The Interruption of God

The Interruption of God - Are you willing to say “Yes” to God’s plans for your life? | https://acoupleofstarsandahappyface.wordpress.com

She didn’t plan to abandon tradition.

She didn’t plan to be the subject of whispers in the market place.

She didn’t plan to cause her betrothed shame or humiliation.

She certainly didn’t plan to become the mother of God’s Son.

But God…

His plan would turn her life upside down.

His plan would stretch her faith beyond its limits.

His plan would bring her blessings, joy and honor.

His plan would save, not only her, but the entire world.

 

To the revelation of God’s plan for her life, Mary answered, “May it be done to me according to your word.”

And what a plan it was!

Now, imagine the difference in your life if you would only allow God’s plans to interrupt yours.

Advertisements

It’s Christmastime!

Christmastime - In all the hustle and bustle, don’t forget to share your Joy with others this Christmas!| https://acoupleofstarsandahappyface.wordpress.com

It’s Christmastime everyone!
Time to deck the halls –
Time to string the lights
‘Round the tree and on the walls.

It’s time to go a-wasselling –
Wasselling? Hooray!
I don’t know what it is
But we’ll have fun anyway.

It’s time to join the bustle,
Time to shop the stores,
Time to wrap the gifts –
Wait! I need just one thing more.

Celebrations everywhere,
Yummy treats to eat,
Old friends to laugh with,
And memories, oh, so sweet.

Families all together,
Loved ones held so close,
Christmas is the time
That we truly love the most!

But the joy of this season
By all is not shared.
There are those burdened
By a heavy load of cares.

There are those who are hurting,
Those who have no hope,
Those who are hungry,
Those who cannot seem to cope.

Christmastime to these dear ones
Is just another day
To struggle all alone,
Not a time to sing and play.

They simply can’t comprehend
The reason that we sing.
Their woes are too great;
They think miracles silly things.

They’re searching for an answer,
Escape from their plight.
They’re holding back tears
As they kiss their kids goodnight.

Oh, it’s time we look around –
Open up our eyes
To a dying world
That thinks no one hears their cries.

Our lives are filled with plenty;
We’ve so much to give.
We’ve a Hope to share
With a world that longs for it.

It’s Christmastime, after all!
Time to spread the news,
Time to tell of Jesus
And His love for me and you.

It’s time to go a-serving!
Serving? Yes, indeed!
Meeting needs of others –
What great joy and love it brings!

So, let’s celebrate this season
Telling of His birth,
Giving unto others,
Spreading Hope and Peace on earth.

 

*Dedicated to my son, Corey, who is spending his Christmas break building houses for those in need in Peru. I am so proud of his choices and the man he is becoming.

A Year of Smiles – Day 360: The SMILES of Christmas

Adobe Spark (70)

Christmas SMILE #26 (Reason to SMILE #360): THE AFTERMATH

Crumpled wrapping paper,

unraveled bows,

countless opened boxes,

piles of toys, books, clothes, electronics and more,

a myriad of candy wrappers,

crumb-filled paper plates,

happy children and

pooped-out parents –

Oh, the aftermath of Christmas!

Sure, the mess creates more work for the weary but it is also evidence of a Christmas thoroughly-enjoyed.

And when you turn off the lights telling yourself the mess can wait one more day, the SMILE you find is oh, so sweet!

A Year of Smiles – Day 359: The SMILES of Christmas

Adobe Spark (67)

Christmas SMILE #25 (Reason to SMILE #359): THE MIRACLES

He became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:14 (ESV)

The miracle of God With Us began with Christ’s advent to earth as a baby but it is not constrained to one day in the past. The miracle of God With Us is experienced every day in the life of the Christian. From the moment of salvation, Christ fills us with his Spirit and continually fills us with his character, his forgiveness, his love, his grace and his mercy.

Have you experienced the miracle of Christ’s birth in your life? If not, there’s no better day than today.

Does it really matter for me that Christ was born if Christ is not born now in my life and my time?

– Author Unknown

May we always remember the miracles of Christmas – Christ’s coming to earth as a baby, to our lives as Savior and Lord and again to earth one day as our Victorious King.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Adobe Spark (69)

 

A Year of Smiles – Day 358: The SMILES of Christmas

Adobe Spark (66)

Christmas SMILE #24 (Reason to SMILE #358): THE MOST PRECIOUS GIFT – JESUS

Frank strolled into our worship service one summer evening about two years ago.  He wore an old flannel shirt, cast-off work pants and a knit snow cap.  His clothes were ragged and dirty and his hair and beard were unkept.  No one could tell his age and Frank did not give an answer when asked.  He had no family to speak of nor did he have a home.  That particular night, Frank needed a place to get out of the rain for a couple of hours but he soon became a regular in our midst.

We learned a lot about Frank over the next few weeks.  Some things we learned from Frank himself; some we learned from local shelters and others we learned just from watching.  One thing we quickly learned, though, was that Frank loved music.  At the beginning of every service, Frank would sit on the front pew of the sanctuary.  He would clap and sway as the hymns and praise choruses were played.  He would sing as loud as he could and would applaud with great appreciation at the end of each song.  But as soon as the music stopped and the preacher began to speak, Frank would move to the very back pew, lay his head against the wall behind him and take a nap in the comfort of our sanctuary.  This ritual was a bit disconcerting to our pastor but harmless, nonetheless.

Our friends at the local shelters informed us that Frank was mentally challenged and as we observed Frank on his regular visits, we began to realize that Frank was more like a child than a grown man.  This explained his delight of all of the children in our congregation!  Often, Frank could be found at the children’s welcome center, passing out crayons, pencils and papers to the little ones.  Some of our parents were concerned with Frank’s involvement but all of our children loved him.  He laughed and played with the children and made each one feel welcome.  And boy, did Frank love to hear those children sing!

Before we knew it, Christmas had arrived.  The children’s choir had been practicing very hard for the Christmas pageant that year because each choir member knew that Frank would be in the congregation.  The special evening came and Frank sat in the front pew, as always.  He was fascinated with the manger scene on the stage and could barely sit still as he waited for the service to begin.  Finally, the children, dressed as sheep, cows, pigs, shepherds and angels, entered the sanctuary.  Frank stood and cheered and all the children giggled with excitement.  After Frank settled down, the music began and Frank watched as the children of our church told the story of Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus.  No one had ever seen Frank so attentive and when the choir sang its final song, Frank stood and cheered once again.

After their performance, the children made their way from the stage to their parents in the congregation and the pastor made his way to the pulpit to preach.  Once in the pulpit, the pastor was surprised to see Frank still seated in the front pew and not settled in the back pew for his evening nap.  Though quite curious, the preacher began his Christmas sermon, looking down occasionally to see if Frank was awake.  Frank was awake, indeed, but he was not listening to the preacher.  You see, before little Mary left the stable stall that evening to sit with her parents, she placed the baby doll used in the pageant to portray baby Jesus back into the manger.  Frank’s attention was fixed on the little baby.  Then halfway through the sermon, Frank suddenly stood up.  We all thought that Frank was headed to his usual back pew but Frank was headed in the opposite direction.  Before anyone could react, Frank had made his way to the nativity scene on stage.  The pastor, still trying to keep his wits about him, nodded to a deacon to go after Frank but neither the deacon nor anyone else in the congregation was looking at the pastor.  All eyes were on Frank.

No one knew what to do.  Our first impulse was to grab Frank and pull him back to his seat but our curiosity kept us frozen in our pews.  We watched as Frank stood near the manger where the little baby lay.  Scratching his head and then wringing his hands, he inched closer and closer to the baby.  He reached down toward the baby but quickly pulled back his arms.  He looked out at all of us then back to the baby.  At this point, the pastor realized that God had a different plan for the evening, and he gave up all attempts at finishing his sermon.  The sanctuary, filled with hundreds of men, women, boys and girls, was still and quiet as God’s message of love and grace began to unfold in front of our eyes.

Frank’s obvious confusion ultimately pulled him to his knees beside the manger.  He reached over to pick up the baby Jesus, and the sounds of tiny sniffles throughout the room grew into uncontrolled sobs as one heart after another began to break.  Quietly, a little angel slipped from her seat and made her way down the aisle of the sanctuary and to the side of Frank.  A sweet little voice said, “It’s ok, Frank,” as she gave her friend a big hug.  Frank knew this little angel – she shared her cookies with him every Sunday – so Frank asked his friend, “Do you know whose baby this is?”  “That’s baby Jesus,” she said emphatically.  “He’s God’s Son.”  Frank replied, “He’s all alone….just like me.”  The little angel giggled as she said, “Silly, Frank, that’s just a baby doll.  The real Jesus is in our hearts and that means we’re never alone.”

Tears began to roll down the face of our friend Frank as little angels, sheep, cows, shepherds and all the other children gathered around the baby Jesus, and our silence was broken.  Sweet melodies of Christmas rang out from the sanctuary piano and our hearts overflowed.  It took some time but the pastor finally convinced Frank that the baby in the manger scene was simply a doll but most importantly, the pastor was able to tell Frank about God’s love and the gift of His Son, Jesus.  That night, Frank left our Christmas service a changed man.  In fact, no one in that sanctuary was ever the same again.


Jesus, sent from heaven for you and for me, was a gift so precious that even a host of angels could not contain their great joy in telling the Good News of His birth nor could the shepherds, after seeing the baby, keep from sharing with all who would listen that the Savior had been born.  Yet, we often keep this gift to ourselves, storing it away for safekeeping and sharing it only on special occasions.  We celebrate Jesus’ birth and retell His story year after year then we walk away, leaving God’s Love lying in the manger.  May we be more like Frank this Christmas season and all the year through; may we embrace God’s most precious gift in spite of all that is happening around us and may we share His gift with the world.

A Year of Smiles – Day 357: The SMILES of Christmas

Adobe Spark (65)

Christmas SMILE #23 (Reason to SMILE #357): THE TRADITIONS

Every Family has their own special traditions at Christmas. Some open presents on Christmas Eve; some open them on Christmas Day. Some eat a huge meal on Christmas Day while others eat their celebratory meal on the night before. Some families participate in religious activities such as candle light services and communion while others spend the holidays in the quiet of their homes surrounded by family and close friends. Though many traditions are specific to the season such as the tree, the stockings and the presents, other traditions are as unique as the different families that observe them.

For as long as I can remember, my family has gathered together on Christmas Eve to begin our celebration of the Savior’s birth. For many years now, we have gathered at the house of my oldest brother. My sister-in-law prepares a delicious meal of salad, lasagna and garlic bread but before the main course, there’s always the yummy appetizers of shrimp, crackers and cheese, black-eyed pea salsa and tortilla chips, pickles wrapped in cream cheese and corned beef (De-li-cious!), cookies and all sorts of goodies. I don’t know how any of us have room for dinner!

After dinner, we gather together in the living room to exchange gifts. Before the presents are passed around, however, my dad opens the Word of God to read the account of Jesus’ birth from Luke 2. Some years, he has his grandchildren read the scriptures. Others, he reads the verses himself. Whoever reads, the goal is to remind us of the reason for our celebration – the gift of God’s Son to the world. This precious time of reflection on the meaning of Christmas ends with a prayer of thanksgiving and praise for God’s great love for us.

Our Christmas Eve continues with a few games and more of those yummy goodies that began the evening. It is time I hold dear, a time I cherish, a time that replenishes my store of SMILES and the cheer in my heart. It is a time of Christmas tradition that I pray will continue for many more years to come.

A Year of Smiles – Day 356: The SMILES of Christmas

Adobe Spark (64)

Christmas SMILE #22 (Reason to SMILE #356): THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT

There’s something about this time of year that brings out the best in people. Children begin behaving, doing their chores without complaining, offering to help around the house – mostly to secure their place on Santa’s “Nice List”! Families set aside differences and grudges and gather together sharing, laughing and embracing freely and wholeheartedly. Even strangers stop on the street, at the stores and in restaurants to greet each other and wish happiness and joy to all those around.

Sure, the holidays can also bring out the worst in some people. Crowds at the mall, busy city streets and noisy public venues can test anyone’s patience and place a damper on Christmas cheer. But with every “Merry Christmas” I hear as I navigate this busy season, I am reassured that the spirit of Christmas remains alive and well. And when I return each greeting with a warm SMILE and a Christmas blessing of my own, I am doing my part to spread love and joy to a world longing for Christmas Spirit and longing for the Hope and Peace it brings.

Wouldn’t it be nice if our Christmas Spirit endured all year round?

Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.

– “Let There be Peace on Earth” by Jill Jackson-Miller and Sy Miller

A Year of Smiles – Day 355: The SMILES of Christmas

Adobe Spark (63)

Christmas SMILE #21 (Reason to SMILE #355): THE GIFTS MADE WITH LOVE

Some gifts are found in a box on a shelf, mass-produced and packaged for the general consumer.

Others come from the heart of one who knows you best, fashioned with your happiness in mind and packaged in the warmth and comfort of love.

Hand made Christmas

Aren’t these Christmas Ornament Placemats and Christmas Tree Coasters the cutest? They were made by the loving hands of my mom. These sure do make me SMILE!

Have I ever told you how incredibly awesome my mom is? Yep, I wanna be just like her one day. Hmmm. I guess that means I need to learn how to quilt! 😉

A Year of Smiles – Day 354: The SMILES of Christmas

Adobe Spark (60)

Christmas SMILE #2 (Reason to SMILE #354): THE CARDS

Rarely do I ever mail out Christmas cards.  I know it’s awful but can’t seem to get this simple task accomplished. Life moves too fast for me and by the time I think about it (which is usually when I receive the first Christmas card in the mail from someone who must have life all figured out), it’s too late. Yep, I’m a Christmas card failure.

For the past several years, though, I have been able to distribute a few Christmas cards without the hassle of standing in line at the Post Office. And it’s all because of a unique way of raising money at my church. Each year, the church sets up it’s own Christmas Card post office of sorts. In the main hallway, a big box with lettered slots is displayed. The idea is to bring the Christmas cards you would normally mail to various church members and place them in the appropriate slots for distribution (which means that church members check the box to see if they have any cards!). After “mailing” your cards, you drop the money you would have spent on stamps at the Post Office into a collection box. The money collected each year is donated to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering which is collected every year by the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.

It’s a pretty nifty way to send Christmas cards, if you ask me. I don’t have to go to the Post Office and my money is supporting the spread of the Gospel around the world. Christmas card giving success! SMILES all around!

There is one down side to this ingenious Christmas card distribution. It’s limited to my church. So, unless you plan on stopping by to check the box at my church, I suppose this digital card will have to do…

Adobe Spark (62)