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Posts Tagged ‘God’

Several  years ago I began a New Year’s MORE and LESS practice.  A look back at the year just ending and forward to the year ahead—in conversation with God.

What were some attitudes/actions/activities that characterized my life this past year?  Which would I like to see LESS of, and what would I like to see MORE of?  Gratefully, I have seen change in most of these arenas.  Yet my list remains remarkably the same, adding or subtracting only a few each year.

2013-new_year_wallpaper_2013-8

I do set a few specific, measurable goals, as the life coaches say I should.  Those goals will often come out of these heart desires.  I know it is impossible to see significant change in so many areas.  These MORE and LESS statements, thus, really reflect the ongoing work I hope God keeps doing in me.  And they embody my commitment to cooperate with Him.  (more…)

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It’s time for change.  The old year ends, a new year begins.  We reflect on the past 365 days—highlights and lowlights, choices made, dreams pursued or lost, rejoicing or regrets.  And we ponder the coming year:  expectations, resolutions, hopes, dreams. 

I wrote this a couple of years ago—about an ending and a beginning.  As I reread it, it was a good reminder about the pain and hope in ending one chapter and beginning a new one.  May it help you as you prepare to say good-bye to 2012 and good morning to 2013.

book pages

Finishing a good book is bittersweet for me.  I love being in the story, knowing the people, being a part of the action.  But when I turn the last page, I feel sad.  It’s over.  My life will go on, but those brief relationships will end.

Yesterday was such a bittersweet day.   (more…)

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Amazing-Grace-christian-music-new-and-old-31985368-250-228You know the story.  John Newton was an insubordinate sailor in the British Navy.   He became involved in the horrific slave trade, but during a terrible storm one night, he surrendered his life to Christ.  He became an Anglican priest, a campaigner against slavery and a hymn writer.  His most famous hymn is, of course, “Amazing Grace.”

Certainly we—and many we love–need to receive this amazing grace.  And at this season, so many need to comprehend the reality of this grace.  Though our rebellion may not be so visible, so destructive, so “bad”  as “sinners” we know, we are also prodigals.  The words of this song bring tears, promote repentance, stimulate gratitude and provide hope.

May I ask you to go through the words of this song for yourself, asking God to speak to you through each phrase.  Let His grace flow into your heart and mind.  How does this grace impact your relationship with your gracious God?  And how does this grace affect your relationship with others in your life? (more…)

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This post is part of the Deeply Loved Advent Blog Hop series.

A favorite Advent reflection for me is meditating on the many ways Jesus comes to us:  He comes as the Living Word and the Living Water, as the Way, the Truth and the Life, as the Bread of Life and the Light of the World.  And so much more.

One of my favorite ways that Jesus comes is as the real Promise Keeper.

As I have joined with others in going through advent with the Deeply Loved devotional by Keri Wyatt Kent, I loved stopping at day 11 to “Meditate on the Promises of God. “

I promise

And oh what promises our God has made to us:  forgiveness, a relationship with God, abundant life and eternal life, peace, comfort, hope….

And one more that I love: He hears and answers prayer.

(more…)

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We have an enemy.  He is smart and clever, very crafty.

Torn-Apart

He knows the Scripture: “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” And he uses it well.

So he comes against strong servants of God, attacks where they don’t even know they are weak, and they crumble and fall.  Families are torn apart, God’s people are confused and oh so hurt, and the name of God is slandered.

That enemy also knows that God says oneness among His children is a sure sign that the Father sent Jesus to redeem us.

So he comes among friends and coworkers and sows mistrust and conflict. (more…)

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My grandboy Carter turns 7 in early January, and birthday gifts are an important topic.  He would love to get GI Joe action figures, a toy gun and a remote control helicopter–and anything he has asked for but doesn’t get for Christmas.

nativity from jerusalem

Of course, we are celebrating a very special birthday just a few days before Carter’s big day.  I wonder what Jesus would ask for, if we asked Him.  Last post we looked at four gifts He has clearly stated He would love to receive.  Today we consider four more gifts that would please our Savior (more…)

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What Can I Give Him?

“What can I give Him,

Poor as I am?

If I were a shepherd

I would bring a lamb,

If I were a wise man

I would do my part.

Yet what can I give Him?

Give my heart.”

–Christina Rossetti

In my former church we sang this poem/song every Christmas.  It asks a great question.  At Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus and give each other gifts.  It is only reasonable to consider what we might give Jesus for His birthday.

nativity ornament

He has given us some solid clues.  I will describe four of them in this post and four more in my next post.

I think Jesus would be so grateful for these gifts (more…)

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I will never forget the first time my mother came to visit after Steve and I were married.

My mother was an impeccable housekeeper.  I am not.  Everything in her home was clean, neat and in it’s place.  That might have been true in our home right after we moved in, but not since.

So I went into a frenzy trying to restore order, hide messes and clean every inch.  When she arrived I was exhausted.

At this season of Advent we anticipate the arrival of Jesus, the Lamb of God, the King of Glory.

And yet most of us scurry about getting ready for the coming of Christmas, not the coming of Christ.

Just think of it!

Jesus came to earth to be like us so we can be like Him.

Jesus came to visit us to tell us how much He loves us.

Jesus came into the darkness to shine as the light.

Jesus came walking on water, subduing the storms of our lives.

And so much more.

Every day during Advent I will post a very brief reminder of the gift to us that His coming is.

I will also be taking part in an Advent Blog Hop Series, based on Deeply Loved:  40 Ways in 40 Days to Experience the Heart of Jesus by Keri Wyatt Kent.  It is hosted by Angie Mabry-Nauta.

I would also recommend you look at Silence and Other Surprising Invitations of Advent, a “lovely, thoughtful book” by Enuma Okoro.

Most of all, I invite you to welcome Jesus into your heart and life, letting His coming be the center of your Christmas season.

And you don’t have to clean up the house—or your life—first.  He comes to you as you are.

What about you?  How has Jesus come to you lately.

C2012 Judy Douglass

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As parents we have responsibility to love, nurture, provide, teach and train our children to become responsible, moral, hardworking, creative, authentic adults and contributors to society. Most of us try to do something like that, with varying degrees of competency and success.

But I’ve found that God seems to have an equally important role for our children in our lives. I will try to share a few of the things my kids have taught me. This lesson comes from my #3 child, Joshua

My grandchildren—and their parents before them—always love a carousel.  It’s fun—for them and for me to see their joy—but it just keeps going around, again and again.

I’ve always been a slow learner—in lessons that matter.  I think it has to do with my stubbornness, my lifelong journey toward surrendering my way and choosing God’s way.  So I seem to spend a lot of time on the carousel—learning the same things again and again.

Our son, Joshua, now 30, was God’s sharp instrument to teach me some invaluable truths in the years of his teenage (and longer) wilderness:

God never gives up on me.

So often I was ready to give up—because of many choices he made.  This became clearest to me through homeschooling, which we were doing in hopes that he might actually graduate.  But he really wasn’t interested.

I would give him his assignments, listen to his arguments, and walk out of his room almost every day saying the same thing:  “I give up.  He doesn’t care—why should I?”  And every day God responded with the same words:  “Have I ever given up on you, Judy?” “Never, Lord.” “And I need you to not give up on Josh.”

So I kept going, and he graduated from high school with a B average.  For which he is grateful.

I am weak and prayer is my strength.

Those were hard years, filled with lots of tears and fears.  Nothing we tried seemed to help Josh make better choices for his life.  We were desperate.

So we did what most people do when they are desperate.  We prayed.  I’m sure our prayers had significant impact on Josh—God was very creative.  But I’m also sure that our prayers had even more significant impact on our lives—especially mine.

Prayer became not just frequent conversations with God, telling Him how I was doing and what I needed.  Prayer became my life breath.  It became a constant communion with God, pouring out my heart, listening to what He was saying, surrendering my requests/demands to His will.  Prayer became my response to His invitation, my resting in His welcoming arms.

I am so grateful.

Unconditional love doesn’t require love in return.

One of the joys of parenting young children is all the hugs, kisses and love they usually give.  By the time they are teenagers we can’t always count on that, and we miss it.  Josh, though, had a prior allegiance to the birth mother he spent his first eight years with.  He couldn’t betray her by loving me

I understood that.  I was patient.  My love for this boy God had entrusted to us grew and expanded.  And eventually I yearned to hear him say, “I love you.”  I begged God to open his mouth to say those words.

So clearly, though, God said, “Judy, by definition unconditional love doesn’t require love in return.  If he never says ‘I love you’ to you, I am calling you and enabling you to keep on loving.”  So I kept loving, not perfectly of course, but perseveringly.

It took 13 years before he could say those words.  I am so grateful I waited.

These lessons have been so real to me—over time and with people and in trials. They speak to core issues of my trust in God. Mostly I have remembered them and recognized the truths as still true—and reckoned them as reality—by the power of the Spirit—in my life.

But the past six months have felt like we have gone back 10 years, like I have forgotten those lessons, like I am starting over.  We have gone through some hard things, and some of my same old responses have surfaced.

I have felt like giving up.  And God has said, “I still haven’t given up on you.  Keep believing.”

I have felt my weakness, and once again prayer has been a source of strength.

My loving and giving have felt unappreciated, and Jesus said He understands.

Yes, as parents we teach our children so much.  But I think God uses them to teach us even more.  And if I seem to have gone from Lesson 101 in some areas to 201 and 801…it should be not surprise me that some of the same challenges with our children come around again.

I’m ready to get off the carousel.  Probably the roller coaster is next.

What about you?  What lessons are you still learning?

C2012 Judy Douglass

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In my previous post I talked about “My Best Gifts for My Grandchildren.” Today we are looking at some even better–though rather intangible–gifts.  

So it’s Cyber Monday.  And I’m online shopping for my children and grandchildren.  I bet you are too.

In the short run, they so appreciate receiving the “things” they want.  In the long run, though, they will be far more grateful for gifts that will last their whole lives.

After all, they didn’t exactly love the clothes you got them last year.  Or that movie with a good message.  Or even the fun—and expensive—family trip to Disney—everyone wanted to do something different.

Tired of trying to choose the best Christmas gifts for your children?

They probably have more things than they need, and won’t really appreciate your gift if it isn’t exactly what they want.

And wouldn’t we rather give them something lasting and meaningful?  So even as I make purchases to give to the kids, I keep these three gifts in mind and try to find things that will contribute to their growth in each area.

When I was fairly new into parenting, I found myself making some wishes for my children.  If I could choose three things to give them that would help them have a great life, what would they be?

I did come up with three fairly comprehensive concepts to wish for and pray for and hopefully give to my kids.  So here they are:

Gift#1 A Relationship with God

Knowing God is foundational for life and the relationship that makes all others possible (1 John 5:20). A relationship with God offers forgiveness of sin, power for living, love, joy, peace, patience, wisdom, an eternal family, courage, comfort, perseverance…I could go on and on.

As I pray for my children and grandchildren, I find myself coming back to this most basic need of all: to know God.  To really know Him as Father, Savior, Redeemer, best friend, counselor.  So when I don’t know what to pray, this is where I go: “Lord, may they know You.”

Gift #2 A Good Character

A good name is to be more desired than great riches; favor is better than silver and gold. (Proverbs 22:1)

Character influences reputation, which affects our relationships with people, our confidence level, and our ability to achieve.  Character helps determine the contributions we will make in life and will contribute to peace of mind and a clear conscience.

Good character qualities to seek to grow in our children include integrity, responsibility, humility, generosity, discernment, kindness, self-discipline…and a sense of humor.

Gift #3 A Useful Life

What is a useful life?  One that utilizes gifts, abilities, talents and opportunities for the glory of God and the benefit of others.

Why is this important?  God has created each of us for a purpose.    He has given us what we need to fulfill that purpose, and he expects us to use those gifts, multiply them, be a good steward of them.  (Matthew 25:14-30).  So we need to help our children discover who he has made them to be and what he has designed them to do.

As our children grow into useful lives, they will sense their value, enjoy life and know they are contributing something significant.

My children are all grown now, with children of their own.  Though they continue to grow—and I continue to pray—there is plenty of evidence of wishes come true, of gifts received and lived out. I am grateful.

What about you? What gifts are you hoping to give your children?

c2012 Judy Douglass

Related article: My Best Gifts for My Grandchildren

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