Givenness

Is your heart open to giving? Are you available to give?

We often think of giving as being in terms of material things or in terms of money. But there are so many other creative ways to give.

I was at a coffee shop recently and there was a physically handicapped man sitting at a table next to me. The tables surrounding us were filled with groups of people talking and there he sat all alone. The thought went through my mind of how lonely he must feel with no one to talk to. I have seen him there often, and always alone. This tugged at my heart, so I made a point of starting a conversation with him. He had difficulty speaking but seemed eager to share how he was doing. A simple connection brought a smile to his face. A caring of the heart can mean:

  • Taking time to be aware and notice another
  • Thinking about how one may feel in whatever their situation might be
  • Considering a need
  • Helping someone
  • Sharing in a conversation

Each one of these ideas fit under the label of givenness. And it probably will only cost a couple of minutes of time to show care.

During that same visit, I spoke with an elderly woman who was unsure of where she was in line. She was obviously frustrated and confused, she responded curtly. After she realized that I was trying to help her, her whole demeanor change. All she wanted was a glass of water, so when I got to the counter I asked the barista to get it for her. The woman was so pleased, she thanked me repeatedly. She felt seen and cared for.

It is funny, because these two incidences happened without me thinking about being intentional about giving. These situations just were just random opportunities given to me to be available to touch a couple of hearts. I know all too often I am so focused on where I am going or what I am doing that I am totally oblivious to those around me. It often take a little extra effort to remember to be present where you are but it can make a difference.

Being seen feels like love, I know that sounds silly, but think about it, when someone takes time to notice you it make’s you feel cared about.

I know I have shared in a previous post about how the Lord has shown me through His Word how He sees me. It has amazed me how much of a difference that has made to my heart. The realization of that fact changes how I feel in many situations in life. It changes how I respond to others as well, because I am comforted by His presence. Being willing to give out of our hearts, just showing special care as we see others around us can change their feelings, make even make their day..

In The Broken Way, Ann celebrated her 40th birthday with a day filled with givenness. She shares so many great ideas in her book of how to live given, ideas she put into action. Her words really have encouraged me to want to live intentional about givenness. It was interesting to see that when she initially considered giving something, she recognized that she really did not feel like it, but as she continued to give, her heart changed and her desire to give grew. I think that this is often true of us as humans we have to push ourselves a little, and our hearts follow, and feelings begin to change.

What ideas come to mind for you when you think of living given?

How will you be intentional about living surrendered and sacrificial?

There are simple ways and extravagant ways, but they all begin in the heart. Take time today to give away some of the love Christ gives to you.

Five Simple Lessons from the Christmas Tree

What can you learn from a Christmas tree? I find that the Christmas tree has much to teach us, simple reminders that truly keep Christ in Christmas. 

First of all, the Christmas tree is shaped like an arrow pointing to heaven. This is a good reminder for us to keep an eternal perspective. Stress can takeover when we become obsessed with the here and now. We fuss and fret and forget what really matters is Jesus birth. He is the reason for the season. So look up and remember.

The glimmering lights on the tree can help us remember to shine for Jesus. We are called to be lights in a dark world. There are lights of every color available for your tree, bright, beautiful, and blinking. Use your own unique personality and giftedness to brighten others lives this Christmas season. 

Then, there are all of those special ornaments carefully placed on the tree. Ornaments on a tree are like blessings in our lives, both adorn our lives with beauty. Whether you decorate with a theme in mind or just have a menagerie of trimmings, what really makes the ornaments themselves special often is the meaning connected to each one. Somehow even a tarnished ornament has beauty if it reminds you of a loved one that has gone to be with Jesus, or makes you think of a friend that you seldom see. Take time to remember, count the blessings in your life. Gratitude leads to joy. Decorate your heart with a thankful spirit and let the inner joy that fills you bring beauty to each moment of this season.

The Christmas tree is often topped with a glittery star or an angel. The star in the sky in the Christmas story led the shepherds to find Jesus. And the angels told the shepherds of the glory of the baby born.  This Christmas lead others to see Jesus by demonstrating Christlikeness. Sometimes the holiday seasons are the most difficult seasons to live out His love in our lives. When you see a star remember where it led the shepherds, and choose to do likewise.

The gifts under the tree capture so much of our time and attention. Let each gift remind you that God gave us the gift of Jesus the Savior of the world. He came to earth for the purpose of giving us the free gift of salvation, eternal life. What He has given is the one thing every human needs more than anything else on this earth. Is there a special way that you can share about the true Gift of Christmas this year?

Christmas, it is all about Jesus, we are just so easily distracted by all the hustle and bustle. This year remember all of the ways that can help you keep your focus on the real Reason for all of our Joy and Hope at Christmas!

See the sidebar for the places I Iink up with sometimes.

How Will You Wait?

Advent is a time of preparation.

We prepare for Christmas in our homes.

We prepare for Christ in our hearts as we remember His birth.

There is waiting in the midst of the preparation.

We wait for gifts we ordered online to come in the mail.

We wait for the day to put up the tree.

We wait for the right time to get our baking done.

We wait for the best sales to complete our shopping.

We wait to see what special gift our loved ones will surprise us with.

There is much anticipation as we wait, whether at Christmas or any time in life.

Waiting for the perfect gift, waiting for God to bring about that transformation, waiting for the answer to our prayer, whatever it is, waiting is hard.

Isaiah 64:4 tells us something special about waiting, specifically about waiting for God. It says:

Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.”

God acts on behalf of those who wait for him. He wants us to wait for Him. It is when we wait for Him, and when we do not try to grab the gift before it is given, that He acts on our behalf. It is when we wait that He brings about His best plans and intentions for His children.

I want to share 4 things to remember as you wait for the Lord. We, His children, look to Him with hope and anticipation as we pray and seek His will. We desire to see Him work on our behalf.

As you wait:

1. Wait with expectation.

2. Amble forward, have slow feet.

3. Involve yourself in serving Him.

4. Trust His timing.

Wait with expectation.

When you wait for the Lord to work on your behalf, wait with expectation. His promises are real, look for Him to act. It seems that when we aren’t expecting God to act, we aren’t really believing in the possibility of what He is able to do. The apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians that the Lord is able to do more than we can ask or imagine (see Ephesians 3:20). So, why wouldn’t we wait expectantly?

Amble forward, have slow feet.

When we wait for the Lord to work we need to amble forward, move with slow feet. It is too easy to want to try to manipulate and maneuver things into place ahead of the Lord. But take it slow, don’t rush to make it happen. When we go ahead of God we always end up with trouble. He, in his perfect wisdom, has it all under control. He knows what needs to take place in order to make it happen.

Involve yourself in serving Him.

While you wait fix your heart on serving Him. Show your love for Him by honoring Him with your service. Waiting doesn’t mean sitting idle. It doesn’t have to be a time of growing impatient and being filled with anxiety about the outcome. You can find great satisfaction in waiting on Him as you wait for Him.

Trust His timing.

While you wait, don’t fret, rest in His love, and trust His timing to be perfect. He knows exactly what you need, and exactly the precise moment you need it. He is our perfect God, He is our Father who gives good and perfect gifts. Why would we expect anything less? He gave us Jesus, the Savior of the world, our Redemption and Hope. He will not disappoint.

God’s gifts to us, His work on our behalf, always bring about deliverance, new hope, and the perfect fulfillment of His plan for our lives. We must only wait.

How will you wait?

The Season of Hope

Hope…isn’t it exactly what we all need for this life here on earth?

The typical idea of hope is “to wish for, to expect, but without certainty of the fulfillment, to desire very much, but with no real assurance of getting your desire”     (definition from Bible.org).

During the next few weeks you may hear your children saying, “I hope I get…” as they look forward to opening the gifts under the tree at Christmas.

During the next few weeks you may hear yourself saying, “I hope these weeks leading up to Christmas aren’t as busy as last year. I really hope to enjoy this season and not feel so overwhelmed.”

During the next few weeks you may hear your spouse saying, “I really hope that I get that bonus check to pay for all the food and gifts we’re intending to purchase.”

During the next few weeks you may hear your parent saying, “I really hope you kids will be able to be home for Christmas, last year we weren’t able to spend it together and it just wasn’t the same.”

We all are hoping for something, something that will satisfy our heart and bring us joy.

Our hope is a wish, a desire, an expectancy with much uncertainty about it.

The biblical usage of hope according to the words translated from Hebrew and Greek has an indication of certainty. When you read the word hope in Scripture it means  “a strong and confident expectation”   (definition from Bible.org).

There is a certain hope, a sure thing, a strong and confident expectation, one thing that we can count on, it is the Hope we have in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

Christmas is the season of hope as we remember His birth, the fulfillment of a promise from long ago.

Isaiah 6:9 promises, “For unto us a child is born, Unto us a Son is given;  And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Luke 2:11 reveals the promise fulfilled 700 years later, “Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you, he is the Messiah, the Lord.”

The focus of all hope must be in Jesus, He is the only True Hope we have for all of life.

  • Jesus is our hope for peace in heart and mind.Peace I leave with you: my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27
  • Jesus is our hope for salvation and eternal life in heaven. “For God so loved the world, that he gave His only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16
  • Jesus is our hope because He is God. Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated “God with us.”
  • Jesus is our hope because He is love. A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another.” John 13:34     “As the Father has loved me, so I love you. Abide in my love.” (Jesus speaking) John 15:9
  • Jesus is our hope because He is faithful. He will never fail us.   “Jesus Christ our faithful witness.”  Revelation 1:5           “God is faithful who has called us into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”  1 Corinthians 1:9

This season seek to put your hope in Jesus Christ alone.