WALK

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“Wait momma! Slow down!” Growing up just off the main street businesses in our small town, we often walked a block or two when we needed to go to the store or post office. I remember well my brothers and I trotting down the sidewalk with our mother. She happily strode down the sidewalk with all of us hurrying after her.

We also enjoyed walking on the trails at a nearby state park or on family camping trips. Walking is a good way to get outside, enjoy the fresh air, and stretch our legs. It provides opportunity for time alone to enjoy the quiet or to contemplate life as well as time for companionship and conversation with friends or family.

I think of the time Jesus spent with his disciples and other followers. Living in Capernaum, he walked along the shores of the Sea of Galilee and he often walked to quiet out-of-the-way places to pray. As they traveled, can you just imagine them walking through those hills and valleys and stopping in small towns and villages along the way? *

More than just physically walking, “walk” is often used to describe “living.” Walk in his ways. Walk with integrity. Walk in darkness. Walk in the light. Walk in wisdom…

As we “walk,” we choose where we will go and who we will follow. Our walk reflects our values and our character. We choose to walk with others or to walk alone.

I think about my own life, where I have walked in the past and the path I am now following. My prayers are that I will walk faithfully, doing my best to show by that walk the great love of our Creator God. Wherever we find ourselves, may our walk be a daily reflection of Him.


* Matthew 4:12-13, 18; Luke 6:12 

As a Star

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As a star once shone
Gazing down upon the earth
Dazzling companions
Gathered ‘round

Its light beamed softly
Gently touched a tiny face
Heaven stirred and sang
Come now come

As a star once shone
Guiding light to show the way
Wise magi followed
Bringing gifts

Sparkling diamond led
The travelers expectantly
New king to worship
Jesus child

As a star once shone
It revealed a precious gift
As God’s Son brought light
Savior born

SNOWY WINTER CHRISTMAS MEMORIES

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Our recent snowy weather has stirred up childhood memories of winters past with my family. Building snowmen was a group affair full of laughter and the usual banter. There were cold noses, snowball fights, sledding, and then hot chocolate to greet us when we arrived indoors to warm up.

In December, as Christmas approached, the house brightened with colored lights, ornaments on the tree, and candles. Angels, a wreath, greenery, and bows brought cheer and the manger scene had a special place in the living room. Putting up and decorating the tree was a story in itself as we rediscovered ornaments made in Christmases past, remembered times gone by, and heard tales of long-ago family Christmases. The kitchen was a special gathering place for baking and decorating Christmas cookies and cakes and for preparing the Christmas meal. Christmas day was family time, hearing the Christmas story and the reminder of God’s greatest gift to us, the excitement of opening a few simple gifts, and perhaps watching some Christmas programs on the television or playing with a new game. Good memories.

So, as we enter another “Christmastide,” may we cherish the simple, make way for quiet enjoyment with friend or family, reach out to others, and be thankful for God’s greatest gift of all through His Son, Jesus.

*Luke 1:30-33; Luke 2:1-20

Yearning

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“I hope they get here soon. I can hardly wait to see everyone!” There’s something about time together with friends and loved ones that satisfies us deep down. We wait in anticipation for visits or celebrations, yearning to see them. We’re thankful for opportunities to be with family and friends and for the support and encouragement of others.

Time alone is important too. I value and look forward to my alone times because those moments turn me and stretch me toward our Creator. Struggles and challenges in life make me aware of my own neediness. Quiet times allow me to listen from the depths of my being.

One of my favorite pieces of music is “The Yearning” by Craig Courtney. He expresses so well our struggles and our desire for a better future, for Emmanuel… God with us. “There is a yearning in hearts weighed down by ancient grief… hearts that in the darkness hide… a yearning for tomorrow.”  We find joy in a “Lord who visited His own.”

Job longed to see God. He said, “I will see God. I myself will see him with my own eyes, I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” Job had a lot to face and yet he still looked to God!

Don’t we all want things to go well and to make it through any difficulties? We want full and meaningful lives. We yearn for God with us. May our yearning be satisfied as we approach God, thanking Him for His sacrifice and provision, and may we live in anticipation and fullness of life, guarded by His presence.

*Job 19:26b-27

Welcome

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“Welcome,” I read on the door mat as I crossed it and entered my home. This small mat was more than a place to remove water or dirt from shoes before going in. When we welcome someone, we invite them to enter and we offer hospitality.

Many stores now have greeters who stand or sit near the entrance and welcome those who are coming in. What a difference a smile and a friendly hello and welcome can make on a busy day! My church also has greeters, someone who welcomes those who enter, offers assistance, and provides any needed information.

When we find ourselves in a new place or are unsure of where to go, a welcome is much appreciated! The book of Matthew in the Bible says, “… I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” There is something about feeling welcome which eases stress and encourages us.

How aware are we of welcoming others?

We can welcome others to join a discussion in process, catch up on news, share our day, tell about something that happened. This is just as important as the “hello” we may hear as we enter a business, if not more important. As we welcome others, we are saying you are important to me. You are of value. I recognize you. It is reflecting God, who cares about them.

Jesus welcomed all people to come to him, although some of the religious leaders grumbled about that and criticized him. What an example he is to me and a reminder not to be so critical of others. Sometimes we lose sight of the person on the inside, or we forget that there is always more than we can see, know, or understand. When have we been unwelcoming toward someone because they were different from us or did not live up to our standards?

I’m so glad that God welcomed imperfect me! Just as he welcomed the little children to come to him, he welcomes us all. My prayer for us is that as we are out-and-about each day, we will be more mindful of welcoming others as well.

*Matthew 25:35, Luke 15, Matthew 19:14

It’s Broken!

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“It’s broken!” the young child exclaimed when he saw the picture of the crescent moon in the boardbook we were looking at. “Yes, it does look broken doesn’t it?” I replied.

When I have looked at my own life and at the world around me, I too have exclaimed, “It’s broken!” Seeing only a part, I have focused on the sharpness and darkness of the crescent moon and not on its light. In the midst of struggles, it can be easy to forget that there is One greater than ourselves and our situations… that there’s more to the moon than we can see!

What can we do when overwhelmed with our own brokenness and the brokenness of others?

Jesus used several illustrations about brokenness… When the crowd of people who had come out to hear his teachings grew hungry, a few loaves of barley bread and some fish were offered. Jesus took those loaves and fish and broke them, not only providing for the needs of the people but also having basketfuls left over.

When eating with his disciples in an upper room, Jesus broke the bread and told them it was like his broken body, soon to be sacrificed for them. The two men from Emmaus were able to recognize Jesus only after the bread was broken. They understood that Jesus had been broken too and they were given the good news of life. Jesus sacrificed himself for all who come to him, seeking healing… seeking forgiveness.

By giving God our brokenness, we are strengthened and able to go on. Out of pain comes light. Like the people who followed Jesus, we too come together to support, share, and encourage.

Out of brokenness, hope and life is born! How amazing is that?!

*Matthew 15:34-37, Matthew 26:26, Luke 24:35

Eyes to See You

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“Peek-a-Boo! I see you!!” Oh, the delight of a young child to play this simple, timeless game. Eyes widen in surprise, laughter, and self-discovery. Peering around objects or through fingers, we look into each other’s eyes. Mirrors are just right for that discovery and for making silly faces. Is that me?! I recognize ME. I see YOU too.

Like a child, we look into the eyes of God. “A-hah! I see you!” we say in those moments of recognition. But sometimes we struggle to recognize God and wonder if He sees us.

Shortly after Jesus’ resurrection, he walked with two men traveling on the road to Emmaus. They were prevented from recognizing Jesus as they spoke together of what had passed in Jerusalem. During the journey Jesus explained to them the true meaning of Messiah. Later, as Jesus shared a meal with them in their home, they saw him break bread and “then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.” *

The men from Emmaus recognized Jesus when their eyes were opened, but the breaking of the bread came first. Jesus revealed himself to them through this small act. Like a child I peer around the “stuff” of life, looking for God’s eyes. “Peek! Where are You?” I really want to see Jesus more clearly. I walk in conversation and discovery, like those who traveled with Jesus to Emmaus, through the passing of days and years. It is in the journey and during the times that I sit with God that He is revealed.

I like the way Paul spoke of “the eyes of your heart” in his letter to the church in Ephesus. He said, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you…” * Although our physical eyes may be dim, our heart can reach beyond their limits. May you find joy in that discovery. God delights in His children. I see you! I recognize you. You are of special value and joy, He says.


* Luke 24:13-16a, 31; Ephesians 1:18a