Someone who had been visiting Europe told a story about the wine in a particular country. It seems that they made very good white wine but the red wine was terrible. The red grapes that could be grown there were not suitable for wine making.
In order to get good grapes for the white wine, both red and green grapes had to be planted. They were in alternating rows; one row of red, the next of green and so on. The red grapes were discarded afterwards, but something about having them grow next to the green grapes made the green ones better.
It was interesting to think of half of the crop being unusable. It was only planted to make the other half better.
My husband and I talked about this and about how it could also relate to our lives. Sometimes our sole purpose is to assist someone else in achieving their potential. That means I can still add value even though I didn’t think I was doing anything outstanding on my own.
To me, the lesson of this story is that it’s not all about me. Sometimes I need to put myself aside and focus on helping others become the best that they can be.
This must be what Jesus meant in the Bible when he said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” I need to adhere to this and trust that when the time is right he will send someone to come alongside me to assist me in reaching my full potential.
Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:37-39 NLT
We have two nativity sets in our home. One is very traditional. The children in the family have enjoyed this set for years and played with the pieces, talking to and rearranging them.
The second one is far more precious to me. It’s wooden and hand carved. My brother loving made this for my mother many years ago. It always held a place of honour in her home. Even when she was aging and no longer had the enthusiasm to put up any Christmas decorations, this set was always displayed.
To me, this nativity set is priceless. It isn’t traditional because Mary and Joseph are standing together and Mary is cradling baby Jesus in her arms. To me this is much more personal than looking at the baby in a manger. Mary is holding Jesus close to her heart.
Thinking of Mary holding Jesus close to her heart in the hand carved set, I relate this to God holding each of us close to his heart. He isn’t just sitting back watching us. Instead he is tenderly holding us, guiding us and showing his love by his very presence in our lives.
When I look at the nativity sets in my home, I am reminded anew of the miracles of love that Christmas represents. One is the miracle of family and the love shared between them. The other is the great love of God which enables us to fully experience all of the other gifts he blesses us with every day.
Not only on Christmas but every day, let us give God our honour and praise as we remember the love that came down from heaven to reach out to us.
God loved the world this way: He gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not dies but will have eternal life. John 3:16 GWT
The ox and donkey were bedded down in the stable for the night. Suddenly the door opened, letting in a gust of cold night air. “I wonder what’s going on,” said the ox. “It’s past feeding time and no one ever comes in here at night.”
The donkey replied, “I see another donkey. It looks like we have to share our quarters tonight.”
Soon the animals realized that it was more than another animal they’d be sharing their straw with.
A young couple entered the stable. She was very pregnant. This was confusing to the animals as it looked like the people were settling in for the night.
During the night the woman gave birth to a son, and wrapped him in strips of cloth and laid him in the manager. The sleepy stable was soon overcome as shepherds appeared to worship the baby. They told the young couple that an angel of the Lord appeared to them telling them that the baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger was the Savior – Christ the Lord.
The Lord of Heaven and Earth had just been born in a lowly stable and the ox and donkey were in awe that they were there to witness the holy birth.
Let us also be in awe at this birth. Jesus wasn’t born in a palace to only reach the powerful and influential people but was born in a lowly stable to relate to everyday people like you and me. For this great gift I am eternally grateful.
That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” Luke 2:8-12 NLT
At Christmas the emphasis is often placed on gifts. The malls are crowded as people search for the perfect gift to give to loved ones. Budgets are often ignored and spending runs rampant.
This puts an incredible amount of stress on people. I remember being worried that I couldn’t find or afford the latest toy that my children wanted. While this seemed important at the time, neither my son nor daughter can remember gifts received when they were children.
What they do remember is time spent together as a family. Their Christmas vacation was spent playing board games and doing jigsaw puzzles. We did simple things, but we did them together. It was the love and laughter of family that was most important to them. This is something that money can’t buy.
Love is the reason we have Christmas. God loved the world so much that he sent his only son. Christmas is the celebration of the greatest gift ever given. This was given freely, sacrificially and generously to all of us. All God asks in return is that we love him and share that love with others.
I pray this Christmas that I may have a heart like His and my giving will follow his example and be pure and selfless.
In this spirit, I have a gift for you. I would like to give you a copy of my book, Inspirations From the Everyday. Let me know you’d like this and I’ll be happy to send you a code to download an ebook from iBooks. This is my Christmas gift to you.
For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 NLT
We have recently had repairs done on the roof of our house. The only part of the work still to be completed is the skylight in our ensuite.
The roofers returned to ask me about the skylight. They were confused as the one being replaced opened from the inside. I was asked if this was important to me as they couldn’t understand why anyone would want to try to escape through their skylight. After explaining that we frequently opened it for ventilation, they headed off to find the proper replacement.
I laughed to myself at the thought of trying to escape through the skylight onto the roof. To be fair, these men had never seen a skylight that opened and it seemed to them like the only reason that would be necessary would be to climb out through it. It was all a matter of perception.
That is something I need to keep in mind in my everyday life. Without all of the information, I can’t possible know the true story. What I think of a situation may be the exact opposite to what it really is.
I’ve heard it said that there are three sides to every story. One is yours, one is mine and the third is the truth. It that case, my perception is always off.
What I need to do is to pray about the situation. When I honestly seek out the truth that God gives, I will be able to rely on his perfect leading and not my own limited understanding.
Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. Romans 12 NLT
A few days ago my husband and I made a trip to the store to stock up on a selection of gluten-free flours. There are many good pre-made gluten-free products available these days, but for me, nothing compares to homemade.
Looking through my recipes, I knew I was going to make bread, but felt the need for some sweet treat as well. When I came across the cinnamon bun recipe my mouth started watering, so I knew my selection had been made.
The smell of the buns baking was incredible. Within minutes of them coming out of the oven I was mixing up a glaze to drizzle on the tops. They didn’t get a chance to cool much before I had my first bite of the warm, gooey, sweetness. It tasted so good that a second one quickly followed!
Thinking about these delicious treats, I realized that they can relate to my life. Each morning God gives me the ingredients I need to create a fulfilling day. What I do with them is up to me. I have the option to put them on the shelf and leave them there. When I do so, they are not being utilized. It’s when I take them and blend them together that something starts to happen. Just like the cinnamon buns needed to be placed in a hot oven to reach their potential, sometimes it is the mixing up and going through the fire that makes me all that I can be.
Taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the person who takes refuge in him. Psalm 34:8 GWT
Our city hosts one of the largest free outdoor light displays in Canada. It takes place every evening for the month of December. The truly amazing thing about this display is that it is funded by donations and set up and run entirely by volunteers.
Recently my husband and I bundled up and headed to the park to work a three hour shift. Our jobs for the evening were as train assistants. One of the most popular attractions during the Festival of Lights is the miniature train ride that runs through the display. We took tickets, kept the lines moving in an orderly fashion and generally got to share in the joy of those boarding the train.
It was fun to see the excitement in the young children as they waited their turn to ride. When they spotted the train coming around the corner towards them, their enthusiasm was contagious. One little guy was so happy, he turned to my husband and said, “Have fun!” even though it was him going for the ride. The outside air may have been chilly but the hearts were definitely warm.
Volunteering three hours of our time was a small thing to do. The rewards of being part of this memorable experience for people were priceless. One of the things the Bible tells us to do is to use our energy to serve the Lord. By serving his people, I serve him. When I give of my time to volunteer, I am serving God in one of the best ways possible.
Be devoted to each other like a loving family. Excel in showing respect for each other. Don’t be lazy in showing your devotion. Use your energy to serve the Lord. Be happy in your confidence, be patient in trouble, and pray continually. Romans 12:10-12 GWT
I was attending a large function and briefly stepped out of the room with my six-year-old granddaughter. There were over one hundred people in the busy room and she needed space to burn off some excess energy. After playing in the hallway for a few minutes we decided to rejoin her parents inside.
Someone was exiting the room as we approached the door and my granddaughter quickly ducked through ahead of me. At that point, I lost sight of her. My daughter was standing nearby so I headed over to her. Our little one had not been seen.
Soon we were doing a sweep of the room, the corridors by the meeting rooms and the hotel lobby. Unable to locate her, we enlisted more people in the search. After what seemed a long time, but in reality was only about five minutes, her older sister found her in the washroom. She didn’t consider herself lost, so had no worries about heading off on her own. Relief flooded over us as we had her beside us once again.
This incident reminded me of the parables Jesus told about searching for the lost. The point of these stories is that Jesus will drop everything to come and find me when I stray. I may not realize how far I’ve gone or the potential danger I face. When I am intently focusing on other things it is easy to lose sight of what really matters. When I am under his care, I need only call out and he will find me and gently bring me back.
In their distress they cried out to the Lord. He rescued them from their troubles. Psalm 107:6 GWT
I had heard of squalls before but generally thought of them as sudden winds coming up on the water. They were something boaters had to be wary of.
Our weather report called for a snowsquall. Since this was something I was unfamiliar with, I decided to do a little research.
According to Wikipedia, “A snowsquall is a sudden moderately heavy snow fall with blowing snow and strong gusty surface winds. It is often referred to as a whiteout and is similar to a blizzard but is localized in time in space and snow accumulations may or may not be significant.”
Essentially, what this told me is that we will be hit with sudden winds and blowing snow producing conditions that make it difficult, if not impossible to see what’s in front of us. As if that wasn’t bad enough, we have no idea if it will leave significant accumulations to clean up after.
When I examine this, I can see parallels to my life. There have been times I’ve had the emotional equivalent of a snowsquall. Suddenly I’ve been hit with unexpected gusts that make it difficult to focus on taking the next step forward. I have no idea what the fallout may be. Will I have a huge mess to clean up or will the storm temporarily throw me off-balance but leave me unscathed?
I have learned that the way I handle these squalls has a direct result in how well I come through them. Left to my own devices, I tend to panic. It’s easy to get turned around, confused and end up creating bigger fallout for myself.
When I walk with Jesus, the results are much different. He doesn’t keep me from the storms. Some of them are necessary for my personal growth. By calling out to him, I know that he will calm me and guide me safely through. I will come out not only intact but stronger due to what I’ve gone through. I don’t need to see the outcome, just Jesus by my side to have the reassurance that everything will be alright,
“Your strength will come by settling down in complete dependence on me – the very thing you’ve been unwilling to do.” Isaiah 30:15B The Message