Christmas Change

A couple of weeks ago, I became aware of a community of people called Christmas Change. The basic premise is this:

Give more and spend less.

The idea is to take a percentage of the money you would normally spend on buying gifts for those who have much and give it to those who need. I know that I complain sometimes about how much money I don’t make and that I wished I made more but in all reality, I have everything I need.

This year when my mother asked my sister and I to make our Christmas wish list (mine is a combo Birthday/Christmas since my Birthday is this Thursday), I couldn’t really think of much that I needed or wanted. Sure, new clothes would be great. Or a new laptop. I do need an external hard drive with all the music and pictures I have that I want to back up. My list is short. Much shorter than years past.

Then of course there is the difficulty of trying to buy for my parents. Mom wants a new rain coat so Sister and I are going to make that purchase. Sister has a looooooong list of books and CDs that she would like. Dad on the other hand is much harder to buy for. He’s the person who will buy for himself when he has the money. So the other day I asked him what he wanted for Christmas. His response was what I was expecting – a gift card to Home Depot. Or…. I could make a donation to a Veteran’s charity in his name.

This year, I think I will leave the Home Depot gift cards to Sister and Mom…

THEN yesterday during service, one of the women at our church brought before our church the “giving tree.” We have done it in the past. The concept is simple but profound. The MSPCC (Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) asks parents and children what the child needs/wants for Christmas. Then, the MSPCC will give those names to people who will put up a Christmas tree and decorate it with ornaments with the child’s name, age and Christmas wish. Next, those who take a name will purchase one of the items or all of the items for this child, bring it back to the tree (wrapped of course!) and whomever is in charge of the tree will deliver the gifts to the MSPCC so that they can be delivered to the child in time for Christmas.

Angel, I hope you like the warm clothes you’ll be getting!

Now, I am not posting this to make me feel better about myself or to bring recognition to ME but to bring to light the idea of Christmas Change to more people in hopes that more people will jump on the idea. I know that my friend and Sister in the Lord, Heather, and her husband, Andy, are getting together with his family and pooling together some money to bring to the Ronald McDonald House in Boston, MA. Their niece has cancer and has been receiving treatment at the Boston Children’s Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House has done much for the family. (They even put Heather and Andy up at during their honeymoon when they cut it short to be with the family.)

Here is a short video from Christmas Change with the basic idea:

Christmas Change from Kujilana on Vimeo.

We may not always agree with what the government does in this country but we have much to be thankful and grateful for. The least many of us can do is use some of the money that would normally be spent on gifts that will be quickly forgotten by January 31 and give it to others who are in need.

Abundant Blessings,

Jen

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Oh Autumn Must You Leave So Soon?

Yesterday I went to the Quabbin Reservoir, which is about 30 minutes away from where I live. Where the reservoir is now, there used to be about 4 or 5 towns that they flooded. It is off of Rte 9 in Belchertown, MA. The picture above was taken at Quabbin around 3:30 yesterday afternoon. I took many more but this was probably my favorite. I wanted to get the mountains, water, rocks and red berries all in one shot. I’m actually really happy with this shot. I wanted to share this though because I normally don’t post too much of my own photography.
This was probably the only day that I had to get out and take some pictures before all of the beautiful reds and oranges and yellows leave us for white and gray.
I hope you have a wonderful day,
Blessings,
Jen

The God Who Covers Me – Treasured Study #1

This first post is about being “covered” and becoming clean through the blood of Christ. Hebrews 9:11-14 (NIV) says:

When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here (are to come), he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once of all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

 Hebrews 10:16-18 (NIV) goes on to say:

“This is the covenant I will make with them
after that time, says the Lord.
I will put my laws in their hearts,
and I will write them on their minds.”


Then he adds:


Their sins and lawless acts
I will remember no more.”


And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.

There are two questions asked for this section:

  • Think back to where and when you first received forgiveness and became “covered” and clean in Christ. Who was present with you? What was the setting? what artifact or keepsake reminds you of God’s covering for your sin?

     I think the first time I first received forgiveness and became “covered” and clean in Christ was when I first started going to church. I had been going to for a few weeks to CLF and my Pastor preached one of his rare salvation messages. I don’t remember exactly what was said, but I do know that that day I felt the peace of God come over me and I realized that I had been forgiven for all that I had done in the past. There were many tears then and since then.

    • What are some things you’ve used to conceal your shortcomings, and how has God replaced those fig leaves?

    I’ve used humor to conceal my shortcomings and God is still working on me about that. I am very self-deprecating and will make fun of myself – being the shortest of all of my friends, my height is always up for grabs. One of the first words I received from God was that I needed to stop picking on myself. Yeah… I’m working on it. I desperately need God’s help in this situation because I know that it is something that I need to stop.

    Lord, Thank You for the work You have already done in my life and that You are continuing to do in my life. God, I pray that I can see myself the way You and all my friends see me. I thank You for the people you have placed in my life to encourage me and see me through on this walk with You.

    Blessings,
    Jen

      Treasured – A Review and New Posts to Come

      In Monday’s post, I mentioned that I was reading the new book by Leigh McLeroy, Treasured. I just finished reading it and I absolutely loved it. Instead of trying (poorly) to describe what this book is about, here is what is on the back of the book:

      Cigar boxes. Refrigerator doors. Scrapbooks and sock drawers and top shelves. These are the places we store our treasures – the keepsakes that tell the story of whom and what we’ve loved, how we’ve lived, and what matters most to us.
      God is a collector, too, whose treasures are tucked securely into the pages of His book: a golden bell here, an olive leaf there, a scarlet thread, a blood-stained cloth, a few grains of barley. Each of these saved artifacts reveals a facet of His heart and tells the story of a Father whose most precious possession is… us.
      In Treasured, Leigh McLeroy considers tangible reminders of God’s active presence and guides us in discovering evidence in our own lives of His attentive love.

      Talk about a great concept for a book! I really did love the idea of asking the question of “If God had a cigar box/treasure box/etc. where He could keep His treasures, what would He keep?” So simple. It definitely tugged at my heart strings. It has also convicted me a little in how I’ve been lately. I’ve been quiet here and quiet in my walk with God. I’m questioning what I’m supposed to do. I’ve been condemning myself this week because I don’t read enough, don’t pray enough, I have a difficult time fasting (body is just not conditioned for it). But that is for another post.

      At that end of Treasured, there is a “Personal Reflection and Group Discussion Guide” section. I am using it for a series of posts on the blog. There are 12 parts that correspond to 12 chapters in the book. Each part will be a different post. Here are the 12 different sections:

      1. The God Who Covers Me
      2. The God of New Beginnings
      3. The God Who Sees
      4. The God Who Provides
      5. The God with a Bigger Plan
      6. The God Who Defeats Death
      7. The God of Show and Tell
      8. The God Who Includes
      9. The God Who Speaks
      10. The God Who Gleans Joy From Sorrow
      11. The God of the Little Guy
      12. The God Who Writes on Hearts

      I will post on “The God Who Covers Me” in the next day or so. This weekend is going to be a little busy – we have Pioneer Valley House of Prayer tomorrow night, Bible study and fellowship on Saturday as well as my daddy’s birthday (he’s turning 60 on Saturday). So, hopefully, I can spend some time somewhere in there to post.

      Until then,
      Blessings,
      Jen

      P.S. I recommend picking up Treasured and also, if you have read Leigh’s other books but you don’t get her weekly emails called Wednesday Words, I would suggest going here and signing up for them. Great insights but I all around enjoy anything that Leigh writes so I’m biased.

      {Disclaimer: I am not getting paid for this post, I just really enjoyed the book and want others to also read and enjoy this book as well.}

      Thankful Thankful

      holy experience
      It’s been a little while since I’ve posted on a Multitude Monday post. I noticed though that this week, the things/people/etc. that I am thankful for, aren’t always the happy, joyous ocassions.

      15. Cleansing tears and the comforting touch of a friend.
      16. The tight squeeze of little hands around your neck.
      17. A sleeping baby in your arms.
      18. The overwhelming presence of God that causes the cleansing tears.
      19. The heartache and praise to God of a single woman.
      20. Knowing that God has you right where He needs you to be.
      21. A church that really just isn’t a church, but a family.

      This weekend was an emotional, God-filled weekend. Although, all my days should be God-filled, I know that there are days when the stuff of this world take over. This is probably the reason why I constantly tote a Bible around with me, even if I might not get to read more than one or two verses, if at all.

      Lately, I’ve also been reading a book, Treasured: Knowing God by the Things He Keeps. It is by Leigh McLeroy. Leigh has written a few other books, one titled The Beautiful Ache, which is probably one of my favorites. I absolutely love how she takes situations in the natural and brings them all to the same conclusion – we all search out these temporal things and ideals when really, they all lead to a desire for a relationship with God. This new book, Treasured, is based on what God would keep if He had a trunk or an old cigar box that he kept treasured items in and what that would say about Him. What could we glean from that? It’s pretty awesome, I think.

      I’ve also been attempting to teach myself to crochet. My mom has tried to teach me in the past without success. I think it is partly to do with the fact that I am the only lefty in my immediate family. I was going to attempt a hat as my first project but I decided on a scarf to be my first attempt. It is easier to work in a straight line then in the round. So far so good. I’ll post a picture when I am done with the scarf.

      Blessings,
      Jen

      Revelation

      For the last year or so, we have been doing a Bible study with the 20 and 30 somethings. We are going through a packet that was given to us by our pastor called “God’s Man in the Sons of God.” It was written in the 1960s by Bill Britton. It is a study on the book of Revelation. The size of our Bible study fluctuates every week by who can make it based on their schedules. Regardless of who shows up we always have great discussions.

      Currently, we are working on going through the letters written to the seven churches. Yesterday we started with the church at Ephesus. The church at Ephesus has the most promise. Revelation 2:2,3 says

      “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary.” (NKJV)

      They did good works. They were knowledgeable about the Word. They probably had great worship too. They even had discernment about those who spoke falsely in the Name of Jesus. However, verse 4 goes on to say,

      “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” (NKJV)

      The word, love, used in this verse is #26 in the Strongs Greek for agape which means, “love, that is, affection or benevolence; specifically (plural) a love feast: – (feast of) charity, dear, love.” It derives from the Greek word, agapaō, which is also the same word Paul uses in Ephesians 5:25 when he instructs men as husbands to love their wives just as Christ loves the Church.

      Verses 5 through 7 go on to say,

      Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent. But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
      He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God. (NKJV)

      When John described the church at Ephesus, he is describing many churches out there today. Their pastor is knowledgeable about the Bible, they are Spirit filled, they have great discernment about those who come into their churches, they have many programs for different groups (singles, womens, mens, marrieds, kids, etc), etc. However, their love for each other, their love for God has become more of an obligation than something that brings them joy, happiness.

      One of the examples someone used was when we feel God prompting us and we act out of obligation, as a way to check something off our “Christian checklist” then we are no longer doing for Christ out of love. When we are doing works or we are not doing those works with joy, then we have left our first love. It makes sense when you put it in the same context that Paul does when he is writing his letter to the Ephesians. When a man and woman are married, they do things for one another, even something they do not like to do, because they know it will help them out and they do it with joy and love because of this fact.

      It is something that I have been considering since our Bible study yesterday… Something to pray about…

      For now, I am off to bed. It has been a long weekend but filled with good things.

      “Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.” – Deut. 28:6

      Jen

      My Goals for this Year

      My friend in real life, Danielle, blogs over at TREESLIKEGIANTS, and her post this morning was about her addiction to lists (her words). I like lists myself. However, sometimes I feel like I need them written down EVERYWHERE for them to be useful for me. I must admit, for someone who loves facebook and my blog, I also LOVE writing in a journal with pen and paper. (Preferably blue ink, too.)

      In her post for today, she blogged about her new monthly list. I think its a great idea and probably better than my idea back at the beginning of the year for a goal list for the WHOLE year. Here is my Goals for 2009 list:

      1. Manage my time and money better. (I wasn’t so successful at this but I’m still working on it.)
      2. Become more focused in my studies – as of January, I had 3 courses left to take and I’m almost finished with one. (Completed. I graduated in May of this year Cum Laude!)
      3. Create that desire in myself to read His Word. I also need to learn a good method for myself when it comes to studying the Bible. (Still working on this.)
      4. Go to China! (this is becoming more and more of a reality for me.) (Yaay! I got to go and not with some resistance from my family. It was an amazing journey and I can not wait to go back.)
      5. Mail care packages to the 163rd Intelligence Battalion on a regular basis. (My cousin’s husband is the chaplain assigned to them.) (Did not complete this. My cousin’s husband is now back on US soil. He came home to Ft. Hood on Monday only to have to deal with yesterday’s tragedy.)
      6. Become more confident in Him. (This is something I am working on daily. I hope I never stop working on this.)
      7. Become more discerning about which situations are right for me to be bold in Him. (This past year I learned the art of keeping my mouth shut when it wasn’t necessary for me to speak so now, I need to learn how to notice when being bold is necessary.) (Again, this is a daily thing. I will continue to work on this.)
      8. Finish what I start. I always seem to have a problem finishing things – a book, a blog post, etc. I need to learn the art of the “follow through”, hence goal #5. (Daily thing. Always working on bettering myself. My current project is a scrapbook for my friends for their wedding present. Their wedding was in August and I am almost finished! I’m praying to complete it before Christmas. Lol.)

      I’m not sure what I will do about a Goals for 2009 list. We’ll see but go check out Danielle’s blog and tell I said Hi. 🙂

      Love you Danielle and miss you lots!

      Jen