The Gift of Christmas

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I’m sitting in the stillness and the silence of my morning house.  The weekend before Christmas is upon us.  Snow is swirling in the air and it glistens in the sun that is attempting to poke throughout the clouds.  I am soaked in Peace.  I am saturated in the presence of the Sprit.  I think about my week and how I was witness, again, to the Gift of God shining in the most unexpected places.

I sink into my chair, wrapped in the warmth of blanket and fire and hum two of my favorite Christmas songs.  Oh Holy Night and Come All Ye Faithful.  I pause and reflect on the words,

Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine
Oh night divine

Fall on your knees.  How often I am here.  On my knees.  It doesn’t take a Christmas song to bring me there on a daily basis.

Come and behold Him,
Born the King of Angels;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

Adore Him.  The King of angels.  The King of this World.  The King of Glory.  The King of Kings.  Adore Him..

UnknownTwo songs say it all.  Fall on your knees and adore Him.  Drop to your knees and delight in Him.  Spill to your knees and glorify, exalt and esteem Him.  Not just today, not just for Christmas….this is what is necessary… Every.  Single.  Day.

I pray that the Christmas spirit finds a way to wrap itself around your very heart, all year long.  A Gift.

This week I had the amazing pleasure of sharing this Gift with someone.  Someone who had no hope, no promise, no faith.  That which started as a day to bless others serving a hot Christmas meal with my Life Group at the Food Bank, ended with my heart so swollen, and so in awe of the mercy and grace that God gives us.  The Gift of Love.  The Gift of Redemption.  The Gift of Hope and a Future. Unknown

I saw her sitting alone, and prayed as I approached her for bold, courage.  I prayed silently as I sat, that He give me the appropriate words to say.  That I be only a vessel of his love.  What if I had not listened?  She poured her heart out to me.  What if I had ignored His provoking of my heart?  She spilled every inch of her soul to me.  What if I would’ve talked instead of listening to her words of hopelessness and grief?  What if I hadn’t taken notice to His leading that prompted me to show a simple smile, to take time to sit and have a conversation, to look into eyes that showed pain, to take a hand and hold, and to hug a complete stranger?  How often do I do this?  Pass by.  Hurry on in my day.  What if I had not listened?  This story would have ended differently.  But on this day, as I held the trembling, thin, cracked hands of a complete stranger, He held my hands,  and He had a different plan….  And as I prayed with this sweet, delicate, woman, I felt His presence so powerful, and so strong.  His mercy and grace spilling onto her.  His love splashing around us.  Completely soaked in the goodness and graciousness of God.  And when she opened her eyes, I could see a hope that can only come from one Source.

From a Baby.  From the Lover of our souls.  From an almighty God that loves us without abandon.

The King of angels.  Christ the Lord.  The Gift.

………….Oh Come Let us Adore Him.Unknown-1

…..Tis the Season

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Tis the Season…

I’m still wrapping my mind around the fact that December is upon us.  I’m working on the not so quick transition between Thanksgiving and Christmas in our home.  As I put away the Fall, and dig through the many totes of Christmas decorations, I find myself nostalgic.  It happens every year.  Looking at the ornaments from Christmas past.  Crafts our kids made while growing…..  It really gives me a sense of length and width of the life we’ve lived thus far.  Now, we have kids moved out and moving on…  Life is so good.  Time is so fast.  I love that this time of year gives me the reminder to slow down, and always enjoy the moments we have.  images-1

imagesChristmas is something I never want to rush through.  This is one of my favorite times of the year.  I love it, because it is a holiday that is not about ourselves, and all about The One we celebrate.  It’s about and our family and friends.  It’s a about strangers and guests, it’s about giving and celebrating.  It’s about memories and traditions.

This time of year God came to us in the form of a baby.  Helpless.  The God of the Universe wrapped in cloths and put in a manger.  Imagine.  As I set up my Nativity, I think about how that night would’ve been for passer-byers, for the inn keeper, for Joseph, for Mary…knowing that the Son would be born among the sheep and cows.  In the hay.  Thus starts the season of giving. God gave, and so we pass on the Gift.  Christmas is Love in action.Unknown

Christmas in our family has always been so much more than the parties, the songs, the stories and the commercialism, it is about a baby.

Unknown-1One of our favorite traditions is putting our Baby into the manger on Eve.  Each year, as our children grew up, they took turns, as the Hubs read Luke 2:1-20, at putting Jesus into His place in the trough.  The story never changed and even though they knew it by heart, they vied for their place next to Dad and to know who would place Jesus in his baby manger.  Eagerly, each trying to remember who had the honor the year before, and who it passed to the current year.  It was always interesting to me, that even as older teens, they sat, with anticipation, listening to the Story.  Quiet, filled with expectancy.. as if it were the first time, hearing it…..and somehow, it always seemed that it was…..The story was always fresh, unique and awe-inspiring….just the way it should be.  It’s a fun story to share when people come into our home around the holiday, and ask, “where is your Jesus?” as they look at the bare manger.  I hope it’s these traditions that will continue to be passed on as our kids have their own families, but more-so I pray that they always pass on the Reason that is Christmas.  The Truth of that Baby.  The certainty of that night.  The perfection that was born in a manger as a gift from the Most High.  Emmanuel.  Nativity-Wallpaper-05

~The spirit of Christmas needs to superseded by the Spirit of Christ. The spirit of Christmas is annual; the Spirit of Christ is eternal. The spirit of Christmas is sentimental; the Spirit of Christ is supernatural. The spirit of Christmas is a human product; the Spirit of Christ is a divine person. That makes all the difference in the world. -Stuart Briscoe

Mission Day One

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Looking over Tegucigalpa

How can one describe the indescribable? Explain a rainbow of color to one who has never had sight? Or the most beautiful of sounds to one who has never heard a single sound?

Yesterday was our first full day back from Honduras. The sights, sounds and smells of that country and what we experienced is fresh in my mind. My heart is heavy. I have, in a twenty-four hour period, since stepping off of that plane, experienced a hundred different emotions. I feel weighted down and as if someone is sitting on my chest making it difficult to breathe. I have gone from sitting quietly, reflecting, praying, looking at pictures, full of joy, to sobbing, to anger and back again. Having my best friend, the hubster, here to talk with has been my most valuable asset.
I loved all of the well wishes from friends and family yesterday, but honestly couldn’t bring myself to talk to anyone, but one. Who I longed to talk to was my team. No one will get me and what I feel, but them. And when checking in on one, I heard she had the same sort of feelings. Like refugees, scattered around our small city, I feel out of place and out of sorts. I am glad on our last night, as we met as a team, we were given “pointers” on how to re-enter. I know what I am feeling is normal, and know that it will be a process to work through. How do you come back to this life in the US, so full of abundance after seeing and experiencing what we did? I am excited to share this amazing journey with you.

On our first day we visited the AFE school. AFE stands for Amor, Fe y Esperanza (Love, Faith and Hope) We toured AFE and heard about its beginning. It’s quite amazing how God can work through the smallest of children to do something so huge in a country. We learned how one visit to the trash dump in Tegucigalpa prompted a tiny girls heart to help an entire population stricken by incomprehensible poverty.
We visited each class at AFE starting with the nursery. Kids can immediately grab your heart, and I knew mine was gone the second we stepped in to play with these sweet cherubs.
As we visited each class, we learned their names, favorite colors, favorite subjects and what they would like to be when growing up. Doctors, paralegals, engineers, teachers, soccer players… They asked us questions as well, and it was so fun to hear their laughter as we struggled over our Spanish. We ended in each classroom, with an encouragement, “Te ve en la Universidad!”
It was amazing to see this school. To know that these students, not long ago were attending school for the first time, under a make-shift tarp, sitting on old tires, in the trash dump. Now they have roofs over their heads, sitting at desks and tables. God is good!

The next part of our day was a visit to the dump. We were educated on this, and were prepared…so we thought, for this visit. We were not allowed to take any photos, out of respect and dignity to those who make the trash dump their home. And honestly, pictures would’ve never conveyed what we saw.
As we drove up the winding hill, I prayed…”Lord, give me the strength I need for this. Give me eyes to see, and ears to hear these people.”
We were going up to feed the people of the dump and I thought about how it would have been for Jesus. How the dirty, sick and starving would come to Him and how he loved them all. I continued to pray as we pulled in. I was nervous. I had images of what I thought we would see, but as we approached I realized, quickly, that even my worst minds-image, wasn’t even close. We stepped out of the van with our bags of water and food, and the crowds emerged. At first it was hard to wrap my mind around these….people. Broken. Dirty. Emaciated. Their clothes, faces and hair all one color. I grabbed my composer, trying my best to keep my eyes from tearing. Trying my best to…breathe, through the rancid, sour, odor of rot and decomposition that was permeating my nose and mouth. We started a line to hand out water. We were instructed to make three lines, for men, women and children. As they raced into lines to grab whatever they could, I saw their faces for the first time. Their eyes. These people, who were entrenched in the piles of trash, right along with the buzzards and dogs, who seemed almost “un-human” had eyes so tender. Their faces, became real to me. They became, people. Human beings. I watched as smiles emerged from faces, grateful for just the small amount of food and interaction. I left the line with bags of water to hand out. I walked a ways, praying a silent prayer over these people. May God spare them of this. I watched as they scoured through new trash as trucks entered. Frenzied, looking for any tidbit they could find. Grateful for even a chicken carcass that was thrown out, so that they could have a meal for their family.
We got back into the van, and I sobbed! I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to be able to do more. I wanted for this entire population of people living in the dump to not exist. These men, women, children and infants to have a place to live and work and eat and breathe! To be clean and have fresh water. I wanted to scream. But I sobbed.

After our dump visit, I was so emotionally drained, I could barely speak. In fact all of us were quiet…each of us processing what we had experienced. Quietly lifting up prayers as the day went on. Praying for AFE and how God is using that ministry. Praying for our strength, as we all knew that the next day we would be out in the neighborhood building a house from the ground up. I was encouraged by this. Was excited to meet the family we were building for and hand the keys over on that last day. Little did I know, that God had given me a little glimpse on this very first day at AFE.

I changed on that day. Changed in a way that I am still working through and processing. Changed in a way that I cannot convey and may never be able to. A soul change. A shift so strong in me that I know I am a different person. That day at the dump will never leave my mind. The kids at AFE will never leave my prayers. My list of names is long. i know the country of Honduras is on my heart. I know and see that God IS working in this country. I know He is bigger than all of this.

– to be continued…..

For more information on AFE and their ministry, go to http://www.afehonduras.org/

~For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land. -Deuteronomy 15:11

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Little Lucy

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They loved the camera!

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Hiking to the statue of Jesus

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Below the statue
~ When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up to Heaven. – Luke 24:50-51

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Christo el Picacho visible from any point in the city of Tegucigalpa, Honduras.