Sunday, December 26, 2010

Gifts of Words

If we were to measure our life's worth based on words, how wealthy would you be?
Words can have great and lasting influence in our lives. So much so, that people have gone to the extent of taking their own lives because of how someone else's words influenced them.

Do you remember any important words that your parent/s shared with you? Do you consider them empowering words or suppressing words?

Some of the words that I remember most throughout my life came from people whose influence greatly mattered to me.

I was going on eight years old, when my parents were in the process of a separation leading to divorce, and my mother suffered a nervous breakdown. I can vividly remember when on a day when we would go visit my mother at the hospital where she was staying, my father said to my siblings and I that "if my mother did not get any better soon, we'd be left as orphans".

I remember in high school being told by one of my teachers that I would never become a doctor because I was stupid..... Oh wait, that's not what she said. I clearly remember now. I understood her to have said that; but in reality, she laughed when I told her that I wanted to be a pediatrician.
That's what it was!

I remember after about four years of marriage, being told by my husband that he "just didn't love me anymore".

At times we take them for granted, but some words can change our lives.
And words can change us for the better or for the worse. It all depends....
It all depends? On what exactly?
It all depends on God's purpose and plan for our lives.
Jeremiah 29:11 tells us "I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Genesis 50:20 says, "...You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives."

So what did you get for Christmas? I got the gift of words.

My younger son, you know the one with magnificent temper, wrote me a letter telling me how much he loved me and thanking me for all I do for him.
My older son, the one with the more laid back personality, gave me a card in which he expressed how grateful he is for all I do for him and how he is indebted to me.
My daughter, the one who always has a way with words, she simply did what she does best... amuse me with her words.
And lastly, today, while on a car ride, out of no where, my husband came out and told me how beautiful he thinks I am. He even called me an exemplary woman, and added that he's very fortunate to have me.

Words.... It's amazing what they can do!

What's interesting is that Jesus was referred to as the Living Word. God shared His word with us and for us.
... "in the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God"
... "and the word became flesh"

Jesus came so that God's word would be complete. And because of it, we can live. Live life to the fullest, and live eternally with Him.

So today I'm grateful for words.
I'm not a doctor, but I've learned to mend my children's little hearts.
After nearly 20 years now, my husband has realized that he does love me more than he thought he could.
And I was not left an orphan. In fact, I will never be fatherless because of these most powerful words: John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only son so that whosoever believes, shall not perish but have everlasting life."

If I were to measure my worth by these words, you can consider me very rich indeed.
And there you have it! My gifts of words this Christmas.
What else can a gal ask for?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Greatest Gift

What does the greatest gift look like?

Is it tangible?
Is it something more abstract?

Well, if we are truly honest with ourselves, we can admit that the more abstract can be of more value than the tangible.

The greatest gift is family... and friends. Wouldn't you agree?
It's an endearing thing to be surrounded by the people we love.
Like during holiday dinners. Like Thanksgiving, when we're all sitting around the table and we all share what it is we are most grateful for. My siblings are there and their spouses and kids. After a while the house seems crowded, and it can get kind of noisy. I remember last year's Thanksgiving seemed kind of quiet without my brother and his loud voice. Family is the greatest gift!

The greatest gift is the love of your children. Truly there is nothing like it. From the time they are born, you realize what it is to give of yourself with little to no expectation of what you might get in return.
But when they do give you something in return.... oh, it feels sooo good. My children's bright eyes and the way they connect with mine. Even in a crowded room. I love that feeling!

The greatest gift is that lifelong mate that promises to have and hold you until death do the two of you apart. Waking up next to that person and trusting that he/she will remain, is undeniably an awesome thing. It's an even more awesome wonder, when you find yourselves still connected somehow even after many years together. Laughter and physical touch shared with that one's a wonderful thing.

The greatest gift...
But what if one day you find yourself without these things that you so cherish? What if you found yourself stripped of all that means everything to you? What if if you lose those you most love? What then?
How do you go on without your greatest gifts?
Have you ever given it much thought?
I have.

In fact, there have been times when I have had to evaluate my life and determine what I can do without. I've told myself, "my kids, what would I do without them?" "my husband, I can't live without him." and so on...
Yet, I have come to the wild realization that I could possibly lose those that I cherish, and I could possibly be stripped of my most treasured gifts. And then still I've come to the same conclusion, time and time again.....
that is.....that I would rather lose everything... including those who are closest to my heart, than to lose my relationship with God.

Why is that?
Think about it for a second. I can live without my family and friends, my kids, my husband, my beautiful mother (as painful as that would be) ....but I can not live without my God.
And I would hate to be surrounded by my most treasured gifts and yet not be connected to God.

Okay, so I think I've narrowed it down.
The greatest gift for me is knowing God. Being a relationship with my creator. Grasping and gaining the knowledge of who God is. Knowing that He chose me. Believing that He loves me. Accepting that He saves and forgives me. Understanding that He is the purpose for my living. That He's given me the purpose for living. That without Him, I have nothing. That He made sure to show me through His own son, Jesus.... who came as a baby to earth and left this earth as a man... who died for my wrongs and shame, and who now awaits for me... for the day when I will finally meet Him face to face. What a glorious gift!!! Truly a gift like no other.

It's made clear. Everything I have comes from Him. And lastly, I can do without everything, but I cannot do without Him.
My greatest gift.
The greatest gift.

Merry Christmas!

Luke 2:6, "While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gve birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger..."
Hebrews 9:28, "so Christ was sacrified once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salavation to those who are waiting for him."
Romans 14:8, "If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord."

Sunday, December 5, 2010

In the Standstill and under the Dark Cloud

I'm at a standstill.
Ever been there?

Pulling out your back will automatically get you off your feet and leave you feeling very "still".
For me, it's not the first time it happens. I've pulled out my back more than I want to mention. I hate it. I feel so helpless, as a result.

It reminds me that I've had to "halt"many times in my life. Everything seemed to be moving along, as well as could be expected. And then out of nowhere, there is a stop. Most of the time, it comes unwanted and uninvited, but it is truly much needed. Everyday routines stopped, activities on pause, and I'm left wondering why. Not liking the standstill at all.

Dad walks out.
Loss of loved ones.
Marriage hanging by a thread.
And life feels like there's no moving forward.

Still life does move on, and I realize that I'm the one who's not moving. And as unhappy as I feel, in the back of my mind, I realize that God is in control. He must be.

It's been a tough year for me.
One of the hardest in my life. I can remember the year of my 18th birthday. For a long a time, I felt that had to be the hardest time in my life. And yet after being married, I realized the harder times were still to come.
And so for most of this year, I literally felt like I was walking under one big black cloud. And I could not get away from it, as hard as I tried and wanted to. Of course, I was to blame for the predicament. My fallen desires and selfish ambitions had lead me further and further away from God's perfect will for my life. And I hurt the ones I love most. But my predicament was being unveiled. And so what felt like a standstill road under a dark cloud was truly God's intervention, which in turn was His protection for me from the road of self-absorbed whirlwind that I was creating. Still I'd cry out to God to bring some relief, but the dark road to travel remained. And it seemed impossible to see past it. (Jeremiah 7:24, "But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts." Jeremiah 4:18, "You own conduct and actions have brought this upon you. This is your punishment. How bitter it is! How it pierces to the heart!")

Ironically though, I learned a lot under that "cloud". I learned to ungrip the tight hold I had on my life. I learned that in reality, I am not my own. And I learned that God is faithful, even while I'm under a dark cloud. (1Corinthians 6:19b, "you are now your own")

My children grew and flourished, while under my dark cloud.
Friendships developed and blossomed, while under my cloud.
Forgiveness came under that dark cloud.
God is faithful, regardless of the weather.
(Psalm 138:7a, 8, "Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life.... the Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever-- do not abandon the works of your hands.")

And finally, after much long suffering, things began to lighten up. Just like when morning sun rays kind of sneak up on us, I began to see a streak of light in my walk. And the cloud became lighter and the relief began to set in.

Today I'm at a physical standstill. However, I'm feeling thankful. Even as I'm sitting in bed all day, I'm thankful for the times of unexpected halts and stops. I'm even thankful for the dark cloud this year because although it was not pleasant, I'm a better person, as a result.