somebodylovesmeblog

Sharing God's love with the world, one heart at a time.


9 Comments

Jesus! I KNOW Him!

This morning I took one of those silly tests that revealed to me which Christmas Movie character I was most like.  Surprise….it is “Elf!”

That kind of shocked me because I feel more like Linus from “Charlie Brown Christmas”, always wanting to remind the world what Christmas is all about.  Then I read the reason why I was most like “Elf.”  It is because I love all things “Christmas.”  I love the innocent faith that consumes Buddy’s spirit.

SANTA!!!  I know him…I KNOW him!

Buddy lives his life oblivious to the doubts and cynicism of others because He KNOWS him!!!  He sees the world through eyes filled with wonder and amazement, because He KNOWS him!!!

Shouldn’t we do the same?  Shouldn’t we see the world and all that is in it with wonder and amazement because, “We KNOW HIM!”

When we see the beautiful manger scenes, do we think of the perfect love and humility to God’s will that Mary possessed, the quiet confidence in God’s plan and the protection that Joseph provided for his family, the baby Jesus born into our sinful world , sent by Our Father in Heaven  as our Savior?  Or have our eyes been clouded to the simple beauty of the Nativity Scene?

When we decorate and enjoy our Christmas trees, do we appreciate the memories associated with each ornament?  Each year, as I place the ornaments on the tree,  so many memories are brought to mind.  From my growing up years, through our family’s years as our two sons grew, then as we created more memories with them and their wives, and then the years with my mom.  She also loved Christmas, and loved to choose new ornaments to add to our collection.  Many of those ornaments, which many might call “materialistic”, bring to mind a specific time, place, or person, that reminds me of God’s love for us and His providence in our lives.  I see Jesus when I think of all the faces of those loved ones…both with us in this world and those who have departed to the next.

When we hear beautiful and joyful Christmas music, do we remember days of childhood faith, when Christmas was almost magical?  It wasn’t just the gifts back then, it was the SPIRIT in the air, something special that we did not quite comprehend!  Or does the music help us to feel joyful in the moment?  The moment that we ARE IN, that God has blessed us with?

As we write out our Christmas cards, do we think and pray for each person, and thank God that they are in our lives?  Do we realize, as we open the cards sent to us, the thought that went into each one?  That there are friends and relatives in our lives that think about us enough to send a card to wish us a Merry and Blessed Christmas?

When we see beautiful  Christmas or Holiday decorations, do we appreciate the thought and creativity that went into each display?  The happiness that the bright lights and baubles bring to children’s hearts?  Do we remember that the light of a star beaconed the way to the Christ Child, and lights are a symbol of preparation for the coming of our Savior?

And all of the gifts…that admittedly some people take way overboard, are also a blessing.  A blessing not only to the receiver, but most importantly, to the giver.  When a gift of any size is thoughtfully chosen, wrapped and gifted to a loved one, or maybe even a stranger, the spirit of love and giving fills the heart.  When a gift is given in love, the Holy Spirit is present.

As we walk into Mass or Service on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, are our hearts filled with the joy, hope and love of Christ Jesus, Our Savior?  Do we receive Him with wonder and amazement?

Yes, I hope I am like Buddy in “Elf.”

JESUS…I know Him!  I KNOW Him!!!

 

 

 

Advertisements


17 Comments

Blessings Through Barrenness

 

This is the time of year that I used to dread.  Most of the Christmas decorations have disappeared from our neighborhood’s homes, the warmth of holiday music has dissipated, the air is bitter cold, and the trees are dark and seemingly devoid of life.

Blessings Through Barrenness

My husband and I commute to work together, and lately I have been struck with beauty that I haven’t noticed before.  One thought has been swirling in my mind for a few days now.

There is great beauty to be found in barrenness.

This thought strikes me as my eyes take in the awesomeness of those trees that in the past I would describe as cold, dead and dull.  What I see now is entirely different and enlightening.

As we drive home after work, the winter sunsets are almost overwhelmingly gorgeous.  Last night there were deep shades of indigo, violet, magenta, pink and blue.  The colors were layered beautifully, and could be viewed through the intricate patterns of lace and latticework formed by the branches of those “dead” trees.

All it took for me to notice and see the beauty of barrenness was to look past it, and focus on the beauty through it.

Our lives are like that.  We tend to focus on what is lacking, and sometimes just can’t understand why a loving God would allow certain things to happen in the world.  We look at our own lives, our sufferings and weaknesses, and we feel barren and sometimes even abandoned.

We are called in faith to look through the barrenness and focus on the perfect beauty and love of God.

He is the beauty that calls, amazes, humbles, and overwhelms us with love.  He is The One that works all things toward good for those who love Him.

Do you love Him that loves you?  Are you willing to look through your weaknesses, persecutions, and sufferings and focus your trust and whole being on the saving love and grace of Jesus?  Will you open your heart to His Divine Mercy?

Only then will your eyes be opened to the intricate beauty of barrenness… for only Our Lord knows the full design of the tapestry that is being masterfully created through what we view as unacceptable.

 

Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.  2 Corinthians 12:8-10

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28


29 Comments

The Christmas Chair

untitled

As I get older, I realize that true joy is found in the blessings of “moments.”  I would like to share one of those moments with you.

Twenty one years ago, my husband, our two sons, and I moved from Northeastern Ohio to the Northern VA/DC area.  It was a traumatic move that happened rather quickly.

My husband and I were in dire need of employment, and the Youngstown area did not offer much opportunity.  Through friends of friends, we were made aware of available positions for both of us, in Springfield, VA, at the same company.  We would be starting at entry level positions…with room to grow.  When I called to inquire about the positions, I was told that we would need to be there on Monday, ready for work.  Did I tell you I called on a Wednesday?  That gave us two and a half days to pull some of our belongings together, and make the drive to Virginia on Saturday.

At this time in our lives, we were pretty much broke.  It will take a very full post to share all the miracles and all the ways that things just “fell into place” regarding our move…that story will be shared soon!  The four of us drove to Virginia  in a car we borrowed from my dad, with as much “stuff” as we could shove in the trunk and around the boys in the back seat.  We had enough cash for gas, some food, and a little to carry with us.  We were moving and living on faith.  We knew the Lord would carry us through our journey.

Coni is the woman who opened the door for us by offering us both a position in the company she worked for.  Not only did she offer us jobs, she offered, and insisted that our family of four stay with their family until we got on our feet.  Coni, Kevin (her husband), and their son, opened their beautiful home to us for what turned in to two and a half months.  Although we helped as much as we could once the paychecks started coming in, they never asked us for anything at all.  Jesus was definitely working through them.

We made the initial move to Virginia on December 4th, and then needed to drive to Ohio for Christmas and to pick up more of our belongings from our home.  That Christmas was a very lean one…we were unable to buy any Christmas presents at all.

What we didn’t know, was that Coni and Kevin had snuck some wrapped gifts into the trunk for all of us.   Our thirteen and ten year old sons knew, but were told to keep it a secret.

When we pulled up into the driveway of what still was “home” to us, my heart filled up and I had to just swallow the emotions I was feeling.  I kind of turned off my feelings, because I didn’t want my sons to know how much I was missing “home.”  Since we would only be there for a few days,  there were no Christmas decorations.  The thought that it was the last time we would be sleeping in our home was hanging heavy in the air.  None of us articulated what we were feeling.

What we didn’t know, was that Michael (our youngest) snuck into the crawlspace and pulled out our twinkle lights.  He then proceeded to wrap them around and around our recliner by the front window…where our tree usually stood.  The decorated, lit up chair was in the “laid back”  position, with the gifts that Coni and Kevin had sent for us laying underneath.  It was such a sweet, joyful moment, that I have tears in my eyes as I write this.

Needless to say, after experiencing the “Christmas Chair”, we realized how important it was to enjoy our last Christmas in our home.  We all dragged some decorations from the crawlspace, hung the wreath and displayed the Nativity Set.

I thank God every day for my husband, and my sons who teach me time after time  what is truly important in life.  I also thank God for all of the special  friends He has blessed us with over the years.

And we will always have a special place in our hearts for Coni, Kevin, and Robbi…who as “casual friends” that hardly even knew us at that time, chose to open their hearts and their home to our family, to help us on our journey.

My wish for you during this beautiful Christmas Season, is that you keep your hearts open to all the simple, beautiful moments that are presented to you and your family each and every day.  These moments are the true gifts that the Lord blesses us with.


20 Comments

New Traditions

Although traditions that have been in our family for years will always have a special place in my heart, I need to share a new tradition that my husband’s side of the family started this year.

Actually, our niece, Heather, suggested this idea.  It sounded interesting, however I didn’t realize how awesome it really was.

Each person, or family, received a name.  We were not to send a gift “for” that person, we were to send a box of items that depicted “who we are”.  You see, our family is a large one, and we are strewn all over the country.  We are losing touch with each other a little, and don’t know about each other’s daily lives or special interests or talents.

The first blessing of this tradition is actually choosing the items that will represent yourself, or your family. Our family box represented my husband, me, and my mother who lives with us.  After much thought, we made our selections.

My husband works hard marketing and screen printing  graphic tees for our business, so we included two tee designs.  He also loves to brew beer, so a bottle of his latest brew was lovingly wrapped  and added to the box.  Since I read so many inspirational and spiritual books, I chose to include “The Promise” by Jonathan Morris, a book that opened my eyes in so many ways.  My other contribution was homemade cookies that I love to bake each Christmas.  (as a side note, I am still baking more and will be baking until New Year’s Day probably!!!)  My mom parted with one of her beloved “Beanie Babies”…a bright red Cardinal.  She LOVES Beanie Babies, and does not part with them easily.  However, she made an exception for the “Family box.”  Not only is the Beanie Baby one of her treasures, but the Cardinal is Ohio’s State bird, which is our hometown…both my side and my husband’s side of the family.  She also included a Word Search book, because she spends hours a day finding words!  The last thing we threw in was a White House Ornament to represent the Northern Virginia/DC area where we make our home.  We sent our box, with love, to my sister in law and our niece.

It is more difficult than you may think, to decide on a few things that depict your life, or your family.

The second blessing comes with receiving the box that your “giver” family assembled for you.  Our box was from our niece, her husband and daughter.  As we were opening each package, we actually felt the spirit of their family.  It was a beautiful and fun experience.  There was a handmade bracelet and hand drawn notecards, created by my great niece, a bottle of  a favorite local beer, Ohio beer glasses crafted in their town, handmade birdseed ornaments which they handed out to neighbors as gifts this year, local Tony Packos relish and a Carruth Angel that was created by an amazing local artist.  They have many Carruth pieces displayed in their backyard, and now we have one more to lovingly display in ours.  My niece also added some PB2 (powdered peanut butter) which she loves in smoothies and ice cream.  I had never heard of “PB2” before, but it sounds interesting and we are looking forward to enjoying it!  She also creates beautiful handmade cards, and tucked one of the most beautiful cards I have ever seen in the box.  The card  listed all the items and what they meant to each of them.

The third blessing from this tradition, lies in all of us sharing about what was in the box we received. We have a group message going on, and it is exciting to see pictures and descriptions of each family’s box.  What a fun way to get to know each other in a deeper way!

Right now, my heart is completely full of the warmth, love, and appreciation of family.

Thank you Lord for the amazing gifts of love and family.  Help me to always look for ways to share those gifts with all the people you place in my daily life.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.  James 1:17

 

 


6 Comments

The Joys of Christmastime

It really makes me sad when I hear someone say that they are super stressed due to the hustle and bustle of Christmas.  Many are frustrated and have closed their hearts to Christmas because of the commercialization and materialism that seems to have taken over the beauty and holiness of the season.

As Christians, and children of God, we are called to share the light of Christ with the world, one heart at a time.  For me, the Advent and Christmas Season is a wonderful time to do just that.

Amidst the tacky and commercial decorations, relentless Christmas music, and the barrage of holiday marketing hitting us from all angles, sometimes it is very difficult to stay focused on the Truth.  Sometimes we tend to drift over to the realm where parties, food, drink, and the “perfect” gifts dictate the atmosphere and the spirit in our hearts.

Don’t let that happen to you this year.  The beauty of Advent and Christmastime is already waiting in your heart. All you need to do is open your heart and will to God’s Holy Spirit, and your Christmas Season will be perfect in God’s love.

I can’t help myself…I love Christmas and all that comes with it.  I choose to look past the commercialization and materialism, and focus on the things that bring joy and love.

Here are some of the ways that either bring love and joy to my own heart or ways I find to share that joy and love with others.  We are all unique, and have different ways to experience and share the joys of Christmas.  God made us to be different; we are blessings to each other when we appreciate the ways of love from each person in our lives.  Maybe my thoughts and Christmas traditions will help to open your heart to some of the things you’ve felt were missing.  It’s easy to close ourselves off when we feel overwhelmed.

It’s open season for Christmas music on Thanksgiving Day through mid-January.  We have many Christmas CDs and we enjoy them often.  My mom lives with my husband and me, and she really loves the music.  My husband enjoys a little of it, so I have to be careful of the amount of time those Christmas tunes are playing.  The reason I love to listen and sing Christmas music is that it fills me with joy, and it also brings me back to being a little girl.  Remember the wonder of Christmas when you were a little child?  I still love to feel that way.

Our Christmas tree and inside decorations are very special to us.  Not because they are perfect or trendy…but because there is a lifetime of Christmas memories attached to most of the ornaments and decorations.  There are family ornaments from over fifty years ago, and then from the years of building our family with our sons.  There is our Nativity Scene under the tree that was a gift from my parents when I was still single.

Are the “things” themselves the most important thing?  No, the memories attached to them are blessings from God.  All of God’s gifts are good, and we are very thankful for all the memories; even the “bad” ones.  Like the Christmases when we lacked the money to buy ANY gifts for ourselves or anyone else.  But you know what?  I can truly say those were the most beautiful Christmases, because we were surrounded by the love of God, family and friends.

Our family loves Christmas movies.  There are probably 15-20 movies we watch every year.  These stories bring warmth and joy to our hearts, and we love the tradition of watching them together.  This year, I decided to string popcorn garland, so that was what I was doing while I watched some of those movies.

A Christmas puzzle is a must.  Sometimes two or three, depending on the time I decide to spend putting them together.

Our outside decorations consist of multi-colored lights, a gorgeous wreath on the front door that was a gift from my mother, and a spotlighted Nativity Scene.  We love to drive around to enjoy the beautiful decorations in our neighborhood and surrounding areas.  It’s interesting to me to see the different ways that people decorate and express themselves, and I look for the joy in all.

Although it is time consuming, and I try to remain stress-free during the Holidays, I LOVE to bake cookies.  Lots of cookies.  We eat more Christmas cookies than we should, but the main reason I bake  is to give them away.  I enjoy filling tins with a variety of cookies and handing them out to anyone I feel might enjoy receiving them.

Christmas cards are very special to me.  I love making them out for all the people in my life, and sometimes for those that may not even know me,  but may need a special pick me up.  Sometimes I write thank you notes to those who have had an impact on my life, and slip them in.  With each card I write out, I think of that person and how they have blessed my life.  I also say little prayers for them as I go along.

It’s always fun searching for unique little gifts for people; and we usually participate in a few “angel trees” and community events.  Sometimes we focus on a single family, or there may be someone we know of that is in need.  We have sent gifts of money anonymously, or filled a particular need.  These are all ways to share Christ’s love.

Christmas Eve or Christmas Day Mass is when I truly feel the Spirit of Christmas.  When we walk into the Church, the Spirit overcomes me.  This is it.  The preparation, the music and joy, all of the time spent with family and friends, is one with the pure love and peace of Jesus.  Thank you, Lord!

May you find your own special ways of sharing Christ’s perfect love and peace during this  blessed Advent and Christmas Season.  Enjoy all of it, with the heart and eyes of the child that lives in your heart.

 


2 Comments

True Destination

For the past few days, I have been thinking about a personality pattern in my life that was recently revealed to me.  Sometimes the events are seemingly insignificant, however, when combined with other experiences definitely show a pattern.

So I will open my heart and divulge some of my quirks and transgressions.  Maybe someone out there can identify?

Some of these things started for me when I was a little girl.  I never believed in Santa, because we opened our gifts on Christmas Eve.  I KNEW who all the gifts were from.  The presents started appearing under our Christmas tree a few weeks before Christmas, complete with tags.  I knew which ones were mine.  The suspense was way too much for me.  Yes, you guessed it – I was one of those children who woke up during the night, grabbed my gifts from under the tree, and slid the gifts out of their wrappings. I was really good at rewrapping them, too!  The only down side for me, was that I had to feign surprise when I opened the presents with my family.  I really don’t think they ever caught on.

Another one of my “quirks” is I LOVE to read the last page of a novel first, and I prefer to know the ending of a movie before I watch it.  My husband cannot understand the logic of this.  All I can say is, I love to know the end, because then I can really enjoy the story’s journey, and the twists and turns to the conclusion.

Whenever I am exposed or required to experience something new, it is imperative that I know the steps involved, in detail. I don’t like to be caught off guard.  I like to be prepared.

The last thing I can think of is my love for tasting food while it’s cooking.  I taste it a lot…because I am impatient.  I want to have an inkling of how good it is BEFORE it’s completely done.  Then I can make adjustments.  My daughter in law doesn’t like this at all.  I once tried tasting one of her dishes she was cooking for me, and after seeing the look on her face, I never did that again.  She does not like anyone sampling her creation before it is complete.

You might ask where this is all leading.

As these personal traits came to light one by one, I picked up on a lesson to be learned.

What I found is this.  For me, it is extremely important to know what is ahead for me.  When I am sure of the outcome, my spirit is calmed, and I can focus on my day to day experiences.  As long as I know my destination, I can enjoy the journey, and make adjustments as I go.

I already know my true destination.

What is ahead for me, and for all of my brothers and sisters in Christ, is an eternity with our Heavenly Father.  There will be colors that we have never seen, music we’ve never heard, beauty and love that we cannot even imagine.  Because I know this to be true…I know the “end of the story”.  I can rest assured that each day brings to my life a new opportunity to grow and learn to love in a deeper way.  My Father’s love is so amazing, that even though I stumble and fall, He is always there to guide my path, and help me to make the changes and adjustments necessary for my growth.

I trust that no matter how the road twists and turns, it will always lead me to Him. 

Jesus has offered His life as a gift for us.  He is holding that gift out for us to open, and once we accept it, we will always be sure of our destination.  After knowing the intense love of Jesus, wrapped in light and love, I pray that we never attempt to cover that perfect light with the false wrappings of pride and rebellion.

I pray that we allow the light of Christ to shine so brightly in our hearts that it spills out to a world in need.

 

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.   John 3:16

But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him.  1 Corinthians 2:9