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Secret Ingredient

The floating “I Love You” heart for our family tradition of 14 days of intentional acts of love has been tucked back in the drawer for another year. We don’t generally celebrate Valentine’s Day with roses, chocolates, wine and an elaborate night out, but we do enjoy being more intentional in the little ways we show our love to each other. Some days the paper heart shows up several times. Other days, it may only get passed once. Some expressions are easy to capture a photo others are not. These designated two weeks are a good reminder to not take love for granted, and to be mindful of ways we can show love every single day. If you want to know more about this tradition, you can read about it here.

The secret ingredient for any lasting relationship is love!

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Love others as Jesus has loved you!

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NLT

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No Man Can Tame the Tongue

A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Proverb 15:1

Oh to master this truth at a young age!

When I substitute teach, my 20 minute drive allows me time to pray for the students I’ll be spending the day with. I also pray that I will have patience and gentle responses. There are times when a student enters the classroom angry, and my response has a lot to do in setting the tone for the rest of the class.

In the New Testament book of James, we are told “no man can tame the tongue.” If that’s the case, why bother trying?!

Let’s take a closer look. James 3:7-10

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. (NIV)
We should strive daily to control/tame our tongue because human beings/mankind/people have been made in God’s likeness. As Christ Followers, we should reflect God’s character to all. However, too often we fail.
Often on my way home from school, I reflect on my day…Did I remember to speak gently, patiently, calmly? Did my students see Jesus in me? How can I respond differently next time?
Are you trying to tame your tongue? What steps are you taking?
May the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14

Today

Today was a day of devotion, reflection, education, and introspection.

Doesn’t that sound impressive?! If you want to know the details, continue reading.

My days are generally quite scheduled, but today was a rare exception with not one thing penciled on the calendar. I hardly know what to do on such days! I could have cleaned the house, done some laundry, or baked, but I decided to focus on reconnecting with myself, my husband, and friends.

My husband and I like to begin our day with a short Bible reading together. We have just begun a devotional book that focuses on marriage, and each day has discussion questions. Today’s questions had us think back to our dating years, and reflect on how God brought us together. Thirty-eight years ago was fun to revisit!

I was in Arkansas the 4 weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was a pleasure  helping my daughter with childcare (AKA playing with grandsons all day). Oh what fun that was!! However, since then I’ve felt a disconnect with the ladies from church. It just so happens there is a ladies Bible study on Thursday mornings. This was a perfect opportunity to reconnect plus study God’s Word together. Following the study, I had lunch with a close friend at our favorite local coffee shop. Such sweet fellowship was shared!

When I arrived home, the sunshine beckoned me to come out and play. My road is much to muddy for a brisk walk, so to the lake I went.

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The peaceful environment and lack of interruptions and distractions allowed my thoughts to bounce from one topic to another. This hour of walking and contemplating was quite energizing.

My day may sound boring, lazy, or mundane to you, but it was rejuvenating to me. It all boils down to perspective. That is why I saw my day filled with devotion, reflection, education, and introspection.

Teach us to number our days,
    that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12 NIV

 

Hint of Light

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At first glance what do you see?

A bare, dark, all alone, ugly tree?

Look again, do you see that hint of light on the horizon? It is just enough light to make the tree pop, giving definition to each gnarly naked branch.

What’s going on in your life right now? Is it filled with joy and excitement for Christmas, or are you under a cloud of dread and gloom? Maybe you are in the midst of a trial that is weighing you down in darkness. Do you feel all alone? I’m told these are very common for many people around the holidays.

Do you think you can let a little bit of light in?

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

Jesus wants to shine light on and through you. Call out to Him! He will light your path and lead you through this time of darkness.

 

Hypocrite

According to Mark 7, in response to criticism from some Pharisees, Jesus replies:

“Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:
‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.’ You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.” Mark 7:6-8

As Christmas approaches, ask yourself, “Am I holding man-made traditions higher than celebrating fulfilled prophesy, the birth of Jesus? Am I truly honoring Jesus through this advent season, OR is my heart and attitude actually far from God overwhelmed with crazy busyness/stress due to traditions?”

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Remember, it’s not  christMAS; it’s CHRISTmas.

Father God, forgive us. We are just like the Pharisees. We tend to proclaim Christmas as a celebration of your birth, yet we push you to the background focusing on our man-made traditions and fanfare. May we have softened hearts to honor you throughout this advent celebration. To God Be the Glory! Amen