A Christmas Prayer

Do you collect anything? I used to collect Cherished Teddies. They are made by the same company that makes Precious Moments. They have the same idea as Precious Moments, except they are teddy bears instead of children. I was quite an avid collector. The bears were displayed everywhere in the small home I lived in. I had a collectors book listing all the figurines I had. I was careful to keep their boxes and name tags together along with any papers they came with. I even earned special points and was able to cash them in for members only pieces. Of course that was B.C. – before children.

I’ve gotten rid of most of them since then. There are a few favorites that have ventured the last couple decades with me. One of them being Liberty, a teddy bear figurine that looks like the Statue of Liberty. I’m not sure if she appealed to the patriotic side of me but for some reason I’ve always loved this one. She sits on my kitchen window sill right by our sink. Her flame was broken off a few years ago. All that was left was a chip of a flame. Thankfully I saved the rest of it so it could be repaired. A few days ago my husband glued the flame back on for me. I was so happy she was fixed. Then yesterday I accidentally knocked her down. Not only did her p1040058flame break clean off this time but part of her crown broke too. I was so bummed but I’m confident my husband can fix her as good as new again.

As I thought about my Liberty bear I was reminded that through Christ the Lord has clothed us in a beautiful robe of freedom. We are free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 6:18, 8:2) It rules over us no more. When we are saved we are made co-heirs with Christ. (Romans 8:17) We are now His children. His sons and daughters. Princes and princesses. The crown represents a physical reminder that we are His. He puts the fire of the Holy Spirit in us and tells us to hold the light out for all the world to see. That we may be a beacon lighting the way for others to freedom.

As daily life comes and goes and the storms of life strike, our flame can fizzle to a flicker. Just like my little bear whose flame was broke off with only a chip remaining.

Distractions come and we forget to fan into flame our love for the Lord, our passion for His Word and our zeal to do what He’s called us to do. Busyness and the worries of life are two of the most common distractions for us. (Mark 4:19)

One of things that wears my flame down is a struggle I’ve had for years but only recently admitted to. That’s my battle with depression. In the past it has been much worse but slowly I see healing and restoration. Yet I still struggle from time to time. It has been suspected that I have SAD (seasonal affective disorder). Winters can be hard on me. I notice it especially when I go awhile without being around others. As a stay-at-home mom it’s easy for me to do without realizing it. I’m not a fan of the cold and would rather stay inside til it warms up but I can’t realistically do that in a climate where the temperature may not reach 40 for three months. I have to force myself to go outside. This isolation causes me to get blue because we need other people in our lives. The battle takes its toll on me causing my flame to not shine as brightly.

149-4Yet, just like that bear I’ve always been clothed in robes of freedom and crowned with victory. I need to fan into flame my fire. (II Timothy 1:6) Just about the time we rekindle our fire our prowling enemy knocks us down again, not only knocking out our fire but trying to take our crown too. Oh, the devil can’t take our standing with Christ but he’ll sure try to make you think you are unworthy, unloved and anything less than who God says you are. That’s why we need to know our true identity in Christ. We need to know what the Word says about us. Don’t forget that you are wearing a crown because you belong to the Lord. The devil can’t take our standing as a child of God but he’ll try to make you doubt who you are.

It’s ironic to think that it’s easy to lose our focus on Christ at Christmas time. There are so many distractions, from preparations and programs to food and gifts to cleaning the house and how we are going to handle those awkward relationships. Yet I am guilty of letting those things distract me. I have full confidence, however, that the Lord can restore what’s been broken. Help us fan into flame our fire and shine for Him.

Would you pray this prayer with me?

Oh Lord – Help me focus on You. Keep me in wonder and awe at what a miracle Your birth is. Help me never lose that childlike wonder that You came as a helpless infant for me. What an amazing God You are to willingly step out of Your glorious kingdom into our dark world to save us all. What kind of love is this that You should love us so much to live among us, as one of us, so that one day we could be with You for all eternity. What can I say but thank you.

Fan into flame my fire and passion for You again. Help me never forget I am your daughter. I am yours and I am free. Free from sin, death and fear. You have set me free. Help me to shine Your light, especially in this Christmas season.

In Jesus Name – Amen

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Do you see what I see?

p1030900For Christmas this year I made each of my children a gift. For my teenage daughter I made a gift inspired by something I saw at my church’s fall women’s retreat.

At retreat there was a room you could go into with different tables set up. Each station had a way for you to go deeper with the Lord. At one of these stations you were to think of a lie you’ve been believing about yourself. Then you would write it on a small piece of paper and nail it to a cross. The other end of the table had a full length mirror. You were to take a marker and write on the mirror a truth of how God sees you – which would be the opposite of the lie you just nailed to the cross. In this way we were nailing lies we’ve come to believe to the cross and renewing our minds with God’s truth about us.

God used this exercise as a powerful tool for me. By the time I had got to the stations most of the women at retreat had already gone through. The mirror was full of revelations of how God sees these beautiful ladies. Soimg_20160910_134600 much more than the messages we hear about ourselves from T.V., magazines, and a gamut of other places. These women were beginning to see themselves as their Heavenly Father sees them.

I also noticed the things they wrote are things I struggle with too. All to often I feel alone in my challenges of life but we really are very alike. Each with her own story and perspective but our struggles are often the same. No wonder the enemy wants to keeps us isolated on our own island. When we do that we can’t encourage or sharpen each other.

The mirror made such an impact on me. I couldn’t get it off my mind. “Wouldn’t that be great,” I thought to myself, “if we would see these revelations of how the Lord sees us on a daily basis and have scripture to back them up.” That way when the enemy comes at us trying to chain us down with labels that aren’t true or with the past, that we’ve been redeemed from, the words of God will flow from our lips and our hearts would stay secure in our identity in Christ.

I began to think about my daughters and how my prayer for them is to have these truths in their foundation at a young age. What a shame that so many women wait so many years before discovering these truths. I was one of them. I want more for my girls. Though I know they will still have struggles to face my prayer is they can do so with a more solid foundation.

That’s when I saw it in my mind. I saw a mirror with my daughter’s name at the top. Around the rest of the frame were words of how God sees her. Along with it I would give a piece of paper with verses that match the words on the mirror. For example, one of the words is loved with Jeremiah 31:3 for a matching scripture. “I have loved you with an everlasting love.”

In this way every time my daughter sees herself in the mirror, instead of hearing some ugly lie about herself she will see these truths framing her. Speaking words of life over her. Speaking truth to her. She can recall the verses and know these are much more than words on a mirror. They are the very truths of God.

Begin your own journey of discovery of who God says you are. Ask Him how He sees you. Listen for His voice and write down what He says. Memorize the verses He shows you and hold them close to your heart. I pray you see what God sees in you. May any lies you’ve believed melt away as God’s words fill your heart.

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Labels

I’ve grown to love the ladies at my weekly bible study. For Christmas I wanted to get them something. It had to be something I could do on a budget though. I decided to give homemade sweet treats. But what would I put them in? Then I remembered all the glass jars I’ve been saving thinking someday they would come in handy. Today was that day.

p1030938There was an assortment of jars that had been used for different things. All of them still had their labels but I wanted clear, clean glass jars. So I filled up my kitchen sink with water and put a few jars in to soak. After letting the jars sit overnight, I pulled them out one by one. I cleaned the inside and took off the label on the outside. Most of them came off pretty well but there was always some sticky, leftover residue. That is when my task became a bit more tedious. I was expecting it so I was up for the challenge. With warm water and just the right tools, I would scrap off every bit of glue that so desperately wanted to stay on. After the jar was free of residue I would give it one more cleaning inside and out then dry it off. Now the jar was ready to be filled with inviting mouthwatering goodies. As a final touch I dressed them up with a ribbon. After finding the perfect gift bag they were ready to be sent out as gifts.

This was my process with each of the jars. It took some time to get them all done. I didn’t rush it though. I knew it would be worth doing a good job. As I stood by my kitchen sink scrapping away the gunk from the label that stubbornly refused to let go, it dawned on me that I am just like one of these jars. Life slaps labels on me telling others what I’m made of. Some labels try to define me or give adjectives to describe me. There are colors and patterns on the labels to get the world to experience what they think I’m about. Yet these labels, unlike jar labels, were not given to me by my Creator. They were set in place by my past, other people, or lies I’ve come to believe. Most of these “labels” are negative and not what the Lord sees in me.

The Lord is going through the same process with me that I was going through with the jars.He has selected me for a purpose. He sees the label on me but also knows what I will become. He takes me as I am and is pleased to have me soak in His presence. The label comes off fairly easy once I’ve been soaking in His presence. It’s there, in His presence, I begin to know who I truly am. Yet, there is that bit of label gunk that still clings to me. The Lord is not surprised and fully ready to complete the job He’s started in me (Phil.1:6). Firmly, yet lovingly, He scraps away all the residue that is trying to disqualify me from my purpose. Filling me with truth, the lies I’vegoldgift come to believe fall off. Before long I am clean and ready to be filled with God’s goodness. He helps me discover the gifts and abilities He’s put in me.

In reality this process often takes years and the Lord doesn’t wait til we are picture perfect before filling us. Praise God! He works through us even while He’s working on us. I must be patient with myself and with God.

What labels are you believing about yourself? How did it get there and what does God say about it? Soak in the Lord’s presence and let Him clean off any gunk that is trying to stick to you.