Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Word for 2010...

Every year on the Five In a Row boards, we pick a word that encompasses much of what we hope the coming year holds for us. I have been so unsure of what my word should be. I feel I have so many areas that require attention that I don't even know where to start. As I was praying and reading, I felt that I finally figured out the word that truly does encompass all the others and it is...


2 Cor. 12:9 (MsgB)
and then he told me,
My grace is enough; it's all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.
Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ's strength moving in on my weakness.

Strong’s (#5485) defines grace as "the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life."

I need His divine influence on my heart that it may be reflected in my life! The Bible says grace is all I need! My very needy self has found the answer.

I recently taught on grace with my friend, Julie, and I am getting ready to teach on it again in a couple of weeks. I am reading a book on grace and now I feel my word is grace. Does anyone see a pattern here? I really am a slow-learner sometimes it would seem because He sure has needed to give me a lot of directional signs for me to finally catch on.

I get it now, though. I am at the station waiting for the doors to open so I can jump on the train to grace! Not sure what we'll see along the way, nor how long it will take to get there. I heard the Conductor is One to really be trusted, though, so I figure I am in good hands!

It's funny, too, that the above verse is the one He showed me because I am tired and feeling weak...physically, emotionally and even spiritually the last few weeks. How comforting to know that this is truly when His strength can well up within me.

Oh how I want His divine influence in my life so that I might reflect HIM! Have you ever seen this picture?

I love it! The created is looking in the mirror and drawing what he sees...the Creator! Oh how I desire to see His reflection staring back at me as I gaze into my own eyes! May it be so in 2010!!

Lord, as we close out this year of 2009 which has been so full of painful moments, joyous moments and reflective moments, would we pause and contemplate what we have learned through it all. And then, as we look forward to the fresh slate that 2010 presents us, would we contemplate what we desire to learn and hear from you in the days to come! May our deepest heart's desire to be to reflect you for the good of our relationship with You AND our relationship with others!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, with love, from our family to yours! May you experience joy as you reflect on the reason we celebrate...Happy Birthday, Jesus!!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Quite Unexpected!

When you ponder the birth of our Savior, it's really no wonder why the Jews have yet to believe that He has, in fact, already visited the earth. One would expect the King of Kings and Lord of Lords to be received with a little more pomp and circumstance than was actually the case, don't you think?

When Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem, I don't imagine there were any signs like this one announcing their destination...

I don't think there were any street signs pointing to where He would first lay His head...

I imagine a weary Mama and her betrothed, sensing the time was upon them, found the least offensive place they could given their impending circumstances. I don't think it is what they imagined when they considered their sweet firstborn, the One Whom the angel had enlightened them about, making His appearance into their family and ultimately into the hearts of all who believed.

Reality is, our Savior was born in the most unlikely circumstances in the most unlikely place ~ a manger! Our nostalgic little nativity scenes don't quite do the moment justice, though, do they? This is what a manger in those days most probably looked like...

Not exactly plush accommodations, right? Maybe there was some hay in there to soften His initial resting place, but any way you look at it...a manger is not quite what we would expect.

He was conceived through the unexpected, birthed in a place that was unexpected, lived a life that was unexpected and died an unexpected death in a most unexpected way for Someone Who could change history with a simple verbal command. He certainly, even by the standards of those in His inner circle, did the unexpected when He rose from the dead and He continues to do the unexpected in my life day after day.

Lord, You have never been One to do what was expected of You. You never caved to public opinion or human expectations of what your birth, death and resurrection should look like. You continue to show up in unexpected ways and at unexpected times in the the lives of those Who seek You! Please continue to show Yourself to me in the most unlikely of circumstances at the most unlikely times, that I may never think I have you all figured out!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Mark Your Calendars!

If you have followed me at all, you know that we are homeschoolers. We have always homeschooled exclusively up until this year. This year our oldest 2 entered a Christian school, Rachel as a senior and Benji as a freshman. The younger 3 are still at home with me and homeschooling is just a part of who we are.

Early in the spring of this year, Amanda Bennett asked if Tim and I would be willing to speak at the Midwest Homeschool Convention In Cincinnati, April 8-10, 2010. That seemed like such a looonnnggg way away and not too intimidating so I asked Tim and we agreed to do it.

Do you know that there are exactly 117 days until April 8, 2010? I promise I didn't count them all up myself. I googled "How many days from December 12, 2009 until April 8, 2010" and up popped a countdown calculator! It always blows my mind all you can find on the internet and it sure was faster than pulling out a calendar and counting!

Anyway, I digress...117 days does not suddenly seem that far away and I must admit I get more than a few butterflies when I think about it. I was actually doing okay until my friend Kelly in AZ said she was coming and she started listing all our friends she was going to bring with her. And then Michael from Tim's Bible study said he and his whole family were coming and suddenly, I went from being okay because I was sure I wouldn't know anyone to, "Oh my goodness, what have I agreed to do?" LOL!!! Oh I forgot, Amanda also sent me a link to a news story that was talking about the thousands of people who would attend this homeschool convention. I told her if she was trying to scare me off she was doing a very good job!!

Okay, I'm not quite that bad yet, but I do still have 117 days to work myself into a tizzy if I am not careful to take my thoughts captive. I may have to handcuff these thoughts and triple lock them and then throw away the key in order to keep them captive for the necessary time to drive from Atlanta to Cincy. All that time to think is sure to push me over the edge.

The part of this whole story that is absolutely hilarious, though, is the fact that Tim has never even darkened the doors of a homeschool convention, much less been asked to speak. I have resisted the urge to school him in all things homeschool from wardrobe, to hairstyles to catch words like "courting" and "patriarchs"! Fortunately for him, the homeschool demographics have broadened and he may have an easier time blending in. Not that he has ever tried to blend in anywhere, but there was a time when he would have stuck out like a relaxed homeschooler at a Well-Trained Mind symposium!

So, if you have a hankering to see the first (and potentially last) time that Tim Cash ever experiences AND speaks at a homeschool convention, make sure to mark your calendars! It just may prove to be a very memorable weekend!!


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Love Me Some Christmas!

I love Christmas and all that comes with it! I have some favourite Christmas decorations and thought I'd share them with you! Ready...

These are a new acquisition that I got this year at a second-hand store. I just LOVE their little faces and they make me so happy!

The mantle that I really enjoy! My Granny cross-stiched each stocking for our kids and, since this is our first Christmas without her, it was especially poignant putting them up this year!

Our Christmas tree! It's not formal...it's just US!

My favourite nativity we have had since we got married!

The Book!

Rachel babysits for a member of the Atlanta Falcons. Friday night they were going out and so she went to care for their 2 sweet ones. She had not been there long when she called, obvious excitement in her voice.

"Mama, you're never going to guess what I am staring at right now!"

I quickly wracked my brain to try and come up with a reasonable explanation for her fervor, but I was left wondering. I guess I should digress at this point and let you know that Rachel is a rather unusual teenage girl. She is a sports junkie and nothing makes her come alive like a good baseball, football or basketball game! Given that knowledge, I figured it must be sports related, but the details of which escaped me! I told her I gave up...

"I am staring at the playbook for the game between the Falcons and the Eagles this Sunday. The real playbook. The key to everything that is going to take place on the field this week!"

When I got done laughing and inwardly rolling my eyes, I admonished her not to even open the cover!

"Oh, I wouldn't", she replied, "but it sure is one of the prettiest things I have ever seen!" (I told you she was rather unusual! :insertrollingeyeshere:)

After telling her I thought it would be okay to take a picture of the cover with her phone, I hung up and shook my head. What a nut!

Last night while laying in bed, though, I revisited our conversation (with a giggle, of course) and suddenly I was struck with a thought. How many people are facing the Playbook for the game of life, but never do more than stare at the cover? You with me? I am refering to the Bible, of course!!!

The Falcons playbook was designed specifically for the opponent they were going to be facing that particular Sunday. The Bible was given to us so we would be prepared to meet the opponent we will go up against every day from now to eternity...satan!!!

Why then do we fail to open our Playbook and read what the One Who has already been victorious shares with us is our best offensive tactics? Football players would rather focus on their offense and not have to rely too heavily on their defense. A good defense is necessary, but if the offense is on their game, the defense is not as taxed.

It's the same for us in life. The Lord has laid out in a very clear and concise way what our best offensive plan of attack is. He has also laid out a defensive plan, but if we employ the offensive tactics, the defensive ones are not as necessary.

The reality that we face an opponent who is alive and well and seeking to annihilate us at any moment is a given. Why enter the battle each day without having read the Playbook and seeing what patterns the Coach thinks we should run that day then? It's all there...everything we'll need to play effectively.

You know the only difference between a football playbook and the Bible?

If we follow the plan of attack laid out for us in the Bible, we are GUARANTEED a win. Unfortunately, as Sunday quickly revealed, the Falcons were not as fortunate. Their play book is, at best, providing hope that they will come out on top! Our Playbook ENSURES that we will be victorious and reign with Him for all eternity!

Don't let your Playbook gather dust! Read it, memorize it and employ the things you learn when you find yourself engaged in battle. It's the only Book that holds all the answers for a fool-proof offense!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Santa in the Manger!

We got a card the other day
A Christmas one, in fact,
But it really was the strangest thing
And showed such little tact.

For laying in the manger
Was Santa, big as life,
Surrounded by some little elves
And Rudolph and his wife.

There was so much excitement
That the shepherd’s saw the glow
Of Rudolph’s bright and shining nose
Reflected on the snow.

So in they rushed to see him
Followed by the wise men three,
Who came not bearing any gifts ~
Just some stockings and a tree.

They gathered round about him
To sing praises to his name;
A song about Saint Nicholas
And how he came to fame.

Then they handed him the lists they’d made
Of, oh, so many toys
That they were sure they would receive
For being such good boys.

And sure enough he chuckled,
While reaching in his bag,
And placed in all their outstretched hands
A gift that bore a tag.

And on that tag was printed
A simple verse that read,
“Even though it’s Jesus’ birthday,
Please take this gift instead.”

Then I realized they really did
Know Who this day was for
Though by every indication
They had just chosen to ignore.

And Jesus looked upon this scene,
His eyes so filled with pain ~
They said this year’d be different
But they’d forgotten Him again.

Barb Cash

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

An Empty Manger...

I wrote this post originally 2 Christmases ago, but I think it bears repeating. For what it's worth, I do have a Jesus in my manger, but it's really the mental concept of leaving Him there that I am driving at...

Okay, I am sure the title of this entry may not make any sense to you, but bear with me!

Have you ever wondered why so many people can accept the reality of Jesus being born, but never see their need for Him as their Saviour? I have been pondering this lately and the Lord, I believe, showed me one possible reason why...
Some people have never taken Jesus out of the manger!!!

Think with me for a minute...Even with the attempts of some to remove Jesus from Christmas all together, there is still ample opportunity to see a manger scene in stores, in front of churches and in many of our homes. We, ourselves, have one out front of the house and at least 5 or 6 displayed inside ~ some all year round. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this, it gives the illusion to some that Jesus was merely a baby who was born amidst much hoopla. End of the story!
The reality of his birth is not hard for them to grasp, but they stop short of acknowledging that Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and favour with God and man. They can't accept the crucifixion and they certainly don't want to mentally entertain the thought of the resurrection. Why you may ask?

Well, as long as Jesus is tucked safely away in swaddling clothes and laying in a manger He is no threat to them and the "safe" little world they have created for themselves. To allow Him to grow up, suffer unimaginably and then raise Himself from the dead requires something from us! It requires us to search our hearts and come to some tough conclusions...either Jesus is Who He says He is or He made the whole thing up!

When our children have a birthday we have a lot of fun remembering their birth stories and laughing about how each one made their grand entrance into our world. We don't stop there, though. We also celebrate who each child has become and what they mean to each of us now! We don't just look at pictures of them as a newborn, sing them a song and then go on with our lives until the next year when we pull out the birth pictures again! To do that would be to deny the reality of who they have become to us and how our lives have been forever changed because of the privilege of sharing this journey with them.

So let me challenge you as you celebrate the birthday of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Enjoy those mangers and, by all means, remember how God came to earth wrapped in flesh, but once the 26th of December rolls around ~ put Baby Jesus away. Let others see an empty animal trough and ask you what happened to Jesus! It may just be the opportunity you've been looking for to share the hope we have in Christ! Share the rest of the story! Not only is that manger empty , but that tomb they placed His tortured body in is, too!

My life has forever been changed because of the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ! If yours has, too, then join with me in letting others know that our mangers are empty and we serve a resurrected Lord!