Christmas cards

1 King 19:11-13a – “And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave.”

I know, it’s not Wednesday and it isn’t 6 in the morning. But I had to get this out.

Someone stole my Christmas cards out of my mailbox last night. Yep, you read it right. Someone thought they would find a stash of money or something in that stack of 100 and something Christmas cards going out to friends and family all over the place. Boy, were they shocked to find the only thing of value was the unused stamps on the outside of the card. 

Here are my lessons in this situation.

1) Someone needs Jesus. If things in your life are so desperate that you are reduced to committing a federal offense by rummaging through someone’s Christmas cards in the middle of the night, you need Jesus. 

2) I need to forgive. I’m working on this one. I know that in the scope of eternity whether or not I send out Christmas cards is not going to matter. It does, however, matter if I forgive this person that did this. I’m getting there. They have been on my heart heavy these last couple of hours. 

3) I need to listen. Last night as I was putting the cards in the mailbox, I thought “someone could steal these tonight.” Then I thought “no way, no one is going to do that. They are just Christmas cards.” God was speaking to my heart and I just tuned Him out. I can’t tell you how often this has been happening lately. I will hear His whisper across my heart and then blow it off as nonsense. When will I ever listen? And listen consistently?! That Still Small Voice is still active today. He is still whispering across our hearts – warning us, encouraging us – and too often, I know that I don’t listen. I instead listen to the other voice. I listen to the one that tells me that I know best. I listen to the one that says the other Voice is crazy. 

In all of this, I’m upset about the loss of the Christmas cards, the time and money spent on them and the fact that our society has stooped this low. But most of all, I’m upset with myself for not listening. I have asked for forgiveness and I know that I have it. But now I have to forgive myself for being a cotton-headed ninny-muggin (Elf reference) and ignoring God when He speaks to me. 

Christmas is a time of reflection and memories and a time of giving. Well, this will certainly be a memory I look back on and I hope that my giving of the unused stamps will certainly cause someone somewhere to pause and rethink their life. They need Jesus…and so do I. 

Just like me…

Romans 12:3 – “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.”

I’ve been struggling with this concept the last couple of days – What if everyone acted just like me – in regards to family, church, work and community?

It’s what we want, isn’t it? We wish that everyone around us was as smart as we are, made similar choices that we make, and were as dedicated as we are. We see ourself without flaw, without blemish. 

But deep down, we know that’s not true. We know that deep down we get upset when someone does something different that we think that they should. We get frustrated when we have a plan and someone steps in and changes that plan all together. We want to throw a fit and yell at someone when their decision to stay out of things is not the option we would have chosen. We get all flustered when people don’t perform like we know we would in that situation. 

Pride. It’s pride that makes us feel that way. You see, whether it is at work, church or at home, the devil is doing his best to drive a wedge in our heart between us and God. If he can get us to look more at ourself and see only the worst in people and their decisions instead of seeing the beauty of variety, then he can get us to walk further and further from our Savior. 

And it’s so easy to do. It is easy to get frustrated when we don’t understand what is going on. It is easy to get mad when things don’t go the way we think they should. It is easy to want to yell at someone when their choices are wrong in our eyes. 

But here is the thing – we can’t control others; we can only control ourself. We have to trust that God has whatever thing we are dealing with under control. Staying awake all night worrying about it won’t make a difference. Getting mad and yelling at someone will not help the cause of Christ. Not doing your best as a punishment to those who are making what you see as a bad decision will get nothing accomplished. 

Jesus has given us all different gifts and talents. I’m not responsible for my husband using his gifts. That is his can of worms. I need to be focused on whether I’m using my gifts. But I can’t let my focus shift from me doing my best for His glory to me doing my best because I know I’m right. 

It’s hard, but you can’t let people have power over your decision to do things for His glory. Focusing solely upon Jesus will have far different reaches that focusing solely on you and what you do. Pride is an ugly beast that too often rears its head in my life. Pride is what makes you think your way is the best way. Pride is what makes you fail to see your flaws. Pride is what makes us want everyone to act like just like us. 

Revisiting Job and the walk

We, as a country, have challenges each and every day. Some days display more challenges than others.

We are going through some tough times right now. When I saw this post, it spoke to me and reminded me of these truths. So please, take a moment and soak it in. Let the truth of God’s word wash over your heart and soul. Enjoy the revisit.

God chooses what we go through, but we choose how we go through it.

I read this in a book I was finishing yesterday. It was a Christian fiction book – “The Half-Stitched Amish Quilting Club” by Wanda Brunstetter.

This quote really struck me. It made me think about the truth of it.

I want to look at Job today in light of this quote.

Job 1:12 – “The LORD said to Satan, ‘Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.’ Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.” We know what happened next – everything he had, family and farm, was destroyed. But notice Job’s reaction. Job 1:20-22 – “At this, Job got up and tore his robes and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.’ In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” But Satan felt that if he could just get ahold of Job and physically afflict him, surely he would curse God. So God said, “The LORD said to Satan, ‘Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.'” Job 2:6 So Satan makes Job very ill. Job’s wife, thinking surely Job had sinned in some way, encouraged him to curse God and die. What a helpmate! Not! Job 2:10 – “He replied, ‘You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good things from God, and not trouble?’ In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.”
God allowed Job to go through this trial. But Job chose how he went through it. He could have been angry, frustrated and upset with God. He could have questioned God and cursed Him. But he choose to walk through this trial with Him. He had to deal with “friends” who could so nothing but tear him down. Later on, he did get a chance to hash it out with God. But God reminded him who He is and Job submitted.

The point in all of this is to remind you (and me) that from time to time we need trials in our life to make us stronger, to cut away the dead and unproductive parts and make our roots stronger. These are not easy times, but we come out stronger if we stay close to Him. So choose to walk through the trials of today with Him. The walk will be sweeter and the outcome closer when we stay with the Guide.

God chooses what we go through, but we choose how we go through it.

Enter the butternut squash

Matthew 6:31-33 – “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Yesterday morning was a rough time for me. I was super stressed out right before church. I woke up ready and excited to be going to church for worship. I did the finances and praised God that things were going in a positive direction. And then it was time to prepare lunch. Thus entered the butternut squash into my morning. I was having the worst time trying to peel that thing. Peelings were flying all over the kitchen; breakfast dishes were sitting in the sink; I needed a shower before church; and the clothes weren’t sorting themselves. And here I had put God first when I woke up, but somewhere along the line, I had put Him in the backseat.

So, like any good girl, I cried, in the shower of course. My husband was doing his best to talk me off the emotional ledge, but I jumped anyway. But in those tears, I decided to ask forgiveness for my pettiness and disregard of the day. And Jesus forgave me. I was able to go to church with a renewed spirit and a readiness to worship Him. It was all good. Lunch was prepared. Laundry got done. And the kitchen…well, it is relatively clean.

To tie it all together, sometimes we let the devil use silly little things to get in the way of the bigger picture. When I was telling my husband what set me off (the butternut squash), it sounded silly and stupid. Why would I let a dumb thing like peeling that squash ruin my day? It is because I was focusing on the wrong things. God knew that I needed to get lunch ready. He knew that I needed a shower before church. He knew that my family needed clean clothes for the week. And He has ALWAYS helped me get these things done in the past. Why was I worried that they wouldn’t get done on this day? Sin. I chose sin instead of trusting Him to provide. I wasn’t seeking His kingdom first.

Let me encourage you this week to be aware of what is going on in your day. Be aware of the opportunities for sin to creep into your day and steal your focus. Don’t let the devil lead you astray. You see, I chose to let those things bother me. But I also chose to seek forgiveness and accept a second opportunity to worship Him.

Fret not

Psalm 37:3-8 – “Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.”

Do you ever find yourself in the middle of doing something and realize that the more you do it the more mad you get? Why is that? Why is it that when my daily schedule is turned around or taken away, it makes me mad? 

Yesterday was Tuesday. Tuesday is my “clean the house” day. Yesterday, I had an all day meeting for my job that I had to go to. It was good. It was informative and I got paid to go. What more could I ask for? Well, my cleaning day was taken away. So, I felt like I had to play catch up when I got home – along with completing dinner and preparing lunch for today…and dance class…and homework…and laundry…do you see where I’m going with this one? The closer it got to bedtime, the more sour my disposition became. It was ugly, not good. 

And then I needed to go to sleep. How am I supposed to sleep with an angry look on my face? Prayer. I had to ask God to forgive me of my hateful and angry attitude I had had the bulk of the time I was cleaning. All that hard work down the toilet because I was fretting. 

Now, when I think of fretting, I think of worry. However, I checked out good old Webster 1828 and Mr. Webster defined “fret” (used specifically in Psalm 37) as this: “To tease; to irritate; to vex; to make angry. ‘Fret not thyself because of evil doers.’ Psalm 37.” When I read that, I thought to myself, “Well, that’s you, all right!” Now, I have no idea what I was angry at last night. Maybe I was angry that I had to put off my cleaning to my down time. Maybe I was angry that I had to do it alone. Maybe I was angry that I had to do it period. I don’t know the reason behind my craziness. But I was definitely “vexed”. 

And then I read verse 8 of Psalm 37 – “Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.” Humph. How about that? I think the only thing to say about that verse is “Thank you Jesus for showing me my sin.” You see, it doesn’t say “try not to get angry and try to stay away from wrath and be a good girl and do your best to not get vexed and sin”. These are direct commands with an understood “you” in front of them. YOU cease from anger. YOU forsake wrath. YOU fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. They are commands but we are given a choice whether we follow those commands or not. And last night, I chose not to follow them. 

But praise God, it’s a new day. I have a whole new gammet of choice to make today. Today, I can chose to be different than yesterday. That’s the beauty of morning – a new sky with a new opportunity to be better than I was yesterday. Now, I hope I choose to take that new opportunity and not be the angry booger that I was night. 

Anger management

Ephesians 4:26,27 – “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.”

Do people ever make you angry? 

Well, duh, Melissa. Of course they do! Do people ever make you act in your anger? Probably at least sometimes, right? 

Being angry with people is a part of life that we all have to deal with. We will get frustrated with our spouse, our kids, our co-workers, our classmates, our parents – you name it! Every person you ever meet will eventually make you angry at some point or another. Guaranteed. But it is how we deal with that anger that is important. 

You see, when you get angry you have a choice – you can either forgive and forget or you can you can hold onto that wrong forever. The first option is what God would have you to do. The second is what the devil would have you to do. The devil wants you seething. He wants you to take that wrong against you and wear it as a badge of honor that everyone should know about and experience. He wants you to carry that grudge day after day, week after week, year after year. Eventually, that grudge gets mighty heavy. You feel as though the weight of the world is on your shoulders. And you begin to notice that this horrible grudge is beginning to effect the rest of your life. It may take days to take effect or it may take years. Either way, eventually it will corrode your joy, your happiness, your peace. This is exactly what the devil wants. He wants your joy gone – you are more susceptible to more anger that way. He wants your happiness gone – without it, you are looking for people to be angry at.  He wants you peace gone – it keeps you on edge that way. 

All of this yuck is exactly why God instructed Paul to encourage the Ephesians to not let the sun go down on their anger. He didn’t say to not get mad or angry. He knows better than to ask something that is not attainable. He did say to not go to bed angry. Don’t give yourself the opportunity to wake up the next morning mad. It will do no one any good. When you go to bed angry, you are saying to the devil, “Welcome. Come on in and stay a while.” And let me emphasize, this is your choice. You choose to let him stay. You choose to invite him in. Sounds harsh, right? But you know it’s true. We have all been in a situation where we have to choose to let our anger go. We have to decide that we are not going to let the situation effect us. We have to choose to deal with the anger issue before we can rest properly. 

So let me encourage you this week to guard your heart against anger. I know better than to request that you don’t get angry. But when you do, choose to get rid of it before you rest. Do give the devil an opportunity to take up residence in your heart. 

Lesson in forgiveness

Matthew 18:21,22 – “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.”

At the beginning of the week, my daughter came home telling me that they were discussing this verse in her social skills class. Her school has different electives that the students must take to improve overall well-being. This is one of them.

Anyway, it has been interesting to see how God is weaving this lesson through my life this week. Yesterday, she came home with homework that required her to think of times in which she would need to forgive. None of them included the incident that happened last night.

She and I had decided that we would do our nails last night. My daughter is constantly doing her nails. She has already put one mark on the coffee table and one mark on the end table with the fingernail polish remover. My husband was not too happy over that one. And then last night, as she was watching television, she spilled red nail polish on our rug in the living room. Panic mode!! I’m grabbing washcloths, my iPad to find out the best way to remove it, hair spray, rubbing alcohol – you name it! I had every imaginable item that I could conceive to get it out of the carpet. All the while, I’m trying so hard not to yell and scream at her. It’s kinda funny how roles reverse. My husband was the calm one in this incident while I played that role with the nail polish remover.

While we are scrubbing and discussing the best way to get the polish out, my daughter sits down in near tears and says, “I can’t do anything right.” “No baby, it’s not that you can’t do anything right,” I said, “it’s just that sometimes you forget to pay attention to what you are doing. You can do lots of things right.” That was the turning point in the whole drama. My eleven year old daughter’s self-confidence hung in the balance in that moment and I could not let her down. I had to practice forgiveness. And when I did, the nail polish didn’t matter any more. What was more important than a stain on the carpet was that she needed to know that her mom believed that she was still awesome even though she spilled red nail polish on the carpet.

Isn’t that what we want from everyone? We want to know that our mistakes do not diminish our worth in their sight. Forgiveness allows that. Forgiveness puts away mistakes and does not bring them up again. Oh, we might remember them and learn from them, but we do not hold them against another when we truly forgive.

Once again, Jesus is our ultimate example. He forgave us all our sins before we even knew how to commit them. He loved this old, sinful world enough to die for it. And He forgives. O, does He forgive. Psalm 103:12 – “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” Now that is a sin-forgetting action. That is forgiveness. All we have to do is ask.

So today, Princess, people are going to disappoint you and maybe even hurt your feelings. But do something extraordinary- forgive. Forgive even if they don’t ask for it. Forgive all the more if they do. There should be no limit to your level of forgiveness. Sometimes it might be harder than others, but it should never be something that you refuse to give.

And by the way, you really can’t even see the nail polish on the carpet unless you get down on your hands and knees with a flashlight and really look. God blessed us with a rug that covers a multitude of sins!😊