Walk with me, share the light

Photo by Pokrajac
Photo by Pokrajac

Impressions. That’s all I have sometimes.

Whispers in a world that is screaming so very loud.

Gentle, inaudible stirring in my heart leading me on.

Like a teeny little birthday candle to lead me up a moonless mountain pass. I wander. I stumble. I poke my way in the dark, see so little. Merely just the step in front of me. No more, no less.

Lighten the way before me, give me more sight I ask. But you do not.

My little candle that doesn’t diminish is enough for today. So I make my way through the mountain of life, one teeny step at a time.

Walk with me. Share the light.

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Christmas Unwrapped

 

giftsWhen my children were young and their Christmas gifts more plentiful, we’d make a game out of throwing away the wrapping paper. A large black lawn bag would be propped up in the corner of the room. Gift paper would be balled up and shot at the waiting hoop.

Oh, we’d fill it. There’d be plenty of paper and tissue and boxes and twist ties and impossible to remove plastic casing. Up in the air we’d launch it into the bag. The trashcan would be over flowing from all the excess wrapping.

On the day after Christmas, all that remained was the gifts. Unwrapped and sitting underneath the tree.

What would we play with, put together or enjoy? Everything was shiny and new. Never to look that good again.

Over the years, an endless supply of socks, games and stuff that I’ve given and received has come and gone. Too many for me to recall.

But few gifts have been truly memorable or long lasting enough to still be around today.

With our kids grown up now, I no longer fill stockings with legos, candy and play doh. There is much less stuff to buy. Less gift paper to throw out. No need for a massive bag to contain the trash. And far less items left underneath the tree on the day after.

But today, my heart cares less about those wrapped gifts and more about the fleeting moments of laughter and love.

I desire the intangibles that can’t be packaged – a glimpse of eternity, one more taste of His presence, a heavenly ache that fills my soul.

So, as another year and another Christmas comes to a close, I wonder, what remains?

What gifts did I unwrap that will last, to sustain me through the next year, to quench my thirsty soul?

 

Gift 1PEACE

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27

This first intangible gift was a promise from our Lord. In this ever darkening world, I am easily troubled and afraid. But God gives soul gifts. Peace. Even just the word fills me with anticipation and desperate longing for a very large second helping.

gift2

JOY

 “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11

Not only does He give this gift, but He gives it in great measure. We will be FULL of joy when we are in His presence. What place on earth can dare compare?

Where else does His Spirit stir me to such intense passion to praise Him no matter what this world offers? Why would I desire to be anywhere else?

 

gift3HOPE

“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

The same God who gives joy and peace, also overflows me with the intangible gift of hope. As only He can.

Because He is the God of Hope. He gives of Himself.

I dare not hope in anything in this world, but with the power of His Spirit, the gentle whisper of hope flickers precariously in my soul. Helps me to hold on.

Yes, Christmas is over for another year. The presents are opened. The paper thrown away. The feasts indulged. The decorations taken down.

But what remains?

These three gifts. I’m holding on to these three tightly.  Did you unwrap them this year?

The Gift of Hope at Christmas

Gifts

For young children, Christmas often brings a mountain of presents. As the big brown truck pulls up outside and deposits yet another supply from out of state relatives, the pile under the tree grows ever higher. Add to that stash a trip to Grandma’s house, and Santa doesn’t even need to come.

A child can be overwhelmed.

But as they filter through the endless boxes of Legos, Barbies and board games, there is that one gift they are looking for. The one at the top of the wish list. The bicycle. The camera. The guitar. “The” item they want above all others. If that is not there, then the other stuff just becomes fluff. No more valuable than the empty gift boxes wrapped underneath the mall Christmas tree.

As adults, although Christmas doesn’t contain nearly the same amount of physical gifts, we can still become overwhelmed with all that the holiday holds. Baking, parties, decorating, wrapping, and cards.

It’s easy to get lost in the fluff and wrapping paper.

But, like children, don’t we still desire that one gift? The one our heart aches for above everything else. If we were to receive it, none of the other holiday stuff would matter.

Is it healing from sickness? Help for a broken heart? That pay raise, or maybe just a job? The long awaited book contract? A prodigal’s return?

Maybe, this is the year.

One year, when I was young, I thought it would be fun to sneak into my parent’s closet and see what they bought me for Christmas. Big mistake. I was disappointed twice.

The unwrapped items, fresh from the store, sitting in a plastic bag suddenly looked so plain and weak. Then a week later, when they were wrapped and I opened them officially on Christmas morn, the mystery was gone, the secret already told. And I had a hard time enjoying the holiday or the gifts. My hope for that one thing was dashed.

Today, I still have a deep longing I want fulfilled. One thing my heart desires above any other gift. But as much as I would like to, I can’t sneak a peek in God’s closet and see if He has it waiting for me this year.

So I hope.

But hope in Him is not like a ruined surprise. Or an unwrapped and undesirable gift that’s lost its glamour. A trinket played with for a while then quickly tossed aside. Hope in God does not disappoint.

“And now, Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in You.” Psalm 39:7

So, whether my one desire is sitting underneath my tree this year, I no longer have to wait. I have already unwrapped the best gift ever. The gift given long ago. The gift of God, come to me, abiding with me.

He fills my deepest longing in my heart with more of Him.  And I am not disappointed.

I choose to celebrate #alittlebitofchristmas every day

1 Calendar 2

For a Christian, there is nothing worth celebrating more than the birth of our Savior. Love come to earth. A love that gave us gifts. Joy. Peace. Salvation.

But do we actually enjoy those gifts in the daily madness of the holiday season as we prepare for Christmas day?

We pack our schedules with one more thing. We rush. We decorate. We bake. We shop. We wrap. We host. We go to bed exhausted from trying to do it all. And we pray by December 25th, it will be all worth it. That all our craziness for the 24 days leading up to Christmas day was worth it. That it is all good enough.

Because on that day, we stop. We rest. We enjoy. We open gifts from family and friends. We remember the gift of our Savior.

But what if instead of waiting until December 25th, we could unwrap a little bit of the gift of Christmas today? What if we chose to look for and appreciate the small things we might easily miss if we weren’t looking. To intentionally look for joy, peace, salvation.

My friend, Beth Vogt, and I are teaming up to do just that. Each day leading up to Christmas we will provide a little snapshot of the holiday. A daily gift. A square in an advent calendar to open.

#alittlebitofchristmas.

So, slow down for just a moment, enjoy these snapshots. Better yet, join in with us. What little bit of Christmas do you see around you today?

In need or in plenty

pies

I heaved my over flowing shopping cart through the last few aisles at the grocery store, with most everyone who lived in the city keeping me company. With two days before Thanksgiving Wal-mart employees scurried around, like mice on a cheese high, restocking the Martinelli’s, the towers of cranberry sauce, and those crunchy onion things that everyone puts on their green bean casserole. I chuckled at the fact that for most of us, our carts were full with the same things to make the same dishes.

Except one family.

There were three of them – mom, dad and older teen daughter. Their cart contained only a handful of items. When mom asked about purchasing something, the dad replied gruffly to just tell him how much it was.

I confess my first thought was that he probably just had enough of grocery shopping and wanted to bah-humbug his way out of there.

Until I saw the calculator in his hand.

When she told him the price, he replied that it could wait. And then she said, what about bread? We have to get bread.

And my heart sunk. I grieved for that family and wondered what Thanksgiving would be like for them.

My mind raced trying to find a way to help, but I had no cash on me and no ideas. I looked for them at the check stand hoping I could slip them a gift card, but they were gone.

There in the middle of mounding carts of plenty, was one cart in need of filling, but no means. Maybe that’s you today.

But need is not always material things. It can be need for the mending of a broken heart, or healing from an illness, the repair of a damaged relationship, or the loss of a loved one. Those needs can’t be filled by a trip to Wal-mart.

God alone meets those needs.

For me, my cart is full but my heart is in need. But I am confident that the same God who provides my daily bread, also heals the longings in my heart. And for this, I give thanks. No matter what my situation.

Are you empty or full today? Give thanks to God.

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:12

 

 

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