Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

Advent(ures) - {No. 6}...The Light Shines in the Darkness...

Our Advent Calendar - made by Caleb Voskamp, on Sunday morning before we added another light...the contrast of the light shining in the darkness...incredible!

Day 17: Luke 2:15-18
Day 18: Luke 2:19-20
Day 19: Micah 5:2-5
Day 20: Matthew 2:1-2
Day 21: Matthew 2:3-6
Day 22: Matthew 2:7-6
Day 23: Matthew 2:9-12
Day 24: John 1:14

May God's beautiful living Light shine into every dark crevice of our hearts this Christmas tide -
bringing the warm healing revelatory power of His Presence...

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Advent(ures) - {No. 5.5} What the Christmas Star Can Teach Us About Darkness...

On the first day of this advent-ure, we had read this:

In him was life, and that life was the light of men.  
The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
John 1:4-5 

The Christmas Star teaches us about contrasts:
 - moments of sparkling joy excavated from under blankets of black suffering
 - smiles in the midst of tears
 - the riches of kings laid at the feet of an infant
 - death and life, life and death
 - journeys and arrivals
 - mysteries and revelations
 - prophecies and promises fulfilled
 - hardships and abundance
 - light penetrating darkness
 - heaven invading earth 
 - the Creator becoming one with creation

A little later, still in the book of John, we read this:

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.
John 8:12 

And though we have the light of life, and therefore we are never in total darkness, there are times when:
For now we see through a glass, darkly
but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.  
1 Corinthians 13:12 

The Christmas Star teaches us that Light will always overwhelm the darkness,
                                                    that Light will illuminate and lead to the path of life,
                                                    that Light will reveal that which is presently not understood,
                                                    that the Light will always shine, even when a heart may remain closed to it,
                                                                 patiently, gently warming it with Its eternal fire...            
                                                     that Light came to be present with us, in all of life's darkness...

John Piper shared great wisdom today, beginning with these words: 

We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize . . . 
but one who in every respect has been tested as we are.
(Hebrews 4:15)

Read the rest of his insightful thoughts here... Desiring God

Ann Voskamp wrote about the broken hearts here - and it is so timely... Where Is God in the Dark of This Weekend? and When You'd Like a Relationship Miracle This Christmas.

Just as the Wise Men from the East had to journey a great distance over much time, following the beaconing star, and finally finding the object of their worship, so also those who face pain and brokenness this holiday season will have a long journey over time - and as they follow the Light that shines into their darkness, they will come to their own personal place of worshipping the One whose Light will ultimately engulf all this darkness...

Let us lift up our prayers and keep watch with all those who are hurting...

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, 
keeping watch over their flock by night.  
...And the angel said unto them, Fear not:
 for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
Luke 2:8-10

The Daily Reading -
Day 16: Luke 2:13-14

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Advent(ures) - {No. 5} Joy and Good Tidings...part 1

The Readings:

Day 12: Luke 1:46-56
Day 13: Luke 2:1-5
Day 14: Luke 2:6-7
Day 15: Luke 2:8-12

Does it ever happen to you, that when a thought, or whisper, starts to take root in your mind, that you see that very sentiment everywhere?  It almost becomes a filter through which all of life is viewed...

My thought threads, as I considered an Advent series, went something like this:

Joy -  
{and then I was led to the Joy of the World vintage image}

Emmanuel - God with us, God coming to us, 
God coming right to where I am - 
in the midst of the going through the going {growing?} through...

Born in a stable -
born in the midst of a busy, messy, noisy, lively stable...
{and so I can be comfortable with His Presence in my own busy, messy, noisy, lively life!}

My sweet friend Jennifer from Studio JRU offered this beautiful print for all for this season:
Joy print framed from StudioJRU
Go to her post at {in}courage here and follow the instructions to get your beautiful download...
I so love when God is speaking His message all over my wanderings...

The definitions for joy that the world offers are very shallow, and I propose do NOT even define joy, but just another facet of happiness.  Joy is presented as an emotion - fleeting, depending on outer circumstances, unstable.  But joy is not an emotion, it is a character trait...and this difference is quickly found when one wants to make the idea of joy a metaphor for the way they approach life...to find a definition of joy that can be woven into the very fabric of their being...

I wanted to define "joy" the way the Lord does.  And questions and scriptures about joy were floating around my mind - not knowing whether they were my thoughts or the Spirit's leadings, so gentle and soft they were...for instance, the following:

The joy of the Lord is my strength...Nehemiah 8:10

The chewing, the meditating on this verse, it isn't new...our strength comes from the Lord's joy, not my joy in the Lord's ways...I have known that, have heard sermons on it.  But just what is that joy?  The word translated "joy" in this verse is chedvahIt occurs only twice in the Scripture:  here in Nehemiah as the people celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles for the first time in over 70 years and in 1 Chronicles 16:27...
said David as he brought the ark of the Lord's Presence into Zion, 
to the resting place he had prepared for it...

Both places that this word occurs, a celebration of the Lord's Presence with His people...

That is where our joy comes from, from His Presence with us...God is the source of Joy - He IS joy. 

And a little "Joy Treat" from my Beyond Layers class this week....
Click here to download your own copy of these tags in high resolution

Free E-book for Advent from John Piper - Good Tidings of Great Joy

Friday, December 14, 2012

Folded Star (or Snowflake) Ornament Mini Book

I am pleased to be a part of my friend Jennifer's "Creative Christmas" series! 

I have been really drawn to old text pages lately.  There is something so charming about repurposing words and age stained paper – a touching and joining to ages past, as if the trace of a finger over the time browned sheets infuses one with a profound appreciation for simpler, quieter eras - the very atmosphere I want in my home this year to embrace the meaning of Christmas once again...

Above is a picture of what we will be making - a little book, that becomes an ornament (two different ways!), and can deliver an inspirational message in a most delightful way!  And once you make one (and see how easy it is with materials you most likely already have on hand) you will be making many - next year I will be using these to make an advent calendar with this list of Scriptures...

You can see the rest of this post over at Studio JRU today...♥♥♥

You will see my beautiful (ha!) red washcloths in the pictures - at least they provided the contrast so you could see the images! 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Advent(ures)...{No. 4}

You can download this image here...right click and choose "save as"...

We've been just a little under the weather here...so the blog has been neglected, but if you are keeping up, here are the Advent readings to date:

Day 7: Luke 1:18-25
Day 8: Luke 1:26-38
Day 9: Matthew 1:18-21
Day 10: Matthew 1:22-26
Day 11: Luke 1:39-45

Blessings to you today!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Advent(ures) - {No. 3} - Quiet Steadfastness that Prepares the Way

Daily Readings:
Day 5 - Luke 1:5-10
Day 6 - Luke 1:11-17

They were both righteous in the sight of God, 
walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord. (verse 6)

I remember one time early in my walk with the Lord, reading over this particular place in scripture, and being in awe at the profound, brief words written about this couple.   "If this was all that God would have to write about me," I thought, "it would be more than enough."  I still feel that way, and was amazed once again at the convicting power of the lives they lived when reading these words today {Have I wandered from the singular focus of pleasing Him? Have storms or disappointments; privileges or blessings - disguised from me that I might have started working out my own salvation through might instead of by His Spirit? Work in me, Lord - let me see with Your Eyes, let me walk fully in your Presence}  Their years of serving in quiet faithfulness... those years beckon - those years feel contemplative.  And somewhere deep inside, my heart feels stirred that this quiet walking is what I need more of.  More quietness in my spirit and more walking quietly in His Presence...

Photo Source (Public Domain)

And then these two quiet souls, they were thrust into the limelight of history, by a holy visitation that was witnessed by no one else, but left Zechariah literally speechless - because, in spite of the years of blameless* service, of contemplative love, his human heart still couldn't believe what was happening...and the angel gave him more silence until the words of the prophecy were fulfilled (no doubt so Zachariah could consider the dynamics of faithful service and belief - I wonder if this story is what started James to think about faith and works...).  But regardless of disbelief or faithful service, the Lord determined it was time for history to change, and that this family would be pivotal in the plan...

And he will go on before the Lord, 
in the spirit and power of Elijah...
to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (verse 17)
 *Blamelessness is different from faultlessness - to be blameless is to be the best one is capable of being, however imperfect that might be...


The final confirmation of what the quiet steadfastness that prepares the way is comes in this article the Lord brings to my inbox...profound, deep, intentional - can you imagine if this ever happened in our nation? 

But even more, what would happen if I took this deep and intentional step every day...

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Quiet White...

Our neighbor's fence last year...of course it hasn't been nearly close to this cold yet this year!
There is something so quiet and embracing evoked by a thick blanket of white snow...
as if the Creator of it all
is softly speaking a gentle "hush"
and inviting us to "be still and know Him"...

Advent(ures) -{No. 2}...a Promise & a Gift

‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the gracious promise I made...'

'This is the name by which it will be called:
The Lord Our Righteousness.'

Daily Reading:
Day 4 - Jeremiah 33:14-16

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Then, right click on the image and select "Save Image As"...