Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Relishing the Joy

My family had a wonderful Thanksgiving. It was great to have the house filled with the giggles and squeals and laughter of children. My house is awfully quiet now and the Christmas sprint has started. Actually, going Christmas shopping with my husband is more like speed skating.

 There is a lot to do before Christmas and I'm starting to feel the familiar stress and pressure. But I'm resolved to keep my mind focused on Jesus and not get overwhelmed. To take it easy and enjoy the simple delights of the season, the lights and music and memories. To do what I can and not worry about what I can't. To remember the reason for the season is to celebrate the birth of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

"For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on His shoulders. And He will
be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace", Isaiah 9:6. NLT

I'm hoping and praying that the Prince of Peace will bless every aspect of your Christmas season this year. Stop and smell the spruce. Stop and see the sparkle of the Christmas lights. Stop and feel the velvet smoothness of the ribbon lovingly tied on the packages. Stop and hear the beautiful words of the old carols.
Stop and taste the sweetness of the cookies and the tartness of the apple cider. And above all, keep Jesus Christ in the center of your heart all season.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Seasons of Thanksgiving

I'm thankful for God's goodness to me in all the seasons of my life.

*God's Care-Even before my body was abused and my little girl's heart tilted, askew, needing to be righted, my loving parents had taken me to church where I could hear of the love and forgiveness of Jesus, that love that would settle my heart aright one day.
*God's Protection-During the years when I didn't care about myself, God cared enough for both of us, and His protection kept me from falling into the darkness that sat ready to fold me in.
*God's Blessing-God blessed me with a wonderful husband and children, and gave me enough love for them that even my dysfunctional thinking and habits couldn't mess it all up.
*God's Healing-In my middle years, God unraveled layer after layer of pain, guilt, loss, and shame and then broke through the barrier of unbelief deep in my core and showed me that He loved me enough that He would have died on the cross for me if I had been the only one.
*God's Grace-God has saved His best for my latter years and has opened my eyes to see how amazing His grace is. As I grow tired and my body begins to break down, I can rest in His grace and bask in His unfaiuling love, knowing that the time when I see Him face to face is growing nearer.

As I look back over the years, His goodness and love have never failed me, and He has never been more than a prayer away.

Much love and Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! Peggy

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Opening Up

Opening Up

Like a rosebud
Curls downward into itself
Tight, rigid, closed
Unwilling to open out
Until the sunshine and warmth
Of  the balmiest day
Melts away its' final defenses

So the grace of Jesus
Prods open my locked up heart
Fills it up fully
Saturates it with ardor and affection
Waters it with mercy
Opens it up, pardoned, nurtured
Smiling upon my days as a blessing.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mirror Image

I've struggled with self-image all my life. After I was sexually abused as a little girl, when I looked in the mirror I saw someone who was different from other girls, someone who was damaged, someone who didn't measure up, someone who felt all alone.

When I began my descent, as a teenager, into all things that could numb the pain, I looked in the mirror and saw someone who had no value except for being desired by boys. And so began the downward spiral that masqueraded as my life for quite some time.

Later, after I married and had chidlren, I didn't take the time to look at myself in the mirror much at all. Preferring instead to lift my children to the mirror and find my value in them.

In middle age, when God led me step by step through healing from the abuse, He unraveled layer after layer of blame, shame, guilt, loss, anger, and grief. When He got down to that final core of unbelief that I could be loved by Him and showed me He did love me-enough to die for me, out popped a new me. For the first time in my life, I could look in the mirror and see someone I liked.

Now, when I look in the mirror, I see someone who is growing old, someone not valued by our society, someone who is wearing out. But if I look through Jesus' eyes, I can also see someone who is looking a little bit more like Him, someone who sees perseverance in those grey hairs and wisdom in those wrinkles, someone who values a gentle and peaceful spirit more than a whistle from the guy on the corner. And I'm looking forward to that glorious day when I will be made an immortal body like His.

"So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord-who is the Spirit-makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into His glorious image", 2 Corinthians 3:18, NLT.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Resolved to Enjoy the Ordinary

This past week has been difficult. There have been thunderstorms, tornado warnings, and earthquake shakings, sometimes all at once. To top it all off, one of my dearest friends buried her husband. And today my granddaughter is sharing at school a picture of my dad, who passed away a year ago, in his Navy uniform for Veteran's Day. It has me thinking about the fleetingness of life. Really, we get to thinking we have all the time in the world, when in fact it is over in the blink of an eye.

I just want to kick myself, or worse flog myself, when I think about all the moments I've wasted complaining, thinking negative thoughts, and being discontent and ungrateful. God's grace has blessed me in so many ways they cannot be measured. Life is precious, every day, every hour, every second of it. I am resolved to start being thankful for every moment God gives me. I am determined to thank God for every ordinary day of life. I am committed to "being in" the plain-Jane moments of life and to enjoying the simple pleasures each day brings. Help me, Lord!

"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things", Phillipians 4:8. NIV

Monday, November 7, 2011

Cultivating Thankfulness

A pastor in my area, Jonathan Watson, had a column in the newspaper yesterday that got me to thinking about being thankful. He gave a good illustration of ingratitude that I want to share with you:

"Carol decided to do something nice for her neighbor, Mrs. Gentry, so she baked a pie and carried it next door. When Mrs. Gentry opened the door, she said, "For Me? Thank you so much! You are so thoughtful for doing this." Because Mrs. Gentry liked the pie so much, Carol decided to bake her one the next week. Mrs. Gentry opened the door and said, "Thank you so much. You are so kind."

The next week when Carol took the pie over, Mrs. Gentry took it and said, "Thanks." The next week, she opened the door and greeted Carol with these words, "Your're a day late with that pie." The following week, Carol baked another pie. This time, her neighbor said, "Try using a little more sugar, and don't bake it quite as long. The crust has been a little hard lately. And, I'd like cherry or coconut instead of apple."

I could really see myself in that illustration and how I am with God. God has so richly blessed me and sometimes I feel so grateful. But when things are humming along and everything is going pretty well, then I tend to forget, then I tend to complain. "But, God, I wanted that prayer answered today. But, God, I wanted that prayer answered in a different way. But, God, if you would just give me that one thing more then I would be happy."

I don't want to be ungrateful to God. God has given me everything and much more. I couldn't make it without His love and grace and mercy. He alone is worthy of all my praise and I am so thankful that He is making something good out of the mess that was my life.

In these days leading up to Thanksgiving, I'm going to cultivate an attitude of thankfulness. I'm going to keep my wandering mind focused on the big things God has given me, like salvation and eternal life. And I'm going to keep my fickle mind focused on the little things God has given me, like eyes to see the tiny red rosebud that I picked and placed in my kitchen window last week open up and smile at me.

"Praise the Lord! Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever. Who can list the glorious miracles of the Lord? Who can ever praise Him enough?", Psalm 106:1-2. NLT

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Grace Takes Root

I've been sick with a cruddy virus for two weeks. It seems like I'm never going to feel good again. On top of that a stormy cold wave has hit our area and knocked the sunshine out. The icy fingers of depression are grabbing at me and threatening to crumple me like the frigid temperatures are crumpling the last of the autumn leaves.

But grace has taken root in my heart this past year and grace is greater, grace is stronger, grace will persevere.

Grace enables the sunshine of Jesus to brighten my darkest days.

Grace enables me to look out my front window and know that flowers will bloom there again.

Grace enables me to hold my beautiful grandchildren deep in my grateful heart.

Grace enables me to believe that my chidlren will be able to handle what life throws at them becasue of the grace that resides in them.

Grace enables me to take my eyes off of my imperfect self and keep them focused on the incomparable perfection of Jesus.

Grace never gave up on a sick, messed up, dysfunctional little girl but continues to love her and heal her still.

Grace is given to me in abundance every day, just what I need so that I have all I need to make it through every day.

Grace is undeserved, unmerited, unconditional, wonderful, amazing, and a free gift.

"For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God's wonderful grace and His gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death throught this one man, Jesus Christ", Romans 5:17. NLT