Hershey’s Kisses

Mary pondered over angelic messages and the mysterious miracle of birth to the Christ child. The marvels of worshiping shepherds and their report of a heavenly host announcement were beyond the scope of a maidservant’s understanding and it would take an eternity to unravel the depths of the Father’s love. He had sent living proof through the swaddling clothes babe that nestled near her chest. She leaned down to caress his cheek and smothered Jesus with “Her-she’s kisses!”

I have kissed the precious faces of my own children; I ponder how much I have in common with Mary. “But Mary was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them (Luke 2: 19 HCS).” Words are insufficient to express our adoration for the incarnate Savior; I cannot place kisses on His face but I can demonstrate my love through acts of love to those I encounter. Colorful red and green Hershey’s Kisses are a seasonal reminder to follow Mary’s servant heart…

 

A Christmas Reminder

My family and I were watching a Christmas episode of “Little House on the Prairie” last night. I love that series. There are so many valuable life lessons to take from it. Anyways, they were sitting around the fire together reminiscing about Christmases in the past. They showed things like Ma getting potatoes from Mr. Edwards (a rare treat), Hester Sue receiving ONE beautiful doll as her only Christmas gift, and Laura and Mary getting excited over their very own cups to use and a piece of candy and mittens.

As we watched from our comfortable two-story house full from a nice big dinner, we all felt spoiled. And it was good for us. It is so good to be reminded from time to time that we are blessed above and beyond. Don’t you think? We (as a people) can get to feeling so entitled that it’s good to be knocked down a notch or two from time to time.
Here I am planning on making numerous Christmas goodies in a few weeks, and the Ingalls’ girls were excited over one piece of candy. I can go to the grocery store any day of the week and have my choice of aisle after aisle of produce, cans, fruits, meats, and vegetables. And yet Ma was practically brought to tears to be brought some potatoes.

It wasn’t just a show. It was a reminder of a way of life. Our ancestors worked so hard to get what they had. In this particular show, the family all got snowed in. The storm put a barn board through their window and broke it. Did Ma get all upset that her window was broken and she’d have to pay for a new one? No. She just immediately set about cleaning up the glass while Pa and Almonzo secured the window shut. And because they had unexpected guests sleeping over, were they whining that they didn’t have enough beds and the men had to fall asleep at the kitchen table? Did Ma complain that she really didn’t plan on feeding that many people? No. They were just so blessed to be all together. They loved each other and were so full of that love that it erased any discomforts or minor nuisances that invaded their plans.

I want to be full of that love. I want to smile when friends or family grace my home instead of stressing about what to feed them. I want to make those who enter my house feel as comfortable as possible, but instead of fretting over not having a big enough table, or worrying that I have to put people on the floor to sleep, I want to have enough love in my home that it will overcome any physical drawbacks. I want people to be drawn to me, because of the love that my family and I show them.
This is who I want to be. This is who I want my family to be.

I want to remember and be reminded to be thankful, feel blessed, and to simply love – forgetting minor inconveniences. I want to treasure the simple and the pure of heart.

Yes, it’s good to be humbled sometimes. It’s good to be reminded. I’m so thankful that this show did that for me last night.
~ Dionna Sanchez is Founder of the EmphasisOnMoms.com ministry.

How Much Do You Love?

Have you ever loved someone so much that tears come to your eyes, your throat, and your heart – just thinking of them? I love my Lord that much. And as I was thinking today – I was just thinking about all the people who say they are “Christian” in name and yet don’t have the tender heart of love for the Lord that goes with it. How do you know if you have it?

Do you cringe when someone says God’s name in vain? Do you get rankled when the media scoffs, laughs, or ostracizes a Christian? Does your heart feel literal pain when you know you have sinned against God? Do you fall to your knees in humble blessing and gratitude when God has done something for you – something you wanted – that only He could do? Just at the realization that God is truly alive and active?

When was the last time you talked to Him during your day? When did you ask for forgiveness or set aside your pride and comfort to give to someone else – out of a heart full of love that only can come from walking with God?

This IS a season of joy. But it’s also a season of heartache for a lot of people. What are you going to do about that? Nothing? God said, “And the greatest of these is love….” He was the most profound example of love we could ever possibly dream of. How are we loving others in His name?

Life isn’t always p-r-e-t-t-y. We live it out. We should know. It’s downright ugly and scarey sometimes. And sometimes we just need to be reminded so that we can let hearts FEEL! And LIVE! And so we can love in some fragment of a way in which He loved.

I do not want to be a “Christian” in name only. So I ask myself a lot – “What am I doing with the life that God has given me?” Look at what He has done for us. What are you doing with the life He has given you? What does God mean to you? Does He impact your heart to tears? He does mine.
~ Dionna Sanchez

You can follow Dionna on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/DionnaSanchez

Agnus Dei

This may not look like a “Christmas tune” at first blush.  Take a few minutes to look and listen again:

Shared by Kristine Lowder.

HEvencense

God With Us

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.”
Matthew 1:22,23

Mercy Me sings a song that I can’t get out of my head. The title of it is God With Us (Immanuel). The first two lines of the song go:

Who are we – that You would be mindful of us?
What do You see – that’s worth looking our way?

Do you ever ponder those thoughts? Why did God care about us so much, that He actually came to earth as a baby, to live amongst us, so that we could eventually live with Him, forever?

I heard a pastor say, “He came down, so we could go up.”

I was thinking about the term ‘with us’. If someone is with me, I know them. I live with Bobby and the boys. I know them intimately. I write about them quite frequently, so many of you know of them, through my stories, but you don’t really know them.

But if you spent some time at our home, you would know the boys. Truthfully, you might not want to know them some days. They are real kids who live real lives. They are good boys, but they are 11 and 13 year old brothers … enough said.

I believe one of the reasons Jesus came to earth is so we could intimately know Him. Not know of Him, as this amazing Creator who is far and above us, but as the Son of God, who came to earth as a man, to dwell amongst us. So that we could relate to Him.

And even though that was over 2000 years ago, we can still experience Him being with us, through His Word and His Spirit, that He left with us.

The song goes on to say:

All that is within me cries – for You alone be glorified
Immanuel – God with us
My heart sings – a brand new song
The debt is paid – these chains are gone
Immanuel- God with us.

Boy, I can so relate to whose words. Some days I feel like I’m about to burst – everything in me wants to cry out to Him! To praise Him for all that He’s done! My heart truly does sing a new song because my chains are gone! He’s set me free!

Yes, He is truly Immanuel – God With Us!

Father, words cannot express the gratitude that I have in my heart for all You are and for all that You do! Lord, to think that You left the most exquisite life to come to earth as a baby, so that You could be with us … oh Lord, thank You! Thank You that You are Immanuel – God With Us!!

I love You Jesus.
In Your Name Pray,
Amen

God Bless You!

Love,
Joyce
The Choices You Make Today …
Will Affect Your Tomorrow!
http://www.alifedecision.org

God’s Gift

Yesterday at church one of my friends asked Chase what he got for Christmas. His reply was very prompt, “A pogo stick.” No hesitation. No having to decide which gift to share. No, Chase did get other gifts, but the pogo stick is definitely first and foremost in his mind.

This time of year, gifts are prevalent in many people’s minds. “What did you get for Christmas?” is a common question we ask each other.

The other day, I heard a message on God’s gifts to us. Many times we think about the gift of His son, especially at Christmas, because we are celebrating the birth of Jesus.

But the gift that God gave to us first was His love. John 3:16 tells us: “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.”

We usually focus on the idea that God gave us His son, so that we would not perish. I know I do. But look at the first part of this verse, For God so loved the world …

That is why He gave His son for us, because of the great love that He has for us. I John 4:10 says: “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

It was so hard for me to grasp that GOD loves ME! I might have known it in my head, but I just could not believe it in my heart. I did not deserve His love. I was bad. I did bad things.

But one day, it clicked in me. GOD LOVES ME … regardless of my actions. He loves me because I’m me. For nothing I’ve done or not done. For nothing I might do or not do. He loves me with an everlasting love. With a love so great, that He sent His son down to earth to die for my sins, because I could never be good enough for Him, and He wanted me to live with Him forever; to experience that peace that only comes from knowing Him while I was here on this earth.

WOW … how cool is that? That is the best gift I’ve ever received! I don’t have to think twice about that one!

Thank you Father for loving me. To stop and ponder the idea that the GOD of all creation, loves ME … wow!! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

I love You Jesus.
In Your Name Pray,
Amen

God Bless You!

Love,
Joyce

The Choices You Make Today …
Will Affect Your Tomorrow!
http://wwww.alifedecision.org

The Babe In The Manger

We sing the song every Christmas, ‘Away in a manger no crib for his bed …’, but have you ever really given thought to that statement? Can you imagine giving birth to a baby, in a stable and then putting him in a manger to sleep? And we are not talking a top of the line horse stable here. Most likely it was more like a cave, that the animals found shelter in. And here was this very young, probably very scared young girl about to give birth to the Son of God. WOW … can you just image?

I love Mary’s faith. I pray for a faith as strong as Mary’s, but would I really be willing to endure what she endured? Here she was young, probably about 12 or 13 years old, when an angel appeared to her and told her she would be pregnant with a child, conceived by the Holy Spirit. Mary was already engaged to a fellow, Joseph, at this time and when the families found out she was pregnant, Joseph could cancel their marriage and even worse, Mary could be stoned or ostracized from her family. But I love her response that day to the angel, “May it be with me as you have said.” (Luke 1:38)

Now that is faith.

It took some faith to go tell Joseph, “Oh, um, by the way, I’m pregnant.” They weren’t living together, Joseph knew the baby wasn’t his, and he wasn’t happy. But before Joseph could call the wedding off, that same angel came to him and told him what was going on. And Joseph had faith, and he married Mary.

And then, right when the baby was to be born, they had to go to Bethlehem to pay taxes. Boy, talk about bad timing. Can you image having to travel any distance on a donkey when it’s close to your due date? And I’m sure that the donkey ride helped spur on Mary’s labor, because once they got to Bethlehem, Mary is ready to have that baby. But they find out there is no place to stay … the inns are all full. Boy, it just keeps going from bad to worse for poor Mary. But we don’t hear her complaining.

I have to confess, my little Chase came too quickly for anesthesia during his labor and I had to birth him the old fashioned, natural way and it hurts! It wasn’t what I had planned, but sometimes life throws a monkey wrench into our plan. I had never wanted to be in that club, that ‘I had a baby naturally club.’

I image by this point in time, Mary was wondering if this was all such a great idea. Sure, it was all fine and well when the angel first told her, but now when push comes to shove, literally, I’m sure she was wondering what she had gotten herself into. There she is, poor little thing; tired and hungry and now going into labor and no place to even lay down. If anyone had a reason to be grumpy, she did. But we don’t see that, we see that strong, quiet confidence that comes only from God, from a faith that can’t be squelched by the natural cares or concerns of the world. We see that faith in Mary, the mother of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, as she gave birth to her son.
     – The Story of the Birth of Jesus: Luke 1 – 2

Away in a manger,
No crib for His bed
The little Lord Jesus
Laid down His sweet head

The stars in the bright sky
Looked down where He lay
The little Lord Jesus
Asleep on the hay

The cattle are lowing
The poor Baby wakes
But little Lord Jesus
No crying He makes

I love Thee, Lord Jesus
Look down from the sky
And stay by my side,
‘Til morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus,
I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever
And love me I pray

Bless all the dear children
In Thy tender care
And take us to heaven
To live with Thee there
Father, I love the faith of Mary. Oh Lord, what she must have endured to bring you into the world, yet she was Your humble servant, living out her faith in action and in spirit. Father help me to walk the walk … not talk the talk.

I Love You Jesus
In Your Name I Pray!
Amen

God’s Blessings Upon You!

Love,
Joyce

The Choices You Make Today …
Will Affect Your Tomorrow!
http://www.alifedecision.org

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