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    This Present Life

    I had the recent privilege of being a guest blogger for a ministry that is very close to my heart. I am including the link below.

    Our family has been through a slew of transitions lately, one of them is described in the blog below. What I thought would be a thoughtful, contemplative, restful Christmas, full of writing advents and making memories turned into anything but. I found myself giggling at the thought that I wanted to write about the night when Joseph and Mary showed up in Bethlehem with no one to take them in, while God had other plans. His idea? He wanted to show me the reality of it when my son, daughte-in-love and my grand baby suddenly, and unexpectedly needed to move in with us.

    Isn’t it like God? We want the pretty, the fluff, the easy, and He says, “No, this is what is was really like, should you REALLY want to know.” We want the Beautiful, and He shows us how to find the beauty in the midst of the messy, the chaotic, the scary.

    He is REAL and Wonderful in allowing us to truly know, love and walk with Him, if we are only willing-and open.

    So, when you drive by our home and notice us doing driveway gymnastics as we try to manage maneuvering five cars down our already complicated driveway, lift up and prayer and a praise for us. A prayer that we will be faithful in the midst of the sometimes uncomfortable, and a praise that we are learning to see the beauty of God outside of our comfort zone.

    Love you all and wishing you all a most blessed and beautiful 2019!

    Rhonda

    https://www.handsonh2oblog.com/blog/this-present-life

  • Advent,  Christmas,  Grandparenting,  Relationships,  Sanctification,  Seeing

    Advent 7 Christmas Light

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    “Joyful and Triumphant, O come ye O come ye to Bethlehem,”big words for such a little girl to sing! One of the few times in my childhood that I got to go to church, and this was a special moment as I was entrusted with the privilege of holding the sacred candle while we sang the Christmas carols about Jesus’ birth.  Grandma and grandpa kept a close eye on me, and I couldn’t help but give a quick glance over to see if my little brother had been graced with the same privilege. My face shot straight forward as he reached for my candle, as my answer became clear. As I look back now, I can’t remember being in church too much as a child, especially on Christmas.  However,I remember these few that were spent with grandma and grandpa Lloyd. 

    As we loaded up in the car to go to Christmas Eve service,our eyes were set on the sky.  Surely Santa is on his way and would arrive before we got back from church.  There happened to be a red light somewhere in the distance, “Sean, Jamie, Aaron…can you see that?  I bet that is Rudolph!,” grandpa would exclaim, capturing us up into Christmas wonder.  Somehow, Santa and his crew always made it back to the trailer to deliver the presents before we arrived back from church…a Christmas miracle!

    Christmas eve service was boring to me as a child, UNTIL the candle part!  The year I got to hold the candle was especially important.  I was standing beside my grandma, who was watching me closely.  I had no idea at the time that this would be my last year with both my grandparents, my last year to celebrate Christmas as a child with “peace on earth”, at least the only peace I knew.  I didn’t know then that the bubble of my childlike wonder, innocence, and goodness was about to burst leaving me unable to return to Neverland again.

    I think about that moment with a candle a lot, every Christmas when I hear “O Come All Ye Faithful.” I close my eyes and try and recapture that moment beside my grandma’s skirt, holding the candle, feeling the thrill, so loved and so safe in that love.  My father, whom I hardly know now, just a few seats down.  Hearts not yet broken by disappointment, disillusionment and rejection, a heart so trusting still, still believing in magic and goodness. A heart that only a child can have.

    My grown-up heart is filled with a new wonder.  It is wonder of what that candle represented that I held as I young child.  Little then did I know, that the small flickering Light I held in my hands would be the Only One standing when all else was gone. That Light would be strong enough to hold me.  And that Light would deliver me back a new heart, a child’s heart. “Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Mark 10:15.  Only in Jesus can a grown-up get a second chance to live in childlike wonder. 

    I had a dream a few months ago where my grandparents and some of my other relatives were waiting for me inside a beautiful, small,candlelit chapel.  It was the sweetest dream ever. They were inviting me in to an encounter to worship our True Light, and I received the invitation. 

    “O Come all Ye Faithful

    Joyful and Triumphant

    O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem

    O come let us adore Him

    Christ the LORD”

    I pray we all receive the invitation to return, as little children, to the Light that never lets us go, Jesus, the Light of the World.

  • Advent,  Christmas,  Priorities,  Seeing,  The Cross

    Advent 5 Choose The One Thing

    12-5-18

     

    “But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the LORD answered her, Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:40-42

     

    It’s happening!  Like ants that creep into your shoe unnoticed until the burning sting renders you shoe-less and hopping to the nearest water source for relief, the Christmas season tailspin has descended upon me, and like ants, the list of unmet obligations keeps multiplying, leaving a sting.

    My heart is finding focus and peace as I remember the time Jesus walking into a house bustling with female angst, as ONE sister was doing all the WORK, while the other was soaking in all the WONDER.  My heart takes such refuge in hearing His Words, the words of the One I want to please most, “….but only one thing is needed.”

    One thing. WOW! That seems so easy, so uncomplicated.  But isn’t it always when He speaks….and we actually listen?  With His words I hear another question rising up in my heart, “What is keeping you from the One thing?”

    YIKES! Confrontation! Isn’t there a rule somewhere that says Jesus doesn’t get to AS bossy during the holidays?

    Truth is, my choices keep me from the One thing, the One thing that’s most needed, and the one thing that can never be taken from me.

    Truth is, all these expectations that scream at me like playground bullies, they are not from Him.  They are voices that I have allowed in, and they are voices that I must now tell to leave if I am to choose the One thing.

    Sometimes being a Good Christian looks completely different from what we have imagined, especially during the holidays.

    Sometimes the greatest gift we can give is a life that is wholly yielded to our One, the One who came for us, the One Who can never be taken from us, unless we let Him.

    Jesus, please help us to lay aside the cell phones, planners, cookie baking, gift wrapping, decorating amazon shopping, and all the other frenzied things we do during this season to try to make it special, and instead, let us focus on You, our One thing, Who so graciously made us Your One thing on a Cross many years ago. We love You and thank You for loving us, even we get caught up in the Christmas tailspin instead of being caught up in You. Amen

     

  • Advent,  Christmas,  Salvation. Faith,  Trusting God

    Advent 4 Emmanuel, the Gift We’ve Always Had, Yet Always Wanted

     

    11-28-18

    “And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn”  Luke 2:7

     This is an old post from a few years back that has been bubbling up in my mind all day so I decided to share, enjoy.

    I was tickled the other day as I watched Faith and Hope exchange makeshift Christmas gifts for each other.  I guess they were practicing for the big day that is right around the corner.  As they opened up the well-loved stuffed animals and books with torn pages, they would exclaim, “wow, it’s just what I’ve always wanted!”

    How precious it is when we find that “what we have always wanted” lies right here, already within our grasp.  Although this year has not been as eventful as some recent ones in a physical sense, for me it has been one of the most spiritually eventful years I have ever experienced.  It is always hard to explain this kind of stuff, words seem so small and tend to make these lessons feel smaller as I attempt to shove them in to the box of human understanding.  But, as all of you know who truly know me, I just can’t help but try.  His goodness is just too wonderful not to share!

    Perhaps one of the greatest lessons the LORD has been working on my heart ties in very much to the Christmas story, the day that Emmanuel was born.  Emmanuel, the with of God!  Over 2000 years ago, God bridged a gap between man and Himself in the form of an infant.  He gave us the precious gift of His own “With”.  I have been pondering on the words from Luke that let us know that he was laid in a manger “because there was no place for him in the inn.”   God’s own Son came to be born in a town completely occupied in a physical sense, yet completely barren of Life in a greater sense.  Mans’ eyes were closed to what all heaven was celebrating.  Perhaps this is why God wanted the birth to take place out under the stars, so that the first sights of the newborn King would be that of all heaven celebrating His birth.  What man could not yet see or appreciate, every star, angel, and heavenly being was caught up in the weight of the glory that had just become wrapped up in tiny human flesh; God’s precious gift to all mankind.    The “with of God” had come to earth, only earth did not know it.  In the same way, the LORD has been showing me this year how often I allow the same lack of appreciation to happen in my own heart towards Him.  So much of what I believe about Him and myself in Him has already been “occupied” by my own self-conjured up conceptions of who I want Him to be…not Who He truly is.  Like a gift to myself, I have wrapped Him up in a nice, tidy box of human reasoning so that I can claim to have that part of Him checked off on my list of knowledge of God.  This year, much to my confusion and humiliation, He has blown open every box around Himself that I had neatly stacked away.  Like a child whose Lego masterpiece has just been knocked down, I have battled with the urges to scramble to get it all back in order.  How marvelous it had been to have such understanding of a Christ that is small enough to stay occupied in my own perceptions.  At first I felt much more like I was going backwards rather than forward.  However, soon I began to have a new depth of understanding for the words of Christ in Matthew 18:3 when He said, “…unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”  Like a child, I have learned and am still learning to not aspire so much to have knowledge about God, as much as to understand Him and how to live as if I believe His love and His Words for me in this world, this life.  To become smaller and weaker, that He could become larger and stronger.  To be less convinced of my future, and myself that I could become more convinced of Christ and His sovereignty.  To have less vision, yet more sight.  To become more hungry, that I might be able to feed more.  To become more homesick, that I might have a passion to lead more home.  More in love, that I might love others more.  Oh, that I could be like a child completely in my knowledge of my need for Him.

    Jesus, please continue to birth Yourself and Your truth in to every place I have occupied with my own perceptions of who You are.  Forgive me for believing that this journey was more about me taking You out there than it was about me letting You in here. Just as You, The Word, became flesh and dwelt among us, please never stop moving in to the occupied places in my heart until this flesh has completely become Your Word that dwells only among You. Like the Holy night that You came as a gift to us from heaven, make us open up and realize the gift we already have in You, the gift that we have always had, yet always wanted.