Christmas Presence

For Ashley, a post from Christmas past…


“Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me,” Psalm 51:11 NKJV

Many people who celebrate Christmas and even some who don’t find themselves rushing around with too much to do and too little time to do it this time of year. A few are stressing over hosting duties. Others have parties they must attend. Still, more are in a frenzied search to find the perfect gift. If retailers had their way, we would all be enticed to buy more presents!

However, I challenge you to breathe a little and focus instead on God’s presence.

God is ever waiting for us to come before Him, worship, talk with Him, and listen to what He would say.

If some of us would only slow down, we could enjoy the goodness of God instead of falling into the trap of running ragged to meet the expectations of others. If only we put that much effort into pleasing God.

 If you want to truly embrace the reason for the season, come into God’s presence. Slow down. Sit down. Bow down. Allow God to enter in your spirit and your space.

Christ’s birth and death provides us not only salvation but also the privilege to connect with God without the need for a mediator, high priest or intercessor. Jesus Christ left and ascended so that the Holy Spirit could be available to us. Such a perfect gift our Savior gave us, yet we often fail to “enter in” and appreciate the comfort and peace only He can provide.

The pursuit of things and our attempts to please others can often leave us with little time for God if we aren’t careful.

So, if you are in a continual state of chaos this holiday season, I implore you to run toward His presence. God can calm, refresh and restore. Allow Him to dictate your Christmas season and prompt you to be a blessing instead of constantly stressing.

Choose to end this year seeking God with a renewed passion. Allow each gleaming light to remind you of His Light. The best gifts can’t be placed under a tree. Only God can provide peace, joy, and unconditional love.

May you be overcome by God’s presence this Christmas season.

“You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore,”
Psalm 16:11 NKJV

“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,”
Acts 3:19  NKJV

Mary’s Christmas!

As many of us gear up for the “holiday” season I think it’s important that we take time and reflect upon all the fuss we find at every turn. We are bombarded with sales ads, incentives to buy more, more, more and media outlets doing their very best to push the notion that if we don’t participate we are indeed missing out.

The Virgin Mary found favor with God yet her Christmas was one without the trappings of luxury and hoopla we find marketed today. Mary even had to endure some things as she was favored by God.

Mary was pregnant before her marriage to Joseph. I’m pretty confident she had to endure the scandal and gossip of her peers in that day. She probably received the same stares and crazed looks anyone in this day would receive if making a claim of Immaculate Conception.

Mary birthed our Savior in less than ideal surroundings. I can’t think of many women, myself included, who would relish the fact of laboring in a stable. Some thought the King of kings would be born in a lavish inn and greeted with fanfare yet it was instead a “silent night.”

Later still, Mary would bear the responsibility of actually mothering the Son of God. Talk about pressure! I can only imagine what that did to her relationship with Joseph and their family dynamics. Not only was she responsible for Jesus the child but she eventually watched Him die an agonizing death. If she was so favored by God shouldn’t her life have been easier?

Favor from God doesn’t always manifest itself as we think it would. The Bible doesn’t promise an easy life of happiness and bliss. In fact, it assures us there will be trials.

We are often looking for a “fix” to our situations and may presume that God isn’t listening or that we have somehow “failed” when things don’t go as expected. Many people believe that if they are doing everything “right” in their lives, as best they can, they will be carefree and have no worries.

Mary endured much even as she was “favored” by God. She was blessed to be the mother of our Savior but that blessing wasn’t necessarily an easy path for her. And like Mary, we too must handle situations we don’t fully understand and possibly never will but God IS with us!

So, as the holiday lights sparkle and dazzle, remember that Christmas began without elaborate decor or grandeur, no widespread celebrations or multitudes of gifts. These things don’t define Christmas.

“Christmas” began in the most humble of places, with two people obedient to God and His presence upon them. Like Mary, that’s all we need.

“And having come in, the angel said to her, ‘Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” Luke 1:28 NKJV

Merry Christmas!

Wait For It…

“But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary,They shall walk and not faint”  Isaiah 40:31 NKJV

As I was in the yard today, a beautiful hawk flew overhead. The first time it flew over me I was in such awe I forgot I had a camera hanging around my neck. I told God how beautiful it was and He sent it back to me not once but twice!

Usually when I hear hawks, I must search for them to get the shot.

But I didn’t have to do that today.

It came to me.

This was a great reminder that sometimes the things we long for, pray for and even struggle for, God will send to us.

We don’t always have to chase them!

I’m very much a work hard and earn it kind of gal. I try to instill that ethic into my teenagers. Yet, sometimes I can become so blinded by the work mentality, I don’t give myself adequate room to receive God’s grace.

Today’s hawk reminded me we don’t earn the grace God gives us. He freely sends it our way. Sometimes we can become so fixated on a painful past we fail to envision the new thing God is trying to give us!

I have managed to provide my kids with the things they need. However, I also enjoy surprising my kids with the things they want. This is especially true when they work hard or give something their all.

I don’t know why is it often so hard to grasp that our Father is willing to do the same for us as well? When we seek God, we please God. 

I’ve tried harder lately to seek God so I can see God all around me. This has not become a chore or a “to do” but rather treasured time that has given me more than I ever imagined.

So, two weeks ago when God gave me an unexpected gift, I embraced it.

I won a prize in a writing contest. I did not ask a million questions. I did not over think it. I just said “thank you.” The prize offered a solution to a dilemma I’d been pondering for nearly two years! My prize was a gift of favor and it was also a gift of encouragement.

Then last week God gave me another gift.

I’d lost something a while back and decided to just be grateful for all the other blessings in my life. I was determined not to focus on what I lost.

But God gave it back to me.



God offers a season of favor after a season of struggle. Just as spring follows winter, new life, new hopes and new opportunities follow our cold winters and harsh storms.

Yet, if we become accustomed to the struggle of the storm, especially a lengthy battle, we may fail to embrace the warmth that ushers in new life.

YLW DAISY 2 BLESSED DEVOTIONAL 2015   Our storms never displace the sun. It is the Son/sun that dries up our rain.

We’d all do well to abide sometimes instead of constantly strive.

Allow yourself that undeserved grace.

Fuel your faith like never before.

Wait and see what God brings to you…

Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you;
And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
Blessed are all those who wait for Him.

Isaiah 30:18 NKJV

Good Fruit!

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.  Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV

I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.  If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. John 15:4-6 NKJV

Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.  Hebrews 12:10 NKJV

Are you bearing good fruit?  BNWPHOTOCHAL BLSD 15


**Thanks so much for stopping by and checking out Day 2 of my Five for Five Black and White Photo Challenge. If you would like to participate you can find all of the details here.




Inner Peace

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus,” Philippians 4:6-7 NIV

 If you check out my sidebar, you’ll see I’ve been nominated for a few awards in the last several weeks. I’m going to accept these a bit differently than most so bear with me. You have been forewarned, there are acceptance speeches forthcoming!

Eric who blogs at Hunt for Truth nominated me for the Award for Love and Kindness this week. He also nominated me a while back for the Inner Peace Award. I’m not going to admit when, you’ll have to check out his site to find out. Let’s just say that one kind of slipped by me.

It is ironic that I was nominated for the Inner Peace Award because I hadn’t really felt inner peace for a long time until I began a number of writing projects last year including this blog. I was inspired to develop this site as a way to encourage others and in doing so I surprisingly encouraged myself.

I’ve always loved to write. Yet due to life, I wasn’t really in a position to pursue this passion. Last year, I decided to stop trying to control my life and surrender it instead. I made a conscious decision to be at peace with my present and not drive myself crazy trying to orchestrate my future.

Guess what? I’m much better for it. I’m not nearly as anxious, frustrated or disappointed.

Previously, I hadn’t met some personal goals due to other obligations. That left me dissatisfied, angry and bitter. Sad, I know. I was confident about my salvation but I needed to get a few things straight here on earth!

When I began to write again, I allowed God to take it over and me over. I began this blog as an act of faith. I knew zero about blogging.

This blog began slowly. Very…very… slowly. I’m an introvert. The very idea of commenting on someone’s site terrified me. Technology and I are not friends. WordPress widgets still drive me bonkers!

However, the bloggers I’ve met and responses received about faith and  other experiences have been such a blessing to me. Blogging and sharing with others actually helped me derive a sense of purpose I was missing. I definitely serve a purpose in other aspects of my life but this one is satisfying to me.

I think we are all restless until we discover the purpose God has planted in our hearts. Unless we explore the talents we have been given, I don’t think we can be at peace. I believe so many people are frustrated and miserable because they are not doing the things they were created to do!

If you feel like you’re missing something, why not search it out? My dream was deferred twenty years. Yet now, I know God is allowing me walk out my purpose in His timing.

I have inner peace first and foremost because I have God. Knowing Him means I don’t have to be anxious for anything. I have finally realized that I don’t have to control my life because… I can’t control it!

I can respond appropriately to the events in my life. I can pray for guidance and discernment in decisions I make. I can hear and obey to save myself a lot of headache.

I am not alone in anything I am forced to face in this life. God is with me. And with God, anything is possible.

And I find peace in that.


**And if you think I forgot, my nominees for the Inner Peace Award will appear in the next post!

I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends

This weekend I was extremely fortunate to attend a reunion with some extraordinary women all of which I met in college. It had been over a decade for many and in some instances more than two since I’d seen most of them.  Yet, our love for each other appears to have actually increased as the years have gone by. 

I believe we were all surprised at the overwhelming love and fellowship we felt as the years melted away, our memories awakened and the support we felt for one another renewed.

Our joy allowed us to laugh and sometimes cry as our affection surpassed the years we’d been apart.  Some of us have experienced exceptional losses. Others are in the midst of amazing blessings. No matter where each of us stands at this point in our lives, we encourage each other very much inspired by testimonies that celebrate gains and mourn losses.  Twenty five years after our first “meeting”  we have survived and even triumphed through the decades.

The speaker for our banquet was one of our own, an exceptional woman touched by God who is walking out the vision planted deeply within her. The Sister Accord by Sonia Jackson Myles is an example of how we are to love, celebrate and encourage one another. Sonia’s testimony spoke of overcoming fear and walking by faith into the future.

Sometimes, what we believe we need, God has already provided for usSomeone who will listen, empathize, support and even pray for us is often readily accessible and often more than willing if we would only open our eyes to the people who are gifts that lie untouched before us. 

We all need a little help from time to time. A hug, a kind word, the experience of someone who has “been there” can help us along life’s journey. Sometimes when we feel we can’t make it on our own, God has already provided people in our lives to help us. Unfortunately, we often don’t recognize the people we’ve been blessed with and fail to open the door and let them in!

I believe our reunion this weekend allowed us to not only reconnect based on memories of the past but also to bind us together for whatever the future may hold.

We were reminded of the love that connects us. The years have taught us that people are important and we can never take them for granted. We’ve lost some of our sisters through the years which makes those who remain all the more precious. We’ve learned since college what life really is and how valuable a gift friendship can be.  Like a special gift wrapped up so perfectly, you have to first tear through some paper, pry open the box and work around the packaging to get to the treasure that lies within. Sometimes the love and laughter you need is readily available if only you would dare to pick up the phone, shoot someone a text or even answer an email.  

God loves us for sure, yet sometimes He extends His love for us through other people.  

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another,” John 13:34-35 NKJV 

“[Let] love [be] without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. [Be] kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another,” Romans 12:9-10 NKJV 

***Happy Anniversary Pearls of Opulence!