Saturday, December 31, 2016

at the end of the year...

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ." Ephesians 1:3

Thanking God for blessings of the past, and for the blessings to come.

Happy New Year!



we are loved and chosen by God,
veneal

Monday, December 26, 2016

a Mighty Word ~ rest

"Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

Even though the official CHRISTmas day is over, it proclaims an event worthy of daily celebration.  Thank You, Father!

Taking some time off to continue celebrating with family and friends and to rest in Him.

we are loved and chosen by God,
veneal

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry CHRISTmas!

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

Merry CHRISTmas!

we are greatly loved and chosen by God,
veneal

Saturday, December 24, 2016

away in a manger...

"…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.”  Luke 2:6-7
The manger scene sings of love, joy, peace, forgiveness, kindness, Truth, hope, fulfillment.  

Yet, we easily get sucked in and wrapped up into "our" preparations and expectations of CHRISTmas being so much more... setting us up for frustration, sadness, exhaustion and disappointment. What we add to CHRISTmas has the potential to take away our joy.

Father, may it not be! I want to meet You at the manger first.  May there always be room in my heart for You. There is no where we can go nor nothing we can do or say on our own that compares to the glorious gift of eternal life -- made possible only by the sacrifice of Your Son, Jesus, for the forgiveness of our sins. Thank You.

Keeping room in our heart for Him, fills us with His Peace.

Merry CHRISTmas!
we are greatly loved and chosen by God, 
veneal

Friday, December 23, 2016

do you hear what I hear?

"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." Luke 2:6-12
 
He didn't like CHRISTmas, and why should he?  He had never had a tree nor presents -- there were no good memories.  All he knew about CHRISTmas was what the world told him and what he saw around him.  So when asked to write about CHRISTmas memories, he couldn't.  Sensing his emptiness, Mrs. Wesley told him about CHRISTmas, the true CHRISTmas.  He had never heard it, but now he has... and hope is possible where there once was darkness.

If you are stressed, disheartened, discouraged,maybe you need to hear the real CHRISTmas story, again.  Escape the make believe and usher in Truth and Peace -- then we can celebrate no matter what the circumstances.  
 
For God gave His Son for us to have eternal life... isn't that enough?  If we need to give anything to others, may it be the sharing of Him.

"Hark" the herald angels sings. Glory to the newborn King,

Peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled;

Joyful all ye nations rise, Join the triumph of the skies;

With angelic host proclaim, Christ is born in Bethlehem,

Hark! The herald angels sing, Glory to the newborn King!

May your CHRISTmas be filled with love, joy, peace, laughter, and mostly with Him!

we are loved and chosen by God,
veneal

Thursday, December 22, 2016

a Mighty Word ~ believe

"I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation... I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:12-13

Having a hectic day?  Remember the true reason for CHIRSTmas.
Believing in Him makes CHRISTmas and every day better.  

we are loved and chosen by God,
veneal

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

you better watch out!

"Be self-controlled and alert.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." 1 Peter 5:8

He is out there just waiting to steal your joy!  Has he succeeded with you?  This has to be one of the deceiver's favorite and most successful times of year.  Just look around you or in the mirror.  Many are in a festive-frantic hurry, scribbling to-do-lists one after the other.  Some are dreading the "holy-days" due to illness, loss of income or separation from loved ones.
I pray for you, especially now.  We still have a choice on how we feel about CHRISTmas.  I pray you stop each day and find a few quiet moments to remember the reason for the season.  Remember the gift that can't be topped, the one that you can share or "re-gift" yet also keep... the incredible gift of eternal salvation... thank you Jesus!

So, say a pray to our Father, listen to some wondrous CHRISTmas music, read His Word... or just stop, and take a breath of thanks.  May your attitude be one of gratitude.   Just don't feed that lion!!

we are loved and chosen by God,
veneal

Thursday, December 15, 2016

have you heard?

As many leave school for CHRISTmas Holy-day, i pray you are filled with the love, joy, and peace our Father intends for you.  If you need a little help, try putting the melody of songs below in your heart. And speaking of heart, know you are in mine…. but more importantly His.

You better watch out
You better not cry
Better not pout
I'm telling you why
Jesus Christ is all around.

He's making a list
And checking it twice;
Gonna find out Who's naughty and nice
Jesus Christ is all around.

He sees you when you're sleeping
He knows when you're awake
He knows if you've been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!

O! You better watch out!
You better not cry
Better not pout
I'm telling you why
Jesus Christ is all around.

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests." Luke 2:14

Do you hear what i hear?  Good News can be found!
Angels we have heard on high exclaim, " Jesus is coming to town!"
Come all ye faithful, be filled with His joy and love,
A silent, holy night will then give you His Peace from above.

Deck the halls, we have reason to shout!
Christ the LORD has risen! let there be no doubt.
Oh, Christmas tree, oh, Christmas tree, your beauty i see,
is about celebrating what Jesus did for you and me.

So, you better not cry, you better not pout,
Hark! the herald angels still sing it out,
"Joy to the world, the Lord has come!"
Have yourself a merry 'lil Christmas... each and every one!


have a joy-filled day and a glorious Merry CHRISTmas!

Happily His and grateful to be your sister-in-Christ, veneal

the most wanted gifts

"We love because He first loved us." 1 John 4:19

Best gift of the season?  Be the gift.  Care and love others through your words and actions.  It's the gift they will remember.
Father, You demonstrate best how to love others.  May we  reflect Your image during the CHRISTmas season and every day.

we are loved and chosen by God,
love, JOY and peace to you,
veneal

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

come ye faithful...

"Against ALL hope Abraham in hope believed... 

he was strengthen in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised.... The words "it was credited to him" were written NOT for him alone, but ALSO FOR US to whom God will credit righteousness -- for us who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.  He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to LIFE for our justification." Romans 5:18-25

Shopping, gatherings, cooking, meetings, unexpected requests, bumps in the road, etc. Not sure which direction to head? Don't let your hope and JOY of the season get squashed. Have the faith of Abraham and believe Jesus, and your joy for CHRISTmas will overflow to many!


we are loved and chosen by God,

veneal

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

you deserve a break


"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your heart and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7

Set up for students, our JOY overflowed when teachers dropped in for a quiet moment with us too.  Nestled next to a "roaring" fire and twinkling lights, they allowed the quiet peace to provide a needed moment of sweet relief.

Don't let the busyness of the season demands leave you drained and depleted.

Stop... rest... refuel.
Be filled with the delight of the season and Him.

we are loved and chosen by God,
veneal

Monday, December 12, 2016

there's a song in the air!

"The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17

Thank You, Father, for your mighty love and song for me.
Now here's one for You...

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah!

we are loved and chosen by God, 
veneal

Friday, December 9, 2016

strung out?

"Share with God's people who are in need.  Practice hospitality."  Romans 12:13


Burned out, loose fuses, or strung up too tight,
Does this describe you or the Christmas tree lights?
The economy is erratic and the future's a fright,
But relax and trust Jesus, YOU will be all right.

With our money dwindling and many around in need,
I pray the true meaning of Christmas guide our deeds.
Reassessing our habits and priorities we must heed,

And seek out the homeless, hungry and hopeless... do you agree?

What would our Savior do at a time such as this?
Would He hoard His riches and hide our want lists?
You know He wouldn't, so why should we,
Let us give to others and follow His lead.


we are loved and chosen by God,
veneal

Thursday, December 8, 2016

a Mighty Word ~ names

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders.  And He will be called
Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God,
Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace."  Isaiah 9:6 

When we know Him by all these names, we are blessed indeed!

we are loved and chosen by God,
veneal

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

caution! robberies in progress

"What has happened to all your joy?..." Galatains 4:15


There is a thief lurching outside your door, wanting to rob you.  How do I know?  Because I have already had a nasty battle with him. 

Practically chewed up and swallowed by a monster storm of dismay, disappointment, and despair, it was a close call. Lost values, sickness, accidents, careless decisions and other issues threaten to dismantle and shred the JOY and HOPE of CHRISTmas. 
  
Then it hit me, like ice water in the face... WAKE UP.  Satan, the great deceiver, was singing with delight.  He was out to steal my joy, and doing a great job of it. Tossing out stumbling blocks, he had me tripping over them left and right.

But back off! I'm reclaiming my joy.  You will NOT defeat me during this glorious CHRISTmas season.  I can't control the circumstances around me, but i can control how they affect me.  If the disciples could withstand jailing, beatings, persecution and crucifixion and keep their joy, surely i can rise above my woes and aches to remain joyful in Him.  So, let's slam that back door to defeat and throw open the front door to celebration.  

Father, to You be the glory today and forever more! Your immense love for us is reason enough to be JOYous.  Thank You.

we are loved and chosen by God,
veneal

a Mighty Word ~ JOY

The angel said... "Don't be afraid!  I am here with Good News... which will bring JOY to ALL the people.  This very day... your Savior was born -- Christ, the Lord!" Luke 2:10-11


What does the angel need to remind you of today?  Not to be afraid, or not to be:

sad

worried
angry
doubtful
upset 
uptight
anxious
aggravated
stressed
jealous
pouty
??

The JOY of the Good News is still true... and it's for you and me!
Thank You, Jesus!

we are loved and chosen by God,
veneal

Monday, December 5, 2016

what i want most...

"But the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.  You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus'...
'How will this be,' Mary asked, 'since I am a virgin?'
The angel answered... 'nothing is impossible with God.'
'I am the Lord's servant,' Mary answered.  'May it be to me as you have said.'"  Luke 1:29-31, 34, 37-38

Faith - believing God for the good, even in the face of adversity.

Now, talking about faith… Mary had it.  

Father, that's what i want most.  I want to be filled with faith like Mary's.

we are loved and chosen by God,
veneal

Friday, December 2, 2016

what are you building?

"There is a time for everything... a time to tear down and a time to build."Ecclesiastes 3:1,3
 
Like the students' CHRISTmas trees, life is put together in steps...piece-by-piece, day-by-day. What might first appear messy or questionable, in time, could portray a picture of joy.

If you don't like or can't build on what happened yesterday, maybe you should take time to reconsider whether to push on, tear down or just wait. A decision is only too late or wrong, if you totally give up and don't pursue what you believe is right.

Today is a new day and another chance to let God move and shine through you.  What will you do with it? 

Before you decide, check with God; He's the Master Builder of everything and makes all things beautiful in its time. He knows what He is doing.

we are loved and chosen by God,
veneal

Thursday, December 1, 2016

prayers for the Smokies

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable.” Isaiah 40:28

When the fires raged on the West coast it bothered us, but our feelings did not linger after the newscast.  But seeing and smelling similar fires in our backyard, the significance and sadness of it is personal, overwhelming and ongoing. With heartache as heavy at the smoke, we grieve the loss of human and wild life, homes, businesses and scenic beauty.
Most all of us have spent time in the Smokies, enjoying the breathtaking view and cherishing memories  with family or friends in places now damaged or destroyed.  Living through a tragedy is different than just reading about it.  We are affected to varying degrees of sadness to difficult events/times based on our experiences, but God is not.  His compassion and understanding is great and unwavering in any and all circumstances for all His children.

You have taken account of my wanderings; put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book?

May we draw comfort knowing God is Omnipotent, Omniscient and Omnipresent. He who is everywhere, knows all and it all powerful is personally affected by whatever touches us. 

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Praying and believing His Word now and forever for the Smokies and for all of us.


we are loved and chosen by God,
veneal

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

need a buddy?

"Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another." 1 John 4:11

Sometimes life is tough, scary or lonely. As hard as it is for adults, it's even worse for children. Concerned about the sad faces on students left out of activities on the playground, our P.E. department discovered a wonderful solution... buddy benches. 
Sitting on these benches signal they want to talk, walk or play with others.  And it's working.  Maybe buddy benches should be placed all over the country for big and small children.

Sometimes we just need a little nudge in life. Father, open our eyes and heart to the needs of others. 

What a friend we have in Jesus, and what a friend we have in each other.

we are loved and chosen by God,
veneal

Monday, November 28, 2016

a Mighty Word ~ healer

"He will have no fear of bad news, his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD." Psalm 112:7
 
All around family and friends are struggling with health issues. Front and center on my CHRISTmas tree i've placed an important, timely reminder.  God is our Healer. He who spoke a world into existence can do anything.  

I'm sitting in front of my CHRISTmas tree every night and thanking God for what He has already done and for what He is going to do.  Want to come sit with me?

we are loved and chosen by God,
veneal

a recount is needed

"give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Last week i requested a recount... a recount of our blessings.  Usually when asked to share our blessings, we rattle off the obvious --  family, friends, God, Jesus, a home, heat, delicious food, etc.  The good ones are easy to name, but what about the painful ones?

Around our Thanksgiving table this year i placed a candy cane. No, i didn't mix up the seasons because it wasn't your ordinary candy cane.  It was a Sour Patch Kids candy cane.  Smacking their lips, the children eagerly shared how the candy is different when i asked. At first it's sour, then sweet... just like some of our blessings. 

For me, several sour blessings pop to mind.  A dream career shattered by harsh undue abuse, fear and intimation, left me broken and in deep grief. But, in time the sweetness and comfort of  an unshakable  relationship with Jesus rose and drew me into a sharing ministry of the Salt Shakers.  Another bitter blessing is the loss of my Mother.  But, it turned into unexpected, sweet joy as i uncovered a new passion, to live daily in a way to honor her.  Then there was the scary blessing of a brain tumor.  But, how comforting and sweet the blessing of peace in accepting whatever happens it will be okay. My life line now, "I got up today so it's a good day; but the day i don't get up, it's going to be even a better day! Thanks to Jesus!"

Why don't you take a moment to recount your blessings, by including the hard ones. God's promises to us are true, including the one of working all things to the good to those who love Him.  As a child of God let's also share with others our sour blessings now turned sweet. It may encourage someone to hold on and trust God's perfect time and way.  There is sweetness in store for them too.  Keep looking up, there is more to our story; only He knows the ending.  But this i know, we can rest assure it will be a sweet one.

we are loved and chosen by God,
veneal

Thursday, November 24, 2016

save room for Him

"... be filled with the Spirit." Ephesians 5:18

Happy Thanksgiving!  May your plates overflow with turkey, dressing, cream potatoes, green beans, yams, all the other delicious dishes of the day. And after the pumpkin pie, save some room for Him.  He's the perfect end to any celebration!  Actually, He's the perfect addition at the beginning and middle too!

we are loved and chosen by God,
veneal

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

my imperfect Thanksgiving table

"Give thanks to the Lord, for His is good. His love endures forever." Psalm 136:1

My Thanksgiving table dilemma... 12 to eat, BUT only 8 seats.  The simple solution, use 2 tables.  BUT how could i without making some feel second class or like leftovers? After brooding a few days, a friend suggested, "extend your table". BUT with no natural extensions, creativity was necessary.  My husband cut, glued and screwed pieces of plywood to one of his old work tables, then slid slats underneath it.  Whoa-la! a 7 ft. square table, perfect for seating 12. 
BUT, i had no tablecloth wide enough to cover up the homemade, pieced-together table. BUT with several layers of cloths, i finally covered up the imperfect top. Excited and now in the mood, i proceeded to set the table, 12 matching plates -- BUT then that was it! The hodge-podge table display included 11 matching glasses and another; silverware from 2 patterns; 8 chairs and 2 sets of different chairs.  Oddly, it reminded me of my guests.


Underneath our smiles, we sometimes mask hurt, pain and disappointments we've endured.  YET, thanks to God, we are covered in His love and healing occurs.   We are individuals with different ideas, goals and wants. YET, we are united as family; and together we are like a painted masterpiece by the Creator... set in this world to let His light shine through our various gifts and talents so others may taste and see the LORD is good.

Imperfect table, imperfect people. YET, with a perfect God we are covered in His grace and mercy and love.  We truly have an abundance to be thankful for!  Thank You, Father!

we are loved and chosen by God,
veneal

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

an important follow up and Correction...

Last week i shared a service opportunity, Holiday Mail for Heroes, to reach out and embrace our military during the holidays.  A friend informed me yesterday that program is discontinued, BUT take heart!  She also shared with me the local Red Cross will still deliver cards to the military service people.  Please see her information below:


Just to let you know that I checked in to this program for my school. This national program has been discontinued but the local Red Cross will still deliver cards to the military service people.


Cards would need to be sent to: American Red Cross of the Upstate, 940 Grove Rd., Greenville, SC 29605


They need to be delivered to that office by Dec. 9th
Thank you, Denise, for checking, doing, sharing and informing!  Let's start spreading the holiday cheer!
we are loved and chosen by God, 
veneal

do you have a book?

"Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name." Psalm 100:4
Like these students, may your book be filled with thanks to God for His goodness.  If we count our blessings instead of our disappoints, how much more of His Peace will also be ours.

we are loved and chosen by God,
veneal

Monday, November 21, 2016

broken? give thanks, you're covered


"Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed...
Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised." Romans 4:18, 20-21

Shattered dreams, we've all had them. And no matter how we finagle or struggle to fit the pieces back together like we want, it usually doesn't happen. Broken dreams come in many shapes and sizes, sometimes they occur rarely and sometimes in clusters, sometimes we sense it and sometimes we are blindsided. However it happens, it still hurts and can feel more like a feverish nightmare than just a broken dream. Are you facing any brokenness today?

job uncertainty
financial turbulence
torn relationships
challenging children
aging parents
insensitive spouse
demanding leader
false accusations
physical limitations
sickness
emotional stress
death
worldly pressure

Whatever is going on... we can still be thankful. In faith, we can trust God will see us through each hardship and trial. We only have to look back and see God's continuous fingerprints on our lives to remember what He has already done for us. Our strength and peace will be restored knowing He will continue to sustain us.

As God picks up all the pieces of our broken dreams and rearranges them, let's keep believing and knowing He has the power and desire to bring goodness into our lives.

God works all things to the good to those who love Him.
 
I am thankful for You, Jesus
we are loved and chosen by God,
 veneal

Friday, November 18, 2016

it's in the mail!

"Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people..." Galatians 6:10

Another day closer to Thanksgiving and another day of thanks.  Today my heart's moved by a child's drawing and a comment read.  While many of us are blessed to live close to loved ones, some are not.
(I am thankful for the Army)

For teachers interested in stirring up compassion, here's an idea.  Have students write holiday cards to soldiers recovering in military hospitals, service members stationed throughout the States or abroad, veterans and their families.  The Red Cross and Pitney Bowes sponsor a special program, "Holiday Mail for Heroes", and distribute the holiday cards.  Cards should be addressed to:
Holiday Mail for Heroes
PO Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD
20791-5456


Thank you, for giving and for serving.

we are loved and chosen by God,
veneal 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

it's not too early...


"Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you..." 3 John 1:2


Thanksgiving is a week away, but it's never too early to give thanks.  Today i'm thanking God for you, my sisters and brothers in Christ.  You encourage, inspire, strengthen and delight me.  I love doing life with you!

we are loved and chosen by God,
veneal

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

no where to hide

"The Lord watches over you— the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night." Psalm 121:5-6

Did you see it?  As promised by all reports, the supermoon was full, big and beautiful.  Not a tree or cloud could hide it long from our eyes.  I know of something else unable to hide... you and me.
God sees our every move. But, unlike the moon it isn't because of our size we are unable to hide. God sees us because of the size of His heart and His enormous love for us.  No matter where we go, what we do, His loving, watchful eyes follow. 
 
Thank You, Father, for your unfailing, unconditional love.  Because of Your watch, i smile today and rejoice in hope for tomorrow.

we are loved and chosen by God,
veneal