Thursday, December 24, 2009

Perfect Gift

It's Christmas Eve, friends. Here in Beranville we're preparing like I know so many others are doing. Wrapping those last minute presents, preparing one last Christmas treat and making a meal, giving attention to all those details that will make Christmas morning "just perfect" for our little son. I feel a sense of calm today. Yet, I must admit that, that hasn't always been so throughout this month of December.
Two weeks ago when I went on a big Christmas shopping trip (every shopping trip around here has to be BIG and planned well since it's a one hour drive each way!) I felt such tension that I wanted to "blow." Suddenly the pressures of being the mom, the wife, the daughter, etc who wanted to make Christmas "just perfect" for all of my loved ones began to mount!
I continuously prayed as I shopped asking the Lord to help me to remember WHY we celebrate Christmas and to help me keep my focus on the right things. Still, it seemed that my focus kept swaying more and more towards all the things on my to do list and less and less on the birth of Jesus Christ. More and more towards the materialistic things that I need to buy and less and less on the eternally important things.
Then, something happened...I decided to go through Culver's drive-thru for a bite to eat (this prego girl needed nurishment!). I ordered my food and pulled around to pay. Nothing unusual! When I was finished paying, I began to pull ahead to wait for my food when I felt something rise up in my spirit. I didn't hear an audible voice, but I knew what I heard and felt was from the Lord. He said, "Give him something." I knew immediately that "he" was the person who would deliver my food to my car. I hadn't seen anyone bring any food out yet, but I knew it was going to be a guy. I thought, "Huh? What am I suppose to give him?" Then, I remembered a Bible tract that was in a side pocket of my purse. The same one that I had been carrying around with me for quite some time, yet never even thought about giving to anyone.
"Oh Lord, surely you aren't really telling me to do this! I don't want to. It makes me nerveous. How do I know this is really You relling me to do this?" Yet, I knew deep down that I never would have thought of this one on my own. It took me completely out of my comfort zone. Then, He spoke again, "Give him some money too." I thought, "Whoa! Alan (my husband) won't like that." He's a very frugal guy and... but God didn't back down. Again, I felt, "Give him some money." I pulled a bill out of my wallet and wrapped it around the tract. I held it in my lap. This probably sounds stupid, but my heart was beating out of my chest! I honestly told God, "You better make him come out here quick or I'm not going to do it." Then, I put them both back into my purse.
I think much of my hesitation stems from working in the food service industry for so many years. I remember when other servers (waiters/waitresses) would find a tract on their table they would often make fun of the person who left it. Sometimes it made them angry...especially if the person leaving it didn't leave an appropriate tip. It turned me off to handing out tracts and other religious material because I believed it was often received negatively. Sharing the Lord with others in this way made me uncomfortable. I didn't want to "turn people off" to Christ.
Yet, in this situation I felt it was the Lord telling me to do it. I kept talking to Him, "Lord, I don't know why I care about what this guy thinks about me. I don't know him and the chances of me ever seeing him again are slim. Why am I more concerned about what he thinks of me than I am with what You think of me?! Why am I more concerned with my comfort than I am with this guys salvation? Why don't I want to share You with him? How can I work in ministry if I can't witness to people in everyday life? I DO want to share the true spirit of Christmas with others. Why am I so hesitant?" I felt such conviction!
I pulled the tract and money back out of my purse. I waited only a few minutes before I saw him heading towards my car...a young man in his early 20s. He handed me my food. I handed him the tract and money. I said, "This is for you. Merry Christmas!" He said with a big smile on his face, "Oh wow, thank you. Thank you!" I pulled away happily knowing that I had done what the Lord had asked of me (and it really wasn't all that hard!). I felt peace and satisfaction!
Why did He tell me to do this? Well, I'm guessing that this young man needed this at this time in his life. Perhaps God would use this event to impact his life. Maybe it was just a little seed being planted in the soil of his heart. Maybe he is already a Christian, but God was using this to show him His love...and provision. I'll probably never know how it affected this young man.
What I do know is how it affected me. I believe God was just testing my obedience...and reminding me of what is really important. He wanted to help me grow in my faith, trust and obedience. He wanted to remind me that my whole purpose of being here is to share Him with others. That's why He give us life! Once we receive this new life filled with the hope and peace only He can give, it's not ours to "hoard" for ourselves. He wants us to share it with others! I knew that God had heard my earlier prayers to help keep my focus on what was really important and answered in a way I hadn't expected.
I'm glad that God spoke to me that day. I'm glad that I heard Him despite the clutter of my mind and anxiety in my spirit over finding the "perfect" Christmas gifts. I'm glad I obeyed. I know that I would have felt a lot differently if I would have pulled away from there without giving that young man the tract and money. I know that if I would have chosen to stay in my "comfort zone" I would have missed out on a blessing! I would have missed out on the real meaning of Christmas...HE GAVE US THE PERFECT GIFT for Christmas!! Now, He wants me to share that gift with others. That means I have to listen to Him, trust Him and obey Him!
It's easy in the hussle and bussle of Christmas planning to miss out on all the blessings and joy of the season! I pray that each of us will stay focused on Him, the perfect gift, at Christmas-time and throughout the year!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Winter Attitude

Last week a blizzard visited us here in Northeastern Iowa. Along with it came 10 to 12 inches of snow, bitter cold and 40mph winds. It was a true blizzard with white-out conditions on the roads and major highways being closed due to unsafe travel conditions. Citizens were encouraged to stay in and stay put if at all possible. The picture below doesn’t adequately show the severity of the storm…you can’t see the 40mph winds blowing the snow into drifts, but you get the point.


As usual I heard a lot of complaining about the weather.

Let me be the first to tell ya, I have never been a fan of winter. I never thought I would move north (from Indiana to Iowa). I always dreamed of moving south. I’ve always disliked cold, snow and ice. I’ve always disliked bundling up in coats, mittens, scarves and especially hats. Stocking hats are this curly haired girls enemy! I prefer summer when the weather is warm, sunny and flip-flops get thrown on…or I can go bare footed. I like green grass and blooming flowers. I like tan lines (although I’m so pale that I barely tan) and tank tops.

Although I have a lot of areas to work on when it comes to my attitude, the last couple of years, I have decided to try to make the best of this season we call winter. It may not be my favorite season, but it is a good long (especially long up here in Iowa) portion of my life each year. And honestly I have a good life…one that I know is blessed by the Lord. So, instead of grumbling I have made an effort to stay positive throughout the winter.

I Thessalonians 5:18 instructs us to “Be thankful in all things.” Does this mean I have to be thankful FOR all things? Nope. But this does mean that I should be thankful IN all things. Even winter!

No matter what the weather is doing outside, I know that it is cozy and warm here in my heart and in my home. I can choose to count how many MORE weeks of winter I have to “get through” or focus on how MANY weeks I have already been given...and been blessed.

I can choose to see the beauty in all that white snow on the ground, the snow capped trees and icicles hanging from the barn eaves instead of focusing on the gray sky.

I can choose to look at the winter through the eyes of my child who is thrilled to make snow angels, forts and snowmen instead of focusing on my cold toes and nose when I‘m outside with him. I can be the mom who makes hot cocoa and buttery popcorn to warm up my guys when they come in from sledding instead of focusing on the wet clothes they bring back in with them. It’s really all about ATTITUDE.
Andrew doesn't even mind shoveling snow. :)
But sledding is fun too...
And who can resist homemade hot cocoa afterwards?

I can choose to make the best of winter or I can grumble and complain. Either way, it’s still winter! Either way it will still be cold, snowy, icey and windy and most days the skies will be gray. I might as well go into it with a good attitude...enjoying "blue skies" in my spirit!
Even in the bitter cold we found a way for our little Andrew to have fun in the snow. Last week when the wind chill was 25 below zero and Andrew was “dying” to get out to play in all that fresh snow…we filled the bathtub up with snow. We put on his winter boots and gloves and brought in some sandbox toys.
He had a blast! Just look at that smile...

The snow melted slowly.  He was able to move on to other things, then come back to it several times throughout the day.  By evening the snow had melted...and went down the drain.  Very little clean up involved.  Simple.  Fun.  He will never forget it.

Wish I could take credit for this idea, but it wasn’t mine. The mentor mom as MOPS, Teresa, gave me the idea and I believe she got it from her daughter. I thought it was a great idea…and so did Andrew!  See, you really can make the best of any situation! 

Will I have to do an attitude check several more times this winter? Most likely.  But I plan to choose joy over compaining this winter.  Will you join me?

Let's choose to look for the joy in the moment, friends. To focus on the blessings that surround each of us. To be thankful and praise the One who provided it! I bet we'll be a lot happier...and so will the people around us!!

How we praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we belong to Christ.
Ephesians 1:3

Have any fun winter activities we could try?  I'd love to hear!
How is your winter attitude?  Tell me about it.
Leave a comment below.

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Stay warm and thankful bloggy friends!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Before my long trip back "home" to Indiana around Thanksgiving time, a dear, sweet friend of mine offered to lend me a CD set of hers called "21 Days: Your Journey to Enjoying Everyday Life" by Joyce Meyer. Wow! Like Joyce Meyer, dislike Joyce Meyer...think she's over the top or think she's spirit filled...either way you should listen to these CDs! I appreciate her straight-forward candor and practicality. The entire CD collection focuses on ATTITUDE.

Joyce says on day 9 (I listened to all 21 days three times now), "Our attitude has everything to do with the outcome of our life. Even though Jesus has provided a great life for every one of us, even though you're saved, if you have a bad attitude-you will miss what God has for you." I feel this is so true! I see myself and so many other Christians missing out on all God has for us because we're too busy grumbling and complaining about the few things in our lives that aren't as "perfect" as we think they should be. We're always waiting for that next "big thing" that's going to happen that will make us happy...all the while missing out on the simple joys of everyday life.

I consider myself a rather grateful person, a rather contented person...a person with a rather positive attitude (usually), but I have to admit that this series of teaching really "hit home." Negative attitudes can sneak up on us so subtly and permeate our lives. It is clear to me that even a wrong attitude in the seemingly small things, can hinder us from enjoying the blessings and fullness of everyday life. We must believe, trust and rejoice in the Lord in all things....and this takes a daily, conscience effort on our part. I'm working on being more consistent in this area! I want my countenance to show the hope, peace and joy I feel in the Lord!

I haven't returned my friend, Jaime's, CDs. I will return them soon with a great big thank you...and a set of my own on order. :) I highly recommend you get your own set too!

Is your attitude "in check" today? Are you thankful and content...even through the seemingly monotonous chores of everyday life? Are you grateful for all of your blessings? I know that life can bring along with it some tough situations, but each of us are blessed as well. Even through tough times, we can choose to have a good attitude (one of thankfulness) regardless of circumstances.

I Timothy 6:6 says, "Yet true religion with contentment is great wealth."

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, "Always be joyful. Keep on praying. No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus."

Philippians 4:4 says, "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice."

Lord, I pray that I will be a light of Your Truth and blessing in this daily journey we call life. I pray that my countenance will show the hope, peace and joy that I feel as I walk daily in your presence. May I make the choice to have an attitude of gratitude even when it doesn't seem easy...remembering all of the blessings you have bestowed upon me and my family. Regardless of circumstances, You are a faithful and true companion. I can trust You and for that I am grateful! Help me to remember that You are enough. Help me to be content with what I have. Help me to recognize all of the blessings in my daily life. I don't want to miss out on the joy and fullness of life you have for me each and every moment. And Lord, I pray this also for all my blog friends! Amen.