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

It’s All Because Of Jesus!

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!!
God Bless You!

I love You Jesus.
In Your Name Pray,
Amen

Love,
Joyce

It’s All Because of Jesus!

Kindness to the Kids

We took some bears to the kids at the Health Department.  They were happy to see us!

We popped popcorn for the kids at Shadowlawn school.  A good time was had by all!

Santa  aka Pastor Louis even showed up to spread some Christmas cheer!

We partnered with Operation Angel Love to give stuffed toys and matchbox cars to kids in need.

Thank you to all who participated in these Kindness Projects!

It’s All Because of Jesus!

My Throwaway Tree

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10

I wrote this story three years ago, but it’s still one of my favorites, and I wanted to share it with you today:

One day last week I realized it was getting close to Christmas and we still did not have a tree. I thought Bobby could run get one after dinner, but he ended up not feeling well, skipped dinner and opted for bed. I decided I could go get a tree and off Chase and I went. We didn’t want to spend much money, so we headed to Publix first, but there were no trees there. We decided to give Home Depot a try. As we pulled in, we saw that the tree lot was dark and empty.

Chase and I looked at each other and we were both disappointed. I suggested we get out and look around to see it there were any trees elsewhere. As we walked around the corner of the lot, there was a fellow in the back digging through a pile of discarded trees, looking for greenery.

He saw our disappointment and explained that all the trees were gone, except this pile of trash trees that were going to be thrown away. He reached down and pulled out a tree and asked us if we wanted it. Chase really wanted a tree and it was getting late and I was tired and I didn’t really feel like looking elsewhere, so I said, “Sure. We’ll take it home, stick it in some water and see what happens, If it still looks ratty tomorrow, we’ll go get another one.”

So home we went with our little throwaway tree. But it really wasn’t that little. It filled the entire back of my truck, making it at least 6 feet tall. When we got home, we woke Bobby up and asked him to help us with our tree. The poor guy wasn’t feeling well at all, but he saw our excitement and so he got up and trimmed off the bottom of the tree and put it into the tree stand. Then we filled the stand with sugar water and said, “Well, let’s see what happens.”

It was pretty ratty tatty … it had been lying in that discarded pile a while, I think. But we were hoping a little TLC might bring it back to life.

And you know what? It did! Yep, we got up the next day and went downstairs and that tree was green again and the branches had started to fall down into place and it really wasn’t bad looking at all. Just one little bare spot near the top.

And Bobby got home and he trimmed up the branches and carried it upstairs and put lights on it and the boys filled the branches with decorations. And we have a nice Christmas tree!

Did you ever feel like that tree? A throwaway person? Discarded by life? Discarded by others? I had reached a point in my life at one time where I didn’t really care if I lived or died. In fact, I had planned on actually killing myself, the life I lived just didn’t hold any attraction for me. Drugs and alcohol and guilt and shame were a vicious cycle, and I was tired of the treadmill and ready to call it quits.

But God had other plans for me. He picked me up out of that pile, watered me with His Word, and trimmed off all my dead limbs. And then let His light shine through all the brokenness.

When I look at our little Christmas tree today, there is no sign of that battered, discarded throwaway tree. I see a tree decorated with love. And when I look at my life, I don’t see a throwaway person, but rather a child of the King, fueled by His love!

Father, I know there are so many hurting people, feeling lost and discarded by the trials of life. Lord Jesus, I ask you to wrap them up in your love and bring peace to them in the midst of their challenges and Lord, let them know that You love them and that You hold the key to life, for them. And Father, thank you for not allowing me to stay in that place of abandonment and pain, but rather to be filled to the overflow, with your love and your peace.

I Love You Jesus.
In Your Name I Pray,
Amen

God Bless You!

Love,
Joyce

It’s All Because of Jesus!

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