for the place where thou standest is holy ground."
Acts 7:33 KJV

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Santa for The Lord

Painting by:  Artist Michael Garland 1996
Today I joined the masses... looking for fun things to surprise my family with under the tree.  My daughter Jessie, son Stephen Jr., son-in-law Jeff, and "adopted into the family" daughter Jodie... all have outgrown the "Santa stage" and usually it is best to allow them to pick-out gifts, tell me what they want, or give them gift cards or money!  That pressure I have succumbed to... but still insist on a couple of things unexpected to make them smile.

I think one of the most exciting and magical traditions of the Christmas season is gift-giving.  Beautiful packages wrapped in brightly colored paper with bows and ribbons are placed beneath the Christmas tree, to be shook, squeezed, rattled, and guessed at it's contents.  Each gift under the tree offers a blessing, both to the recipient and the giver.  The custom of giving gifts began even before the wise men brought gifts to Baby Jesus.  The Romans gave gifts that symbolized specific blessings.  If one received a gift of sweets, it was a wish for good things for the coming year.  A gift of a lamp ensured light and warmth, while small presents of gold and silver symbolized a blessing of wealth and prosperity.

Today I read these verses in Matthew 25:37-40 (KJV)
"Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?  When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?  Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?  And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
These verses challenged me to pause in the midst of my Christmas hustle and bustle... and consider ways that I can reach out to others and make their lives better.  There is always something we can do --- whether it's prepare a meal for a family struggling financially, share toys with a child, or spend time with someone who is alone.  The size of the gift doesn't matter - it's the love behind the gift that matters.  I once again had to stop and ask myself this question, "What has God placed in my hand today... that was meant to be shared with someone else... and not kept for myself...???  My desire is to be used as a "Santa for The Lord," blessing the lives of others ! ! !  Can you imagine how different Christmas would be if each of us found one person to bless... can you imagine how different we would be?

Dear Lord, are there those that You would have me to reach out to this Christmas Season?  Show me, I'll be watching... Speak to me, I'll be listening... Guide me, I'll follow.  AMEN 

Friday, December 2, 2011

It's not about the Presents.... but the Presence

As Christmas is approaching... and I - like most everyone else, am scrambling to purchase that perfect gift for those that I love.  For a couple of years Christmas was a very sad time for me.  In 2008 my sister & I lost our mom and a few days before she died... our daughter Jessica and her family left the U.S. to serve on the Mission Field in Thailand.  Those losses... took their toll. 

Now, over 3 years later... I am looking to Christmas with anticipation.  For
Our Grandchildren:  Sophie, Caroline, Jackson
myself though... It's not about the Presents... but the Presence.  There were years that "getting" that perfect gift was exciting and Steve and others have given me some very special gifts... but the older I get - I can honestly say - there is NOTHING that I want that can be wrapped.  The "presence" of family and friends and their well-being - are the most precious gifts of all.  To have Steve, my children, and grandchildren, Lord willing, with me this December 25th will be enough and worth more than anything "money" can buy.  The only thing that could even begin to make it better is the "presence" of more family and friends, and health and healing for some very special people in my life!

I can't help but feel that way about the Lord also.  He has blessed me with many things (blessings) over the years but... It's not about His Presents that He gives... It's about His Presence in my life that is most important.  I don't want to live one minute that His Presence is not with me... leading and guiding my everyday!

(Psalm 139:1-7)  "O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it. Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?"