I am sure¬†that most of you look as happy as this woman as you juggle all of life’s things from day to day ūüôā …

happy-juggling-mom

….but, I have to admit, there are a number of times when I feel like this woman as I attempt to balance all that life has for me…

struggling-juggling-mom

One day at a time, sweet Jesus!

Know that you are not alone in your quest to juggle and balance all that life has to offer.  May you be encouraged that He will not give you more than you can handle.

Let me encourage you (and me!) to give everything to God each morning.  He is faithful to help us to prioritize and handle each one.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

snowstormThe long, cold, dark, snowy, gray, and blustery month of January in Western New York – it is tough for me not to have even just a little bit of the wintertime blues during this time of the year. ¬†I just can’t seem to get warm, and I shiver at the thought of having to head outside, even to grab the mail from the mailbox.

Because of these conditions, I am especially thankful, then, for the mysterious warming of my heart as I read God’s Word. ¬†His words keep me from depression, from anxiousness, and from self-pity. ¬†Each time I sit to read, He fills me once again with the daily bread I need.

As I finish the Christmas carol devotional book I have been using (okay, okay, so it has been a month since Christmas, but the words of the carols have been wonderful to continue reading even after the “season” of celebration), some of the words within this poem/hymn struck me profoundly as I read them this morning:

How lovely shines the Morning Star!

Thou mine, I Thine

Keep me kindly in Thy favor, O my Savior!

Thou  wilt cheer me; Thy Word calls me to draw near Thee.

(How Lovely Shines the Morning Star!, Philipp Nicolai, 1597)

There is always hope and joy that is found when we rest in Jesus!  Thank you, Lord, for carrying me through the dark, dreary days.

Life itself was in him, and this life gives light to everyone. ¬†The light shines through the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. ¬†–John 1:4,5 (TLB)

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Take a few slow, deep breathes…

(Seriously, take 30 seconds and do that. ¬†It’s amazing how well it works in helping you to slow down!)

Now grab a hot cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate and then come right back (don’t let ANYTHING distract you in the process!) to read the following excerpt from a devotional book I have been reading throughout this Advent season:

What is Christmas? ¬†Is it simply a yearly excuse to engage in extended spending frenzies? ¬†Is it nothing more than an annual exercise in overindulgence? ¬†Is the holiday season merely a chance to cut loose and party? ¬†While Christians are quick to answer these questions with a resounding “no”, we too often miss the real “reason for the season”.

Christmas is more than just a day set aside to mark the birth of an ancient religious leader. ¬†It does commemorate Christ’s birth, but it also has a much greater, more practical significance. ¬†In Christmas we find a unique opportunity to celebrate a two-thousand-year-old birth with the birthday boy himself. ¬†The message of Christmas is that Jesus is alive to celebrate with us. ¬†As this carol [“The Happy Christmas Comes Once More” by Nicolai F.S. Grundtrig, 1817] reminds us, he is the guest of honor at this wondrous yearly feast. ¬†He is the star attraction and central focus around which all the festivities should revolve. ¬†Even now Jesus is patiently waiting to gain entry to our hearts, homes, churches, and cities, so that he may celebrate this joyous occasion with us.

In the flurry of activity that we call Christmas, our attention is easily distracted from the one we seek to honor.  Yet the heavenly Guest continues to call to us.  He patiently raps on the door of our heart, ready to come in and fellowship with us.  What will our response be?  Will we hear him?  Will we welcome him in?

Christ in the Carols (Thirty-One Devotionals for Christmas and Advent) by Christopher and Melodie Lane, 1999

Friend, there is still time to celebrate in this way. ¬†Don’t feel like a failure if you are realizing how much you have been running around like a crazy woman these last few weeks. ¬†Start right now…start today and really enjoy and bask in the real reason for the season. ¬†Spend time with the birthday boy.

Look! ¬†Here I stand at the door and knock. ¬†If you hear me calling and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal as friends.” ¬†(Revelation 3:20)

There is a hymn that we sing at church titled, “They Will Know We are Christians By our Love“. ¬†For some reason, that song keeps playing over and over again in my mind.

If you click above, on the title of the song, you will see a video showing people on international missions trips Рworking on construction sites, feeding the poor, as well as hugging the orphans.  Of course, for those of you that know me, you know my heart draws close to those opportunities and life experiences.  However, my mind does not keep playing that song over and over again because of those types of moments.

It is the holiday season Рfamily, busyness, vacation, shopping, reflection, gift exchanges, food, music, cards, photos, picturesque landscape, parties, sledding, preparations, late nights, early mornings, concerts, celebrations, hustle and bustle, remembrance.  Yes, it ALL comes together during this time of year.

This morning, my children were all excited about the first snowfall actually sticking to the ground.  What a joy to see flakes falling as the wind pushed them side to side.  How clean and fresh everything looks.

Then my mind turned again to that song – “They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love. ¬†Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.” ¬†There are so many people just 3 miles away in the inner city that did not feel joy at the sight of snow fixed to the ground. ¬†There are many sick and elderly that did not jump up and down with excitement at the picturesque view out the window.

And then other thoughts came rushing in:

I hope the waitress will sense Jesus’ love flowing through me

109686-600-0-2…and the store clerk

…and my neighbors

…and the toll booth worker

…and the maintenance man that comes

…and my children’s schoolteachers

…and the shopper that cut me in line

 

“God, show me what I can¬†DO, but even as I wait for that revelation, help me to BE a radiant light that shows Jesus’ love every moment of every day.”

Colossians 4:5 (NIV)  Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.

I just read this paragraph that came from our denomination’s weekly world missions online newsletter:

[Our] Asia Area Director called from India on Tuesday, November 4, to report that a Free Methodist pastor was recently beaten to death in front of his family because he would not renounce his faith. Also, five other Free Methodists were badly beaten and had to be taken to the hospital. The doctor’s life was threatened if he treated their injuries, so they were refused treatment. These attacks took place in a state which neighbors Orissa State where Christians have been facing severe persecution. Please pray for the victims’ families. Also pray for 300 refugees from Orissa who have fled…

I try to stop and imagine but I just can’t.

This is not a story from centuries ago – it’s not the retelling of the Biblical story of Stephen or Paul.

This is happening today.

Please be in prayer… even right now.

jc-pic

 

“Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they¬†persecuted¬†me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.”

John 15:20 (NIV)

It was the morning ritual – my daughter would get herself dressed and ready for the day, make her bed, pick up her room, eat breakfast, brush her teeth, and then come to my room with the necessities in hand – hairbrush, detangler spray, and hairbands.

First would come a few of the “ouch, ouch!” and “that’s too hard!” comments, then the wincing would be added, and finally, to top off the daily event, the tears and angry facial expressions would follow. Yes, mean mom would attempt (with constant failure!) to gently but quickly brush every knot out of her hair until, after what seemed like an eternal, all-out, torture session, the bristles would smoothly run through each section of hair on her head. What was once a knotty, nappy mess became a beautiful, finished hairdo. (more…)

Yep… that’s what I was doing while attending church yesterday.

(Just to give you a little background: This past weekend, my daughter and I were out of town for a special reception. We were not flying home until Sunday afternoon, so we were able to go to church with a group of friends in the morning.)

Okay, back to the story…

It came to the part of the service where we, as a congregation, read the section of Scripture that the pastor was going to be preaching on later in the hour. I realized that one of my Spanish-speaking friends, whom we were sitting with, was not able to follow along because it was an English-speaking service. Since I had my parallel, bilingual Bible (one side of each page is in Spanish and the other side of each page is in English) with me, I decided to hand it to him to use and read from. My friend is not a Christian (YET!) so I wanted to be sure that he had the opportunity to, at the very least, read the word of the Lord.

And that’s when the debate began. (more…)