I have discovered over the years, that life can be challenging. God desires to sustain us as we look for "splashes of His grace" every day. My desire is that through posts, or book reviews, you may find something that points you to the grace of God, and that He ultimately will make a difference in your life.

Monday, November 30, 2009

A Life Well Lived

I don't like funerals. I am easily brought to tears, and funerals are a place they fall freely. I mourn the loss of a precious person, but also grieve with the immediate family who will now go on without the presence of one that has been so much a part of their lives. Funerals also make me stop and think about my life. When people gather at my funeral what will the testimony of my life be? When the famous die, great accomplishments or heroic deeds are mentioned. Obituaries note the things they were well-known for -- positions held, inventions created, awards received. But what about the people the world deems as ordinary?

At a recent funeral, one of the preachers noted that some people's lives are measured by one event or by a single accomplishment, but this woman's whole life told her story. Some of the most humble, quiet, unassuming people will, I believe, be honored and welcomed into heaven with the greatest of fanfare. Those things done in secret will be revealed. Those quiet words of encouragement spoken at the right time will be applauded. Those prayers voiced when no one was around will be made known. The faith that was lived through difficult circumstances will be rewarded. These are the things that in the end make all the difference.

If I am honest, I am sometimes a bit envious of people of great accomplishments. Deep down I sometimes wonder if my life makes much difference at all. When people gather at my funeral there won't be any news-worthy events to report. But my simple prayer is that in some small way they can say my life was a life well lived because she loved her Lord and she loved her husband and family deeply.

More than the applause of the world, I simply want to hear Jesus say to me:

"Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!" (Matthew 25:21)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Read and Share: The Story of Christmas, Retold by Gwen Ellis and Illustrated by Steve Smallman

The Story of Christmas is a children's book based on the International Children's Bible. The story begins with the the birth of John the Baptist and ends with Joseph, Mary, and Jesus heading home to Nazareth. Each two page spread is like a chapter in itself with the Scripture reference below the title of that section. On the bottom of the right hand page, a question is posed to encourage discussion as you read through the story of Jesus' birth. The illustrations are colorful and appealing. At the very end of the book, there are pictures for the child to point to, in the correct order, as they retell the story. The book also comes with a DVD with six short stories from the life of Jesus, along with some trailers promoting other videos, plus coloring pages and wallpaper for use with a computer.

The overall concept of the book is excellent. It is written in simple terms young children can understand, though having the angel declare to the shepherds, "You will find Him lying in a feeding box" caught me off guard! I personally would have preferred the word "manger" with an explanation, if necessary. The discussion questions for the most part were thought provoking or helpful in the explanation of the story, but a few of them were beyond a young child's understanding.

I expected the DVD to be a tremendous asset to the book, but found the stories much shorter than I anticipated and not as engaging as I had hoped. I could not get to the coloring pages on my computer. When that option was chosen, it sent me back to the main menu. They could be accessed through a search of the disk, but was not worth the effort it took to find that out.

Overall I think it was a good book that would be appropriate for very young children through early elementary school children who will be able to retell the story on their own using the pictures in the back of the book.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Splashes of Grace

Ever try to carry around a very full container without spilling the contents? It's a hard thing to do. You try to hold it steady, take small steps, hold your breath, and.....then splash it's contents all over the floor! That's the nature of things.

The same is true with us. We are also containers of sorts. As we walk through life, whatever fills us will eventually spill over on those around us. If you're filled with anger or bitterness, careful as you may be, harsh words and actions will ultimately spill over. If you're filled with jealousy, distrust and a stirring up of trouble against another person may be the result. If you are filled with sadness, you will find that emotion creeping around every corner. It touches everything you come in contact with.

But, if you are filled with love, you will look out for the other person and meet his needs above your own. If you are filled with joy, you cannot help but smile and encourage those around you. If you are filled with peace, you have the capacity to calm those around you even when you find yourself in trying situations. If you are filled with the Holy Spirit, you can't help but leave "splashes of grace" along the path of life.

My prayer today is, "Lord, fill me so full of your Spirit today, that those around me can't help but be splashed by your great grace!"

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)

Monday, November 2, 2009

An Overflowing Closet With Nothing to Wear

Men just don't understand how a woman can have a closet full of clothes and then say, "I have nothing to wear!" Women understand....and that's the situation I find myself in right now. As I searched through my closet to find something to wear, I realized just how much stuff I had that simply shouldn't be in there. I have clothes that no longer fit. Some are too small, and others too big. (O.K. -- there are not really that many that are too big -- too small, yes!) There are other garments that are what I call my "Old Faithfuls". They are out-of-date or have seen better days, but they are familiar and hard to part with. Then there are my "never to be seen wearing out in public -- lay around the house on a Saturday afternoon" clothes. Can anyone say sweatpants with elastic (or drawstring) waistbands?? And finally there are those few pieces of clothing that actually fit and are somewhat useable.

So, why don't I clean my closet out? If I was to be honest, the first reason is that it will take time -- a lot of time. Do I really want to spend hours trying things on and then deciding what to do with the stuff I can't wear anymore? The second reason I delay is because I know my closet will look empty if I get rid of the stuff. Then I'll feel like I have to spend money that I don't have to fill it up again -- it will be costly!

When I take an inventory of my "spiritual closet" I often find a similar situation. There's a lot of "stuff" in there also. It too could use a good cleaning out. I have things in there that just don't fit anymore. Attitudes or actions that are no longer becoming for a Christian woman. Have I hung on to my "old faithful" ways of thinking about God and failed to go beyond my comfort zone or expand my vision of what God can do in and through me? Do I feel too "comfortable" with habits or thoughts that I have but would never show in public? The answer is "yes". But, like my closet full of clothes, I have a decision to make. Will I take the time to sort through those things and allow the Lord to help me part with them, or will I view it as too time consuming or costly.

A decision must be made. Let's clean out our closets, and with the help of the Lord, we will be amazed at what a little freshening up, a touch of the iron, and a little reorganization can do! Let the Spirit fill the emptiness, and know it WILL be worth any cost!

"You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." (Ephesians 4:22-24)