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World

Picture courtesy of my sister at Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World

Merry Christmas.

Two simple words that generate not-so-simple responses.

To one heart, it brings joy; to another, it brings sorrow. One man smiles at the greeting, and another man gnashes his teeth. One house fills with excitement and gratitude while the house next door drowns in stress and envy.

Christmas once ushered in a time for rest and togetherness on dark winter days; warm drinks and once-a-year-treats enjoyed by the fire; laughter shared by families. Now the days of December overflow with busy schedules, haphazard visits to disconnected relatives “because we have to,” and the shout of advertisements pinging us on billboards, catalogues, FB, Twitter, email—all screaming for us to buy, buy, buy because, because, because.

Carols trill about peace and goodwill, yet people’s faces reflect frustration and strife. What was once considered the most wonderful time of the year has morphed into one of the worst times of the year.

Because ever so slowly, through the passing of decades and generations, we have taken Christ out of Christmas.

Take Christ out of Christmas and what do you have left? A day in late December where people buy stuff for other people because…that’s what you do on this holiday, right? People spend thousands of dollars and go into debt because…that’s what’s expected. Parents buy toys and electronics for their children, whose rooms already explode with under-appreciated “stuff,” because…that’s what society tells them to do. Why?

Take Christ out of Christmas and you have an empty, ridiculous day filled with wasting money on stuff we can get any other day of the year.

But keep Christ in Christmas and you have the next phase of God’s plan fulfilled. Done, because He loves us. Did you know that whole scene in the manger was planned before God breathed the world into being? Did you know He had you in mind when He sent His Son to live among us in a form with which we could identify? And touch. And hug. And look upon. See his eyes? They shine with unconditional love—for you. For me. See his smile? He smiles with patience and deep understanding—for you. For me.

God loved us before we even knew or acknowledged He existed. That miserly co-worker in the next cubicle? God loves him. That group that defies your morals and values? God loves them. Those terrorists with malicious intent in their hearts? God. Loves. them.

True, He doesn’t want them to stay that way. He doesn’t condone their selfish actions, their sin, any more than He condones mine. Yet He still loves us in spite of those things. And he yearns for us to know Him—not as a judge with hammer in hand; not as a genie to grant our wishes—but as a Father who wants the very best for His children.

Jesus gave up his deity for more than three decades to live among us so that we would have a visible picture reflecting in full the nature of the invisible God. And even though we can’t see Him with our human eyes, our spiritual eyes can experience His goodness, mercies, love, and presence every single day.

God's decorations on my decorations.

God’s decorations on my decorations in the form of hoarfrost.

Did you see the sunrise this morning? God did that. Did you notice the hoarfrost yesterday? God did that. Did you utilize some form of transportation on your way to work? Enjoy the game on your flatscreen TV? Text a friend on your smartphone? God blessed mankind with the minds to create those things. Did you take time to marvel at your child’s face before sending her off to school? Or wonder over your baby’s fingers before settling him down for a nap? God created those little ones, too. And they have worth–not because of what Hollywood says or what their friends think–but because God created them on purpose. And that which He creates, He loves.

Christmas represents God’s love for people when the Creator became the created—human limitations and all—knowing from the onset that His earthly path would take Him through the splinters of a cross before He could return to His rightful place of glory.

Because. He. Loves. Us.

That is Christmas. That is love.

Sacrificial. Selfless. Unconditional. “Even before he made the world, God loved us…” Ephesians 1:4a.

This Christmas season, may you somehow, in some way, through someone, encounter the joy, comfort, and peace that can only come from recognizing the Source of it all.

God Incarnate: Jesus Christ. Emmanuel: God with us.

“This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loves us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” 1 John 4:10 NLT; boldface mine

“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.” Ephesians 1:4-8 NLT; boldface mine