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Love, Dad ❤

I love Christmas! So much so I leave my tree and inside decorations up all year long. It may sound a bit eccentric but trust me; it saves a lot of work. Plus, I come home to Christmas after every trip.  The only thing lacking is the load of presents under the tree, always a big part of Christmas. I admit, I love the gifts part of Christmas too.

Yes, I was one of those children who drove her parents crazy by discovering the hiding place of the gifts. Knowing in advance did not rob me of the excitement of tearing off the paper to get to the present inside. My mother soon gave up on the fancy wrapping. Why bother? Mother didn't believe in wasting anything so the tag on the gift was always part of one of last year's Christmas cards.

Mother was not only the one who wrapped, but also the one who shopped, based on the long Christmas list I provided from my catalogue shopping. It was always a battle to see who got the first look at the Christmas catalogues. By the time I had gone through them with my red marker it was difficult to see anything on a page because I had circled just about everything.

gifts.jpg

My father left the bulk of the Christmas preparations to my mother. His Christmas contribution was a small white envelope hidden somewhere in the tree. Not wrapped in fancy paper with a bow, but wrapped in love. Yes, you guessed correctly—there was money in the envelope! He always wrote something on the card and signed it— "Love, Dad." I can still see his handwritten words on the small while note card holding the check.

He is in Heaven celebrating with my mother so there is no white envelope hidden in the tree. But there is this reminder from James that "Every good gift and perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights." (James 1:17) So the truth is that every single gift I open has the words "Love, Dad." written on the card. Each one is a gift from my Heavenly Father.

As you open your presents this Christmas, I pray you will experience the extravagant love of your Father, the Giver of every good gift.

Have You Made Your Christmas List?

I still remember the excitement I felt as a child when the Christmas catalogues arrived in November. What fun, going page-by- page, circling item after item with a red felt tip marker. I laboriously scribbled my Christmas List on notebook paper, giving product and page number to ensure my parents bought the right item. Their response was, "It would take a miracle for you to get all this for Christmas!" From my perspective nothing was impossible.

Christmas list

Christmas is a season that can re-awaken in us, as adults, wonder, awe and expectation that anything can happen. The birth of Jesus Christ ushered in an eternal season of the miraculous. Who ever heard of a virgin giving birth to a baby? The rest of the Christmas story is filled with the supernatural; angel choirs from heaven, angelic dream appearances, and bright spotlight star guidance.

Christmas is still a season of miracles. We are never too old to make a Christmas List. Why not make a list of every miracle we desire for our family, our friends, our nation, and ourselves? I believe our Father delights when we, as His children, come to Him as the giver of every good gift. Let's take off the limiting lenses we have put on as adults.

I encourage you to make your Christmas Miracle List. No matter how impossible the request is, write it down. We need to be like Ralphie in the movie "A Christmas Story". He wanted that Red Ryder BB Gun more than anything in the world. It seemed like an impossible request, but he believed, in spite of discouraging comments. You have probably seen the movie and know the outcome. Remember the joy on his Dad's face as Ralphie went behind the tree and found the gift?

Our Heavenly Father experiences great pleasure in giving us gifts above and beyond what we have even imagined. So go ahead and make your list. Enjoy a Merry Miracle Christmas!

Happy New Year!

What are you hoping for this year? What are you planning for? What are you dreaming for? These are great questions to ask each other as we enter into a new year. While God is outside of time, I believe he loves it whenever we seek vision, encouragement and guidance for the times ahead.

When responding to these questions, I like to think back on the many wonderful things God has promised us. Sometimes, we can be tempted to build our expectations upon memories, experience, or what other people say. We may even attempt to limit our expectations for the year ahead, perhaps out of fear or uncertainty. Having gotten to know God as a good Father, I am absolutely certain that the most reliable expectations I can choose to focus on for the year ahead can be found in His presence, and in His word.

Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. (2 Peter 1:3-4, NASB)

This year, let's delve even deeper into the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence! In discovering the Father's wonderful heart for us, we will be filled with fresh hope and certainty in His precious and magnificent promises!

The Light Has Come!

Thankful the Light has come!

Because of God's tender mercy, the morning light from Heaven is about to break upon us to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death and to guide us in the path of peace.

- Luke 1:78-79, The Message Translation

Emmanuel, God With Us

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. For those who have lived in a land of deep shadows - light! Sunbursts of light! You repopulated the nation, you expanded it's joy. Oh, they're so glad in your presence! Festival joy! The joy of a great celebration, sharing rich gifts and warm greetings.

The abuse of oppressors and cruelty of tyrants - all their whips and cudgels and curses - is gone, done away with, a deliverance surprising and sudden as Gideon's old victory over Midian. The boots of all those invading troops, along with their shirts soaked with innocent blood, will be piled in a heap and burned, a fire that will burn for days!

For a child has been born - for us! The gift of a son - for us! He'll take over the running of the world. His names willl be: Amazing Counselor, Strong God, Eternal Father, Prince of Wholeness. His ruling authority will grow, and there'll be no limits to the wholeness he brings.

- From Isaiah 9, The Message Translation

Heavenly Papa, what an honor to be alive at a time like this. A time when your Son is present with us; when His ruling authority is increasing; a time where there is no limit to the wholeness experienced by us and by those who encounter your presence.

Thank you for the extravagant, loving, brave choice you made to become a man, empowered by the Holy Spirit and living among mankind, tempted in every way but never sinning, in order to be our perfect sacrifice. Thank you that you continue to be present among us, more so now than ever before.

As we enjoy your presence, let our spirits be strengthened with faith. Let our hearts be filled to overflowing with your love. Let our lives express the fullness of who you are. Thank you for being Emmanuel, God With Us.

You're Invited!

How many Christmas parties are you going to this year? I have stopped counting! I am grateful for any occasion where friends and families gather together to celebrate Christmas, often sharing memories, jokes and encouragement as well as gifts and food.

This year, God is inviting us into His own celebration. He is drawing each of us deeper into His throne-room, the place where He dwells continually. When we encounter Him, life is abundant. As Psalm 16 says: 'In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand there are pleasures forever!'

Has anything been discouraging you from enjoying His presence recently? Have you been troubled by the many gifts to buy, or the many arrangements that need to be made? Fear and shame can cause us to hide from God's presence. He is inviting us to give Him anything that hinders us from approaching His throne of grace with boldness. As we offer Him our anxiety and uncertainty, He fills our hearts with peace, rest and joy.

In Isaiah 61 God's children receive a promise: 'Instead of your shame you will have a double portion, and instead of humiliation they will shout for joy over their portion...'. God has many gifts and blessings to release to us! Today, let's boldly accept His invitation to enjoy His presence. As we join hands with Him, nothing can hold us back.

A Season of Preparation

Dear friends, in the aftermath of Thanksgiving I am aware of something very important: Christmas is nearly here! In the next two weeks many of our homes will undergo a festive transformation as we prepare to celebrate what is personally my favorite holiday of the year. It is a fun and exciting process where every aspect of life begins to take on a mood of celebration. We are anticipating the joy of Christmas: pleasures such as time spent with family and friends, eating great food and giving gifts. 

In my house, Christmas happens from the inside out. My practical preparations are a sign of preparation within: I am also preparing my heart to receive a fresh revelation of Jesus. I am furnishing a place where He can reside, and inviting Him to reveal Himself in new and wonderful ways.

I love to reflect on the excitement leading up to Jesus' birth: the journey of Mary and Joseph, the wise men gathering gifts, the stars themselves moving into alignment. This year I am anticipating the joy of our Heavenly Father revealing Himself on earth like never before. I believe each of us will experience renewal in our lives as we prepare our hearts with gratitude and allow this season to move us deeper into His presence.