and the One who walks with me on it.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Painting People

       When I was first married, I started buying inexpensive ‘Christmas village’ buildings to put on display.  It began with a house and a business, and has grown to a several buildings and other structures.  By far, my favorite part is the people I have bought over the years to accessorize (You can never have enough people!!!).  Since it is an inexpensive set, I just buy figurines at the dollar store: every year adding a few more.

       This year I was excited to find a set of black people, one of them dressed as Santa!  But of course due to my perfectionist ways and the supplier’s rushed paint job, I have to touch up each of the figures to my standards with a little acrylic paint.  This usually takes a several hours and a brush with about five small hairs in order to do the fine details in such small figures.  I don’t mind.  It is relaxing, and I like to see the figures transformed more into my liking. 

       I started last night and discovered some of my paints need replacing, so I can’t quite finish the new ones.  I also need to replace some specialty paints I won’t be able to buy at the dollar store, but those can wait until next year.  Back on topic though, painting people is fun.  They have different hair and face colour, varying colour of clothing, and some of them are doing diverse jobs: baker, clergyman, musician, painter, etc.  Most of the time, I blend basic colours together to match the colours already on the figure in order to cover inaccurately painted areas.

       In very similar ways, the Lord has been ‘touching me up’ for years.  I am not the person I used to be.
         (Thank You Lord!!!- very much! J)
       For the most part, He has helped me change for the better.  Little by little the Master Painter used His fine detailed brush to fix the ‘mistakes’ in my character.  He relaxed and took His time making sure it was done to His liking, not my own perceptions of how I should be.  The Lord continues to work in me (Php. 2:13) so that I can be “…conformed to the image of His Son…”
(Rom. 8:29)

for Jehovah seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but Jehovah looketh on the heart.  1Sm. 16:7
But we all, with our face having been unveiled, having beheld the glory of the Lord as in a mirror, are being changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Lord Spirit.  2Cor. 3:18 MKJV
Do not be conformed to this world, but continually be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you may be able to determine what God's will is-what is proper, pleasing, and perfect.  Rom. 12:2ISV

       You know, I was just thinking of something.  I would be very unhappy if I had spent lots of money on the figurines and they still required so much work to make them right.  Hmmm.  God paid the ultimate price for our salvation in the death of Jesus, yet we still require ‘tons’ of work because we are so flawed.  What an amazing God that He still considered us worth the cost!  We were worth the price of His Son.  I was worth the price of His Son.  Lord, thanks for never giving up on us and for continuing to ‘paint’ in our lives- daily transforming us into ‘works of art’ for Your kingdom.  You are an Awesome God!

Now to the one who can do infinitely more than all we can ask or imagine
according to the power that is working among us-
to him be glory
in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations,
forever and ever! Amen.
Eph. 3:20,21 ISV

Friday, December 21, 2012


       Sitting at the table this morning I remembered that I forgot to get my allergy shot earlier this week.  That means I have to go out across town in the first snowfall of the year- typically the worst for driving in as people are unprepared and end up in ditches and accidents.  Yuck!  Not looking forward to it, but I can’t wait because their hours for the next week and a half are spotty.

       There are just too many things to remember this time of year with all the family gatherings, gift buying and giving, finding deals, cooking, baking, wrapping, returning items, and so on.  Even though I write a list I find myself checking off too little of the items and not putting all the items on the list in the first place- like my shot.  I guess there are far worse things I could be dealing with and I am grateful that forgetting is the worst of it.  Still, both yesterday and today I thought I would get a particular task done and now I won’t because I have to go out once again.  (Can you tell I haven’t started what I said I would on Tues. 18th! Oops, I forgot! L)

       You know, things are gonna be all right, really!  So I couldn’t pay that bill because their system is down, the teacher did not call me back yet, my daughter missed the bus not due to her own fault, the new laptop has a manufacturing defect and needs to be returned, we still haven’t been able to get the star up on the tree because of shift work and not all being home, and the kids are a little whiny over some issues.  (They couldn’t be learning that from me, could they???)  It will be all right.  I mean, I woke up breathing with a beating heart, I could still see, all my limbs are working, my kids and hubby are all fine, and we have income, food and shelter.  Wow.  We are blessed!


Things to remember this season


God is with me, so it will all be okay.


God-who is with me- loves me. 
          Oh yeah, He loves me. 
                    Yeah, yeah, He loves me!

For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Rom. 8:38,39 MKJV
(Thanks Lord J)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

That’s Love

       He was feeling unwell from the bronchial infection his body was fighting and his back had been stiff and painful for a few days.  Now in his early 50’s, it has to be tough knowing his family is relying on him for the business and no matter how he feels, the work has to get done.  I’m sure on days like yesterday, he just wants to forget all about it- but he can’t.  Not only is the business relying on him, but also his wife who just had a hip replacement and is not allowed to bend at the hip for weeks.

       There I was visiting when his wife needed to have her socks and shoes put on.  Obviously she can’t do it since she is not allowed to bend that far, but there was no complaint, rolling eyes, or even a grimace from her hubby when he bent down on his knee in front of her (while I watched!), put on her socks and then her shoes as gently as possible.  To me, that ‘picture’ is how I see love.  Though he was sick and in pain, he still knelt down to help the wife of his youth, the one who usually works just as hard- side by side with him, but who is now healing.  I can’t get that picture out of my head.

That’s love.

       I think that’s how we’re supposed to love one another in the body of Christ.  We, the church (not the building but the people) are to be one in the Lord (1Cor. 12:12).  No matter what is happening in our own lives, we are called to love one another.  Does that mean we may have to humbly get on our knees to help someone- without grumbling, eye rolling, or making it obvious we don’t like it?  Yes! 

(from TLB)
(Jesus said) I demand that you love each other as much as I love you.  Jh. 15:12
Dear friends, let us practice loving each other, for love comes from God and those who are loving and kind show that they are the children of God, and that they are getting to know him better.  But if a person isn’t loving and kind, it shows that he doesn’t know God- for God is love. 1Jh. 5:7,8
Little children, let us stop just saying we love people; let us really love them, and show it by our actions.  Then we will know for sure, by our actions, that we are on God’s side  1Jh 3:18,19
This is one way to prove that your love is real, that it goes beyond mere words.  2Cor. 8:8

      Jesus was very clear that we need to love one another as He loves us.  Notice that it was a demand or commandment.  Does that ‘get your back up’?  We don’t like to be told what to do, but if we just think about who said it- the man who suffered and died for our sins- the man who laid down his own life for love of us- the man who got down to wash his disciples feet- then I don’t think the connotation is the same.  Jesus led by example.

       Practicing is an action repeated until it becomes habit.  Showing love by our actions means we can’t just say ‘I love you’ or think it in our hearts and leave it at that.  We are to prove our love by our caring actions towards one another.  This could mean doing work someone is unable to do, helping them get through a tough time, or scrubbing their filthy, callused feet.  It is our actions of love that prove our words to be true.  Without the backing of our caring and kind actions, the words are just that- empty words, without substance.  In that case, our love is not real and the love of God is not in us.  Ouch! Those are strong words.  Love in action: love is action!

Do you want to really love people the way Jesus wants you to?  Peter writes how:

(*A good life full of God’s kindness and peace full of rich blessings, etc)  But to obtain these* gifts, you need more than faith; you must work hard to be good… For then you must learn to know God better and discover what he wants you to do.  Next, learn to put aside your own desires so that you will become patient and godly, gladly letting God have his way with you.
This will make possible the next step, which is for you to enjoy other people and to like them, and finally you will grow to love them deeply.  The more you go on in this way, the more you will grow strong spiritually and become fruitful and useful to our Lord Jesus Christ.  2Pt. 1:5-8 (TLB)

Aha!  The way to a fruitful, spiritually strong life...

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Best Laid Plans, and all that!

       It all should have worked like clockwork.  7:45am, leave for bus stop, 8:00am drive to church, work on problem in library, 8:30ish start on project there and get home by 9:30 so I could get my blog post done at a reasonable time.  Instead, Nate got up late and we had to go to his alternate bus stop.  Then the traffic was annoying though I still managed to get to the church at a reasonable time.  The computer files didn’t align with the problem I was working on.  Three other problems needed to be resolved in the meantime.  Something went wonky with the telephone which required a check from tech support.

       As I went through stacks of books trying to input specific information, some of the books lacked barcodes, and a few weren’t even in the system- more things to fix.  By the time I got done everything I needed to do and left, it was almost noon, and since I didn’t get breakfast due to late timing, I ate just before I sat down here at the computer.  Now I’m wondering how often our plans ever go through flawlessly.  My best guess is- never.

There are many purposes* in a man's heart, but the counsel of Jehovah shall stand.  Pr. 19:21 MKJV
A man's heart plans his way, but Jehovah directs his steps.  Pr. 16:9 MKJV
Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts* shall be established.  Pr. 16:3
The LORD bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices* of the people of none effect.  Ps. 33:10

       Sure we can plan, but that doesn’t mean our plans will work out the way we want.  Man, whose days are like vapor (Jm. 4:14) can’t really determine if his plans will work out- or not.  The truth is we don’t even know if we will be here tomorrow or not.  God is not like us in this way though: He was in the beginning (Rev. 1:8), there is nothing hidden from Him (Heb. 4:13) and He knows all, even our minds and hearts (Rev. 2:23).  Though we cannot guarantee anything, the Lord can, for His counsel WILL stand.  That is why we should bring our plans to Him, because He knows!  And the Lord can make plans fall apart if He wants to.

       We make our plans believing them to be right, often without even consulting the Lord.  All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; But Jehovah weigheth the spirits.(Pr. 16:2)  Some of us even try to hide our plans of sin from Jehovah (Is. 29:15) like He won’t see them (just a little gossip after all).  Not only will He see them, but He will see our motives behind them and they will ultimately be exposed (1Cor. 4:5).

       Anyway, after this morning, I think I’ll try a new tactic.  Perhaps I’ll sit down with the Lord every evening and talk to Him about tomorrow, see if He wants any input before I make plans.  Then I’ll ask Him to check the plans over for any adjustments He may want.  Maybe if I do that first, I won’t find my plans falling apart by so many unexpected things. 

Ah, the best laid plans

*H4284- contrivance: plans, plots, devices, intentions

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sitting Here…

       It’s one of those days where I sit here looking at a blank screen thinking of many different things I could write about, but none of them appeal.  So, this morning I just want to remind all of us of a few things.

God is thinking of us.
How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more than the sand; when I awake, I am still with You.  Ps. 139:17,18 MKJV  

He loves us even though we are sinners.
But God commendeth (introduced, exhibited) his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Rom. 5:8
But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love with which He loved us (even when we were dead in sins)  Eph. 2:4,5

Our salvation is His joy.
(Jesus)who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right of the throne of God.  Heb. 12:2 MKJV

He gave His life for our salvation and to live with us.
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.  Gal. 2:20

He did it all because He loves us.
In this the love of God was revealed in us, because God sent His only begotten Son into the world that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation (reparation) concerning our sins.  1Jh. 4:9,10 MKJV

Emmanuel means God with us (Mt. 1:23).

He’s here, with each of us right now.

What would you like to say to Him?

Come on... say it!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Unwed Pregnancy

        Maria was fourteen and pregnant. Not a good place to be even if she was engaged to a wonderful man. Her parents would never understand, but she'd have to tell them, after all, she would be showing soon enough. They would probably be angry since she wasn't even supposed to be having sexual relations, and, well, that's how babies were made. Maria walked solemnly into the room where her parents were and sat down quietly beside them watching while mother worked on her needlepoint.

        Father was discussing a friend and his construction business in town while mother asked appropriate questions to learn more. Maria pondered what her neighbours would think of her condition, what they would say to her parents, how they would treat the family once they knew. Would they understand or would they consider her to be a tainted woman of poor morals? Maria hoped the fall out would be on her and not her parents who did nothing wrong. What did it matter. No one would believe her. Would her parents?
  *     *     *     *     *

Reading Luke 1:26-56 made me think about the beginning of Emmanuel (Mt. 1:23)- God with us, which all started with an angel speaking to a common girl, and the power of God overshadowing her to become pregnant with Jesus. Is it possible some of the speculation above really happened?

        I can't imagine what it would have been like for Mary to face her parents with the fact she was pregnant, and oh, not by a man, but by God Himself. Though the Jews long believed that the Savior would come to a virgin, so many years had gone by that it must have become only a distant, rare consideration. Did Mary's parents believe it was God, or did they think it was a lapse in judgment? Did they worry about what the neighbours would think or perhaps they would rather have the inaccurate belief Joseph and Mary were at fault as opposed to any claims that their daughter was bearing the Messiah?

        Joseph, Mary, and both their families were thrust into the spotlight of the community and though the Scriptures do not indicate much about the reaction of the townspeople, we know that they would have had typical human responses- just like we would have. But God in His wisdom chose correctly based on their love for Him, their character- values, and their strength to endure through parenting Emmanuel. That would be some task; I imagine there may have been a lot of second guessing?

        Mary submitted to God's plan (Lk. 1:38), extolled her Savior (v.47) and Joseph obeyed the Lord (Mt. 1:24). Together, they helped raise Jesus who would “ his people from their sins.” (Mt. 1:21) And two thousand years later we are still reaping the benefits of the Savior, miraculously born to common parents, who was no ordinary boy, but God in the flesh...
dwelling among us.