As I look back over 2015 I am reminded of the many blessings in my life, both personally and professionally. Things haven’t unfolded as I expected, but that is all part of the adventure!
I have posted this New Year Prayer in previous years and as it is still my favourite, I’m sharing it again.
NEW YEAR PRAYER
May God make your year a happy one,
Not by shielding you from sorrow and pain,
But by strengthening you to bear it, if it comes.
Not by making your path easy,
But by making you sturdy enough to travel any path.
Not by taking hardships from you,
But by taking all cowardice and fear from your heart.
Not by granting you unbroken sunshine,
But by keeping your face bright, even in the shadows.
Not by making your life always pleasant,
But by showing you where man and his cause need you most,
And by making you anxious to be there, and to help.
Many years ago my husband started what has now become a family tradition. He made us clubhouse sandwiches on Boxing Day.
This has become so popular that our children have carried it into their own families. No one likes to miss this gathering together for a lunch of clubhouse sandwiches and an afternoon of visiting. The younger ones may not have acquired a taste for the sandwiches yet, but enjoy playing with cousins and snacking on everything else.
As I write this, my house is filled with the mouth-watering aroma of turkey soup simmering on the stove. We will savor this over the next few days while the remainder goes in the freezer to be appreciated at another time.
Why am I telling you this? It’s because I have come to realize that the enjoyment doesn’t end after the main feast is finished. There’s still more to look forward to. I have named but two of the ways we find to help this delicious meal last.
It is the same in life. I have worked towards a goal and once achieved, wondered if anything else could match this accomplishment. It was so rewarding that it seemed unrealistic to expect more.
As I look back over this past year I am humbled to see what God has accomplished in and through me. After one feast of blessings he has nurtured and sustained me as he prepared me for the next. I am confident that there will be more for me to relish. For now, I wait patiently and expectantly as I put my hope in God. I’m excited to see what he has in store for me next!
Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD. (Psalm 27:14 NLT)
Show me the right path, O LORD; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you. (Psalm 25:4-5 NLT)
A Dickens Christmas Village is set up on my hearth. The lights in the church, shops and house shine onto the little village scene. In one area Charles Dickens reads from A Christmas Carol to a crowd gathered around. Nearby are a group of Christmas Carolers. Some children are playing in the snow.
Gazing at the cheerful little village brings back precious memories of receiving the various pieces throughout the years. My adult children enjoyed moving some of the people to unusual locations in the village to see if I’d notice. Grandchildren loved to gaze at it but knew not to touch the porcelain pieces.
This village brings me peace and joy. It also reminds me of love shared with my family, who are the primary members of my personal village.
Christmas is about peace, joy and love. There is no better way to honour Jesus than by sharing the love that he so generously gives to me. That is what I plan to do with those I come in contact with.
I want to express my appreciation for each of you who read my posts. May you feel the blessings of love and peace not only this Christmas but throughout the coming year.
This is how God showed his love among us; He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 1 John 4:9 NIV
My friend was standing on the top rung of a step ladder, arms fully extended to replace some burned out light bulbs. I was at the foot of the ladder ready to exchange the old bulbs for new ones.
Personally, I’m not fond of climbing up ladders. It feels too precarious to me. I commented that I’d be nervous but she seemed confident. My friend replied that she doesn’t like heights but learned a long time ago that there are things you need to do despite the fear. Replacing light bulbs happened to be one of them.
To emphasize her point I said, “So if you don’t take the risk you’ll end up in the dark.” We looked at each other with the realization that a greater truth had just been spoken.
There have been many risks I was too afraid to take. I’ll never know the light of new discoveries if I don’t take the chance. Jesus came that I may have a rich and satisfying life. Part of that is embracing the new adventures he has for me.
When I have taken the risk and stepped out in faith I’ve learned to keep my focus on Jesus. If I stumble I know that he is there to pick me up again. Other times he steps back to watch me soar. Either way, any risk he encourages me to take is more than worth it.
When I said, “My feet are slipping, “your mercy, O LORD, continued to hold me up. When I worried about many things, your assuring words soothed my soul. (Psalm 94:18,19 GWT)
The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. (John 10:10 NLT)
There are several types of crystals that I either own or have first-hand experience with.
The most common crystal is made from cut glass. When the glass is in its molten stage lead is added which gives it superior clarity and light refraction. Swarovski crystal is a well known example of this. I enjoy a few vases plus some jewelry pieces that are made in this way.
There are also natural crystals that are mined from the earth. These gemstone crystals are quite dull in their natural state. A lapidary artist cuts and polishes them in order to produce their sparkle. The diamond that my husband placed on my finger many years ago is an example of this.
Although all of these crystals are lovely, they require intervention to reveal their beauty. It doesn’t come naturally.
My favourite crystals have a genuine beauty in their natural state. They are the ice crystals that fall from the sky. I see them sparkle in the freshly fallen snow. The elegance with which they softly blanket the earth still enthralls me.
Each snowflake is a delicately complex arrangement of ice crystals. No two are exactly alike. This uniqueness is part of God’s design.
Maybe the reason I am fascinated by these ice crystals is because they remind me of the way God made you and me. We are each wonderfully unique and beautiful in our own way. No outside intervention is needed. When we allow God to work in our lives, the beauty comes from within. It is then that we sparkle like the precious gems he created us to be.
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. (Psalm 139:13,14 NLT)
The CP Holiday Train was scheduled to make a stop in our area and my husband and I made plans to meet family there. Our granddaughters ran to greet us and then returned to playing in the snow.
The park soon filled up with families excited for the arrival of the train. The engine and boxcars were adorned with coloured lights. After the train came to a stop, the side of one of the boxcars was lowered to become a stage. Singers and musicians appeared on the stage to entertain the crowd.
The children, however, didn’t seem to care about the train or the performance. They were happy to be playing in the snow that had fallen that afternoon. Truthfully, the performance wasn’t the highlight for me, either.
As I looked at the boxcars festooned with Christmas lights I was reminded of the brightly decorated boxes under the Christmas tree. Like the stage on the train, we may have expectations of what is inside but there is no way to know until the box or gift is opened.
None of these gifts is as meaningful as the one that God gave us when he sent his son. Jesus didn’t arrive on a brightly lit train or with fanfare. He came to us humbly, being born in a stable. His life was not one of performance, but of service to mankind.
I think that the children had it right. The bright lights and performance could not distract them from the wonder and enjoyment of God’s creation. This year I want to be more like a child as I enjoy of the gifts God has given instead of focusing on the distractions of the world.
He was the source of life, and that life was the light for humanity. (John 1:4 GWT)
God loved the world this way: He gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but to save the world. (John 3:16 -17 GWT)
The conversation took an interesting turn. What started out as doom and gloom in the media morphed into watching cooking shows on television.
We talked about some of the interesting ingredients. While the chefs on these shows use fresh herbs and spices many of us tend to use the more convenient dried ones. I’ve learned that blending a combination of herbs and spices gives the best results to eliminate boring meals.
Spices lose their strength over time. To preserve their quality they need to be stored properly. Even so, there will come a time when the flavor is diminished and they are no longer useful.
This is also true in our lives. When we are not actively using our talents and abilities they lose some of their flavor. In essence, we become stale.
This is not what God has in mind for us. The talents and abilities he has given us are gifts that we are to use for him. We need to share them generously with those around us. When we work together there is less chance of losing our strength. Together we can be the spice that’s needed to draw people to the life God has prepared for them.
“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage. (Matthew 5:13 The Message)
Have you ever had low expectations for something but gone ahead with it anyway? That’s how I felt when I purchased a Christmas cactus in late May. It was blooming at the time and I was happy to pay the small asking price.
Prior experience with these plants had not been good. Previous ones had either never blossomed or had done so once and not again. Even though my hopes weren’t high, we continued to care for this plant after the flowers were finished.
Not long ago I noticed buds forming on a few of the leaves. Soon I was rewarded with one flower and the promise of more to follow. This plant that had appeared dormant for many months was showing its beauty once again.
I smiled as I gazed at the showy magenta flower and realized that I had just been presented with a good analogy for life.
After a period of productivity I have often fallen into what appears to be a dormant stage. No matter how much I struggled, it seemed that my life had been put on hold. I wondered what I was doing wrong.
What I need to remember is that God is always working in me. The periods that seem like inactivity are his way of caring for me as he prepares me for the next phase of my life. These periods of rest should be appreciated. There is more going on beneath the surface than I realize. No matter what the season, when God is working in my life, the results will be worth the wait.
Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. (Psalm 27:14 NIV)
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV)
“You have to do something different if you want to see change,” the exercise instructor called out. She continued her encouragement with, “Doing the same things will help you maintain but it won’t bring about the change you want; so push yourselves to do things differently.”
These words reminded me of a quote attributed to Albert Einstein in which he says that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Rationally I know this. Why then do I find myself caught in the trap of doing things the way I am comfortable and familiar with? I think I just answered my own question. It’s because I like comfortable and familiar.
To achieve the change I want to see in my life I need to push myself into new behaviors. Comfortable is not going to do it. Instead, I need to change the way I think.
God has a plan for my life. When I trust him to guide me I will no longer be held back by my limited belief of what is possible. My life may not be familiar and comfortable but it will be filled with the change and adventure he desires for me.
Don’t become like the people of this world. Instead, change the way you think. Then you will always be able to determine what God really wants – what is good, pleasing, and perfect. (Romans 12:2 GWT)