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I live in the Pacific Northwest where snow during the holiday season used to be a rare thing. But in recent years it seems we get snow every year at this time. As a child growing up in Canada – snow was expected and NOT a treat. It was really cold from October until well past my birthday in March. In pictures from my childhood – I can see snow on the ground out the window while celebrating another birthday.
Here in the Northwest we don’t get tired of it – at least at first. It’s a novel thing and can make you feel just like a kid again. Especially the first snowfall.
As I am writing this – the snow is falling in a beautiful cascade of different sized crystal flakes – making the street and yard all white and ‘Narnia-like’. And I can’t stop myself from taking pictures of it – and just staring out the window. It is truly one of nature’s most AWESOME treats for us to feast our eyes on.
And so with ‘holiday’ music playing on my Pandora radio – I am a very happy girl today – and may not get a whole lot accomplished – but it is VERY understandable – as anyone who lives in the Northwest knows: It just may not last long – or even be here tomorrow, so we will relish the moment and dream of being a child again – where things like Santa, mistletoe, Christmas trees, surprises, warm crackling fires and hot cocoa were always something fun to look forward to.
And for your listening and viewing pleasure I have added a video of one of my favorite’s from Michael W. Smith‘s first Christmas album entitled, ‘First Snow Fall’.
Enjoy and God Bless!
Image by ToniVC via Flickr
This morning my husband and I were reflecting on some poignant and growing moments along the journey of our lives and the passage of time. Each person has events happen – unique to only them – and we are no exception to this. It is our story – our ‘rite of passage‘ – our legacy.
Many times throughout our lives – we found ourselves in strange circumstances – only to be followed up by the bizarre and ridiculous. The stretching and growing things of life – born out of difficulty and contrary circumstances have given us balance and perspective. Nothing surprises us too much anymore – and we have learned to make it through any storm that life throws at us – wait it out – and know that the sun will shine again someday. And it always does.
It begins early in our life when seeking to gain independence. And what we always find – is that freedom has a cost.
Our daughter learned this when she moved out of her childhood home and into her own apartment. Things were free at home – but they came with a cost. House rules and limitations. Independence had a price tag – a very high price tag – but she was willing to pay it. Our son will have to learn the same thing when he is weary of living by our ‘rules’ at home. And grows beyond the constraints of Mom and Dad. He will feel his itchy feet feeling the need to establish himself in the real world – and to become independent from us – and become a man.
And so it is as we mature – and we develop our own ‘voice’. We have to count the cost – ask ourselves – “is it worth the price?” and most of the time – if we want it bad enough – it is. It means stepping out – taking a leap of faith and going for it – no matter what others say. This is how we gain wisdom and experience. Sometimes good experiences – sometimes bad. Sometimes we keep our cool – sometimes we don’t. But we learn. By necessity – we learn.
It is in those experiences that we earn our ‘life’ stripes. We get to a certain age and wear them proudly – displaying them in our faces – the many laugh lines and stress lines too – and in our bodies – worn out by wear and tear – year after year. This all too – is part of what we earn. Part of the lessons of life that you can’t teach to others – it is what you have to live through – experience – and be willing to make it through to the other side. Our ‘life’ stripes have bought us our independence and ‘our story’ – but it has also come at a very high price. Loss of friendships and of ideals. A new-found awareness that people can be unkind and even cruel – leading to a resignation of how things are. And how things will continue to be. A forever loss of innocence.
But in the midst of all of this ‘life’ – I’m proud to say that God has been at the center of everything we have ever gone through as a family – or as a married couple. We’ve made plenty of mistakes – and will continue to make them – because we are not perfect – in fact hopelessly flawed and in need of a Savior every day to save us from our selfish ways. I’m thankful that because of His great love and patience for us – we are able to do as well as we do – all with a sense of humor and kindness. He gives us our ‘life’ stripes and we proudly display them – day after day – year after year. And in this new ‘season’ of life that we have found ourselves in – we have found life to be very sweet – and God has replaced the bad with good – and given us way more than we deserve – a wonderful family and friends that are daily in our lives – supporting us and making us thankful every day. And when life seems hard and not fair – I find myself coming back to what I know. That He is good.
Thank you Lord for your faithfulness – even when I am not faithful.
Thank you Lord for your patience – when I am so impatient.
Thank you for the hard lessons you have brought me through – even when I was unteachable and stubborn.
Thank you that I have the ability to look back over the years and see your hand over my life – for your protection and great love and for thinking me worthy enough to handle the strict discipline of your love.
Yes – I’ve earned them. I’ve earned my ‘life’ stripes.
Last October I posted an article entitled, ‘The Love Bank’. It was an idea from a friend of ours, Jeff Davis whom we were on staff with at New Life Church in Renton, Washington – about 14 years ago. He was teaching our Sunday School class and talking about how each of us has a ‘Love Bank’ and we can either make deposits into it – or withdrawals. The deposits come when someone speaks life and health into our lives – the withdrawals come when someone rejects or speaks unkindly to us. He was talking about the way married couples speak to each other – either good or bad and that can result in a healthy or unhealthy ‘Love Bank’.
This ‘Love Bank’ theory can also be translated into our everyday relationship with our friends and family. The more I live and have observed people, both in ministry and just in my ‘world’ I feel that there are 4 different kinds of people.
The ‘With-holder’ This person will not give a compliment or say anything nice to you – even if you’re standing right in front of them with a new outfit on – a new haircut and have lost 60 pounds. Nope. They ‘with-hold’ because if they give you a compliment – it depletes their already limited amount that they have in their own ‘Love Bank’ and they can’t afford to give any away to you. The mind-set is this: anything I give away – will NOT come back to me. I will simply LOSE it entirely.
The ‘Unaware’ This person is usually a male – no slight on the male sex – just speaking the truth in love – and now understanding a little about the male ‘psyche’ being married to one and also having a son I realize that this is just how males are ‘wired’. It often is not meant as a ‘slight’ – it is just simply that they are ‘unaware’ that anything is different or needs to be said. No one has corrected them on simply being polite in a social situation and that the right thing to do IS to say something kind to someone – they don’t know – so they simply with-hold because they don’t know any better. If taught – they would not be opposed to learning. They do not realize that communication and words are very important when relating with others – especially females.
The ‘Manipulator’ This person will give a compliment if it makes them look better – or better yet – say things only in front of the right person because somehow they feel that will give them more ‘deposits’ into their ‘Love Bank’ for saying something nice. This person has an ‘agenda’ for being nice and is as changeable as Seattle weather. Just when you think this person is truly on your side and is a ‘friend for life’ you find out that there was some other ‘hidden motive’ for being in your world – to make their ‘Love Bank’ richer. When that doesn’t happen – they quickly move on to someone else. They are incapable of really warm intimate relationships because of ‘fear’ – fear of losing themselves and becoming smaller – and losing all their reserves in their own ‘Love Bank’. Fear that you will ultimately get more attention than they will. Or that others will like you better.
The ‘Giver’ This person is someone who naturally is – or has learned to be – ‘a giver’. Someone who knows the secret to filling up their ‘Love Bank’ is to give their love away. The more they deposit into others – the more is naturally deposited into their own. This person is the one who understands risk and of getting rejected and misunderstood – but who doesn’t let it stop them from giving to everyone they come in contact with. This is the person who is first to give a compliment and mean it – without thinking they will get anything in return. The person who often times has to say ‘hello’ first – or make the other person feel good about themselves. The ‘giver’ never asks ‘what’s in it for me’? They just give.
Which one are you? A mixture of a couple of these? Did you say, ‘Ouch’ when reading anything above – or did it make you feel sad? Do you know people like this – in each category? How do they make you feel? Are you on a road to self discovery and wanting to learn how to make your own ‘Love Bank’ healthy and full of deposits? Invest in others. Love God. Love people. You can’t go wrong when you do this. And like the parable of the ‘talents’ – you will not be like the servant who the master gave one talent to – and when the master returned he found that the servant had been worried he would lose it – so he hid his talent in the ground. That one talent was taken from him and given to the one who had 10 talents. I believe the person who had been given 10 talents was the one who had learned the secret in investing in others. So – invest in people – watch your investment grow with much interest as you see your own ‘Love Bank’ fill up to over flowing!
Written a year ago and posted on my blog – it is still appropriate ‘food for thought’ today – and I hope it will inspire each of you look beyond circumstances – makes allowances for others – to ‘dig deep’ and love until it hurts.
via Cindy Holman’s Blog
1 Timothy 1:15
15Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.
Heard an excellent and thought-provoking message from our youth pastor Andy Douglas this morning. “How many mistakes do you make”? It was an honest question – and we say to ourselves – “Sure – I make many – or “I at least make some” – or even – “I hardly ever make a mistake any more” But the bottom line is this: we all make them – even when we think we are too spiritual or too far above that in our every day life. Andy went on to illustrate how when he first got his driver’s license – he made 3 big mistakes in the first hour – being pulled over by 3 different patrol cars. He had us laughing hysterically – so FUNNY!! And it was interesting to note – that even though he was talking about mistakes – and ultimately the grace and forgiveness for mistakes we make – I was thinking about those 3 different police officers that pulled him over that night. They could have been ‘letter of the law’ and each given this new young driver – a ticket – but none of them did. They gave him a friendly warning – and the last one said to him, “maybe you better go home now” – which he did. That’s the definition of grace.
This is what God does with each one of us. Grace by its very definition is this: not getting something we deserved. It is not something we have earned. We couldn’t earn it. It is freely given to us. And like Andy said this morning – if we cannot accept the ‘gift’ of grace and forgiveness – but instead walk around with shame for something we have done – and live in bondage to that shame – then we cheapen the fact that Jesus was beat to a pulp and had to endure a horrific death on a cross – so that we could be free from that shame.
Do we continue to make mistakes on purpose. I hope not. No one usually does. They are usually innocent at first – even starting out with great intentions. You may have a huge heart for people and mean well by loving and embracing them – but then something happens you did not plan on. You may love helping people – but then you get yourself in too deep and realize – “I made a mistake” Or you may be naive and think that everyone has the best motives in your world – and then something happens – and you realize that there was another motive altogether and it blindsides you. Every good well-meaning person makes mistakes. Pastors and leaders make mistakes all the time. They don’t mean to – they just do – because they are human. It is humbling to admit you made a mistake – to ask forgiveness or to forgive someone else – when you may not always be at fault. But there are times – when it is all your fault. That’s what God’s grace and mercy is there for. God’s love does not condemn – but rather it renews and gives life and hope to brokenness and hopelessness – bring life from death and joy from despair.
Do we really believe this? Sometimes. Do we live like we do? Not always. I would like to think that when we make a mistake – and live through the consequences of that mistake – or someone else’s mistake – that we gain perspective and wisdom – and we rarely repeat the same one again. Oh – we’ll continue to make mistakes – just hopefully not the one that caused so much pain and hard work to recover from. This is what we gain. A fresh understanding of the love of God. A fresh knowledge of grace and mercy. An understanding of the high cost of that grace, mercy and forgiveness – offered in an ever abundant supply from Jesus. But so often instead of believing this – and living like this – we walk around with a heavy cloud over us – sometimes choking the joy right out of us. And we think everyone must know what we’ve done – even though they rarely do. It paralyzes us. It prevents us from living a joyful life – a full life where we are able to clearly see the needs of others around us.
But if we could just grasp concept of grace – we are changed. We no longer live under man’s scrutiny or insinuations – we no longer feel condemnation – and we no longer let what others think of us – rule our emotions and feelings. We are free – and we understand what that grace means for our lives – because we can agree with Paul in the scripture above – that Christ Jesus came to save sinners, and like Paul we say – …’of which we are the worst’.
If this is true of your life today – you can shake off that feeling of shame and brokenness – forever. It is only by embracing and accepting the love of Jesus and His covering over those mistakes in your life – that you can really be free. Free from yourself. Free from the weight of carrying years of guilt and shame. Free from the lies that you cannot be forgiven – that you can’t be productive – that God won’t use you anymore because of what you’ve done. Accept His love and forgiveness today – don’t wait. Don’t spend another day carrying around this burden on your chest. He is waiting for you. Let’s ‘shake off the shame’.
I am praying for you
I had a moment the other day. A moment that I knew ranked up there with all those special frozen “moments” in time – that I have experienced throughout my life. It happened the other day in theater class – where I have the privilege of teaching and investing in students through music. When a student discovers how great they can be – then it is a moment for me. A student came ALIVE during a scene from “Beauty and the Beast” and I gasped! It was an incredible moment that moved me. This so rarely happens during an early rehearsal – I just sat there smiling, knowing this production will be the best one yet – thanks to students who push past the limitations of their age – and give it their all. I have had many such moments since I started being a music teacher – some 15 years ago now. These moments make the “job” not seem like a “job” – and more like a pleasure. It makes all the icky times worthwhile. All the blood sweat and tears – bearable. Just knowing that the price we pay – is HUGELY worth all the frustration, yelling and short tempers. In the end – the production and experience of playing to a full house at the Civic Theater is what all the students remember – and the teachers never forget.
When was the last time you had a moment? When did something or someone really move you? Do you invest in people and friendships? Do they bring you joy and make you smile and even laugh? Are you helping to create a moment for someone else? Do you share your time, humor and kindness with others? When was the last time you made someone’s day? When was the last time someone told you – “you just made my day”?
I want to be that kind of person. I want to invest in people. I want my friends to like being around me – and be richer because I am in their life. Don’t you? Start by being that kind of friend to someone today. Bring humor and love to someone’s world today. It will bless their socks off. I promise.
Yesterday I had some good news on a personal level. Someone I had been estranged from – had come full circle to send me a message – it was something I had been praying about for over a year.
It got me thinking about our “words” and “words” from others.
Words can be healing to us – or bring pain. How powerful are “words”!
The Bible talks about the tongue being “sharper than a two edged sword” – and I have felt the cuts over the years – from people that are casual people in my life – and worse yet – those that I love and that I thought loved me back. Words that sent me into a tailspin and left me bleeding and wounded.
I have also experienced the “lack” of words – that I so desperately needed to hear. The silence that just SCREAMS. Been there and done that – and that can hurt and cut just as deep. Nothing worse than being separated from a good friend and having no way to reconcile the situation. You feel helpless.
In one situation just recently I found that there was only one person who could say the “healing” words I needed to here. Many others tried – gave feeble explanations for things gone wrong and even said to just “forget about it”. It will get better with time. But it did not. No closure – no explanation – no reconciliation – no words of healing. I knew everyone meant well – but no one knows my heart – other than God. In the end – it was that one person that could offer the gift of stepping toward forgiveness and understanding – and that was what I needed. A healing balm over a sad and troubled heart.
Our words are powerful. They can bring healing – or death to a person. We can withhold them and it can be a slow torturous ride – sending a person to sadness and depression – wondering why there can be nothing to break the silence. We need to use our words to bring life and healing to those we are in fellowship with – those in our world and those who brush up against it. We need to let everything that flows out of our mouths – be sweet and loving – knowing that we can produce life or death to a person hearing them.
I have had my break through – it was much prayed for – and I never gave up. You see – I believe with all my heart that God wants forgiveness and reconciliation for all of us. He lovingly softens even the hardest heart that has been hurt so badly – He reaches in and begins to speak peace and healing to that hard heart. He is in the restoring business. He is ALL love.
Don’t give up. Use your words today to bring peace into a situation of chaos and hopelessness. Even if it looks like you might not get your answer – and that maybe God has abandoned you – I want to encourage you. He has not forgotten about you and your hurting heart. He has a plan for your life – he is working round the clock to bring about a miracle for your life. Keep believing. If you are waiting for those “words” you need to hear to bring your healing today – they may be just around the corner. And you may have a sweet surprise of your own to write about.
British author Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874 – 1936) is known for his insightful views on many issues. Once when The Times asked him and several other prominent authors to write essays on the subject “What’s Wrong with the World?” Chesterton answered succinctly:
G. K. Chesterton
The above was read to us several weeks ago by Pastor Greg Daulton of Mount Rainier Christian Center – as an introduction to his message that day. I have never forgotten these words. They are simple – they are profound. They are absolutely correct.
We can blame – point fingers – wish things were better – or that person would FINALLY get it – etc. etc. – but the bottom line is the simple truth. We are sinful. When you break down the world’s problems and issues – it is ME that is to blame.
I love things broken down in a simple way so that even I can understand it.
Jesus came to provide a simple solution for a complicated world. He did not blame, point fingers or accuse – He just simply came. He got involved in a personal way – in a simple way. And when there was no solution for the chaos of sin – He gave. He died. Problem solved.
We make life so complicated by our bickering – finding blame in everyone except ourselves. Jesus came as a solution to this. By just believing in Him – He removes sin and frustration from our lives. We no longer have to “go it” alone. He died so that we could live. He IS the solution for the world today.
Many years ago I heard a story about a famous theologian named Karl Barth, who had a tremendous grasp of the Scriptures. He had studied many years, and was a sought after speaker. One day, someone asked him what the greatest theological discovery he had made during his life. He thought for some time and finally stated,
“Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so!”
What’s wrong with the world? It’s ME.