Delayed Gifts

Excitement was in the air.  A new Christmas “schedule” was in place this year for the Grubbies – as Kevin is a staff member at church and would be at Gateway all day on Christmas Eve.  The kiddos and I attended the later services and afterward we. were. hungry!  I had prepared a few Christmas Eve snacks and we picked up some boneless wings on the way home to round out our Christmas Dinner. Doesn’t everyone eat wings for Christmas dinner?? 🙂

After dinner we got into “gift mode.”  Starting with stockings we each opened our decorative “sock” filled with goodies, gift cards, and other fun stuff… Then, it was PRESENT time.  I mean, who doesn’t love presents???  Julia opened her gift and although she knew what it was, she was thrilled and started digging in to the box so she could start using it.  Joey, who didn’t know what he was getting, opened his gift and squealed with gratitude, thankful to receive what he asked for.  Then, it was Emma’s turn.  There was a wrapped box and it was rather light.  She hurriedly opened it only to find there was not a gift inside.  There was a paper with a picture, drawn by her no-so-artist-mama, of her gift.  It hadn’t arrived yet – so all she had to hold onto was this paper.

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Her delayed gift arrived yesterday and it was even more wonderful than the amateur artist drawing foreshadowed ;). Emma was gracious throughout the delay, waiting in “faith” of the gift that was promised.

And it made me think.  We have the hope of a delayed gift.  We have the written promise(s) in the Bible.  Of course we know it’s not just a paper (or booklet of papers), it is the Word of Life and we have the Holy Spirit with us as we journey through this lifetime – but it is just a foretaste of what is to come.

Psalm 16:11You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.”

Titus 2:13We look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.” 

Romans 8:23And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering.  We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us.” 

This paper, this book, holds the HOPE of the PROMISE. The promise of an eternity in heaven, with Jesus, in paradise. Even though the Word of God is beautiful and full and WONDERFUL – it will seem an amateur drawing compared to the GIFT that awaits those of us who have trusted in Him.  Christmas excitement doesn’t hold a candle my anticipation and excitement of the hope of heaven. Glorious Day!

That Wasn’t In The Plan

That wasn’t in the plan. She had her eye on Joseph for a while, and well, he had his eye on her. Next thing they knew, things were coming together for the BIG DAY. The engagement was progressing right along and anticipation was building. Soon they would be husband and wife. I mean, it was almost as if they were married already, except for, well, you know. Engagement was a pretty big deal back then. Then the angel showed up. What the wha? That was freaky. And unexpected. And a little inconvenient. It could mess everything up. What would Joseph think?

That wasn’t in the plan. Things have finally settled down after the pregnancy scandal. Joseph was a rock for her – after the angel cleared things up for him. Ha! The “big day” took a back burner and baby-prep was in full swing. She was having a baby. Not just any baby, God’s Son. Jesus. Savior of the world. That was a lot to take in. But God’s Spirit gave her peace. And THEN they got the call. They had to go to Bethlehem! What the wha? Um, this wasn’t exactly very good timing!! Didn’t they know she was about to pop any day?!?

That wasn’t in the plan. Rolling with the punches, they finally made it to Bethlehem when she felt something. No. Certainly not what she thought it was. Yup, there was another one. Um, Joseph, “It’s time.” What the wha? The place was a madhouse, like New York City on New Year’s Eve! You couldn’t even book a room through Priceline if you wanted to. In desperation, Joseph relentlessly asked around for a place to stay. A place for his wife to rest… er, uh, give birth.

That wasn’t in the plan. Jesus was born. Such a sweet, perfect baby boy. They had lots of visitors. It all felt a little surreal. Time passed and word on the street, (or in dreams…) was it was time to hightail it outta there. Jesus was in danger. What the wha? Wasn’t He the King? Savior of the world? So off they went. To Egypt of all places. And finally back to Nazareth. What a ride!

Individually each circumstance seemed like it was throwing things off course, messing things up… that it wasn’t in the plan, or was it? Before He was ever born… This was all part of the plan.

*He was supposed to be born of a virgin. Isaiah 7:14

*He was supposed to be born in Bethlehem. Micah 5:1-2

*He was supposed to go to Egypt. Hosea 11:1

*He was supposed to be a Nazarene. Isaiah 11:1

Have you ever thought, “This wasn’t in the plan!”? Things were progressing along and then you got the call. Lost your job. A relationship went sour. Lost a child. An illness. An accident. Relocation. Major financial disruption. Fill in the blank. What the wha? It just doesn’t seem right. The Grubbies certainly thought that before… This wasn’t in the plan, or was it? Could what seems like bumps in the road, two steps back, hard blows actually be a part of a greater plan? Mary certainly didn’t anticipate the twists and turns her life took, but it was a part of the great plan. The redemptive plan. For His glory.  While it seems wrong at the time, so often you can look back and see, OH YEAH! God was up to something there!

When God says “all things work together for the good of those who love God,” (Rom. 8:28) we can trust that He has a plan. Just like Mary’s life was a part of the great redemptive plan since the beginning of the world. God has a plan and a purpose for where you are, your circumstances and life’s twists and turns. Trust. Have hope. Believe.

Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens. For He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will, to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored us with in the Beloved. We have redemption in Him through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure that He planned in Him for the administration of the days of fulfillment — to bring everything together in the Messiah, both things in heaven and things on earth in Him. We have also received an inheritance in Him, predestined according to the purpose of the One who works out everything in agreement with the decision of His will, so that we who had already put our hope in the Messiah might bring praise to His glory. When you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed in Him, you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. He is the down payment of our inheritance, for the redemption of the possession, to the praise of His glory. (Ephesians 1:3-14 HCSB)

Follow #oneword365 for 2014

Lord, I will FOLLOW you.   That is my prayer and my “One Word” for 2014.

Matthew 16:24 – Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me.”

There’s a couple of steps before committing to following Christ – denying yourself and taking up your cross.  What the flying-Fig Newtons does that mean?

Deny Yourself – “Sacrifice is being willing to give up something good for something better.”  There are a lot of something goods that can apply here…  You can leave a job that pays well but you’re miserable at for a job that doesn’t pay great, but is rewarding, is aligned with your purpose or in the Christian world, puts you on mission with God.   Or you may cut out the amount of time you spend on a hobby if you want to invest your time more wisely on something else – Bible reading, serving, exercising… Or maybe you need to give up Oreos so you can attempt to fit into those jeans in your closet.  Some of those may or may not be on my list :).  In our world (The Grubbie’s World) we are in the midst of purging some things from our life/lifestyle, giving up some things we really enjoy and are comfortable with, some good things… for something better.   No, no big announcement here yet (and at this point it will be rather anti-climatic when it does come, ha!) but big changes are on the horizon for the Grubbies.   Changes that involve giving up some good things for something better.  Is there anything better than our God, the Lord Jesus Christ and serving Him?  Romans 12:1 tells us to “present your bodies” or “present yourself as a living sacrifice”.  In how we live (holiness) in what we do (serving) that our lives submitted to God is an act of worship.   Any amount of denying is minute compared to how Jesus denied Himself for us.

Take Up Your Cross – “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” Luke 14:27 Thems fightin’ words.  #RealTalk.  In John 19:17, Jesus carried His own cross as an example.  It is not going to be easy.  In fact, it’s going to be the HARDEST THING in this world.  Excruciating. Strength sapping.  Blister bursting. Thorn in the flesh – on steroids.  In our ministry tenure, we have experienced a fraction of this, but not anywhere close to the extent that Jesus did or what Paul experienced – or even people who are truly persecuted in our world today.   And yet, at times I cried, complained, gave up, even swore. (*gasp!)  Whether it’s daily (as Luke 9:23 adds to the mix) or for a season or for a lifetime – committing to taking up your cross can be the most difficult to do – but the most worth it – see here, here, and here.

1526616_10151866207840017_1886491016_n And Follow Me: One foot in front of the other.  No, we don’t have to have everything figured out (talking to myself… gahhhhhh) because we “walk by FAITH and not by sight.”  2 Cor. 5:7 – a reminder I need so much it’s on my bedroom wall in “stickers”.  Just a prayer in the morning, “Lord, I will follow You.  Help me to follow You today.”  And at noon.  And 2:15.  And 3:00.  And at dinner…

Because I don’t freaking know what this year holds (do any of us???) – it is my prayer that I will choose daily to follow Jesus – His Word and His Leading, by faith and for His glory.

Then, looking at him, Jesus loved him and said to him, “You lack one thing: Go, sell all you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.”  Mark 10:21

“Follow Me!” – Jesus  Mark 1:17

Help me understand Your instruction,
 and I will obey it
 and follow it with all my heart.  Psalm 119:34

The Gift of Peace

 

peacePeace is not in abundance.  Just check out your Facebook feed.  Two words – Duck Dynasty.  Everyone has an opinion.  And that’s just this week’s uproar.   Next month it will be something different.  Good Lawd – can’t we all get along ? 🙂

 

Conflict is just one of the many things that steal our peace.  Fear, frustration, failure. Crisis, chaos, cash flow.   Worry, anger, grief. An unsettling diagnosis.  Shoot – even Christmas can attempt to steal our peace if we let it.  Or even if we don’t.  

 

Speaking of Christmas – we give and receive gifts, but have we received the gift of PEACE?  Last week at church, the message centered on the fact that Peace is a gift from God.   It’s one that He wants us to receive.   He is blessed when we receive it.

 

Anyone can have moments of peace.  Snuggling a sleeping newborn.  A beautiful sunrise/sunset.  Reading a book by a quiet stream on a lovely, warm spring day.   Ahhhhhhh. *Happy place… But, if you’re a Christ Follower, you can have peace even when life’s not peaceful.   You can be hunkered down in a tornado warning but have peace.  You can walk through a scary diagnosis or financial crisis and have peace.  You can be in a waiting/longing stage of life and still have peace.

And it’s a gift. 

 

For a Child will be born FOR us, a son will be given us, and the government will be on His shoulders.  He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of PEACE. Isaiah 9:6

 

The child will be born FOR us.  Because He is a gift to us, for us.   This Christmas, if you’ve not received that gift, call out to God.  Ask Him for the gift of His Son in your life.   Ask Him for His peace and commit to follow Him, which brings peace.   Christ Follower, – ask Him for the peace only He can give in conflict, in crisis, in Christmas.   It’s a gift He wants to give you, not only when you choose Him as your Savior, but every day as you walk with Him.

 

“Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”  Luke 2:14

 

Is God pleased with you?  Does He favor you?  If you are His child, He is/He does.  Regardless, His peace is readily available to you – for the first time or continually as His child.  Ask Him today for His gift of PEACE.

 

~Blessings and Merry Christmas – The Grubbies ~

Grubbie Kiddos

 

Truly Free

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Today is the United States of America’s birthday.  Happy BIRTHDAY, America!  I sure do love my country and am thankful for the freedoms we currently have.  If someday those American freedoms were taken away, though, I would still be truly free!

As a believer and follower of Christ, we are truly free.  That is not dependent on your location, but your citizenship.  You can live in the 10-40 window, a communist nation or one where it’s illegal to be a Christian but you can still be truly free.

Christ has LIBERATED us to be free!  Gal. 5:1.  What Christ has done on the cross has LIBERATED those of us that follow HIM.  His death and resurrection makes us free.   Free in Him.  Free to follow Him. Free to spend eternity someday with Him.  I love the song “Proud to be an American” by Lee Greenwood.  One line says, “The flag still stands for freedom, AND THEY CAN’T TAKE THAT AWAY!”  Yes, yes they can.  But when Christ truly sets you free, they really “can’t take that away!” 

In John 8, Jesus was talking with some Jews who believed in Him. He told them, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free!” (vs. 32).   In Christ we are ultimately enslaved to no one.  If Jesus sets you free, “you really will be free” (vs. 36).

In Luke 4:18, Jesus was proclaiming the truth from Isaiah 61, “The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent Me to proclaim freedom to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed…”

Not your religion.  Not your country.  Not even your family.  But Jesus.  He is the one in whom true freedom comes.  Are you truly free?  Find true and everlasting freedom in Christ.

 

a HALF a cup of coffee

,,, after the Ohio State basketball game and Good Friday reflections started at midnight.  Here we are at 2:22  3:19 am.  I AM NOT A NIGHT PERSON! Unless God wants to keep me up to chat and/or do a heart-check.  A heart-healing.  So I grabbed my iPad and followed His lead as we journeyed through YouVersion.  It seems on Good Friday my sin just rises to the surface, like fizz on a root beer float.   Just picture scenes from “The Passion of the Christ” and hear the nails piercing his body and plummeting into the wood of the cross – for MY sin. “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our (MY) sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” 2 Cor. 5:21 Because sometimes I can’t get a grip. Because sometimes I’m selfish. Because sometimes I fail. Because sometimes…

SinWordle

 

We can’t hold on to the cross and our sin at the same time.

We gotta let go of one to hold on to the other. We have to ask ourselves what we want to hold on to?  Our sin?  Or the cross?

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By HIS BLOOD we are REDEEMED:

For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from the fathers, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish.http://bible.us/72/1pe.1.18.hcsb

In CHRIST we have MERCY:

The one who conceals his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them will find mercyhttp://t.co/JxFpe8CdZL

HE will FORGIVE:

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. https://www.bible.com/bible/72/1jn.1.9.hcsb

HE can change our HEART:

God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me. http://t.co/kZY59ptF0Q

Today, make this a GOOD Friday.  Decrease so He can increase. Die to SELF so you can live in CHRIST.  Say “ADIOS” to the OLD and embrace the new.  Find rest, forgiveness, mercy, LIFE and HOPE on this day that we remember the brutality of the CROSS and don’t let it be for nothing ~ come to the CROSS because it was for YOU.

A Sweet Baby – thoughts after the tragedy in Newtown

A Sweet Baby

My heart continues to ache today as it did yesterday after hearing the horrific news out of Connecticut – 20 babies slaughtered and several adults.  I watched my Facebook and Twitter feeds explode with words of compassion, heartache, and grief.   Then, I’d see a random tweet regarding something insignificant and was honestly a little perturbed by that.  Even though, it is very likely that that some of those tweets were “scheduled tweets”, there were others – “Hey I’m eating McDonalds” or “The sky is blue” (not actual tweets, but you get the point) or some politically motivated tweets… and THAT’s a whole ‘nutha blog post…

As a frequent tweeter, I found my self holding back on even some of the tweets that could be related to the events of the day ~ “Blessed that I’m buying groceries for my family instead of waiting outside an elementary school to see if my child is alive, #sandyhook” ~ “Thankful to hug each of my kiddos this afternoon #newtown” ~

Then, last night I was babysitting a sweet baby for some friends.  Let me tell you, sweet cuddles and playtime with a cheerful 5-month-old is medicine for the soul.  I took about a bazillion pictures – she’s so stinkin’ photogenic and sweet and fun.  I was about to tweet a picture and then I thought that it would be insensitive to tweet playtime with a baby when so many are never going to see their’s alive again.

This morning I have a different perspective.

*I am going to share encouragement from the Word.

*I am going to share what my day consists of.

*I am going to share blessings in my life and things that brings me joy.

The Word Heals Several passages in the Bible talk about the HEALING the Word of God can do (Psalm 107:20).  God’s Word has met me where I was more times than I can count, encouraging me, giving me HOPE, giving me strength, directing my life…  I will continue to speak the Word personally and online as I know the POWER in it to HEAL.

Conquer Evil With Good This exact thought is from Romans 12:21.  We’re going to hear evil things, we’re going to experience the effects of evil.  What can we do about it?  Do good.  Today I’ll be at the Flag City Free Store at LifePoint helping those in need.  It is a blessing to serve, to help, to do “good.”  This morning is a step in conquering evil.  The Bible also tells us to PRAY for those that persecute (hurt, cause harm, destruct).  We can conquer evil with the good in praying for the evil…

Count Your Blessings So many posted about hugging your kiddos a little tighter and make every day count.  Today, I’ll probably post pictures/tweets etc of me and the fam making cookies.  Insignificant in the task, but significant in that we are together, making memories, spending time together, making the most of our time.  I think it will honor those lives lost to live intentionally with those we love.

So today, amidst the grief, I hope to see your encouraging posts/tweets from the Word, hearing good things that are happening and what blessings  you are experiencing.

To close, 2000+ years ago, a Sweet Baby came and brought encouragement, came to overcome evil and blessed (and still blesses) us.  There is HOPE in Him.

Finally, here are a couple of those pix from last night of that sweet baby I was watching.  What a blessing.

Avery reading the Christmas Story and Avery under the tree.  ImageImageImage