Wednesday, November 30, 2016

What is Love?

1 John 4: 7-21
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

I had an experience this week that has left me feeling a bit...... bitter?  I'm not sure that is the right word, but I haven't been able to shake it. Haven't been able to stop thinking about it.

I am not going to share the details here, but after the experience, I was left wondering once again what loving people the way God does looks like in REAL life. What does it look like in the everyday, real, messy, imperfect relationships ?

The scripture above was my reading this morning.  It definitely resonated with me.  
So, I did a little research on love.  God's real {Agapeo} love. How he wants me to relate to others.      I took notes in my journal.  
Here is what I wrote down about God's love.

* Love others as Jesus loved us. (that's even more than I love myself!!)
* Patient
*Not proud 
*without envy
*Doesn't behave rudely
*Keeps a good record of the good (rather than the bad)
*Doesn't take pleasure in the downfall of an enemy or competitor, rather gladly hails his success.
*Forbearing - endures the things that have to endured, such as the weaknesses of others
*Love our enemies -- not rendering offense for offense - rather we should BLESS.
*Supplying the needs of friends and enemies.
*Without hypocrisy
*No pretense  - not just saying you love, but lived out in deed and in truth.
*Lived out in service of others (think Jesus washing the disciples feet).
*Doesn't work to please self - works to please others.
*Surrenders things that may be innocent in themselves but could be a stumbling block for others.
*Gladly forgives 
*Honors all before self.

Here is the thing.  If I am honest, I like to THINK that I am a loving person.  But really, I don't do any of this well.  Not in the real life messiness of relationship.  Because in relationship to other people, I have to contend with humanness.... My own humanness -- the desire to look out for myself, protect myself, my desire to be selfish rather than selfless. My desire to be prideful and make sure people sees me as I want them to.  There is also  the humanness of others to contend with with....  When they aren't being loving to start with or even in return.  
When I feel like the love and putting others first is one sided.

This morning, I was reminded that it is one sided. At least to start with . God loved us and gave us his son to die for us before we ever loved or chose Him.  He did it REGARDLESS of whether we were going to love him in return.

I am also reminded of my need to be aware of his spirit within me each moment of every day.  I am reminded of my need to pray continuously so that I can be loving as he is. And I'm reminded that I need to sit with him in silence and in prayer in order to know him more and more.

Lord, help me.  Help me love as you have loved. Help me be fully aware of  your presence as I go through this day.  Help me live in a state of continuous prayer.  Continuous communication with you.  Continuous awareness that you are with me.  Keep me close so I won't wander away as I am prone to do.  Remind me also that love is more than fuzzy feelings of warmth for people. It is a choice to live out your ways  -- especially when I am no feeling those warm feelings about people.   Amen  

Advent - Days 3 and 4

Sharing the things that are jumping out at me as I wait on the birthday of a Savior this year.

Day 3 --  the longing in this song resonates with me.
Rejoice, Rejoice!  Emmanuel shall come to thee, Oh, Israel. 

Day 4 --  this scripture.  Praying today to have more and more of  that God-willed heart rather than  self-willed one.  

Ezekiel 36:24-28
 “‘For here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to take you out of these countries, gather you from all over, and bring you back to your own land. I’ll pour pure water over you and scrub you clean. I’ll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you. I’ll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that’s God-willed, not self-willed. I’ll put my Spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you and live by my commands. You’ll once again live in the land I gave your ancestors. You’ll be my people! I’ll be your God!

Would love to hear about your season of waiting!  What is God speaking in your heart? 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Advent Scriptures {Day's 1 & 2}

Yesterday was the first day of Advent.  
Advent is a season of the Christian year that begins about 4 weeks before Christmas.  It is a season of anticipting the birth of our Messiah.
At church yesterday, Ken preached on the coming Messiah.
One of the scriptures he used was this one..

Micah 5:2
But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
    though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
    one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
    from ancient times.”

I love this scripture because it reminds me that Jesus has always been with God. He is from ancient times.  Always was and Always will be.  Past, present, future.

Today, in my Advent reading, this was my scripture....

Isaiah 9: 2
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.

I love this scripture because it reminds me of Jesus' light. Read a little farther down in the chapter and we see that  he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.   
I've been trying my hand at drawing in my journaling Bible.   While I am NO artist, I'm really enjoying it.  

Ancient of Days, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Always was, Always will be.
Darkness doesn't win. Light does.

Anticipating with great joy the celebration of Christ's birth.

That's good news for me today.
I needed to be reminded of all of these names of Jesus.  

What about you? 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016

It has been a great Thanksgiving Day.  

We attended a Thanksgiving Reunion of Ken's mom's family, The Rostans.  They are Waldensian and are from Valdese, NC originally.   

We ate traditional American Thanksgiving food, but also had some Soutissa, an authentic Waldensian sausage.  Ken loves it.  And I have to say it's pretty tasty.  
This was the first time our kids have ever had any that they remember.
They liked it, too!

There were lots of old photos to look at.  I love family history and love looking at old photos.
This photo is of Ken's grandmother, Henrietta "Babs" Rostan Grana and her baby sister, Nita.  
Babs was the first child in her family to be born in America.  And she married Michol Grana, who came to America from Sicily, Italy.  

This is a photo of Susanna Rostan's certificate of citizenship.  Susanna was Ken's great-grandmother.  She and her husband came through Ellis Island with their oldest two daugthers before Ken's grandmother was born. They settled for a time in Chicago, Illinois before moving to Valdese, NC. 

We had a great afternoon visiting with family that we know and getting acquainted with some that we didn't know.  Susanna Menusan Rostan and Jean Louie Rostan had nine children.  Only the youngest is still living and was in attendance today.  SO, there were lots of folks to talk with.  We really enjoyed listening to Ken's Mom and her cousins recount stories about their grandparents.  

This is Ken's aunt, Rosalie.  She is the oldest grandchild in the family.  She still lives in Valdese.  We really enjoyed getting to visit with her today.

We drove home late this afternoon and got a picture of our family together. 
Yep. A family selfie.

The weather today was beautiful.  It was about 72 degrees today in North Carolina, so we had a good time playing football in our yard in the late afternoon.  
Maggie for the catch.  

Because I was taking pics, Allie and Brady were on a team together and Lillie and Maggie were on a team.  Ken was the QB for both teams. 

I think this might be my favorite shot of the day.  
Their faces, though!!


I love this one of Allie running the ball, too!

We then came inside and ate some leftovers.  
And now, we are enjoying A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving as a family.

It's been a good day.  
We've much to be thankful for.  
Parents and family who care about where they came from and share it with us and our children. 
Reuniting with family not seen for a while and meeting new family members.
Football in our yard.
Leftovers from Ken's birthday party for supper.

Dear Lord, I'm so thankful for this day.  For family, for simplicity, for a quiet evening at home.
Thank you so much for the gift of this day and all that it has held.  Amen

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Morning Prayer

Image result for psalm 143

This morning, I continued reading in 2 Corinthians.  I am just being honest when I say nothing leapt off the page in those chapters this morning. And I was struggling because I so wanted the words to jump out at me.  Sometimes, they don't.  That's just pure fact.  

So, I turned to writing in my prayer journal. Talk to God about some struggles in our family.  At the bottom of each page is a scripture.  The scripture from today's page came from Psalm 143.  It jumped at me as it was what my heart is feeling this morning.  

So, I turned to Psalm 143 and it became the rest of my prayer this morning.  Here it that prayer. 

Psalm 143

A psalm of David.

Lord, hear my prayer,
    listen to my cry for mercy;
in your faithfulness and righteousness
    come to my relief.
Do not bring your servant into judgment,
    for no one living is righteous before you.
The enemy pursues me,
    he crushes me to the ground;
he makes me dwell in the darkness
    like those long dead.
So my spirit grows faint within me;
    my heart within me is dismayed.
I remember the days of long ago;
    I meditate on all your works
    and consider what your hands have done.
I spread out my hands to you;
    I thirst for you like a parched land.[a]
Answer me quickly, Lord;
    my spirit fails.
Do not hide your face from me
    or I will be like those who go down to the pit.
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
    for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
    for to you I entrust my life.
Rescue me from my enemies, Lord,
    for I hide myself in you.
Teach me to do your will,
    for you are my God;
may your good Spirit
    lead me on level ground.
For your name’s sake, Lord, preservemy life;
    in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble.
In your unfailing love, silence my enemies;
    destroy all my foes,
    for I am your servant.

 The highlighted verse was the one that was in my prayer journal.  I'm so thankful this morning for the honesty of David.  Sometimes I can just feel his heart.   This morning his prayer has become my prayer. Maybe you need this prayer this morning, too? 

Monday, November 21, 2016

New Creation

A lot of days I don't even think about it: this blog.  But, other days, I miss blogging and having a 'scrap book' of our lives and my thoughts.
I am a journal-er by nature. And even though I can't seem to do it consistently, on a daily basis; And, even though my grammar and writing aren't the best, it does something for my soul to write things down.  To be able to look back and remember.  To think through things, to reason with myself and to spill it out to God in written prayer.

Life has been moving at an uncomprehendable rate.  I haven't written on this blog for over a year.  15 months to be exact.  In that time a LOT has happened. I've been terrible at taking pictures - which is another thing that I love doing. Record keeping.  Memories and ways to remember are important to me.  And I can't help but feel that I've done myself a dis-service by not recording some of it.

SO, I hope to do better.  TO write down a least SOME of what is happening in our lives.  Even if no one ever reads it but me, I hope to print them as books some day.  Maybe my kids will want to share them with their children and grandchildren. Maybe not.  But family lore and hearing about my heritage is really important to me and I hope to pass that along to them.

One of the most important things I want to share with them is my faith journey.  I want to pass on the faith that has been passed down to me and to share with them the things I am learning each and every day. To share with them that I am not perfect but desire to grow and be authentically who I am with them and everyone else.

I've grown and changed since I started blogging years ago.  So, this blog has grown and changed and no doubt it will continue to do so.  It is continually a new creation as am I.

This morning, I was reading in 2nd Corinthians and these verses jumped out at me.

2 Corinthians 5:17-21New International Version (NIV)

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin[b] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

First, I thought about what it means to be reconciled.  The dictionary says this:  
to find a way of making (two different ideas, facts, etc.) exist or be true at the same time

I feel like that is what God has done.  We are human sinner and yet we are righteous before God.  It is hard to wrap my brain around that.  How I know I am human and mess up and forget to ask forgiveness and forget that I even need forgiveness and yet, by Jesus I am righteous before God.  Reconciled.

The other things that jumped out at me today was that I am to be an ambassador for Christ. This goes back to that authenticity for me.  I want to be HIS and to show HIM in all areas of my life each and every day.

Lord, help me remember that I am reconciled through you and help me be your ambassador this day.