Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Looking Ahead

Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
December 29, 2009

but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you. But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward. -Jeremiah 7:23-24 NIV

Time does not stand still. The transition from 2009 to 2010 marks the beginning of a new decade. This particular approaching New Year feels more reflective than usual. I’ve been looking back over the last 10 years. Perhaps you are doing the same, too

Anyone who has travelled knows how difficult it is to take heavy luggage. It is back-breaking and cumbersome. It gets in the way but if anyone is like me, I tend to “over-pack” because I am convinced I need everything. So at this time of year, I am wondering just how much “luggage” from years passed I will continue to carry with me as I step in the New Year? Questions I have been asking myself are,”Can I let things go? Can I just finally give it all up? And then I think, “What would Jesus have me do? The answer is always the same. Look to Him always. I am vowing to let Him take my ”luggage” or better said, to carry my burdens and hurts. Disappointments can linger overhead sometimes like a dark cloud. Not everyone treats or responds to us in the way we would like. Going into the New Year is an opportunity to make some changes. Seeking God to find our direction is far better than going solo. He has a Will for each of us. To waste time on things that can’t be changed is hurtful to us and to Him. He has a better way and a better use of our time. For all we know, this may be the year that God has a really big plan waiting for us and we need to ready for it.

So how do we release the things that weigh us down? We can’t change anybody but ourselves. I know that laughter is good medicine to our body and spirit. Respect is a symbol, a behavior that honors us and others when given and received. Discipline is necessary especially when it comes to filtering the words that flow from our mouth. Charity shared comes from a heart full of gratitude. True generosity and tender- heartedness are actions that only come from a pure heart. Giving unto others is biblical. If we are busy becoming more “God-like” in our every day actions, we simply will not have time to be burdened with the past.

When the clock strikes midnight and the New Year is upon us, it is like turning a page in a new book. The pages are blank. In no time the essence of our heart will spring forth and the pages in our book will write themselves, day by day. Each year that has passed is another year in our legacy. What changes to make? Choose to follow God. Declare His Blessings. Expect that our obedience to Him will cause blessings to shower down on all we set out to do. Be grateful for our days on this earth. Give God praise for letting us come this far and rejoice in all His goodness. We are able to meet the New Year with confidence knowing that we are blessed with God’s Divine Plan and purpose in our life. Happy New Year and Blessings to All!!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

Reflections by the Sea © BetsyOre Glass
December 24, 2009

As the sun goes down on a last minute, hectic sort of day in preparation and anticipation of Christmas, the stillness of Christmas Eve can be mesmerizing. Lighted decorations flicker on through the neighborhood at dusk. The grand music from Handel’s “Messiah” replaces “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer” on the radio. The reverence of this night begins to envelope us and the peace that follows comforts us. As the night sky unfolds, one by one, the stars above begin to twinkle overhead with an extra brilliance. I find myself looking to the east for that special star and wondering what it was like the night Jesus was born. The real meaning of Christmas can be found, not in the decorations, the expectation of Santa’s arrival or the presents under the tree. God’s gift to us was His Son, Jesus, who came to this world so that we may live, that through His sacrifice on the cross, we should have everlasting life. There is so much about Jesus to learn. So much He wants to teach us. For years we read the poem, “’Twas the Night Before Christmas “ to our children on Christmas Eve. How I look back now and wish that we had focused more on the Birth of Jesus than we did the arrival of Santa Claus. Perhaps it is not too late to start a new tradition by adding the story of the Birth of Jesus to our Christmas Eve ritual.

Just to remind us again how it all began, here is the story of the birth of Jesus, as told by Luke.

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. –Luke 2:1-20 NIV
Merry Christmas to each of you and God’s Blessings to all, especially those troops that are serving our country away from the comforts of family and home.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Best Gifts

Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
December 16, 2009

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. -Galatians 5:22

It’s the week before Christmas and all through the house are Christmas lists, presents to be wrapped and last minute items to shop for. Oh, the busyness of it all! The hustle and bustle of the holidays is in full swing. At least, that is how it used to be for us. When our children were little and grandparents were able to travel, it was a large festive time with everyone enjoying overall abundance, prosperity, sharing plans for the future and sharing gifts from under the tree. Now, things are just different. Everyone is spread out. Not everyone who wants to travel can, gift giving has been pared down and the abundance of Christmas is no longer measured in material things, but in health, gratitude and joy…as it should be.

The Bible talks of the fruits of the spirit in today’s scripture. I believe God is impressing on my spirit that while material things are nice to give and receive at this time of year, there are greater gifts awaiting us. If Christmas is truly about Jesus then the gifts that are the most important are those that Jesus lived by that are mentioned in the scripture: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Oh how our homes and extended families, our friendships and the workplace would benefit so much if we all practiced these virtues. I think we could start with just picking one of these to focus on. To have joy in our heart. To find peace within and share it. To have patience with ourselves and those around us. To show kindness and to be good to those that are hardest to love. To be faithful to our families and relationships. Offering a gentle touch and a kind word when we can to all. Above all exercising self-control with our actions, behavior and words spoken. We can’t wait for everyone around us to treat us this way. It begins with us. All I have to do to be motivated to live with the fruits of the spirit as my compass is to think of the people whose countenance and personalities I am drawn to. And they are the ones that take time, love unconditionally, forgive easily, laugh heartily and in all they do God’s Light shines for all to see. I want to be one of those people. I believe that it is true that what we give will be given back to us. The biblical law of reaping what you sow.

Some gifts can be wrapped with bows and set under the tree, but the fruits of the spirit are a reflection of God’s heart and Jesus’ life and they are available to us. If you had a fruit tree and it didn’t bear any fruit year after year, you would certainly get rid of it and replace it with one that was fruitful and productive. Many of us are not bearing fruit right now. And that doesn’t reflect the goodness of God and it speaks poorly of us. Today I will consider it a blessing to be given this roadmap for living, loving and being. Thank you God for these gifts!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

“I Believe”

Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
December 08, 2009

Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."-Matthew 19:26 NIV

This past week I went to a Christmas Street Fair. The weather cooperated with bone chilling temperatures, so gloves, hats and coats were the dress for the day. Jingle bells were ringing and people were of good cheer as they went from store to store to see what special holiday gifts were waiting to be taken home.

In one spot, I noticed a lot of children had gathered around so my curiosity piqued. Young ladies were dressed in green and red outfits wearing festive sock elf hats. They were helping the young children of all ages to write letters to Santa. Parents stood back with cameras and coached their youngsters to smile, but they were too intent and serious about writing this very important letter to look up. Once finished, the elves placed Christmas stamps on the letters and walked the children inside to the post office to a special letter box marked only for North Pole letters. The excitement and joy was so sweet to observe. Then I got an idea. I walked over to one of the sweet elves and asked if anybody could write a letter to Santa or if it was just for the little ones. My question took her back a second and then she said, “Absolutely yes, anybody can participate”. On my unlined crisp white paper and pen attached to a clipboard, I squeezed myself into a child’s wooden school desk outside the post office and went to work on my letter. Realizing I was taking up a valuable seat and the line was growing, I decided to be quick and brief. I simply wrote, “I Believe”. I was giddy. With an envelope and stamp handed to m by the elves I wrote the address carefully, “Santa Claus, The North Pole”. I walked into the post office and put my letter in the special box. There. It was done. I reaffirmed my faith in goodness, kindness, hope and above all, belief that all things are possible. For a brief moment my mind and heart returned to the magic of being 7 years old and it felt good!!

I do believe. I believe in the kindness of spirit that Santa Claus represents which is the good in each of us. I believe in the desire to love, make others happy and make things happen to help others when it is in our power and ability to do so. In this tainted world of greed and selfishness with morals and values slipping away, we have to believe that there is still goodness to give and receive.

If it weren’t for my Father in Heaven that believes in me, then I would not be able to believe in anything at all. It is from His Strength and Promises that I can believe in miracles, hope, restoration, reconciliation, provision and more. Even when our circumstances say “don’t believe”, that is all the more reason to believe for more! When all hope seems lost and finances or health dwindle or family or friends seem like they are lost spiritually, we can still believe. I have personally been in situations when it looked hopeless and all of a sudden out of the ashes came life. New Beginnings. Second Chances. Renewal. Healing, Restoration and Miracles. Don’t give up on yourself or anyone else this Christmas.

Just Believe.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Christmas Spirit

Reflections by the Sea © Betsy Ore Glass
December 03, 2009

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. –Proverbs 3:3 NIV

There will be many tree lightings across the area this weekend. Communities come together to decorate tress, have parades and sing carols. And in our own homes, decorations and trees are being put up too. White lights, colored lights, red bows, garland and shiny ornaments. Jingle bells ring and Christmas music plays as we go in and out of stores this time of year. School pageants, church music programs and gatherings with friends fill the time and add to the cheer of the season. It seems that the Christmas Spirit is alive. But then I have heard several people say they weren’t going to bother with putting up a Christmas tree. Admitting the same thing myself, I was wondering what was holding me back this year. Sometimes dragging out all the boxes of decorations and ornaments seems like too much work just for the two of us. Then I reasoned that the new puppy will no doubt be fascinated with the tree and give up chewing my shoes and go straight for the tree instead. It appears that even my older dog needs a little Christmas spirit because he hid behind the chair when I brought out his red holiday sweater! Then there are all those ornaments that the kids made over the years. Hoping to package them up and send to them for their trees, they want me to keep them instead. And then I am feeling guilty for wanting to retire that old artificial tree my husband bought too many years ago in favor of a fresh one with wide limbs for our “vintage” decorations. (Everything is so old now; I do believe it qualifies for the term “vintage”!) So I think what it boils down to is that I don’t want to look back anymore. So I am looking forward to the future instead, knowing that my best days are still ahead of me and not behind me.

The Christmas Spirit is slowly beginning to take me over and hopefully soon I will be in full swing. There is a quote that says, “Remember, if Christmas isn't found in your heart, you won't find it under a tree." I guess I never thought of it that way before but it rings true.

The same tried and true Christmas movies that are on TV that I have loved every year are playing again this season too. The iPod is ready to go with all the Christmas music that we enjoy from Handel’s Messiah to Mannheim Steamroller and a bit of Andy Williams crooning for good measure. Am hoping to stay busy enough these next weeks to keep the emotions at bay that come with changes in our family this year. I know I am not by myself. Many people are struggling with losses and difficulties of all kinds. Times change and it is evident especially at Christmastime. I

 am struck that the Christmas spirit doesn’t just happen. It won’t converge upon us like a morning fog. Either we have it or we don’t. The Christmas spirit is the result of the pure good heart that lives within. Christmas is love and thanksgiving for God sending us His Only Son. It comes from a heart that loves no matter what, that forgive everyone and everything, that helps others move ahead, that lends a helping hand, and one that makes someone’s way a little easier. The more we do for others, the more we will be filled with the Christmas Spirit ourselves. It is said that, “It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air. “