Friday, December 7, 2018

Christmas Peace

Off-balance.  Out of kilter.  Or, as one definition described it, "....in a state of confusion or chaos." So much in our world seems to be off-balance.  Everything from politics and popular opinion to sports, entertainment and current events.  It affects our world, our communities, our churches, our homes, and our own hearts.  If we are not careful, this constant state of "off-balance" threatens to steal our joy and destroy peace.

Peace has been a recurring theme for me over the last few days - even weeks.  It has been in my thoughts, in my Bible time and continues to "pop up" in several devotionals I have read lately.  As much as we would like to think of Christmas as a time for "peace on earth..good will towards men," real peace can be totally elusive during this season.  However, the truth is my heart should be filled with peace - even in this Christmas season.  Especially at this Christmas season.

Jesus is the source of peace.  Not only peace for our frenzied, hurried - off-balance - world but for my stressed, overwhelmed, grief-sensitive, anxious-prone heart.  He offers peace of both heart and mind.  Take time each day to soak in His peace.  

Time is up for my FMF thoughts on balance (or lack thereof)...but I wanted to include just a few verses related to peace. I pray if your heart is troubled, burdened or hurting that these verses will help focus your heart on the babe of Christmas.  Jesus, who came to give us peace.

"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.  Let not your heart be troubled...."  John 14:27

"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace.  In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."  John 16:33

"...the Lord will bless his people with peace."  Psalm 29:11

"and the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."  Phil. 4:7

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Christmas Tree Memories

One of my first (or oldest) Christmas memories is not really "my" memory...but is a memory passed down over the years and shared with me many, many times.  The memory of my grandmother's Christmas tree.  The tree my dad remembered so fondly from his childhood.  Every year, my grandma would begin in November creating the family tree.  It was not an evergreen but a bare branch tree that she lovely, and painstakingly, wrapped in cotton.  Each limb was individually wound in the thinnest layers of white cotton.

I was told this could take her days - even weeks to complete.  With each branch made to look as if covered in snow, then little white lights would twinkle and shine through the "snow" creating a tree that would awe every family member and visitor alike.  Everyone old enough has wonderful memories of grandma's Christmas trees!  I have never seen one of my grandmother's special trees and can only imagine how beautiful it would have been in person.

I do, however, remember the trees we had when I was young.  We would have a real tree (from the nearby shopping center parking lot) and my father would, just as carefully, spray the tree with snow from a can.  Again, each limb was perfectly coated and, then, we would have blue lights.  Blue lights glowing through and reflecting off each white coated branch.  And silver balls:)  It may be hard to imagine but it was beautiful...and it was especially beautiful because my parent's tree was a labor of love.  Just as my grandmother's tree had been for her family.

So much we do this time of year is exactly that - a labor of love.  It might be your tree, the Christmas village you set out or a collection of snowmen everyone remembers.  Maybe it is the color-coded wrapping paper, Grandma's favorite cookie recipe or a million other things.  They probably take extra effort and time (that many do not appreciate) but those extra labors of love are memories in the making - that can impact generations.  Yes, there can be some traditions that change, evolve or even go away as the years go by - I know it has happened at our empty-nest home.  But I don't want to be too quick to let go of all the "little extras" - simply because I think no one really notices or cares anymore.  I believe they do.  Things may take me longer to finish - requiring patience.  I might even have to ask for help - gasp.  But when I see the Christmas labors of love as just that - labors of love for those I love - they bring me real Christmas joy!

Friday, November 30, 2018

Even Deep Truths Should Comfort Us

How Deep the Father's Love for Us.....How Vast Beyond All Measure. 

For a long time, I was not a fan of this song.  I have no idea why - but I wasn't.  Somewhere along the way, that changed and not only do I (very much) enjoy this song but the truth expressed is beautiful.  I posted Tuesday about trying to live loved - acknowledging Christ's amazing love and the truth that He loves me.  And letting that fact impact me.  Every day.  In every aspect.  It is not always easy and I'm not sure we really can comprehend genuine, unmerited, unconditional love without end.  Love that is, indeed, beyond measure - and deep.

That type of deep is wonderful -  even if we cannot completely grasp it - and it comforts us.  But some things that are really deep (as in profound or intense) can have a different effect.  I have been in a Bible study this semester studying the "Mysteries of Heaven."  It has been an interesting look at some of the glimpses about Heaven revealed in the Word.  And there are only glimpses.  There is simply much more that we do not know, or understand, about Heaven than we do know. Or that God tells us.

This can be troubling even causing anxiety for some.  It can be frustrating and I have seen the lack of details and definitive answers lead to fear and even an occasional argument.  However, the glimpses that we have been given are not to confuse us but to excite us.  To create a longing and to keep our hearts turned towards Heaven.  Without a doubt, the beauty, the wonder and all that Heaven and eternity will be is much more than we can understand or appreciate.  It is (beyond) deep.  But we can be sure of the truth that it will be more than we ever imagine.  We will not be disappointed.  Just as I am trying to let the deep truth of God's love wash over me.....I can be confident that when the deep mysteries of Heaven are revealed, it will be amazing!

My (not so deep) thoughts on the prompt - DEEP - for this week's Five Minute Friday.  Have a wonderful weekend!