Monthly Archives: December 2010

Looking Ahead…

I am a list maker. I use lists for groceries, to meet writing deadlines, for house chores, and yes for New Year’s dreams. For me, the list is a simple reminder that brings focus. Last Sunday, my church handed out little cards with blanks for three things to believe God for in 2011. We did this last year too and as I looked at last year’s list, I see that two have been fulfilled and I still believe for the third one. It’s going on my card again this year and I will stand in faith believing that God will make it happen in His timing not mine.

That’s the catch – timing. We don’t always tap into God’s clock but we often want Him to follow ours. All the good intentions, the good habits and the discipline are to help us grow.  But when things don’t happen as we think they should, we tend to look back and wonder where we went wrong, where we fell off the track, where we missed the mark.

I’m wondering if it’s just that we want to rush when our Lord wants to forge. He wants to form us with concentrated effort and yes just like a metal smith there is sometimes heating and hammering to get us to spend a bit more time on the foundation instead of rushing ahead to what we’re not ready for.

Over the past months, my husband and I have been heated to what we thought to be our melting point and then just like a splash of cool water, the Holy Spirit soothes our souls and reminds us with gentle clarity that God is at work. Tomorrow is 2011, and we must look ahead with enthusiasm – knowing that He is at the helm – opening doors so that we can walk in blessing and increase in every area of our lives.

Two weeks ago, my dearest cousin who is diabetic got a small blister on her toe and within days she lost that toe. I admit to weeping and wondering why God just didn’t heal the toe. (It’s really crazy when we think that we know better than He does:) When I went to see Mary Lynn this week, I wasn’t sure what to expect and I prepared myself to be strong for her as she had been for me so many times. But, as I hugged my dear sister (which she is to me) I could actually feel strength. In spite of the circumstances, she was radiant – there was not one ounce of “poor me – I lost my toe and spent Christmas in the hospital.” As I gazed at her beaming face, I saw Jesus – His tranquility, His power, and His peace that passes all understanding. Then I felt the familiar nudge of the Holy Spirit and I said, “Lovey, you look wonderful and what God is telling me is that from this day forward we don’t look back. We are only to look ahead – standing firm in faith believing that blood is flowing to every part of your body and that your foot is healing beautifully in Jesus’ name. The future is bright Mary Lynn because He is in control of our lives and we will only look ahead with confidence.” She said “Amen” and I knew she was remembering all of the moments that she had stood in faith beside me believing for Mia’s miracle. It is a precious gift to have history with others and to walk out of  life’s valleys with confidence. The two of us had been here before and once again, with our Savior, we would emerge victoriously!

Today, on this last day of 2010, I encourage you with this thought. Don’t look back at the lists of yesterday but fix your eyes on the brightness that lies ahead.

Together we look to 2011 with…

  • Bigger dreams than ever before
  • A giant reach for values and goals that are obtainable
  • Unwavering trust in His amazing plan no matter what comes our way
  • A bold walk seeking His will, His way
  • Obedience to embrace God’s timing and
  • Great expectations for the New Year!

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:1-5 (NIV)


Embracing the Season

Christmas is upon us and I am embracing the season and all that goes with it. Yesterday, my husband and I shared a lovely Christmas lunch out with friends where we joked and laughed – enjoying the gift of togetherness. Today, my cousin stopped in for a visit with her craft bag to entertain my grandchildren. She also delivered our favorite Christmas dinner rolls (that can only be purchased in Sarnia, Ontario) that we’ve enjoyed on many Christmas days for the past 25 years! Tomorrow, my daughter Hannah and I will visit friends – sharing shortbread snowflakes that took Hannah a few hours to decorate. Thursday, my parents will arrive to spend Christmas with us and then it all begins…

Up until now, the shopping, the crowds, the lights, the tree, the food, and the gatherings of family and friends have all been part of the experience and the tradition that I’ve come to love and expect over the years. I’ve heard a few “bah humbug” comments about how commercialized and costly Christmas has become. And I suppose if that is what one is looking at – that is what one will notice. But for me, the celebration of Christmas is a symbol of God’s great love for us and it certainly cost him a lot more than it ever costs us!

In a world where so much is changing quickly, I am inclined to simply appreciate the fact that some traditions never change, and Christmas is definitely one of them!

Long lines – think of all the great conversations you’ve had with perfect strangers:)

Gifts – gifts are wonderful, especially when we are more excited about the ones we give, than the ones we receive. I love seeing the faces of my adult children that still light up when they open their yearly Hallmark ornaments that I started collecting for them when they were little – now these ornaments grace their own trees.

Decorations – it is just fun to change the “look” of your home for a month – shiny gold balls, twinkling lights and the old fashioned Santa’s hanging on my tree remind me of my dear aunt Penny who started my collection over 20 years ago.

Concerts – every year we look forward to the festive Christmas concert at church where we gather to rejoice at the Savior’s birth – never tiring of the carols or the marvelous story.

Delicacies – preparation of the foods that we usually only make at Christmas – tangy meatballs, my mother-in-law’s fudge, baked brie, my mom’s pie, colossal shrimp, ham, turkey, scallops, shortbread and more…

Amidst the hustle and bustle of these next few days, take a moment to notice the meaningful traditions you have started for your family. They will be carried on long after you and I are gone. Yes, ‘tis the season to be busy but ‘tis also the season to be still and know that one starry night long ago – He came near.

I can’t wait to gather my family together later this week to do what we’ve always done through the sharing of love, the giving of gifts, and the realization that many babies have become kings but only one King became a baby!

Because God so loved us – He gave His only Son to quiet our hearts, to calm our spirits and to guide our steps. As you embrace this Christmas season, may His perfect peace and matchless love abound to you and yours!

It’s All In The Name…

When I was 11 years old, I lived in Panama, Central America with my missionary parents. Panama is a beautiful tropical country with pristine beaches – some with dark black sand. You can only imagine the heat that is generated from those black beaches near the equator.

One sweltering afternoon we were at the beach and I was standing in the ocean up to my thighs, talking with my mother who was next to me. Before I knew what was happening, a wave hit me and I went under the water – pulled by the undertow.

I vaguely remember hearing my mother as she yelled, “Jesus, Jesus” in Spanish. As I was tossed and turned under the ocean, flashes of life went through my mind. I remember thinking that I must be drowning. So… when I felt strong arms around me, I really thought they belonged to Jesus.

Well, the strong arms around me did belong to Jesus – but not to the Jesus that lives in heaven:) You see, that afternoon a man named “Jesus” (a common Spanish name) was napping on the beach. He was awakened when he heard my mother screaming his name and he quickly saw what was happening. I am told that he dove into the ocean several times before he found me and carried me to the beach.

That day, the fact that the first words out of my mother’s mouth in a crisis were “Jesus, Jesus” saved my life. And today the name of Jesus is never far from my lips. Ponder for a moment the number of times we have called on His name and the number of times He has rescued us – I have certainly lost count.

I often think about Peter’s understanding of the power in Jesus’ name. After denying Christ and repenting for doing so, he was left with a clear understanding of what Jesus’ name represented and he learned to rely on that power – proclaiming the mighty name of Jesus for the rest of his days.

The name of Jesus gives us authority for…

  • Asking in His name
  • Seeking deliverance in His name
  • Declaring in His name

When Peter brought healing to the lame man in Acts 3:6, it was in the name of Jesus and that this man rose up and walked. The Acts of the Apostles were all done in the name of Jesus and these dedicated men were very bold in stating that their authority was in His name alone.

At the age of 5, I asked Jesus to come into my heart. At the age of 11, Jesus heard my mother’s cry and a man named “Jesus” saved me from drowning. At the age of 47, I know that the name of Jesus soothes my sorrows, heals my diseases, and it drives away all my fears – because it’s all in the name!


The Nudge To Opportunity

You know the drill. We get up at 6 a.m. throw some make-up on, make breakfast and lunches, grab a travel mug of coffee and hit the road for the drive to school. When the car door shuts, we wave to the kids and exhale – knowing we’ve made it through the first leg of the day.

Now…the drive to work is heavenly – literally. In my car, the next 30 minutes are God’s and mine. We talk, I sing at the top of my lungs and I ask Him what He’s got planned for my day and what He’s doing with my life. Yes, sometimes I admit to wondering if He knows…

Isn’t that a ridiculous thought – wondering if our all-knowing God knows what He’s doing with my life? I think it’s more about, “Lord, can you really use me to accomplish your purposes here?” I can’t see past the next corner, are you sure you want to use me? Then, just as uncertainty whispers that maybe He should use someone else, His spirit wells up inside of me and I am empowered to act. Now instead of questioning, I’m racing toward the next big bend – anticipating an opportunity and praising Him in the process.

This blog is one of those opportunities for me. I have always thought I would like to share my ponderings but then uncertainty whispered, “Who cares what you think Marta and what makes you think that others would want to read your prattle? (Now there’s a word you don’t hear very much:)

But not long after this little conversation, God nudged me to take the first step and this is what I felt He was saying, “Marta I don’t need you to write so that I get more glory. I need you to write so that you can see me more clearly. Don’t worry if people read it or not – this is another way for you to see me at work in every area of your life and you need to declare with your hands the mighty works of my hands – because clearly I am here. As you have sought me, I have drawn near and I will draw nearer still.” Wow… after words like that, who could ever wonder if God knows what He’s doing with their life.

You should know, that I am in the midst of really trusting Him for some pretty big miracles this month and that uncertainty has literally been pounding on my door. But because of His promises and His tenderness toward me I press on relentlessly – anticipating that He’s at work and that the opportunities will come – not because I’m perfect but because I’m perfectly loved!

What about you? Are you wondering what God is doing with your life? Start watching for opportunities and when they knock on your door and you feel the sudden nudge of His Spirit welling up inside of you – just go for it! In our obedience to pursue the God-given opportunities, He will accomplish His purposes through us!

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”  Deuteronomy 31:8

“You have made known to me the path of life. You will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalm 16:11