“What Does It Mean?” Week 3: Joy.

Joy

A source or cause of delight –Merriam-Websterjoy-image-1

Joy differs from happiness in that it is an emotion.  -Wikipedia

Is there greater delight than the wonder of Santa, or the glee witnessed as a child unwraps the present they wished for? Can there be a sweeter tear than the touch of a Christmas memory?

 Yes.

Set a part from the fleeting feeling of happiness, joy defines what Jesus came to give.  It’s constancy flows through the entirety of our days, and allows us to laugh our way back to right. Joy is accepting who we are in confidence that we are cared for.

Acceptance & The ‘Damn’ Centers

Joy is the acceptance for who we are by the One who made us.

“Sarah said, ‘God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.'” Genesis 21:6

joy-tweet-1She was ninety …of course she laughed at the thought of giving birth. (Genesis  18)  Yet as God promised, she and her 100-year old husband Abraham had a son named Isaac …which means “he laughs.”

We often place God far off in the distance or high in the sky. But one of the endearing qualities of the Lord is that He is funny. I believe, in reverence, that Biblical conversations reflect the humor of a God for whom nothing is impossible. How often are we able to make light of our circumstances? Life isn’t always funny, but it is overflowing with joy …if we choose to accept it.

joy image 3.jpgMy six-year-old daughter exudes joy. It’s hard to discipline her with a straight face. When I asked her one afternoon why she had to stay in for recess, she said:

“I had to finish my damn centers,”  and rolled her eyes.

What else could I do but excuse myself to die of laughter?  She’s six! #longroad It further confirmed the spitfire personality that I love, along with the list of reasons she’ll never be allowed to go on spring break…

“Lo” doesn’t fall in line or take adults too seriously. Her laugh is loud and ever-present. I may joke about her tendency to test the rules, but embrace the tender heart behind those twinkling blue eyes. My love for her allows me to witness the brightness of her light.

God is not surprised by us. He loves the complete creation, and we are made to journey in joy! His love doesn’t lessen when we fall down. In fact, He seeks to share a laugh with us and reveal joy in hard moments. He’s accepted us. That’s why Jesus was born.

Christmas is closeness with God.

Confidence …For the Birds

Joy is the attitude of gratitude.

joy-tweet-3In the North where I live, Christmastime signals every bird that can’t bear the winter’s cold to start flocking together.  Millions of birds dance together in the sky, instinctively gathering and swooping and soaring until they’ve accumulated enough of a mass to drift as a dark “bird cloud” away with the warm air.

“…Look at them fly. It looks like God is taking pretty good care of them, doesn’t it? Remember that you are more precious to God than birds!” Luke 12:24

Birds are not even in my top 100 of favorite …or even likable creatures. Yet, over the years, I’ve come to admire the way they just know what to do.

“…God cares for every little sparrow …Since you are so much more precious to God than a thousand flocks of sparrows, and since God knows you in every detail—down to the number of hairs on your head at this moment—you can be secure and unafraid…” Luke 12:6-7

Birds don’t realize they are small or incapable. They operate confidently on carefully designed instinct.

“My little flock, don’t be afraid. God is your Father, and your Father’s great joy is to give you His kingdom.”Luke 12:32

Humans seek to be loved because deep within the design of our nature is a Creator who is love. Our confidence is found in Him, through Jesus.

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He came into this world a small baby in a manger. His light caused others to flock to Him and follow Him, shifting and moving and gathering and cackling and spreading the Word. Long after Christ gave His human life on the cross, the birds continued to fly and stories of Jesus spread. His Word still flutters and gathers. Christian faith is moving and shifting. God’s not surprised. We all instinctively seek the joy of Jesus.

    He is the light who reveals Your message to the other nations,
        and He is the shining glory of Your covenant people, Israel.” Luke 2:32 (The Voice)

Joy to the world, indeed. The greatest gift. #yulesee 

Happy Christmas,

Meg

Link up with us!!

 

Mondays…

Mommy Moments Modest MondayOpen Mic MondaySoul SurvivalHomemaking MondaysGood Morning MondaysMake Your Home Sing,

Tuesdays…

#RaRaLinkUpTestimony Tuesday 

Wednesdays…

#TellHisStory, OhMyHeartsieGirlsCoffee for Your HeartFrom Messes to MessagesWordless Wednesday

Thursdays…

Thought Provoking ThursdayLive Free ThursdaySincerely, PaulaHeart Encouragement 

Fridays…

Faith Filled Friday

 

 

 

 

 

 

“What Does It Mean?” Week Two: Emmanuel

Emmanuel

1. Jesus Christ, especially as the Messiah (Matt. 1:23). 2. Immanuel. (dictionary.com)

“They will name him Immanuel (Hebrew for “God is with us”).” Matthew 1:23 (MSG)

Jesus appeased the ardent anticipation of our hearts. The questions have been answered. The gaps have been filled. Hope is available for the world to receive. “Emmanuel” explains how God came for us, is here with us, and is coming back for us through Jesus.

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Presents vs. Presence

“Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret.” Mark 7:24

Sometimes it’s a blessing to go unnoticed. Jesus knew the peace woven into the observatory silence of slipping through a crowd or standing at the back of a room. But though He was not an audience seeker, they followed and gathered by the droves to be in His presence.

“He could not be hid; for, though a candle may be put under a bushel, the sun cannot.” Matthew Henry’s Commentaryemmanuel-2

The celebratory countdown to Christmas isn’t meant to spotlight our generosity, but His.  When I feel hurried by my self-created hustle I linger a little longer in His presence …which isn’t a problem when you have no less than five Advent countdowns do maintain each day until Christmas. It’s a lot much, you can think it. I know it. But, I love it. The best way to lose your Christmas spirit is to make it all about what were getting and giving. Focus on the right “present” ignites the Spirit of Christmas.

present- something presented.  -Merriam-Webster

presence- the part of space within one’s immediate vicinity. -Merriam Webster

How many Christmas presents to we forget about, exchange, or get rid of each year? Christ’s presence is always applicable to our lives and within our lives …if we’ll only just open it. Emmanuel …God with us.

The Other Lego Girl

“Briiiiiiii!!!!!!!” my youngest wailed. “You got a Lego Girl the last time you opened up a square …that’s NOT FAIR!!!!”

Watching my girls fight over an Advent gift I’d given them to share put the “never-enough”nature of humanity on display. In the thick of presents about to hit many homes; and the dread of those who don’t have gifts to give; it’s vital to pull the true light of Christmas into focus.

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“They will name him Immanuel (Hebrew for “God is with us”).” Matthew 1:23 (MSG)

“The first of many” verses that connect the Old Testament with the new, the above in particular fulfilled a verse written approximately 800 years earlier!  The treasures tucked inside these verses danced together the over eight centuries between them, until God whisper, “it’s time.” Somewhere around 740-680 BC, Isaiah, who’s name means means “the Lord saves” penned,

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14 (NIV)

Matthew, who’s name means “gift of the Lord,” recorded his words within 50-70 AD:

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).” Matthew 1:23 (NIV)

How does the Lord save? Through the gift of the Lord. Jesus. 

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We’re not always assured the final witness to inspired words, as a sign normally fulfilled within a few years taking 800 unravels the scope of God’s timing.  Isaiah’s words warned the stubborn king Ahaz (the great-great-grandson of King Saul-New International Encyclopedia of Bible Characters), but “he would not ask a sign for the confirming of his faith because he resolved to persist in his unbelief, and would indulge his doubts and distrusts…” Matthew Henry Commentary.

“Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right?” Luke 12:57

Does it feel off-putting to revolve an entire season around hunting down doorbusters and toys your kid didn’t even know existed before the catalog hit the mailbox?  Beyond ancestral traditions and surrounding customs, we must own our truth as individually and honestly as Creator of our soul observes.

“Despite the insistence of the Pharisees, despite the Roman system and even despite the pressure of family, a person must accept God on his terms. ” -NIV Study Bible Notes

Is it just a story? Was He just a man? Our minds will remain elusively angst until we put down the proof and unlock our hearts. We’re not so hidden away while we decide what to do. He sees because He is, and He is here now. Presents don’t fulfill human hearts; souls are satisfied by the presence of Jesus.

God’s gift is ready to bless us upon opening. Grace waits because He knows us. Jesus is enough for all of us. Are you seeking Christ this Christmas? Simply let go and believe.

He’s already here. Jesus. Savior. Emmanuel.

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Happy Christmas,

Megs

I link up at the following places. Come join in the fun!

“What Does It Mean” Week One: Noel.

Noel

 1. A Christmas carol. 2. (capitalized) Christmas. (Merriam-Webster)

Another name for Christmas. French Noël (“Christmas season”), may come from the Old French nael. This, in turn, is derived from the Latin natalis, meaning “birth.” Wikipedia

Noel is a word meant to remind us of our place …our heritage …our hope. Replace antagonism with the familiar embrace of faith.
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1. Look at the time.

” Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” Luke 2:11

My neighbor gave me a Christmas Cactus last year, which she told me only blooms at Christmas-time.  I wanted to see if I could keep it alive until it was time for it to bloom again. So, I forgot to water it most of the winter, re-potted it in the spring, and continued to forget to water it the rest of the year.

noel-image-1Beyond my ability to care for it, it survived. The first week of the Advent (Christmas) season, it began to flower. It’s in a pot …on my desk …in Ohio …and it’s a cactus. But God said, “it’s time.”

Time: an appointed, fixed, or customary moment or hour for something to happen, begin, or end. (Merriam-Webster, 3B)

Behind every human being is a baby in a womb that God’s hand began to the tune, “it’s time.” We can trust the Author of Life, and the proof is Jesus. That day in the town of David, God said, “it’s time,” and born was the Savior of the world, a vulnerable baby boy who needed to be held and nurtured and loved. Born to hold, nurture, and love us for all time. Noel …a birthday.

2. Sing Noel.

He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him.  He came to his own people, and even they rejected him.  But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.” John 1:10-13

My first visit to a new optometrist revealed a change in my vision.  He prescribed a pair of glasses to combat the glare of the computer screen and the sunshine. Each morning, I faithfully clean and prepare them for the day with special cloth and spray. Its  worth it to me. I appreciate the view. Guess what? They’re shatterproof, too. My new vision is as
protected as it could possibly be.

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When Zechariah lost his ability to see God clearly, he lost his speech along with it. He doubted the vision he saw. He questioned the message. At his son’s birth, his speech was restored. Jesus restored our hope with His. Might something we were previously unaware of be blocking Him from our vision?

The b-side of birth lies beyond God’s creation of our physicality. He built the possibility of hope into our DNA. A gift of grace allowed by the sacrifice of that baby boy born in the town of David. The opportunity to break free and follow Him home. The power of purpose as our feet tread the dirt of this Earth. When Christ is our personal Savior, the silence is lifted from our souls and our vision realigned …like getting new glasses. In a fresh hug of friendship defined, we are born …again.

Believe. See…

“Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel …born is the King of Israel.”

“Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel …born is the King of Israel.”

-The First Noel Christmas Carol

Sing in celebration that Jesus was born to save us. It’s not just any birthday celebration. Christmas is the love of the Father and peace of the Son that transcends the encapsulation of time.

birth:  the emergence of a new individual from the body of its parent (Merriam-Webster.)

God said, “it’s time,” and like the wind blows when He says and the seas calm at His hand, Heaven came to earth embodied in His Son. And we not only get to partake in this love story …we are the center of it. Can you see it?

Noel. Emerge. It’s time.

Happy Christmas!

Megs

#yulesee

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I link up at the following places. Come join in the fun!

The Blue Table

blue table fixed image

Failure to control my kids’ exposure scares me, and lending it’s parameters up to the One
who’s wise to the legit limit is the only way I manage to keep the wall up. The waxing and waning of what I’m supposed to hold to and let go of perplexes my parental instincts. Many voices weigh in, but only One cuts through the noise.

“Control- to exercise restraint or direction over; dominate; command; to hold in check; curb” –dictionary.com

Blue Table fixed tweetOur butts were stuck to the seat, and the warm breeze wafted by as we tried to beat the heat to our ice cream. Sun-beat cheeks burst wide with giggles in between spoonfuls. As the kid-table full of little girls erupted into innocent laughter over inside jokes, and a little blurb of nonsense perked-up the parent ears sitting at the adjoining table with a,“What-did-you-say?!” 

All of the girls… in unison… at the highest volume they could maintain while dying laughing, repeated, “TOM HAS A SMALL WEINER!!!!!! HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!!!”

Not sure whether to laugh, cry, or die of embarrassment … I let the contagious cackling catch me, too.”Tom has a small wiener,” scratched into the table at the local ice cream factory, is definitely not in the prepared parent handbook.

I was pretty sure my princesses weren’t privy to the down low; but as my friend marched up to management, I wondered how aware of the world they really were.

“Oh, mom, I started that…” stated my calm, rule-following first child, as we cruised down the high-way home.

“I sounded it out,” she said, as I braced my grip on the steering wheel little tighter.

“Why would someone write about their wiener-dog on a table…”  she trailed off and into
hysterics again, no doubt recalling how all of her friends roared in laughter over ice cream.

Phew. She had no idea, and I left it that way.

There are things in this world that are impossible to control. Bits of exposure creep into kid’s minds beyond our ability to rewind. Terrible tragedy scares society into lockdowns and loud mouths.  How do parents protect children amidst an increasingly illusive grasp on control?

Faith.

God is in control of all that alludes us. Faith allows us to live in peace, amidst engulfing calamity. In “table scratch” moments,  I say…“Word up.” #wordup

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WORD up.

“Don’t be afraid; just believe.” 

Mark 5:36

There is a miracle recorded in the Gospel of Mark that reveals God’s sovereign care beyond our parental scope.  Jarius, a synagogue leader, sought Jesus out to heal his daughter, but while in route she died.  “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” Jesus said, and He raised his daughter from the dead.

I believe the Word came alive for Jarius that day.

Blue Table 2-6Read the Bible. Let the living Word come alive in your life. The situations of our hearts differ, but the omnipotent voice is the same. When we listen to these lessons, we can hear hope. By preparing our hearts with wise words, pressing parenting conversations are relieved by a story, a “who God is,” or “what would Jesus would do.” Applying Biblical truths to everyday occurrences plant “wall building” seeds.

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 word UP.

“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” 

James 5:16

Get up and look up… everyday. Talk up. Pray up. Listen for what’s up. I can’t be everywhereBlue Table 3-7 my daughters are, but He can. I won’t always understand, but He does. Prayer
accumulates, God hears, and I trust He’s on board. Scholarly proof alludes me, but as Sunday seeds sown are watered and grown, bits of evidential wisdom bleed out of my heart. #faith

“Please bless Brianne and Lauren. 

Keep them physically safe from harm, 

and guard their hearts and minds

 …today, and always.”

My girls are six and eight, and everyday I pray that prayer …in earnest hope, and forthright faith.  I have a lot to learn, and many miles of parenting left to wander. But I routinely yield the mysteries of the world to their Author, believing most ardently that He answers prayer.

My littlest girl loves to quote Tinkerbell’s infamous motto, “Faith, trust, and pixie dust.” Have faith in the Word and earnestly pray. Trust that life will water His seeds in our kin. And pixie dust? Keep your eye out for answered prayers …sometimes they look like miracles.

Word up,

Megs

The Land

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Witness is woven into everyone’s life, but not all have a natural appreciation for their “place.” Clevelanders have taking a beating for decades. For the state of their city and “the curse” on their teams. I am them.

“Against all odds…

I don’t now why we want to take the hardest road…

I don’t know why the Man above gives me the hardest road…

but the Man above doesn’t put you in situations that you can’t handle…

and I just kept that same positive attitude…

Instead of saying ‘why me…’

saying ‘this is what He wants me to do.”

-LeBron James, after winning the 2016 NBA Championship

This generation of Cavaliers basketball players capped off a legacy that began long before they started playing in the big leagues.  My feet froze watching Elway crush our football team. I watched the old stadium fall. I wondered if a lost $100 bill had fallen from a very tall pocket grabbing a bite at Whitey’s after a game at the Richfield Coliseum. I walked to “The Jake” after work many summer nights in run of the late 90’s.

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My most cherished sports memory isn’t the Brown’s rookie graveyard I put up in my front yard on Halloween. It’s not training camp in Berea every year, where the hope of every Browns fan is at it’s most realistic peek. Not the sense of a piece of home seeing people you knew “back then” in the same tailgate spot. Not post game victory walks or seeing concerts at my favorite fields. Not even a long awaited raise of a shiny gold trophy.

It’s my brother…

And his little-kid face…

…at the local restaurant in the burb we grew up in, taking off his unbent hat to have a couple CAVS write a little history into his heart. He’s the biggest Cleveland fan I know.

The energy. The camaraderie. The land.

When the homesick tendencies of dorm life set in, I clung to the conversations over commonalities. Fellow fans felt like family, and I began to realize that “home” wasn’t just teenage angst waiting to bust out and get out. “Home” was layered into my heart.  No matter where I reside, my heart beats to “Cleveland Rocks.”

The life of a Clevelander is built into the layers of adversity. As the seasons change, jobs get lost, the Browns get worse, and the trophy eludes …we remain. We hold on to hope. We welcome you home. We believe.

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“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

We’re all tempted to throw in the towel. When the environment that surrounds starts to crumble in around us, the tempting tendency is to run …quit …move. Tenacity is woven into tough spots. Stuttering human stamina indicates opportunity for God to move. Will we follow fight or flight, or sit and stay to see why?

Paul is comforting us in that we’re all tempted. Christ was tempted. To sin. To quit. To run. To move. It’s not in the want to waver that we fail, but in the actual running and moving. In the stillness of our hearts, we choose whether to soldier on …to trust Him at His word …to wait on why.

Witness is woven into every life. LeBron, and his faith that God won’t test him beyond what he can handle, represented an entire city that shares that mentality. Can’t give up. Won’t give up. We will stay and wait.

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I didn’t watch any games this year. Not until there were 10.6 seconds remaining. Bracing for the heartache of a city and another reel tacked on the highlights of our almost accomplishments. Fearing the faltering crack of one team under so much pressure. But, in my Northeast Ohio heart, I believed it could happen. Against all odds. That’s CLE life.

BELIEVELAND.

PERFECTWe believe in each other. Because, under fire, sometimes that’s all we’ve got. Just to glance up, grab the hand beside us, and soldier on. Keep going …hoping …cheering …willing.

It’s just a game in a world filled with so much injustice, hurt, and tragedy. Just a trophy coming to reside in a city on a quest to come back.  But weaved into the win are streets full of people from all walks of life… in the city where someone always knows someone you know… embracing the victory of hope fulfilled …in a city that’s come back.

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Thank you, Cleveland, for bringing out the best piece of humanity …love. For who we are, for our history, and for our “place.”

It’s my “place.” It’s our “place.” #allin

Happy Parade Day, Cleveland! Let the ticker tape fly!

Megs