Faith, family

O Christmas Tree: {Life In The Midst of Winter}

I read somewhere recently that the evergreen tree was an ancient symbol of life in the midst of winter.  I don’t know if this is a true statement or not, but I would definately say that it is true for my life in this season.

My husband and I have been walking a difficult winter season of unemployment.  It’s going on three years now.  Although there have been jobs in between, and the occasional call back from the prior boss, my husband remains unemployed.  Needless to say, Christmas is going to be a little different for us this year.

One of the things we were missing is the annual cutting down of our Christmas Tree. Although we have only been doing this as a family for about four years, It broke my heart to have to tell my children that we would not be cutting down a tree this year, and that there was the possibility of not having a tree at all.

But a few weeks ago, my family received an unexpected gift that is making a huge impact on my heart.  In the mail, I received a check from a woman who I have never met in real life, but whose heart is intertwined with mine in so many ways.  The check was to be used to purchase a tree for my family.  I could barely speak.  I was amazed at the very tangible display of God’s love towards me.  I cried, I laughed, I shouted for joy.  The best part of all was telling my children how God had provided our tree this year.

Life, in the midst of winter.

Last night, we finally purchased our tree.  We did not trek up the mountain as in prior years.  We opted instead to visit our local Home Depot.

My kids enjoyed running from tree to tree, pointing out the ones they liked.  The varying opinions were wearing my patience and I was ready to go home.  Not having quite agreed on a tree yet, we opted to unravel a tree that was not yet on display and lo and behold, we found it!

I have been pondering this tree, this gift from the Lord to our family.  The tree itself is about 3-4 feet smaller (and thinner) than we normally get.  My first impression was of how much smaller it was, but really, it couldn’t be more perfect.  This season I have been focusing on the simplicity of Jesus, what it truly means to fix my eyes on Him, and this simple and humble tree had a few lessons for my heart wrapped up in its leaves of evergreen.

As we hung our ornaments on the tree, I was reminded that only in Christ is my hope and joy secure.

We could not fit the usual large ornaments on the tree, nor did we feel the large bows I used last year would do this little, humble tree justice.  So we unpacked the smallest of ornaments, from snowflakes to stars to candy canes.  My favorites are the ones that display the handiwork of my children.

This little tree with it’s lights so bright is helping to remind me that the light of Christ shines brighter than the darkness.  He came to bring light to hopeless situations.  He came so that the Father’s glory might be displayed on earth.

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.He is light, and in Him there is no darkness.
(1 John 1:5)

This light of Christ weaved it’s way into our house this Christmas. Through it, I am reminded that there is indeed life in the midst of winter, because His light shines brighter.

Thank you Jesus that you came.  Thank you for the gift of friendship.  Thank you for the gift of a tree.  Thank you that there is life in the midst of winter.

May Your light shine, for all the world to see!

For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.  (2 Corinthians 4:6)

Faith

Surviving Unemployment: {Guest Post}

© tatigreat – Fotolia.com

 

Hello friends.  If you’ve been around here for any length of time, you will know that I’ve walked alongside my husband through unemployment off and on over the last four years. We are still walking this journey and I’ve learned a lot of things, a few of which I’ve shared over at Rosann’s place, Unemployed Faith.  Here’s a little teaser:

I am the wife of a man who has been unemployed more often than not over the last 4 years. I wish I could say it hasn’t changed me. But it has. I wish I could say that I’ve always kept the faith. But there were times when I had lost my hope. I wish I could say that I am more prepared for “the next time” should it happen again. But I am still learning to walk this long, and often lonely road.

I don’t have any fancy words of faith and inspiration, no bright light to share that’s gotten us through this season unscathed. We are different. It’s been a long, hard journey. But despite the valley, we know that God is good. We know that He never leaves our side. We know that He will bring us through as we continue to walk forward together, putting our trust in Him. Our situation rocked us to the core, but in Christ we put our hope, for without Him there is no hope.

Has your life been impacted directly by unemployment? I trust my very raw and honest post will encourage you.  Would you stop over to Rosann’s and read the rest of my post?  I’d love to get your thoughts.

Faith

What truly matters

I’m not saying this because I need anything, for I have learned how to be content in any circumstance. I know the experience of being in need and of having more than enough; I have learned the secret to being content in any and every circumstance, whether full or hungry or whether having plenty or being poor.
(Phil. 4:11-12 CEB)

I‘ve been crunching numbers lately, to see how it is all going to work out — gifts to buy, food to purchase, bills to pay.  No matter how much I try to not allow my thoughts to go to the place of dissatisfaction, I find myself here.  Lingering between contentment and want, between need and desire.  The reality is that in this hard season that we are in financially, some things just will not happen the way I had hoped.  And giving up the possibility of the little bit extra has been hard.  It is in my very nature to give.  And, there is a little part of me that still wants.  But I have to let go.

I wish I could say that I am totally resting in this place of lack.  I’m not.  It’s been difficult.  Most days, I just want the struggle to end.  I want to have the little extra at the end of each month to do the things we don’t normally get to do as a family, like take a vacation or go out to dinner, all six of us.

But sometimes it takes dredging through the hard places in our lives for our eyes to be opened to the things that truly matter.  All of these other things that my heart longs for, they are all good things. 

But are they necessary?

And why does my heart still grieve the things that will only bring momentary joy and fulfillment.

I want to learn to be content in my place of lack.  I want to fully identify with “I have learned the secret to being content in any and every circumstance.”  Oh my friends, I have such a long way to go.  Will you pray with me, that I will learn to be content here in this place, in this hard seasons of my life?  He has never left me.  I may not have all of the things that my heart yearns for, but I have the One Thing that my heart is truly crying out for.

Thank you, Father, for opening my eyes to the things that truly matter.

Grace gifts 401-410

401.  Katie has been healed!
402.  No more cancer for little Ansley!
403.  Four beautifully, healthy children.
404.  A husband who continues to amaze me by his strength in this hard season.
405.  This book from a friend.  I cannot wait to dive in.
406.  Only one day of work this week, then on vacation until January 2nd!
407.  The tension of life, and how it draws me closer to the Lord.
408.  Realizing all I have, even in this place of lack.
409.  My hope is built on nothing less, then Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
410.  He is my strength when I am weak, He is the pleasure that I seek, He is my all in all.

Did you find yourself humming along with me on the last two?

I am linking up with Ann at A Holy Experience today, where we are on a journey to 1000 gifts and beyond.  Will you visit this beautiful community of grace seekers?  I would love it if you left me a comment below and share one thing that truly matters in your life today.

family

Acts of Kindness

(Photo courtesy of Heart and Soul Reflections.)

The generous soul will be made rich,
and he who waters will also be watered himself.

(Proverbs 11:25)

I have shared openly and honestly on my blog over the last couple of months about the fact that we had to sell our home and move.  I never did it with the intention of receiving anything in return other than prayer.  So many have prayed us through and we are forever grateful.  I absolutely love my blogging community and am so thankful for the many friends I’ve made.  We praise God that we found a suitable rental home.  Moving has put a huge financial strain on an already strained bank account.  But God has been so very faithful to put our family on the hearts of people who have been able to step out and assist us when we least expected it. 

A couple of days after we moved,  I had to meet the realtor for the buyer and an appraiser over at our old house.  The appraiser was smitten with my 10-year old daughter who I took with me.  He kept asking her about school.  Kaylie was explaining that she had to go to a new school because she had to move.  The man was moved by our story and kept telling us how sorry he was.  I assured him that we trusted God and that we believed He would take care of us.  To make a long story short, as they were leaving the appraiser said he wanted to give my daughter a “back-to school” gift.  He reached in his pocket and handed her a $20 bill.  I tried to tell him it wasn’t necessary, but he wouldn’t hear of it.  My daughter was so happy.  She told me she was going to buy a new pair of Vans and that mommy would only have to chip in a little bit.  As we were walking out the door, the appraiser asked the realtor if she had given Kaylie her back to school give yet.  She then reached in her pocket and handed Kaylie what I thought was a $10 bill.  But as I looked again, what I saw shocked me.  It was $100!  I asked Kaylie to give me the money and I followed the gal outside.  I told her that there must have been some mistake.  But she assured me that there was no mistake.  I asked Kaylie if I could take the $100 and buy groceries. She did not hesitate.  These were two people who we do not know other than the fact they were on the other side of our home sale.  I was completely blown away. 

This past Sunday in church, we had a family that we know gift us $100.  They told us they wanted to assist us with all the moving expenses we had incurred.  This again came at a time when our money had been pretty much depleted. Again, I was blown away. 

Today, after I shared my “Miscellany Monday” post, a fellow blogger contacted me to offer to assist me in getting some gently used uniforms for my children from a local used uniform closet.  I was so moved, as I was only able to buy 2 pair of pants and 2 shirts for each of my kids.  Again, God laid it on this person’s heart to help.

I am so thankful for a God who meets our needs exactly when we need them.  I posted a Facebook status today that said,

“I may not have everything that I want, but I always have everything that I need”.  
In this season of my life, I am truly beginning to see and understand that God takes care of every need.  He is always timely. I am realizing how very much He loves me and wants to take care of me.

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  (Matthew 6:26)
on Saturday our van broke down.  It’s going to take about $300-400 to get it repaired, but I have such great confidence now more than ever that God is going to provide.  He is faithful.  He does not continue to provide for me because I deserve it.  It’s who He is. 

He is the Faithful One. 
He is the Giver of all good things. 
He is Jehovah Jirah, My Provider.
  

I pray that God will look down from Heaven on those who have blessed us over the last few weeks and return to them 100 fold what they’ve given to us.  I pray that God would open up the flood gates of Heaven over them and rain down His blessings!  I cannot think you enough for your acts of kindness.  We are truly grateful.