Pass It On – in Memory of Norma Myers

Yesterday was the 12th anniversary of my grandmother’s passing – 12/12. My Grandma Norma was a very special person in my life.

Grandma Norma came from a long line of Christians. This song, written by one of my grandmother’s relatives, attests to her Welsh ancestors’ love of music, family, church, and Jesus.

My great-great-great-grandmother, Margaret Rowland, was a woman of faith whose “supreme ambition seemed to center in her children — to provide them with all possible advantages for an education, and to train them for useful Christian lives” despite severe trials, including the loss of her first husband when she had six young children. She “lived a life of service and devotion, not restricted to her own family, but many in the neighborhood where she lived had occasion to feel grateful for help in time of need.”

Margaret Rowland’s daughter, Harriet, (my great-great-grandmother) was blessed with seven children and almost 50 years of marriage to her husband, Isaac.

Harriet, too, was a Christian mother dedicated to helping others, especially her grandchildren — like my grandma! My great-grandmother, Anna, is pictured at the top right. She is the pleasant looking one with a sweet smile.

 

Anna and her husband, Will, had four sons and one daughter. My grandma Norma was that one daughter.

Anna and Will were blessed with over 50 years of marriage and a house full of grandchildren and great grandchildren.

My grandparents were married on Christmas Day, 1938, with my grandmother carrying her Bible and wearing her great-grandmother’s brooch. (Aren’t they handsome? Did you notice how tall my grandmother is? I take after my dad’s side of the family.)

My grandfather passed away from pancreatic cancer shortly before they celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. Here they are in front of their restaurant, “The Purple Cow” with my older sister and me.

I have often wondered if my own faith has its roots in the faithful women who went before me. God heard their prayers, blessing them with generations of Christ-followers. As Paul wrote to Timothy of the faith that dwelt in Timothy’s other and grandmother (2 Timothy 1:5) “and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:15)

I’m praying for these four right here.  My greatest desire for them isn’t to be the smartest, richest, most famous, or most popular.  It’s simply for them to know and love Jesus, to live for Him and His glory.

Allow me to encourage you, mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, future mothers! You can pray for your sons and daughters, even for those not yet born. God hears you.

You can bless the generations to come by sharing the good news of the gospel and the truths of the scriptures. God will bless your efforts.

You can faithfully pass on your faith to the next generations. God is faithful. You can be faithful, too.

Heart check: How’s it going? Are you praying? Are your sharing?

TWIG

Christmas Celebrations + Body Life

Dear friends,

Are any of you like me, with grand plans for all the things you’d like to accomplish for the Lord?  I love Jesus so much and want to do ALL the things.  But, I’m just one person with just 24 hours in a day and those days are already full.  So, when God began impressing on me to reach out to the ladies in my neighborhood, I began to pray for God to send someone to work alongside me.  He did.

Through the wonders of Facebook, I found a fellow Christ-follower who also wanted to reach out to our neighbors.  She offered to make and distribute flyers to invite the ladies over, while I opened my home to host it.  Debbie even went so far as coming over 3 hours early to decorate and set up!

God blessed me with this passage conveniently scheduled that morning in my Scripture Typer app.  1 Corinthians 12:4-7 ” Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord;  and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”

I love to talk, to pray, to share the good news of the love of Jesus.  And I got to do just that within the comfort of my beautifully decorated home.  Thank you, Jesus!  And thank you, Debbie!  And thank you to my 2-dozen neighbors who stopped by!

Friends, God didn’t design His body to operate as cut-off individual members.    We have different gifts, different passions, different ways to serve.  We need each other on purpose!

Heart-check: What God-sized goal is in your heart that you need someone to partner with you?  How are you trying to operate in your own strength, separated from the body of Christ?

Let me leave you with something I wrote several years ago, but seem to revise every year!

Keeping Christ in Christmas – Every Day of the Year

When a friend posted this question on an online forum, “How do we keep Jesus Christ and His birth at the center of our Christmas celebration?” I gave a lot of thought to my answer. This question is particularly important to me because I wasn’t raised in a Christian home, and yet, my family celebrated Christmas. We hung stockings, decorated a Christmas tree, exchanged gifts and played Santa, just like every other red-blooded American family.

By the time I was a teenager, I was an outspoken atheist who loved to argue with my Christian friends, and yet, I had little understanding of the Christian faith. I did not understand that Christians believed that Jesus Christ was God in the flesh and that Christmas was celebrated to remember the day He was born on earth to live as a man. It was not until I was 21-years-old and had many heated debates with a Christian young man (who later became my husband) that I heard the good news of the gospel – that I could be forgiven by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, turning away from my sin and following Him.

So, with that background, let me encourage everyone how truly important it is to keep the birth of Jesus at the focus of your Christmas celebrations. In response to the question, “How do we keep Jesus Christ at the center of Christmas?” the answer is to intentionally seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God, setting your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. (Colossians 3:1-2)

Yes, we festively decorate our home and Christmas tree. Yes, we buy gifts for our children and other members of our family. Yes, we drive around town and look at pretty Christmas lights. But, no, we don’t spend days and weeks putting up and taking down decorations. We refuse to go into debt feeding our kids’ appetites for stuff and our own appetite to impress others with our earthly possessions. And, no, we do not pack on December with a dozen holiday events because, truthfully, they take our family’s eyes off the true gift of Jesus and just add busy-ness to our already full lives.

After following Jesus for over twenty years, though, I have learned that the Christian life is so much more than a list of do’s and don’ts. It really is a living relationship with the great Creator, Ruler of the Universe, and Lord of my soul, so please do not see my suggestions as added rules and burdens for you to follow. Evaluate your own advent activities to see whether they are drawing your family to a closer relationship with Jesus or pushing you farther away. Truly, when you seek the Lord with all your heart, you will find Him. Jesus is truly our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His Word is a light to our feet. You can trust Him, and you can trust His Word.

With that said, here are some choices we’ve made to help us not lose Jesus amidst our Yuletide celebrations –

  • We taught our kids from a young age that playing pretend is fun, but it’s just pretend. God is real. Santa is pretend. The Bible is real. Fairy tales are pretend. Yes, we put out cookies for Santa. Yes, we stuffed stockings. It was fun! But our kids knew the truth. I decided that God wanted us to be truth bearers and I wanted my kids to trust that Mommy and Daddy always speak the truth. That didn’t mean we couldn’t play pretend – but they knew we are pretending.
  • We try to have most of our gifts bought by December 1, so our minds are not consumed by shopping. The stress of finding “the perfect gifts” is not good for the “Christmas spirit.”
  • We limit ourselves to three gifts per child. This limits not only the money, but also the time and energy, we spend on Christmas gifts.
  • I force myself to go to bed at night. If it’s not done by 10:30, then it doesn’t need to be done. Tomorrow is another day. A tired mommy is a cranky mommy.
  • Each of our four children chooses a gift for each of their siblings and parents and they use some of their own money to buy them. This helps them focus on giving, rather than just receiving.
  • When it’s time to open gifts, we each take turns giving our gifts to the recipients, rather than the recipients taking their gifts.
  • We enjoy a daily time of prayer, scripture reading, and discussion for the 25 days of advent.

Which leads me back to the original question: “How do we keep Jesus Christ and His birth at the center of our Christmas celebration?”

This certainly is a good question to ask, but may I suggest that the better question is this:  “How do we keep Christ at the center of every single day of the year?”  365 days-a-year we can choose to seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God, setting your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. I’m praying that this holiday season, and for all the days of our lives, that we would, trust in the LORD with all our hearts, leaning not on our own understanding, acknowledging Him in all our ways. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

You can download your own copy of Keeping Christ in Christmas here:
Keeping Christ in Christmas 2018

God with us

The English name “Jesus” is taken from the Greek word “Iésous,” which is from the Hebrew for “Jehovah is salvation.” So, when an angel of the Lord told Joseph, “Do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:20-21)

As I’m pondering this I’m considering 3 things:

  1. God works through all different languages, which I find particularly fascinating.
  2. God is communicating to Joseph that “Yes, He (Jehovah, Yahweh) saves” — AND that this baby boy conceived by the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb will HIMSELF save His people from their sins. This is additional confirmation that Jesus Christ, our Messiah, is Himself God in the flesh. There is only one God and Jesus is Yahweh incarnate (in the flesh).
  3. This is confirmed in the next two verses (Matthew 1:22-23) “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us).

Come let us worship the Lord our King, God who took on flesh to save His people from their sins.

Thanks Giving

Earlier this week, I shared the origins of the American Thanksgiving celebration with my dear “little sister” Zoe in China,

Here is her reply:

In this week of Thanksgiving, I want to give thanks in all circumstances.

There is always plenty to give thanks for, even if we sometimes have to search harder for it.

Father, thank you for a wonderful week spent with my parents, my sister and brother-in-law, and four of my nephews.

Thank you for the blessing it is to be a wife and a mother.

Thank you for the freedom to worship that I enjoy here in America.

Thank you for our financial blessings – for plenty of good food and warm clothing and homes larger than we need.

Thank you for the beauty of sunrise and the sunset and the big blue sky. Thank you for your majesty revealed from the heavens, that mankind would seek you and find you.

Thank you for the sisterhood of believers, both near and far.

And then … right at this moment, just as we’re driving back home across the great plains of the Midwest … just as I’m midway through composing this blog post … just when I’m chatting online with my little Chinese sister, encouraging her to walk by faith …

I received this heart-breaking message:

Is God real?

Does God work in time and space to draw men to Himself?

Does God use His children here on earth to share the good news of eternal life through faith in Christ?

Yes! Yes! Yes!

Stay tuned — there’s more to this story.

Heart-check: Where are you struggling to give thanks? How can I pray for you?

TWIG