Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Follow-Up on Rejoice, I Say!

So, Christmas came and went, and believe it or not, things went better than I ever dreamed they could. It went so well, in fact, that I'd actually deem it a miracle. No joke.

God's love flowed through me this Christmas—and I could feel it especially when I knew that without Him, I'd have felt angry, upset, or bothered. I could not have done it without Him, and if anyone could have been in my shoes throughout the entirety of this struggle, there's no way that they would not believe in Him and the power of His love.

Unfortunately, those who still seek the truth can't fit in my shoes to see the proof. However, maybe those who saw me (and, perhaps, those who put me) in my "shoes" could still see enough of it to light the spark for them. (One can hope.)

Clear as mud? I'm purposely not getting horribly specific here, but I wanted to share that things went quite well.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

God is love! -- Merry Christmas!

This is the rough draft for a talk I gave at my church's women's Christmas brunch....

Merry Christmas!
We are coming together today to celebrate one of the most important holidays in the year.

I brought a prop. This is my son, Logan. He is 1 month and 1 day old. I love him. I am so pleased with him. He is so cute, you should pay attention to him. Or should I say, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!" Matthew 17:5. God loved his son so much more than I love my own.

I am not one taken to an overpowering, immediate love for my children when they are born. It may be different for other women, but I begin loving my child the minute it becomes a part of me and this love grows over time. The Bible says "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning. (John 1:1-2) God is love. 1 John 4:16 Any inkling of love that I feel for my children, pales in comparison to the love God has for his son. Yet, as much as God loved Jesus, he gave him up for us. Because he loved us. (For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,[a] that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16)
God could have sent Jesus as an adult with a flaming sword and a host of heavenly warriors behind him. He could have sent him as a child to the most well-to-do family in the world. Arrayed him in splendor and given him worldly wealth. But The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. (John 1:14) God came to live among us, not above us. He came for me, a sinner. And how do you reach a sinner? You love them.

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! 1 John 3:1 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13children born not of natural descent,[c] nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God. John 1:12-13

I love that every year I read the Christmas story, I find some new detail that evidences God's love....and divinity. This year it had to do with Mary. Mary and Joseph were betrothed -- It's in between engaged and married. Even though they weren't married, yet, the only way they could break off their relationship once they were engaged was to get divorced. Let's see if I can explain how perfectly God provided for this little family. Mary became pregnant while she was still a virgin. God could have sent Jesus before Joseph had ever even heard of Mary. Sure, she would have been a single mom, but maybe she would just raise Jesus in the home of her parents. Or what if she and Joseph were already married with three children? Then the prophecy would not have been fulfilled (Therefore the Lord himself will give you [a] a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and [b] will call him Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14)

Now what do we do with this?? God is love. He loves His children. and any of us who believe that Jesus is God's son, that he came to save us, we get to be called children of God as well.
We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19. God calls his children to walk in love. A pharisee asked Jesus what the greatest commandment is and Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'[b] 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'[c] 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." Matthew 22:37-40
This Christmas season, walk in love (2 John 1:6) for this is the true reason we have Christmas. It was God's greatest gift to us and it can be the greatest gift we give to others.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Rejoice, I Say!

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!"
– Philippians 4:4

"Praise God!"

Recently, I have been reminded that in this life, I cannot "roll with the punches" on my own. Things have been interesting for me lately, in regard to family (in more places than just one, but I'm more focused on one particular relationship in this post). I won't go into detail about that, but I will say that a good friend of mine (Brenda) once said to me, "there's a reason you can't choose your family: some people just wouldn't get picked."

Yesterday, I had one of those amazing experiences (which happens quite often, actually) where I was in church, and the sermon satiated my thirst for an answer to many, many prayers that I've spoken over the last year (and mostly in the last week).

I was reminded that I am blessed to be able to have conflict with my family. Before you go and write me off as being nutty, let me attempt to explain myself.

Not all conflict is black and white and easy to resolve. In fact, sometimes, it is impossible to fix whatever the issue is that may have caused the conflict in the first place (sometimes, you may run into someone who believes that the events that occurred are a completely different reality to them than to what actually occurred). But, how we choose to look at it, and how we choose to handle it (with the help of God) can bring peace, civility, and even forgiveness to a seemingly impossible relationship. And, heck, even over time, maybe that relationship can grow into something beautiful again. (Who knows?)

In the meantime, though, we can be reminded that it is beautiful that we can feel this hurt. Pain, sorrow, and all of the absolutely dreadful things of the like are part of what makes this life worth living. If we didn't have horrible, nasty junk to deal with now and then, it would not be so special when things are going so well.

This Christmas, while part of me is nervous to have to work so hard on myself for some relationships, I am more thrilled than ever to be alive and to be working this hard to do God's will. I have the opportunity to do it. I also feel completely thrilled (we're talking giddy, schoolgirl status) to have the opportunity to share it all with my budding, little family.

One might look at this post and think, "Oh. Okay. So, Jenny thrives on drama, then."

That couldn't be further from the truth. I am the most anti-dramalicious person you'll ever meet. Part of me thinks that God allows it into my life because he knows that it's a serious challenge for me. Sometimes, though, I think it's from the stinkin' devil, and if I'm not careful, it could really suck me over into the dark side. Now, for once, I have armed myself appropriately, and I can now look at it with a smirk on my face and say, "Bring it on. Bring. It. On."

I'm ready. Let's do this.

Merry Christmas!