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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Scrapbooking Joy!

“A cheerful look brings joy to the heart,
and good news gives health to the bones.”
Proverbs 15:30 NIV

So many people today own cameras and take photos on a regular basis. If you don’t own a camera, chances are if you are a new parent or grandparent, you will be purchasing a camera soon. We love to take photos of those we love and the places we go. We are so afraid we will forget that cute face or the beautiful scenery. I for one take lots of pictures. I’m a little overboard because I take photos of pretty table settings and yummy buffet spreads that I prepare for the holidays. I take photos of my gardens and of all the beautiful flowers I plant. I snap shots of my grandchildren doing everything from A to Z. For example: picking apples – viewing a zebra at the zoo! I also take photos of every extended family event and gathering we attend. When our friends visit, guess what…yep…snap, snap! Our holidays are recorded for future generations to enjoy!  Not only do I take hundreds of photos I am also an avid scrapbooker.
I take pleasure in scrapbooking because it seems to be a way of preserving our memories for our family to enjoy. Scrapbooking also allows me to make comments and record stories of God’s faithfulness to our family. Hopefully, the pages that I so lovingly put together will be a tangible legacy to remind those who follow that we loved God and each other. I also find scrapbooking to be a restful hobby that allows my creative juices to flow! In a strange sort of way scrapbooking also provides me with a type of rest and relaxation that squishes out the stress in life brought on by my responsibilities.
I don’t exactly know why I feel I need to take these photos when I actually have a very active photographic memory. When someone offends me, I take my imaginary camera and snap a photo of that event. When someone takes advantage of me, I snap that shot as well. When someone speaks unkind words to me I take a photo and save it to be carefully placed in my mind’s scrapbook of memories. When I am pushed aside or overlooked by another that certainly is a Kodak moment! All throughout my day Satan says, snap that, take that, did you get that one? Satan loves for me to scrapbook all the pain and hurt I have experienced in life. The purpose is to preserve in my mind those negative memories in my mental scrapbook so that I can my relive my pain and remember my offenders over and over again. Not to mention the mileage I will get out of sharing those photos with others.
But Jesus says, “No my daughter. Do not harm yourself in this negative way. Give those photos to me. It is not your battle to fight or to remember. I am a just God. Vengeance belongs to me not you. Scrapbooking all the negative stuff in your life will only drag you down. It will cripple your spirit and make you an ineffective Christian. In no way will viewing these photos ever glorify me. I know that you may always remember the hurt you have experienced but you must choose not to focus on the same events over and over again.”
Deep down in my spirit I know that Jesus is right. I know that Jesus remembers the events that brought him pain and suffering. He remembers the trial, the mockery, and his friends forsaking him. No doubt he remembers the pain of the scourging, the long walk to Golgotha, the cross, the humiliation, the unkind words, and the crucifixion. But our Lord did not and does not focus on those things. Instead he considered it all joy to do the will of his Father, even his death on the cross. He chose to focus on his love for His Father and for all humanity. His job was to redeem not remember.
So today I will walk in the garden enjoying the first evidences of spring. The green shoots of our daffodils are poking through the soil in the wooded area of our back yard. There are tiny buds on the redbuds, and the beautiful hellebores are blooming! This newness signifies for me a fresh start. It is a glorious day to ponder my Savior and his perfect ways. As I think about Jesus and his attitude I am persuaded to let this same mind that was in Christ Jesus be also in me. I am convicted to search my heart and find any stray photos that I may have forgotten to destroy. I want to burn my mental scrapbook of negative photos once and for all. Every photo I have ever taken recording the wrongs that were meant for my harm must be destroyed. I dare not hang on to even one. It will be good for me to remember that “A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.” Proverbs 15:30 NIV So I will strive to look and see only those things that bring joy to my spirit. Today I am going to resolve to take only future photos that reflect a cheerful look and will bring joy to my heart and to the hearts of others. These beautiful photos will not be damaging but instead they will help me share the gospel of good news and give health to my bones and to the bones of others.
My next scrapbook will be a creation of joyful happy memories. There will be photos to help me remember God’s faithfulness and provision. I will pile up stones of remembrance and take a photograph so that I will always recall the many times God has shown up in my life and in the lives of all those I love. I will snap photos of all his abundant blessings! I know right now that one single album will not contain the whole of all the positive photos I have been privileged to save in the scrapbook of my heart. I will share these photos with all who will look at my scrapbook and God will be glorified! Yes, this will be a scrapbook of joy filled with beautiful, memorable, mental photos of praise and snapshots of gratitude as I recall God’s faithfulness to me.

  1. Are you currently harboring a scrapbook of negative photos in your heart?
  2. Do you find that reliving old hurts and pain is damaging your spirit?
  3. Would you consider mentally burning your scrapbook of past offenses?
  4. Are you willing to ask God to help you begin a new scrapbook of God’s faithfulness and provision to you?
  5. Will you be sure to also scrapbook photos of your joy, praise, and gratitude?
Dear Jesus,
Harboring past pain and hurt is so damaging. Forgive me when I choose to take photos of my hurt, my pain, and at times my broken heart. Forgive me when I carefully preserve and embellish each of these photos in a scrapbook for safe keeping. Give me a love for you that overshadows my own selfish interests. Falling in love with you Jesus is what I want to do. I want to be so busy loving you that I will not even notice when someone offends me. Keep me scrapbooking the joyful times you have so lovingly blessed me with over the years. I want to record the peace and joy that I have experienced even in times of trouble. These are wonderful memories not to be forgotten. I want to remember every precious memory you have woven into the tapestry of my life. Heavenly Father, I thank you for your love, grace and faithfulness to me. Now Jesus, smile for the camera…I want to take a huge photo of you that I can share with others. I know that I can not really do this so I pray that you will do what you do best. I pray that you will change me in ways that will reflect who you are so that others may see you through me.
Jesus, it is in your name I pray. Amen.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Is Life Really Like A Box Of Chocolates?

“Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.”
Psalm 34:8 NIV

On Valentine’s Day we women love to be romanced and told we are loved. I believe that men also enjoy special attention as well. We especially like surprises! Nothing says love to a woman like a beautiful red rose unless it’s a box of chocolates that we DO NOT need! Dinner out is nice and a surprise weekend is even better! But what if none of the above happens? Does that mean we are unloved, unappreciated, or not worthy of someone’s love? I don’t think so. Some of you may be broken hearted by a lost love. Others of you may have chosen to live the single life and love it!
Someone once said that life was like a box of chocolates, you never know what you will get. In some ways that is so true. One bite might be a delicious creamy milk chocolate with a butter cream filling, another might be a chewy caramel that pulls out expensive dental work, and still another might be dark chocolate nougat. Each bite holds a surprise all of its own. Yes, life is a bit like that. When we depend on the world for happiness we always come up short. Jobs are lost, the bank account is depleted, people disappoint and fail us, friends forsake us, illness overcomes us, and death separates us. However, it is occurring to me this Valentine’s week that when the chocolates we receive are from the hand of God we get a very different box of chocolates and we know exactly what to expect! There is not a single chocolate in God’s box of candy that is not delectably delicious. At times we blame God when we get a bad chocolate, but that is a wrong assumption.

Imagine for a moment the doorbell rings and it is Jesus! First he flashes you his captivating smile, then he hands you his beautiful “handmade” rose picked especially for you from his own personal garden. Then he presents you with a beautiful RED HEART box of chocolates that is topped with a pure white bow. It is no mistake that this gift is a gift of love that symbolizes his heart’s blood that was shed for your sin. But now his once mutilated body has been healed, restored, risen and glorified! The pure white bow on top of this heart shaped box shimmers in the sunlight as it radiates with the message of God’s love and your hope of heaven.
Because of this miracle of love and grace, my life has also been transformed. My sin has been forgiven, my sinful heart has been washed clean, and I have been restored back into the family of God. I also know beyond a shadow of doubt that some day I will rise up to live with the Lord forever and my body will also be glorified, for I shall be like him! It is this transformed life and hope of eternal glory that all believers share.
On this Valentine’s Day my glorification has not yet taken place. I remain here in this life with all of its trials and disappointments. In my humanness I am still dust. But as I live out my days, as I wait, God’s valentine chocolates are plentiful, sweet, and always available to me. It is amazing to me that when I eat the chocolates found in the box of life, sometimes there are many delicious bites to be enjoyed and savored. Other times I may bite into a chocolate and it may surprise me because it is not the chocolate I had hoped for. However, it is a chocolate I must eat. But my Lord is so good! He knows when I get a chocolate that is not so good. When this happens the lover of my soul reminds me that his ways are pleasant and sweet. One by one he replaces the not so good chocolates of life with the scrumptious chocolates of his grace, love, joy, comfort, and peace. These chocolates are sweet and satisfying. In life’s box of chocolates the truth is, we never know what we are going to get, but our Lord does and he stands ready to replace that which is hard to swallow with his sweet tasting chocolates that have been hand dipped in his agape love. We never have to fear what is in our Lord’s box of chocolates because they always taste of his goodness and mercy.
Oh taste and see that the Lord is good. Most of the time God’s chocolates always make me crave for just one more! Each of his chocolates is unique and complete. I think that you will find that they are the yummiest chocolates you will every taste! These chocolates are plentiful and I always know exactly what I am going to get. With our Lord Jesus Christ everyday is Valentine’s Day because we are his beloved! Even in times of despair we can trust that Jesus will bring only the finest of chocolates to our door.

  1. What chocolate are you currently eating from life’s box of chocolates?
  2. Have you found that often they taste good going down but then leave you unsatisfied?
  3. When you get to the end of life’s box of chocolates will there be more for you?
  4. Have you ever eaten the delicious chocolates that are from the heart of Jesus?
  5. Do you find Jesus’ chocolates to be satisfying and plentiful?
  6. Which of his chocolates are you enjoying the most this Valentine’s Day?
…and don’t forget…even men need chocolates!


 Dear Jesus,

 Thank you for being the lover of my soul. Lord I pray for those who may feel unloved on this day. Wrap your arms of love around them and help them to know that you will never leave them or forsake them. Help them to rejoice in the knowledge that you are the lover of their soul. If they do not know you, I pray they will seek to know you this very day.  Father, today I thank you for my salvation that entitles me to eat from your hand of love and grace. Your gifts of love, peace, joy, faithfulness, comfort, and hope are all that I really need. Thank you that your gifts are fresh and new every morning and your promises are sure and true. Your compassion and mercy has made you a Father who loves all his children and provides exactly what we need. This very special Valentine’s Day I am thankful for all those in my life who love me, but above all I am thankful for your abundant love. So today I praise you, I worship you, I adore you because you love my soul so much that you died for me. You paid the price and you alone are worthy of my praise and love.
It is in your name I pray. Amen.