Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Christmas Is...

As a child, I have always loved Christmas because it was such a magical time in our home.  My parents would always put up a tree (usually a live one), and it would be beautifully decorated with gorgeous ornaments, tinsel and lights.  My dad would decorate the outside of the house with lights, a blow up Santa on the porch, and the front porch posts wrapped with red ribbons to look like candy canes.  Momma would decorate the inside of the house and transform it into a virtual replica of the North Pole.  My momma and daddy would do everything that they could to make this the most special time of the year for us.

As I have grown, somehow Christmas still has that magical feel.  I decorate my own tree (an artificial one), and still try to transform the house into a small scale North Pole, but the magic goes farther than just the traditions and decorations.  It is about the Christmas mindset of Peace on Earth, Good Will To Men, and about God leaving His Heavenly throne to wrap himself in the flesh and sufferings of this world so God himself could live out the Human Experience.  In my mind, that just seems so amazingly impossible that only the one who created the Sun, Moon, and stars, could possibly desire to come to earth to live as us so that we would realize how much He loves us and cares for us.  As a romantic at heart, Christmas is the beginning of the ultimate love story where God  wraps himself up in the package of human flesh to give himself, his wisdom, and his life for us.  He did not come with pomp and circumstance, but in a lowly manger, with barnyard animals and shepherds as his welcoming party to this earth.  Only God, in his infinite creativity, could make one of the greatest events in human history such a  hidden obscure, yet peaceful event.

To me, Christmas demonstrates the lengths that God will go to in order to have a relationship with His creation.  It demonstrates his boundless love and willingness to show that he cares and understands our plight as human beings. It shows that sometimes the greatest blessings are those that are wrapped with love and understanding, and with just a little faith, the most amazing and outstanding things can happen.

Jennifer Meyers (C) 2010

Monday, November 29, 2010

Finding Healing

In my life, I have encountered several trials, and each trial can leave you limping if you let it. Some people are content to live their life limping, tethered to a cane or crutches. Some people grow hard and calloused and fight through the pain. Although this sounds noble, it just masks the fact that the person is injured, and makes the situation worse by aggrivating the injury. This person usually winds up bitter and jaded and so calloused that they are totally unaware of the severity of their wound and the cutting way that they treat the other people around them. Another way people deal with the pain they feel after a trial is by admitting that there is pain and choosing healing.

Healing is a choice. Surviving a trial does not equal healing. Just look at the people around you who are broken, beaten down, or bitter and jaded. If survival equaled healing, then once we went through the fire, we would all emerge as happy go lucky individuals. But, we don't because healing is a choice.

Sometimes healing hurts. Just ask anyone who has had surgery and they will tell you that the healing process is full of pain. Sometimes when we are healed, we must remove some things from our lives, like people, priorities, bad habits,the list could be anything. Giving up those things are difficult, and can be painful. In order to heal, those things may need to be removed, and yet we still have to choose to allow that healing to continue in our lives.

Healing takes time. It is so hard for me to be patient. When I am hurting, I want relief, and I want it now. Sometimes it takes a while to heal, and we must wait and continue to do as God asks and try to remain in his will. I believe this is why many people try to dull the pain by filling themselves with drugs, becoming a workaholic, relationships, anything to take the focus off of the pain that they feel.

Healing involves gaining wisdom and insight into your own life and into the lives of others. As you heal, you begin to see the offending party in a different way. I know I have often felt sorry for the person who hurt me so deeply, because I realized the pain and dissatisfaction that they had in their lives. When this happens, I can begin to forgive. The funny thing about forgiveness is that it gives you and the offender the opportunity to grow and find healing. I believe true healing always ends with forgiveness. The reason I believe this is until you forgive, you are chained to the offender. This is a constant reminder of the hurt and pain that person caused. In order to break those chains, you have to forgive.

Forgiveness does not mean that all of a sudden there is no harm or foul. It doesn't mean you have to invite them over for Sunday dinner and be best friends. It means you hold no charge against that person anymore. You are turning the revenge and the justice seeking over to God to handle and sort out.

Finding healing is a long, and sometimes painful process, but it is well worth the price that it costs you. Healing leaves you better than before you faced the hard time, because you have survived, and found inner strength in yourself and in your faith.

Jennifer Meyers (C) 2010

The Greatest Gift

The greatest gift that you can give or get is love.  True love can't be earned, only given to the undeserving.  It has no expectations, and no limits.  It gives without bounds and seeks out others before self.  It looks on the good, noble and just things, and forgives and guides the areas that falls short of those standards.  Maybe this is why the Bible says love never fails, because it continues to see the potential of mankind, and refuses to abandon hope that one day it will realize that full potential.

I honestly believe that love is the highest potential that man can wish to obtain.  To love others without preconceived conditions, labels, standards, is difficult, if not downright impossible at times, but that is what real love is.  It loves in spite of what a person is, does, or how difficult a situation.  I think it takes a stubborn persistence to do this, but real love is putting others first, even when you don't feel like it or when the other person does not deserve it.  Love that is earned or deserved is not love, because love is a gift.  Love is the ultimate investment, because you invest your heart and soul into another without promise of any return.

I believe that true love is the ultimate revelation of who God is.  When I look at my marriage to my dear husband, I see a man who loves me regardless of my mood, looks, what I do.  He just loves.  There is no way that I could ever earn that kind of unselfish giving of himself, yet he demonstrates that love in words, actions, and his attitude to me.  There is a grand security in that fact, because his love is not dependent upon my actions and being earned, I have a security in that love.  I have security because it has proven itself to me day after day for going on 6 years (4  1/2 years of marriage and a year and a half of dating), and remains unwavering.  And as a gift, it is mine to accept or reject--Love is totally dependent upon me to accept it, but that is all I have to do.

 I think God created love in this manner, because he knew love was not something we could ever earn this side of Heaven, and also because He knew that we needed something to bring about a feeling of stability and security in this life.  There is nothing more secure that having the love and acceptance of another, and being able to live out your life as you are without having to live as another person deems you should live.  I am not saying that we should not hold ourselves to certain standards, or that there is not some standard of morality--I am saying that love does not hold those things over your head as a prerequisite for being the recipient of love.

Love takes us warts and all, and if we allow, transforms us into better people, and in doing so makes us more loving to others.  My prayer for you is that your cup overflow with love, so much so that it can't help but spill out to everyone around you!

Trials of Life--Lessons Learned From the Fire

Everyone at some point in their lives will experience trials. You know, those icky moments where you wish that you could just crawl into a dark corner and hide until the storms of life pass over. Without those dark, dank moments of life, could we truly treasure the good stuff that God has provided for us? Would I really be the person I am, without those moments?

I have a theory that God showed me though a round of trials that my husband and I recently went through. The theory is this...You write your testimony in the hard times. It is easy to be a Christian when life is great and everything is nice and sunny, and everyone is playing fair. However, who we truly are in the depths of our soul oozes out when we go through the fire. It is in that moment that you must decide. What kind of testimony am I going to write for the story of my life?

In order to do that, you must honestly ask yourself, who do I want to be when this is all finally over? Wow, there are so many possibilities. Will I be bitter, or better? Will I be the victor or the victim? How we inwardly answer this question will decide what type of person you will become on the other side of the trial, and it will also dictate your attitude and actions through the trial.

I truly believe that Satan wants us to be bitter victims in this world. He wants us to have a martyr's complex where we share with the world just how badly we've been treated. He wants a battered and bruised Christian who is too weak to stand and be counted for in the Kingdom's work. We all know people like this, because the world is full of them...hopeless, defeated, crushed and confused by the Deceiver's lies that we will not over-come. Truth be known, I can be found in those ranks from time to time. 

Once we become the walking wounded, it is easy for Satan to cause us to seek revenge. Here is where my personal disclaimer must be said, first and foremost, I am human. When I am wronged, I want justice. I want to get even. However, I have learned that God is much better at handling this than I am (Romans 12:19-21). However, knowing this fact does not make forgiveness or even giving up my right for revenge any easier. But, I must confess things work out much better when I allow him to be in charge of all of it all; even when it doesn’t make sense in my all too worldly mind.

The other path that we can take is to totally trust God. This means trusting in Him for our healing, the renewal of our mind, and whatever else it may be that we need. The transformation does not occur overnight, it is a process; and sometimes the healing hurts because we have to deal with bitterness, painful memories and anger that have been tucked away in a calloused heart. When we allow God to move in our lives, as he needs to, we are transformed into what God truly wants us to be. We write the testimony of an over-comer, with a faithful and loving God who does what he says he will do. 

Romans 12:2 

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” NIV