Hold My Wait…

We’re only one week into a new year and already anxiousness and fretting have penetrated most days.

Oh, I’m good at disguising them in prayers. Asking the only One who can accomplish my God sized longings. Truth is though, the many words and the stomach butterflies show my doubt. Still, He has given me a new word this year: N-e-w. Turning it over and over I see ‘new’ like a kaleidoscope – always changing.

The LORD‘s unfailing love and mercy still continue, fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise.” (Lamentations 3:22-23 GNT) I love this version of this verse – exploding like a sunrise, fresh like dewy drops on a green leaf. Unfailing love, mercy.

It’s the wait really. Trusting God has it all figured out, but so wanting to see it now.

Where does a waiting, weary world  turn? Often to so much that doesn’t satisfy. Holley Gerth says it just right “I’m learning, slowly, to lean on Jesus instead of flimsy earthly things that can never hold my weight.”

The weight of what a sin-filled world has caused is pressing in on us. Finding ‘new’ every morning becomes a weight-lifter we sorely need. “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and steams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV)

A way through the desert of our doubt. Streams of life into parts of our soul we thought long dead.

Praise has a way of restoring, turning dissatisfaction towards joy. An odd concept for most – praising God instead of man and accomplishments. But give it a try. Right now – ‘God you are my One and Only. There is nothing and no one better. You are the definition of love, of joy, of peace.’

When we speak praise we lose worldly weight. In those moments we are no longer held by gravity, but we’re lifted into His presence. So today I ask: ‘Father, hold ‘my wait’ and show me how to live in the newness of Your freedom.’

Just New…

It’s 2019 – time to look ahead – and maybe instead of wishing a Happy new year – how about just a new beginning?

We are bound by time. Ticking off days and weeks then years. But God is outside of those bounds. No beginning, no end. Every day (or moment) is a chance for a new beginning with Him.

Happy depends on our circumstances. New is a decision. A decision to not live in the past nor to worry about the future. But to seek the God who someday will walk us into a forever where we are no longer bound by time either. “There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.” (Revelation 11:5 NIV)

What wonder this is – no need for light, no night? “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.” (Revelation 21:23 NIV)

With no dark, no fear. With the Lamb, love. This is the wonder of hope – for this great thing He is telling us about is what all our hearts long for. To be renewed and have forever instead of minutes.

This is the year to tell those you love, and those you stand in line behind, and those who drive you crazy: “I wish you New”. For all who accept Jesus this is His promise: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2Corinthians 5:17 NIV)

And so – for as long as we’re bound by time – we will age, sickness will happen, death will come to our bodies. But hold on to this:: “Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” (2Corinthians 4:16 NIV)

Just New – my wish for you, new as only He can do!

 

Need to Fill Up?

Merry Christmas – today we remember The Great Gift – may this news, this priceless once and for all gift, fill your heart with great joy!

For some this day will go by without any recognition, ignored by those who are in darkness. For some, they will celebrate the day, but not Who is being celebrated. For those who do know the Who and the Why – great joy will fill us. Yet knowing or not, it’s true that the gifts and food and shiny decorations pale in comparison to the Light of the world.

“Today in the city of David a Savior was born for you, who is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 1:11 CSB)

For you! Our Savior is such a personal Savior. Not an authority wielding power, not a king wrapped up in aristocracy. But One who has personally known all the sorrows of being human – and all the joys of being one with God. And He longs for us to know that joy. He prepares us through each sorrow and smile – filling us with hope and walking with us through our sometimes tear-full journey.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10 NIV)

The ‘thief’: all who oppose, deny, fill up on self and the world. Robbing themselves of joy in midst of all of life’s ups and downs. And wanting to steal it from us.

But we have the Promise: this isn’t all there is. We can find much to rejoice about day in and day out, no matter circumstances – but sin burdens our hearts and will always make us long for more. The more is not what money can buy, what power can grasp, or popularity can pretend.

 The more is Jesus. “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 NIV)

So fill-up this day and every day with Jesus. All our longings are met in Him. Yes, Merry is a filled-up heart!

Perfect Timing…

Does waiting drive you crazy?

Children are counting down days til Christmas. Adults count days til the next big game, movie sequel, retirement – or you fill in the blank with your ‘can’t wait’ list.

At the birth of Jesus the world had been spinning for about 4,000 years and things were looking pretty dismal. But at just the right time, announced to the most unlikely of people, Jesus was born. “While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born” (Luke 2:6 NIV)

When you and I have a big announcement we don’t go to strangers, just anybody hanging around. God chose to go to the low on the social ladder: shepherds. But He also chose to use one of His beautiful creations, an angel.

The shepherds hurried off to see what this was all about and then they spread the news. The news was so good all who heard it were astounded. “When they had seen Him, they spread the word…and all who heard it were amazed” (Luke 2:17a-18a NIV)

Amazed? We’re amazed by things of no lasting value: lottery payoffs, celebrities, vacations. But at just the right time in the most obscure of places, in the dark of night, the King of kings came to change lives forever. And yet, throughout history, so few have been amazed.

Jesus coming to be flesh among us may not have seemed like perfect timing to the prophets who had foretold His coming and didn’t live to see it. It certainly wasn’t perfect timing to those in authority in His day – a threat to their power.

But as Lisa Apello reminds us “While we see the wait, God sees the perfect timing.” Just when we’re about to give up, give in, or take things into our own hands is often His perfect timing.

The more we try to control, the more we try to fix, the longer it seems to take. Praying someone you love will get better? return home? get a promotion? get salvation? This is hard for you and me: the wait. But He’s perfecting us in the process and ensuring that the outcome (whether it’s what we had in mind or not) is absolutely the best for those who love Him. “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6 NIV) Perfect!

Homesick…

My parents divorced when I was young. I came to Florida each year to see my dad – my only time with him. Torn between two homes.

I used to love airports, the smell of jet fuel and the hustle bustle. Then I had babies and with each passing year I really just liked the view of my children in the front yard best. We assign a place as ‘home’ – sometimes an actual structure, or maybe a town or country. The account of the birth of Jesus starts off by the government requiring people to travel to wherever their ancestral heritage began and register as a citizen. “And everyone went to his own town to register.” (Luke 2:3 NIV)

When I became an adult my mother moved a number of times. But wherever she was, when I walked through the door, that was home. It was her that made it home, not the place.

Yet even if we are blessed with an earthly home that draws us, it never quite fills our longing. We’re homesick like a child away at camp. And in so many ways, we are all homeless. Nothing really satisfies: remodeling, cozier blankets, minimalizing. We keep looking for ideas.

Jesus says “no one who has left home…for the sake of the kingdom will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life.” (Luke 18:29-30 NIV) Perhaps He’s trying to help us see that if we change our concept of ‘home’ from tangible here on earth to forever in Him, we’ll realize we’ve got everything – now and forever.

Holley Gerth said in a devotion: “home is not a place; home is a Person. And He is with us always. His love is the place we can stay wherever we go.”

“Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” (Psalm 91:1 NLT) All of Psalm 91 speaks of Him being our refuge, our fortress, our dwelling, our rescue, our salvation. And there it is – Salvation is home, and Salvation is a person. Salvation is Jesus and when we rest our head on the pillow of His protection, we are home.

Homesick? Come Home – your Rest is Jesus, wherever you are.

 

Wonder-full Plans…

I’m noticing lately all us wanderers. I can’t help but think: what if, instead, we were wonderers?

We wander around stores looking for gifts. We wander around outdoors seeking quiet. We wander all our days and what do we find? Emptiness mostly. So I’m thinking its time to wonder all our days instead.

We need Jesus Wonder: “As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet Him.” (Mark 9:15 NIV)

Will we run to greet Him? When my grandson arrives in the mornings little arms stretch out to me, his heart running to mine. Does God see us, His children, like that? Do we stretch out arms eager to fall into His? What a smile starts on my lips and works it way through my very being at the sight of my children and grandchildren. So it is with God – even when we don’t run to Him.

“God, who has called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.” (1Corinthians 1:9 NIV) When we wander from Him, He still longs for us. His arms ever reaching for our faithless hearts. Oh wanderer let’s seek Him.

And, by the way, there’s nothing we need to do first. No messes to wash away. No changes we need to make. He’s in the business of cleaning us up, transforming us.

This is the promise I cling to when I forget Him in the busyness. This is the truth I know when I worry for my loved ones. He has a plan for each and every one of us – and His plans are not spoiled by us or any other force in the world.

Each day – and dark nights – always there. Don’t think so? Things are too bad, too hopeless? He’s forgotten you? Not a chance. Some wondrous day all this won’t even be a memory. “You have done many things for us, O LORD our God; there is no one like you! You have made many wonderful plans for us. I could never speak of them all–their number is so great!” (Psalm 40:5 GNT) Someday those familiar arms that have carried us through will once and for all embrace us and we will indeed wonder always.

All I Want…

Christmas lists are being made. Toys, games for the young. Clothes, electronics for the adults. And more.

So here’s a prayer to carry into the coming month – a little something to rest in, to rejoice over, to remember for The Gift…

Let not my heart be fooled by shiny wrapping. Let me instead be wrapped up in Your love. Lead me not to the best sale. Lead me instead to Your peace. May my decorations not be Pinterest worthy. But may they glorify You in ways no one can miss. 

“You are my God. Show me what you want me to do, and let your gentle Spirit lead me in the right path.” (Psalm 143:10 CEV)

As I put cookies and treats out to impress, impress upon me instead the Bread of Life. When songs of ‘the season’ play – stir in my soul alleluias for all seasons. When gazing at twinkly lights, lift my eyes to the velvet sky and remind me of the Star announcing your arrival.

May the scented candles and aroma of pines fill my senses and direct my thoughts to the the fragrance of Christ. “For we are like a sweet-smelling incense offered by Christ to God, which spreads among those who are being saved and those who are being lost.” (2 Corinthians 2:15 GNT) A loving reminder of how the Father perceives me because of Jesus.

Candy canes and hot chocolate – snow globes and snow men – poinsettias and wreaths…what wonder there is in all these trappings – but there is more wonder still in a wee babe born to a virgin. Laid in a manger, loved by an adopted father. Given priceless gifts by wise men. Despised by those who thought their power was most important.

Yes, heavenly Father, remind us to rejoice in Christmas – Your best gift. To rest as Jesus did – for because of Him we need not lose sleep. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6 NIV)  This is all I want.

 

Hold My Hand…

Sometimes we just need to squeeze a hand that loves us.

During labor I watched as my daughter fiercely squeezed her husband’s hand. When I got close to her face once she grasped my hand with all her might as well. And when her little one came into the world and lay on his momma’s chest, little fingers squeezed her finger with all his strength.

We have a Hand Holder – always right there with us. Sometimes we just forget to hold on with all we’ve got. “Yet I am always with You; You hold me by my right hand.” (Psalm 73:23 NIV)

The thing is: He never let’s go. We may loosen our grasp and run ahead. We may forget His hand is there as we flail in the turmoil. But that Hand, the strong and capable ones that formed and fashioned stars and wee babes, that Hand guides and protects. And that Hand is tender in mercies and fierce in strength.

We need strong. The times we’re in move so fast, change without notice, catch us off guard – try to steer our course. We need a strong hand that says: ‘this way’. “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’ “ (Isaiah 30:21 NIV)

A new babe is in our lives, his momma and papa will hold his hands many times over the years. Their hearts will never let go. And so it is with the God who knit you together – His heart has you. His salvation is for you. His love knows no bounds. He grace is abundant. His mercies don’t cease. 

Most of all his forever for you will show just what a life of hand-holding is really all about. For now you will rest secure in the hands that calm storms. Hands that give joy in the midst of what seems the worst. And hands that will guide you safely. So take Him up on His offer – just hold His hand. “I am the LORD your God. I am holding your hand, so don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.” (Isaiah 41:13 CEV)

 

Just Sing…

There’s a new song out – a little album done mostly for kids – you know, like you and me. Kids still on the inside – that we see a glimmer of now and then. (More about the song at the end.)

Every new day is a new song to sing – to the One who sang the first song. No coincidence that joy often pours forth in song. Not being one of those blessed with an angelic voice, I hold back. Except, when I’m all alone – and when I’m with a certain one year old. Then songs to the Maker pour forth.

“Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done marvelous things; His right hand and His holy arm have worked salvation for Him.” (Psalm 98:1 NIV)

His right hand – well that would be our Jesus who sits at the right hand of God. Yes, this Savior has worked salvation in us for the Father. Right there is something to be overjoyed thank-full for. Whether we live in plenty or struggle – whether we live in healthy or broken bodies – whether we are surrounded by loved ones or we’re lonely…salvation is our joy.

Joy – ours in the midst of all of life. And just when we can’t find it He reminds us: “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.” (Psalm 126:5 NIV) Even tears are not wasted, they will be turned to joy.

The world is full to the brim with everything except for praise for God. No song breaks through the evening news reminding that God is in control. No politician comforts with promises from the Promise Maker. And so it is to us to dwell in praise and spread it. The song in our hearts is where the Hope this world needs will be found.

Oh how I love this Psalm: “I think about you, God, before I go to sleep, and my thoughts turn to You during the night. You have helped me, and I sing happy songs in the shadow of Your wings. I stay close to You, and Your powerful arm supports me.” (Psalm 63:6-8 CEV)

Yes, during the night, dark moments – always there. During sunshiney times dancing and singing with us. So as Ellie Holcomb tells us in the song below – Sing!

 

 

HAPPY TODDLER PLAYTIME

PLaY CReaTivEly WitH YoUr LiTtLe OnE

Mandy Hughes

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