Sunday, December 28, 2008

So Many Blessings

If I believed in Santa, I would think that he came over our house about four times in the week leading up to Christmas and dumped sleigh fulls of presents into our house! But, I know that it was the bountiful blessings of God. I am beginning to think that next year Tim and I won't have to buy any presents for the kids, since they get so many from everyone else. Not to mention that half of the presents from us came from a barter night I had with a small group I participated in a few weeks ago.

I started being a good and dutiful wife and mother by making lists of who gave what presents to us or the kids but by Christmas Eve, there was no keeping up with it anymore. We drive a smaller SUV and we had to unload it three times between Christmas Eve morning and Christmas Day. We literally had a path through our house to get from one end to the other! Tomorrow I am hiring my neice to help me go through all the toys and decide what to let the kids play with now and what to pack up for three or so months from now. My children both have birthdays in May so it works out well to pack up half their presents at Christmas and birthday time and then unpack the box every three months. That way they have continuous presents and don't get tired or overwhelmed by what they do have.

Wow, I still can't get over how much the children got! Not to mention us. I got a brand new guitar, a diamond necklace and earring set, a pearl necklace and earring set, a willow tree figuring I have been wanting, clothes, pots and other kitchen stuff I needed, and the list goes on. Goodness, just so wonderful how God is to us.

Now I am looking forward to the new year. I am ready to attack all obstacles in our way and begin a great, wonderful year to bring help to those in need and to be diligent doers of what God has instructed us to do. I want to be a resourceful steward who did the best that could be done with what I have, not a miserly servant who hid the one talent he was given. Onward to the new year!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas is Near

Wow! It is so hard to believe that Christmas is just days away. I did finish my shopping, before all the total mayhem thank goodness! It took me two days to wrap everything. I think this next year I will buy and wrap when I know something is for a specific someone. I believe I figured out that if we put aside twenty dollars a month then we will have enough money for everyone's Christmas presents. That is including inflation, too. I can buy every month or all starting in October. Whatever the case needs to be. Of course, Christmas isn't all about presents. No. And, this year I have learned just how much it is about hope.

These past few months I felt like I was at the end of the rope when it came to the amount of hope I had left. God surely knew this and Pastor Chris began doing a series on it. Completely changed my way of thinking on hope. The world thinks hope is wishing for something. Like I hope I win the lottery. Hope is something they do, but for Christians, hope is something they have. Also, Christians know their hope is in Christ. Psalm 71:14 But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.

That is so amazing and comforting and heart lightening. Hope is not some deep, mystical wisp of air that we can never grasp hold of. Yes, it does provide the substance for faith, as it is said in Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

I have also learned that sometimes hope means looking at what you need to accomplish in life. I had a wish list a mile long of all the things I wanted to do in this life. Building my ark went from truly spiritual, Godly things I was hoping for and basing my faith on, to wishful thinking. I hoped for my wonderful husband long before I knew him. I thank God for that hope He instilled in me, that I was worthy of never divorcing and having someone faithful to me and our marriage bed. Yet, somewhere along the way the number of houses I wanted ended up on that list, too. What material things I wanted to possess and recognition I wanted to receive.

These past two weeks, God has showed me that my life is about how can I make a difference while I am on this earth. Not what acclaim can I receive or what recognition, but what can I do that the light of God shines through me to all men. I changed my heart and felt so humbled. Not in a bad way either, but in a way that made me feel like a thousand ton weight had been lifted off of me and that I was free to accomplish what I truly wanted to. Jesus did say Come to me those of you who are heavy laden and I will give you rest. My yoke is easy and my burden is light.

I started writing down all the things that I truly had a hope for and was amazed at the things that came out. Even things I had forgotten about. I wrote down that I wanted to start a new and revolutionary type of orphange in Russia. When I did, I suddenly remembered being still a child and telling my mother that I wanted to do just that when I got older. That I wanted to make a place that was home to them, a place where they didn't have to be sad anymore. Mother said to me that orphanges were not good places, and that children were never happy to be there because they were sad places. That steeled my resolve to make a place were they could be happy, regardless of what people think. Orphanage is such a bad word, but it doesn't have to be a bad place. Not with God involved. But I had forgotten about this hope in the pursuit of things to make me momentarily happy.

In retrospect it seems rather selfish and petty, which it was. It is amazing what hope can unveil in your life. Such a simple word that we take such advantage of in our society, yet something that changes lives everyday. Think if the cancer survivor had never had hope, or the mother with a preemie baby, or the soldier injured in battle. All those lives that would have been forfeit without hope. And Jesus is our blessed hope. Titus 2:13 says, ...while we wait for the blessed hope- the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night of blessed hope!

Friends of Mine