Thursday, December 25, 2014

Heart Gifts

Heart Gifts
“Nooooo, go away, you can’t come in!” I implored my sister, Colette.
“How come? What’s the huge secret?” she asked.
“It is a secret and don’t you dare open my door!”
“Well, fine, I’ve got my own secrets too.” She replied walking across to her room, loudly closing the door.
“Hey you two, I need a little help out here.” Mom called from the kitchen.
I quickly stuffed the doll bed I was making into a drawer. I had used an oatmeal box cut in half lengthwise. Carefully lining it with left over material, I made a little mattress stuffed with cotton. I planned to use my best hanky for a little blanket. This was Christmas for my sister and Nancy, her favorite 8 inch tall Ginny doll.
Dad was an electrician. The TV was on the blink and had been sitting in the basement for months waiting for him to fix it. I personally thought he didn’t care much for TV. Well, the good thing was it gave us more time to be creative. This was good, because money was scarce.
I hurried to the kitchen to help mom. By now we were used to the orange crate cupboards. The house was new but we bought it before it was finished. My Dad worked on it evenings and weekends. We had orange crates, painted and with cute curtains instead of doors, for four years before he had the time and money to make real cabinets.
“Girls, would you like to put some of your allowance towards your dad’s gift? He’d love to get a Jacob’s chuck for his drill.” Mom mentioned to us.
Lately that was all Dad talked about. Looking back I realized it cost hardly anything but was something we girls could help buy and feel proud to present our dad on Christmas.
“Mom, do you still want to get that Electrolux vacuum, the hose on the old one cracked clear through yesterday, more dust went out than in.” I said, thinking how all she’d hinted about for months was that vacuum.
“Oh, I sure hope so.” She said with a twinkle in her eyes.
The doorbell rang, it was Mr. Stopple from Stopple Feed and Seed bringing a huge box of delicious apples that Grandpa sent us for Christmas.
Grandpa always seemed pleased, as pleased as his stoic German self could emote, to get home canned goodies and baked goods from us each year. We had a big garden out back, though we lived in the city. Even Inky, the cat had a job to keep the birds off the raspberry bushes. Then we canned and freezer packed produce in the summer heat for weeks. I guess the watermelon pickles, green beans and beets were a gift of love to Grandpa.
In just a few more days it would be Christmas. Dad pulled us aside and swore us to secrecy. He showed us a little Electolux savings bank – it looked just like the vacuum mom wanted. He planned to wrap it…..
Christmas Eve came, Grandpa was there with us. He passed out little envelopes. Colette and I got five dollars each and that was a big deal back in the 1950s. Dad wouldn’t let us see what his contained. Mom showed us later that she got a fifty dollar check. Somehow after Christmas mom took my sis and me shopping. We got a pair of shoes, underwear, a sweater and a new dress! Wonder where her fifty dollars went?
It wasn’t until years later that we found out Grandpa gave Dad a check which covered the mortgage on our modest home for the year. I wonder how many hours of “lawyering” he had to do to earn that. He knew that the folks were paying off doctor bills from my sister’s polio and 9 months in the hospital.
It was Christmas Day! I grabbed the box Colette handed me.
“Colette! When did you do this?” Inside was a bracelet she had made. She used her favorite little heart she’d won at the fair. She made that, just for me and gave me the heart!
Dad gave mom the bank. She looked pretty disappointed when he told her she could save for her Electrolux.
Then he said, ”Ah, Ma, I have one more thing.” From the other room we heard a vacuum turn on.
You just wouldn’t believe the smile on mom’s face as she threw her arms around Dad hugging him close.
(C) Marijo Phelps all rights reserved. Use with proper credits.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

First Advent

The scene is heaven with the main character being a less mature angel pondering what is happening.
Where IS he? I can’t find him anywhere. He wasn’t there during worship time this morning, he is not sitting beside his Father….

“Gabriel, Gabriel, where is he? What has happened to him?” I asked with impatience.

And Gabriel reminded me of when he was sent to earth to bring a great revelation to Mary. It was vague but I sort of remember that now. Why would he consider leaving here and going where Lucifer had been banished?

"Why would he, the creator of all want to become one of the creation?" again I asked my wise mentor.

Gabriel told me it was because of the greatest love he had for his creation. I didn’t get it. They were a mess. And to go as a baby with colic, teething, diaper rash – no, this just couldn’t be right.

“So, why did he just disappear?” I puzzled out loud to Gabriel.

Gabriel explained that when this incredible conception took place the life was breathed into Mary’s womb and he had to go and be where he was growing as a human baby, that he couldn’t be here and there too.

“But why, why would he leave this and us to go THERE?” I just didn’t get this at all.

Patiently Gabriel told me of Jesus' incredible love for those created in his image, how he knew if he went as one of them, walking their paths, where he could teach them and relate to them that it would be worth it all. They really needed someone to save them.

I was left with so much to think about and still couldn’t imagine his leaving.

Time passed, to say that we missed him would be the greatest understatement.
Then Gabriel told me that I needed to go with him and find men watching sheep to tell them of this coming birth.

Oh, I would be able to go, see and be part of all of this!

Those men were plain, simple shepherds taking care of the smelly animals. The men were dressed in rags. Why them? They weren’t important leaders or anyone seeming worthy of meeting the King.

The men were trembling when we appeared and told them to go to Bethlehem. They were obedient leaving right away as Gabriel and I followed along unseen.

The air was crisp and those heavenly lights, they looked diamonds made of star that wonderful night.

When we were a ways off I heard a little cry, that of a babe, and I wondered all over again that he had left heaven where he had always been to come and be with the people of his creation.

The shepherds, Gabriel and I got there just in time to see Mary holding him tightly with awe in her eyes. Joseph was kissing those tiny, wonderful fingers as they reached out to Joseph and beyond.

I was still shaking my head but beginning to grasp just a little bit of what was to come.
Could there ever be a more perfect love? Could there ever be a more wonderful gift?

John 1:14
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (NIV)

Hebrews 2:9
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. (NIV)
(C) Marijo Phelps all rights reserved. Use with proper credits.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Changed by the Creator of the Universe

Changed by the Creator of the Universe
How can anyone so powerful possibly be interested in me? How can God who flung the stars in place care about what bugs me or hurts my little person? How would He have time or inclination to give me even a minute? Would it surprise you to know that you were created for friendship and relationship with Him? You were created to worship Him? He knows the numbers of hairs on your head and yes, He is interested in every little specific part of you and your life that makes you, uniquely you. Jesus loves you is not just an old song from your childhood. You are the apple of His eye. He delights in spending time with you! And maybe even now He is whispering to your inner ear:
Child, I would speak to you in your heart. There is no variance or shadow of turning in Jesus your Lord. He is changing you, from glory to glory, into His likeness. Stable, consistent, single minded, it seems good to you because therein lies your wholeness and stability. Rejoice in His discipline, rejoice in His freedom and life changing love. Be obedient unto Him and let Him lift you up. He has set your feet upon His paths. You are walking there upon. Keep on walking and He will bless. Keep yielded as you are. Selah.
My Lord, Jesus
You are something special
Beyond words
To me
My opaque eyes
You have transformed
To ones
That really see!
In James 1:17 the Bible tells us that every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variance or shadow of turning. He is ABLE and STABLE, what a promise.
2Corinthians 3”18 tells us that we see the Lord’s glory and are being transformed into His likeness with ever increasing glory (which comes from Him who is Spirit). What a promise. That I might be changed – all those self centered and not so pretty parts of me, to become more and more like Jesus himself.
In 1 Corinthians 15:49 we are promised that as we have borne the likeness of earthly man so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven. I have no clue how God will accomplish this and it seems like a long, long journey but if He promises it I know it will be done.
Part of that pathway might just include some discipline mentioned in Proverbs 3:11 where we are encouraged not to despise discipline from the Lord and not to resent His rebuke.
Proverbs 12:1mentiones that whoever loves discipline loves knowledge but he who hates correction is stupid. Proverbs sort of lays it on the line, doesn’t it?
Maybe the most famous Proverb regarding discipline is Proverbs 13:24 stating he who spares the rod hates his son but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.
In ending this piece I think there could be no better quote than the one found in Deuteronomy 8:6 which encourages us to observe the commands of the Lord your god, walking in His ways and revering him.
(C) Marijo Phelps all rights reserved. Use with proper credits.

Friday, December 12, 2014

How to Avoid Being Overwhelmed

Things seem to be getting pretty messed up in this old world of ours. Look at the headlines, turn on the computer news, listen to the radio or TV and it is enough to make you quite ill…. Unless you know and understand the end times which are explained in the Bible. None of this current chaos is a surprise to God and He really does have things in His most capable hands. They should not be a huge surprise to a believer either. Listen carefully as He whispers reassurance to your heart:
"My child, I have created the very wind and white clouded sky, flooded in My sunlight to bless you and draw your focus up to Me. Let not the trouble crowd in and overwhelm you. Look to Me, beyond, the author and finisher of your salvation. Like a fine, handcrafted piece you need a little more sanding, buffing and another coat to enrich your glow. Have no fear. I AM the master craftsman skilled in creating a perfect, individual you, so that all your personality, though distinctly you, reflects Jesus Christ, your Lord, in the uniqueness of Jesus in you. Fear not, I Am in control. Yield. Be flexible as I soften you, make you pliable in the molding warmth of My love. My Spirit desired to teach and lead you, to praise Me through your lips and being. Let go, allow Me to be your great I AM. Pure love has no ulterior motives. I hunger for your fellowship. Let me give your nonexistence the meaning I lovingly planned for you. I Am love. I Am yours. Be vulnerable and learn my loving openness as I come in to sup with you."
In John 14:27 the Bible speaks of peace. Jesus is quoted as saying that His peace He leaves with us. This peace is not as the world gives, I can say a big THANK YOU to this one, can’t you? Jesus goes on to say to not let our hearts be troubled, neither to let our hearts be afraid. If you know Jesus you can breathe a huge sigh of relief upon reading this promise. His promises are like gold. He is able and willing, He says it and that should settle it!
In Hebrews we find this encouragement: Hebrews 12:2-3 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. (NKJV)
Proverbs 27:17 speaks of iron sharpening iron and likens that process to a man sharpening the countenance of his friend. I think that is a great analogy. The word picture grabs me and makes clear what can happen between two friends.
1 John 4:18 tells us there is no fear in love but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. It goes on saying that he who fears has not been made perfect in love.
Besides realizing that I am not perfect yet (was there any doubt in this one to begin with, nope) I also see that God is love. And what more “perfect love” is there than Jesus. I can then picture Jesus taking charge of any fear I have and casting it out of me!
In Philippians 2:5 we are encouraged to let this mind be in us which is also in Christ Jesus. Now, can you imagine Jesus being worried or fretting or wringing His hands in dismay? Can knowing He has things in order and under control free us up? I hope it can each and every time!
Psalm 32:2 gives a blessing to a man (woman) to whom the Lord doesn’t impute inequity and in whose spirit there is no deceit. How can we fit this description? Keep short lists with the Lord. If we do sin, ask forgiveness and purpose not to do that thing again.
Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. (NKJV)
Prayer: Dear Lord, what would we do if there was a knock, we answered and You were there to come in and sit at our table? Prepare our hearts! I know You could also take care of the table – since You had no problem with feeding the thousands. What a sumptuous feast it would be – to gaze upon Your face and form and drink of that which You’d chose to share. Prepare our hearts. AMEN
(C) Marijo Phelps all rights reserved. Use with proper credits.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Creator Came Down

Praises lauded to You
Stable born babe
Universe Creator
Come down
Earth-bound for a time,
A purpose eternal
Perpetual giving Gift,
Freeing, flowing forgiveness
Focused on us
Gratis for the asking
Yet costing You, Jesus
Your very life
So that Living Love
Could fill us,
Overflowing, cleansed
With righteousness of the King.

(C) Marijo Phelps all rights reserved.

Friday, December 5, 2014