postheadericon Let Your Life Be A Gift

As I sit here on the last Wednesday night in Lent, I can't help but be reflective. Lent can be such a healing time as we journey through Christ's ministry and realize all the incredible things that He did for us. But here's the deal...the bottom line. Christ loved us such an incredible amount that He was willing to die for us. He gave His life for us all those years ago. And through His death and sacrifice, We are redeemed.

"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.
And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.
If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or a sister in need
but has no pity for them, how can the love of God be in that person?
Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth."
- 1 John 3:16-18

Because He gave up His life as a gift for us, we now get to let our lives be a gift to others.

I don't often feel like my life is a gift, but it is. In more ways that I can even imagine.

A new baby is a gift. To parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, and friends. So 33 years ago, I was a gift in a tiny package.

A child is a gift. To my family, teachers, and others that I don't even know, I was a gift as I grew up right before their very eyes.

A friend is a gift. So even on my lowest days, I could be brigthening someone else's.

A teacher is a gift. So even though I don't realize the impact I might be making, I have hope that I am.

To be perfectly honest, it's really hard to see myself that way. But that's the way God sees me. Two different friends recently told me that they loved me, and to my recollection, it was the first time I had heard it from them. What a gift that was! And today, I was thanked for sending some mail to a friend. For me, I just like writing and sending mail. But in a way, isn't that being a gift?

As we approach Easter and remember the greatest sacrifice ever made for us, I encourage you to find a way to use your life as a gift. Make it an Easter to remember!

postheadericon Psalm 56

But when I am afraid,
I will put my trust in you.
I praise God for what he has promised.
I trust in God, so why should I be afraid?
(verses 3-4)

I am realizing more and more how much I let fear control my life. I sat and read these two verses and let the tears flow freely down my cheeks. I wondered aloud, "What am I so afraid of?" Ultimately, am I scared of being alone? And if so, why? I don't need a man to take care of me or provide for me. God can and will do that.

Am I afraid of being a disappointment, or maybe even an embarrassment? Again, why? My identity is in Christ, not in anything of this world. His love for me is far greater than anything I can even imagine.

"God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family
by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ.
This is what he wanted to do,
and it gave him great pleasure."
- Ephesians 1:5 (NLT)

I am a daughter of the One True King. And that love is bigger and deeper and stronger than the closest thing I can compare it to, which is the love of my parents.
You keep track of all my sorrows
You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book.
(verse 8)

Being that I cry all the freaking time, this verse just really tugs on my heart. It's like this painting of the best friend I could ever dream up... Holding me, rubbing my hair, tickling my back, and whispering that I am loved. That I have worth. That my life means something. And not only is He there for it all, He remembers my hurts because of His love for me. Truly, that's mind-boggling and remarkable!

This I know: God is on my side!
I praise God for what he has promised;
Yes, I praise the Lord for what he has promised.
I trust in God, so why should I be afraid?
(verses 9-11)

And that's exactly it...why should I be afraid? The Bible is so full of promises meant for me! Why live in fear when I can live in HOPE and in LOVE?!

I will fulfill my vows to you, O God,
and will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving for your help.
For you have rescued me from death;
you have kept my feet from slipping.
So now I can walk in your presence, O God,
in your life-giving light.
(verses 12-13)

Just like always, we come back to gratitude. A sacrifice of thanksgiving. What I think is really cool is that I read this and in the same week, painted a piece called "Start Each Day with a Grateful Heart." It's already hanging in my kitchen. What an awesome reminder to start every day with praise for the blessings poured out on me. For the promises God has made me. For the fact that there is nothing I need to be afraid of. I can walk with faith and hope and love and grace because God has called me into His family. And that's a pretty great feeling.

postheadericon You are the Light of the World

I was reading a devo on Friday and it really stopped me in my tracks. Sometimes God just speaks SO powerfully it almost takes my breath away. Friday morning was one of those days.

"You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.
Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.
Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
In the same way, let your light shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."
- Matthew 5:14-16

I've always really liked this verse. It's such a good reminder that we are literally an earthly display of Jesus' love and light to others. I sometimes tell kids at retreats that they might be the only way someone sees Jesus that weekend. Or to my kids on mission trips that they are a physical representation of Jesus to everyone they encounter. We are literally Christ on display in our world.

What really struck me this week was that Jesus is calling us the light of the world, but he also calls himself the same thing in John 8:12!

"I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life."

This is the only time in scripture that He calls us the same thing that He calls Himself. How absolutely AMAZING is that?!

"So who is the light of the world, Jesus or us? The answer is the same! Jesus is, so we are! We shine His light. We are the light of the world because Jesus' light shines in us."

Oh my goodness. Jesus uses us to shine His light to others. His light shines through us. We are the light of the world because He is inside of us. How empowering is that thought?!

Go shine today, people. Be the light of the world! Live like you are in the light, and like you are the light, because you are!

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