Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas With Friends: Get-Togethers and Gifts

“If we think of our heart rather than our purse, as the reservoir of our giving, we shall find it full all the time!” David Dunn

               Get-togethers and gifts are what I get most stressed out about.  I’m not sure why I get so caught up in it.  I should just enjoy spending time with friends and not stress about the gifts because the perfect one has already been given!  However, for me that’s much easier said than done!
                As far as I know the only get-together we are hosting at our home this year is some friends of “Miss Priss” are coming over to decorate cookies.  It’s only going to be a couple other girls –very low key so I’m excited about it! I’m sure before the season is over we’ll have at least a couple more small get-togethers.  Here are a few tips I’ve learned when hosting a party:
1.        Keep it simple- the food, entertainment, games, everything!  Especially when you have a big group – simpler is better!
2.       Don’t stress so much about a clean house.  Sure you want it to be presentable but I can promise when everyone leaves you’ll HAVE to clean again. 
3.       Let your guests help.  If they offer to bring something then let them! I usually prepare the main food/course; however, if someone offers to bring a dessert, side or finger food I’m great with that!  First of all, it’s less I have to prepare.  Secondly, when I go to someone’s house I always feel better bringing something. It’s a win-win situation.
         Now to gifts …I’ve really re-thought my gift-giving this year. I heard someone say the other day that when considering a present for someone think about what’s important to that person and give a gift based on that.  I actually am buying very few presents and the ones I am buying are not that expensive and mostly for “Miss Priss”.  This year I’m more excited about giving small gifts  to those who may least expect it: some cookies and a Coke left in the mailbox or some bread delivered to a neighbor I rarely visit.  Here are some of my gift-giving ideas this year:

1.        Homemade Gifts:
a.       Sewn/Embroidered:  We have a sewing and embroidery machine so several of our gifts will be made using those. Some of the kids on our list will be getting shirts/outfits.  Adults will be receiving personalized towels, pillows, etc. 

b.      Even if you don’t have a sewing machine you can still make something similar.  Just cut out a pattern from scrap fabric and attach with heat and bond.  Then you can embelish with hand stitching, buttons, ribbon, whatever you like!  Very easy J

c.      Take whatever you enjoy doing, think of the person you are giving to and create based on that!  For more homemade gift ideas check out The Happy Housewife’s 100 Days to Homemade Gifts. All kinds of ideas! 

2.       Gifts That Keep on Giving:

a.       Gifts to support a charity or organization:  One thing I am planning on giving this year (possibly to myself) is a necklace from Amazima Ministries.  If you read my blog, you know I’ve been reading Kisses from Katie.   Katie has organized a group of women to make these beaded necklaces.  The proceeds go directly to these families living in extreme poverty.  There are several other worthy organizations out there or you could even give a donation to a charity in someone’s honor.

b.      Encourage-Mint jars: I’ve given these as gifts in the past to nursing homes and passed them out to homes as we have gone caroling.  You simply decorate a jar, fill it up with mints and then fold up pieces of paper with scriptures, quotes, and words of encouragement.

3.       Gifts of Food:  I’ve given several gifts of food but my 3 favorites to give are:

a.       Amish Friendship Bread:  I’ll be giving some of these to family this year perhaps in a bread basket or with a personalized kitchen towel.

b.      Caramel Corn:  I love going to the dollar stores and buying those cute Christmas tins and boxes and filling them with caramel corn and giving as gifts. Here’s my aunt’s recipe that I use:
2 sticks margarine
1 box dark brown sugar
½ cup light Karo syrup
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 quarts of popcorn

        Melt butter.  Stir in syrup, sugar and salt.  Bring to a boil.  Stir and cook 3-5minutes.  Remove from heat.  Stir in soda and vanilla.  Pour all over popcorn and mix well.  Put in 2 large pans.  Bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour, stirring every 12 minutes. Cool completely then break apart.  Store in an airtight container.

I’ve also personally tasted the caramel corn by Abby at Trusting in Him and it is awesome!!
c.       Homemade Jellies/Jams:  These also are a favorite of mine to give.  Perhaps two or three in a small gift basket.  My personal favorites are apple butter, seedless blackberry and peach.

d.      Another great food gift for someone that loves to cook is to purchase a cookbook and then make them something in the cookbook to give together as the gift.

4.       Photo Gifts:   To me these are the perfect gifts for grandparents that already have everything!

a.       Photo Calendars for the upcoming year full of family pics.
b.      Photo books from events that have happened the past year.
c.       Coasters - order or make some homemade ones
While you are finding/creating all those wonderful gifts don't forget the most important one on the list:  Jesus!  What will you be getting Him this year? 

What can I give him,

Poor as I am?

If I were a shepherd,

I would bring a lamb;

If I were a wise man,

I would do my part;

Yet what I can I give him—

Give my heart.

           Christina G. Rossetti 

     Nothing materialistic we can give.  He simply wants us - our hearts, our time, and our service.  Any gifts that you especially like to give?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Family Christmas Traditions

“The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree:  the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.” Burton Hillis

                In Untangling Christmas, the first thing the authors ask you to do is a "Re-Thinking Christmas Survey”.  One of the questions asks for you to share your favorite holiday memory growing up and to notice if it had more to do with money/getting or people/doing.  My husband and I sat down and did this together (after a little whining from him).  My answer was Christmas Eve at my grandmother’s house and his answer was Christmas breakfast at his grandmother’s house.  Coincidence?  I think not, Christmas is first about Christ and secondly about spending time with our family.

                Christmas Eve at my grandmother’s house was the epitome of a “happy family all wrapped up in each other.”  She had 10 kids, they were all married, and all but one of them had kids themselves with families of their own, and then there’s usually be a few neighbors or extended family to come.  So there was usually about 60-70 people all crammed into a fairly small house.  There was always plenty of food on the table, a huge Christmas tree and presents galore!  
                We all arrived at different times to eat but around 8 or 9 o’clock everyone gathered around the tree in the living room (some in the bedrooms off to the side) and Maw Maw passed out the presents one by one.  Everyone always had one from her and usually a couple of others.  Wrapping paper would be flying across the room trying to ring one of the giant boxes set up for trash and laughter would be filling the room.  Honestly, I can’t tell you very many presents that I actually received during all those years at her house, but I do remember the warmth of family, anticipation, squeals of joy, and hugs that were all around.

Maw Maw passing out presents on Christmas Eve- late 80s
You can see my cousin (on the left) with his ball of wrapping paper ready to throw!

                I wouldn’t bring my grandmother back to earth for anything for I know she’s in a much better place but if God did allow her to come back for a day I’d want it to be Christmas Eve.  I’d love for “Miss Priss” to experience that kind of joyous Christmas!  However, even though it may not be in the exact same ways, I’m still determined to create lasting memories and traditions for her.  For example …
1.        Our biggest family tradition has always been the Christmas tree.  Since Curt and I have been married we’ve always spent an afternoon putting it up and decorating it together.  Sometimes we visit a Christmas tree farm for a real tree and other years (like this year) we’ve put up our artificial one.  One thing we also started this year which was A LOT of fun was after the tree was up letting “Miss Priss” open up a present.  She got a pair of Christmas PJs and a giant coloring book.  Then the 3 of us spent the rest of the night in our PJs, drinking hot chocolate and coloring!  I’m thinking next year we’ll do the same thing and then all spend the night in the living room with the tree!

"Miss Priss" and I coloring after the tree is up :)

2.      I mentioned in my post yesterday we also read Jesus’ birth from the Bible on Christmas Eve.

3.       We spend Christmas Eve with my side of the family.  Then Christmas Day, Santa comes (then this year we’ll go to church) and then visit with Curt’s side of the family.
That’s really the only true “traditions” we have with our little family so far.  However, there are several other things we’ll be doing to celebrate Christmas even though we may not do it in the same way every year:

1.       Visiting Santa’s Wonderland at the Bass Pro Shop
2.       Looking at Christmas Lights – this year either at Homestead Hollow or Stone Mountain
3.       Decorating cookies
4.       Christmas Parade

What were your favorite childhood Christmas traditions?  Did you carry those over to
your children or create new ones?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Keeping Christ in CHRISTmas

“Let’s approach Christmas with an expectant hush rather than a last minute rush.”  Unknown
                Can you imagine the town of Bethlehem the night Christ was born?  So many people there were no available rooms in the inn.  Everyone was rushing about taking care of their taxes missing what was really important happening in a stable nearby . . . a prophesy being fulfilled, a King being born!  They’d heard about it for years, some even believed it but they were so caught up in their daily task they missed it!  I wonder how many of us will miss the true spirit of CHRISTmas-peace, goodwill, joy-because we get too caught up in our frivolous daily tasks!
                I’m truly convinced that what Christ wants, especially in today’s world, (outside of ourselves/hearts) is our time!  To truly keep Christ as the center of our CHRISTmas we must daily spend time focused and searching for Him!  No matter how you plan on spending your time with/for Him I encourage you to do something every day!  Don’t leave Him out!!  Here are a few ways I plan on doing that this year:
1.       Daily devotions/prayer time -   Even when you I am used to having a daily “quiet” time with God, it’s easy for it to get pushed to the side during the hustle and bustle of the holidays.  A little ironic that we I skip it to cook or run get a last minute present for HIS birthday – but it’s true.  So let’s pick a time and make it a priority – no matter when it is.  Write it in your schedule if you have to!  (Guilty)

2.       Celebrate Advent –This will be our first year to celebrate the Advent.  I still don’t know a lot about it but I love what I’m learning mainly from other blogs!  For those who may not know much about it, the word advent simply means “coming” or “arrival”.  Advent starts the fourth Sunday before Christmas (yesterday) and ends Christmas Eve.  It is a time set aside in anticipation of the birth of Jesus and then his return to Earth.  Advent is celebrated in many different ways.  You can do an internet search and find tons of activities to celebrate Advent. 
What I’m drawing from it this year is that it is a time of intentionally setting my heart and mind towards Jesus!   I’ll be doing my morning devotions and prayer time.   I wanted something to do with “Miss Priss” also.  At first I thought about a Jesse Tree (there's LOTS of information in cyberspace on this one), but then I decided she was still too young for that (she just turned 2).  I also bought the book The Truth in the Tinsel by Amanda White and I love it!  However, I feel a passage and making an ornament a day is still a little much for her.  We may take a few things from the book this year, but will do most of it next year.   This year we will be doing What God Wants for Christmas.  No matter what you choose to celebrate include your whole family!

3.       What God Wants for Christmas-  “Miss Priss” knows Christmas is Jesus’ birthday but that’s really all she knows.  So I felt this year we should just really focus on the nativity.  I love the way this book is very kid-friendly and has the anticipation of the gifts.  It’s meant to be done in a week but we’re going to take it slow and add in some more activities/crafts so that it lasts from today until Christmas Eve.  We’ll be spending about four days on each “gift”which is basically the "characters" in the nativity with the last gift being what God really wants - you!  We’ll probably be doing this during our Tot School time so I’ll keep you posted :)

4.       Service to Others- There’s really nothing God wants for Christmas except us and our service to Him.  Of course we can serve Him by serving others.  There are SO many ways to help serve others during this time of year:  delivering fruit baskets, taking gifts to the nursing home, visiting/donating to a Children’s home, taking dinner to a family,  “adopting” a child for Christmas, etc.  The list could go on and on! Pray that God will show you someone to help and I know He will!

5.       Decorations – Each year I try to let the nativity be the first thing I put out.  We also have a nativity in every room as a visual reminder.  You can include Christ in many of your decorations.  I actually read of someone doing a “Nativitree” in which all their ornaments and tree decorations were centered around the nativity. 

6.       Music-  I’ve been listening to Christmas music for a month now! There are so many Christmas songs I love I wanted to listen to them for more than just a month!  Playing Christmas music either in the car or in the house while working also helps me to stay calm and peaceful and remember the true reason for the season!

7.       Reading of the Christmas Story: This has always been a family tradition at our house.  Growing up my Daddy always read it to us on Christmas Eve and now that we have our own family my husband reads it to “Miss Priss” on Christmas Eve!  Whenever you do it, take some time out as a family to read from the Bible and talk about it.  It’s such a blessing!

Curt reading Jesus' birth to "Miss Priss" from her Bible 

8.       Church Activities:  Being involved in church activities are also a great way to keep Christ in Christmas.  Our church does not have a regular Christmas Eve service or candlelight as some do so I LOVE that Christmas is on Sunday this year!  That means we will be in church on Christmas morning!  We also have a Christmas play at our church, and do a float for the local Christmas parade.  Most years we also go caroling-although that hasn’t been planned for this year.  All of these are ways of spreading and remembering the true meaning of Christmas!
              So how does your family keep Christ in CHRISTmas?  Do you celebrate Advent?  A special service project you do every year? I’d love to know!

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Worst Birthday Party Ever


        Can you imagine showing up to your birthday party only to have everyone ignore you? They say they are there to celebrate your birthday but instead they've spent all their time finding what they believe to be the perfect present for each other and are exchanging gifts amongst themselves.  Not a present in sight for you! 

          They've spent TONS of time preparing food and decorating saying it's all for you but they've spent very little time including you in their plans or the actual event.  They're just acting like you aren't even around.  Sounds like the worst birthday party ever, huh?

           It could be worse...what if you'd given up a home in paradise for them, been mocked, ridiculed and finally crucified for THEIR sin and still they couldn't even take time our of their busy lives to Include you in your own birthday??
Sounding familiar yet?

          This thought has been heavy on my mind this Christmas.  Mostly about gifts- I'm guilty of spending more time searching for the perfect gift for others instead of celebrating and sharing the perfect gift that's already been given to me.  I say I'm celebrating his birth and the peace and joy that he brought into this world, but how much time do I really give him v. the shopping, cooking, decorating, parties, etc., etc?  How much peace and joy is really in my Christmas?

          That's what I've been constantly asking myself as I plan for this Christmas.

          As we begin this Christmas season, I thought I'd take next week to share some of my Christmas ideas. I'll be basing the postings on my priorities and hoping the results are a simpler CHRISTmas.  Here's my "schedule":

Monday- 1st prioirty-God-Keeping Christ in CHRISTmas
Tuesday- 2nd priority: Family-Our Family Traditions
Wednesday-3rd Priority:Friends- "Friendly" Get-Togethers and Gifts
Thursday-4th Priority:Home-Decorating
Friday-5th Priority:Health-My favorite Christmas foods (This will be a stretch on the health b/c these probably won't be very healthy but we do have to eat!!)

       I hope you'll join me and share a few of your own Christmas ideas and tips!  And don't forget to ask yourself:  What am I REALLY celebrating? Do my actions truly show what Christmas means to me?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanks Living

Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.  ~W.T. Purkiser

       I've been blessed beyond measure.  I could start thanking God for my blessings now and still not be done by the end of Thanksgiving Day.  But with all those blessings comes great responsibility.  What if God looked not at what you're saying today but the way you are living and using the blessings He's given you?  Would He truly know how thankful you are or would He see someone who's taken what He's given for granted?

"...For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required..." Luke 12:48
        God wants us to be thankful but I believe even more than just hearing us say it he wants us to use our blessings for His glory!  I started thinking about some of my greatest blessings and the responsibilities that come along with them.
I'm thankful for..
  1. My relationship with Christ and the plan of salvation.
  2. My beautiful daughter who turns two this Thanksgiving.
  3. My wonderful husband who sees the worst of me and loves me anyway!  Who also makes daily sacrifices so that I can live out my dream of being a stay-at-home Mom.
  4. The rest of my family, my church family and SO many wonderful Christian friends!
  5. All my "needs"- a roof over my head, clothes on my back, shoes on my feet, food on our table, good health.
          God wants us to be thankful but I believe even more than just hearing us say it he wants us to use our blessings for His glory!  I started thinking about some of my greatest blessings and the responsibilities that come along with them.

I want to live out my thanks by...
  1. Walking daily with Him.  I want to listen and obey His voice and become His hands and feet on this Earth.  I want others to see Him in me and want this personal relationship too!
  2. Showing "Miss Priss" an example of a Godly woman, a supportive wife, and a loving Mother so that she too will one day have a relationship with Christ and can also be those things.
  3. Be more grateful and supportive to my husband.  Let him know how much I love and appreciate him instead of taking him for granted!
  4. Keep in contact with family and friends!  They're always there for me I want to be there for them too!  Random acts of kindness, phone calls, text messages, visits, etc. just to let them know I'm here and praying for them!
  5. Keep the house clean and do all I can to create a peaceful environment.  Wash those clothes and cook the food with love, sharing with any that need it.  Take care of myself and treat my body as what it is a temple where Jesus dwells.
          I could go on and on.. but I think you get the point.  Even in those little blessings and in the trials I believe God gives them to us for a reason -maybe to use as a "teachable moment" for us or others involved (yes, someone is always watching your reaction) or maybe to share with someone to help life them up or through a difficult time.

         So don't make this just about one day-turn your Thanksgiving into Thanks Living and show how truly grateful you are!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Evaluating My Priorities

              Usually when I sit down to write a blog, it’s something I’m excited about, feel strongly about or it’s heavy on my heart.  This one I’ve been putting off for a couple of weeks debating on whether or not to even write it.  It’s not always easy looking back at your goals and reevaluating how you’re living your life but I do think it’s necessary!  This entry is probably only for me but here goes…
               It’s been a little over 3 months since I started this blog.  3 months since I laid out my priorities and decided to simplify my life to live according to my priorities.  I’ve looked back over the past 3 months and part of me is proud to see how far I’ve come in some areas and overall simplifying the things in my life.  On the other hand, I still see LOTS of room for improvement!  I made me a “Priority Report Card”.  Here it is:

                Let me just say had I of come home with this report card in school I would’ve been grounded!! On the other hand, had I of done a report card when I started this blog, I do believe you’d be able to see some improvement.  Here’s my explanation of grades:
1.        First Priority:  God
                    I planned on “living this one out” by putting God first in my day where He belongs.  I think I’ve succeeded in that only missing 1 or 2 days, largely thanks to my GMG group.  That’s the only reason I’ve given myself a C-. 
                    I’ve realized just recently how very little that is.  God does want first place in our lives.  He wants us to spend time with Him in prayer and in his Word, but that’s only part of it.  He also wants us to love our neighbors as ourselves.  He dwells within us and we are His hands and feet.  We look around and see the shape our world is in and criticize political leaders, anti-Christs, past generations, etc. when in my opinion we only have one person to blame.  If Jesus dwells within us and we are seeing him less and less in the world then whose fault is it? – ours, more specifically, mine.  I want to be more aware and look for ways to show God’s love to all of those around me.

2.       Second Priority:  Family 
                  My plan on “living out” this priority was Tuesday Family Night and Tot School.  We’ve only had about 2 Tuesday Family Nights and I haven’t done Tot School in a month!  So why do I get a B? 
                  One morning I was feeling especially guilty about not doing Tot School and then Joyful Mothering reposted a blog, “Embrace Today’s Moments.”  I realized that was exactly what we had been doing.  After all isn’t that what simplifying is all about?  For several weeks (during that 1st trimester) I didn’t really feel like playing with “Miss Priss” but once I did that’s all I’ve wanted to do!  Maybe we haven’t done our “allotted activity” at the “scheduled time” but we have enjoyed spending time with each other in the little and big moments.  We’ve played in the leaves, took several walks to feed the ducks or the cows, read books, colored,  saw Sesame Street Live!,  went to the apple orchard and pumpkin patch (twice),  and just last weekend celebrated her second birthday.  That’s why I gave myself a B.   Not an A because I do feel we still need to improve on spending time just the 3(or 4) of us.

3.       3rd Priority:  Friends/Community
                    Visiting on Thursdays has been awesome!  Thursday has become one of my favorite days!   This has helped not only on Thursday but in keeping up with my friends and church family throughout the week to help me decide who I need/want to visit come Thursday.   Community, on the other hand, still needs some work. Unfortunately, Our Father’s House did not work out .  We live in a very small community and I do not attend church in the community so it seemsa little harder for me to reach out within the community – but not impossible!

4.       4th Priority:  Home
                Well…this is my fourth priority so it has gotten shoved to the backburner a bit to make room for the top 3.  My cleaning schedule was great at first.  It really worked for me – I just need to get back on track!  I’ve pretty much just been average (or maybe even a little below) at taking care of our house as far as cleaning.  However, as far as our home, it overall has been a better environment than before.  Simplifying eliminates stress which results in a more peaceful home environment!  I’ve learned that when I do start feeling overwhelmed to light a candle, turn on some music, make a list and tackle it one item at a time! Some things CAN wait!

5.       5th Priority:  Health
                This one I just flat-out failed!  L My excuse the first couple of months was the fact I was in my first trimester.  Any free time I had I wanted to sleep -not exercise!  Now my excuse is all the extra fall/holiday activities.  Hopefully, by the new year I’ll be able to develop some kind of walking routine.  The slight improvement has come in that I have been eating a little better –mainly for the baby’s sake not mine though ;)

          So how would your report card look if you “graded” your life according to your priorities?  What are your strengths? What still needs improvement?  What do you need to simplify?  Any tips for me?  Please share J

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Love that God Demands

There are times during my Bible studies I’m uplifted and encouraged and then there are those times my eyes are opened and I’m convicted.   This week I’ve been convicted and inspired.
Courtney from Good Morning Girls started off our study this week by sharing this video:

Here was a 21 year old girl in a foreign country taking care of 13 orphans.  She has sacrificed EVERYTHING to follow Jesus and be his hands and feet.   See how I felt convicted and inspired? I loved Katie’s words “God doesn’t ask us to help others, he demands it.  So true!  It’s not a request, it’s a commandment!  She makes it seem so simple as she says “I didn’t want to go hungry so I didn’t want them to go hungry.”  In a way it is that simple, it’s our society andus that have made it complicated.
Then yesterday our scripture was from 1 John 4:11-12:
Beloved if God so loved us we ought also to love one another.  No man hath seen God at any time.  If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. 
We may not see God but He’s all around us.  I thought about Matthew 25:34-46 where the King rewards those that gave him food, drink, clothes, and visited him. They were confused and asked, Lord, when did we see you?   The King’s response was “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”   In our fleshly eyes, someone may not seem like much but God thought enough of them to send his Son to die for them and he commands us to show that same love. 
 In her book Kisses from Katie, Katie says:
As I read and learned more and more of what Jesus said, I liked the lifestyle around me less and less.  God began to grow in me a desire to live intentionally and different from anyone I had ever known. Slowly and surely I began to realize the truth:  I had loved and admired and worshipped Jesus without doing what he said.
I started this blog because I didn’t like the message society was portraying about a “perfect, ideal life”.  I wanted to slow down, simplify, and live according to my priorities.  Slowly but surely God is showing me more too.  Here in America (or even closer in my own community), we have families living in poverty, dads without jobs, and children without homes all around us.  Yet, I read a statistic that according to the National Retail Federation, Americans spent $310 million on constumes for their pets this Halloween!  I can only imagine the statistic on frivilous spending over Christmas!   Seriously?  Can we not see something wrong with this picture?
Someone once told me “You don’t have to be on foreign soil to be a missionary.     There are needs all around us no matter where we are.  We can start even in our own homes, churches, communities, wherever the Lord leads us!  I don’t yet know exactly what God wants me to do but I know that it’s more than I’m doing now.   This is the perfect season to notice those needs around us and show God’s love.   However, the only way we are going to notice is if we stop and take the time to really pay attention, listen to others, and listen to God.  Then we can show His love-after all He demands it!
How about you?  Has God been speaking to you to do more?  Are you already doing more?  I'd love to hear about it?

P.S.  I realize the last few weeks I've only posted on Women in the Word Wednesdays.  Hopefully, by the end of the week I'll be able to catch up on other things in my life! :)  

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Greater Is He In Me

"Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world." 1 John 4:4
    This has been a trying week but I'm so thankful that God is greater than anything I may face in this world!  Just a few hours ago He answered another prayer and helped a dear friend through a difficult surgery.  He's never failed me yet and I am fully convinced He won't!

     I'm also thankful for my Good Morning Girls group!  Most of them and their families came to our house last Saturday night for a hayride and bonfire and we had such a great time!   It's wonderful to be able to fellowship with some wonderful Christian families.  These ladies have been such an encouragment to me!

This was the post I woke up to this morning from one of the girls in my group on 1 John 4:4 (quoted above):

Good morning girls !!!! Today's verse just kinda goes with John 16:33.....I love that verse so much, I'm gonna post it AGAIN !!!! "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." Greater is HE that is in us than anything the devil ever thought about throwing at us !!! God is so good !!! I often let the cares of the world really get me down. I thank the Lord for reminding me that there is nothing He can't handle !!!! Beside this verse in my bible is says "Satan limited". Instead of giving in to defeat and letting the devil win, I want him limited. He may try and get me down (and he often does) but I'm not out of the game yet.
Lets join together today in prayer for Wendy and every family member. Lets limit Satan !!! He has tried his fiery darts on us this week, but greater is HE that is in all of us !!! Boy, the Lord really is amazing!! I thank Him for sending just what I need when I need it !!!! I think I could have church this morning.....ya'll want to ??!!!
      Talk about a way to start out the day!  I'm thinking about printing it out and reading it every morning ;)  I'd love to start everyday with a reminder that God is in me and has the power to limit Satan!   Together anything that I face we can handle! 

    Thought I'd share a picture of just the girls we took Saturday night.  A few of us are missing, hopefully they'll make it to our Christmas party!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Love: The Difference Between Life and Death

Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.  But whoso hath this world’s goods, and seeth his brother have need and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?  My little children, let us know love in word, neither in tongue:  but in deed and in truth.  1 John 3:16-18
          I’m going to share a moment of truth here.  When I first opened my Bible up Monday morning for my GMG study and read “For this is the message you have heard from the beginning that we should love one another”  (1 John 3:11),  I thought – “Seriously, more verses on love.  Can’t we study on something else!”  I was used to James where he moved quickly from one subject to another.  Then immediately realizing my bad attitude I prayed about it (something I should’ve done from the beginning).  I realized that if John had written (and more importantly God had inspired) a whole book/letter on love and fellowship it was obviously important and he wanted it to sink in.  God showed me in the very next verse (v. 12) how important love is:  the difference between life and death. 
          It can literally be the difference between life and death.  Two such examples are Jesus and Cain.  Jesus showed the ultimate love by dying on the cross for a sinner like me (and you):  “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”  John 15:13.  Even though he knew we would sin against him he still came to this earth, was mocked, suffered, and died all because he loved us.  On the other hand, you have Cain who did not have God’s love in his heart and killed his own flesh and blood, his brother, just out of jealousy.  See the difference love can make?   
          Love is also the difference between spiritual life and death. 
We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.  He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.  1 John 3:14
    The 16th, 17th, and 18th verses (quoted above) elaborate on that true love that Christ places within our heart when he saves us.  A love that is not shown just through flattery or compliments but is put in action.   This love is selfless and may involve sacrifices made on our part.  However, if Jesus loved the church and our brothers and sisters enough to give his life for them don’t you think their welfare should be just as important to us?  After all what is our life but a vapor and what possession do we own that aren’t going to be corrupted?  Love is why you and I have the gift of eternal life and the love we show to others is also how we know the Holy Spirit and his love dwells within us.  Not only do we know it ourselves but others can see it too.  It truly is the difference between life and death.

“Death is not the greatest loss in life.  The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.”  Norman Cousins