Slow Down, Rest, Breathe!

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing — JUST STOP!

Take a moment, and then another, and CHOOSE to be in the moment.

Instead of playing the roles of baker, shopper, cleaner, decorator, gift-wrapper, toy assembler, mother, father, and whatever other….  you get the message –

JUST STOP!

Don’t even slow down, but actually sit down, prop your feet, and relax in His presence.

Now, doesn’t that feel better?

Rest behind the sidelines and remember why and what you are doing.  Be cautious not to get so caught up in the season that you miss the message and the people in it.  Otherwise, Christmas will come and go, and you and I will be wondering what all the hustle and bustle was about.

Jesus is about simplicity, never anxiety.  Consider our ancestors who celebrated Christmas with family, friends, and of course, God‘s word.  The real gift was and still is Jesus, and the presents were a reminder of His message.

According to MyHeritage list, these were the most commonly requested presents in America in 1913:

  1. Candy
  2. Nuts
  3. Rocking horse
  4. Doll
  5. Mittens/gloves
  6. Toy train
  7. Oranges
  8. Books
  9. Handkerchiefs
  10. Skates

Yes, times have changed, and in place of books, our children want Nooks–

but the Nativity story will forever remain the same!  (Insert Allelujah here!!)

Dear friend, I pray that we will make this a memorable Christmas, one of the greatest Christmas parties that we have ever hosted.  Most importantly, may we remember our parties’ purpose and not forget to invite our most beloved guest — JESUS!

Blessings!  Michelle

“And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.” –Luke 1:14

One Less Candle

A walk through my neighborhood gifted me with a man’s profound wisdom packaged in a simple statement–

“It’s a spring day in the winter of my life,” said my elderly neighbor while raising his American flag early one April morning.

His words revealed great depth; he recognized the brevity of his life.  Unfair to most, this man had age as his reminder to seize the day.  Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case; we often stumble through life expecting that we have an approximate amount of time to live.

We fail to believe that we could leave this world before we accomplish our goals; our time seems to replenish itself as each year passes.  Proverbs 27:1 states, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring”; yet, most of us live as if tomorrow will never run out.  Tomorrow we will forgive, tomorrow we will make that call, tomorrow we will play with the kids.  It’s not as if we don’t want to do those things, it’s just that life is too busy to get to them now, so we believe.  It’s easy to imagine all that we will do tomorrow since it is always in surplus.

Tomorrow we will become who God intended, just one more day until—

What remains of our chapter when tomorrow never comes?

If we read our lives as novels, why is it that we assume that our pages never run out?  For now, we are too busy focusing on our to-do lists.  From morning until night, we rush through our minutes as if we are in a marathon.  Another day, another dollar; another year, and the kids get taller.  Winter tiptoes into spring, and spring leaps to summer; summer crawls to fall and fall sprints to winter.  If we could see our time diminishing like sand in an hourglass, would we change how we live each day?

Would we literally stop and smell the roses?  Would we even notice them?

Somehow, in the abundance of time, we can’t seem to decipher the meaningful moments from the frantic pace.  Our days become a blur of monotonous repetition of meaninglessness.  Perhaps, we shouldn’t increase our birthday candles with age.  Wouldn’t it be more realistic if we were given 76 candles at birth only to watch them decrease as the years passed?  Would we make living more meaningful knowing that our time was running out?  Would we exchange our to-do lists for our to-be lists:  to be thankful, to be peaceful, to be joyful, to be real in the midst of daily chaos?

Living the abundant life does not mean abandoning the ones that we already have.  Instead, it is an intentional pursuit of seeing God in what appears as the ordinary, the insignificant busyness of our lives.  Deciding to celebrate the little moments throughout the day is the beginning of a meaningful life.  Instead of rushing through traffic, we see the sunrise appearing in the morning sky.  In place of watching shattered lives on television, we ride bikes with our children.  We trade gossip with friends for conversations with Jesus.  We live each day intentionally breathing, thinking, praying.  We don’t stop life as we know it; we pursue it as it ought to be.  We live as if there is no tomorrow, yet believing that there is.

Friend, are you appreciating your surroundings as you race through life?  Is your heart prompting you to notice something or someone, but you keep telling yourself, “tomorrow?”  If today was your last day on this side of eternity, would you leave any area of your life in regret?  If so, now is the time to do it, not tomorrow–nowWill you choose to live before you die?

Let us pray Psalm 39:4-5,

“O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!” Selah             (Selah means to stop and consider)

Blessings! –Michelle

Chocolate-Covered Cupid, Anyone?

The little plump guy has come to visit, and love is in the air.  Can you feel it?

Chocolate-covered kindness laced in morsels of endearing words– today, we suddenly need to express our love for each other.

According to the National Confectioners’ Association, 36 million and counting heart-shaped boxes are sweeping past the conveyor belt in stores across America.  In addition, 200 million love-scented roses will be delivered to those expecting some holiday aroma.  Symbols of love bought with the dollar; cupid’s arrow strikes, and big businesses grow taller.

Who is this Cupid behind the check-out counter?

Unlike our modern description, a commercialized cherub spreading love through Hershey’s and 1-800-Flowers, historical Cupid had some behavior issues.  Believed to be an instigator, a trouble maker, Cupid not only inspired love, but he also caused hatred among friends. This explains the rare museum paintings depicting the two arrow quivers that he carries, one for each purpose.

Unlike the mythological Cupid, whose purpose was for good and evil,

—the enemy that we face is real, and he seeks only to “steal, kill, and destroy.” –John 10:10

Satan wants to steal your future, kill your dreams, and destroy your peace Not only does the enemy have a plan and purpose for your life, but rest assured, Jesus does too, “I come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” –John 10:10.

Did you notice that John 10:10 starts with the enemy’s plan to destroy your life, but it ends with God‘s rescue?

Friend, even and especially as Christians, your purpose is under attack.  Yes, God does have a plan and purpose for your life, and He will complete that which He started in His plan.  However, your individual part is a decision.  Yes, God does work out our decisions for His ultimate plan, but we are given free will for the choices that we make.

As Christians, even we can miss our purpose if we choose.  Are we still Christians?  Absolutely. Can we still be forgiven?  Of course!   However, we can miss the best that God intended with the choices that we make.  The Bible reminds us, “Be alert and of sober mind.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” –1Peter 5:8  The goal is awareness.  Knowing that there is an enemy who seeks to destroy our purposes will cause us to reexamine the decisions that we make.

You can exert boldness in your decisions knowing that “greater is He who is in you than He who is in the world.” —1 John 4:4

By doing so, you can create a world that reflects Valentine’s Day every day of the year.

Blessings! –Michelle