This and that.

I am a bit sad that my time in Scripture has not produced writings or words of encouragement these past days, but I find consolation in the truth that God's Word is alive and active and never returns void. Even when there is no tangible evidence.

I read one of my favorite Psalms in my daily reading - and it made me smile. Not because I can claim this attitude for myself, but because I WANT to!

I will extol the Lord at all times;
    His praise will always be on my lips.
I will glory in the Lord;
    let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me;
    let us exalt His name together. Psalm 34

It's as if the Psalmist is making a resolution ... I WILL extol ... His praise WILL be ... I WILL glory ... LET US exalt.
Wouldn't this be a wonderful way to greet each other? How it would change the course and content of our conversations! And - keep our focus where it belongs ... on Jesus Christ.
Oh, how I LOVE Scripture!

~~~ A dear friend sent me a note yesterday asking me how I was doing. After thinking about it for a few minutes, I replied, "I feel like I have a continual 'under construction sign' around my neck."
You know the drill. A contractor is hired to build a room addition, says it will take four months to complete, and ten months later you are still buried in dust and debris.
But, better to be under construction than CONDEMNED!
Perspective. It matters.
Especially when the contractor is the LORD!

Isn't this a sweet little nativity set?
Dennis collects them for me when he travels the globe.
I wish I had thought of this when he first began traveling because we missed out on Lebanon, Austria, and China. And I am quite sure each of those countries boast beautiful nativities!
This sweet little set is from Thailand.
Dennis found the colorful one in Zambia.
He also brought me a tiny nativity from Cambodia carved out of a coconut.
When the boys were in choir they performed at a church which filled their auditorium with nativities from around the world. I loved walking through that room. 
Each set was unique and accurately reflected the culture of its country, and they all had one thing in common: a baby, the Savior, being worshiped and adored by men.
My collection will never match theirs, but it's a start!

~~~ Last year I discovered a fantastic idea for parents and children regarding Christmas presents, and immediately declared, "I am stealing that one!"
Three gifts.
Gifts that represent what the wise men brought to Jesus.
Something valuable (gold), something spiritual (frankincense), and something personal (myrrh).
Love it!
I had the older boys interview the littles for their lists, and the older boys created their own. It was fun to listen to them talk and share ideas - and see them give thought and intent to their gifts.
The thing that pleased me most, however, was the fact that not one child complained or whined with cries of, "What? We only get THREE gifts for Christmas? Come on!"
Love it MORE!

~~~ Our youth group Christmas party takes place tomorrow. And we are going as a family. A good old-fashioned country Christmas complete with barns and horses and hayrides. Yahoo!
I cannot even begin to imagine how the students are going to pull off the western theme AND ugly sweaters in the same outfit, but I am confident a few of them will deliver and their creativity will be remembered for years to come!

~~~ Apparently our Isaiah has joined a mafia family, and Luke is the Godfather.
Today Josiah was annoying Isaiah, over and over again, and Isaiah had had ENOUGH.
He yelled at Josiah, walked into the house, asked where Luke was, and marched straight to the boy's room. The next thing we heard was, "Luke, Josiah is bothering me and he won't stop. Will you go take care of him for me?"
After I admonished Isaiah for this less-than-godly plan, Dennis, Micah and I laughed out loud.
The things kids say - and the way they think! Sheesh!

~~~ White Christmas is one of my favorite Christmas movies. It always makes me smile.

~~~ On a serious note ...
How we need to pray for our country!
As easy as it is to say, "End times are here and things are only going to get worse" (which is true), Scripture commands us to "pray without ceasing." There is no clause that says, "Pray without ceasing UNLESS things look really bad. Then you can throw up your hands, live in fear, and let the enemy win."
No, no, no!
Our God is sovereign - and He is on the throne that rules heaven and earth.
It is the sin in the hearts of men that devise evil plans and carry them out.
Nothing is new under the sun states Solomon in Ecclesiastes.
And our God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Pray as if your life depends on it. Because it does!
And then - remember who your God is ... and rest in Him.

Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is Yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and You are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all. In Your hand are power and might, and in Your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. I Chronicles 29:11-12

~~~ I pray your weekend will be filled with immeasurable joy as you celebrate the Christ child, love the people in your life as if you will never see them again, and feel a renewed sense of desire for Scripture and prayer.
May we look back on this weekend with contentment, and without regret.

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