Christmas Reflection 1 – Strength in Joy

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Christmas is my favorite season of the year. The spirit of rejoicing and giving that comes with it is contagious. Although it has been commercialized in many ways, the true essence of Christmas is still very real in my life. There are three more days until Christmas so it has been impressed on my heart to write a personal reflection each day on Christmas.

I was inspired to share my own Christmas reflections after reading my Christmas devotional on the Bible app. Initially, I was going to journal this then I remembered stumbling over my blog and how encouraging it was reading my previous posts so here I am blogging again. Below is an excerpt from the Chris Tomlin devotion that inspired me:

“When God sent His son as a baby, no one knew the birth of this child set into motion God’s epic plan to redeem mankind. Today, this is not only where His story begins, it’s where our story begins, too. While we were yet sinners, God decided to send a Savior for us. And while He did it in the smallest of forms and the unlikeliest of ways, His perfect plan was unfolding all along. Two thousand years later, it’s easy to see the bigger picture. Looking back, it’s easy to trace the fingerprints of God’s larger purpose at work.

When we reflect on the past, we can see God’s faithfulness more clearly. We can remember how He’s come through for us and how He’s uniquely woven His plan into our lives.” -Chris Tomlin

SO here I am remembering the past in order to see God’s faithfulness and renew my trust in Him.

I read through Luke 1: 26-56, which is when Jesus’ birth was foretold to Mary then she visits Elizabeth to share the news with her. It is such a beautiful story of strength and joy.

Why strength? In the age we live in today, many are very concerned with people and their opinions on their lives. During my time as Miss American Samoa, it was ALL that I was concerned about. I wanted to portray the title the way everyone else saw fit. Going back to Mary, she displayed strength that I truly believe was not her own but from the Lord. She was basically a teenage girl who wasn’t married, but about to be pregnant. If it’s somewhat shameful in our society today, just imagine how much more in the Bible times. YIKES!  Yet, she didn’t complain. She was scared I’m sure, but her response is one that has been used in sermons all over the world…

“Mary responded, ‘I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.’ And then the angel left her.”  – Luke 1:38 (NLT)

I have read this story many times, but this statement hit me hard for the first time. I was sitting here thinking, “WHAAAAAA!?!?!” She was about to be pregnant without a husband yet HER FAITH! Her faith in the Lord and His plans blows me away. The story continues after this with Mary going to visit her cousin Elizabeth who the Lord had also blessed with a child to pave the way for Jesus. When Mary gets to Elizabeth, the Bible says Elizabeth’s baby leaped within her and the Holy Spirit filled her.

42. Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. 43. WHy am I so honored, the the mother of my Lord should visit me? 44. When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. 45. You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what He said.”
-Luke 1:42-45 (NLT)

This is when the joy factor comes into this story. They rejoiced in the Lord’s plans. Although I’m sure they knew it would not be an easy road, they rejoiced none the less. Mary even has a song of praise she says after Elizabeth said what she said.

I thought to myself. Do I have that kind of strength to trust the Lord? How many times have I rejoiced in the Lord knowing the journey is about to get “interesting”? How many times have I relied on the Lord’s strength and submitted to Him when He asks me to do something unheard of?

To be honest, I don’t have that kind of strength. That kind of strength comes from spending time with the Lord and cultivating a relationship with Him that I’ve lacked. The relationship that I relied on for the past year is now wavering and because of that I’m falling a part. It’s interesting how the Lord always brings us back to Him when we start to stray. He allows the consequences of choices hurt so He can heal. Like Mary, we need Elizabeths in our lives to remind us that we are highly favored by God and that we should remember we are blessed because we believe in what God is going to do. I’m reminded I can find strength when I rejoice in what the Lord has planned. I’m reminded I  can find strength by believing His Word. I’m reminded I can find strength in His joy. If there is anything I love about Christmas, it’s the JOY that surrounds the celebration of the birth of Jesus.

Thank You Jesus for allowing Your joy that brings strength to fill the world especially during the Christmas season. I pray that everyone especially those who are hurting during this time can experience the same gladness Mary and Elizabeth had by remembering Your perfect plan and that Jesus is the reason we rejoice every Christmas season.

Joy to the world/ the Lord has come/ let earth receive her King/ let every heart prepare Him room/ Let heaven and nature sing/ Let heaven and nature sing/ Let heaven/ Let heaven and nature sing.
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Photo Challenge: Work of Art

I have always admired the natural beauty around me since I was little. I have always loved beautiful things because I know I serve a beautiful God.

How do I know my God is beautiful? I see it in everything He has created and in each day He orchestrates. The God I serve is the greatest artist. His creation is so beautiful. There is always something new outside for me to enjoy, I just have to open my eyes and see it for what He created it be. Beautiful.

I sincerely believe the greatest work of art is a new day of promise. I never encounter the same view or scenery every morning when I wake up. It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to use to portray a “work of art” until I came across the symbol of promise God created for Noah that still stands as a testimony of God’s promise to never destroy the earth again (Genesis 9:13). Isn’t this the most beautiful covenant you have ever seen?

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Double rainbow this morning while getting out of my car across from my workplace.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/work-of-art/

Three Days Later

Sometimes I wonder what was going on in the heavens on the second day before Jesus rose on the third day. So many different things could’ve been going on in the heavenly realm and even down below.

All I know is Jesus died on the cross and rose again three days later. I like to think it was specifically for me. He sacrificed His blood for me. Every drop of blood that fell from Him was so I don’t have to die in my sin.

He died so I can live. It’s the simple truth. When He rose from the grave, I received power to live the way God intended me to live. Thanks to Jesus, I can now have a relationship with God freely. I don’t have to live in fear of where I will spend eternity. Three days later, I have hope. I have peace. Most of all, I have love.

This Blood – In Honor of Good Friday

This song by Carman is probably one of my absolute favorite songs about the crucifixion. I couldn’t sit here and not share this song with all of you. It’s a powerful and very anointed song. God gave up so much for the sake of all who do and don’t believe…YET.

I pray you will be blessed by this song as much as I am every time I hear it. If you haven’t experienced the mighty power of the blood of Jesus, I want you to know that His blood was and still is for you.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Monument – Blunts Point

 

Blunts Point in American Samoa

Blunts Point in American Samoa

 

This naval gun is from 1941 during World War II. It is a reminder of the time when the Samoan islands were split up into the Eastern Samoan islands and the Western Samoan islands.  The Eastern Samoan islands went under America therefore receiving the name American Samoa. During that time, Tutuila was used as a training ground for the US Marines. According to  a Samoa News article, “The guns at Blunts Point are special, in that one of them is listed on the National Register of Historic Places while the other one has earned recognition as a national historic landmark.” Not bad for my small rock, Tutuila, mostly known as American Samoa. 

Even though the guns (second one not pictured) are the monuments, the view of American Samoa’s waters and beautiful landscape (like the view above) from Blunts Point is even greater than these national historic relics. If it’s not already obvious as to why I think the view is monumental, I will break it down for you. Although it’s not something made by man, I believe there’s a God who creates these beautiful scenes on a daily basis. The true author of creativity and all things monumental in this world like Mt. Everest for example. In my island, it’s Mt. Matafao. In this photo, the monument involves the beautiful blue ocean that is backed by luscious green mountains and “Fatu” the sea stack from one of my previous blog posts, which you can find by clicking Standing Strong (inspired by Fatu ma Futi). Monuments are for commemorating. Every time I see this view, I am reminded of a God full of creativity and beauty just as much as I commemorate my island’s initial journey into becoming American Samoa whenever I hike up to these tangible historic monuments.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/monument/

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold

 

The threshold of every Jesus moment is at the cross.

The threshold of every Jesus moment is at the cross.

“At the cross, at the cross
Where I first saw the light
And the burden of my heart
Rolled away.
It was there by faith
I received my sight
And now I’m happy all the day”

This chorus from the hymn At the Cross by Isaac Watts describes perfectly as to why the cross is the most perfect picture of a threshold. Every Christian experiences that moment in their life where they receive salvation and experience that overwhelming feeling of grace and love. It is at the foot of the cross of Jesus where all the past, present and future wrongs are left behind and this new born Christian starts the journey to eternal life. The Christian life is not an answer to an easy life, but it is the answer to a stronger and more complete life. A life that begins at the cross.

Pictured above is a picture of my church members coming to the cross to find healing, restoration, forgiveness and grace. Touching the cross is a symbol of leaving behind all the hurts, pains, sins, wrongs at the cross of Jesus so they can start a new journey in a new season with the Lord as the Guide.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/04/04/photo-challenge-threshold/

Today’s NaPoWriMo challenge is based on writing a love poem to an inanimate object. I figured why not tie it in.

Christ’s Cross: My Threshold

To demonstrate my love,
I can not do enough.
Words are inadequate
Value beyond a diamond in the rough.

Everything wrong I’ve done
I don’t have to carry
I can leave it at the cross
Where all my sins I bury

The threshold of a new journey
A life with Jesus I’ll be beginning
After I nail my sins to the cross
Where Christ died for my new being.

To demonstrate my love,
I can not do enough.
Christ’s cross where He suffered and bled
So I can leave my sinful slough.

Day 7 of NaPoWriMo 30 Day Challenge: http://www.napowrimo.net/2014/04/one-week-in/

Love Month Blues

Growing up as a Christian, I was always told either “wait for the one God has made specifically for you” or “Jesus needs to be your lover first.”

I can’t say I’ve had Jesus as my primary lover throughout the course of my life. Regardless of my flaws, He has always loved me yet I still feel lonely a lot of times. I crave the love of a physical companion. I won’t blame it on any thing else except the mere fact that I am human and created to love.

My love month blues have nothing to do with God’s love for me because that love never fails. It does have to do with my lack of patience and getting into relationships that for some reason always seem to fall a part and never fails to hit me in the month of February repeatedly. Personally, it’s more a month of heartaches than any thing else.

This year, I decided to not let myself wallow in my sorrows and do something different. I bought half a dozen roses and chocolates for my mom, sent cupcakes to the guy I’ve been crushing on and gave roses with chocolates to the people who have been great encouragements in my life. To tell you the truth, it felt so much better to give on Valentine’s Day than to receive. I thoroughly enjoyed the huge smiles and the phone calls of gratitude I got. The opportunity to make someone smile and feel special really turned everything around for me.

I realized love isn’t about what you get. It’s about what you give. ❤

Flowers for my Mama