Advent-ageous

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Advent: arrival, appearance, emergence, occurrence, dawn, birth, rise, development.

It’s that time of year again. Time to box up the burnt orange and brown harvest décor, the turkey salt and pepper shakers, the leftover turkey adorned paper plates and the Amish carved wooden pilgrims.

The new scene…a rustic Nativity scene; snow-flocked greens with red berries; a big sparkling tree lovingly decorated with years of memories dripping from its branches; miniature trees with lights; a lit up Victorian centered Christmas village; pine scented candles and countless Christmas knick-knacks I have not been able to resist purchasing over the years.

shutterstock_520435183.jpgAs the corncob door knocker is exchanged for a lovely bowed wreath, I start to think of what a well-oiled machine this holiday decorating has become and I feel a twinge of pride at my accomplishments. But something is missing. Ah, it must be the Advent wreath with candles. I must have put it in a ‘special place.’ Oh well, no time to find it before the first Sunday family dinner of Advent.

A smoldering of guilt is beginning to penetrate my thoughts. Could it be because our first night of the Advent celebration was basically a bust? I had substituted the five candle advent wreath for a much more beautiful fake crystal wreath around a single center candle. But that’s just ritual ~ not a problem of the heart.

To add to my feeling of spiritual discomfort, it dawns on me that I’m pretty sure we didn’t even discuss the coming of our Lord at our family dinner table on this first night of Advent. I immediately place the blame on being overwhelmed with my “To-Do’s” that conspicuously dot every page of my December calendar. And “Hey,” I say to myself, “it’s still only November. Let me recover from Thanksgiving for heaven’s sake!”
Funny… I see no person pointing a finger at me…nope; it’s just me being prompted by the Holy Spirit. I have started Advent and the celebration of Christmas on a shaky note. I was endangering a truly joyous occasion by my rote busyness and reducing this special evening to a hassle at best! I was putting the spectacular news of the birth of Jesus in the backseat when it should be in the driver’s seat. BUT… the God of forgiveness will not let go of me.

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A smile comes to my face and my heart warms up as I think about what God has done for us. (Phew, He’s putting me back on track…wipe sweat from brow.) As you keep your priority on Christ’s birth during this Advent Season, remember to thank God for loving us enough to bring His son to walk the earth as a human. And remember as you are decorating, whom you are celebrating!

The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way. A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’” Mark 1:1 – 3

 

A Prayer for a busy during Advent ~ “Father, I want this holiday season to be filled with light instead of darkness. Please help me discard my emotional masks and be real before You as well as my family and friends. Father, help me make this holiday season an offering of praise to You. In Jesus Name, Amen.” Mary Southerland “Turning Christmas Chaos into Christmas Joy” Girlfriends in God.

 

Monday Must See Video: Noel by Chris Tomlin w/ Lauren Daigle

UNSHAKEN

shutterstock_428657023Shhh, don’t tell anyone but my dog, on certain occasions, has been rumored to be seen running free in the woods behind our house. On her favorite days, she is joined by other local K9 offenders in this leash-less, illegal frolic. Unbounded by the chains of man, these joyful animal escapades can be especially dangerous to those innocently standing by. (Hence, the reason, or at least one of them, for the leash law in the first place.)

shutterstock_358981.jpgShe and her partners in crime naturally get rambunctious when granted this freedom. I’m still trying to figure out why getting wet in the creek makes them even nuttier and twice as fast! It is at these times I am known for yelling one of the following warnings to my fellow bystanders… “Bend your knees!” “Grab a tree!” Or one of my favorite lines from ‘Devil Wears Prada’… “Gird Your loins!”

If you are just standing there unprotected from an incoming frolic, then you are just begging for an accidental dog flogging. So heed my woodsy warning; make sure to steady yourself for protection and save yourself a visit to your Orthopedic surgeon.

Have you ever been caught off guard and taken a fall for it? In our world tossed and saturateshutterstock_242517091d in confusion, unrest, anger and turmoil, consider this: God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He wants to be your “Go-To Guy”. He wants you to know Him personally and to work in and through your life while revealing his truth along the way. Take hold of this promise and prepare yourself to become a sturdy servant; knowing who you are no matter what way the wind is blowing. You are a daughter, or a son, of the one true king who has been revealing himself to us throughout generations of history.

This week… Ask God to give you wisdom to understand your value to Him and give you courage to stand up for your beliefs. Ask your Heavenly Father to show you how to let go of those things that distract you- that often put you on a shaky path.

“But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.” Psalm 33:11

 

“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him. I thank you and praise you, O God of my fathers.” Daniel 2:20-23

 

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58

 

“I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken” Psalm 16:8

 

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous. Be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13

 

“Be strong, and let your heart take courage, All you who hope in the Lord.” Psalm 31:24

 

“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings of eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31

 

“Be sure to put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.” Abraham Lincoln

 

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” Winston Churchill

 

“Christianity is not about how to escape from the difficulties of life ~ it is about how to face the difficulties of life” Alistair Begg “Truth for Life”

 

Monday Must see Music Video: “We Won’t be Shaken” Building 429

 

 

 

 

 

Ever so Hopeful

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Anyone with a dog knows the look. Those great big dark eyes looking directly into your soul saying, “Look at me. You know I’m your best friend and I want nothing but to please you.” As their chin nuzzles securely onto that spot where your knee ends and your thigh begins, they continue… “That sure looks good… and so much…you don’t need to keep all that food to yourself ya know. I don’t ask for much… so… could you…would you drop a couple of scraps for me?”

My sister and her family call this the “ever so hopeful look”. I believe it’s a universal talent in the K-9 world of begging. Our furry friends hope for so little from us in exchange for so many priceless benefits we receive from them. They don’t talk back to us, would never think poorly of us and wouldn’t ever dream of weighing the pros and cons of remaining loyal to us. They just love us unconditionally; trust that we will take care of their needs and hope for a rewarding scrap or two along the way.

We dog lovers experience much joy but certainly have our fair share of pain. Recently our black pug Penny was diagnosed with “Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome.” (A fancy name for ‘she has suddenly gone blind’.) My vet said something very thoughtful and interesting to me. She said, “Owners tend to put themselves in the place of their dogs, thinking “Oh my goodness, this is so devastating for them. Their life is now dark and sad. But,” she went on to say, “these animals tend to be resilient. Just like before they were blind, they are content just knowing and feeling the warmth of your touch and the sound of your voice. They are content just to be with you.”

shutterstock_433271371I know she was comforting me and I knew she was right. It made me think. The absolute trust that I see in Penny has opened my eyes to a deeper truth about our own tendency toward spiritual blindness. Is our contentment with God swayed by our ever changing emotions or are we solidly grounded in our hope, love and trust in Him?

My little dog knowing that she is loved and cared for no matter what is precisely what God wants us to understand about how he feels about us. His promise to never leave us or forsake us should bring us comfort; making us “ever so hopeful” for more than just scraps we are so often grasping for.

God shows his love for you by unveiling the feast of His message. In your next prayer time ask God to open your eyes to the feast he has prepared especially for you! A feast that includes a peace and hopeful contentment that surpasses all understanding,

 

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him. So that you may overflow with hope, by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

 

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23

 

“Be strong and take heart all you who hope in the Lord.” Psalm 31:24

 

“God can bring peace to your past, purpose to your present and hope to your future.” John 14:27

 

“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish will you give him a snake? So if you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him” Matthew 7:10

 

“The gospel infuses hope and joy in our current circumstances by acknowledging God’s greatness over any crisis we’ll face.” Randy Alcorn, “God’s Promise of Happiness.”

 

“A dog doesn’t care if you are rich or poor, smart or dumb. Give him your heart…and he’ll give you his.” Milo Gathma

 

“I love a dog. He does nothing for political reasons.” Will Rogers

 

 

Monday Must see Video:

“Hope in Front of Me” Danny Gokey (An American Idol star!)