Monday, December 26, 2016

Others Can't Fix You

I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me.  Ex. 20:2-3

By: Carol McClain @carol_mcclain

My Christmas was wonderful--just Neil and me and Facetime with Sarah and family. Of course, Neil got me the most perfect gifts. For those who follow me on Facebook, you know I got a toilet seat and brush--asked for in serious jest and happy to be received.

Still, Christmas time is always hard for me, as it is for many people. For many, now that it's over a new desolation sets in.

This is often the hardest time because we've put our faith in others. And, as always, others have issues and turning to them to fix our own problems never works.

This past Christmas proved it for a lot of us. Arguments broke out, white elephant gifts were exchanged, the ham dried out, Uncle Marvin got drunk and you were left to clean up the Christmas mess.

Worst of all: Everyone left. You're alone. The excitement's gone. Anticipation has ended. Nothing remains except for New Year's and resolutions you're going to keep this year.

Yep. You will keep them.

Only God Can Fix You

  1. Others don't know you the way He does.
  2. Others don't love you the way He does.
  3. Others are broken--how can the broken fix the irreparable?
  4. Others will leave you alone. God never will.
  5. Others change their affections. God is the same yesterday, today, tomorrow.
I beg you all, enjoy Christmas (and Valentine's Day and St. Patty's, and...). Make your resolutions.

But to find true happiness, to fix your broken lives, only one person can save. I hope you've met Him.

Quick Tweet

Monday, December 19, 2016

Gifts: What We Got For Christmas

And I will put enmity 
            Between you and the woman, 
            And between your seed and her seed; 
            He shall bruise you on the head, 
            And you shall bruise him on the heel.” Gen. 3:15

By: Carol McClain @carol_mcclain

Most important thing about Christmas? What we got.

Christmas presents are a lot like us--wrapped up bright and shiny. Beautiful bows and trinkets adorn the packages. They glitter under the Christmas tree.

Then we unwrap them and find a Christmas sweater two sizes too big, a waxy candle shaped like a Santa or a glow- in-the-dark toilet seat. We've all gotten the white elephant disguised as a pretty gift.

And that's pretty much a metaphor for us. Or at least me.

I can wrap myself up with Christian words. I smile and agree to wash dishes after the church dinner. I volunteer my time to work on the Board of Habitat for Humanity. However, inside, something's broken.

For most of my life, I've struggled with the white elephant stomping my soul--even during my years as a Christian. Something in my life made me believe I still had to earn God's favor. Maybe it was my Catholic faith that taught me no sin could ever be erased and thus we spend time in Purgatory. Maybe it was a dysfunctional childhood and my unwillingness to talk to others and discover the world didn't function much better. Or my mistaken concept of humility--put yourself down whenever complimented?

From the very beginning of time, God prepared His Christmas gift. Last week, I said Psalm 103 should be part of the Christmas cannon. This week, it's Genesis 3:15

God's Gifts to Us:

  1. We are redeemed.
  2. We are forgiven.
  3. We do not have to do anything to earn it except unwrap the gift and claim it as our own.
If we accept this gift, guilt, suffering, condemnation--all the things humankind struggles with--will be healed.

I guarantee it.

Quick Tweet

Monday, December 12, 2016

Gifts: The True Blessing of Christmas

Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
Who satisfies your years with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle. Ps. 103:4-5

By: Carol McClain @carol_mcclain

Christmas. The only thing that matters is gift-giving.

Yep. That's not a typo. I mean every word of it, but probably not the way you're thinking.

It's the gift given to us. Again, not as you're thinking.

Like everyone else, I've made many boo-boos in my life. How many? 

Blogs are supposed to be short, so I can't enumerate them (however, inventorying my sins would give me blog topics for the rest of my life.

Some sins have been small. Still, despite their size, they're quite damning. Those are probably the things I'd tell you about. Others have shamed me, and I spent my long and grace-filled life hiding them from the world at large.

But now, Christmas comes, and I recall the true meaning of Christmas--getting gifts: 

  1. Jesus pulled me out of the pit. I wholeheartedly believe I would have been a suicide had I not given my life to God. Lately, He's been healing the core of my soul, and it is divine.
  2. God gave me a wonderful life. I have a loving family, terrific friends, and interests that fill my days. Sometimes, they're too full. For the first time in my life, I have to turn down social engagements.
  3. I find joy where I'm planted. My home in northern New York sat among some of the most beautiful scenery the United States offers. In East Tennessee, the beauty and the climate and the economic benefits make each day a joy. Can you imagine waking up each morning and seeing the glory of where God planted you?
  4. My youth is restored like an eagle's. Although chronologically I'm older, I feel like the youth I share my Bible study with. Everything is exciting. I'm learning new things. My youth is definitely reanimated.
Psalm 103 has been my meditation and the above two verses are only a fragment of the psalms richness. It's one I believe should be part of our Christmas message.

Truly, we've got the best gift of all. What gifts has Jesus given you this year?

Quick Tweets

Monday, December 5, 2016

Relieve Holiday Stress in God's Eden

A distant view of Angel Falls before we walked out on the rocks
Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; (Gen. 2: 8-10)

By: Carol McClain @carol_mcclain

In this crazy season, we need to find a Garden of Eden--a place where we discover peace and the wonders of God.

For my friends and me, hiking the Smoky Mountains or the Big South Fork bring us to God's doorstep.

My hiking buddies love the little things--the smallest of wildflowers, a "face" in a rock or a funny shaped shelf fungus.

I'm a big picture, sweeping vista sort of gal. Perched on a rock face with a bird's-eye view of vast valleys or tumbling water is as close to heaven as I'll get in this lifetime. Top it off with the sun on my skin and wind ruffling my clothing, I feel God.

Take a chance. Climb out on the rocks and see what God has done
God created a perfect world--in the beginning. 

Man messed it up with sin. Not only do we destroy our habitat with our destruction of one another, but the material lust, best exemplified during Christmas.

Take time, both in this season, and in life, and find the world God created for us to love and enjoy. It doesn't have to be in the grandest of mountains or the vastest of beaches. It can be on your front porch, snow-shoeing through the Adirondacks, a walk through an arboretum or along a boardwalk.

Find your Garden of Eden
God created healing in nature.

Take a moment. Explore. Feel God in the brush of wind on your cheek, the nip of cold on your nose, the fragrance of frost and woodsmoke.

Where is it that you find God in nature? 

Quick Tweet