Sunday, December 22, 2013

O Christmas Tree

There is a tree with shining lights
Standing proudly in this room.
It gives me joy to see it there,
Dispelling dark and gloom.

The tree holds many memories,
Of Christmases gone by.
Ornaments from years now past
Bring pleasure to the eye.

There is another tree that stood
Long ago upon a hill.
That tree held Someone much more dear,
And wood without a frill.

For Jesus, child of Bethlehem
Was hanging on that tree.
His life and love poured out for us,
From sin to set us free.

So as you gaze upon your tree
Standing proudly in your room.
Let His tree give your heart joy,
And dispel your dark and gloom.

Copyright  2013  Joni Johnson - All Rights Reserved

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Year of Miracles

2013 has been quite the year for our family (both immediate and extended).  As my previous post stated, there have been some stormy seas to navigate.

Lest I make you think our year has been one of gloom and doom, though, I thought I'd share some of the amazing things we have seen in the past months.

1)  Our youngest son received an incredible scholarship to the high school he wanted to attend. 

2)  When that school didn't work out for him in the end, God provided so many resources, in a very short amount of time, so that we could transition him to home schooling.

3)  Our oldest son was accepted into the college of his choice.

4)  Family members have discovered that faith in God is the only way to truly survive in the tough times.  New faith for some; restored faith for others.

5)  One weekend, when (due to a clerical error on my part), we found our bank account a bit short on funds, we received a check in the mail--that we shouldn't have received for several days.  Just in time.

6)  In the midst of some very trying times, God has strengthened some familial relationships in ways we could never have imagined.

6)  About a month ago, our car's transmission went kaput.  Since a new transmission was worth more than the car, we knew it was "that time."  Three days later, we received an envelope in the mail, with no return address.  Inside was another envelope.  When that one was opened, we discovered a little note.  One side said, "God bless you."  The other side said, "To help defray the cost of a new car."  Also in that envelope:  a cashier's check... for $4,000!  (Yes, there are three zeroes in that number!)  Very, very few people knew

7)  Due to this contribution and others, we were able to buy a very nice, used Toyota Camry, which we LOVE.  (I know.  How can one love a machine?  If you've been there, done that, then you know!)
of our need for a new car.  We still have absolutely no idea where the money came from.

And so, in light of these answers to prayer, we are continuing to pray for a miracle for Claire...

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Strength in Numbers

Over the past couple of years, both sides of our family (hubby's and mine) have gone through some big storms.  There have been physical, spiritual, and relationship challenges on many levels.  We also have several friends who have experienced some of the most unimaginable tragic events.

You know what has been so amazing, though?  These times have actually drawn our families so much closer together.  It has been awesome to watch.  As we've stuck together, encouraged one another, and, most important of all, prayed for one another, our family relationships have gained a new strength and depth.

Recently, my cousin's daughter was the victim of a school shooting in Colorado.  I have never met Claire, but as soon I knew she had been wounded, the prayers started.  The family bonds that have loosened a bit over time became rock solid once again.  We are family.  We pray together.   We stand together.  None of us will ever need to face tragedy alone. 

The same is true for my relationship with my friends.  People with whom I have not corresponded in many years will reach out in their time of need, and, again, I go to prayer for them, as I know many, many others are as well.  Friendships have been rebuilt as a result.  Strong friendships have been made even stronger.

This is one of the most beautiful things about being part of the body of Christ.  Time and space may separate us, but love knows no distance.  (Thanks to my sister Sherry for that quote.)

So, do yourself a favor the next time you see an urgent request in your e-mail or Facebook News Feed:  take the time to pray.  There may come a time when you are the one with the request.  Either way, you will be glad you prayed, and so will they!

Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.  If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.  Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.  Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.  Romans 12:17-21

Friday, December 13, 2013

Asking for Prayer

My cousin's daughter, Claire Davis, was one of the victims of the school shooting in Colorado today.  Please, please intercede on her behalf.  She is not expected to survive.  My heart is breaking...

Monday, December 02, 2013

The Golden Glow of Silence

I am an eye-watcher.  Everyone has a way of taking in first-time information about others.  Mine is to
look into their eyes.  Even when in a crowd, I often look around to see how people are responding to the moment.  Their actions may speak one thing; their eyes, another.  I can see so much in their eyes:  pain, hostility, happiness, sadness, disappointment, joy...  Actions may speak louder than words, but the eyes truly tell the story.

The hard part is, I tend to be silent.  While I'm studying the eyes, I don't say much.  My silence has been deemed as being judgmental at times.  So if you've noticed me looking at you without speaking, I'm mostly pondering.  I'm learning about you, by what I see in your eyes.

Sometimes we view God's silence as judgment.  We pray and pray about something, but hear nothing.  We "hear" that silence as God's way of saying, "What is wrong with you?!", when He is probably just looking into our hearts, to see what's really going on inside.

In this season of Advent, we remember the time of silence:  the journey toward Bethlehem in the days before the birth of Christ.  God wasn't judging the world.  He was preparing the world.  Silence before the glory of His Son's birth.  Quiet before the joyful songs of angels.  A time of stillness before the Light of the World entered this world's darkness.

May our hearts know times of peacefulness and calm as we prepare for Christmas.  Let us also remember to allow a holy stillness to fill us as we allow God to ready our hearts for His Son's second coming.  Allow God to truly see into your eyes and heart as you prepare Him room.

Let us bask in the golden glow of the silence.

"For You, O Lord, my soul in stillness waits; truly my hope is in You."