Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ready, PREPARE, Go!

“I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.” (Matthew 11:10)

The holiday season can become a time of hustle and bustle. There are a lot of things to prepare for as Christmas approaches. Like most Americans, I enjoy the thoughts of being with family and friends sharing meals, gifts and warm conversations. However, preparing for their company can become a bit overwhelming at times. If you are like me, you like to prepare a warm inviting house for others to feel welcome and comfortable in. This can come at a cost with feeling the pressure to clean house, decorate, and prepare delicious foods and having the perfect music to invite your much welcome company in. Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without someone to share and make memories with, right? Who are some of those people in your life? Is Jesus one of them?

Although, Christmas can be a joyful time preparing to be with family and friends, however for me, it is also a time to prepare my heart to reflect on, Jesus, the One who made my joy possible.  Without Him, I wouldn’t have these great people in my life or have the peace I have from day to day.  For me, it is not about being religious and needing to go through rituals to honor Him, but rather just meditate on what His ultimate gift of love has done for me throughout the year and how His blessings flow in my life because of His sacrifice. Preparing for Him to be honored comes easy for me, much easier than baking cookies or cleaning a house for company! Preparing myself daily for Jesus comes with ease because my thoughts are reflected on His blessings in my life,  which creates a heart of worship inside that I pray flows outward to the ones around me. My prayer is that it really does prepare the way for Jesus  to come through me and my words and actions to others.  John the Baptist knew His call and was determined to prepare for the coming King.  I want to be like John and prepare the way for Him too, but mostly for others who haven’t met Him yet to be introduced to Him through me.  In what ways this season are you preparing the way for Jesus to come? How are you preparing for others to meet Him through you?  Is it in practical, simple ways that not only speak to you, but to those around you? Prepare your heart and others today for the coming King who truly is the joy of this season! 

Below are some practical things you can do to prepare yourself for Jesus and others around you in real, relational ways :

1) Make a praise list of things God has done for you this year and add to it each day new blessings
2) Read scriptures relating to the coming Savior's birth(can be found in the Gospels)
3) Worship music helps reflect on God's glory and helps create a heart of worship
4) Do something kind for someone today that reflects God's heart towards them
5)** Make the choice to forgive someone whom you may have been offended by this season- this is the most powerful way to love Jesus!
-send an encouragement card
-take them to lunch
-invite them for coffee
-make or buy them a small gift
-give them a simple hug or a compliment
-simply offer your help this season in a practical way(babysit, go shopping for them, clean for them, etc.)
- donate time or money to an organization, serving at a homeless shelter or Salvation Army

There are tons of ways to reflect and prepare for Jesus's gift of love and pass it on to others this season. Below is a webiste with suggestions too and many more on the internet.

I pray you all have a very blessed Christmas as you prepare for the greatest joy you will ever have, Jesus!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Simple Holiday Warm Cranberry Punch

Hot Cranberry punch
 8 cups hot water,
1-1/2 cups sugar,
4 cups cranberry juice, add real cranberries for garnish
3/4 cup orange juice,
1/4 cup lemon juice,
 1/2 cup red-hot candies.
 Directions In a pot, combine water, sugar and juices; stir until sugar is dissolved. Add red-hots . Cover and cook until heated through.
Enjoy this great holiday treat!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Merry Christmas from the Blow Family....2010

Greetings Family and Friends,
     While browsing through Walmart back in October, I noticed that Christmas decorations were already on the shelves. It was weird seeing witches and ghosts alongside jolly old Santa Clause and Jesus. By the time I left the store, I felt like I needed therapy for having Holiday Schizophrenia . Thankfully I was able to get healed by a shot of Starbuck’s; it works every time! I recommend it to anyone!
     Well, the Blow family is now in the Land of Oz, Leavenworth, Kansas, to be exact. I keep thinking that I see Toto in my front yard, but it is just our old mutt, Gizmo, who could easily pass for him. As most of you know, Kayla moved to Illinois with her dad back in January for her senior year. It has been a challenge for me to have my oldest fly the nest, but I am happy to say she is doing well in school. She managed straight A’s since being there. We are proud of all she has overcome since moving. She also made the Varsity cheerleading team and attended her senior homecoming. She looked stunning after getting in shape! Her plans are to go to nursing school in Chicago. Of course, we miss her but are excited to see the next chapter in her life unfold.
     Justin, as usual, has adjusted well to his new surroundings. You can find him most days on a skateboard, playing basketball, or on the computer playing games. Recently, he started Karate and enjoys the discipline and challenges it has to offer. His aim is to be a black belt at some point, so we are happy that he has some goals to focus on.  Justin continues to get more handsome every year, but I am a little biased. LOL!
     Nathaniel attends pre-school 2 days out of the week. He uses his natural charm and chubby cheeks to win his classmates and teachers over. Nate loves to be the center of attention! He enjoys the normal rough and tumble boy things like guns, Batman and annoying his little sister, Ana, to no end. Believe me, Ana knows how to fight back and has given Nate a few wallops in return. Girl power!
     Anastasia is as beautiful as they come with her gorgeous blue eyes and blond hair. We like to call her “Curious Georgina” because she is always exploring things in the final frontier of the Blow house, taking her where no normal toddler should go! She is one sassy and persistent child and reminds me of the widow in the bible who badgers the judge until she gets her way. Trust me, she runs things around here!
     Craig is attending CGSC (Command and General Staff College) for the Army.  It is a leadership course to prepare Majors for high level staff positions. He is busy most days studying or writing papers but every now and again he sneaks in a day of golf. He didn’t have the chance to do that at all when we were in the California desert. Recently, he was in a golf tournament and his team placed 5th out of 3o teams. He came home telling me that he knows what he wants to be when he grows up—a professional golfer!  I won’t tell you my response. Needless to say, he hasn’t quit his day job just yet! Craig also applied for the School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS) Master’s program and is hoping to find out soon if he made the list. I am so proud of Craig, and he continues to be an inspiration to me daily with all he does as a soldier and keeping the balance of family too. I am truly blessed by this man!
     As for myself, I keep busy doing what I love the most—being a mother. I am still involved with PWOC and plan on teaching some Bible classes again this spring. I also write monthly devotionals for their International Website. I love writing on my own daily blog called “Fab Life- Army Wife.” Also, in January, I am excited to embark on a new blog with a friend to help encourage and inspire other women, called “Encourage. Empower.  Extend.”
     As you can see, we continue to be blessed with all that God has done for us throughout the year. We are reminded how faithful God is as He takes us from place to place as an Army family. We wish you all a great Holiday Season and blessings for the year ahead. May the New Year ahead bring you more blessings than you ever dreamed of, and may you continue to grow in the love of our Lord Jesus Christ!
Craig, Kimchi, Kayla, Justin, Nathaniel, Anastasia

Monday, December 6, 2010

What vehicle are you Driving.......Character or Emotions?

In order to be successful, you have to be willing to do things that unsuccessful people are not. It takes character that is not built on emotions in order to accomplish this.
Below is a list I read from John C. Maxwell’s book “Developing the Leader Within you” and I wanted to share some of his insights and wisdom with you as you start your week off. Today is "Make it happen Monday" so get out there and drive the right vehicle this week so you can get to your destination with success! Happy Monday:)

Character-Driven People
-          Do right, then feel Good
-          Are commitment driven
-          Make principle based decisions
-          Let action control attitude
-          Believe it, then see it
-          Create Momentum
-          Ask, “What are my responsibilities?”
-          Continue when problems arise
-          Are steady
-          Are leaders
Emotional Driven People
-Feel good, then do right
-Are convenience Driven
- Make popular decisions
-Let attitude control Actions
- See it then believe it
-Wait for momentum
-Ask, “What are my rights?”
-Quit when problems arise
-Are moody
-Are followers

Who are you? What changes can you make to become  better today? Is it time to change vehicles altogether or do you just need a tune up? Whatever the case, making a choice is the most powerful thing you can do to change the person you are today.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Are you A Fluffer?

Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10)
Are You a Fluffer?
Don’t you just love going into hotel rooms where they have the most elegant bedrooms. I am talking the kind  where the sheets are turned down, the mint is on the pillow and the pillows are nicely fluffed. Who doesn’t like a nice fluffed up pillow to relax them and give them peace from time to time?
Are you a” fluffer”? I mean someone who fluffs up people to keep the peace and make them feel good? In other words are you a people pleaser?  Recently, I was tested with this and God revealed to me that I was being a “fluffer.” At first, I tried to give the excuse I was using grace with the person but then after thinking about it He was right. I allowed my fear of man to rule in this relationship and so I performed to please this person, saying and agreeing with everything, but in my heart I was not being honest  and slowly resentment began to grow.  After many years of doing this, oneday it all came flooding out and the person was surprised- Yikes! Dangerous place to be because God calls us to truth and although most of the time I usually don’t have a problem with being upfront and honest(ask anyone who knows me-lol) for some reason this person had control over me because I was fearful of hurting the person. No excuse!
Needless to say the truth always comes out in the end . I am grateful for the reminder from God that pleasing Him in every circumstance is true peace, not the false peace and comfort I was creating in my heart.
God reminded me that love does cover a multitude of sin and grace abounds in love, but that also love comes in the form of truth too when gently given in the right timing and attitude. I am hoping I will come out of that sin of pleasing man because it never gets me anywhere but rather holds me back.
I don’t mind making people feel accepted around me or fluffing up their pillow from time to time in the RIGHT MANNER, but when it begins to challenge my integrity with God then it becomes an idol.
Are you a pleaser of man or God? Do you just tell people what they want to hear in order to avoid confrontation? If so, know that peace comes through Authority. When you are under the Authority of God’s word then peaces comes. If He is for you then who can be against you! Don’t buy into a false peace or become a fluffer because one day that pillow just might smack you back!

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Arena of Tough Love- Are You Knocked Out or Fighting For It?

We have all heard the term, “Tough Love.” What does it really mean? Or what does it look like played out in a relationship? It might look like having to show someone we love a firm hand of “love” in a way of possible saying some hard truths that they might need to hear to help them or standing firm on a matter that might lead to having to break off a relationship for a time until they get the help they need. Basically, holding them accountable.  Most people might disagree that this is not love, but what does God say about love and how does He sometimes show us “Tough Love?”
Love. People talk about it all the time but few really know what it really means. For some people, it is an emotion that comes and goes like the wind. When you think of it on those terms that can be a bit frightening, love should never cease to exist just because of how we feel.  Our emotions are not a something that we can trust because they are fleeting and go up and down in a matter of seconds. That is why we need something more to define it so it helps firmly plant us into a solid foundation, this is what God’s Word is for. The sad truth is we live in a world that operates just like this. People get married or have a relationship with someone and the moment that someone makes a mistake or gets hurt, they choose to walk away. No wonder we have so much divorce and broken people in the world. Noone knows how to truly love. You can find out if a person really loves you when you have walked out a trial with them that caused you both hurt and pain. Man, that can be an eye opener and you can be left disappointed because not everyone chooses to love unconditionally!
The Word of God clearly states to us what love is, however, even most Christians either are confused with it or choose not to walk in it. Quite simply, God is love. His Word is love and following His word is us showing our Love to God and to others.  It does not come in the form of feelings, being depleted by our emotions. It sounds simple, but unfortunately it can become complicated and difficult, but only because we choose not to be obedient to it. God defines love(1 Corinthians 13) as this:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Love never fails.
2 John 6 says, “And what this love consists in is this  that we live and walk in accordance with and  guided by His commandments(God’s Word) This is the commandment, as you have heard from the beginning, that you continue to walk in love. “ So, we simply follow God’s Word in order to love others and God.  Not only has God defined love for us but He has given us instructions on how to love. However, it is not always easy. Ask any human that and they will agree. It is the most powerful force on this earth and it can make you or if choose not to love or are not being loved, it can break you!
Now back to tough love. Sometimes we have to show loved ones what it is to love and it comes in the form of gracious discipline to holding people to God’s word. I know for some they can’t understand this. We have to walk that example out in our daily lives, forgiving people when they have wringed and continuing to still choose to love them no matter what.

 For example, out of God’s love, compassion  and mercy for the Israelites, He allowed them to wonder in the desert for years in their own misery and sin. He did this because eventually it caused them to cry out to Him  becoming desperate for Him again. They needed to be humbled and see that they needed change. He then began to restore them once their hearts were now ready to be loved by this awesome God.  In times past, I have had to show tough love by confronting some hard truths to some people. I did it in love(according to God’s Word) and my heart had a pure motive to help them. This is not always easy and it takes a LOT of prayer  and listening to God’s timing but in the end I knew God was asking me to. At first I was fearful of hurting them but by faith and obedience to what God was asking- I did it. These people were not willing to hear it at first and walked away from me for a time  but by faith I left it alone and hoped that God would change their hearts. Eventually,He did because He is always faithful. We have to trust Him.  But here is the thing; they did hear me in the end because they TOO  yielded to God’s word too and Love won in the end!  They  chose God’s love(His word) to help change them. It took some time but the “tough love” I gave them was really good love! Not everyone is willing to bow the knee to God’s love (His word). It takes maturity and a willingness to want to be changed. Change is never easy and sometimes hurts but if we really want to walk in the fullness of God’s love we must be willing to be obedient to it first.

Sometimes we fear in giving people this kind of love and it is not something we need to be doing everyday and again I stress it takes discerning and praying and waiting on God’s timing. I have not always gotten it right and have probably failed more times then I got it right. But that is okay because God’s love covers a multitude of sin.  Our lives are a long and tedious process of learning. We must be patient with ourselves and others.  In this day and age we need more “tough love” because people are not being held accountable to their actions. It takes someone loving someone to help them with a gentle but firm instruction.  But we if we are the ones to give out the “tough love” then we must be humble ourselves when we might have to receive it. I know I have appreciated the many times someone has loved me enough to show me my errors and corrected me in love. At first, I was not always open to receiving it either but I learned slowly that God’s love for me is awesome and it changes me.  I had to yield to His word but I found out when I am on my knees in humility that is the best place I can be!
Bottom line is loving people is tough even when you are having to give “tough love” but we must be willing to be committed to one another, helping and bearing up with one another and stick it out no matter how bad it gets. This is not easy! Ask me how I know? Never mind don’t because I could be here for days on it. I encourage you today to seek your hearts and ask the Lord if there is someone whom you may have chosen not to love for whatever reason. Did they make a mistake that at the time you were unwilling to forgive or did they do something to you that hurt you that maybe you chose to stop loving them for it? Or  did someone give you “tough love” and you haven’t been willing to receive it? Whatever the case choose love! There is still time! Put aside those hurts, pains, rights and the past and move into the arena of love where there are some knock outs from time to time but each time you get up you become tougher and you love stronger! Victory is always inevitable when you are in the arena of God’s love!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Redeemed Christimas Memories

What is it about childhood that makes Christmas seem like a magical time of year? Is it all those visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads? For me, childhood was a precious, innocent time that will always remain untouched from the reality of the world we live in today.   I enjoyed driving through neighborhoods with my family, seeing the bright holiday lights and manger scenes of Jesus.  Let’s not forget the Norman Rockwell moments where the relatives would gather around our warm fireplace, drink eggnog and laugh while the old episode of Charlie Brown and his wimpy Christmas tree played in the background. Midnight mass was the final “hoorah” before the jolly fat man in the red suit squeezed down the chimney bearing gifts.   December brings me back to many late Christmas Eve nights staring out the frosted window pane, whispering to my younger sister, “Do you see him yet?” Of course, I was referring to Santa Clause, not the recent boyfriend who might be declaring his love to me outside on our front lawn.  The anticipation of waiting to open up our gifts at times was more than I could bear and morning seemed an eternity away!  My sister and I would wait up all night to spot the famous Rudolph, but somehow we never caught a glimpse of that luminous snout in our neck of the woods.  We even tried leaving him reindeer treats, but we were left thinking they were not as delectably gourmet as the ones in Milan, Italy.
Life didn’t get much better for that na├»ve, brown-eyed girl who believed that joy only came once a year in the form of presents and man-made tradition. Thankfully, as God would have it, I have been redeemed from childhood fantasies, and I have replaced them with lasting joy in the form of a Savior who is willing to celebrate with me all year round, whether or not I get put on the naughty list! My honor for Jesus will not be limited to just an annual Christmas card but rather rejoiced daily.  The beautiful Christmas lights I saw as a child are now replaced with the joy lit in my heart as I celebrate the coming King who will one day take me as His bride to a wonderland far better than any Macy’s parade could ever display! Childhood memories have their significance in our lives, but the memory of a Savior born about 2000 years ago is one memory that will last throughout the generations, long after the Christmas trees are taken down and ornaments stored away.