Saturday, December 12, 2015

Christmas Gratitude...

                 ..               Throw Kindness Around Like

What an amazing year 2015 has been. My word for the year has been "renew" and as Christmas approaches, and New Years is right behind, I find myself reflecting on what has really mattered in 2015.

Over and over again the kindness of others, and God's grace and kindness, has been our shining light. We are renewed and changed and refreshed by those dear people who truly care for us. The kindness that touches us the most is not some huge thing, but rather small, daily kindnesses that renew our faith that "All shall be well!"

A perfect example of a random act of kindness that renewed our faith and restored our souls happened just the other day. The doorbell rang and a package arrived. It was from Hamilton, Montana. 

I looked at the label and said aloud..."Oh my, sweet Peggy Sue did this!" What a treat it was to see some special items she had picked for me as she closed down her shop. In the midst of her super busy schedule, she remembered me, she remembered "us." Her sweet card included my beloved Bert. I just cried and cried as I read it. Thanks Peggy!

That's just one of so many cards and food items and books and hugs that special folks have brought over. 
Thank you to all of you!

You have thrown kindness to confetti!
What a gift that has been to our souls!

Not only does kindness come from friends and family, Bert and I are also marinated in God's kindness to us! The best Christmas present ever?
His son Jesus! We are also so grateful to our church and the kindness they have shown us in 2015!

Finally, as the year comes to a close, Bert and I are having some "renewal time" together so I will be gone from this blog for a bit. Never fear, I'll be back soon!

May this Christmas be a time of renewal and hope for you! May you know God's love and grace, deep in your heart of hearts!

Sending you loves and hugs and the moon and back!

Merry Christmas!
God Bless!

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

"Great God Almighty, He Changed me"...

              NOTHING HAPPENS
                         until the pain of
             REMAINING the SAME
      OUTWEIGHS the pain of  CHANGE.
                                   - Arthur Burt

I listen to the same two Christian songs on the way to work every single day. Yup, the same two. Over and over again. The songs "All the People Said, AMEN!" and "Waiting on the Transformation" are rock- your-heart-out songs that get me going in the right direction. 

They speak to me, just as if God himself was speaking to me. They challenge me, just as if God was in my car saying, "This is how I want you to live, Linda." They both talk about change, one of my favorite topics and least favorite topics simultaneously.

Pure and simple, God is calling me to open my heart in new ways and be transformed. Transformed even more than I have been in these 68 years of life I've been gifted.

The lyrics to the second song say something like this...

      He may have come to you when everything was
         fine or when your world was upside down and
         He hit you right between the eye, eye,eyes. 

Truthfully, my world was upside down when I gave my heart to God. As hard as the road has been at times since then, that decision to give Him my heart when I was in 9th grade at Malibu (a Young Life camp in Canada) has never, ever been one I have regretted.

Back then I had no idea how loving God would transform my life. It has been a "shake down to the core," as the song says so perfectly.

Letting God transform my life has not been easy, but it has been worth it.

Letting God is the key phrase here. I have to want that change and ask for that change. He won't break down my door making me change.

What I know for sure is that change and transformation are possible when God is part of the equation.

My life is a testimony to that truth!

I think we all long to be transformed, perhaps transformed like a butterfly. We carry around old ways of being that don't serve us and they certainly don't serve God!

They are familiar to us so they feel safe.

Yet I believe wholeheartedly that nothing happens until the pain of remaining the same outweighs the pain of change.

I also believe that I am called to change almost every single day. God wants to transform me and help me be His new creation. But He won't do it to me, I have to want to be transformed.

* I have to want to leave the old habits behind.
* I have to be willing to see how those old habits
   weigh me down and keep me from being who He
   wants me to be.

Bert has been a counselor for more than thirty years.
While he never talks about clients or identifies them in any way, Bert does from time to time share wisdom and life lessons he learns from working with his clients.

Recently Bert said, "To make real change, you have
 to be sick and tired of being sick and tired."

Amen to that!

We can hear ourselves complain and yet we feel stuck. We finally get to the place where we are sick and tired of making choices we shouldn't be making.

We are all really good at our bad habits, at least I sure am.

As Christmas comes and the new year approaches, I want to open up and let God transform me from the inside out. I want to be able to say with certainty, just as the song says...

        "Great God Almighty, He changed me...
         Great God Almighty He done change me."

I will take a leap of faith and trust and listen to His nudgings about where and how he wants to transform me! I am praying for His guidance as I embark on this journey of being transformed!

God Bless and may God hold all of us in the palm of His almighty hand!




Saturday, December 05, 2015

Do you hear what I hear?

                                 Light the Advent Candle of Hope!

           With Jesus whatever looks hopeless to you,
            your stump is never a stump! A shoot of
            HOPE can spring from impossible places.
                                                            - Ann Voskamp

There has always been something about Advent and
Christmas that tugs at my heart. That waiting in anticipation
for the birth of Jesus. That sense of expectation of looking for God's miracles then and now. That looking forward to the
birth of a Savior, my Savior.

And boy oh boy, do we all need a Savior!

At church last Sunday the children came upstairs from Sunday School to light the first candle of Advent, the candle of HOPE.
Oh how their sweet, small voices echoed through the church, resonating in each of our hearts. They told us, in no uncertain terms, that Jesus brings hope and that His birth changes everything for everyone.

Can I get an AMEN to that!

HOPE has been on my mind and in my heart all week long.
The teacher in me was reminded that HOPE is both a noun and a verb. Hope is something very tangible in my spirit and it is also an action that takes place. I hope, for me, means that I am full of belief and expectation. I am choosing HOPE as a way to know God's grace and love. When I am filled with love and hope, I am right where God wants me to be. At least, that is what God has put on my heart this last week.

So in my prayer time I have used the word HOPE while talking to my Heavenly Father. I have come to Him with a spirit of hope and anticipation and gratitude for the miracles He is doing in my life and yours.

Here are just a few of the hope-filled prayers I have been praying this week:

Dear God, I love you so. I am so grateful for every blessing you have brought to my life. I am so grateful for every challenge that has helped me come closer to You. Please hear my prayers of hope for those I love and care for...

* I have hope for my students at the end of the quarter. Please give them strength to finish strong.

* I have hope for health and rest and reassurance for my daughter who is pregnant. While this pregnancy has not been easy, I am filled with hope for the birth in April of Annora Grace, my granddaughter. Please keep Amy and Annora Grace safe and healthy.

* I have hope for Bert, Lord, and his full recovery after his stroke. Thank you, God, that Bert is still here. I have hope for his renewed memory and strength.

* I have hope for someone I love to be all you have meant for him to be. May he fill his life and heart with You and listen to your plan for him.

* I have hope for my family that as we celebrate the birth of your son, that we dedicate our lives to what You want us to be doing.

* I have hope for my friend Vicky Westra that you can do a miracle in her life and heal her cancer, Father. I believe with all my heart that you can make possible what seems to be impossible. Heal her Father, please heal her.

* I have hope for Sox, the dearest fur baby ever. You love that sweet puppy, Father, and you know the heart of Jackie's daughter. We believe in miracles, God. Please heal Sox.

* I have hope for Grandma Elaine, Lord. All these years she has been your servant and you have been her beloved Father.
Please be with her, God. As she goes through hospice, hold her close. Let her know your presence.

*And Lord, I have hope for my own heart in this Advent season, May I remember that even when things are impossible, hope can appear and spring forth from impossible places.
May I, like that little shepard boy, hear that ringing in the sky
and your voice as big as a sea... calling me to worship you.

May this Advent season be a time of anticipation for you.
May you know, in your deepest heart of hearts, that HOPE can spring from impossible places. With God all things are possible!

God Bless!
Love, Linda


Finding Comfort in Kindness...sharing from the heart

                                If every person made it a rule that                          wherever you are, whenever you              ...