Sunday, December 31, 2017

how was your 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, present and for the blessings to come.


Happy Year Past and Year to come! 


we are loved and chosen by God,
may we live like we believe it,
veneal

Saturday, December 30, 2017

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!

As we continue celebrating with family and friends, let's also take time to rest in Him.


we are loved and chosen by God,
may we live like we BELIEVE it,
veneal

Monday, December 25, 2017

a Mighty Word ~ thank

"But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ..." 2 Corinthians 2: 14-15a
 
Merry CHRISTmas!  How appropriate that our Weekly Word to Live By is THANK.   Today, i'm going to thank Him for all my senses, especially the sense of smell.  After all, the CHRISTmas season offers so many.  Since our memory and emotions are linked to our olfactory receptors which govern our sense of smell, no wonder that so many memories and emotions surface at CHRISTmas.

This week as we celebrate the birth of our Savior, may we diffuse "the aroma of Christ" in our homes and to everyone with whom we come in contact.  
I thank Him for this privilege and i thank Him for you! 

we are loved and chosen by God,
may we live like we believe it,
veneal

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 


...this is CHRISTmas. May we celebrate Him today and everyday!

we are loved and chosen by God,
may we live like we believe it,
veneal

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Silent Night, Holy Night


"... 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 2:7
   


No room in the inn... but may we always have room in our heart, for our Savior and Redeemer.  Thank You, Father!


Merry CHRISTmas!!


we are loved and chosen by God,
may we live like we believe it,
veneal

Friday, December 22, 2017

it's the Truth

"While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born... 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." Luke 2:6-14

He didn't like CHRISTmas, and why should he?  He had never had a tree, never had presents, and had no good memories of it.  All he knew about CHRISTmas was what the world told him and what he saw around him... things and ways that excluded him.  So when asked to write about CHRISTmas memories, he couldn't.  Seeing his discouragement, the teacher told him about CHRISTmas, the real CHRISTmas.  He had never heard it, but now he has... and hope is made possible where there  once was darkness. He now knows about the Truth, and it includes him.


If you are stressed out, disheartened, discouraged... then maybe you need to hear the story, the real CHRISTmas story, again too.  Let us escape from the make believe and usher in truth and peace.  Then we can celebrate no matter what the circumstance around us might be.  For God has given His Son for us to have eternal life... can that not be enough?  If we are to give anything to others, may it be the sharing of Him.
Father, in song and praise, we thank You for our Savior.


"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,
may we live like we believe it,
veneal

Thursday, December 21, 2017

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!
we are loved and chosen by God,
may we live like we believe it,
happily His and grateful to be your sister-in-Christ, veneal

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

do you have room?

"(Mary) wrapped (the baby) in cloths and placed Him in a manager, because there was no room for them in the inn.”  Luke 2:7
What about now?  Do you have room for Him? 

in  your heart
in  your day
in  your thoughts
in  your actions
in  your plans
in  your prayers
Don’t let Him get crowded out due to stress, busyness,commercialism, shopping and other added demands of the season. Keep Him at the top of your list. His Presence in us needs to be one of permanent residence at all times, especially now.  

Wrap Him securely and tightly in your heart and place Him actively in your life for all to witness.  Make room for Him in all you do and say, and the true joy and peace of the season will be yours and radiant out to others.  And what better gift to share than Him?  Jesus is the Gift that keeps on giving and giving and giving.


we are loved and chosen by God,
may we live like we believe it,
veneal

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

falling apart...

"It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees." Psalm 119:71

It was a great recycling plan, then the unexpected happened.  The Halloween pumpkins, transformed into turkeys and finally into Snow Santas. 
But my well-laid plan fell apart.  Due to circumstances beyond my control, frigid temperatures, sleet and rain, the snow Santas cracked, peeled and deteriorated.  I was crushed. My first instinct was to trash them, but then i decided to keep them as a reminder... life is not perfect, even at CHRISTmas. And that shouldn't change my grateful heart.
Father, each year i anticipate CHRISTmas with a joyful heart.  Some years all my wishes and plans are fulfilled and my heart overflows.  Yet, my greatest test of strength and faith occur in the years when unexpected events and heartaches threaten to chock the joy right out of me.  It's then i must stop and recall the initial reason for my Joy... it's not the gifts, gathering with friends or even family -- it's Jesus.  

Whether i'm experiencing easy joy or bittersweet joy, i am aware of my need for a Savior.  Getting through jolly times are easy, but getting through difficult times are powerful as i acknowledge how desperately i need You. So, today Father, i want to thank you for easy days, but more importantly, for difficult days because it's then i am keenly aware of Your Breath and Hand in my life. Whatever the day brings, as long as You are in it, there will be joy.  Thank You, for Jesus. Thank You, for eternal Joy and life because of Him.

we are loved and chosen by God,
may we live like we believe it,
veneal

Monday, December 18, 2017

a Mighty Word ~ exercise

"Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit." Galatians 5:25

When it comes to exercise, this time of year presents a double challenge.  More office parties, family feasts, and gatherings around goodies make it harder to exercise healthy eating habits. More errands to run, presents to wrap, functions to attend, and fewer hours of daylight make it harder to exercise our bodies.  Yet, the more we exercise self-control and move our bodies, the better we feel in the long run.  
My friends Linda and Dalene offer an EXERCISE challenge each day this week in Words to Live By (pages 73-78).  This is one i would like to add to my daily routine:  "Today, choose to be fit for the King by exercising your spiritual muscles. See how many steps you can take toward love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Keep in step with the Spirit and see how much better you feel at the end of the day!"

Please visit https://www.facebook.com/weeklywordstoliveby/ and post how you are meeting the challenge to exercise, physically or spiritually, this Christmas season.  Let's step it up for Him!

we are loved and chosen by God,
may we live like we believe it,
veneal

Friday, December 15, 2017

do you believe?

...“Are you the Messiahthe Son of the Blessed One?” Mark 14:61

I couldn't believe my ears.  With snowflakes as big as biscuits tumbling softly from the sky, the student asked, "Is that snow?"


Was she joking?  How could she question what was so obvious? 

But she isn't the only one.

The Bible tells us people doubted or dismissed Jesus as God's Son, even in the midst of His many miracles. How could they not believe?  Yet, even with our expanded knowledge and witnessing of miracles now, are we any wiser? During the best of times and the worst of times, we sometimes allow doubt of God's power and might to muddle our mind. Whether taking self credit for what's good or blaming God for what's bad, we err.  


Father, may i remember You are the Creator of all things from the precision of orbiting planets to the perfectly formed snowflakes, providing exactly what we need. Let my words and actions reflect my belief in You and Your Son.  Jesus is the greatest proof of all of Your love for us.  Thank You for the gift of Jesus.   


we are loved and chosen by God,
may we live like we BELIEVE it,
veneal

Thursday, December 14, 2017

when it's so ugly... remember

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28


The ugly Christmas sweater contest was fun and oh! so ugly.  Based on their wears, it was obvious all wanted to win. On any other day though, ugly is not something we strive for in our life.  Yet, life can hit us with some downright dirty and ugly moments...

ugly decisions
ugly relationships
ugly sickness
ugly remarks
ugly situations
ugly ways

BUT, for those who love God, no matter how ugly things get, we have His promise He will bring good out of all things. No doubt, this includes all kinds of ugly too.  His glory and power shines brighter and stronger in our darkest times, as He lifts, carries, strengthens and restores His Peace within us.

Thank You, Father, for loving us unconditionally, even with all the ugly that might surround us on any given day. The saving grace of Your Son is beautiful enough to dissipate all that's ugly and make our heart smile.

we are loved and chosen by God,
may we live like we believe it!
veneal

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

where is He??

"Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!" 2 Corinthians 9:15

"Where is he?! Have you seen him? Can you help us find him?!"

The kindergartners were on a mission and filled with excitement.  The gingerbread man had escaped their room; luckily he had left them a clue.  They followed the clue, only to find another clue.  And that clue led them to yet another clue.  On their quest, i noticed their spirits were not dampened by the continuous journey, and anticipation only mounted with each clue found.  They were determined, focused and stayed on his path. Much to their delight they were soon sweetly rewarded... the gingerbread man was recovered.
What have you been searching for this CHRISTmas? A special gift, unique gadget, five minutes of peace?  When we accepted Jesus as our Savior, we uncovered the greatest gift of all.  He never runs or hides from us.  But sadly, we sometimes run from Him or cover Him up with other pressing priorities of the season. 

My present to you is this reminder, you already possess the greatest gift on earth -- you have all you need. And here is your clue to the location. Jesus said, "You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with ALL your heart."  May you rediscover and renew this season the sweetest relationship of all.

So, let's say is again... Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

Know it, believe it, live it... be filled with Him always.

we are loved and chosen by God,
may we live like we believe it,
veneal

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

your present is here!

"The virgin will be will child and will give birth to a Son, and they will call Him Immanuel -- which means, 'God with us.'" Matthew 1:23
     

Unto us, and for us, a child is born... sing unto the LORD -- for He is good.  His love endures forever. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

we are loved and chosen by God,
may we live like we believe it,
veneal

Monday, December 11, 2017

a Mighty Word ~ give

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."  James1:17

This week on Weekly Words to Live By,  the word of the week is GIVE.  How appropriate!  "Tis the season to celebrate the gift of God's Son, our Savior.  And 'tis the season to give to those we love and care about as a way of extending God's love to them.

This year, i really want to make sure whatever gifts i give reflect the love of Christ.  That means thinking of the manner in which He offered Himself to us: simple, sacrificial, and sanctified. 

Why don't we pray about what we give this season and ask the Father of all good and perfect gifts to help us choose what we give to others?
Please join my friends Linda and Dalene at https://www.facebook.com/weeklywordstoliveby/ (or in their Words to Live By book, pages 67-72). You may find an entirely new way to think about activating the word GIVE in your life.  And you may even want to pick up a copy of Words to Live By as a gift that will last all year!

we are loved and chosen by God,
may we live like we believe it,
veneal

Friday, December 8, 2017

are you counting?

"Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?" Matthew 6:27

The time before CHRISTmas is drawing closer.  How do you feel about it?
If worrying can't increase our time or ability to do something, or solve an issue, what can it possibly accomplish besides sucking the life and joy out of our day?

Father, when i get that dazed deer-in-the-headlight look, hit my heart with a dose of Truth through a Word, a song or a cheery greeting. Remembering the why of CHRISTmas should be enough to remove any worry.

we are loved and chosen by God,
may we live like we believe it,
veneal

Thursday, December 7, 2017

dashing through the day

"...let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith." Hebrews 12:1-2
The days are shorter, the weather is colder and the to-do list longer.  Yet, as runners in a race, our course/day is already marked and we need to keep moving forward in the direction set before us.  With the Word as our barrier, the Holy Spirit our monitor, and Jesus our focal point, we too can run the race with confidence to the glorious end.
   

Lord, as the "Holy-day" season approaches, i pray for an extra measure of guidance and protection.  There are many external factors and worldly distractions yearning to trip me up, throw me in the wrong direction or even stop me in my tracks. The road is sprinkled with land mines such as hardships, disappointments, losses, painful memories, hurt and false priorities.  Cover me in Your love, grace and mercy. Monitor my days, nights and ways and keep me moving safely towards You in thanks and gratitude.

friend, we are loved and chosen by God, 
may we live like we believe it,

veneal

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

a Mighty Word ~ preparation

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven..." Ecclesiastes 3:1

What time is it?


For me, it's time for the preparation of my heart for a glorious season celebrating Jesus' birth... my Redeemer and Savior.


What time is it for you?



we are loved and chosen by God,
may we live life we believe it,
veneal

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

do you have fragile decorations?

"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

Last year's decorations had been quickly packed, stored and stuffed in the attic.  It was good enough for most items, but not the glass CHRISTmas bell.  It was totally shattered.  An extra tuck of tissue paper, another layer of bubble wrap and a taped-up box could have saved it.

How is your CHRISTmas season shaping up?

Shattered bells, shattered lives ~ and CHRISTmas still comes. It's near impossible to live 365 days without changes.  Marriages, deaths, loss of income, sickness, births and other events evolve during the year. Some for the better, some not - as least through our eyes.  During trials, i struggle, as my eyes shift down on me and my circumstances, and not up to Him and His Power.
   

Father, there are times i feel totally crushed by the world around me.  Life can throw hard, unpredictable and mean times in our face.  And when i tackle it, without You, i shatter like annealed glass.  I need to be completely wrapped, protected and covered in Your Love, Wisdom and Will.  Oh, how thankful i am for the wonderous CHRISTmas season! May i never look at a CHRISTmas tree without seeing and remembering the cross it bears for me. During this season, no matter what has happened the past 365 days, i am reminded and brought back to what really matters... You and Your unconditional Love.  Thank You, my Savior!

we are loved and chosen by God,

may we live like we believe it,

veneal

Monday, December 4, 2017

a Mighty Word ~ think

"In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus..." Philippians 2:5

Have you ever prayed to have the “mind of Christ”? Imagine having His wisdom, understanding, and compassion available for discerning God’s will and interacting with others.  Think what a difference that could make in our attitudes and actions.

This week’s “Word to Live By” is THINK.  The challenge in one of the devotions for this week speaks to my heart:  “Oh, how i want to be so filled with God’s Word and His wisdom that i see past others’ actions and discern their true thoughts and attitudes. Then my own thoughts and attitudes will more closely match that of the only One who can judge the motives and actions of those around me.” That is my desire as well, basically to have the mind of Christ about every situation and person i encounter.

Please join my friends Linda and Dalene on their “Weekly Words to Live By” Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/weeklywordstoliveby/ and/or in their Words to Live By devotion book (pages 61-66).
This week may we see God at work helping us THINK like He does. 

we are loved and chosen by God,
may we live like we believe it,
veneal

Friday, December 1, 2017

follow the Leader

"When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12

Through each turn and twist, and hill and valley in life, our path reflects the most brilliant colors and light possible when we follow Jesus.  Surely, it will draw others in following Him too.

we are loved and chosen by God,
may we live like we believe it, 
veneal

Thursday, November 30, 2017

sister, brother, what do you see?

"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." Colossians 4:2

"Wow! Look at those planets!"

I quickly looked up expecting to see a spectacular celestial sight, but the sky looked no different than any other day. I turned around to see the direction of her focus and was surprised to find her looking at my legs.  Confused, i asked, "What planets are you talking about?" 

She immediately responded, "The planets and stars on your leggings."

"Well, HoHoHo! Those are CHRISTmas lights." 
What a "bright and right" reminder that not everything we see is what we think it is. 

Father, in this busy season, provide me with a quiet, watchful heart. Help me to slow down and try to see things as they truly are.  The season can be filled with mixed signs:

joy... instead of sadness
laughter... instead of tears
fullness... instead of emptiness
peace... instead of turmoil

As Your children, open our eyes and ears to truth and use us to Your glory. With a thankful spirit may we spread Your love, goodness and light to others in need.

we are loved and chosen by God,
may we live like we believe it,
veneal

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

a Mighty Word ~ transforming

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2

As the holidays have progressed from Halloween, to Thanksgiving to CHRISTmas, my pumpkins have adopted to meet the changing need of the season.
How is it possible to continually handle the ongoing changes in life?  I know of only One Way... by allowing God to guide, mold, shape and prepare us for whatever comes.

Father, as i face the different seasons in my life, i pray to always first seek You.  Help me to respond obediently as You transform and equip my heart and mind for the needs and opportunities before me.


we are loved and chosen by God,

may we live like we believe it,
veneal

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

how is your house standing?

"...God is the Builder of everything... Christ is faithful as a Son over God's house.  And we are His houseif we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast."  Hebrews 3:4,6
  


Thanksgiving… it delivered big -- incredible food, sweet gatherings with family and joyful celebrations with friends.  But it didn’t stop there. Added pounds from a reckless self-will inched its way under my skin too. The days between Thanksgiving and New Year boil over with temptations -- guaranteed to bring even the strongest to their knees, while clinging to a full plate dripping with gravy.  What’s a person to do?

Acknowledging what is ahead, i have a plan.  A plan to remove the culprit of unwanted bulges.  I have a Mind and Body Builder who can steer me clear of costly temptations.  I need only confess my weaknesses to Him and stick tighter than glue by His side day and night.  So here goes.


Father, keep me from overindulging in the fats of the land, from buying excess gifts for those who want for nothing and from greedily stuffing my plate/life with needless things.  Instead, help me butter the life of the hungry, spread warmth over the cold, dry the tears of the lonely, sweeten the soul of the hurting and heap layers of Your love on those who feel hopeless.  Father, You and only You, can give me the strength and will power to do good and not become a victim of this fallen world.  Build me up in Your Ways. Be not only the King of my castle, but the King of my heart, mind and soul.

we are loved and chosen by God,
may we live like we believe it,
veneal

Monday, November 27, 2017

a Mighty Word ~ cherish

"Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises."  2 Peter 1:4

This week's "Word to Live By" is CHERISH, a perfect word to help us preserve the memories of family time, feasts, and freedom that the week of Thanksgiving typically brings. May this new week ahead also bring a fresh awareness of all God has given us to cherish, with loved ones, health, and "His very great and precious promises" at the top of the list. 
Please join Linda and Dalene on their Weekly Words to Live By Facebook page and share what you cherish most: https://www.facebook.com/weeklywordstoliveby/
Or continue to read along with those taking the challenge of activating one word per week (See Words to Live By, pages 55-60).

By the way, if you are looking for a Christmas gift that is sure to be cherished all year long, consider joining Linda and Dalene for their book signing this Saturday, 12/2, at Irwin Ace Hardware in Spartanburg, from 12-2 pm. 

we are loved and chosen by God,
may we live like we believe it,
veneal

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thankful? you bet!

"I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now..." Philippians 1:3-5
I am thankful for God and all He has done in my life and all He is going to do.
  And, I always thank God  for you, brothers and sisters, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing.
Happy Thanksgiving.... 
Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!

friend, we are loved and chosen by God,

may we live like we believe it,
veneal