The Potter

Recently, while my family was on vacation, we visited a pottery shop & took a tour of the makings of how beautiful, detailed pottery is created.  We were able to watch a live demonstration, of how a potter places a lump of clay on the spinning wheel & creates a vase from what started as an abstract mass of clay.  If you have ever watched a master craftsman perform a very skilled task, you know their skill can make the craft look so very easy. 

So after watching this graceful & seemingly effortless demonstration for a bit, the potter asked if anyone in the audience would like to try their hand at making pottery.  My son had been watching closely & jumped right up & said he’d like to give it a try.  So he stepped up onto the platform where the potter had been sitting & they gave him his own clay & a few basic instructions.

Probably less than a minute after he began the adventure it was clear his confidence was dwindling.   He realized quickly that forming a lump of clay into a sculpture was not as easy as the skilled potter had made it look.  The master potter stepped in & gently held my son’s hands, showing him where to apply pressure, where to ease off & how to move his hands in order to form the clay into a vase.

In the Old Testament, God gave this literal picture to Jeremiah as well.  He told Jeremiah to get up & go to the potter’s house & see what the potter was making.  When Jeremiah got there, the potter had just finished an attempt at a pot that turned out badly, but the potter simply crushed the clay, started over & made a beautiful sculpture. 


“Whenever the pot the potter was working on turned out badly, as sometimes happens when you are working with clay, the potter simply started over, using the same clay to make another pot.”    {Jeremiah18 MSG}


God very clearly told Jeremiah, that He was the potter & His people are the clay.  As soon as we will allow Him to take hold of our life, our lump of clay, He will mold us into something beautiful.  It will take crushing, it will take time & it will take the hands of the Master Sculptor to be able to make us, in all our humanness, reflect the work of the One who makes us righteous.

The problem is, we are the amateur sculptor, who with too much confidence in our own ability, jumps in & says we can make it beautiful on our own.  We try hard & we may even realize we’ve messed up & make a decision to start over.  But until we release the clay into the hands of the Master, we will continue in our turmoil.  Our sin, our selfishness, our own desires, spurred by our adversary, keeps us thinking that we can mold our own lives into something beautiful.  But God wants us to stop worshiping a lie & let Him be the truth that guides us.  The truth is, if we will repent from our own ways & allow Him to be control & He will start over with us, making us into a beautiful thing.

The big question is how we stop controlling & start allowing Him to make us into a reflection of His love.  Here are some things we can do to let God be the Master of our lives:

Release control ~ Once we can release control to the Master, He will make things beautiful.  Don’t confuse what He calls beautiful with something that is perfect, easy or comfortable.  That’s not what He promises.  He promises to always give us His strength in place of our own weakness when we allow Him to.  God can’t make us into a masterpiece when we are busy doing it ourselves.  {Psalm 27:14, 2 Corinthians 12:9}

Return to Him ~ Sometimes we get off track in our way of life.  Do you know the story of the prodigal son who felt that he could handle his life better on his own than under his father’s care?  He made the choice to leave the safety of the father’s house & live on his own, only to find himself as a complete failure.  But when the son returned home, the father ran to him & swept him up, receiving him whole-heartedly back with love & mercy.  This is a picture of God & His children & it will be no different for us.  When we return to Him & just repent, He will sweep us into His arms & give us an unimaginable love that will make us into a perfect reflection of who He is & who we are in Him.  {Luke 15:11-20}

Walk in His finished work ~ When we accept Christ as our Savior, we are given complete access to a river of grace that can never dry up.  However, though we have full access, we must go to the river of grace & let it wash over us, we must drink it to quench our thirst, we must wash in it for our healing.  We are not robots; we are humans with full free will to choose.  We can be free & yet not walk in the freedom we possess in Christ.   We must choose to walk in the finished work of the cross.  When we trust God’s accomplishments instead of our own we will find fullness in life.  {Philippians 2:12-13, Romans 8:1-7}


What areas of your life do you need to let the Master do His work?  How have you been trying to control your own life?  Can you release control today & let the Father create a beautiful masterpiece out of your life?


Love,
Cara

 
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Praying Scripture

No matter how long we have walked with Christ, prayer is one thing that will continue to be a necessary part of our walk.  However, prayer does not need to be a dread as though it is just a task to check off the list.  In fact, with time & practice, prayer can become second nature to breathing.  

I believe with all my heart that every situation in our life that does not reflect God’s love & truth is tied to a sinful stronghold.  Whether it is mental, physical or emotional, a worldly stronghold is anything “that sets itself up against the knowledge of God”. {2 Corinthians 10:3-6}  According to the dictionary definition, a stronghold is a “well fortified place”.   This sounds much like the things in the world that keep us in bondage & keep us from living an abundant life.  

Over 15 years ago, I came to a serious realization that my marriage was in the bottom of a dark pit.  I remember clearly the day I cried out to God & told Him if He didn't do something, it would all be over.  I tell you in all seriousness, that without praying scripture over my situation I don’t know how things would’ve turned out. 

What God did was change my perspective.

Unfortunately, in the beginning, my prayers were somewhat wasted with my own agenda & desires for what I wanted for my marriage & what I wanted my husband to be.  

After realizing this method was wearing me out & allowing my circumstances to get the best of me, I knew I needed a different battle plan.

I began praying scripture over the circumstances that had brought my marriage down.   The shift in my mindset was nothing short of miraculous.  I began to realize through praying God’s word over my husband, my thoughts about my marriage & my spouse aligned with what God wanted, instead of my flawed human desires.  Over time, God’s desires for my marriage became my full focus.  It was an amazing turnaround that used the power of God’s Word to rescue my marriage & restore us to a place of living in love & grace daily.  

I have found a passion for praying scripture over every relationship & area of my life because it pulls me out of my own tunnel vision & takes me to the One Who’s ways are higher than mine. {Isaiah 55:8-9}  I have also come to realize, in opposite contradiction to the spiritual warfare of strongholds, that according to Psalm 18:2, God can be a stronghold as well.  This means that I am not bound to my own failures or this fallen world but I am bound to the stronghold of God Almighty & He is my “well fortified place”.

Too often, we pray with our own agenda...

...we don’t see changes in life or relationships that we want, so we just give up.  We stop praying because our natural eyes don’t see God at work, but when we pray His scripture, our spiritual eyes are opened & we begin to realize that God is not slack concerning His promises. {2 Peter 3:9}

Praying scripture is simply taking the words of a verse or a passage & applying them to whatever situation you are facing.  Here are some examples:


If I need to make a decision, I might take Isaiah 30:21 to the Lord.  “Whether you turn to the right or left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it’.  I would quote that verse to the Lord & ask Him to help me to hear His voice specifically guiding me in the way He wants me to go.  

If I have a relational conflict that needs divine guidance, I might pray Ephesians 4:29-32.   I would say, ‘Father keep me from unwholesome talk & let my words be life giving.  Cleanse my heart of any bitterness & anger & let kindness & compassion fill its place.’

If I am in a situation where my mind {or someone else’s mind} needs to change, I would ask God to help me set my mind on things above & remove my thoughts from earthly things.  I would also ask Him to transform my mind & renew my thoughts.  {Romans 12:2, Colossians 3:2-3}


Of course these are only a few examples {I have made a list for you of a few other scriptures & topics below}, but you can see how our own pre-conceived thoughts or emotion about a situation can change to line up with what our Father wants for our lives.

Here are some ideas about how to begin to pray scripture in your own life:

Ask Your Father For Help ~ The only way praying scripture works is if we enter in to it with a heart that is willing to hear from God & receive what He wants for our lives.  He has greater plans for us than we could ever dream up, but a hardened, selfish heart isn’t open to what He wants.  We must set aside our own thoughts & intentions for situations & be willing to look at them through the Father’s great plan.  {Ephesians 3:20, Ezekiel 36:26}

Write It Down ~ I keep a stack of Bible verses that move my heart when I read them.  This can be a good place to start when we need to find a scripture to pray. We are in a battle against an enemy that wants to destroy every part of us including our relationships, identity, faith & our heart.  Having a stack of scripture cards is like keeping the ‘shield of faith’ readily at our side to extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one. {Ephesians 6:10-18}

Don’t Stop Short ~ It is so easy to have good intentions about prayer without full follow through.  Because there is a holy mystery about exactly how God uses this specific channel of communication with His children to bring Heaven to earth, we too often stop short of giving our full passion to prayer.  The fact that God ordained this way of inviting His holy power into our circumstances should be enough for us to keep at it, but too often we stop just short of His breakthrough.  Praying scripture truly helps keep us engaged by focusing on God’s will over our own desires, because it will bring a movement of God that we might otherwise miss. {Matthew 6:5-13}


What area do you need to apply scripture to in order to shift your perspective from earthly to heavenly?  Where is your Father calling you to give up earthly strongholds & let Him be the stronghold of your life?


Here are a few more topical scriptures you might want to consider:

Related Topics:  How to Pray, 7 Scriptures to Pray for Your College Student, 7 Scriptures to Pray for Your Teen


Love, Cara

How to Pray

Prayer is something I love but this wasn't always the case.  I used to be extremely intimidated by prayer.  When I was a little girl, I thought prayers had to be long & very formal with big words that needed Webster to define them.  I believed that somehow when I was grown my prayers would naturally morph into a liturgical ballad.  As I got older, my angst for praying grew as I felt like everyone around me could pray amazing prayers, hear clearly from the Lord & speak words that made angels stop in amazement.

My desire to have a good line of communication with God, however, spurred me on to keep at it.  After reading countless books on prayer, I began to gain understanding that prayer is an intimate & crucial part of our relationship with our Father who loves us.  Practically, I forced myself to pray in group settings, to spend time praying daily & keep a prayer journal.   I also learned to love praying scripture, which has been the key for me to unlock consistent & perpetual prayer with God. 

I have 2 kids & I love it when they talk to me.  They have completely different styles of communication.  One is bold & says everything that comes to mind, the other is more analytical about words & gives me pieces of thoughts over time.

Either way, I don’t care.  If my kids want to talk to me, I am willing to listen.  I don’t care if it’s about deep details of their day or silly antics of time spent with friends.  I just want them to tell me about it. 

God is the same way.  He understands we all have different ways of communicating with Him because He created us all differently.  He doesn’t care how you communicate; He just desires that you do it regularly. 


We need a prayer life that is persistent enough to keep discouragement from derailing us  


He wants us to keep praying, keep talking, and keep communicating.  His desire is for us to tell Him the good, the bad & the ugly.  We need the kind of prayer life that believes that God wants more for us than we could ever imagine.  {Ephesians 3:20-21}

We must stop over-spiritualizing prayer by making it all about religion & begin to measure ourselves through the eyes of God to make it all about relationship.  He sees us as His righteous child.  He wants to hear from us & He doesn’t compare us, or our prayers, to anyone else. 

Here are some things I’ve learned about communication with the Father:

A willing heart is all it takes ~ Take a tip from Nike & Just Do It!  Start with a few words, start with the Lord’s Prayer, start by writing out things you can thank God for, but just start.  You would never dream of having any relationship with a human being that you didn’t talk to.  God is your Father & your Friend & if you do not talk to Him, your relationship can’t grow.  Ask Him to show you how to make prayer a more comfortable action in your life.  {2 Corinthians 8:10-12, Colossians 4:2}

Let God’s words be your words ~ Jesus Himself gave His disciples words to pray.  If Jesus pointed people to pray scripture, we need to take special heed to how important God’s own words are to Him.  It’s not because God is boastful & thinks His words are the only words, but it’s because He wants to know you value His principles & hide them in your heart.  Praying Psalms is also another great place to start because they are so real.  There is so much praise & so much real life wrapped up in the book of Psalms.  {Luke 11:1-4, Psalm 119:105}

Be relentless in your prayers ~ Your enemy is scheming constantly to do harm to you.  If you stop praying you will essentially be giving your victory over to the devil.  In Ephesians, not only does Paul tell us to put on the Armor of God to stand firm in our faith but he tells us that we need to pray persistently at all times.   Being a person of prayer lays claim to the victory God wants for you.  {Luke 11:9-10, Ephesians 6:18}

What is your next step in prayer?  Do you need to make it a daily habit, pray out loud in groups or be bold enough to pray for a neighbor or co-worker?  Ask the Lord to help you to deepen your communication with Him. 


Love, Cara

 

 
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Oh for the Love {Easter Week - Day 5}

Please Read: John 21:25

Twenty-One chapters culminate in the gospel of John to tell us that all the amazing things we know about Jesus isn’t even the half of it! 

And John would know.  In the span of 3 years, from his first sighting of Christ, he went from being known as the son of thunder {Mark 3:17} to being known as the disciple whom Jesus loved {John 21:20}. John was at the wedding {John 2:1-11} when Jesus performed His first miracle & John was there until the very end of the cross, when Jesus gave His own mother into John’s care {John 19:25-27}.  John saw people baptized, demons cast out & the feeding thousands out of only enough for a few.  And if seeing were not enough, John was filled with the power of Jesus to be a part of it.  The things he saw Jesus do, not only in the lives of others, but also in his own life, changed his path forever.

John’s inclusion of John 3:16 shows us how much he values this dissertation by Jesus to tell the world that believing the Son of God, the Savior of the world, is the only way to eternal life. 

I love to read the gospels & the book of John is no different.  The miracles, the kindness, the grace, they all stir up the fire in my soul {Hebrews 10:24} that loves everything about this man, Jesus.  But one of my favorite verses comes at the very end of the book that bears John’s name:

And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. {John 21:25}

Oh my goodness, I want to scream & shout hallelujah!

Why does this one little verse excite me so? Because it reaches down deep into my heart, to the places no one can see, where Jesus has done things that no one knows.  How He turned my uncompassionate heart to one of caring, how He took my selfishness & molded it into a place where I try to selflessly imitate Him.  How he pulled me out of darkness.  How He taught me to be a wife & a mother.  How He taught me to look at others through a lens of love. 

Oh I am so far from perfected in these areas, but I see Jesus changing me.  I have gone from being an orphan to calling myself the “daughter whom Jesus loves”. 


Think about it today…. Where has Jesus worked in your life that could never have been changed if it weren’t for the cross?  Ask Him to help you see yourself as the “child that He loves”.


Open Your Eyes {Easter Week - Day 4}

Please Read: Luke 24:13-35

“Mom where is my _________”? You can fill in the blank.  Shoes, keys, uniform, etc. This is a question that arises often in our house.  I yell back the answer of exactly where the missing item is at & then in a few minutes I hear, “it’s not there, I looked”.  Does this scene sound familiar to anyone else?  As soon as I go to the exact place where I said the item would be found, there it is, as plain as day & I say once again to the perplexed child, “you just have to open your eyes”.

Just days after the resurrection there were 2 disciples were walking along the road & Jesus met them & walked with them.  But they didn’t realize it was Jesus! They were discussing all the events of His crucifixion, His seeming resurrection & how they had hoped He would’ve truly been the Savior they were waiting for. 

As Jesus talked to them He recalled for them all of the scriptures regarding the Savior of the world.  These men were intrigued by the knowledge of this stranger.  As they got close to their home, they invited the traveler {Jesus} to come with them for dinner & a place to rest for the night.  When dinner was served Jesus blessed the food & then their eyes were opened.  They realized Jesus had been with them all day. 

They had no idea it was Jesus all along

When we are walking on a road of life, downcast or perplexed, Jesus comes.  He wants to be involved in each moment of our lives.  He has carefully mapped every part of our journey & though things in our lives may seem to be unraveling, He is in the middle of our warped & blinded view. 

If we can just be aware of Him walking beside us & let our hearts be open enough to let Him work, He will reveal Himself to us & our eyes will be opened.  We will see that He is guiding us step-by-step, protecting & equipping.  

Though the eyes of these men were opened by the event of the breaking of bread, the things leading up to their dinner played a part.  Walking with Jesus even in the midst of what was hard & the reciting of all scriptures had to say about Him, had taken root in their hearts before He revealed Himself to them.

In life when we are walking through situations, seemingly without being able to see how it will all work out, we too need to be faithful to walk with Jesus, trusting & letting the word of God take root.  In this we are preparing our hearts for the revealing of Jesus in our situation. 


Think about it today…. Is there a place in your life where you just can’t see how Jesus will show up?  Walk faithfully.  Preparing the soil of your heart with the fullness of scriptures.  Jesus will reveal Himself to you & open your eyes to see Him.


Fear & Great Joy {Easter Week - Day 3}

Please Read: Matthew 28:1-10

Have you ever heard a rumor that you thought sounded way too outlandish to be anywhere close to true?  And think of your reaction when you found out the very story you thought could never be plausible was actually concrete truth.  Maybe you felt disbelief, or fear, or excitement or all of those emotions wrapped into one. 

Now just imagine for a minute the reaction the women had the day they went to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body.  They had witnessed a heinous killing of one of their very best friends.  They had witnessed the depth of pain He had suffered at the hands of heartless killers.  They knew He was dead & had been placed in a grave.  The people responsible for His death had placed guards at His grave just to terrify his friends even more.  But these women gathered all the courage they could & went to where He was buried just to be able to have a proper funeral for Him. 

Then, they heard the news.  Jesus was not there.  He had risen! The angel told them to go tell the news to the rest of their group.  

So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word.” {Matthew 28:8} 

Has the Lord ever asked you to do something that left you feeling full of fear & great joy? 

Two emotions, so completely opposite, yet residing in the same space at one time. 

But what happens next is awesome.  The women did it…they left to tell the others.  Basically they got their “big girl pants” on & went even though they were afraid, but as they went Jesus showed up in their path.  That’s what happens when we obey & trust Him even when we are unsure of exactly how events will unfold.  Jesus shows up & He tells us exactly what He told those women that day. “Jesus met them saying ‘rejoice’ then He said to them ‘do not be afraid’”!

Jesus is so kind to come to them.  He knew they would be extremely fearful for many reasons but because they trusted Him for the unfailing, unfaltering love they had witnessed, Love came to them to calm their fears, so they could move forward in their assignment with great joy.   

The most precious message ever to be delivered was entrusted to humans.  The reason for this is because God wants us to allow Him to work His incomparable power in us.  Often we do not really know how to move forward, but God always knows & if we will trust Him, He will come to us to calm our fears & give us great joy. {2 Corinthians 4:7-15}


Think about it today…. Is there an area of your life where you need Jesus’ power to replace your fear with great joy?  Fall at His feet today & submit your weakness to Him & watch Him give you His resurrection power in its place.


Love's Redemption {Easter Week - Day 2}

Please read: John 21:15-19

One morning my boys were going hunting.  Since they were getting up extremely early to leave in time to be out before sunrise, I decided to get up before they did & make them breakfast.  Since it would be hours before they would have the chance to eat, I knew a nice breakfast would serve them well. 

As I was trying to be ever so quiet in the kitchen, the glass bowl I was going to use to mix the eggs hit the side of the cabinet & shattered.  I tried to quickly & carefully get up all the fragmented glass pieces & finish breakfast.  Days later, my son walked into the kitchen barefooted & stepped on a piece of glass that I had missed.  I had done unintentional harm out of trying to do good. 

Peter had declared his love for Jesus {John 13:37-38} & had clearly stated that he would never deny Christ.  But when tested, he did what he said he would never do.  I feel confident that Peter never meant to cause harm to Jesus but it happened.  Quickly without any time for thought of consequence, Peter denied Christ 3 times. 

From the very moment the last words of denial left his mouth, Peter must’ve been plagued by guilt & surely the enemy came & tormented him to believe that he was no better than the traitor, Judas, who had sold Jesus for just 30 pieces of silver.  Peter had to find some way to comfort himself, so he went back to his old life. 

What was he doing before he met Jesus? 

Fishing.  {Matthew 4:18-19}  Peter knew fully how to fish & he knew fully how to comfort himself with what he knew.  It’s just like an alcoholic going back to drink.  It’s about escaping & hiding from God in the face of our sin.

But in typical fashion of restoring broken hearts, Jesus does not let Peter hide.  Instead He finds Peter & calls forth his destiny to be the rock that the church will be built upon.  Before Peter even re-declares his love & commitment for Jesus, His love is bringing redemption to a deep, self-inflicted wound.  The fact that Jesus asked Peter 3 times to declare his love for Him, isn’t condemnation, but instead redeeming love.  Each denial, restored in the goodness of Christ. 

In those moments, the promise of God to Peter was to be the strength that would carry him, to be his sight & his satisfying sustanence.   Jesus repaired what was broken.


Think about it today….Can you give God every place in your heart that needs to be redeemed?  Give Him your broken.  Let the power of Jesus’ loving redemption sink deep & let Him be your sustaining power.


It is Finished {Easter Week - Day 1}

Please read: John 19:28-37

When my son was 2 years old, we were at a rehearsal dinner for a wedding in which my little man was to be the ring bearer.  Of course he was the cutest thing in the room.  He had been doted upon & treated as royalty by all the friends & family gathered there.  The night was almost over when my little man was standing at the edge of the carpeted doorway, which led to a long marble hallway.  He looked at me with a very mischievous 2-year-old look.  I said, "don’t go down that hallway, stay on this carpet".  He gave that beautiful, glistening hallway one more glance & then he stepped one foot onto the marble while keeping one foot on the carpet & just stood & smiled at me with a sweet little grin. He obeyed his own way, not breaking the rules but not abiding by them either.

My son is a rule bender by nature {I have no idea where he gets this}.  My son & myself are not the only ones who do this.  We are naturally a people who try to look good even in the face of sin.  We think that if we only slightly bend the rules while pointing out how the faults of others are worse than ours, we will still look righteous.

The people of Jesus’ day were no different.  They had become so legalistic about their religion that they could commit sin & condemn others in the very same breath.  The religious rules of the leaders were burdensome.  We can’t even begin to imagine how very deep the liturgical roots ran into their souls, though even today man-made rules about salvation enslave many to believe it is based on performance rather than grace.

When Jesus died on the cross, the leaders of the time were adamant that His body be taken down before sunset.   The leaders needed Jesus down off of the cross before the upcoming Passover so they could keep the law that criminals were not allowed to hang on a cross overnight.  {Deuteronomy 21:22-23}  It is ironic that the same people who deliberately sent Him to the cross, would want to abide by such strict rules all in the same day.

The problem with them keeping this law in order to be able to perform Passover rituals is that Jesus had already died & before He died, He declared, “It is finished”. 

Jesus did what the law never could

Jesus’ death on the cross-unraveled the binding laws.  His deliverance liberated our bondage.  Though the resurrection is where our power resides, Jesus’ dying on the cross finished the work God had sent Him to do ~ which in turn means our working for God’s acceptance ended that day.  Because of His resurrection we stand fully right with God.  Jesus took our wrongs upon Himself so that we could be fully transformed with Him & take on His righteousness. 

The world tries to make us believe the crucifixion is about rules we must obey to be accepted when in reality the crucifixion & the resurrection are about love & grace.


Think about it today….God looks upon you as a sweet child who He loves with all the fullness of His love for Christ, let that sink in today.  As you walk & live through whatever your realities are, know that the reality of the cross means that you are fully free & forgiven.  It means that God loves & accepts you.  You do not have to strive for His love.


Who Stole Baby Jesus?

And they came with haste & found Mary & Joseph & the Babe lying in a manger.  Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child.  Luke 2:16-17

The happiest season of all & the busiest time of the year collide every December.  I’m not sure how the two are actually related because usually when I am busy, I am far from happy & when I am happy, well I’m generally lying on a beach.  So when all the festivities of Christmas began to weigh me down & I found myself complaining to my closest confidants how much I had to do, I realized baby Jesus had gone missing. 

You see, years ago my mom created a game one Christmas for the grandkids to play.  The game was called “who stole baby Jesus?”  There were 4 culprits & participants had to determine if the Grinch, Santa Clause, Charlie Brown or Frosty the Snowman were guilty.  She would take the little baby Jesus from her nativity set & hide Him somewhere in the house among the other Christmas decorations.  Everyone would set out with vigor & clues in hand to find Him.

When I realized, someone had stolen baby Jesus out of my sights during this season, I began to look around & noticed I was not the only one on the search to find Him.  You can see it on the faces of the annoyed patrons with scowling looks, maneuvering shopping baskets down aisles.  Once you get in line to pay, the heavy sighs & checking watches tells you all you need to know.  Everyone is in a hurry & has too much on their list to get done.   Not to mention full parking lots & short tempers evident from the car horns honking.   

We all fall victim to the weight of the “happiest season of all”.  But why?  Do we let some sneaky Santa steal the joy of baby Jesus or do we allow the peer pressure of it all to make us crazy.  Maybe its one too many Christmas parties we must attend or night after night of children’s school performances that wear us down.  Possibly for you, it’s more than just a long to-do list, but instead a difficult memory during this time of year.  Maybe the holidays bring a pain in the depth of your soul that Christmas lights & glitter cannot cure.

Since day-to-day activities are sometimes overwhelming & emotional reactions are volatile at best, the only way for us to find baby Jesus in the midst of Christmas chaos is to remember the penetrating truth of Christmas time comes only once a year.  If we can bring ourselves to realize this time of year brings an opportunity, like no other, to share the love of Jesus with the world we will be less apt to lose sight of Him.  Unlike any other holiday or event throughout the year, people are open to seeing Christ but believers must be His reflection. 

Here are some suggestions for keeping Jesus in sight:

Remember 'Jesus is the reason' ~ I know it’s an old cliché, but isn’t it true?  Jesus is the reason I not only exist but also thrive.  Keeping my eyes on Him, helps to keep me focused on the meaning of life.  My main purpose is to walk a life that looks like Him & points others to Christ.  When I let His light shine brighter than the lights on the tree, I can take a deep breath & know this season is temporary but eternity isn’t, so I want my attitude & joy to show the world that I am celebrating a Reason, not just a season. {1 Peter 3:15-16}

Give because I value others, not because it’s an obligation ~ This one can be hard.  In fact, I struggled with it just last week when I was packaging gifts for my daughter’s teachers.  I honestly had to stop & think twice about giving a gift to a teacher that has been less than awesome.  But the Spirit gave me a little nudge to stop thinking negatively & see this person as He sees them, because, after all, I am often less than awesome.  Remember giving, doesn’t have to be monetary.  Hold the door, smile, and ask people if they need your help.  Looks around, needs are everywhere that can be met without money.  Value people the way Jesus does & the rest of life will fall into place. {Isaiah 32:8, 2 Corinthians 9:5-8}

Party like there’s no tomorrow ~ I know this one doesn’t seem very holy, but think about it.  Living life to its fullest is what Jesus offers us when He says He came to give us life more abundantly.  Live in the moment of the party, or the production, or the lunch or the grocery line.  I have had some of my most memorable moments by simply being aware of God’s presence with me in line at the store.  Trust me, if you look for Him to move & use you in the process, life will not be boring & will be more than abundant.  {John 10:10}

This holiday season, my prayer for us all is that we will stare at the baby in the manger & realize our purpose, fulfillment & joy are wrapped up in His sacrifice for our eternal life in Heaven.  Until then, staring at the One who came to give us abundant life will keep us from looking like the Grinch.

Ask the Lord today, where you can find more joy this Holiday season.

Love, Cara



Light Trumps Darkness

His breath filled all things with a living, breathing light – a light that thrives in the depths of darkness & blazes through murky bottoms.  It cannot and will not be quenched! John 1:4-5

Not long after my family moved into the house where we currently reside, my daughter, who at the time was 10 years old, got up during the middle of the night to go to the restroom.  Because it was so dark and she was in a new environment, she mistakenly went into the hallway & entered the walk in attic door instead of the bathroom door & closed it behind her.  From what I understand of the story she later told me, she was still half asleep and didn’t realize what she had done until she started feeling around the room for a light switch or a toilet.  Once she discovered she was stuck in the dark attic, she also realized she couldn’t find the door back out, and she began to scream my name. 

Can you imagine? 

A 10-year-old little one, screaming for mom, in desperate need of help, but none came.  She told me she stood there & screamed and cried for a long time until she realized no one could hear her.  She said, “Mom, I knew the only way out was to pray.  I just asked God to help me find the door and He did!”   She came into my room, shaken, but unharmed.  The scary part of this story is that there are actually 3 doors in that walk in attic.  Two of them lead to parts of the attic that if you step on to it, you will fall through the ceiling and 1 door leads to the hallway back to where the family resides.  The very next day, I had a deadbolt installed on the attic door so that it can only be opened with a key.

The truth of this story is what trumps all.  A child in need of help.  Standing in the pitch black she called out to God for help and He came to her in the darkness. 

I have been in very dark places in my life.

Places where I thought I would never see light again.  Places where I tried to call on everything & everyone I thought could help, but then realized only the Father could rescue me in my situation.  When I look at the dark places in my life, I am amazed at how Jesus’ light penetrated & gave me enough hope to find my way out.  I remember one particularly dark time, standing in my bedroom, literally crying out to God.  I told Him if He didn’t help me I would not make it.  You know what?  He did help me.   He came to my rescue.  In the dark, I found just enough light to take the first step toward the door out of my darkness.  He also showed me there were multiple doors I could choose.  Doors that would lead to more darkness and destruction.  Because I called on Him to be my guide, He told me there were things in this world I could choose that disguise themselves as the true way out of darkness, but that I must only walk through the door He showed me in order to find life.

Ephesians 3:20-21, tells us that God is able to do exceedingly more than we could ever ask or imagine because of His power in us.  That means marriages can be saved, addictions can be broken, wayward children can be brought home, diseases that threaten death - can be cured. 

Jesus is able to pierce darkness with His glorious light. 

Call on Him today.  Ask Jesus to be your guide.  Just ask which door to walk through & He will show you the way. 

Love, Cara