The Gift of the Green Glass – A Christmas Memory

One of my favorite Christmas memories is of my youngest child – who is now an adult, one with a very generous, people-minded heart. He has had that generous, caring spirit from the time he was a preschooler. It’s part of the personality God gave him.

During the Christmas season of 2000, he was a chubby-cheeked little 4-year-old, the youngest of 4 children, and the nearest grandchild to his paternal grandparents. We lived only a block away. So he was the baby, close at hand to be spoiled.

26994101_10213301992496189_3796884010690880513_n.jpgThe grandparents had downsized late that summer. Both were well into their 70s with declining health, and had uprooted themselves from their home town to be near us in case they needed help in their latter years. We talked daily on the phone and saw them, if not daily, at least by the second or third day. On those days I found myself too embroiled in running the house and my gregarious 4-year-old hadn’t seen his grandparents in at least 24 hours, he would begin to beg to go see them “by myself.”

I could see Grandmother’s back door from my house and we lived in a safe neighborhood, so I would stand on the porch and watch him dash across the neighbor’s yard to get to his Granddaddy and Grandmother. It was their joy as much as his. Many times I could hear their robust, joyful greetings echoing down the street when he arrived there.

At 4, he was old enough he’d gotten money for his birthday that year – a $20 bill (from that same set of grandparents if I remember correctly). So late November my little guy announced that he wanted to go Christmas shopping with his own money. I told him sure, and that I would be glad to help him out with the money. But he was determined to “buy it myself.” (He was definitely in the “I can do it myself” phase.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe dashed off to K-Mart one night, just my boy and me. He was determined to buy for Daddy, his brother and 2 sisters, Grandmother & Granddaddy, Meemaw Polly, and me, which he planned to do later with his daddy – 8 people to buy for with only $20. I really didn’t think it would be possible. I explained to him about taxes, and that each gift would have to cost $2.00-$2.50 at the most. I anticipated having to add some cash of my own when we checked out.

First, he found a fishing lure for Daddy for $1-something. Good so far. He got cute socks which were in the $2 range for one of the girls. And on and on he went with his shopping. Before we knew it we had trekked around all of Kmart and gotten everyone a gift that met the requirements, except for Grandmother.

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He was very particular. I made suggestions and showed him a few possibilities on the shelves as we walked by, none of which he liked. He finally said he wanted to get Grandmother a beautiful drinking glass he thought, so we headed to housewares. I wasn’t really sure we’d find anything that met his needs, but we looked. Suddenly his face lit up! He pointed a little higher than he could reach to a pretty, green cut-glass drinking glass. As I lifted it off the shelf for him to see, I realized it was light-weight and made of unbreakable plastic that looked like fragile crystal. He took it in his hands and felt of it for a couple of minutes before he declared, “This is it.”

He then started explaining to me why it was what he wanted.

“Grandmother’s hands hurt and she can’t hold onto those slick-sided slippery ones. This one has crinkled sides that make it easy to hold. The heavy ones are hard for her to lift, but this one is light. The skinny ones tip over too easily, but this one is short and round and can’t be bumped over by accident as easily. And it’s really beautiful! She will love it.” And you guessed it – it only cost $1.00. I was thrilled and stunned. He had studied his grandmother and new her needs and was on a mission to find just the right thing for her hands that were hindered by rheumatoid arthritis.

6b5e438dd5f97cb672e1b5f979806b40He had done it. He had generously bought for the whole family with his little $20 bill. At the cash register he had $2.00 and some change left over – just enough to go shopping with his Daddy to buy something for me.

That was one precious Christmas for our family. Grandmother never used any glass besides the green one for the rest of her life at home. It was exactly what she needed! She loved it!

IMG_8019Grandmother and Granddaddy have passed away at separate times in the last several years. And you know what? I now have that cup in my cabinet. I now have achy, arthritic hands and cherish that light-weight, easy-to-grip cup that won’t tip over easily. Are there lessons in this story? Probably many. The lessons I learned from my 4-year-old? Study those you love and get them something that meets their needs no matter how small and inexpensive it is. Use what you are blessed with, no matter how meager it seems, to bless others. You will have the joy of giving and you will give joy that carries on for many years beyond that moment.

And most importantly, just like my sweet 4-year-old, our Heavenly Daddy knows exactly what we need! He studies us and anticipates our every need. For every situation in which we find ourselves, be it a trial, loneliness, or busy-ness, finanacial or relational issues, or having cancer, a broken heart, or arthritic hands, He is there with just what we need. He provides The Perfect Gift. In fact, He has already provided the Most Perfect One – His Loving Son who died on the cross as a sacrifice to redeem our sinful, broken hearts and lives and bring us into His presence for eternity.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17 NIV

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Stink, Stank, Stunk

He stunk like sweat, cold, wet dog, and tree bark.

His white hoodie was a dingy shade of brown, his ears a shade of alarming red indicative that perhaps he had needed some ear coverings before he had headed to the yard some 3 hours before. I made a mental note and filed it under #MomFail… Sensory Kid needs ear muffs.

autumn-212733_1280He had piled the back of my minivan with numerous giant trash bags full of leaves. Had it not been 36 degrees out I might’ve rolled the windows down for a bit of fresh air and olfactory relief from the stinky teenage boy and his delivery. As we meandered down the road to my Mama’s house I strategically breathed through my mouth and made an attempt at conversation.

“So Bud you’ve worked really hard. I’m sure Grandmother sure will appreciate all these leaves for her compost garden.”

“I hope so and I hope she pays me for getting her so many.”

He has a way with words that keeps frills to a minimum, finds mindless chatter obsolete, and states what he sees as the facts; he leaves little room for argument. He is what some would consider blunt. I’ve come to realize over time that he simply states what is, and his monotone way of doing so can be misinterpreted as rudeness and even disrespect.

I nodded and responded with the truth, “Well Grandmother is a woman of her word and if she said she would pay you, then she will.”

He simply said, “Good.”

When we arrived at Mama’s she wasn’t home. She had run an errand. So he began to unload his bags near her back gate, adjacent to the area where over the summer he spent a day digging holes. She still compliments and comments on his hole digging skills. She wanted to plant some shrubs or bushes or something but the rock hard red clay proved a difficult foe. She had tried all manner of methodologies to penetrate the earth, but she admitted her senior strength lacked the ability and employed her strong, young, grandson to do the job.

He likes to work, if he know exactly what to do and how he is to do it, and he prefers to work alone. Despite the sweltering temperatures over the summer he confided in me that he liked digging all those holes, and when he took a break Grandmother had Lemonade and Fudge Rounds for him for a snack. Two of his favorites, a combo I find repulsive, lemons and chocolate, just the thought makes my tummy churn a bit more than usual.

About the time he had unloaded the last bag and relieved my already tired ol’ minivan from its added load, my Mama arrived home. He was elated to see her so we took a candlelights-candles-christmas-730584.jpgmoment to visit with her. Scattered about were the beginnings of what would become her house decorated for Christmas. (I love it when she decorates. She was farmhouse style before it was a thing. She can put together a styrofoam elf, a sprig of holly, and a Santa ornament she has had since 1984 and turn it into a vignette worthy of Southern Living.) She keeps her Christmas decor stored in her attic. Her tree is at least 9 feet tall, I mean, maybe not really, but it sure seems that way.

As we visited a moment he came too close to her, she made a face, covered her nose with her shirt, and I laughed.

“Shoo, he’s stinky.” I laughed again at the obvious statement.

“I know. I had ride over here with him, but he insisted on making your delivery tonight.”
She laughed, and I commented on it beginning to look a lot like Christmas. About that time she said, “Hey Shel, can you help me get some things down from my attic?”

“Sure.”

He was happy to help although from the never-changing tone of his voice the undiscerning ear would not have known that. We have learned to read him, to know what Autism tried to make unknown. We have learned what joy looks like, and sadness. To the untrained eye well, they look the same. We know how frustration manifests and satisfaction appears. Those of us close to him do not always get it right but for the most part we do. Time and training have taught us that.

christmas-tree-1792267_1280.jpgAs he helped his Grandmother with her tree he did so relatively quietly. He spoke to Grace, Mama’s older Doxie, who has a knack for naps and snoring. She had come to investigate the commotion and soon settled on a rug next to her Master. She seemed unconcerned as her oddly smelling Master’s grandson hauled faux greenery to and fro.

When we got back in the car to head home I said, “Straight to the shower while I get supper ready.” In the dark I couldn’t tell if he’d nodded but I knew he had heard and understood. As we drove on I heard him talking to himself; he was holding a wadded up bill in his hand. I was unsure of the monetary sum but was sure of one thing, come Sunday morning a part of it would leave his hand and be placed in an offering receptacle.

Many times I will look to my left and wadded up in a tight fist I can make out the color of money. He holds it tight because he literally holds everything tight, not because he is stingy. I’ve often wondered if the money counter person gets exasperated as he or she has to unwad the crumpled bills he regularly puts into the offering.

“Halfway there, but this should be enough to buy presents for Charlotte and Maggie.”

I almost wrecked the minivan I was navigating into my neighborhood. What?!

He had worked like crazy, stunk like stink, was filthy from head to toe just so he could bow-box-christmas-1474961buy his sisters presents?! I clarified.

“What Bud?”

There was a pause.

“This is for me to buy Maggie and Charlotte’s presents. I already have some,” (hole digging money I presumed) “but I needed a bit more.”

My heart felt like it might burst. I understood fully the verse in the King’s word that says in 3 John 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
His sisters are adopted, they do not share his genetic makeup, one of his sisters drives him mad some days and one he has known as long as he has known any of us. When we brought him home from the hospital she pointed at him from across the room and declared he was a dog. She was 14 months old and I reckon from her perspective he was sort of dog-like. Noisy, oddly smelling, he slept a lot in a cage, or crib, depending on one’s perspective.

If you’d‘ve asked me I’d’ve figured he was saving up for some random Lego dude or a particular book, or those awful candies in a toxic barrel he likes. I could not have been more wrong.

As I meandered home and he talked of his surprise Christmas plans, I was reminded once more what Christmas is about. What Christ Himself represents. How He was about Compassion rather than consumption. Giving rather than getting. And Need rather than Greed.

May the very essence of Christ and Christmas fill our hearts and homes this year.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

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Rediscovering Christmas Joy

I’ll go ahead and say it. I don’t like Christmas.

Okay, to clarify, I love the reason for Christmas. I just don’t like the trappings of the season. For me, it’s not the most wonderful time of the year. I don’t feel merry or jolly or any of those emotions well-meaning songs tell me define this time of year. I mostly feel overwhelmed and frustrated. Christmas brings to the surface some deep insecurities, ball-blur-bokeh-712318and reveals some personality quirks I’d rather keep to myself. For example, I’m not a huge fan of organized fun. I don’t love a big gathering. I love people. I love rich conversation, but I don’t love forced conversation or coerced fun. I am horrible; I mean seriously bad, at decorating. I don’t enjoy it. I don’t know what looks good where. I appreciate a beautifully decorated home, but to think of decorating my home for Christmas absolutely paralyzes me. I’m also not so great at the gift giving. I don’t love to shop. I want gifts to have meaning, to carry weight, not to end up stuck in the back of someone’s closet. Thus, trying to find just the right present makes for some serious anxiety. I realize I am in the minority with most of my wonderful friends and family who light up at the sound of a Christmas carol or the sight of Christmas lights. All I can think of when I think of Christmas is “can’t we just skip this year.” Horrible, right? I know. I know.

So now you understand my conundrum, how does a Grinch-like girl find her way to joy during all these Christmas festivities? Thankfully the God who gives the best gifts, and who has an impeccable sense of humor, gave me a son whom we nicknamed ball-blur-bokeh-306864.jpg“Mr. Christmas Cheer.” He LOVES all things Christmas. Every year, around the end of October, we begin having weekly discussions about putting up the tree, playing Christmas music, putting the wreaths on the doors and windows. In years past, my answer was always “after Thanksgiving.” But this year, he was extra persistent. After the 256th time he asked about putting up some form of decoration I asked him why he wanted to decorate so badly, “Because it’s fun, mom. I love Christmas. It’s time to celebrate Jesus!”

At that moment, with those simple words, I began asking God to help me see through his eyes. It’s time to CELEBRATE JESUS! That’s where I’ve gone wrong. That’s where I’ve lost my joy. I mean who is more worthy of celebrating than the King of Kings?! So this year, I’m determined to make my way back to the joy of my salvation. To ask God to remind me of the tenderness and vulnerability and miraculousness of the God who came as a baby. The One who made the universe willingly came, knowing He would be dependent on those He created to take care of Him, to feed Him, clothe Him, keep Him safe. The reality that He lived this human life so He could be the acceptable sacrifice, that He came to give up His life so that we might live, now that is worth a celebration!

 

 

Though my preferences haven’t changed. I still prefer a small gathering. I’m still decorating-challenged and overwhelmed by gift-giving. But Jesus, the One who makes all things new, is slowly growing my heart. He’s reminding me that the beauty of Christmas is keeping my focus on Jesus and how I can show the love of Jesus to others. While that seems like a basic truth, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle of expectations of the “perfect” Christmas. This year, though, I’m putting that ol’ Grinch away, and letting the JOY of the gospel define my holiday season. Who knows, you might even catch me humming a carol or two. This year, may Christ be magnified and may your JOY be full! Merry CHRISTmas!

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. Colossians 3:15-17

Christmas Cards

Everyone with me sends you greetings. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all. ~ Titus 3:15

I love to send Christmas Cards!

As I finished my Christmas Cards tonight, I was reminded of helping to get Christmas cards ready as a child. I can remember my Daddy addressing Christmas Cards when I was a little girl. He was the main letter writer of our family. This was long, long before email. Snail mail was the only way to connect with family and friends. My daddy had a brown leather address book that had the names and addresses of all of the family along with birth dates and phone numbers. The address book contained his beautiful handwriting. He was very careful to keep this precious book up to date. He would address cards to family members and then to friends. Some received a hand written note. He had this wonderful ink pen that no one was allowed to use. He had worked the point to exactly the way he wanted it. When he completed each  card he would call me into the dining room where he was writing the cards. He would tell me to stick out my tongue to lick the flap of the envelopes. I always thought that was fun. Then I would lick the stamp and place it on the front of the envelope. Postage was 4 cents that year.

card-celebration-christmas-749362Life has certainly changed just as Christmas cards have changed through the years. The envelopes come with those little strips that you pull off of the flap to keep from having to lick them. Stamps are 50 cents and have a self adhesive backing so they don’t have to be licked anymore. Even with all of the changes the sentiment on the card it still the same. Merry Christmas! Peace on Earth! Joy to the World! Jesus is Born! So why do I send Christmas cards when I can just post Merry Christmas on Facebook. I just can’t get away from my address book. All those precious people who have crossed my path. Yes, I have an address book in my phone but there is something about that precious book that holds the names and addresses of my family and the friends who touch my life. As I addressed my cards I had the opportunity to share a memory about each person or family and to reflect why they were special enough to have a place in my address book. I also had the opportunity to remember those whose names had been gently crossed through because they have gone to be with the Lord. Each card I addressed has been handled with care and a prayer spoken for each one who would receive a special card. For each name in my address book, I love and appreciate you all year-long, but especially at Christmas when your name is lovingly transferred to the front of a Christmas card with tender care.

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How Lovely Are Your Branches

I struggle a bit in the commitment area. I like change and I like it when things stay the same. I recognize the absurdity of this, as one can not have it both ways, but this doesn’t change my preference in any way.

Many years ago, nearly twenty to be nearly exact, I chose a profession for nearly all of the wrong reasons. Over the course of almost 18 years I’ve spent many a day and many a night within a particular set of walls. I’ve been snowed in, put on high alerts, been bored beyond words, shed more tears than I count, held many a hand, mourned over many a broken heart, and have witnessed more than my share of miracles. To say that I’ve learned more lessons within those particular walls than I can count would be a serious understatement.

christmas-trees-1823938_1280Year after year one thing always stays the same, but changes annually. It is secretly one of my favorite things about that place. The Trees. The Christmas Trees.

Those artificial Tannenbaum dot the premises like little gems on a desert floor. Those who know them know that they mark the beginning of the Christmas season, each one as unique and different as the ones who decorated it. They are a sight to behold, those Tannenbaum that are a lifter of the spirit and of the head.

“The Google” defined Tannenbaum this way: A Tannenbaum is a fir tree. The lyrics do not actually refer to Christmas, or describe a decorated Christmas tree. Instead, they refer to the fir’s evergreen quality as a symbol of constancy and faithfulness.

The very description itself encompassed exactly what I was thinking, and I was amused that the Google agreed with me.

For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness.pngHow very appropriate that the tree symbolizes faithfulness, for it is the consistent faithfulness and regularity as well as the ever-changing baubles that adorn such consistency that ministers to me most.

Over the passage of time my overactive imagination has given rise to the stories that those trees may hold, the hands who’ve lovingly selected their baubles, and I’ve often wondered if those individuals know how very important their handiwork is. I can testify honestly that they’ve made hard days easier, sad days happier, the mundane exciting. I also must confess I’m a little sad when they leave, but for the time being, for today, I am so very grateful for the beautiful reminders that bring a little sunshine and happiness to this world – this and every Christmas Season.

The Giving Christmas

As I look back over the years, I have many wonderful memories of Christmas seasons that I have experienced. There have been Christmases as a child and then a teenager. When I was married, Christmas changed from just my family to include my husband’s family. Then came children and grandchildren. Each new Christmas experience has brought its on special times.

Christmas as a child was full of wonder and joy. There were gifts from Santa and gifts under the tree from my parents. I remember receiving skates and a scooter. There was always a doll from Santa. Even when I was too old for a doll, there was still a baby doll for me at Christmas.

I can remember trying to save my allowance so that I would have a little bit of money to buy gifts for my parents and my brothers. The gifts were never large but they were all I hobby-leisure-model-cars-33074.jpgcould get on a small allowance. The gifts would be a handkerchief for my mother and stationary for my Daddy. I would get little metal cars for my brothers. I was proud of my gifts and so happy to give them to each of my family members.

When I was in college, I had a part-time job at a bank. I remember saving back money from my paychecks so that I could buy “real” presents for Christmas. There was a clock that I thought was so beautiful at a store where my parents shopped for special gifts. The clock was encased in a glass dome. I thought it was the most beautiful clock I had ever loricron-anniversary-clock-95592-281x433.jpgseen. I purchased this clock for my parents for this very special Christmas. It was the first time that I really had the opportunity to buy them special gift. My parents loved the clock and kept it in a special place on the mantel even after it stopped working. They thought it was a beautiful decorative piece and kept it because it was a special gift from me.

When we were cleaning my parents’ home and getting it ready to sell after they had both gone to be with the Lord, I picked up the clock and began looking at it. I know it doesn’t work but it is a reminder of when I learned how wonderful it is to give to others. I will always remember that first Christmas that I had the opportunity to give and not just receive. I will keep this clock as a reminder of the love I felt for my parents that Christmas Day that became my first Giving Christmas.  I will always remember the joy that it gave me to give them a gift that for me was of great value. I know that it is not the cost of a gift that makes it special but the joy that it brings. This is a lesson that I experienced that Christmas season more than 45 years ago, but I remember it each year as I plan my gifts.

Acts 20:35b NIV tells us “It is more blessed to give than to receive. ”

As we think of Christmas, we cannot help but remember the most precious gift of our Lord Jesus Christ. John 3:16 tells us “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whosoever believes in him would not perish but have everlasting life.”

My gift to my parents pales in comparison to the gift that God gave to us of eternal life with him forever. What an amazing God we have. My prayer this Christmas is to enjoy the spirit of giving throughout this season and to never forget the most wonderful gift I have ever received.

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Crown Him King

We have a standing rule in our house, when it is your birthday you get to choose the activities for the day. This past Birthday for the lone Male child yielded an unusual request, however in the context of Shelton it wasn’t so unusual.

I should probably preface with – prior to the request I had lost my keys, my purse, and was running half an hour behind for church. I hadn’t yet lost my cool but I was indeed perturbed

When the Birthday Boy asked to attend “big church” citing “We can make it there by the second service and we won’t be late.” I said yes. We made our way there and sent a text to Dad letting him know where we were and to our surprise he made it in time to take a saved seat just in time for the first song. As the Worship set progressed with words of reckless love and love unparalleled the song set shifted to an old hymn.

architecture-building-chapel-532720.jpgI sang it as if it hadn’t literally been decades since I had sung it. Standing next to my family in the tiny white church that I grew up and was married in, the lyrics came back to me with such clarity that I knew immediately what the next line was. I closed my eyes and immediately realized, deep within me those words resonated with me. I have always wondered why I refer to Jesus as “King.” He is my King and I adore Him but just never quite figured that out about myself. Yet there I was singing:

“Crown Him with many crowns, the lamb upon the throne.”

‘’He has been King to me a long time, and that must have been cemented in me when I was much younger and much shorter.

I realized in that moment with my Birthday Boy on one side and my Husband on the other, that for me, the Word of God which I quote to myself often had come full circle.

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 (ESV)

I often quote this verse to myself, to remind me to persevere in the training and raising of my own children. Yet, there in that moment the King let me see that declaration of His Kingship and royalty had never left me even in my old age. If anything, it had only grown deeper and been more solidified with time.

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Shared Lunch

Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return. Luke 6:38

It was dark outside, the upcoming time change evident. It had been an excruciatingly long day. We were headed toward home, yet the to-do list loomed ahead. The questions from the back seat had begun to come with a regularity that accompanies uncertainty and hunger.

“Are we about to eat supper? We haven’t eaten supper yet.”
I decided to engage the source of the questions rather than attempting to dodge them.

“As soon as we get home we are going to have supper. Did you like your lunch today? The Chicken-salad wrap?”

“Yes ma’am! It was SO good!”

“I’m glad, I thought maybe I had added too much salt when I made it. I’m glad you liked it.”

“It was so good I didn’t even share it. I mean I did share part of my lunch but not that part.”

I was a tad concerned, whenever kids are involved, eating allergies are always in the forefront of my mind. “Um, who did you share your lunch with, and what did you share with them?”

“Nolan. We all shared our lunches with him. He only had a bag of chips and I gave him two rice Krispy treats and two goldfish packs – you know those are his favorite next to blue Doritos, Somebody gave him cookies, Oreos..and..I can’t remember what else but he said ‘thank you’ and he was ‘all full.’ ”

I giggled at that one. In my head I responded. “Full. After all that… I bet he was. That sounds like a Carb load for a giant about to run 26.2 miles”

As we meandered down the road another voice from the darkness of the backseat. The deep male voice spoke up.

taco-1018962_1280.jpg“Well, Heath gave me one of his tacos. He said I could have it if I wanted. It was JUST like I like it too! A Taco-Bell one with the soft sides and only the meat and cheese! It was SO good! And I have been wanting one of those for a while”

I giggled again. In a completely different lunch room, at the same time one Martin was giving and one was receiving.

I was immediately reminded of the early church, the one in the book of Acts, Chapter 4:

There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold, and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. (34-35)

Those Lunch Sharers and Receivers are studying the Book of Acts in Bible Study, and as they came together for most of their (admittedly) favorite part of the day, they literally cookies-194872_1280.jpglived it out. I giggled as I thought about the distribution of the gold-fish shaped crackers and a leftover Taco-Bell taco; how the distribution differed from the aforementioned Infant Church one, yet so very similar in genuineness and generosity that there was no one left hungry or wanting, because in the Spirit of the King and in the Spirit of sharing all were taken care of.

Those of us who are Christ Followers are called to “Not grow weary in doing good” (Galatians 6:9), and “To share bread with the hungry” (Isaiah 58:7). I believe that the King blesses us so that we may bless others. (Genesis 12:2)

There is an old adage that says something to the effect that children learn not what we say, but by what we do. I suppose in the instance of the Lunch Room that particular day, those children had learned by what they had seen and by what they had read.

Everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher. Luke 6:40

 

The Journey: Our Personal Navigator

“Siri, where is the nearest gas station?”

“Alexa, where can I rent a tux nearby?”

We live in an information age where all we have to do is ask our nearest smart device for help. We have our own personal machines that give us directions, find us new places for food and entertainment, and answer questions that make life less complicated.

amazon-alexa-design-speakers-977296If only Alexa could answer questions like How should I resolve this conflict with my relatives? or Can you help me not to fall apart emotionally over this tragedy? or Who can I turn to to rescue me from this mess? or How can I have the inner character to deal with the things life throws at me? or the greatest question of all What will happen when I die or someone close to me does? 

Siri and Alexa fall short when it comes to our deepest human needs. A Facebook post draws many hearts and promises of prayer, but seldom comes close to offering the guidance we need in those times of confusion or devastation.

So what’s a girl to do on this Journey through life when tough times come?

We have a personal navigator available to us. In fact, if we are a child of the King, this navigator is very personal, He lives inside us. First Corintians 6:19 tells us:

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” 

We have a helper for The Journey, our own personal Siri, the Holy Spirit. One who has all the answers, every time. And One who has implanted within us things to help us before we ever ask – things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)

You say, “But I have no patience.” I beg to differ with you. As a child of God with the Holy Spirit living in you, there are within each of us these fruit listed above. Our problem is we haven’t bothered to nourish and water these traits. We ignore the Spirit’s promptings and impatiently or hatefully or greedily push on ahead instead of acting on the gentle tuggings of His Spirit within. The fruit sits inside our heart of hearts with the Holy Spirit shriveled and unused. We need to become as quick at accessing the Holy Spirit as we are at accessing Alexa or info on our smart phones. Romans 8:5 reminds us of this truth:

“Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.”

surprised-3079077_1280At times on our Journey we feel weak and helpless. We wander in indecision, doubt or fear. Later on in Romans 8 God’s Word says,

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”

We are not alone! We have a helper – a strong helper. We aren’t left to wander in our confusion and unanswered questions. Not sure of the direction to take? Ask God. Not sure you can handle the situation? Ask God. Not sure you even know what to pray? His Spirit will step in and pray for us. How many times have I only been able to choke out the simple prayer, “Lord! Help me. Please!” And that opened the door for the Spirit to do the rest. Oswald Chambers says, “the Holy spirit Himself prays prayers in us which we cannot utter ourselves. … He expresses for us the unutterable.” (My Utmost For His Highest, Nov. 8)

God’s Spirit dwells in us. Is he an honored guest in your world or a forgotten stranger holed up in a back room?

I love what Paul has to say about the Holy Spirit of God in 1 Corinthians 2:10-16:

The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. 

God’s Spirit searches us.

He knows the thoughts of God and reveals them to us. (Wow!)

Through Him we have the mind of Christ.

As you head out on your Journey of life today, don’t forget to access your personal navigator. Listen to Him closely. Trust His directions. He will guide your Journey even when the road ahead seems unclear. And He’ll answer questions and meet needs along the way.

Enjoy the Journey!

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Happy Thanksgiving from Priceless!

1 Chronicles 16:8-34

Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;
    make known his deeds among the peoples!
Sing to him, sing praises to him;
    tell of all his wondrous works!
10 Glory in his holy name;
    let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!
11 Seek the Lord and his strength;
    seek his presence continually!
12 Remember the wondrous works that he has done,
    his miracles and the judgments he uttered,
13 O offspring of Israel his servant,
    children of Jacob, his chosen ones!

14 He is the Lord our God;
    his judgments are in all the earth.
15 Remember his covenant forever,
    the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations,
16 the covenant that he made with Abraham,
    his sworn promise to Isaac,
17 which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute,
    to Israel as an everlasting covenant,
18 saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan,
    as your portion for an inheritance.”

19 When you were few in number,
    of little account, and sojourners in it,
20 wandering from nation to nation,
    from one kingdom to another people,
21 he allowed no one to oppress them;
    he rebuked kings on their account,
22 saying, “Touch not my anointed ones,
    do my prophets no harm!”

23 Sing to the Lord, all the earth!
    Tell of his salvation from day to day.
24 Declare his glory among the nations,
    his marvelous works among all the peoples!
25 For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
    and he is to be feared above all gods.
26 For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,
    but the Lord made the heavens.
27 Splendor and majesty are before him;
    strength and joy are in his place.

28 Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength!
29 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
    bring an offering and come before him!
Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness;
30     tremble before him, all the earth;
    yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.
31 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice,
    and let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!”
32 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
    let the field exult, and everything in it!
33 Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy
    before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth.
34 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    for his steadfast love endures forever!

May you be blessed this Thanksgiving Day! And may you celebrate all your many blessings with a grateful heart!

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