Friday, December 06, 2013
Wednesday, December 04, 2013
I do plan to have an actual Christmas tree...but for right now...I am keeping it simple.
As the celebration of the Birth of Christ approaches, I am Seeking, Waiting, and Hoping. I am seeking a deeper connection with the True Spirit and meaning of Christmas, I am eagerly waiting to see how that unfolds, and I am hoping for this season to teach me more about Him.
In the Christmas carol, 'Joy to World', we find the words, "Let every heart prepare Him room". O, how I long for Him to find that there is indeed room in my heart for Him. As I seek, wait, and hope I am reading a couple of Christmas devotionals. One of which is focused on Christmas carols and the other is focused more specifically on Advent using Ann Voskamp's latest book called, 'The Greatest Gift'. These ornaments on my little tree came as a free download when I purchased Ann's book. Each day there is a devotional thought, an ornament, and a verse to go with it.
Living abroad and being so far from the rest of our family at Christmas time is hard. As an empty-nester the holidays seem to magnify the absence of Nathan and Spencer all the more. Mom and Dad (Tom's parents) will be coming to Belize to celebrate with us. This will be our first Christmas with them since we left the states eight years ago. It thrills me a great deal to get to spend Christmas with family! But, at the same time it will make Spencer and Nathan's absence all the more prominent as this will be our first Christmas with the grandparents without the grandkids being here as well.
Following Mary's example of pondering things in her heart I am choosing not to meditate on my losses but on the blessings in these life lessons. Our children are supposed to grow up and find their own places in the world. When they get married they are supposed to leave and cleave to their spouses. And we have not been abandoned here... God brought us to this country for a reason. He has blessed our efforts here in Belize. We have a home, we have a church family, we have a growing ministry, and we have each other. And along with the Birth of our Savior these are things worth ruminating on and celebrating!
Monday, December 02, 2013
Our pastor is still out of the country but members of the congregation stepped up to fill in while he was away. We were blessed by a word from our brother, Lemuel, yesterday!
The first candle of Advent is Hope. We felt the Hope of this season as our church gathered for Sunday worship in this unfinished building. The church is just a shell right now and there is much to do before we move in to the space permanently. A short term mission team is here from the states to do some work on this project and it was a blessing to have them in the service with us.
During this season of preparing room in our hearts for the coming of Christ may we each seek eagerly after Him. I trust that this Christmas won't be all about the gifts or lack thereof under you tree because no matter how much or how little you have He is the reason we celebrate!!
Thursday, November 28, 2013
What are you grateful for today?!
If you're blessed to be with family today add that to your list. For those of us living abroad these holidays separated from family can be hard. We miss our sons, our parents, and our siblings but are so grateful to have a community of American friends that we can celebrate the US holidays with. Have a Happy Thanksgiving one and all!
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
Monday, November 25, 2013
Tom is grading homework and final exams!
We had 35 students finish the semester. It is exciting to see the changes in the students over the past six weeks. And to hear about lessons that they've learned in class being implemented at their churches, organizations, and in their personal lives.
The next semester begins in February...if you're here in Belize come on out and join us!
Friday, November 22, 2013
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
I read this verse earlier this week as part of a Thanksgiving devotional. I'm still sorting out what it means for me to "follow hard". Matthew Henry's commentary says that it speaks of "a very earnest desire and a serious vigorous endeavor to keep up communion with God". And Charles Spurgeon says "we follow close at the Lord's heels, because we are one with Him."
My desire is to follow Him wholeheartedly, unreservedly, with determination.
I want to be filled and saturated by Him.
I want to worship Him with my whole being.
I want to follow hard after Him.
My word for this year has been "Embrace". Across the months my greatest lessons have been the most private and painful. I've had to let go and grieve and I've had to embrace and accept. I suppose this is all a part of following hard.
As this year is winding down and I look ahead to the year that is coming I am setting new goals. One of the things that I am looking forward to the most scares me and yet fills me with joy. This too must be a part of following hard after Him. I am learning that intimate communion with Him is the only thing that will carry me through each challenge that I am called to face.
Following hard is a calling.
Following hard is a way of life.
Following hard is a daily commitment.
I know that I cannot accept this calling, embrace this way of life, or keep this daily commitment in my own strength.
The last part of verse 8 says "Your right hand upholds me". Matthew Henry says "those that follow hard after God would soon fail and faint if God's right hand did not uphold them." Isn't it a comfort to know that the divine power of God will hold us up and strengthen us as we determine to cling closely to Him and follow Him passionately?!
May we experience the grace-filled strength of His right hand supporting us each step of the way!