Since I don't really use the "Auntie Em" name any longer, I didn't see the need to keep this at a separate site, but I wanted to be sure and have it available for you to read (if you'd like) in one place!
Despite the issues in formatting from moving these pages from site to site, server to server, my prayer is that you'll be blessed, encouraged, inspired!
Come back again, as I'll continue to add "new old content" until it's all found here chronologically...
Holiday traditions vary as much as families themselves....some are large and elaborate, some loud and obnoxious, some simple and quiet....yet each is a beautiful expression of the heart based on years of favorite recipes and a blending of families. Often the thoughts and foundations of our faith are included in the mix of decorations and gatherings. Our homes might reflect a simple statement of our faith in the birth of our Savior or a loud display of the countdown to Santa’s arrival, either way - we are ready to celebrate! Some houses, like the lives living inside, are dark and empty; no reflection of hope remains.
We tend to think - living in the midwest - that our faith is found on a church membership roster and singing in the choir; but I like to reflect on the ideas of others that our faith is also a daily walk with God, more of a journey and not a destination. Our individual travels might be a series of mountaintop experiences with only an occasional dip, but more likely we are plagued with a life that resembles a Six Flags roller coaster....most of the time we are either zooming into the depths of the valleys, or creeping - with assistance - to the top of the hills. Yet somehow our holiday traditions remain the same, no matter where our lives or our hearts are along the journey.
We take time and intentional effort to plan our holiday dinner menu; each detail of every recipe made to precision. We take months (or days) to shop for family and friends, great care to place gifts under the perfectly decorated tree, gifts that are wrapped in shiny paper and tightly curled ribbons. I have to be careful to plan the celebration in my heart as well. It can often become a burden, or an afterthought; even though all around me I see “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” - I can easily put it off to an ignored corner of my life.
When God’s son came into the world there was a flurry of activity going on, and it would have been easy for many to go on clueless - this was just another day in the journey to the census in Bethlehem. There were the hassles of travel, the irritations of “no room in the inn” and dealing with making due with what little was available. Mary dealt with the real issues of delivering her first child - laboring along with only her husband’s help. Shepherd’s were working in the fields; there was nothing they could do to prepare to witness the angels’ loud celebration that was about to begin. Yet, as the festivities began in each circumstance, they responded appropriately and with all of their heart.
Whether you find yourself well planned in your spiritual celebration of Christmas, or you have not given a thought to the “reason for the season”, take time to reflect and celebrate Jesus’ birth. If you choose to party with a birthday cake, streamers and balloons, or a quiet hymn sung at midnight, I pray that it will be a reflection of your heart.
As we turn our thoughts to the starting of the new year, my hope is that the Celebration will be renewed in your heart daily.
Grace and Peace,
“As Jesus continued on toward Jerusalem, he reached the border between Galilee and Samaria. As he entered a village there, ten lepers stood at a distance, crying out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” He looked at them and said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy. One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” And Jesus said to the man, “Stand up and go. Your faith has healed you.” Luke 17:11 - 18 (NLT)
One of the first songs I learned to teach little kids in Sunday school was the action song to tell this part of the Bible. I was always told, as a child, to say “please and thank you” so it struck me as odd that nine out of ten people would go on without expressing thanks.
As I’ve grown older, I have realized how easy it is to get distracted and simply forget to say “thank you”. I am guilty of not sending thank you cards when appropriate, and have never gotten in the habit of mailing cards. To make up for my lack of card etiquette, I have always tried to verbalize my thanks as soon as possible.
How often do I take for granted what the Lord has done for me, and fail to say “thanks” in an adequate way. I remember learning ways to pray, and more than once was “saying thank you to God” in the mix. We ALL like to be told “thank you” when we have done something out of the ordinary for others; and I think God likes to be told “thank you” too!
As we celebrate Christmas, and approach the New Year, let’s make a point to be a gracious giver and receiver, and to say thank you in many ways to those that have blessed our lives. I pray that we can each remember to send out a few cards of thanks, especially when they are deserved.
Let’s say thanks to God too, for providing a Redeemer for us through Jesus, and not holding us to the death we deserve for our own sins. Whether it’s carols sung by a fire, hymns of worship at church, during the retelling of Jesus’ birth to our children and grandchildren - let us remember to say THANK YOU for all He has done for us. Let’s have a grateful heart of thankfulness, and praise God for the many ways He blesses our lives throughout the year.
Happy Birthday Jesus!!
“If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.” Matthew 10:34-39
It can be so hard to get along with family members - I think that this problem has gone on as long as man has walked the earth!
Sometimes we’re surprised when situations arise, especially if we have good memories of peaceful times, but Jesus reminds us that He made it this way. After all, if we got along too well, we might put our love for our family above our love for Him.
I think too, that He intended it to be this way so that we would turn to Him during times that we would want to turn to others. How often we want to ask and take other’s opinions and advice to heart, when possibly we are simply to turn to our Savior and wait on His movement in our lives.
Recently I heard a teaching on who we are wanting God to be for us. The pastor pointed out how we often are wanting God to provide a matchmaker, a career counselor, a financial advisor or a marriage counselor for us...but what God gave us - through Jesus - was a Savior. THAT is what we need the most, and if we draw near to Him, believe His words, follow His teachings and examples - THEN all these other things will be taken care of. It might not be in the standards we are wanting today, and He may change our hearts (and priorities) to reflect the influence He is having in our lives, but He WILL provide.
Often we treat our parents, or children, the same way. We confide in them, expect them to meet all our needs, are disappointed when they let us down, and hold them to an unrealistic standard. I think that sometimes we get in the way of the work that God is trying to do in our family. I’m convicted of this often in my own life, and see the strife it causes in relationships. Perhaps this is why Jesus spoke this teaching to us, to remind us that we are always called to loved HIM more than our own family members.
Although this is the “month of love”, perhaps we ought to turn our hearts to the One that loves us the best, knows our deepest needs, and created us to worship Himself. Instead of asking Him to be our matchmaker, our marriage counselor, or any of the other “positions” we expect Him to be, let’s simply love Him as our Savior, with “all our heart, soul, strength, and mind...” (Luke 10:27).
Grace and peace,
Thank you for joining us here!!