Losing Sight Series: Symptoms of “I” strain.

(This is part two in a series about when we lose sight of God.)

How do we lose sight of Jesus or his plan for our lives? We’ve all no doubt experienced at least temporary blindness.101_9341

When I read the scriptures, I am astounded that even those closest to Jesus, those that walked, lived and ate with him…even lost sight of him.

The story of Mary and Martha recounted in the book of Luke chapter 10 speaks of one sister being caught up in details, losing sight of her Savior while the other sister sat eagerly as His feet. Jesus said to Mary Luke 10:41/42

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[a]Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

What are some of the symptoms that we are entering into tunnel vision where we are focused more on “I” than on HIM.

JOYLESSNESS:  Are we losing joy in our noble pursuits? Martha was stressed. Jesus didn’t say that Martha was distracted by Pinterest or Facebook (zing!) He said, “with much serving”. We need to be mindful that even good and Godly things can become a distraction if we take our eyes of Jesus. When joy seeps out of service we need to ask ourselves some questions. Do our efforts cause stress for us or those we love? More importantly…do our noble efforts replace our relationship with our Creator?time clock

FRUSTRATION: When we begin to question God’s identity in the middle of a crisis, it is a symptom that we are losing sight of who He says He is. When we think Jesus doesn’t care about what we are going through, we need to rediscover who God is.  Martha actually told Jesus to tell Mary to help. She said, “Don’t you care that she’s left me to do all this alone?”. Martha legit thought that Jesus didn’t care about her stress or her feelings. When we sense that God no longer cares about us, we’ve lost sight of Him.

OVERWHELMED: Are we drowning in details or despair? Do we feel that there is not enough room to breathe or enough hours in the day? Martha felt there was not time to get everything done before Jesus arrived. When we feel overwhelmed by doing, we need to stop and reconsider what God has actually told us to do. Has God provided someone to do that task or help with it? Have we recognized that helper or have we insisted on doing it ourselves, our way? When we struggle with the pressure of getting it all done, we’ve lost sight of God’s plan for us.

100_4946ISOLATION: Have you ever felt totally alone or utterly abandoned? When those feelings become your focus, it’s likely that you’ve lost sight of the God that will never leave or forsake you.  Loneliness and despair that sucks your life out is a result of distance or separation between you and your Creator. Some soul searching often reveals – we are the one who moved…God is where he’s always been.

SILENCE: Do you ever feel like your prayers are bouncing off the ceiling? Sometimes our prayer life feels like a one-way conversation. Are we guilty of telling God what we are doing and ask for his blessings? Are we all talk…and no listen? (zing!) When we are no longer hearing from God, chances are we quit listening. The silence is often a symptom of us losing sight of Jesus.

If we are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is time for a check up.  Most likely the diagnosis is distance and temporary blindness. Next week we will explore the causes “I” strain and the following blog will address the remedy!

POINT TO PONDER: Are you experiencing any of the symptoms of “I” strain? Have you perhaps lost sight of who holds the keys to your heart or the Light unto your path? What remedy do you seek? We’d love to see your comments here at kissedbythecreator!
Catch us Monday thru Friday at 6:30am EST for #HOPEscope on www.periscope.tv Look for Connie P. Shoemaker or kissedbycreator we are going through the book of John!

 

Losing Sight

So I got a call from Google that said I was going to “lose my site.” But it really made me think about losing sight and why I have not posted in a year.

I’ve spent a year trying to gain some focus on where God wants me to be.  Did I run ahead of him?  Was I walking in the direction he wanted me to be…had I detoured?

So blogging hit the back burner and I took up some things that were more relational and more intentional. I spent time looking inward and upward.

Setbacks can do that.

They can cause us to look inward and … upward.

I have a friend who recently lost her sight.  She knew it was coming and she prepared and trained for what it would be like to not be able to navigate with her eyes. She put her career on hold and was proactive about the inevitable.  She did all she could do to equip herself.

She had a warning that she was losing her sight.  It didn’t come from google it came in the form of Cancer and it wasn’t a warning that she could fix, but that she should prepare. Now her gaze is permanently fixed upward to where her help comes from.

When we begin to lose sight of where we should be do we get a warning? Is there a gentle tug or a feeling we may be off track or veering out of the center of God’s will? These are the things I will be exploring and sharing with you in the next few posts.

I hope you will tag along as we explore how loss shapes us.  How losing can be freeing as well. And what the gentle and not so gentle warnings to us are when we begin to lose sight of what God’s plan for us is.

The most awesome thing is – God never ever Loses sight of us.

Thankful that though we lose sight of the Son, he never loses sight of us.

Thankful that though we lose sight of the Son, he never loses sight of us.

 

Have you grown as a result of a loss?  Please comment below and encourage others. (commenting also will let Google Know – we are still here)

Being PRESENT in His PRESENCE

DSC_2200I’ve been pondering distractions lately.  Watching people in stores, restaurants and at the pool or in cars and noticing how distractions divide our attention. Often the people we are with become second when we are distracted.

Statistics show traffic accidents on the rise as well as accidental deaths and injuries all  due to a “lack of focus”. My friend posted a sign they posted in the work place about personal cell phone usage because her employees were more focused on their phones than their customers.  In several instances employees playing a game on company time actually suffered accidental injuries in the workplace while they were rushing to capture a fictional creature.

My friend Beth was the victim of serious car accident due to a DSC_0248distracted driver who was texting.  Both legs and pelvis were broken and she spent days in the hospital and months recovering all because the other driver was distracted.

When parents are distracted often the kids pay the price for it.  I know how quickly a child can scamper when we are distracted by something.  As a young mom I thought the kids worked as a team.  One would distract me so the other could climb on the table or out the door.

DSC_0904Distractions cause our communication to suffer.  Trying to chat with my husband while he’s watching  Golf, is never productive. Striking up a conversation with me, when I’m proofreading or writing is also bound to result in frustration for both of us.

Many of our distractions are manmade and the result of choices we make. We choose to fill our boredom or our gaps with a distraction instead of allowing solitude or silence or focusing on what’s in front of us.  A man who makes his living in the tech industry and Google gaming sees the danger in distractions.

“I’d argue that what’s happening is that we’re becoming like the mal-formed weight lifter who trains only their upper body and has tiny little legs. We’re radically over-developing the parts of quick thinking, distractible brain and letting the long-form-thinking, creative, contemplative, solitude-seeking, thought-consolidating pieces of our brain atrophy by not using them. And, to me, that’s both sad and dangerous.” -Joe Kraus  Partner at Google Ventures.

One of the scary things about this quote is that it was mentioned in a speech he gave in 2012.  Four years ago.  Also frightening was his take on “solitude-seeking, thought consolidating pieces of our brains”.

Where do we find God?  What does the Bible say about seeking alone and quiet time with God?

DSC_0903“But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.” (Habakkuk 2:20)

“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15)

“Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35)

“Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:16)

 

I believe distractions are not only costing our personal relationships but also our heavenly ones.  Our Connection to the Creator is causing a shift in our spiritual lives as well.  It is more about the culture shaping us than us shaping the culture.

Are we missing messages and missions God has for us because we are too distracted to connect with him?

POINT TO PONDER: What can you do today that can help you to increase your quiet time with God and make it distraction free?

We will be discussing this during our Retreat “HOPE: An Anchor for your Soul” get details here: http://kissedbythecreator.com/?page_id=406

Catch us on #HOPEscope every Monday – Friday at 7:15am on www.periscope.tv  (search Connie P. Shoemaker or kissedbycreator)

Numbers…

I received a number today for a young man I’ve known since birth.  It broke my heart.  It was a prison number. I wept looking at the number after his name.  I thought of the significance of this number and what it meant in Jail and what it will mean moving forward.

I pray he lives beyond that number.  I’m praying prisonfor the number to become a memory.  Praying that number which represents a mess, will become part of his message.  This child I held as a baby, who grow up with my kids side by side, diverged and now  he isn’t a name, he’s a number….for this season.

What are numbers?  They are a symbol or word in a series  for identification.  For now, he will identify and be identified by this number.  But God calls him still by name.  God sees him as son, not number #31-68734.  His family still calls him by name but where he lives, they shout out his number.

450px-NumbersBookCover.svgNumbers play a major role in our lives.  From our chromosomes to our vertebrae to the number of bones in our hand and the muscles it takes to frown, our bodies are connected and identified by numbers.  Here in the United States we are issued a Social Security number at birth that is used for a variety of purposes like taxes, insurance and education, that number defines and unlocks information we need.

Phone numbers, credit card numbers, bank account numbers are all crucial to defining our communication with each other and our wealth.

 

Numbers are used in the bible from the 10 Commandments to the days 40 days of the floodBundesstraße_40_number.svg
and 40 days and 40 years in the wilderness and the 12 tribes of Judah…all of these events and issues defined by a number.

Numbers-Chapter-SummariesThere is even a book with the title “Numbers” in the Bible.  Ironically or perhaps not, the book of Numbers explains how Israel prepared to enter the promise land, but sinned and was punished. The title refers the two population censuses Moses took during that period.

There are four themes in Numbers.  The beginning depicts the preparation for the journey  to the Promised Land. The second portion talks about the Israelites travel and grumbling and how God continued to provide for them.  numbersThe third portion discusses their disobedience and severe punishment for being unfaithful to God. The final theme addresses the new generation and their victorious conquests, more disobedience and finally the entry into the Promised Land after 40 years of wandering in the desert.

The book of Numbers recounts God’s unfailing direction in the lives of his people. It shows the ways God tested their endurance and their faithfulness. Though they sinned, God remained faithful to guide them on their journey with the pillar of fire by night and cloud by day.  God never left them alone in the desert. He never ventured far from them in the wilderness.

barbed wireI pray this for number #31-68734.  May this wilderness experience be his NUMBERS moment.  May he come to see God and feel His faithfulness and sense a new direction in his life. My prayer is that if you are experiencing a Numbers moment, you to would feel God’s presence and recalculate your destination with HIS help.

 

POINT TO PONDER: Are you called by a number? Are you experiencing a Numbers Moment? Call on the Name of Jesus. There is power in the name of Jesus.  Struggling? Turn it over.  Here’s some inspiration about God’s ability to take your Number and give you a name.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upLBLppWTj0

 

 

Sweeper Tracks – Ode to Mother’s Day

Me and Baby Jake(Written 2/6/97 when I only had two littles)

I am a mother who has been blessed beyond belief, so why am I complaining? It has just been one of those days.  Those long, long, days. It’s 5:30 p.m. and I am still in my robe sitting with my two kids under two (and under foot and anywhere else they can fit for that matter.) Where has the time in this day gone?  Soon my husband will be home asking that dreaded (does he really want the answer?) spousal question….”Honey, What did you do today?”

Well, I’ve been barfed on, pooped and peed on, played on, hung on, and clung on. I’ve picked up, put down, washed this and that…and that again.  I’ve read, sung, swung and swaddled.  I’ve collected, rejected and disinfected. What did I do today???

Scan_Pic0008I was lamenting to an older friend about the small things I’ve missed since having children.  You know, the spare time, spare money and spare car.  Simple things like only having 3 loads of laundry per week, biweekly visits to the grocery and only have to run the dishwasher once a week.  Oh! Those were the days.

I was even petty enough to mention that I Rachelmissed “sweeper tracks”.  You know those nice, neat Hoover patterns, that before kids, could last hours, even days in seldom used rooms.  Those tracks that represent cleanliness and order.  I complained that I couldn’t remember the last time my carpet retained sweeper tracks for more than 30 seconds.  They are quickly replaced by tiny footprints, cracker crumbs, raisins and tire tracks from a myriad of toy wheels.

hannah's carrotsAfter a brief pause my wise friend reminded me that all too soon I’ll be staring at Hoover patterns that would make the greens keeper at Pebble Beach green with envy.  Sweeper tracks that will last for days and I’ll long to see those tiny foot prints and caravan of wheel marks.  I’ll have my spare time, my spare money and my spare car, but I won’t have these little people.

Sometimes it takes a different perspective toeaster kids help you savor the moment – even the unpleasant ones.  As I slather on the 30th coat of Desitin today, I realize my answer to the spousal question will be, “A lot of cool stuff. I had a great day.” For all too soon I might be answering, “Nothing Much”.  I am thankful for these little people, thankful for my Hoover and thankful for friends that help me see the whole picture.

DSC_0854

EPILOGUE:

That was 19 years ago.  The Hoover replaced by a Shark. I can’t remember the last time I stepped on a lego or moved a matchbox car or bought cheerios. That friend was wise and I’m glad I heeded her advice. I did enjoy those years.  Today, I do have some spare time, and a spare car….still waiting on the spare cash…perhaps AFTER they are through college.  I do have sweeper tracks, but I don’t have the little people (only a 15 year old remains).  I miss the days when a kiss and a lollipop could fix just about anything.  I’m not complaining…this season isn’t bad at all it is just different.  I am proud of all that my kids accomplished and I am glad I soaked in those times and memories.

From someone whose lived it, can I share some advice? LIVE for today.  Don’t worry about tomorrow.  Invest in the lives that are around you now…the future will unfold in a timing all its own.

POINT TO PONDER:  What is your favorite childhood memory?

Catch us Monday thru Friday at 7:15am EST for #HOPEscope on www.periscope.tv Look for Connie P. Shoemaker or kissedbycreator  You can also find us on Facebook @ Kissed by the Creator.

SCARS

Scars

FullSizeRender (1)She sat down beside me in the dining room, running her fingers over a scar on her leg. “I love scars,” my 15 year old announced. I sat silently waiting for my deep thinker’s epiphany to tumble out.  She pointed from scar to scar and explained the memories they evoked.  She said, “Scars tell stories”.  From bike chains to dog fangs, spills and falls, she shared the cause of each.  The tales were part of my fair skinned girl’s story.

Scars make us wonder, they make us notice. Scars matter.  At the Dairy Queen a lady stood at the other window.  She was flawless from head to….ankle.  Her ankle bore the scares of what appeared to be several surgeries and her strappy blingy sandals did not hide them. I wondered if she was a runner or soccer player or if she injured her ankle skiing or biking.  What was the story behind her scar?

The scar conversation with my daughter weighed heavily as I pondered about the unseenIMG_1384 scars in our lives.  The wounds inflicted on our spirits, on our souls, on our hearts, on our minds.  We all carry unseen scars that are perhaps to painful to share about.

The scars on my child’s legs and hands are evidence of healed wounds.  What about unseen scars?  Have they healed or has the world picked our scabs so much that our unseen wounds continue to fester and weep? Does she have unseen scars?

Unseen scars manifest themselves in various ways.  People who lash out harshly, judge unjustly, withdraw, overmedicate, hibernate or live in fear might be the walking wounded, nursing scars that have yet to heal.
100_5805Recently, I encountered one of the wounded whose unseen scars compelled them to behave irrationally. The confrontation left me reeling and contemplating a well crafted, scathing and justified retort until my eyes fell upon a scar on my hand.  Swallowing the words and stuffing my anger, the path of peace seemed to be more important than proving my case.  Pondering the unseen scars that led to the raw anger gushed out took the focus off my wounds and put it on their unseen ones.

The bible says: “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,” Proverbs 16:32a  Being slow to anger doesn’t come naturally to me.  “The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, And his glory is to overlook a transgression.” Proverbs 19:11

Ephesians 4:31 is pretty clear on how we are to handle others: “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.”  I’m still unsure of the fallout from the angry encounter but one thing is pretty clear when I pray about it.  “The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” – Exodus 14:14.

“I see it on the cross
The nails You took for me
Scars can change the world
Scars can set me free”

Mandisa – “What Scars are for”

I see scars differently now.  I see them as reminders of healing and restoration. Like the FullSizeRender (2)scars Christ bore for us that we might be healed and restored. It’s the unseen scars, the scars still healing that I’m trying to focus on.  Scars tell stories.  When offended, I guess the important thing is to rest in our defense, the one the Lord promises.  To lay the offense at His nail scarred feet.  Let His scars change your world.

 

 

POINT TO PONDER:  Do your scars seen or unseen make you retreat or lash out?  Have you taken your wounds to the ONE who was wounded for us? His scars were for the sake of our healing and restoration what keeps you from laying them at his feet?

Catch us Monday thru Friday at 7:15am EST for #HOPEscope on www.periscope.tv Look for Connie P. Shoemaker or kissedbycreator   You can also watch replays on katch.me search for kissedbycreator .

 

From Wrecked to Reminded

DSC_0260Lately I feel like the ball on God’s ping pong table. As if I am bouncing from one tragedy to the next.  It would appear, if my Facebook page is any indicator, many of us share the same predicament.

On Sunday scrolling through my Facebook feed, I learned of the unexplained sudden death of a healthy sixth month old.  I was wrecked as I read of his mother’s anguished cries and aching arms.  I sucked air in as the tears squeezed4264164845_da35e12f33_z out. I uttered a small prayer for comfort and let the grief settle in for this momma I didn’t even know and the toddler she never would.

Scrolling a little further I read the news that a baby we prayed for regarding an encephalitic condition in the womb was born whole and healthy. I worshiped and praised sharing this answered prayer while weeping for the empty crib and childless mother.

God seems to allow crushing tragedy into our lives or into the life of someone we love, that leaves us wrecked.  Speechless or reeling, grasping desperately at the whys?

  • Why did this happen?
  • Why did God allow this?
  • Why could something so bad happen to this good person?

Mozambique SunriseWhen I sink down and feel the weight of the sorrow or pain and slog through the mire of the unknown; I get to that part where my boots get stuck in the mud.  I can go no further, think no more, no words to say, save for one….Jesus.  I wait.  Much like Augustine when he penned these words:

“In my deepest wound I saw your glory, and it dazzled me.” ~ Augustine

 

I wait for the glory. I wait for the dazzle and it comes. Not always quickly. But it comes.

Just that one word.  Jesus.  It is the word when all others fail.  It is the white flag waving at the end of a battered or IV tethered hand or a shaking fist.  Jesus.

And then He does it.  He reminds us of Who HE is.  He dazzles.

It could be a totally unrelated answer to prayer or some miracle coming out of the current tragedy.  He never fails.  His glory is somehow revealed.

It’s like a small pat on the hand of a frightened child or the comfort of a parent waking a childOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA from a night terror.  He reminds us that he is there.  That he is on the throne.  He knows. He sees. He hears. He shapes.

The repercussions of the tragedy continue to unfold.  The tears are still cried and dried.  But the dazzling.  The glory reminds us that we are not walking it alone or unseen. The Glory gives hint to purpose.

While the mysteries of the Why’s may never be answered on this side of eternity.  The comfort of the Who comes.  It comes with dazzling glory.

Perhaps if we share more of the Dazzling with others, even just the daily dazzling it would offer hope to those in darkness – those still wrestling with the Whys.

See, we get prayer requests daily on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Periscope…the requests come in droves.  What about the Answers?  Maybe we need to start just posting our Answers to prayers, our praises for how God shows up daily. The dazzling of glory moments in our day, not just the dark ones.

“Publish his glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does.” – Psalm 96:3

If you’ve followed the story of Joey and Rory Feek, you’ve witnessed the devastation of ovarian cancer on this little country music clan.  In his blog thislifeilive.com  Rory talks about their life quite candidly.  I admire his strength and his faith during this heart wrecking journey.  There is hope in his words…I think he sees the dazzling through his tears because his words bear witness and bring glory to God.  I pray for Joey and their family daily.  I pray for  Dazzle for them.

If you are walking through the darkness.  If you are prayed out, talked out, or tuckered out; say the name of Jesus.  Then wait for it….

The dazzling will come.  HIS Glory will shine.

 

POINT TO PONDER:  If you’ve felt the dazzle amidst a wound share it here, encourage others.  When we see there is a purpose to our pain it gives us strength to endure.

 

Catch us Monday thru Friday at 7:15am EST for #HOPEscope on www.periscope.tv Look for Connie P. Shoemaker or kissedbycreator!  You can also watch replays on katch.me search for kissedbycreator .

 

 

Do Not be Afraid…

Beyond the Manger Monday #2  (pursuing Advent all year long!)

LightsMany times throughout the Christmas story we hear the Angels say, “Do not be afraid”.  This is the greeting to Mary and Joseph before they are asked to do something very challenging in their lives.  For Mary it meant dying to self and carrying a child as an unwed mother.  For Joseph it meant continuing a commitment to a woman carrying a baby that wasn’t his.  Each time the Angel appeared was preceded by the admonition to “Be not afraid.”

Shepherds were solitary creatures who felt more comfortable in the hillsides with their animals, living quiet lives.  The angel appeared to them to announce the news and said, “Do not be afraid” then Heavenly hosts belted out glory to God in the highest slicing their silence with singing.

As we get further and further from Christmas and its songs and stories, these words slip further from our minds.

Do Not Be Afraid101_8292

That babe in a manger came in a way that could inspire fear.  Sometimes the things God allows into our lives can initially cause us to fear.  They can cause us to quake like the shepherds, or take us by surprise like carrying an unexpected, unplanned child or marrying a woman who conceived God’s child.

Matthew 10:31 says, “Do not be afraid you are more valuable to God than a flock of sparrows.”  This verse refers to the fact that just as God provides for the Sparrows, he too will provide for us, because we are even more valuable.

The grown up baby Jesus in Matthew reminds us not to be afraid.  That baby grew up into a man who was not afraid to say the tough words and love the unlovable people and connect with the sinner while challenging the self righteous.  He took on our sin and died on the cross. But when he went to heaven he did not leave us. He said, “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen.” ~ Matthew 28:20

God can take what scares us to pieces and give us peace about it. Are you quaking about something in your life?  Do you want to move forward but find fear stopping you, chaining you in your tracks?  Take a moment to meditate on a few of these verses:

“We can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’”
—Hebrews 13:6

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
—Philippians 4:6-7

“I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.”
—Psalm 34:4

“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.”
—Psalm 42:5

“Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.”
—Matthew 6:34

“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.”
—2 Corinthians 4:8-9

101_0706God’s word is truth and these promises are still true as they were the day they were written. Let’s purpose to live out our days free from fear by breaking the chains of fear which can bind us.

POINT TO PONDER:  Fear often comes when God has a mission for us to accomplish…could your fears be hindering you from being a blessing to someone somehow?  What can you do today…to step out in faith and be freed from your fear?

Catch us on #HOPEscope every Monday – Friday at 7:15am on www.periscope.tv Mondays feature “Beyond the Manger Monday” where we are exploring how to live Advent all year long. (search Connie P. Shoemaker or kissedbycreator)

I’ve lost that “Grinchy” Feeling….

LightsEach year I focus on #oneword for the year.  A word, that I research and seek out in scripture and pray about.  A word I feel the Lord puts on my heart as a focus for the coming year.  Past year’s words have included: Joy, Celebration, Ponder, Wonder, Hope, and Peace.  As of Christmas morning I had yet to sense my word for 2016.  I wasn’t stressing because several times I didn’t get it until mid January.

The day after Christmas, I had to leave my family all snug in their beds and set out in the dreary rain for work. I knew that before I reached my client, my family would be rising to the smell of freshly brewed coffee and a lovely breakfast.  To say that I was in my own personal land of pity as I drove the route to the nursing home was an understatement.DSC_0357

I was feeling “Grinchy”, really really “Grinchy” (no, not my #oneword for 2016).  My heart was heavy and I was focusing on myself and that I was missing out.  I knew I couldn’t walk into a patient’s room cloaked in regret, anger, and self-pity, so I began to take stock of my blessings over the last 24 hours.  I also sought God for my #oneword.   I pondered the Advent series I lead over at #HOPEscope on Periscope and how many people wrote to tell me it blessed them.  I wondered about what theme to approach in 2016.  As I prayed and drove, my spirit lifted and my thoughts drifted to the word ADVENT.

DSC_0320My attitude of gratitude caused me to berate myself for the total 180 swing my emotions took as I set out for work earlier.  The carols which had brought me joy and a stirring of anticipation had made me feel like I was lacking…and were almost painful to hear as I journeyed further from my family for the day.  I went from celebrating Christmas to commiserating with Scrooge in about 15 minutes time.  I went from glad to sad, from blessed to stressed, you get the picture. Thankfully Gratitude changed it around.

“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year,” – reverberated in my grey matter.  (No it is not Biblical it is Charles Dickens – “Christmas Carol”) What would that really look like?  To keep the excitement and enthusiasm of anticipating Christmas ALL year long?  Was it even possible?

This past week, I have been writing fast and furiously about living out a NEW ADVENT in preparation for not the babe….but the Second Coming of Christ – The Return of the King!

Advent means ‘Coming’ in Latin. This is the coming of Jesus into the world.

How can we capture the excitement of Advent and be full of love and joy as we are during theDSC_0333 holidays and live that out 365 days a year?  How could our year and our lives be different if we took the time to explore how the presence of Christ on this earth impacts our lives AND our future?  The Return of the King is the culmination of the life of the Love Gift sent by our father in Heaven to the manger.

Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 1 Peter 1:13

101_9456We need to take as many people as we can with us to Heaven.  This year my #oneword  ADVENT, will take me on a journey of preparation for the “Return of the King” I will explore the adult life of Christ and what his purpose was beyond that of salvation.  How does he manifest in the names he is called? What promises do we have because he came as a babe in a manger?  My prayer is the joy of the NEW ADVENT will be contagious and I will reflect the image of Christ.  My hope is that people will see the ADULT JESUS living in me, and want to meet Him.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” – Isaiah 9:6

I hope you will join me in this journey into preparing for a NEW ADVENTThe Return of the King.

I will be exploring this each Monday on  “Mondays: Beyond the Manger”  over at #HOPEscope on www.periscopetv . My show airs live Monday-Friday at 7:15 am eastern time! I hope you will join me!

POINT TO PONDER:  What is your #oneword for 2016?

Gliding through God’s Fingerprints

DSC_2193This summer, we rented paddle boards as we headed north to Lake Michigan. We were looking for recreational activity but as often happens, a spiritual connection was also made. I love how God speaks to me as I immerse myself in creation.

The paddle quietly cuts through the big water, and with each stroke I am taken further from shore. Further from the trappings of the world, the noise of children and the scent of sunscreen and campfires. It’s just me and THEE gliding across the unusually glassy lake.

Beneath me I can see the occasional fish or the rock formations, but it is the ripples in the sand that soothe my soul.

The gentle undulating patterns are from the currents as the rhythmic water laps. At the shoreDSC_2141 line it crashes as it rolls and rolls. But out away from the shore, the gentle waves billow on silently rolling and lulling the board as it cuts its own swath through the lake.

The ripples that decorate the lake floor remind me of what the fingerprints of God must look like. They, like the postcards from heaven sunset I am paddling toward are the small vestiges of the Master artist.

His gentle smooth and wavy designs at the bottom of the lake are pristine, they are untouched. They are my private art exhibit. I lose myself in them as I paddle on. I ponder God’s fingerprints on the story of my life.

DSC_2122The Master’s hand is a genius. His artistry is not only evident in creation but in our lives. I think of the times he deftly plucked me from danger, the times he skillfully steered me in the right direction and the times he’s made the divine connections with those who’ve greatly impacted my trajectory.

 

I also think of the trials, frustrations and disappointments I’ve experienced and laid at theDSC_2248-001 foot of the Cross, sometimes more than once. Who hasn’t prayed prayers that were not answered in the way we intended for them to be? Even in  disappointments God’s fingerprints are evident in our lives. He continues to mold and shape us into the vessel he wants us to be. We are being sculpted, refined and defined by the Master’s Hand.  The same hands that carved the Grand Canyon.  The same hand that hangs the stars each night.

We need only to yield to his touch and to his hand to fully realize our potential and purpose in this life. If you are struggling with an area of  life that seems burdensome or devastating, just remember you are not walking it alone. HE wastes nothing.

One thing amazing about his artistry is that it is true perfection. HE makes no mistakes.

POINT TO PONDER: What area of your life is a work in progress? What lessons have you learned from experiences that were horrific initially? ACT NOW: Share those experiences and offer hope to the hopeless. Be a beacon!
Catch us Monday thru Friday at 7:15am EST for #HOPEscope on www.periscope.tv Look for Connie P. Shoemaker or kissedbythecreator!

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