Friday, March 17, 2017

The fragrance of my presence...

The Ethiopia/Uganda Chronicles
Chapter Seven - The Fragrance

Guest House, Gojo Ethiopia
Tuesday, February 11th, 2014


Written on Wednesday 2/12/2014
In Gojo, Ethiopia

Yesterday, I would sit with the Ethiopian widows for hours.  Just knitting.  No interpreter.  Just me and them.  Smiling.  Nodding.  Me occasionally giving a thumbs up which always made me feel silly, but I didn't know how else to show my pleasure of their progress.

No words.
Just me
and them
and the sound
of knitting needles.

A gift of my presence.  An American stay-at-home mom who flew half way around the world to sit with them.  To teach them to knit.  And to knit with them.  The gift of my presence.

But I wanted more.  I wanted to be able to use my words.  Because I am an encourager.  I thought words would be a gift.  But there would be no words.  Teaching knitting through wordless example.

No words - and so I was missing out.  I wanted... me... for me... just some words.

But for them I was a fragrance of Christ.


For we are a fragrance
of Christ to God
among those who are 
being saved and
among those who are 
perishing.

2 Corinthians 2:15

It was written on a 3x5 note card with a heart sticker that my precious 88-year old (now 91-year old) Jean B. had written and asked me to take with me on my trip to Africa.  And when I looked at it on Monday morning before it all began -- I knew it was a verse I would hold on to and cherish.  And so I did.

And this morning as I pondered an encouragement from my pastor, Ray Noah, that it was a gift that I could sit and work on the process of knitting all day.  That he himself could not possibly sit still and do the process all day.  "Just go buy a hat and scarf, why don't you?" he said.  And I finally realized that this Type B personality - which in the midst of many Type A personalities didn't seem to show much value at least to me - all of the sudden made complete sense.

There were no words.
But there was a fragrance.
A fragrance of my presence
"among those who are
being saved and among 
those who are perishing"
that would last longer
than the words I thought
I could offer.

No words.
Just me
and them
and the sound
of knitting needles.





For more of my thoughts on Ethiopia/Uganda visit here.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

This Jar is Cracked

Clay Oil Lamps similar to those used over 2,000 years ago 
photography by Anthony Kaetzel

We now have this light
shining in our hearts,

but we ourselves are like
fragile clay jars
containing this great treasure
.

This makes it clear that
our great power is from God,
not from ourselves.
2 Corinthians 4:7 NLT

I marvel at the thought that God's light shines within me. And also through me... considering all the chips and cracks in this particular jar of clay. How easy it is to see God's great power when the gaps and crevices allow the light to shine through.


And so I was caught off guard when I came across this verse in Jeremiah:


"This is what the Lord Almighty,
the God of Israel, says:
Take these documents,
both the sealed and unsealed
copies of the deed of purchase,
and put them in a
clay jar

so they will last a long time."
Jeremiah 32:14 NIV

The beauty of the Old Testament. The beauty of scripture interpreting scripture.

I had only ever considered Paul's inference towards the fragility of a clay jar.  Not the durability of a clay jar.


photography by Anthony Kaetzel

Anthony took this picture when we were in Israel in 2008. These jars are similar in nature to the jars that housed the Dead Sea Scrolls when they were found in 1947. Jars of clay that protected ancient manuscripts for almost 2,000 years.

Although fragile in nature. 
They were used for preservation. 
Preservation of the word of God. 
Worthy of holding a treasure.

And that is me. 
And that is you.
"And what a awesome thought—
God has always put his eternal treasure
in fragile jars of clay,
and though the jars eventually break,
the treasure doesn’t,
but somehow makes the jars themselves eternal."
- Pastor Ray Noah

Monday, June 20, 2016

You Have Stayed Long Enough At This Mountain

"...You have stayed long enough at this mountain."  
Deuteronomy 1:6


Preface:  This summer I am studying the book of Deuteronomy and I remembered this post I wrote six years ago.  I have moved on from that mountain... but for sure there I times I try to circle back!  Original post is here.


And that's when I felt the Lord say... 
You have stayed long enough at this mountain, Sheri.  
Time to give up that hope. 


For me, my bondage has been to affirmation.  Positive affirmation.  Now, please don't get me wrong.  Affirmation is a wonderful thing.  Very necessary and life giving.  We need encouragement.  But for me it can become an obsession.  I can't have affirmation from just some people.  It needs to be from all.  And there are some people who need to give me affirmation exactly how I expect it and if not I am distraught.  And nothing else matters in life.

In the Bible Study by Priscilla Shirer, One In A Million, I saw it as plain as day.  Priscilla was discussing when the Israelites were leaving Egypt and heading to the promised land.  They craved what they left behind in Egypt.  (Numbers 11:4-7) Because the Israelites had experienced the things of Egypt, they selectively only remembered the pleasure of them and not the bondage of them. They felt that what they knew would have to be better than anything else that could be offered.  They would stick with what they knew.  It worked for them.  And as I read the story I wondered how could you ever desire slavery over freedom?  But the truth be told... I do it all the time.

Early on I would find affirmation however I could.  I wanted attention whether positive or negative made no matter... just notice me.  I grew up trying to find affirmation through grades or guys.  It became addictive.  The Lord helped me to see that the ways I was trying to get affirmation were destructive.  They were not fulfilling.

Then I began to find ways to fill my need for affirmation in ways that were constructive.  Positive friendships.  Trying to change my expectations.  Affirming myself.  And yet, it wasn't enough.  There would always be one or two people who I felt should affirm me, but didn't... and I would be crushed.

I came to a crossroads.  As I began mentoring some of my younger sisters-in-Christ, the topic of affirmation would come up.  And I was stuck.  I couldn't help them.  I couldn't help myself.  Some of them were in the same situation I was.  What was I to do?

So, I decided to force the situation.  That didn't work.  I tried talking to others about it.  That became gossip.  I tried to read books on the topic... that helped... some.  I started to pray for that person to change.  That didn't work.  I started to pray that I would change... now... I began to see some movement... in me.

And I have felt much relief and freedom.  But when I was doing Day Three of Week One of Priscilla's study-- entitled, "Bound to a Memory" -- I realized I was not yet free.  Completely free.  Because I had exchanged my immediate desperate need for affirmation from a particular person into a future fulfillment of that need.  Meaning, I was finding comfort in the fact that one day that person would affirm me.  I was able to be content today with that person... and with that need for their affirmation, because I had finally resigned myself that one day... one day... they would truly see me... and they would affirm me.  And I could be patient... and wait for that.

And that's when I felt the Lord say... You have stayed long enough at this mountain, Sheri.  Time to give up that hope.  Time to not rely upon the hope that I would ever be affirmed by that person.  Not that they won't affirm me... but that I was to no longer cover my symptoms.  I still had that desperate desire to be affirmed by that person... but I had covered it up... and that was no longer good enough.

It is now time for me to stop looking back.  Stop looking longingly back.  Again, let me reiterate that affirmation in itself is not a bad thing.  Nothing is inherently wrong with it.  But I wanted it more than what God wanted for me.  God is offering me an abundant life in Christ... free from bondage... free from insecurity... free from the future hope of someone's affirmation.  Free from the dependence on someone else to meet my needs.


It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. 
Stand firm, then, 
and do not let yourselves be burdened 
again by a yoke of slavery.  
Galatians 5:1

And although there will be times, the allure of someone's affirmation will tempt me... I have resolved to stand firm... and look forward to the promised land of abundant living that Christ has set before me.  And now... as I move from this mountain... I pray my testimony of God's faithfulness will encourage those I influence to do the same.


Monday, March 28, 2016

"Take Easter With You" to Detox

"Take Easter with you."

I dropped her off for detox this morning.  She was anxious.  Shivering sometimes.  Sweating sometimes.  Tears one minute and laughter the next.  She couldn't stop drinking hard cider on her own.  And today was the day they had a bed open.  And so we drove to what she called the bowels of the city and chided me that she couldn't believe I would drop her off and leave her there.

The drive from her apartment seemed to take forever and she was grateful for that.  She spoke to me of how good God is.  And the different women who are in her life now.  She used to not trust women she said, but now she is receiving God's love through different ones.  We had been loving on her for years but now she was able to receive it.  Accept it.  Flourish in it.

Yesterday was Easter.  And she was so determined to make it to church that she invited her neighbors and a drinking buddy to church with her so that she wouldn't back out.  And she made it.  She was there yesterday.  Giving me a hug that probably covered years of huglessness.  A hug that signified that she trusted me.  A hug that meant she had hope.

When we spoke later that day she shared how the Easter message given by our pastor resonated with her.  Comforted her.  And not only her but her neighbors and her drinking buddy.  She said they had cried through most of the sermon.  And that her drinking buddy even decided to call his mother yesterday. 

She had asked her friends to come to church to assure that she went.  But here she was in the very midst of her mess bringing people to hear of the Good News of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  And it made a difference to them.  She didn't have to wait to go to detox and get her life in order before she asked them... she did it in the middle of the mess.

On the drive to the detox center she got a text.  It read "Take Easter with you."  It was from her drinking buddy who knew she was on her way to detox.  Who wanted to encourage her.  Her phone would probably be taken from her in just a few minutes when she entered through the detox doors so these were last words she would be hearing from them.  And I about cried.  My heart leapt.  And I thanked God for His very goodness.

"Take Easter with you."  Four words that hold hope.  That are living water to a thirsty soul.  That mean the difference between life and death.  Our pastor had spoke these words to me, to her, to her neighbors, to her drinking buddy.  Words that signified what the resurrection of Jesus Christ means to those who believe.  That heaven and earth are adjoining spaces.  That Jesus is closer than we think.  That resurrection power will be a real possibility NOT just a future hope.  That what is dead can be resurrected.


Romans 8:11  
"And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, 
he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies 
because of his Spirit who lives in you."


Yes, "Take Easter with you" sweet little sister.  Let those words resonate in your ears.  And when I return to the bowels of the city to pick you up we will celebrate (with a Blue Star donut)
and we will know that Easter matters
and experience that what you thought was dead is now resurrected. 
#takeEasterwithyou

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Is God Waiting For Us To Win The Lottery?

Lately, people have been posing the question, "What would you do if you won the US Powerball Jackpot?"  And most reply that they would whole-heartedly consider giving a large amount to charity.  But I wonder if we shouldn't wait to win the lottery before we become so generous...

 Darling Ethiopian Princess with Her Treasured Toy
November 2010


Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury.

Many rich people threw in large amounts. 
But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, 
worth only a fraction of a penny.

Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, 
“I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 
They all gave out of their wealth; 
but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—
all she had to live on.”

Mark 12:41-44 NIV

Poverty.

I grew up in what I considered poverty. Some nights dinner consisted of cold cereal. No milk. Just cereal. And it was the non-brand kind. Bills would go unpaid. Eviction would be threatened. We would hide from the newspaper delivery boy when he would show up at the door requiring payment.

But in a few days or the next day, it would be pay day. And we would go to the grocery store and eat out for dinner at Gino's and get our hair cut and maybe go to a movie that weekend. And pay our rent. And a couple bills. But not necessarily the newspaper delivery boy.

My sis and I grew up with a single mom. During a time when dads could get away without paying their child support. We didn't have a car. I wore hand me downs. And there were even times we might "borrow" things (like toilet paper rolls) from establishments, but never repay them.

I thought we were poor. And compared to the American dream... we were.

When my mom married my step-father in my junior year of high school. I started receiving allowance. Weekly. $20. (And there was ALWAYS food in the kitchen... and clothes with tags still attached in the closets... and toilet paper. The brand name kind.)

And it was then, that I started tithing. I don't remember ever tithing before that time. $2 every week. Went right into the offering. And when I started working, I would tithe on those paychecks. And when Anthony and I got married and lived on his one paycheck a month... while I finished college (on scholarships and grants and financial aid)... and we would eat boxed Macaroni and Cheese for dinner, we would tithe. We tithed in what we thought was our poverty.

And before we knew it, we were living the American Dream. Paychecks would come twice a month. We could purchase meat to go with the Macaroni and Cheese. And we would tithe. But now our giving was out of our wealth.

Wealth.

We may think we need to be wealthy to be significant givers. We think... when I have money then I will bless those around me. I will be the one doing the blessing. But isn't that kind of the American dream? We think that if we are able to give more that somehow we are more significant. Or beneficial to the kingdom cause. As if God will be more pleased with us, if our gifts are larger than the gifts of others. Than the gifts of those in poverty. But is He?

Here we see Jesus take a seat where he could see (and hear) people dropping their gifts into the temple treasury. And then calls His disciples over to watch... listen... and learn. He didn't even ask them what they thought. He just went on ahead and told them. Wonder why that is? It wasn't even a parable. He just told them flat out... her gift is of more significance. Of more value. Seriously? She put in a fraction of a penny! And they threw in large amounts! Huh?

God is not concerned with the amount that we give. He is concerned with our hearts. Our hearts to give selflessly. Our hearts to give joyfully. Our hearts to give out of obedience and love for Him. He is not waiting for us to get wealthy or win the lottery so that we can give a huge sum of money to starving children or to Ethiopia or to pay off the church debt. He is not waiting.

But He is watching.
Watching His children learn how to trust Him.
In all things.
Whether in perceived poverty... or received wealth.
Will we give what we'll never miss... or will we give our all?


Sitting across from the offering box,
he was observing how the crowd tossed money in for the collection.

Many of the rich were making large contributions.
One poor widow came up and put in two small coins—
a measly two cents.

Jesus called his disciples over and said,
"The truth is that this poor widow gave more to the collection
than all the others put together.
All the others gave what they'll never miss;
she gave extravagantly what she couldn't afford—
she gave her all."

Mark 12:41-44 The Message


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

His Story to Tell

The Ethiopia/Uganda Chronicles
Chapter Eleven - A Story To Tell



February 17th, 2014
Christopher in Uganda 
 

When we tell our stories it enables the listener to spend time with Jesus.


Written Sunday, February 16th, 2014
Mbale, Uganda

I stumbled upon it.  A private moment in a public place.  A man praying for another man.  I stood quietly in the stairwell with my head bowed.  Unbeknownst to me, I was being watched, too.

The man praying was my son.  My boy, 14 years old at the time.  Praying for a man who was at least four times older than himself.  The man had just lost his 5 month old granddaughter in a car accident.  His daughter was in critical condition.

Christopher had just happened upon this man in this hotel stairwell.  And the man had opened up to Christopher and the man asked for prayer.  Christopher determined to pray for the man, Stewart, right there and right then in the very public stairwell.

The hotel was quiet really.  We were in Uganda.  On a missions trip in early 2014.  A trip that Christopher had at one time wondered why he had to come with his parents.  Whether God had a plan for him on a missions trip to Africa.

Later as I shared what I had observed to my husband, we were overwhelmed with Christopher's compassion and obedience to pray for the man.  And we would find out later that one of our pastors, Linda, had observed the whole thing.  All of this.  Including me with head bowed.

The next morning as we met for our morning devotional with the mission team, Christopher recounted the story about praying for Stewart.  And as he did someone gasped.  A deep gasp.  Pastor Kirk from the Denver Vineyard Church pulled in his breath so sharply that we all took note.  And with shock he shared that he was late to our morning devotional because he had just checked his e-mail and received a message from a former college roommate.  The former roommate had asked Pastor Kirk if he could find his friend who was in Mbale.  There had just been a car accident.  Could Pastor Kirk please see if he could connect with this friend who had just lost his granddaughter and offer solace?  And we all gasped under our breath.  Could it really be the same man? 

Christopher looked up from where he was sitting.  He could see Stewart across the lobby.   Christopher took Pastor Kirk and introduced them to each other. 

I had went up to the room.  When Christopher returned he was beaming.  It was the same - THE VERY SAME - man and situation.  And Christopher informed me that he was invited with Pastor Kirk to go to the hospital and visit the daughter to pray for her.  For her recovery physically, emotionally, spiritually.

And the rest of us "adults" were full of wonder.  Just thinking of the events that would bring us to this particular hotel.  And a child's obedience to the prompting of God's Spirit to pray.  We are each precious in His sight.  Perhaps all of this was orchestrated for Stewart.  Or was it for his daughter?  Or to build my faith?  Or for Christopher to see God's promise fulilled that he had a calling to go on this missions trip? And I cannot put words to my feelings of watching my son become a man using his unique gifts to be used by God to bring comfort to a family.  To touch others for God.

Earlier in the week Kari had led our morning devotion.  She shared with the group different occasions when she was obedient to the Lord even when it was hard.  She said she wasn't sharing the incidents because she wanted our praise.  She shared them to remind us that we are here for God's glory and we are to be obedient to the Lord and that when we tell our stories it enables the listener to spend time with Jesus.  As if we are unlocking the kingdom for people.  She challenged us to believe that we are here for the moment.  For this moment.  And for this person.

When we tell our stories it enables the listener to spend time with Jesus.

And to realize that I almost tried to SAVE Christopher from coming on this trip.  Remembering these thoughts that I had written before we left for Africa...


 
For more of my thoughts on my trip to Ethiopia and Uganda visit here.  

Monday, July 20, 2015

Warning: Somewhat Vague Facebook Post
"I love my church family. Love. Love. Love."

 Little voices praising our Savior.


I wrote a somewhat vague Facebook post yesterday.

"I love my church family.  Love.  Love.  Love."

This particular Sunday I was standing between my husband and one of my precious friends and with another precious friend behind me.  We were singing worship songs.  And the songs were proclaiming how much God cares for us and how amazing He is and that He is good. 

~I had a bit of a rough mental morning.  I love going to church.  I love seeing my church family.  I love hugging and chatting with dear souls.  But I'm an introvert.  And a thinker.  And sometimes (read almost always) can get a bit overstimulated on Sunday mornings and I begin to become agitated.  So when I am standing in the foyer of the church and someone (read teenager) throws a notebook across the foyer as people are coming into the sanctuary I may or may not use a stern voice and an evil eye.  Yikes.  Who am I?

So, I'm standing there worshiping God in song and I feel that heat behind my eyes and a bit of a twitch underneath my eyes.  I recall that I am not wearing mascara so I decide to let the tears flow.

~I had a bit of a rough mental morning.  I had been making plans to visit a friend from church who is in the hospital because she sometimes  forgets how precious she is and harms herself.

The tears flow and they flow.  Cue the Kleenex box.  As my one friend rubs my back to show she cares and the other puts her hand on my shoulder.

~I had a bit of a rough mental morning.  I needed to have a discussion with one of my church sisters about another situation which would need to wait although my thoughts were piling up one upon the other with my brain about ready to explode.
 
I started to think that during prayer time that I wanted to be prayed for.  Normally, I am up front and pray with those who come up for prayer.  But this day I wanted prayer for me.  I needed prayer for me.  And I knew that if this one particular senior church sister went up front that I was going to run to her for prayer.

~And she went forward and I rushed to her.  I put my arms around her neck and sobbed.  I didn't have to say a word.  She prayed over me with words that only God could have given her.  She knew what to pray.  It was beautiful.

~And then two precious girls who had received my evil eye ended up walking past me... and I asked them for forgiveness.

~And I visited my friend in the hospital and we laughed and shared and prayed and made some plans.

~And that conversation with one of my church sisters ended up with me realizing that God has a much bigger plan for me that I don't have a clue about.

Sometimes people are surprised that we have attended the same church for almost 20 years.  And I think "I love my church family.  Love.  Love.  Love."

And they love me back!

Praying that you find a church family that you can call your own.  I might be able to recommend one!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

You have loved me as only a Father could...


#selfie


Heavy sigh.  I'm glad Father's Day is once a year.  The emotions and memories that are stirred by the thought that the man who should have been my protector was actually my predator can overwhelm me.  I have forgiven him, but the consequences of his actions are mine and not his. He has since passed away 17 years ago.  And as I take the day to celebrate my most amazing husband and those men who have shown themselves as protectors and as I grieve for those of you who have lost a beloved father I press into my heavenly Father and say a prayer for those of you who totally relate with me. 

This is a psalm I wrote 17 years ago to honor My Heavenly Father.



A Psalm 

My Father’s Eyes

Lord, You said You are the Father to the fatherless.
I have clung to that promise since I was a child.
You are true to Your word.
You have loved me as only a Father could
Is there anyway to repay You?
I fall so short, yet You accept my love, and I am made complete.

When my earthly father abused me
When my earthly father left me
When my earthly father denied me my inheritance
When my earthly father was laid in the grave….

Lord, You were there for me.
You filled the gap.
You held me tightly.
You are a faithful friend.
Yet You do not let me go on my merry way.
You bring discipline in just ways.
I am never out of Your sight.

You fill me with love overflowing.
You give me beautiful flowers to wear in my hair.
You give me love for Your other children.
You grant me peace.
You grant me quiet.
You shower me with friends.
You have given me abundant life.
I can hardly breathe.
I am so overwhelmed.
I am in awe of You.
May my life reflect You.
May I always be found in Your will.
May I hear those wonderful words…
“Daughter, I am so proud of you!”

One day, when my life is but a memory on earth,
I pray that it will be said of me
“She had her Father’s eyes.”

Written June 6th, 1998 at CPC Oceanside Retreat in memory of my Heavenly Father

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Life Lesson: Barefoot and Frustrated

For 40 years I have believed that it was illegal to drive barefoot.  It happened when I was probably about 7 and lived in the state of Maryland.  My dad had driven the wrong way up a one way street.  The police pulled him over.  And I remember that he wasn't wearing shoes.  And I remember that he said to me they told him he couldn't drive barefoot.

Since that day, I have been convinced that if I drove barefoot I would be given a ticket if pulled over for another reason.  I would have gone to the mat on it.  I would not drive barefoot ever and I would not let anyone drive barefoot. 

Our 16 year old son is taking driver's ed.  I had to attend the required parental meeting.  In that meeting the instructor said that if a student arrived to practice driving with sandals on that they would have to remove their sandals and drive barefoot.  No sandals.  Bare feet... Huh?

So, was that only true for Oregon?  I looked up the Maryland DMV and sure enough... it is legal to drive barefoot.

I was numb.  I was angry.  I was frustrated.  All those years that I rushed to ruin my freshly painted pedicure because I believed it was illegal to not wear shoes while driving.  Humph.

I know it seems trite.  It is.  But the truth is that I really would have gone to the mat on something that I learned in my childhood and believed it was true.  I never questioned it.  For 40 years!

And the lesson of all this AND why I am sharing it with you... What else did I learn in my childhood that isn't true?  What other beliefs have I left unchallenged?  Not driving barefoot didn't scar me for life, but I wonder if there are other things I have adopted as truth that if I took the time to look at them would prove to be untrue.

Actually, I'm a little afraid to let my heart and mind go there.  But I won't go alone.  God will go with me.  And some of you will walk alongside me, too.

And I wonder if you might have something that you need to challenge, too?  Perhaps related to your value and worth.  It might be difficult but it might be life-changing. 

And you can be certain of this - The next time I go for a pedicure you can bet I'll leave the nail salon sans shoes!  Want to join me?


Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Desert of Depression:
Celebrating January 15th, 2006
My 9th Anniversary


White Sands National Monument, New Mexico 
photography by Anthony


She still visits me
although she is not welcome.

She knows that I am stronger.
But that doesn't bother her.

She's persistent.

She takes advantage of any situation.
A mispoken word.
A hurt feeling.
Hormones.
The weather.
A head cold.

She'll just try to sneak in...
she is slow and subtle.
And sometimes I let my guard down...
and I let her in...
And I become just like her.

But it isn't for long
because I have learned her weaknesess...
and I have learned my strengths.

I have heard that she has been visiting you lately.
And you are having a hard time resisting her.
You are weak.
And she knows it.

But she is no longer a secret.
We don't have to hide her anymore.
Although some do.
I don't.
I can't.

Depression.
Has been defeated.
On January 15th, 2006
she came for a visit.
And she was ruthless.

But God has comforted me
in my troubles.
So now I can
bring comfort 
to you.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 
who comforts us in all our troubles, 
so that we can comfort those in any trouble 
with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Surviving Depression at Christmas

photography by Anthony Kaetzel


Dear friend,

I know this year has been hard for you. Everyone is wishing you a MERRY Christmas or a HAPPY Holidays... and you wish that was true. That it was merry or happy.  But it is not.  You are finding no joy in Christmas this year.  Actually, you find Christmastime to be stressful... anxiety-ridden... and depressing.

You are struggling to make it through Christmas.  You know friends and family mean well when they say, "it's okay... just be happy... it's Christmas." And you are trying.  Trying so hard, but you're thinking that you just want to lie back down and pull the covers over your head.

Surviving Christmas.  Sometimes... we just have to survive Christmas.  We know it is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.  And we are thankful for His birth.  But all the rushing... all the purchases... all the interactions with friends and family... all the EXPECTATIONS... all the unmet expectations... well, it is just so overwhelming.

And so here is my gift to you...
Dear Lord,
I pray You would be with my friend today. That You would give them rest and peace. I pray that You would give sensitivity to those they encounter. I pray that You would plant a seed of hope within them.
You say in Romans 8:11 ...if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.  So I pray that You would give life to my friend. Life in their heart, soul, mind and strength.
And that You would be their strength in surviving Christmas.
In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.
I love you, friend.

The fragrance of my presence...

The Ethiopia/Uganda Chronicles Chapter Seven - The Fragrance Guest House, Gojo Ethiopia Tuesday, February 11th, 2014 Written on W...