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CourageWhat do you do in the face of adversity?  Do you run and hide, clench your fists, get upset, shut down or become discouraged?  I confess I’ve done all these when crushing circumstances, events and people rained down more than I could bear. For a while I couldn’t understand how my God, the one I submitted to again and again, could allow so many disappointments and pain all at once. I kept searching my heart and posing questions in prayer–Have I done something awful that I’m not even aware of to cause this?  Sometimes I would be shown what I needed to work through and that was the easy part because I could work on my own stuff. But the hard part was dealing with what others had done against me. I didn’t know how to handle the wisdom while the offenders showed no sign of repentance or responsibility. I had to ask in prayer so many times to please help me forgive because I knew I wouldn’t be able to on my own. I was assured that God was there to help but there were times the adversity was so intense that the only way to handle it all was to pray sorrowfully–sometimes for hours.

Eventually, I started to learn to be thankful even in the midst of the pain. I’d sing and give praises looking for anything small that I could be grateful for–A bird singing, a new bud on a rose bush or a summer rain storm.

There are many good biblical examples of a single person overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds, like Queen Esther, Daniel, and David, but when your story steps into that picture of odds stacked against you it’s not easy to walk through it all. We are told that God is with us though and that’s where the comfort comes from. His presence of peace is worth more than any human can offer. And, what or who can stand against the great I Am? That knowledge alone can make us courageous in the face of adversity.

“Sing to the Lord! For though I was poor and needy he rescued me from my oppressors.”  Jeremiah 20:13

 

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Have you ever read What Color is Your Parachute? It’s the book they recommend you read after high school or college to figure out how to get a job.

I hadn’t read it until recently I decided to pick it up at the library after being stumped as to why I was having difficulty finding more work projects.

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One of the chapters in the latest version talks about how Google is your new resume. So I naturally did a Google search on my name and found an article I had written just a year before saying the salvation prayer at a Joel Osteen event. I had forgotten I wrote it as a guest blogger on a friend’s blog. After reading the article I began thinking, uh, oh this is one of those things the book is talking about scrubbing.

My first instinct was to contact my friend and ask that he remove the article or at least take my name off it, but as I was brushing my teeth this morning a new thought came to me. What if that article shows the power of the cross and how it can change people’s lives? I could hide from it by asking that he remove it. But was the better response to keep it as a way to show how I’ve changed from a self-centered person focused on how people look to someone who is continually changing? Could it also reveal the beauty of how Christ, in his kindness, showed the reason why I was acting in that manner? We are told that he doesn’t leave us half finished but carries us all the way through. I decided that’s the better story and made a decision to keep it out there.

Matthew 10:26  says “Do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.”

So I guess it comes down to this. Will the person who is googling my name really believe 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. Or will I be judged as if I am still that old person? The chapter in the book I’m just starting to read is titled “You Need to Understand More Fully Who You Are” based on the author’s idea that rather than finding a job that you can change for you match a job to who you are. That sounds like a great plan and one we were told about in Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart…”

So I’m going to make a bold statement. Why not display some of the things you aren’t proud of doing before you became a Christian to show people how far you’ve come? It can be dangerous. People may mock you, scold you or make you an outcast but at least unbelievers will have a harder time using that word that keeps them away from us “hypocrites”.

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Cinderella Story

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Style photo

As an adult, I still like to play with paper dolls so here’s me cutting out outfits from fashion magazines and pretending like I’m 7 years old again.  It’s my Throwback Thursday Thing.

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Like most of the research I conducted earlier regarding the celebration of the twelve days of Christmas, after about the first few days into it the meanings of each day’s celebration tended to get a bit blurry until Epiphany.
For me, the days leading up to the end of the Christmas season included meeting with my sister and her two kids in Newport Beach and exchanging presents. They were visiting from out of town.  We ate pizza at a traditional looking Italian pizza parlor and navigated a shaky four seater bicycle down the boardwalk–her kids in the adult seats while we adults crammed into the kids’.
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As the normal work routine began the season seemed to get lost until today, traditionally called Epiphany, the best present I received was an answer to prayer in attracting like-minded people to my spontaneous writing group. Two new people showed up–one was producing a movie about two friends, one with a disability and in a wheel chair and the other pushing him on the 500 mile journey of the Camino de Santiago in Spain.  The other person quoted a verse from 1 Corinthians in her writing.  Then, I decided to get a late lunch after a staff meeting and ran into a writer that had previously attended the group.  I had lunch and good conversation with her and her friend.  This evening, I will read a new book about a California mission that I am going to start to help to promote.  So, I’m learning more about some of the history of the church, overall a great way to celebrate this last Holy day.
According to ChristianityToday.com, “Epiphany is the day the celebration of Christmas comes to an end…Epiphany commemorates the beginning of the proclamation of the gospel—Christ’s manifestation to the nations, as shown in three different events: the visit of the Magi, the baptism of Jesus, and the turning of water into wine.”

The article from ChristianityToday continues, “Following Jesus, we have been baptized into his death and resurrection. Whether we are called to martyrdom, or to prophetic witness, or simply to faithful living in the joys and sorrows of our daily lives, we live all of our days in the knowledge of our dignity, redeemed through Christ and united to God. We are part of the strange society of people whose world has been turned upside down, and we go out to witness to this topsy-turvy truth: “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us…”

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New Years Day is Day 7 of the 12 days of Christmas.

At our church’s New Years’s Eve service, we were told what the word of 2015 would be.  It was announced that the word was B-O-L-D Bold.  The content of the sermon included the two sides of God-the Lion and the Lamb and that the Lion side of His nature would appear more in the New Year.  What a surprise then, or was it,  to wake up on New Year’s Day with the front page of our local newspaper with this article about Pope Francis being the person of the year.  The word BOLD was prominently displayed in the title of the article.

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I got to thinking about what that word BOLD  means to me.  I pondered how sometimes people like to take each letter of a word and make additional meaning to it and came up with this expanded meaning for me.

B-BE

O-ONE WITH OUR

L-ORD

D-REAM, DO, DESIRE, DEVOTION, DONE

The word inspired me to start to take action to get things done on the dreams that I have desired for a long time. The desires that He put in me. After spending 2014 doing some major inner healing work, being very quiet and often times alone among the sheep, this new word encourages the Lion in me to step out in the accompaniment of our Lord and get things done. There’s all those dreams that have been brewing and all those items yet to be realized. It’s time now to do them. To roar, to stand up, to fight if needed to be all that the Lion and Lamb has promised all of us to be.

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On the Fourth day of Christmas my true love sent to me

Four Calling Birds

Three French Hens

Two Turtle Doves

and a Partridge in a Pear Tree.

On the Voice website (crivoice.org) the author of the Twelve Days of Christmas article, Dennis Bratcher, correlates the twelve days of Christmas song to biblical references.  On the fourth day of Christmas he states that the four calling birds are the “four gospels 1) Matthew , 2) Mark, 3)Luke, 4) John, which proclaim the Good News God’s reconciliation of the world to Himself in Jesus Christ.”

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It seems the twelve days of Christmas song and celebration has been a mostly Catholic celebration with many references to the song suggesting it was a secret way for children to learn the “tenets of their faith”. That myth has mostly been debunked but it appears the idea is still going strong even while the idea has been unfounded.

For Catholics, today is the day to celebrate Pope Sylvester 1. It appears that there is not that much information about him other than that he was a Bishop in Rome in 314.

The idea of what it means to be a saint has been on my mind lately.

I think traditionally what comes to mind when someone references a saint is the image of someone like Saint Sylvester who worked in the church in a high position and has since passed away.

But if you consider Jesus who walked the earth and was God himself and offered himself to us as a sacrifice so that we might know eternal life, maybe this verse reference may be one meaning that more closely fits,

“To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours” 1 Corinthians 1:2

May you call on our Lord Jesus Christ today and every day of the New Year and be like the saints.

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My internet search for the meaning behind a lot of the 12 days of Christmas after the Holy Innocents and up to the day of Epiphany seems to get blurry at best with different ideas and a lot of Catholic references that I don’t follow. So, I’m falling back on the Christmas Carol for inspiration.

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love sent to me
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree.

In the carol, the Five golden rings verse has a long pause once you get to the next days of the song. Perhaps then, this is an important pause in the celebration.

Previously I had read somewhere that the biblical meaning behind the number 5 was Grace and Gold seems to get a lot of references in the bible. Part of Revelation 21:21 states that …”the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass.” In Genesis 2:12 it says, “And the gold of that land is good…”Finally, the bible references the signet ring often in scripture. According to bible-history.com,

“The “signet ring,” also known as a “seal” comes from the Hebrew word “hotam” and the Greek word “sphragis” and was used universally in the ancient world. It was a portable instrument used much like we use a signature today, but much more important. They would seal or stamp a document, or the door of a house, or a tomb, etc. It was also an emblem of authority.”

So the three together could possibly be a very basic snapshot of what it means to follow Christ–He provides the grace for us to understand His promises, like streets of gold, and He even signs his promises with a signature.

Much to pause, and ponder about.

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