Monday, December 22, 2014

Preparations



It has been a month of serving, and of preparation. Of multiple visits each week to help and encourage my 93 year-old father, and of shopping and cleaning and preparing for our Family Christmas. There will be two dozen loved family members around our table later this week! Family will be traveling from New York City, from San Francisco, and from Dallas to join us and those who live nearby. 

There have also been preparations of mailings, of gatherings with friends, of worship, of Advent. And I am thankful. 

And I have also been reminded of the hidden preparations that also have needed to take place. Each day. Preparations of the heart.

Oh, how I have needed to prepare my heart. I can get so caught up in the doing, and I need to be reminded every day of the importance of the heart. For the things of the heart are of most importance. It is for the heart that Jesus came. Without Him, our hearts are empty, and we are lost. And our Greatest Gift ... is Him.

I don't have to work for the coming of the Lord -
I don't have to work for Christmas ...
I always get my Christmas miracle.
I get God with me.
That's really all I have to get ready for Christmas - my heart.
So I will just come to Him just as I am.
God gives Himself as the Greatest Gift this Christmas ...
Because the greatest things aren't things!

Thanking Him for the readings from The Greatest Gift each day of Advent, for how He cares for all the details of our lives even as we love and serve our families and friends -  and thanking Him for sending us JESUS, our Greatest Gift; Immanuel - God with us.

Thinking of you, and praying for you,
as you prepare your heart and your home
for Christmas.


Credit for WordArt above: JSM_dD-Christmas.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Greatest Gift


How can it be - the Greatest Gift of all, beyond what we could even wish for ...

Immanuel - God with us

In the midst of our pain, and our hurting world, with broken dreams, and hearts full of the deepest of hurts. We have the greatest gift of all ... "God with us". When we walk through the darkest of times, we are held. We are carried, and we are loved.

As my hubby and I have been consumed the past seven weeks with caring for my 93 year-old father who has been in great need of our help. As he has gone from his independent living apartment at a retirement community, to the hospital, and then to the Health Center (nursing home) level at that same retirement community. As he has been confused and even upset, humiliated by his loss of some basic functions of life. As we patiently help him and encourage him day after day after day. As we communicate with family a distance away, family who would love to be here, who help from afar with love and encouragement for our father, also for us.

As we walk through this heart-breaking journey with one that we love, we realize even more than before, what a treasure we have. Our Greatest Gift is God with us.

And this Greatest Gift of all - God with us - this is how we are loved. There is no line between us and our Creator Father. There is no pain that He does not feel, no tear that He does not see. And He has set His own Spirit within us, to hold us - in our joys, and also, in our times of deepest need.

"God gives God. That is the gift God always ultimately gives. Because nothing is greater and we have no greater need. God gives God. God gives God, and we only need to slow long enough to unwrap the Greatest Gift with our time: time in His Word, time in His presence, time at His feet." (The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp)

In the midst of our going back-and-forth to visit my father, and keeping up with a multitude of responsibilities with home and ministry, and in all the preparations for our Family Christmas with all of our family home ... we are held by the Greatest Gift. We are held by Jesus. And I am so blessed each day by reading through Ann Voskamp's The Greatest Gift, daily readings through this Advent season. 

Would you please pray for my father, one who has given his life as a missionary in the land of Japan? That he would be able to rest, and to be held by God's love and peace during this difficult journey that he is on? He is often tired and confused, and needs our prayers to hold him up.
Whatever our situation, 
whatever comes our way in life ... 
we always have God with us
The Greatest Gift.

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