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Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Magic of Giving Never Ends

The magic of giving… it all started around 2,000 years ago.  God gave.  Jesus came. He left the glories of heaven and plunged Himself into earth’s miseries and sorrows. He came as “The Light” to dispel darkness.

Darkness still surrounds. A sick boy lying in the hospital bed---doctors unable to make his pain go away.  A single mother hardly making it, working long hours, short on sleep. Thirsty, hungry souls, empty and unaware that Jesus satisfies. Loneliness casts dark shadows upon the young and old, the rich and poor. Darkness is everywhere.

Then Jesus arrives. Darkness cannot hide from “The Light” and the magic of giving tells its secret.

When we believe in Jesus, we receive “The Light” and become carriers of His supernatural power. The Light bends down to reach the discouraged, downtrodden, and despairing. The impossible happens. No longer do they have to live in darkness because faith, hope, and love rise up.  

It happened in an odd sort of way the Christmas our House Church adopted a needy family. At Gordmans, I loaded my arms with clothes that fit the needs and sizes of one woman and her children, and my phone rang. Tucked deep in my purse, I let it ring and ring and ring. Finally it stopped… then started again. I answered to an excited voice.

“Mom! Facebook says that if you go to the guest services counter by 2 o’clock and say, ‘Something unexpected’ and wink, you will get a $50 gift card.”

I debated, is this true? Will I make a fool of myself? My heart pounding, I took my place in line and risked it. 

My turn led me straight to a male cashier. “May I help you?”

“I was told to say, ‘something unexpected.’” and I winked at him.

“You’re the first winner!” he exclaimed and handed me a $50 gift card. And there was more! When I checked out all my purchases, I received an additional $10 reward.

That seemingly small gesture became unusually big because that’s what “The Light” does. The presence of Light shows up and a friendly smile generates hope, simple hospitality cheers a grumpy heart, and a few dollars multiply. Resistance foils in Light’s presence, making room for understanding and forgiveness to move in. “The Light” causes seemingly impossible things to happen.

Giving is nothing short of magical when “The Light” dwells within us and stirs.  And best of all, giving never seems complicated. “As you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” Matthew 7:12

And just when you think you’ve given all there is to give, the magic of giving returns…to the giver… because “You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for. (Matthew 5:7 The Message)


The magic of giving never ends!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Shortcut for Shopping

A precious, white-haired woman sat speechless when I inquired, “How might I pray for you?” Certainly life was weighing on her. Big and small, she carried weights that God could take care of…if she’d ask Him.

Silence hung between us. Then, finally, came her shy reply. “Oh, the good Lord has bigger, more important things to take care of than what concerns me.”

 Sadness filled me. This sweet, Christian woman was missing out on the joy that comes from believing “small matters” are never too small for God. Bottom line, short on faith, she felt unworthy of her Father’s care.   

The truth is, God longs to hear us ask for help. He cares about all concerns, personal, and small. He owns the game plans and doesn’t expect us to figure them out. Even for shopping!

Christmas shopping began, for me, in November, when Kohls advertised a huge sale. I purchased presents for all the men in my family, including what I considered a “pretty” blue, fleece sweatshirt for my daughter’s boyfriend. With a bundle of presents, I drove home. One glance at my daughter’s dull look at the sweatshirt stopped my merry momentum.  Together, we returned to Kohls, she found a “better” gift, to her liking, and we landed at the customer service desk.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Peace and Joy During the Holidays...Is It Possible?

Giant snowflakes whirled outside, just like my mental “to do” list, was whirling inside my head. “Bake five dozen cookies for the Christmas cookie exchange, get groceries for our open house, and write your Christmas newsletter.” I secretly vowed one more thing. I would shop for Christmas presents early, avoiding picked over merchandise. With a scrutinizing eye, I’d choose gifts that wouldn't get stashed in drawers or returned immediately after Christmas. I aimed to make that Christmas an unforgettable, super-sized happy holiday!

Instead, agitation and grumpiness grew. Noisy “holiday” chatter, kept rambling in my head, reminding me of my duties, drowning out hope-filled Christmas messages. Instead of “joyful and triumphant”, I grew joyless and discontent.

One evening, after tucking my five-year-old in bed, I snarled at my husband for allowing our fifteen-year-old to talk on the phone before finishing her homework. Stinging words drove a thick wedge between us. I snubbed his apology and stormed out of the room. Rather than going to sleep in “heavenly peace”, I grumbled, “I have to take care of everyone and everything!”

In the morning I knew I had to make a change. I removed myself from all the holiday stress. I quieted myself at Jesus’ feet. But, to be honest, it wasn't easy.