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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Cafe Chat

Hello Sweet Sisters (and any brothers that may stop by)! This will be my last "Cafe Chat" for awhile. I have an opportunity to serve some wonderful young ladies in the upcoming year, and I want to make sure I give my full devotion to them. I will sorely miss doing the "Cafe Chat" meme, but I will still be able to participate here at the Cafe by posting a devotion from time to time.

So today is the last day of 2009... I wonder what kind of year 2009 has been for all of you. As we close this year, I want to ask you a question. I am sure that doesn't surprise you, since that is what this meme is all about :)

Is there something (or more than one thing) that you felt Jesus wanted you to do in 2009 that you did not do? What was it? Why didn't you do it? Will you tackle it in 2010?

God willing, I want 2010 to be a year of action for me when it comes to the things that the Lord has in store for me. I hope the same for all of you too.
Blessings my friends, and please visit me at my personal blog site as I will miss the weekly check in with all of you. See you around the Cafe...

In Christ,


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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Flip Flops in the Snow

We are thrilled to welcome back Sandy Cooper to the Cafe!

“He changes times and seasons...He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning."

~Daniel 2:21 (NIV)~

Sneaking out of bed at 5:35 am, I tiptoe out of my room, so as not to wake the sleeping child lying next to me. I think it’s Elliana, though it’s very dark, so I don’t know for sure. She’s our regular nightly visitor, who also happens to be our lightest sleeper. The slightest creek in the floor, and it’s “Good morning, World!” Can’t risk that. Not today.

Long days filled with carpool lines, laundry baskets and meal preparation mesh with kissing boo-boo’s, quizzing math facts and refereeing sibling battles. Not much time for writing…again. Or ever, it seems. My only opportunities come late at night or early in the morning. And most of the time, I’m too exhausted for either.

I wake up my computer and settle in with a hot cup of coffee and a foggy brain so I can get Monday’s blog post up on Tuesday. Better than nothing.

Quick, Sandy. Write! Create something witty , yet profound, before the day begins.

Glancing at the clock I see I only have twenty minutes left before I must begin packing lunches and waking the children. How can this be? Didn’t I just sit down?

And so it goes with my life. Today. Week in and week out. At least for this season.

The constant fight for writing time—for me time—frustrates and fatigues this momma. Sometimes I wonder what God is up to: giving me this desire, this drive, this dream to write and create and impact my world. Yet forgetting—it seems—to also give me the opportunity to do so.

I think of the seasons. I think of the last few weeks, where literally before my eyes, the green leaves morphed to brilliant reds and yellows and then fell to the ground. How the temperatures swung from 80’s to 40’s. How sunset changed from 9-ish to 6-ish.

I think how the upcoming winter means no open windows. No swimming pools. No late evenings catching fire flies. No early mornings drinking coffee on the deck. No trips to the zoo. No picnics in the park. No flip-flops. No tank tops.

And if I choose to dwell on those things, I can become downright discouraged. If I choose to rehearse in my mind all the activities I cannot do in this season, I will miss the beauty unique to winter.

I will miss hot chocolate by the fireplace. And the pale glow of Christmas lights. And pumpkin-pie scented candles. And snuggling in bed under warm blankets. And marveling at the way the snow outlines every single branch on the trees. And cute scarves. And my favorite boots.

Sure, I could choose to forge ahead with my summer plans in the dead of winter. I could insist upon wearing my flip-flops in the snow. But that would be foolish. That would be dangerous. That doesn’t mean I can’t love flip-flops. And it doesn’t mean I can’t look forward to wearing flip flops when the season changes. But for now…

So, Lord, as my brief early morning writing time comes to a rapid close, please help me see the beauty of this season of life. Help me recognize the unique things that only come while small children are under my care. Help me embrace sticky kisses and little finger prints and footy-pajamas. Help me appreciate spontaneous hugs and silly songs and crayon creations.

Help me understand that there will be no grand announcement stating, “Mommy, this is the last night I will sleep in your bed or ask you to push me on the swing or need you to quiz me on my spelling words.” But as sure as the seasons change, there will be a last time.

Please, Jesus, give me wisdom to seize the opportunities unique to today. Help me remember that for a short time, I have occasion to eternally impact three lives. Today, a timely conversation about life with my daughter is so much more fruitful than a mediocre blog post. Today, nuggets of truth deposited into the heart of my son are better than articles submitted for publication.

Lord, today I come to you, asking you please to show me how to dress my life appropriately for this season.

What opportunities do you have today that you may not have tomorrow?

What can you do differently to seize those opportunities?

How might you be able to change your focus to help you enjoy difficult seasons?

In Him,

Sandy Cooper

Sandy is a wife of sixteen years to Jon, and the mother of Noah (deceased), Rebekah (age 10), Elijah (age 8) and Elliana (age 3). She is a freelance writer and fitness buff who prefers flip-flops over boots and who blogs mostly when her family is asleep. You can meet her daily at her website, God Speaks Today

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Fair Isn't Always Equal

Fair. Put one piece of cake on the table in between 2 kids and you'll get an immediate lesson in fair. (For those of you with kids, I've heard the way of making sure things are fair in this situation is to let one child cut the piece of cake and the other get first dibs on which half they want!) Kids are keenly aware of fair. But then, most adults I know are pretty aware too!

I came across this book last night. It had the title that went something like "Fair Isn't Always Equal." Maybe it stood out to me because "fair" was on my mind. Like most people, I like things to be fair. If they aren't fair, I prefer to be in the one up position. Honestly, (like most people, I think) I probably don't even think about fair unless I feel like I'm getting the short end of the stick.

When I was on staff with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, our Regional staff meetings one year were on Racial Reconciliation. They had a variety of activities they put us through and then debriefed. One was a race with candy as the reward. We started out in one line. Then the facilitator said something like, "If you were raised in a two parent home, take one step forward. If you had a library card growing up, take a step forward. If you had a computer at all in your home, take a step forward." After several of those, we also heard, "If you spent time in a foster home, take a step back. If you have ever been refused service somewhere, take a step back." You get the picture.

While we all believed in equality, the game showed us an enormous amount of situations where things weren't fair. In the end, a couple staff were way out ahead and none of the rest of us had a chance. One staff member was actually behind the line where we had all begun. Most had the sensitivity to be embarrassed at being so far ahead. It was humbling.

I don't know anything about that book, so I cannot recommend it. But I do think it is true. Fair isn't always equal.

As I've thought about it, I've also come to realize that God is more concerned about my character than about fair. I don't know where that thought came from. Maybe God whispered it in my ear or tugged it out of some recess of my mind from long ago. Wherever it came from, I think it is an amazing thought and it sets my priorities on end. I am so much more likely to think about fair before my character.

How do I know God is more concerned about character than fair? Look at the cross. The cross is stands in stark contrast to fair. There was nothing fair about Jesus death on the cross. If Jesus was concerned about fair, I would have been nailed to the cross for my sins instead of Jesus.

There is no mercy in fair. There is no grace in fair. Rather, fair is about what is deserved or earned. Mercy is about not getting what we deserve. Grace is mercy's kindred spirit but takes it one step further and offers what we do not deserve and can never earn.

Fair is rigid. Mercy and grace are fluid and in God's love, they wrap themselves around His children.

Fair has it's merits. Merit is it's cornerstone. But stone is cold. I'll choose mercy and grace.

The challenge now learning let go of fair in relation to those around me. Sometimes I get too caught up in keeping score. Someone was late. Someone hurt me in some way. Someone didn't include me. I keep score so that it is all fair, but I forget mercy and grace.

God, help me offer mercy and grace to those around me.

While I'm praying that, it's scary. Choosing those things are hard. God used that book title to remind me. Even last night, I found the words, "That's not fair" coming quickly to mind. Mercy and grace. Mercy and grace. Pray that I remember those words before fair even creeps in.

Do you get caught up in fair?

How would your life be different if each interaction was seasoned with mercy and grace?

Thank God that He cares more about my character, about me, than He does about honoring my sense of fair.

God's Work In Progress,

I'd love for you to visit my personal blog:

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Monday, December 28, 2009


I'm not a big fan of the various versions of CSI or the more recent version of detective stories, "Bones."

I just don't enjoy seeing dismembered parts of people's bodies, even if I do realize that it's all special effects. By the time these investigators reach the scene of a crime, there is no doubt as to whether the person is dead or not. The only question they have to answer is who did it. Being the squeamish person I am, I wonder if there's a way for them to do that without all the blood, guts and bones.

That's why I cringed when I opened up my Bible for my daily reading and saw the heading, "Dry Bones." I'm not sure I would have been very excited had I been Ezekiel in the day when he found himself suddenly in the middle of a valley filled with bones. Just a little creepy if you ask me. And somehow he thinks it's important to note that the bones were very dry. These people could not have been more dead. I'm already having just a few hairs standing on end as I'm imagining this, but then I realize that this story is about my life and a real chill goes down my spine.

There are places in my heart that are dead - dry bones dead. I've put God on the back burner and gotten busy with other things, not watering my soul and as a result, there's a parched valley in my heart. I look around my community and I wonder if God sees a lot of dry bones around here. Oh sure, we look like we're alive as we chat about this and that, but deep down, we're void of real, true life. We're dry bones.

You see, when Ezekiel was smack dab in the middle of those piles of bones, his people, the Israelites, were right in the middle of their driest season ever. They had left God out of the equation for so long that other gods had taken prominence in their lives and as a result, they had lost their homeland. They were not only living separated from God, but they were also separated from their homes and everything that meant a normal "life" to them. They were void of all life - emotional, spiritual and physical.

But God had a message of hope to them even in their driest moment - when they could not have been more dead.

"Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, 'Our bones are
dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.' Therefore prophesy and say to
them: 'This is what the Sovereign Lord says: O my people, I am going to open
your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of
Israel. Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your
graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will
live..." Ezekiel 37:11-14

So, God breathed on that valley of dry bones and they started to rattle and grow tendons and flesh and skin, turning into an army while Ezekiel watched. Now the chills had to be going down Ezekiel's spine. Bones growing flesh and coming to life right in front of your eyes - not exactly an everyday occurrence.

But then again, it's not exactly an everyday occurance for us to get new life either. God breathes and our dead places become alive, the dryness is replaced with muscles and flesh, the emptyness is filled with life.

Oh God, breathe new life on me, refresh my parched and weary soul. Breathe onto this community too and cause a revival in our dry land. We so desperately need life and only You can give it.

(Image of Death Valley, dry as it gets!)


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Weekend Blend!

Welcome to the Weekend Blend at the Internet Cafe Devotionals!

We know that "Tis the Season!" Amidst the hustle and bustle we pray you'll find a place of quiet peace as we serve up some of our favorite devotionals from the past.

As with each month, we'll be serving up devotionals centered around a theme...

We'd like to recommend,

One More Gift



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Friday, December 25, 2009

The Ache of God

I spent the better part of my life living as a religious woman. I did what I was told a good Christian should do. Performance and striving were a way of life for me. Guilt, condemnation and shame were frequent visitors. The more they visited, the busier I became.

In all honesty, I believed that my religious acts would somehow bring me the closeness I desired with God. If I followed all the rules maybe it would be enough to draw near to me. I could believe God would fellowship with me when I was doing religious stuff. But would He be with me in the mundane? I wasn’t so sure. I was afraid to slow down long enough to find out.

That’s when the invitation arrived.

“Jewel, come to the wilderness with Me.” “I want to teach you how to see me as husband, instead of Master.”

His isolation is the opposite of our isolation. He pulls us away in order to reveal. We, on the other hand, isolate in order to hide.

There’s something magical about the land of isolation with God. Pretense and performance are removed. It’s just you and Him. It’s in that place that you begin to discover what you are made of, what’s really inside of you.

One of my favorite movies is “Hidalgo”. It’s the story about a man named Frank Hopkins. He’s half Indian, half white man. Tormented by a painful childhood memory he loses sight of his heritage. He’s forgotten who he is.

He’s known for his endurance horse racing. A representative of an Arabian nation sees him in a wild west show. He invites him to come to his country and compete in a race against a royally bred Stallion. The race will be held smack dab in the middle of the desert. He will face elements he’s never experienced before while all alone in a foreign country. He accepts.

The ride in the desert was laden with obstacles and challenges. It was a long, hard, arduous ride. Frank’s determination and will kept him from giving up, though at times he wanted to. As he fought against each obstacle, the man inside began to break out. Little by little he reengaged with who he was. By the end of the race he knew what was in him.

One of the reasons I love that movie is because it speaks to me of my own story. God had allured me to His isolation. Alone with my kids, my husband and God, unable to serve in any capacity, I began to see the many masks I had worn. What I had relied on for value was what I could do. I had allowed my ability to fulfill religious requirements to define who I was.

In the wilderness, His words began to pierce into a deep place in my soul.

He told me He had no requirements. There was nothing I “should” do. He ached for me to need to be loved by Him. That was all. He began to reveal to me who He was and who I was to Him. Life turned a corner for me. I will never be the same.

Aches within me began to rise up to the surface. I was made aware of longings that almost took my breath away. It was then I realized. That’s His heart beating in me, inviting me to join Him where He is.

In the yearnings of my heart I realize that those things I long for, are the things He longs for too. Made in His image, His fingerprints are all over my life. Coming to terms with who I am has unleashed Him in me.

Sometimes the desires unfulfilled bring a pain all their own. It’s in those times that I identify with Him the most. He longs for intimacy with mankind in a way that most will likely never fully understand.

His heart has been misrepresented and misunderstood. It’s not our fulfilled requirements He’s after. It's us. God aches for us. It’s that simple.

"Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. Hosea 2:14


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Lose the Lies

"O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me" - Psalm 139:1

We women are good at lying, aren't we?

We lie to ourselves all the time.

"Oh, don't worry about me, I'm fine."

"No, I don't mind helping at all."

"I'm over it, really."

How many times have we repeated these (and so many other) lies to ourselves, just to keep ourselves moving? We quote cliche's to ourselves and others in order to get through a day, to survive, or to plain out avoid the issues that we need to confront in our lives.

I'm reminded of a movie I really enjoy where two knights are fighting each other. One knight cuts off the other knight's arm, but the knight keeps on fighting, convinced he can still win the battle. The knight then cuts off his opponent's other arm, but the obviously defeated knight still wants to fight. Easily the winner of the fight, the knight cut off the other knights legs until he is just a stump on the ground. The now limb-less knight finally gives in and calls the battle"a draw"...taunting the victorious knight as he rides off, calling him a chicken.

How many of us are like that knight?

We lie to ourselves that we're fine, or that we're only slightly injured, perfectly capable of winning the battle and moving forward with our mission to win?

Maybe your war is with your husband, your children, your parents, your best friend...and you are determined to win. Why?

Why do you feel the need to win this battle?

At what cost will you continue to fight?

At what point will you finally raise the white flag and say, "I surrender"?

Why haven't you surrendered already? When I say "surrender", I don't mean give in or let the "other side win", but I do mean fully surrender.

"Well who do you want me to surrender to?"

Scripture tells us that the battle is not ours, but God's, to win for us. He is that white knight ready to step in and take the hits, and make the attacks, for us. He is our champion, we are the Lady in Waiting, ready to swoon as our Hero wins the battle and saves the day for us. There's just one little problem with letting God win our battles - we are prideful people, set on doing things our way, unwilling to wait for results, and ready to either fight or hide...either way - we are hiding from a greater issue - our inability to fully surrender, and fully trust this battle to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Here is some food for thought as you sit in our cafe appetizer...or light entree, if you will...

"The important thing is to stop lying to yourself. A man who lies to
himself and believes his lies becomes unable to recognize the truth either
becomes unable to recognize the truth, either in himself or anyone else, and he
ends up losing respect for himself as well as others. When he has no
respect for anyone, he can no longer love and, in order to divert himself,
having no love in him, to his impulses, indulges in the lowest forms of
pleasure, and behaves in the end like an animal, in satisfying his vices.
And it all comes from lying - lying to others and to yourself" - The
Brothers Karamazov,
Fyodor Dostoevsky.

When we continue to push God out of the picture of the battle we are fighting, we are lying to ourselves that we need God due to our selfish pride. Or, maybe you're thinking, "Well this battle is one that's so big (or so small) there's no use getting God involved. I'll handle it".

There is no battle to big or too small that God will go to war for you over so that you can live a victorious life through Him. We just need to raise the white flag, scream out "I surrender all God", and truly (and I mean truly ) surrender All to Christ so that He can (and He will!) step in and save the day!

I know that He has gone to battle for me on a daily basis - He has been my champion of both big and small things - major life events, and daily life happenings. He took on the world for me - the full weight of sin - so that I might have eternal life. If He is willing to voluntarily take on that punishment for me, then the least I can do is say, "I surrender! I need you!" so that our Hero can rush in and save the day; or, at the very least, pull us out of the situation we are in and point us in the right direction.

Please my friends as we find ourselves standing on the edge of a New Year, stop hiding, stop trying to be brave, stop trying to hide from your problems, thinking that God won't step in and help.

There is no battle too small, or too big, that our Hero can't champion for us. He is our Hero, our Warrior King, our White Knight...ready to blaze into battle for us - for all our battles, great and small, He will fight for His beloved children - and that includes you! You need to simply put away your pride, your disbelief, your lying and tendency to hide from the world when look bleak. Let Him win the battle for you...after all, it's what He does best!

Let's pray:

Lord, I'm sorry for being so prideful. I try to do things for myself when I know I need to trust that You will win this battle for me. Help me to not hide from the world when things get difficult, and help me to stop lying to myself and others that I can face these challenges all alone. Help me to stop pointing the finger at others, myself, or even You, when I'm faced with difficult circumstances. Instead help me to be brave enough to come to You in humble surrender, hands raised high, excited to see how You, my Hero, will win this battle for me. I trust You, Lord...I trust You, my Hero.

Thank You for the victorious life that I will lead because of the battles You have, are and will win for me - and because of the strength I will gain because of Your promise to fight for me, despite my prideful ways. I thank You, Lord, for sending Your Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for us - in an act of ultimate bravery...who rose again from the dead in complete victory over the battle that is death. I know, Lord, that if You can defeat death and take on the sins of the world, You can claim victory in this battle that I am fighting. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

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Cafe Chat

Well my beloved community, it is almost time to celebrate the most wonderful birth in history. The birth of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords...Jesus Christ. Are you ready?
Familiarity can be a good thing, but familiarity with the Christmas story can be negative if you just listen to the story as one that you have heard hundreds of times before...a story that no longer engages your mind and moves your heart toward love. Personally, I have fallen into the trap of treating the Christmas story too casually and have forgotten what the baby in the manger truly represents. This Christmas, I don't want that to happen, so let us pray together to see and hear the Christmas story with new eyes and new ears.
In the Bible, John writes "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. (John 1:14-first part of verse). As many have said, Jesus was born to die, but the story did not end with his death, but a wonderful resurrection. Oh we have so much to be thankful for this season. No, we have so much to be thankful for everyday.
Today, my question is more of a fill in the blank question. Please take a moment to leave your answers here at the Cafe. I would love to see what you write, and I know that you bless others here at the Cafe when you participate.
The night that Jesus was born________________ came to the World.
The night that Jesus was born________________came to my life.
Let us see with new eyes and hear with new ears this Christmas.
Merry Christmas!!!

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Ghost and the Darkness

The Ghost and the Darkness is a 1996 thriller film about the Tsavo man-eaters, two lions who attacked the builders of the Uganda-Mombasa Railway in 1898, killing about 35 of them, and the subsequent hunt to kill them.

These lions were so quick and ferocious that every attempt to kill them failed. The men dubbed the lions “the Ghost and the Darkness” because of their notorious methods of attack.

1 Peter 5:8 reminds us to;

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”

This movie reminds me of how sin can swiftly crawl into our lives as believers and followers of Jesus Christ. Bitterness and resentment is like the Ghost and the Darkness in our lives.

Fourteen years and 22 kids later I was confronted head on with those two sins which almost destroyed our beautiful family. The lions from "The Ghost and the Darkness" when attacking the builders would come in from any angle at any time, without notice. Bitterness and resentment are equally the same way!

In ministry and helping families all these years we were not prepared to what happened in our own home recently. There was an explosion that caused all of us to examine our hearts before our Savior!

Why am I being so transparent?

Explosions happen in the best of families but what do we do with it is what is very important.

Reinforcement was needed and it came in from everywhere just like it came when the Ugandans could not kill the lions in the movie! My husband and I traveled for about 45 minutes to Barren River State Park where we began our journey of being honest with one another for the very first time!

We not only had to be honest about the bitterness and resentment that was ailing him for all those years but I had to admit my own fear of trusting him.

Sounds pretty messed up, huh?

That is what I love about our Savior, He is willing and ready to begin picking up broken pieces and gluing them together again if we obey and trust Him!

In the movie the Ghost and the Darkness the lions were killed but it took a very special strategy and it was after killing 35 of the men. Bitterness and resentment was in the process of doing the same thing in our lives. Killing us little by little and pretending that it was not there. Bandaging a wound really without healing it. Does it make sense?


Getting home and sharing our hearts we saw forgiveness and restoration begin to take place. Recognizing the Ghost and the Darkness played a major part of our healing. Recognizing it and laying it down also brought some junk out of our kids’ pasts that needed to be dumped! The picture of that day will never be erased from my memory.

Philippians 3:12-14 tells us “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead. I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Satan did not win his ferocious battle against our family! Something good has happened and that good came about because we serve a Great and Mighty God! I am asking each one of us to search out our lives to see if we keep bandaging our past hurts, holding grudges, unforgiveness, resentment, and bitterness. I will let you know it will show it’s ugly head when you least expect it just like in the movie when the Ghost and the Darkness would slide right around the corner!

Close and Personal

1. Do you think because you don’t talk about things that you have dealt with any past hurts?

2. Are you bandaging your pain?

3. The Ghost and the Darkness in your life, do you see it or do others?

My dear Heavenly Father I just want to tell you thank you all over again for loving us as you do. You have been such a longsuffering Savior and Friend! I pray for all my sisters that will read this today Lord that they will not allow any Ghosts and Darkness to enter into their lives but rather that they will recognize the enemy and be prepared as a good soldier in Your army! Lord, use me in whatever way You want me to used by You! I love You so much my Lord and my Savior!

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Old and The New

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... two turtle doves....

We are all familiar with this song. There are all sorts of fun ledgends and stories as to the true meaning of this song.

The turtle doves have come to symbolize many things over the years; peace, love, sacrifice… just to name a few. They are also unique in that both the male and female share the incubation and feeding of the young. They both have their part to play in raising up their children. It is a bit fitting then, that some have even used them to represent the Old and New Testaments.

Both the Old and New Testament share in the incubation and feeding of the Lord’s children. The Old gives birth to the New and the New finds its stability in the Old. They work together in harmony to paint a beautiful picture of our life story in Christ; past, present and future.

There is no greater example of their unity found then when we study the birth of our precious Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The Old, foretells of a righteous King ( Jeremiah 23:5-6 ) that would shoot up from the stump of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1-5) , bind up the brokenhearted and proclaim freedom to the captives (Isaiah 61:1-2) and would rule over His kingdom as the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6-7). The New breathes life into the foretold King. First as a babe; born of a virgin, placed in a trough. Later as a man crucified for the sins of the many. Finally as the risen Savior who sits as King at the right hand of God (Hebrews 1:3).

The Old gives way to the New.

Together, they give us the greatest story ever told.

Together, they mold and shape the story of Christ.

As we focus on the beauty of Christ during this season, let us not forget the greatly laid out foundation given in the Old Testament. For without the beginning, there would be no ending.


You can find me at my personal blog:

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Oh Lord, It's Hard To Be Humble

When you're perfect in every way.

I can't wait to look in the mirror.

Cuz I get better lookin' each day.

Do you, by chance, recognize the lyrics above?

I have my father to thank for indoctrinating me into the ways of old country music dudes like Charlie Pride, Mac Davis, and Ronnie Milsap. So much so that I still remember the songs they sang as they blared out from my Daddy's 8-track player in our 1976 Blue Chevy Suburban.


Not the easiest subject to discuss or describe, but I'll give it a shot.

One of the definitions of the word humble is not proud or arrogant. Maybe you've heard Christ Followers say that to be humble doesn't mean to think less of yourself, but to think of yourself less. No matter how you define the term, I think we can agree that being humble is a far more beautiful character trait than exhibiting arrogance.

But, what do you do when you are talented in sports or writing or speaking or acting or singing? What do you do when people start mentioning your name as someone who has touched them or inspired them? What do you do when you are kind of a big deal?

Take Michael Phelps, for example.

Oh, you've not heard of him? He's only the most decorated Olympian who has ever walked the surface of our planet. Athens? Beijing? Anyone?

I was impressed with Phelps each time someone interviewed him. Impressed because not once did I sense arrogance. Confidence, yes. But arrogance? No way José. And the reason that he appeared that way to me was because of his manner.

Because of his grace.

His manner was very gracious as he stated facts about his training and the races. He did not make predictions about how much he would win. He just swam. And quite well, I might add. Not only that, but he also did not pretend that he wasn't good. You did not hear him say, "Yeah, well, I'm not that great of a swimmer but somehow I won the race."

That would have been false humility, in my opinion.

Years ago I was confronted with this in my own life. When someone would try to encourage me after I would sing a song, I would reply with, "Oh, it's not me. It's the Lord."

If that's not false humility, I don't know what is.

In Cindy's definition, to be falsely humble is to think you are all that and then say you are nothing.

I realized that I was indeed taking more praise than I deserved because that particular reply made me seem more godly than I really was. So, not only did I sing a nice song to that person, but now, I'm practically Mother Theresa in their eyes. Eventually, my reply changed to a mere thank you. And then in the quiet of my heart, I would tell God, "Thank you for using me. I owe my life to you."

And I still do that today when someone praises me or encourages me. Because I know exactly from where my gifts and talents originate.

Obviously, there is only one perfect example of humility by a human. His name is Jesus. Philippians 2 states exactly what He laid down to come to this earth to redeem mankind. We will never display the kind of humility that He did.

But what we can do is to realize who we are and how we are gifted. Once that is acknowledged, we can live in confidence because of how our Heavenly Father has wired us. He has made no mistake giving you the gifts you have. So operate in them.

And after you offer your gift, remember that you are nothing without Him.

I am nothing without Him.

Visit Cindy daily at her personal site,

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Weekend Blend!

Welcome to the Weekend Blend at the Internet Cafe Devotionals!

We know that "Tis the Season!" Amidst the hustle and bustle we pray you'll find a place of quiet peace as we serve up some of our favorite devotionals from the past.

As with each month, we'll be serving up devotionals centered around a theme...

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Friday, December 18, 2009

The Perfect Tree

Now a certain ruler asked Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to
inherit eternal life?”
So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.
(Luke 18:18-19, New King James Version)

It's that time of the year, not the "most wonderful part" yet, but the preparations leading up to the "most wonderful time of the year".

I know it's going to happen, the one weekend will be spent looking for....the perfect tree.

The one that we are positive, is hiding in a lockbox, in the very back of the tree lot. We figure if we circle around the tree lot twenty times, they would figure we were on to them, relent, and bring out that perfect tree! THAT would make this the best time of the year, with everyone "ooing" and "aaahhing."

The truth (sorry) is that there is no perfect tree.

Eventually the tree will start losing its pine needles, and the tree has to be taken down before it catches on fire and people think you purposely decided to have a bonfire in your dining room.

I don't know how my husband does it.

I try to be a good sport and drag follow behind, but when I look at those trees, they all look the same. No matter how many angles I look, it's a tree and it's on sale. I shout, "woohoo! Let's get it!" To my husband, something is always wrong, and we find ourselves walking back and forth. I feel like humming, "999 more trees in the lot."

Good thing our Father in Heaven doesn't do that to us.

He doesn't look at us and say, "I just don't know-what about this one? Hey got anything better?"

We're all the same to Him. Sinners in need of saving. Sinners in need of His love.

This is an amazing time of the year, because its' definitely not about us.

It's about Him and its a perfect time to reach out to others who may not know Him and let them know, that He loves them for them. He's not looking for perfect. He loves the flawed, the broken, the hurt and the suffering, because that is where His heart is.

He loves us, those who have accepted His gift of salvation, but He also reminds us, "don't forget about the one in the corner who feels alone, rejected, abandoned".

Maybe we don't feel perfect.

Maybe we feel as though we don't measure up to the other trees.

We need the reminder that God loves us.

We are perfect to Him and that does matter.

We are so blessed this holiday season to sing out in praise the joy that our Heavenly Father's Son was born to save us from our sin. Let's give the best birthday gift ever and instead of looking for perfect, let's look for those who are imperfect and reach out and let them know, they are not alone, they are loved. They are just like us.

Let's let them know, the lonely trees, the power and love of Jesus Christ this holiday season.

Who knows, next year God's Family may have new members because of that extra time that was taken to let them know just how much God loves them, imperfections and all.

Heavenly Father, I thank You so much for the greatest gift that could ever be given to us, the gift of salvation. Without You, we are nothing, we are abandoned, we are rejected.

Help us remember our troops who are serving overseas and Lord, help us remember our neighbors. Help us to remember those neighbors who may not have a home, or don't know that they have neighbors who love them and want them to know a bigger and giving love through Jesus Christ.

Thank You Father in all You do and may we mark Your name, not by time, but by service to You and for You.

In Your Son's Name I pray,


You can drop by and visit Twinkle Mom at her blog, Sunflower Faith.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Cafe Chat

Christmas is right around the corner. Are you ready? I think I am :)
I hope that you got a chance to read last week's Chat. I asked you to come up with a gift that you wanted to give to Jesus for Christmas (read last Thursday's Chat for more information).
I think I have mine, but I want to give it a little more thought before I make my final decision. Anyhow, let's stick with the gift theme for today's question.
What is the best gift you have ever received at Christmas time? Please tell the reason why it was the best gift.
I encourage those of you that have never participated on a Cafe Chat day to try it out today.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sometimes We Just Need Someone to Understand

She looked at me through tear stained eyes and confessed, “I feel so alone, you do not understand how much this hurts.”

She was right, I didn’t understand it.

I had never walked the road she was walking. Though she was surrounded with friends and family during this painful time in her life, she needed someone to “get it”, someone to identify with the particular pain she was facing.

Loneliness is not about being alone. We can be in a crowded room, but so lonely our heart aches. We long for the gentle words of someone that can say, “I understand how you feel.”

How do we help a girlfriend who’s filled with sorrow and fear if we’ve never experienced it ourselves? The only way I know, is to bring her to Him. We bring her to the One who created her, the One who understands all of our grief and suffering.

You and I are vessels that God uses to bring life and hope to others, but we are not THE life or THE hope that they need. We are ambassadors, we represent the healer, but we do not heal. Even when we’ve walked through the same battle they are in, we still can only take them to a certain point in their journey and then they need the arms of the Savior to wrap around them and pour peace into their anxious, broken heart.

Occasionally, in my desire to help a friend, I will put myself in a position to “fix” things. It doesn’t take long to figure out that this is a recipe for disaster. God may use you and I to love someone and show them who He is, but we need to continue to remember that He is the only one that can bind the wounds and heal them.

Our God understands our loneliness and every pain we could ever feel.

1 Chron 28:9
For the LORD sees every heart and understands and knows every
plan and thought. If you seek Him, you will find Him.

It’s our job to remind those hurting that God knows every plan and thought. He understands their pain, He “gets it.” Jesus is living proof that we are never alone.

Matthew 1:23
Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a
son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel,
which being interpreted is, God with us.

The message of Christmas proves that we are never alone, God is Emmanuel, and He IS with us. I pray that this truth wraps itself around your heart and not only helps you in time of loneliness but also helps you show others that He is with us.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ornamental Occasion

What?!? Twenty-five dollars? For an ORNAMENT?

I have to admit it--I have a weakness for Christmas tree decorations, but I drew the line when I saw this ornament in the department store that day. It was the most original one I had ever seen--glass in the shape of a teardrop with etched gold curling in a spiral pattern all the way around the edge--the perfect balance of tastefulness and originality. It would be placed front and center on my tree, and those noticing it would comment on its beauty.

The price tag was nowhere to be found, though, so I waited in line three people back in order to get the price from the cashier. Imagine my surprise when I got to her and she said, "This is our original brand. It's a bargain at $25.00."

No way, I ranted inside my brain. I was so disgusted with the high cost that I didn't even put it back. Instead I said, "Thanks anyway," not so merrily, leaving it on the counter. I'm glad my bitter thoughts did not roll off my tongue.

Hours later, with the whole scene still mulling through my head, the Lord brought a convicting thought to my spirit:

That first Christmas was celebrated so differently than we celebrate it now. Nothing ornamental existed about it, other than THE Ornament, which was Jesus Himself. He was not wrapped up in bows, but in a simple cloth. The scene was not lit up with blinking, chasing lights, but illuminated by the stars alone. No finely decorated fir tree stood with pine-scented potpourri filling the room; instead, the air was filled with the odors of animal manure and hay.

Yet even without such sparkling accessories, that first Christmas was the most beautiful and glowing Christmas of all time. The presence of Jesus is what made it so magnificent.

I can't help but think of all the ways I decorate myself at Christmas. I look for the outfit that will stand out for the party, that blingy jewelry combo, the new trendy hairstyle. I often attach my confidence with how put together I look, how decorated my house is, how great I did on my gift choices. And I do so with my behavior as well--using my tongue to flatter, to dramatize, to draw attention to me, Me, ME.

This is the opposite of the example Jesus set for us when He was on the earth. He was humble and genuine in every way, pointing to God with His Word every time He spoke and with every action he took. My heart's desire is to do the same.

2 Corinthians 3:18 (NLT)
"So all of us who have had that veil removed
can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord-who is the Spirit-makes
us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image."

No frills about it: Jesus is the grandest Ornament of them all. His authentic beauty will shine through us as we ask Him to redirect our attempts to decorate our lives with anything other than Himself. Let's wrap ourselves in His glorious image today.

Selah~ Pause. Ponder. Praise.

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Monday, December 14, 2009

I Would Have Missed It...

Let's be honest.

Things haven't changed THAT much in 2,010 years. Women are women, always have been. We are busy, we have to watch out for gossip and did I mention, we're busy?

If I had been alive THEN it likely would have looked a bit like this:

I imagine that if I would have been up before the cock crowed and I would have gone about the chores of the day.

I would have fetched the water,
I would have fed the baby, I would have swept out the barn, (even though it was supposed to be somebody else's chore.)

I would have fed the animals.

I would have made the bread.
(Wondering outloud, how in the world can these people of mine eat so much?)

I would have pressed some olives and drawn some water from the well.

I would have mended somebody's tunic that had gotten mysteriously ripped. (Time for the "play tunics" talk again.)

I would have made my way to the market.

I would have conversed with the women in the market, always trying to stop short of gossiping.

I would have 'heard' the rumors, everyone heard the rumors

I would have returned home,
put the fire on; I would have made dinner and I would have put the babies to bed, and I would have taken one last look around our home before turning in for the night.

I would have looked up in the night sky, and simply not noticed that THIS night was different.

So we fast~forward 2,010 years, welcome to my world!

I get up before the alarm goes off, and I begin my day. I spend some time in quietly praying before my feet hit the floor.

Then it's off the bathroom for a shower and make~up, so as not to terrify the UPS man.

I would complete t
he never ending pile of laundry, and find myself mending the jeans that have mysteriously gotten ripped; need to have the "play" clothes talk again.

I would move on to emptying the dishwasher, (even though it was supposed to be somebody else's chore.)

The list of daily tasks would go on and on, you know it, you live it. Addressing the cards, calling a friend, responding to emails, braving the mall traffic, wrapping the gifts, waiting in the endless post office line, going to the grocery, going back to the grocery to get what I forgot the first time, chauffeuring my people to dance and basketball, remembering the teacher gifts!

The list continues and I find myself
unloading the groceries, (wondering how these people of mine can eat so much) making dinner, tucking everyone in, unplugging the tree and the outdoor lights, and finally pausing to look up at the stars in the night sky.

Our lives with all their modern conveniences really haven't changed that much.

She missed it 2,000 years ago, not because she intended to. Sure she had heard the rumors swirling all about the town. Rumors of a baby born in a manger. She MEANT to be there, but she was just too BUSY.

The truth is, I am her. I am that same woman in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago.

Simply too busy to notice WHAT was going on around her.

The blessing in hindsight is that I can learn from her, the lesson of a lifetime.
The heavenly hosts will announce it, the shepherds will find their way, the Kings will bring gifts, and as every woman who has ever walked before me, I have an opportunity to notice the significance of this night, the opportunity to notice the significance of the life of Jesus.

I silently vow that I will not be immersed in my own busyness that I miss it. I WILL see that star in sky; the star of HOPE, the star of LOVE, the star who welcomed GOD, coming to dwell with us. The star that whispers still today, "Be still and KNOW that I am God." (Psalm 46:10)

join Lori daily at her personal website,all you have to give, where she is listening for the whisper this season....

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Weekend Blend!

Welcome to the Weekend Blend at the Internet Cafe Devotionals!

We know that "Tis the Season!" Amidst the hustle and bustle we pray you'll find a place of quiet peace as we serve up some of our favorite devotionals from the past.

As with each month, we'll be serving up devotionals centered around a theme...

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Godly Friends

A friend shows his friendship at all times - it is for adversity that [such] a brother is born. ~ Proverbs 17:17 (CJB)

Have you ever noticed that godly friends are like good bras?

As a mother of four breast-fed children...well, I will spare you the downer details! Seriously, godly friends provide much needed UPLIFT & SUPPORT when you are DOWN! And their encouragement makes us feel a whole lot better, doesn’t it?! They are a perfect fit and you can’t wait for them to be around you! SEE! Godly friends are most definitely like good bras! I rest my lace...

You know these friends I speak of.

They are there for you.

They will not judge you unrighteously and condemn you, no matter how much of a mess you have made. They understand (though may not be able to completely relate to) where you stand. They realize we all travel an Appointed Way and cheer you onward to persevere in HIS strength through your trials. They are able to see the other side of a given situation and speak the Truth of the Word of God into your ear. If you do get off track, they will lovingly guide you back in the right direction...God’s direction....provided that your spirit is teachable. For Proverbs 12:1 says,

‘Whoever loves instruction, loves knowledge; but he who hates correction is stupid.’ (NKJV)

She is the one you can count on.

You know that nothing will surprise her. You know that she will love you REGARDLESS of your actions (good, bad or indifferent) - because the essence of grace is undeserved favor. She is the woman free of critical thinking, generous with her love and holds within her spirit a depth of Kingdom understanding and divine revelation. She bares a striking family resemblance to her Heavenly Father. Her face shines with acceptance and is not darkened by condemnation and fault-finding.

She is a fruit inspector, but only of her own fruit!

She is the one you aspire to be like. She lives the WORD OF GOD. Her words (which are HIS WORDS) and walk are in perfect alignment. She has a godly and reverential fear that drive her to her knees in humility and holy adoration before HIS Throne. You feel the Kingdom at work within her because you perceive that only the Father is able to supernaturally reveal both humility and boldness in and through HIS servant simultaneously.

She is a Merea.

That is Hebrew for ‘trusted friend and companion’. Merea comes from the root word ra’ah which means ‘to feed, to provide nourishment, to tend a flock.’

And that she does for you! She does not stifle your spirit or quench HIS, but encourages you with Living Water that you may grow in the grace and knowledge of the LORD. She gives those she loves, serves and prays for the GRACE, SPACE and TIME to grow. HIS Name is not blasphemed because of her ways. Rather, her conduct gently whispers to all who heed, ‘Where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty!’

Blessed Father, may we be like this woman because of Your Holy Breath within us. May all who read this realize THIS IS Your plan for each of us. May YOUR NAME be hallowed in us and may Christ be regarded as holy in our hearts in our ways (1 Peter 3:15). Give Your servants deep conviction that moves us to repentance. In HIS Name.

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cafe Chat

I hope today's "Chat" finds you enjoying the presence of Jesus. In my own life I tend to think of Him a lot during Christmas time? Anyone else?
If you have been reading the "Cafe Chat" for any period of time, you know that my questions are normally inspired by the things I hear, see or experience in my everyday life. Even though I have heard about the idea of giving Jesus a present at Christmas from several people, today's credit for my question will go to Lysa Terkeurst (Proverbs 31 Ministries). I recently led a group of friends through Lysa's new book, "Becoming More Than A Good Bible Study Girl". I will quickly say Lysa's book is wonderful, and I highly recommend it.
About two weeks ago I heard Lysa talk about how her family made a commitment one Christmas that they would give Jesus a present everyday of the next year. What a goal.
She said that for the next 365 days, they would either give their time, money or encouragement to someone. This gift could be to someone they knew or to a stranger. One of their goals was to look back and know that for a whole year someone would have been touched in some way by the love of Jesus (I abbreviated the story, and may have left out some information, but the main idea is there).
I love this idea, and today's question is actually a challenge to you. What is one gift you can give to Jesus in the coming year?
Think a bit deeper and challenge yourself. Try to make sure the gift is centered on Jesus.
Blessings sweet friends,

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas in Februrary

My day was all planned.

I got up as usual, drove my daughter to school, and rushed back home to shower and get ready, just in time to head back to school for a special event for my daughter's class.

If I had gone to bed earlier the night before, I would have been up early to shower and get ready before the drive to school. Instead, I was wearing old, stretchy pants, half-brushed hair, and a full-up grumpy disposition.

Without any coffee.

After the special class event, I was off to the craft store to purchase a few things for an unfinished project, then to the grocery store for milk, cat food, staple items and lots of Diet Coke to keep me going.

I put the milk in the refrigerator just in time to sit down for a bite of lunch, look over my Bible study, and then regroup and recharge myself to drive to the Bible study discussion.

Minutes after our study time was over, I drove (again) to school to pick up my daughter, head home and literally collapse.

But before I kicked off my shoes and crashed on the couch, I took a walk to the mailbox. In a stack of letters, I found a "Special Message From Our Sponsored Child."

I wonder if she will ever know how much I look forward to her letters.

The letter was written at Christmas. Due to the time delay in translation and mailing, I received it in February.

It was right on time.

The letter was filled with questions. A small drawing decorated the bottom. A photo of a children's Christmas party filled the top.

In a translated message, a little Haitian girl shared her heart. She said she will not stop praying for me and my family (for me and my family?) She thanked us for our letters. She thanked us for the Christmas gift.

Through the sponsorship ministry, we were given the opportunity to give a small, extra donation towards a Christmas gift for our sponsored child. We were thrilled. Every child deserves something special at Christmas.

I can remember receiving Christmas or birthday money as a child. Mama said not to "let it burn a hole in my pocket." She and Daddy encouraged me to save it or, at the very least, think carefully about how I spent it. Like most kids, I spent it on candy or a toy that was quickly forgotten.

As I read the letter, I learned just what our little sponsored child bought with her money.

She bought a goat.

Wrap your mind around that, if you can.

Tears began to stream down my face as I continued to read. I heard the joy in this little girl's voice. I know that the ministry gave this little girl a personal gift as well, but the image of a child buying a goat for her family with her Christmas money. No. Words. Describe.

I read the letter over and over as the tears fell. I looked closely at the faces of the children in the photo. All of their eyes were bright, full of hope, of wonder. I could almost hear the laughter.

Valentine's Day was just over a week away. Store shelves were stocked with heart-shaped boxes filled with chocolate, plush animals of pinks and reds, endearing gifts, all carefully designed expressions of love.

On a day in February, I received a Christmas letter. Christmas- the ultimate expression of Love.

On an ordinary, crazy day I was humbled by a little girl in a place I cannot imagine.

I am grieved for her struggles. I am overwhelmed with sadness and with joy. I am puzzled by the remarkable workings of God. I am grateful to trust and know a God Who loves this little girl with perfect love.

I am struck with the mystery that the God Who loves these precious ones also loves me. He loves this sinful, prideful, incomplete person who falls short each and every day.

He loves us. He loves us enough to send a Saviour in a manager, even when we forget months later as stored shelves are emptied of the reminders.

I don't know what you are wishing for this Christmas. Healing in a marriage? A job? Help with the mortgage payment? Are you grieving the loss of a loved one? The empty nest of a child gone to college?

Let this be your Christmas letter. Let it be right on time.

Dear one, He loves you.

He loves us enough to give us the desires of our hearts. Letters with smiling faces, drawings from tiny hands, candy-filled boxes, pink bears and red roses.

And goats. Yes, even goats.

"God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins."
1 John 4: 9-10

Join Melanie at her personal blogspot, "This Ain't New York."

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Season of Peace

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government shall be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

Gathering around the kitchen table at the homeless shelter, we lit the purple Advent candle that symbolizes peace. Peace that is sometimes in short supply for those living at the shelter. Peace that is sometimes elusive in my life as well.

This small group of women and I talked about the different things we use to fill our soul’s desperate need for peace: relaxing music, bubble baths, soothing candles, food, cigarettes, and even turning to the escape found in alcohol and drugs. We talked about addictions that had destroyed all illusions of peace for some - along with jobs, relationships, and even health.

We talked about what happens when the music is turned off, the bath water grows cold, and the candle melts down into a puddle of cold wax. We commiserated about feeling miserable after a food binge and how the desire for one cigarette just produces the desire for another. We agreed that when the high is gone and a hangover has taken its place, we are left once again searching for peace.

As we talked, we began to realize what a wonderful gift peace actually is. But how do we find true and lasting peace? How do we hold on to peace when our situations are anything but peaceful? We found the answer in Isaiah’s prophecy that a child would be given us whose name would be the Prince of Peace.

We reflected on the times when we had turned to Christ seeking peace and how He had always proven Himself faithful. In that small kitchen, with the flame flickering on the candle of peace, peace began to flicker in our souls as well. No, our situations hadn’t changed but our minds and souls had been transformed by the peace of God that transcends understanding. Glory to God in the highest, for to us a child was born and He is the Prince of Peace.

Father, thank you for Your peace that is beyond our understanding. Help us to feel Your peace today.

I'd love to have you visit at http://www.inspirationfrommayberry

“Remember this. When people choose to withdraw far from a fire, the fire continues to give warmth, but they grow cold. When people choose to withdraw far from light, the light continues to be bright in itself but they are in darkness. This is also the case when people withdraw from God”. ~Augustine

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