I am lingering this morning with a cup of hot tea by the fire on a rare freezing day in Louisiana. It is past time for me to take down all the Christmas decorations. We did manage to get the dead tree down and out of the house yesterday! But I”ve never been one of those who puts it all away the day after Christmas. I love the holiday. I love celebrating advent, the carols and concerts, the beauty and wonder of Christ’s birth, the family and friends, the feasts, the decorating, the tree, the presents, the cards, the memories....I love all of the mixed up craziness that we have come to define as Christmas in America. And when the kids all leave to go back to their own homes I guess, if truth be told, I go into a bit of mourning and a little bit of exhaustion sets in. We had five big events at our home the week of Christmas - feasting and celebrating with10- 18 people each meal as different groups of friends and family arrived for the holidays. The blessings and chaos of the holidays can wear you down a bit, so I gave myself permission to rest and basically slept one whole day and have had several naps this week. But the new year has arrived and it’s time to move into what God has for us in 2017.
As I reflect on last year, I am so grateful for the generosity and love of family and friends in our personal lives and in the ministry of Restore. In a year when our nation and the world was ravaged with hate, evil, violence and despair, I have also seen the generous heart of Jesus in the people with whom God has graced my life.
There is a spirit of giving and selflessness in the anonymous message of this card that I think captures much of the heart of Jesus for us as we seek to live as his disciples. So today as I begin to pack away the cards and decorations, I think I will keep it out as a reminder to me in the New Year; a reminder to live generously with my words, my love, my treasure and my heart. Generosity is offered many ways to those in need. We give with our emotions and our love as well as our resources.
As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. 1 Timothy 6:17-19
This Christmas, my neighbors daughter drove home for the holidays with the words “Carpe Diem” on her front license plate. “Seize the day” is what it means in Latin. I was walking our dog when she drove in and waved at her and wondered about this young woman I had watched grow up across the street. I hadn’t seen her in years since she moved away to college and a new job. When I saw the license plate, I remembered the movie “Dead Poets Society” with Robin Williams where I was first exposed to that phrase and how it influenced so many at the time. Apparently young people today are taking on the phrase as well. While the saying seems good, it can lead to a life that is very driven by the desires of self. A life that often lacks wisdom and generosity. I was pondering those thoughts when the blog from Incourage came across my email today and I was struck by these words.
“In the midst of my toxic overdose of attempts at seizing the day, God, in His goodness, intervened and taught me what it was to thrive. Coram Deo is the Latin phrase meaning “in the presence of God.”....
If we jump, move, and boldly pursue whatever we crave because tomorrow we may die, we sacrifice wisdom for desire.”
Coram Deo Is about God, Not Me ---- “I began to know what true life was when I got to the end of myself and began living for God and others. I learned the hard way that an existence wound tightly around self is a small one indeed. I serve a God who is fully out of my control, but there is nothing better than being in the wild goodness of His presence.” Chara Donohue ( Incourage) You can read the full blog at the link below:
I haven’t chosen a word for the year or written down resolutions, but this I know - I want my life in 2017 to be marked by God’s wisdom and generosity. I don't want to sacrifice wisdom for desire or let my own selfish desires keep me from loving generously.
Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Proverbs 4:6-7
The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 2 Cor. 9:6-8
In case you’re like me and are a little slow to jump in to the new year, I’m including below the link to a wonderful New Years blog. Ann Voskamp has long been a favorite inspirational writer of mine. Her piece on "Soulutions" rather than Resolutions really struck a chord with my heart. She writes about living purposefully in your heart and letting prayer and perseverance meet. She chooses a verb for each month to guide your journey and puts it all together in what she calls “Sticky Notes for the Soul” that you can print out and adjust as the Lord directs you.
It’s really about slowing down a bit ......to reflect and write out prayers of hope and living intentionally.
There’s wisdom in that I know.
So, now it is time for me to move on to taking down and putting away all of the Christmas of 2016, at last, and embrace all that our gracious Savior will bring into our lives in 2017 with prayer, perseverance, wisdom and generosity!
See the link below for more details on Soulutions by Ann Voskamp.
Link to Incourage article by Chara Donohue
Wishing you a blessed New Year
filled with God’s wisdom and graced
with a heart of generosity,
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