Wednesday, December 27, 2017

"I don't want that!"

"I don't want that!"

I've thought this phase many times after opening a gift on Christmas morning.  All I could think was how I'd be heading back to the store to stand in a return line! 

 It's bad enough that I didn't get what I wanted, but now I must use my time and energy to return it.  Then adding insult to injury, I don't even get the money back to buy something I want because the store returns the money to the credit card.  Major bummer.

Did I mention that gift giving and receiving is my last, very last, love language?  The cruel joke on me is that I married a #1 Gift Giver!   And, he's sort of a bad gift picker!  Love him!

In my mind, I have said many times...Do you even know me AT ALL?  Okay, I may have said that out loud...more than once.  I love that poor, sweet man, who loves to shower gifts on my stone, cold heart.

Get ready to gasp, because I'm about to tell you the most horrific Christmas story EVER!  It's the time I throw his gift on the floor.

Yes, I did.

 In my defense, we had agreed that we would not be exchanging presents that year because of a special trip.  But guess what?  On Christmas morning, he came down the stairs with an arm load of gifts and a big happy smile.  He was speaking his love language loud and clear, BUT, I couldn't hear him.  I had nothing for him because I took the whole, "no gifts" thing literally.

It was not a happy Christmas morning as I cried while I angrily opened gifts and complained that I had nothing for him.  The first gift was a full-body cozy blanket thing with sleeves that zips up the front.  That goofy blanket thing triggered something in my overheated body and I throw the package on the floor and said...maybe yelled, "I don't want that!"

That was a long time ago, but I still can see his pain.  Since then, I've tried so hard to be accepting of his gifts.  Can you believe, he is still bringing me gifts?  (I just returned three things last month that he bought me for my birthday.)  Lord, bless his generous heart!

In all honesty, I am learning to be a better giver and receiver!  And I will never again believe him when he says, “no presents.” 

A few days ago, we all celebrated the biggest gift giving day of the year, and it's also the day we celebrate the greatest gift ever given.  God's gift to us, Jesus.  I think God's love language may be Gift Giving too because he has so many gifts available to whosoever will.  The gift of salvation, the baptism in the Holy Spirit, peace, provision,  protection, joy, love, and forgiveness...just to name a few.

In 1 Peter 4:10, there is a simple verse that says so much about how God entrusts His many gifts to us.

 Each of you as a good manager 
must use the gift that God has given you 
to serve others.

What?  No returns!  I have to use it and serve others.  I guess I won't be saying, "I don't want that!" to God.

This verse tells us that not only do we have to keep the gifts God gives us, but we MUST use them.  And not for ourselves, but they are meant to serve others.

When you’re returning all the “I don’t want that,” gifts this year, remember, if you're willing to accept His gifts, He has so much more to give you.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Packaging

I love beautifully wrapped presents, but somewhere over the years the practical me stopped buying bows and ribbons.  The main reason for the lack of luster in my Christmas wrappings is because I'm cheap.  That is followed closely by the extra time it takes to tie up and decorate the packages.  And let's not forget, less to clean up which works nicely with my personal life goal of making everything in my life as simple and uncomplicated as possible..for ME!

With these three things always before me, the frills were set aside many years ago, for the cheapest and quickest form of wrapping.  Still, I will admit, I do love to see Christmas trees with all those coordinating packages displayed neatly around the bottom of the tree.

There really is something to be said about the packaging.  The mystery of a box wrapped in pretty paper draws the eye and creates wonder as to what could be hidden inside.  On Christmas morning, all those beautiful packages are an amazing thing to behold,  just not at my house.   

However, when it comes to the packaging, God and I have something in common...the simpler the better.  

When God's gift to all mankind burst on the scene, the surroundings were a stable, livestock, and a feeding trough.  When God's gift was laid in a manger, the descriptive words were lowly, stripes of cloth and no room for them.  

There was no pretty-paper, bows or ribbons found in Luke 2:6-7.  

So it was, that while they were there, 
the days were completed for her to be delivered. 
And she brought forth her firstborn Son, 
and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths,
and laid Him in a manger, 
because there was no room for them in the inn.

The greatest gift that has ever been given came with the simplest of packaging.  In fact, Isaiah 53:2 takes it a step future in describing the packaging.          

...He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

It's an amazing thing when you think about it.  The very words of Isaiah were meant to tell us how simple the packaging really was, but those words never fail to stir my emotions because I don't see the package that way.  

To me the packaging is quite the opposite.  He is the epitome of the word beauty and majesty and I am even more drawn to Him and in love with Him for the simplicity of the packaging.     

In a few days, the Christmas paper will be flying through the air and when that happens, it won't  matter if your presents were designer trimmed or dollar store wrapped.  

But now and forever, there is one special gift, one very special gift where The Packaging really does matter.

...He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

Yet, we do!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

To Be Held

Our 15-month old grandson loves to be held.  When he's on the other side of one of the many baby gates in our house, I'll hear a sweet little voice call out to me, "Hi."

He will repeat his greeting to me over and over until I connect with him.  Then he will extend his arms to me, and I cannot resist his need to be held.

Reaching over the gate, I swoop him up in my arms and he beams with happiness and a sweet sigh of contentment escapes his lips.  To be perfectly honest, I'm happy too.

I think one of the simplest act of love expressed to a child is to hold them.  When they fall, we hold them.  When they cry, we hold them. When they are happy, we hold them.  When they are sad, we hold them.  When they are hurt, we hold them.  Holding the hurting, wounded, sad or even happy child is what a good parent does.  A child knows he is safe when held in the arms of his parents.

For some people, Christmas can be a stressful,lonely or difficult time. This year may be a reminder that there is an empty chair at your table.  For others, you may be feeling the pains of estrangement this Christmas.  Whatever the case may be you may be facing a lonely Christmas.  If you find yourself in one of these places, you may need To Be Held.  

In my life, there has been difficult times when I know HE held me.  In my times of need, I can picture my arms extended to my Heavenly Father and His ears open to my, "Hi, Hi, Hi."   And He never fails to response to my need to be held.  

For I am the Lord your God,
the one who takes hold of your right hand,
who says to you, ‘Don’t be afraid, 
I am helping you.’  
Isaiah 41:13 NET

This week, don't allow sadness, hurts, loneliness or even the busyness of life to rob you of your opportunity to be held.  

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

AGAIN with the Wise Men

There isn't really anything new under the sun when it comes to the Christmas Story.  It has been told, retold, turned inside out and upside down!

I've heard a load of sermons in my lifetime about everything from the strips of cloth that Mary wrapped the baby Jesus in, to the donkey that brought her to Bethlehem. (which is actually not in the Biblical version of the Christmas story. LOL)

When I was a kid, my least favorite part of the Christmas story was anything related to the Wise Men.  It's highly unlikely that I ever said these words out loud, but I thought them...AGAIN with the Wise Men.  

 What do we really know about these three guys...
  • Yes, they were wise.  
  • They were not typical men.  Why? Because they stopped to ask for directions.
  • They brought gifts and smart men do come bearing gifts.
  • They were perceptive.  
  • They would not be circumvented from their purpose or plan.   I guess that would make them goal oriented. 
Wait...I like goal oriented.  I happen to be a focused planner myself.  These guys had a purpose and a plan, and nothing was going to thwart them from their goal.  I'm suddenly relating to these three guys.

On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, 
and they bowed down and worshiped him
Then they opened their treasures 
and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Matthew 2:11

There is a phase that has been used many times in the story of the Wise Men that goes like this, Wise Men still seek Him.  As used as that one sentence has been in the telling of the Christmas Story, it does bear truth...the wise men of the Christmas Story sought Jesus out with purpose.  They came to worship Him.     

I think the next time I hear about the Wise Men, I won't be saying, "AGAIN with the Wise Men." These three guys got it right.  They came to worship HIM!

Have you?

Book Release

    The Journals of Tori Drake Click on the book cover to order on Amazon. Book Review: I consumed this book in three days. Although it was ...