The Spirit of Giving

18 Dec

family, love, memoriesAt Christmas the emphasis is often placed on gifts. The malls are crowded as people search for the perfect gift to give to loved ones. Budgets are often ignored and spending runs rampant.

This puts an incredible amount of stress on people. I remember being worried that I couldn’t find or afford the latest toy that my children wanted. While this seemed important at the time, neither my son nor daughter can remember gifts received when they were children.

What they do remember is time spent together as a family. Their Christmas vacation was spent playing board games and doing jigsaw puzzles. We did simple things, but we did them together. It was the love and laughter of family that was most important to them. This is something that money can’t buy.

Love is the reason we have Christmas. God loved the world so much that he sent his only son. Christmas is the celebration of the greatest gift ever given. This was given freely, sacrificially and generously to all of us. All God asks in return is that we love him and share that love with others.

I pray this Christmas that I may have a heart like His and my giving will follow his example and be pure and selfless.

In this spirit, I have a gift for you. I would like to give you a copy of my book, Inspirations From the Everyday. Let me know you’d like this and I’ll be happy to send you a code to download an ebook from iBooks. This is my Christmas gift to you.

For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:16 NLT

Playing

18 Dec
Jesus, relax, pure hearts

image from playbrucegrey.com

I recently attended a gathering of several hundred people. The group we were with had booked the entire wing of meeting rooms in a hotel.

My daughter was also there, along with her six and seven-year old children. When they needed to move around and have some fun, I gladly obliged.

While music played, I danced with my granddaughter. She was full of energy and to keep up I had to dance like no one was watching. My grandson wanted to run and we found a quiet hallway to have a race. The three of us also played Hide and Seek in that same hallway. I hid under ledges and behind tables, smiling at adults who were giving me strange looks!

In order to truly enter into the fun and games I needed to let go of my inhibitions. When I embraced the moment we all had fun. I don’t often allow myself the freedom to play and realized that this is something lacking in my life.

I don’t have to be running races or playing games, but I do need to learn not to take myself so seriously. I read a quote from Plato that said, “You can learn more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” It’s when I relax and have fun that people can see the real me.

Perhaps this is why Jesus loved the little children. They came to him with pure hearts and that is something he desires for all of us. By setting myself free to play, I become more like a child. I like to think that the time spent playing with my grandchildren was honouring to Jesus as well as fun for them.

People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18:15-17 NIV

Perception

15 Dec
perception, prayer, inspiration, God

image from gif-culsu.co.uk

We have recently had repairs done on the roof of our house. The only part of the work still to be completed is the skylight in our ensuite.

The roofers returned to ask me about the skylight. They were confused as the one being replaced opened from the inside. I was asked if this was important to me as they couldn’t understand why anyone would want to try to escape through their skylight. After explaining that we frequently opened it for ventilation, they headed off to find the proper replacement.

I laughed to myself at the thought of trying to escape through the skylight onto the roof. To be fair, these men had never seen a skylight that opened and it seemed to them like the only reason that would be necessary would be to climb out through it. It was all a matter of perception.

That is something I need to keep in mind in my everyday life. Without all of the information, I can’t possible know the true story. What I think of a situation may be the exact opposite to what it really is.

I’ve heard it said that there are three sides to every story. One is yours, one is mine and the third is the truth. It that case, my perception is always off.

What I need to do is to pray about the situation. When I honestly seek out the truth that God gives, I will be able to rely on his perfect leading and not my own limited understanding.

Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. Romans 12 NLT

Cinnamon Buns

11 Dec

ingredients, God, potentialA few days ago my husband and I made a trip to the store to stock up on a selection of gluten-free flours. There are many good pre-made gluten-free products available these days, but for me, nothing compares to homemade.

Looking through my recipes, I knew I was going to make bread, but felt the need for some sweet treat as well. When I came across the cinnamon bun recipe my mouth started watering, so I knew my selection had been made.

The smell of the buns baking was incredible. Within minutes of them coming out of the oven I was mixing up a glaze to drizzle on the tops. They didn’t get a chance to cool much before I had my first bite of the warm, gooey, sweetness. It tasted so good that a second one quickly followed!

Thinking about these delicious treats, I realized that they can relate to my life. Each morning God gives me the ingredients I need to create a fulfilling day. What I do with them is up to me. I have the option to put them on the shelf and leave them there. When I do so, they are not being utilized. It’s when I take them and blend them together that something starts to happen. Just like the cinnamon buns needed to be placed in a hot oven to reach their potential, sometimes it is the mixing up and going through the fire that makes me all that I can be.

Taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the person who takes refuge in him. Psalm 34:8 GWT

Festival of Lights

8 Dec

excitement, volunteer, inspirationOur city hosts one of the largest free outdoor light displays in Canada. It takes place every evening for the month of December. The truly amazing thing about this display is that it is funded by donations and set up and run entirely by volunteers.

Recently my husband and I bundled up and headed to the park to work a three hour shift. Our jobs for the evening were as train assistants. One of the most popular attractions during the Festival of Lights is the miniature train ride that runs through the display. We took tickets, kept the lines moving in an orderly fashion and generally got to share in the joy of those boarding the train.

It was fun to see the excitement in the young children as they waited their turn to ride. When they spotted the train coming around the corner towards them, their enthusiasm was contagious. One little guy was so happy, he turned to my husband and said, “Have fun!” even though it was him going for the ride. The outside air may have been chilly but the hearts were definitely warm.

Volunteering three hours of our time was a small thing to do. The rewards of being part of this memorable experience for people were priceless. One of the things the Bible tells us to do is to use our energy to serve the Lord. By serving his people, I serve him. When I give of my time to volunteer, I am serving God in one of the best ways possible.

Be devoted to each other like a loving family. Excel in showing respect for each other. Don’t be lazy in showing your devotion. Use your energy to serve the Lord. Be happy in your confidence, be patient in trouble, and pray continually. Romans 12:10-12 GWT

Lost Child

4 Dec
Jesus, rescue, inspiration

image from bing.com

I was attending a large function and briefly stepped out of the room with my six-year-old granddaughter. There were over one hundred people in the busy room and she needed space to burn off some excess energy. After playing in the hallway for a few minutes we decided to rejoin her parents inside.
Someone was exiting the room as we approached the door and my granddaughter quickly ducked through ahead of me. At that point, I lost sight of her. My daughter was standing nearby so I headed over to her. Our little one had not been seen.
Soon we were doing a sweep of the room, the corridors by the meeting rooms and the hotel lobby. Unable to locate her, we enlisted more people in the search. After what seemed a long time, but in reality was only about five minutes, her older sister found her in the washroom. She didn’t consider herself lost, so had no worries about heading off on her own. Relief flooded over us as we had her beside us once again.
This incident reminded me of the parables Jesus told about searching for the lost. The point of these stories is that Jesus will drop everything to come and find me when I stray. I may not realize how far I’ve gone or the potential danger I face. When I am intently focusing on other things it is easy to lose sight of what really matters. When I am under his care, I need only call out and he will find me and gently bring me back.
In their distress they cried out to the Lord. He rescued them from their troubles. Psalm 107:6 GWT

Snowsqualls

1 Dec
Storms, Jesus, safety, reliance

image from globalnews.ca

I had heard of squalls before but generally thought of them as sudden winds coming up on the water. They were something boaters had to be wary of.
Our weather report called for a snowsquall. Since this was something I was unfamiliar with, I decided to do a little research.

According to Wikipedia, “A snowsquall is a sudden moderately heavy snow fall with blowing snow and strong gusty surface winds. It is often referred to as a whiteout and is similar to a blizzard but is localized in time in space and snow accumulations may or may not be significant.”

Essentially, what this told me is that we will be hit with sudden winds and blowing snow producing conditions that make it difficult, if not impossible to see what’s in front of us. As if that wasn’t bad enough, we have no idea if it will leave significant accumulations to clean up after.

When I examine this, I can see parallels to my life. There have been times I’ve had the emotional equivalent of a snowsquall. Suddenly I’ve been hit with unexpected gusts that make it difficult to focus on taking the next step forward. I have no idea what the fallout may be. Will I have a huge mess to clean up or will the storm temporarily throw me off-balance but leave me unscathed?

I have learned that the way I handle these squalls has a direct result in how well I come through them. Left to my own devices, I tend to panic. It’s easy to get turned around, confused and end up creating bigger fallout for myself.

When I walk with Jesus, the results are much different. He doesn’t keep me from the storms. Some of them are necessary for my personal growth. By calling out to him, I know that he will calm me and guide me safely through. I will come out not only intact but stronger due to what I’ve gone through. I don’t need to see the outcome, just Jesus by my side to have the reassurance that everything will be alright,

Your strength will come by settling down in complete dependence on me – the very thing you’ve been unwilling to do.” Isaiah 30:15B The Message

Harmony

27 Nov
inspiration, God, create

photo from medleague.com

We enjoy music and every year attend a large gospel music celebration. The lyrics of the songs are wonderful and encouraging and lift the spirit. The music is a blend of harmonies. It is this blending of voices that creates the depth of sound. One voice may sound good, but when a few harmonize it sounds so much better. If everyone sang the same note, the sound would not be nearly as rich.

This is the way of life as well. I don’t have to be exactly the same as the person next to me. When I work together with others, our ideas and strengths are blended and a beautiful harmony is created. I am unique just as you are. God gave us each our own notes to sing. By blending my notes with the ones next to me, what is produced is something far more beautiful than anything I could create on my own.

Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy. Psalm 33:3 NIV

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Romans 12:16 NIV

Contest Winner

25 Nov
book title,

Photo by Sarah Grace Photography

Thank you to those who voted on the title for my new book. The publisher is very happy with the title, Dragonflies, Snowdrifts and Spice Cake: Finding Inspiration in Everyday Things. Kimberly Sperling was the winner of the draw and will receive her autographed copy when the book is released in the spring.

Roof Repairs

24 Nov
Jesus, prepare, inspiration

photo from brigley.com

We were scheduled to have repairs done on the roof of our house. This was the result of a damaging hail storm in our area so the roofing crews were all extremely busy. We had no idea when they would arrive to do the work.

We came home one day to find stacks of shingles.  A few days later there were men on the roof working. Another day a crew showed up to start replacing gutters and downspouts. We had no idea from day to day if anyone would be there or what area they would be working on.

One morning I heard a loud noise as I stepped out of the shower and realized the roofing crew had returned. I knew that the skylight in our en suite was an area still needing repairs so quickly moved into another room.

If I had known when workmen were going to arrive it would have been easier to plan my schedule accordingly.

This made me think of the parable Jesus told of the thief in the night. The meaning behind this was that we don’t know when our final day on earth will be. We need to prepare in advance so we will be ready when Jesus comes for us. I have done this by asking him to forgive my sins and take control of my life. Now I don’t need to be concerned about when he will arrive as I know I am prepared to spend eternity with him.

Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. Matthew 24:42-44 (NIV)

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