Month: December 2013

I Thank My God For You!

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

As Christmas draws near, I want to pause and thank God for the gift of friends and family. So, please indulge me as I thank God for you!

Almighty God, thank you for the Winnetka, Illinois Bible Study Fellowship leaders and class, for using them to encourage me and for all the times they carried me before the throne of Grace in prayer that I might receive grace and mercy in my times of need!

Father, thank you for Becky, for her willingness to walk with me almost as many miles as I drove last spring when dad was sick, for her listening ear, her strong shoulder, her prayers, her encouragement and her sympathetic hugs.

And, thank you for Donna, who picked up the phone, on her birthday, on vacation with family and friends at the beach, to listen and pray with me as I cried and wrote dad’s obituary.

Father, thank you for Carolyn, who is helping me transition from BSF to this blog; I thank you for her patience with me, her dependability and creativity.

Gracious God, I thank you for every one of my friends, both near and far, would you please bless each one abundantly in 2014! They are such sweet gifts to me; you are so generous.

Sovereign Lord, thank you for my sweet children: Dan, Nikki, Bob and Jen! You are so gracious to allow me the privilege of being their mom/mother-in-love. Thank you for supplying them with forgiveness, patience, grace, mercy, love and compassion toward me. They encourage me, challenge me, support me, and pray for me. I am most blessed!

Father, thank you for my siblings, Betty, Donna, and JR. I am so blessed to have a brother and sisters who love deeply and care for one another as these do. Lord, your abundance overwhelms me.

God, thank you for Mom, and for the pleasure of being her daughter. Thank you for her willingness to pick up the phone every time I call, and for indulging me in conversation whether it is about the weather, missing dad, or what to plan for Christmas dinner. Almighty God, you are so loving to knit us together as you have.

And, Father, thank you for Genelle and Ernie Furrow, you were so kind to give me such gracious parents-in-law; please continue to sustain them this year as they trust in you.

Glorious God, I thank you for my husband, Brian, and for the ways that you use him to show your love to me. Thank you for enabling him to meet the challenge of having me for a wife!

Father, thank you for Jacob and Matthew, and for the way they keep me on my toes, exhaust me, open my eyes to the wonders of life from a preschooler’s perspective and shower me with love. Your blessings are uncountable.

For my extended family (both spiritual and physical), I thank You. Each person holds a special place in my heart, and I pray that every one of them will allow You into their heart, that we might enjoy You together, forever. Amen!

Merry Christmas to each and every one of you! Thank you for spending a few minutes with me on Tuesday and Friday mornings and I’ll see you in the New Year!

Marcia

Decorating the Whole Tree

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 When our grandsons, Jacob and Matthew, decorated their Christmas tree all the ornaments were hung on the bottom. When they decorated our tree, with help from their taller cousins, Abby and Emmy, they reached a bit higher, but the top third was still bare.

After everyone went home, Brian and I moved the ornaments over the entire tree so that it was balanced and perhaps more pleasant to look at.

Christians don’t just decorate trees; we have ornaments with which to decorate our personalities. God calls us to put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness and love.

Colossians 3:12-14 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you And over all these virtues, put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

We enjoy putting these virtues on, and like ornaments they are nice to observe; but are they balanced? Do they cover every bit of our lives?

Sometimes, like Matty’s ornaments (all on one branch in the back of the tree), we reserve kindness and compassion only for those who are the closest to us.

And, like Jake’s ornaments: Our gentleness and patience abound, but we only interact with people directly in front of and close to us and we don’t consider those who are out of sight.

Occasionally, we’re like Abby and Emmy’s ornaments, we are humble, loving and forgiving for the most part, but there are some situations and people just beyond our reach and we don’t really want to go out of our way to touch them.

In the grocery store, at church, at the mall, on the phone with customer service, in the morning before coffee, at the end of a very long day, in the hospital room, in the office, in the classroom, or on the road, would you say you reveal these virtues all the time? Are they spread throughout your life evenly and consistently?

Acting Godly in every situation is difficult and exhausting. And some might even say it’s hypocritical or fake. It surely isn’t natural.

And that’s true, it isn’t natural; but when we trust God for salvation, by believing that God came down at Christmas, died on Good Friday, and rose on Easter morning to save us from our sins, he begins the process of changing us from the inside out. He changes us from who we were to who He created us to be.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

Is this Christmas season the time to believe, to be born again, and let God change you from top to bottom and enable you to live a life that displays his Godly virtues throughout your entire life? You can’t do it on your own, but with God, all things are possible.

Christmas Lights

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Dad was an early riser, and every year during the Christmas Season, he’d get up early and turn on all the Christmas lights so that Mom would walk into a brightly lit and festive living room first thing in the morning.

Last week, mom decorated the tree by herself, and at the end of the day, she turned the lights off and went to bed. The next morning when mom got up, she walked into a dark living room. The tree was there, the lights were in place, but everything was still dark when she got up.

We don’t like the dark. Children are afraid of the dark. Bugs come out in the dark. Wickedness happens in the dark. And darkness signals the end of the day. For Mom, the darkness is a reminder that Dad is not there. It is empty in the dark.

When we were little, Dad would bundle us kids up and drive around for what seemed like hours just to look at Christmas lights. Mom didn’t usually go with us, I don’t know why, maybe it was too cold, but when we got home there would be lots of newly wrapped presents under the tree! How did that happen!?

However, throughout the years when it was just mom and dad, mom went on those drives with dad. They had their favorite neighborhoods and houses that they’d drive by and enjoy. One of mom kids will take her out this year.

Christmas lights are a great tradition, yet I wonder, why do we put lights up at Christmas? So I Googled: “Why do we put lights on Christmas Trees?” and an article said, “As Christians, we believe that God is the light of the world.”

By putting lights on our houses and trees, we are testifying to the world: I believe God is the light of the world, and I believe that God came down and lived among us. We are not simply decorating; we are proclaiming truth in a dark world.

John 1:1; 8:12 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Matthew 1:23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”)

At Christmas we celebrate the incarnation of the eternal God in the Person of Jesus, who is the Light of the World.

Our Christmas lights shine forth for God because God calls each of His children to be light in the world; we are to let His light shine through us in our words and our deeds. Everything we do as Christians should be done to make God famous.

Matthew 5:16 – In the same way, let your light shine before others that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

During Dad’s final days in his body, he said to me, “If I survive this, my house is going to be a beacon for Jesus!” His body didn’t survive, but his soul did, he is brightly priaising Jesus in heaven today! And his house is shining also! The Christmas lights are on again this year, inside and out of Mom and Dad’s house as they always have been.

This year Dad is celebrating with Jesus in eternal light. We know this because Dad believed that God, in the Person of the Lord Jesus, left the glory of heaven, and being made in human likeness, lived a sinless life, humbled himself and died on a cross as Dad’s substitute — paying the penalty for Dad’s sins —  and then he rose from the dead three days later, and now he is exalted in heaven as Lord over all!

Merry Christmas, Dad!

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The Desire of Our Hearts at Christmas

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We took our grandsons Christmas shopping on Saturday to buy presents for their mommy and daddy. When we got home, they wrapped the presents all by themselves. They picked out the paper and the ribbon. They cut, folded, taped, and tied.

Will there be a prettier, more perfectly selected gift under their tree? Nope!

When we asked what they wanted to get their parents, Jake said “My daddy loves building with me, so I’m going to get him a set of Legos.” And, Matty said, “I’m going to get Mommy a ‘Sully’, because she loves him!”

Clearly, they know the desires of their mommy’s and daddy’s hearts!

We all want to give the perfect gifts, so we ask ourselves: what are the desires of our loved one’s hearts? What will make them happy? What will meet their needs? We look for clues and even ask for specific lists so that we don’t fail in our mission.

God wants to give his people the perfect gift also! He wants to give us the desires of our hearts, and he promises that when we take delight in him, he will.

Psalm 37:4 “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

So what does it mean to ‘delight in the Lord’?

Let’s back up for a moment. When we asked the boys what they wanted to give their parents for Christmas, we delighted in their answer. It made us smile.

As they worked so hard wrapping their packages without creased edges or perfect bows it was adorable. We delighted in watching them. It made us smile.

Delight is a choice. Delighting in someone is choosing to enjoy them, and accepting who they are and what they do without criticism. It makes us smile.

Can you delight in the Lord? Can you enjoy him? Can you accept who He is and what He does without criticism? Can you have joy even in difficult circumstances? The answer is “Yes, you can.” But do you choose to?

If you and I delight in the Lord, he says he will give us the desires of our heart. So, should we prepare our Christmas lists!? Or is there a greater desire of our hearts that we should be heeding?

Isaiah 26:8-9 “Your name and renown are the desire of our hearts. My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you.”

There is no gift under our tree this year that will more fully meet the desire of our hearts than God himself. If we choose to delight in Him, then he will give the desire of our hearts; he will bring glory to His name, He will be with us in the night and in the morning. There is no greater gift than God himself! Is He the desire of your heart this Christmas?

(Not to worry, mommy and daddy, we steered them away from the toy aisle!)

Happy Birthday!

Daniel, it amazes me that you have grown into such a fine, Godly man. Not because I didn’t think you would, but because it just doesn’t seem like there’s been enough time.

How could you be all grown up? You were a baby just a few days ago. It seems like only yesterday you were getting your first haircut from Grandpa Lawrence’s barber, smiling on the bed, or splashing in the tub.

And, how can you be flying off to China on business, or driving yourself to St. Louis, when only recently you were modeling a toddler-size Cardinal’s T-shirt and cap? When did you learn to till and plant your own garden when we just watched you pull the petals off of Grandma Furrow’s flowers? And when did you get old enough to buy your own clothes?

Didn’t you just come home from a GCHS golf meet? Or drive in from NIU just in time to compete with Bobby and Dad in the Christmas cookie contest? And, when did you possibly get old enough to graduate from college?

How is it that you’ve lived long enough to fall head over heels in love with our beautiful Nicole, get married and have a family? How can your own sons be preschoolers?

I know all of this happened, because I lived it. But Dan, where did the time go?

Oh my son, if I could wish for you one thing on your birthday, it would be that time would slow down for you. For you to have all the time you want to enjoy every moment of your life; so that you can savor and pull every sweet drop out of every single minute – but it won’t. Life flies by so very quickly and we wonder: Where did it go?

Job 9:25 My days are swifter than a runner; they fly away…”

James 4:14 “You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”

I’m not able to give you this wish, but God has given you a much more beautiful and glorious gift: the gift of eternal life!

On January 24, 1988, when you accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, at that moment, you received the promise and the assurance that you will not die.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Dan, the greatest privilege and responsibility a parent has is to introduce their children to Jesus. I’m so glad you’ve become friends with Him, because it is now your privilege and responsibility to introduce Him to Jake and Matty, and you are doing a wonderful job!

Time will fly, there’s no stopping it, but one day, when you look back and wonder where has it gone, don’t forget to look forward. This life is temporary, but the life to come will be never-ending! I’m so glad we will all be there together, forever.

Happy Birthday, Daniel,

I love you!

Mom