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December Daily Day 16 Presents

Presents. Packages. Gifts. We all like them. The surprise contained inside usually brightens our day and makes us feel loved.Especially if the gifter knows us well, and takes the time to either purchase something that we especially want but would not make for ourselves, or if they hand-make us something; for it is the gift of time that is the most precious of all. Because time is the one thing you can never get more of. Think about it: everything else you can get more of. Or at least something similar. But time, no.This moment will never be able to be relived. Memories never remade. Years never repeated. I was so blessed yesterday by my dear friends who chose to take time out of their busy holiday schedules and spend the morning with me celebrating my birthday at Teapots and Treasures. We had a lovely time, and I got some wonderful gifts. The most wonderful being time with my beloved friends. Truly they are my heart sisters, and inspire me to be the kind of woman Christ wants me to be.  One of my friends bought me a book called 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp. You can find her website here. www.aholyexperience.com(by the way, the Jesse Tree Advent devotional on there is phenomenal.) I started reading this book last night, and I think every Christian woman needs to read this book. And do the challenge. I know I am and will be this coming year.  About 14 pages into the book I knew this was going to be a life changer for me. And that I had to make sure my daughters read this book. Heres a quote that will explain why: (from page 15)Ultimately, in his essence, Satan is an ingrate. And he sinks his venom into the heart of Eden. Satan's sin becomes the first sin of all humanity: the sin of ingratitude. Adam and Eve are, simply, painfully, ungrateful for what God gave.  Isn't that the catalyst of all my sins? Our fall was, has always been, and always will be, that we aren't satisfied in God and what He gives. We hunger for something more, something other. Standing before that tree, laden with fruit withheld, we listen to Evils murmur, "In the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened..." (Gen. 3:5). But in the beginning our eyes were already open. Our sight was perfect. Our vision let us see a world spilling with goodness. Our eyes fell on nothing but the glory of God. We saw God as He truly is: good. But we were lured by the deception that there was more to a full life, there was more to see. And, true, there was more to see: the ugliness we hadn't beheld, the sinfulness we hadn't witnessed, the loss we hadn't known. We eat. And, in an instant, we are blind. No longer do we see God as one we can trust. No longer do we perceive Him as wholly good. No longer do we observe all of the remaining paradise.  We eat. And in an instant, we see. Everywhere we look, and we see a world of lack, a universe of loss, a cosmos of scarcity and injustice.  We are hungry. We eat. We are filled...and emptied. And still, we look at the fruit and see only the material means to fill our emptiness. We don't see the material world for what it is meant to be: as the means to communion with God.(end of quote) Wow. I can't wait to see where this is going. Actually, I know where it is going. But I can't wait to see how she (the author) gets there. Because I think it is going to be a great ride.  All of this to say:Where are we in our expectations with God? Do we long for His Presents, like a happy family, happy life with well behaved kids, and adoring husband, and even the traffic to go our way, more than we long for His Presence?I not only long for them, I expect them. And then when they don't happen, I get aggravated and even upset at times. But when I let those circumstances drive me into His Presence, instead of insane, I realize that is exactly what they are there for: to create crisis of belief, and a need for relationship with Him.  I wonder: if we never had any trouble, would we need or want Him?  Why would we need a Savior?What would He have to save us from? As it is, he has to save us from Ourselves. 
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December Daily Day ? Presence

This is going to be short because it is late, but I feel like I have been amiss in not blogging for the last few days, and I wanted to be consistant. But I am not going to feel guilty, because it is not productive, and because this is not God's standard, it is a self imposed desire to blog daily. So I am going to let it go!But I just wanted to let you in on some profound things that happened to me today.First, my friends showered me with love and gifts today at my birthday tea party. I have such a wonderful group of friends, and they just made me feel so incredibly loved and I am so blessed to have each one of them in my life. Ladies, I love you all. Thank you for keeping me on my knees, and making me want to be a better wife, mother and daughter of the King. You all rock my world!The second thing happened at a little boy's birthday party, where an adopted boy was showered with a party he didnt expect, and a gift he never imagined by an uncle who wasnt even related to him. Ask me and I will tell you the whole story sometime.The last thing was at church watching my husband filling out the envelope for the Christmas offering, and the TTI offering. And my daughter putting in all the money she had earned by selling jewelry in the One Child offering. And my son as he emptied his wallet of his iPhone savings into the plate as it was passed. After the service, I asked him, "How much did you put in?" "All of it" was his reply. "Why?" I asked. And I will never forget his reply: "I had to, Mom", was all he said. And that was enough for me. Because I understand that. And I walked to the car stunned. My kid gets it. He sees beyond himself, and his wants. He knows he will get more money. God will continue to bless him. He has learned to trust and he was joyfully, happily obedient to give what he had with an open hand.And why shouldn't he be? He has learned it from the best. And I have had the same teacher he has. His father. My husband. The most generous person I know, and the one whom I have the privilege to be married to. He has taught me to joyfully give and wholeheartedly trust God. Yes, I know I am blessed. But tonight I realized on a deeper level, just how much.And as we were driving home it hit me: I have looked into the face of God today. I have been in the presence of the Holy Spirit in you today. And in that uncle, and in my husband, and my son and daughter. I have stood in the presence of Almighty God- tangible, visible and holy. I am in awe.

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December Daily Day 12 12-12-12

Well, daily has been difficult, to say the least. Especially this week since my older daughter, Alicia has had a friend from Canada staying with us all week and we have been "showing her the sights"-- Target, Walgreens, Publix... you get the gist of it. Anyway, I have fallen off schedule, and I have to move forward.A question came to mind on 12/12/12- How will you remember where you were on 12/12/12? and, in ten years, will it matter? I was doing laundry. Nothing special. No fanfare, no hoopla.

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December Daily Day 9 Process

Yesterday, we talked about Christ in me, the hope of glory. And Today, I want to make it personal.We went to church Sunday at the Acreage Church, and our missionary from Zambia, Pastor Nelms nephew spoke. It was just what I needed to hear.He spoke about the Gospel, and how it should change everything; every aspect of our lives. For every aspect of our lives are tainted with sin and hopeless without Christ. We in our own strength are unregenerate. But the restorative power of the gospel changes everything. The Gospel is a process in which Christ restores what the enemy has stolen: relationship with him. It is both a once forever change and a lifetime process, at the same time.  And he said something that really got my attention. He said, "You are the hope of the world. You are uniquely qualified to be and to bring the hope that the world so desperately needs, even thou they dont even know that they need it. That got me to thinking about something that God has been doing in me.Most of you know the pain in my life. In my heart and in my body, which I think is a result of the pain in my heart. But God has been schooling me in this classroom of pain. And just as the emotional pain has an impact on my physical body and is causing physical pain, beyond what I could have ever imagined, these things that take place on a physical plane have great bearing in the spiritual realm. And particularly on my spiritual life. A Process. So here's my synopsis. I wrote this to a friend today who is going through a difficult trial and is in the hospital right now. And this is for you, too my dear friends. So think about what you are going through, and read this as if I am speaking to you about it.

Your whole life up to now he has been preparing you for this moment in time. And this is the exam. You have been studying, preparing and practicing. Now is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. If you look back, I am sure you can see the moments he put in your path...the teachers, the Bible studies, everything to prepare you to be here right now. I love how he does that. And even if you cant think of specifics, He has. I was just thinking today about pain. My heart is so broken right now, and has been constantly being crushed by our second daughter. She is living a lifestyle that is contrary to the word of God. However, God has used this pain in such incredible ways, and my heart cries out to him in gratefulness for this pain. I didnt start out that way. I was kicking and screaming and denying and wrestling with God. But now I am settled in this. But it doesnt make it easy. It is hard, and it still hurts. In fact, I told someone today that I didnt know it was possible to have your heart so crushed and still be alive and walking around. Honestly, sometimes it hurts so bad that I think I am going to be crushed under the weight of it. Thats when I know I have lost perspective and have to take a step back and see it from his point of view. We have such a short time here on this planet. And he is so loving that he lets us have such good gifts. And we expect them to last and last. We don't expect it to all be easy, but we dont expect it to be so hard, either. And that we forget that sometimes pain can be a friend. Weird, I know. But would you have needed him so desperately without this? And as you said, you have alot to learn in trusting him. I know what you mean. So here is your opportunity. Your "exam". Not your final, probably just the mid-term. Because there is more to come, my friend. But the cool thing about this exam, is that it is an open book exam. And the teacher is there, holding your hand and walking you through it. He is standing by your side saying, "I am the Answer to the questions you didnt even know you had." And he lets us experience just exactly what will make us jump into his arms and learn exactly the lessons we need. No more, no less.It is such a comfort to me to know that He is in control. He is able. He is God. And he loves me. He loves me. Why?? I am so unworthy to experience his grace in such a tangible way. His love so perfectly poured out for me. In the midst of a terrible pain, God has birthed such a deep love- a desperate, quiet and peaceful kind of love that I can't live without him. I cannot manage anymore without him fully present every moment in me. I realize that everything I do, every moment I spend without him is just rubbish. There are still too many of those, too. But I am learning to see him more and more and want him to be my everything. And I thank him for driving me to my knees. For choosing me to fall so desperately in love with him, and settling me deep in his peace. And isnt it worth it?  Col. 1:24-29 4 Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. 25 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.28 He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. 29 To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.We have been stuck in this verse for a few times. But it is so important. And so rich and full. I rejoice in what I am suffering.....I rejoice and fill up in my flesh what I am still lacking in what Christ needs to be in me for myself, and so I can learn to love others like he does. He is carrying out in me- in my body, soul, mind and spirit right now his transformation process....that is what I think it means. And he is the reason we strenuously contend, with All HIS energy. Because when we do it in our own strength, it is just rubbish. My dear friends,  God is at work. And he has chosen you for his canvas. He is crafting something beautiful. Thank him for what he is doing in you, even if you are not at the place where you can thank him for the vehicle he chose to use. And pray that you will get there. I am still praying that for myself, because I often forget his purposes and want to just get in the vehicle he chose and drive away. Away from the pain, the hurt and disappointment. But if I learn to embrace it, I can live above it, and not let it drag me down. Only then can I truly learn to have real joy in whatever life brings. With a grateful and joyful heart,Leslie
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December Daily Day 8 Ponder

PONDER Well, we've been around the block and are working on week 2! Wow! Can you believe it? Only 16 days left till Christmas. Relax. Remember what we have been learning? Take a deep breath, practice His Presence. He is with you, and HE has a plan! You are the one who gets panicky. Not Him.Anyway, we are back to our first day of the week where we pondered last week. And I liked it so much the first day of last week, that I chose Ponder again. So today you get a second chance to ponder.  Col. 1:27 says: To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of the mystery, which is Christ in you , the hope of glory.  Don't you just love a good mystery? I do. Well, you have one living inside you. Christ in you, the hope of glory. He is our living and only hope. Ponder that.A Mystery revealed. It was hidden for ages. Now it has been revealed to us and in us. Christ in you, your only hope of salvation.Of doing this thing called life well.Of freedom.Of eternal life.Of choosing to act, rather than react.Of hearing the voice of God. Christ in me, Christ in me, Christ in me,The Hope of Glory, you are everything.Christ in me, Christ in me, Christ in me,The Hope of Glory, Be my Everything! Be my Everything, Be my Everything,Be my Everything, Be my Everything.  And, you may be someone else's only hope. We are the hope of this world. We are uniquely qualified to bring the Hope of Christ to the world that he created. The hope that they need and don't even know that they need it.  This changes everything.  And we will talk more about this tomorrow.
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