Women of Christmas: Mary’s Servant Heart

Mary’s Servant Heart

mandylynncarpenter

mary and josephOur stories of Christmas paint a beautiful picture of Mary riding a donkey, giving birth in a stable surrounded by the glow of candles with the animals looking on. Yet the reality of this wonderful night, is far different from what we normally perceive.

It all began one night, when Mary, a young girl betrothed to Joseph, is visited by Gabriel. All of the sudden her normal Jewish life is changed forever. The angel calls her the favored one, and tells her not to be afraid,though I’m sure the news shared stirred fear and wonder in her heart.

For she is told, that though still a virgin, she will have a child. And not just any child, but the son of God, whose name will be Jesus. For He will save His people from their sins. I always stand amazed at her response, for though her…

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The Women of Christmas: Elizabeth’s Prayer

Nothing is impossible for Him

mandylynncarpenter

christmas1Could it really be? After so many years of praying, was it actually possible that the Lord had finally heard her prayers?

Earlier her husband Zacharias had come home unable to speak, making all kinds of funny signs with his hands. Exasperated,he finally found some paper and wrote, “I saw an angel and he said, God has heard our prayers, we are going to have a son. His name will be John, and he will be great in the sight of the Lord.”(Luke 1:13-14)

Still hours later she could hardly comprehend such great news. Was it possible that all the years she had been mocked and spoken ill of were to finally come to an end? Would her family finally see her as more than the barren one?

Years and years she and Zacharias had prayed, never giving up hope that the Lord God could answer their prayers…

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A Thankful Heart…

images (2)Last year this time, our whole family was gathered at the beach in Destin for Thanksgiving. We made lots of memories, enjoyed the sun, and swam in the heated pool, and ocean (even though it was cold).

This year we are back in Nepal for Thanksgiving, celebrating on our own.

In comparing the two, certainly last year wins out, hands down.

Yet, I’m reminded that being thankful is a choice.

So as I sat outside enjoying the sun today, I made a list of the things I have to be thankful for here.

  1. Faithful friends and family back home who pray for us and support us, here.
  2. The beautiful snow cap mountains of the Himalayas.
  3. The chance to be His hands and feet.
  4. Experiencing life abroad.
  5. Memories made with my family unlike any other.
  6. Knowing and loving the generous people here.
  7. Pottery class I get to take for our visa.
  8. Kid’s ministry at our local church.
  9. Teaching others God’s Word.
  10. The rich blessing of God’s faithfulness that is present both here and there

No, this Thanksgiving won’t be like the ones we celebrate back in the States, but it will still be a day to give thanks to the Lord for all He has done.

His everlasting love, marvelous mercy, glorious grace, and faithfulness are reasons enough to give thanks, and yet, He has blessed us with oh so much more!

How about you? What things are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?

We always have reason to be thankful!

Choosing to give thanks…

choosing to be thankfulAfter a great vacation, we came home to multiple problems, well, mainly I did.

One our flight home, I looked down at my wedding ring, and noticed somehow, somewhere I’d lost one of the diamonds out of my ring.

The day after we arrived home, my daughter began running fever, and was sick for 3 days.

Two days after we got home, my computer decided to crash, causing me to loose some very important documents.

Add in, the fact that the road we have to walk up/down to get to our house, is one big muddy mess because of the rains, and the gnats, that seem to have taken over my kitchen. And you might understand why I have not been too thankful.

Thursday afternoon, as I was waiting for my kids to get back from music class, the Lord reminded me of my need to have a grateful heart.

He reminded me that when my heart is not grateful, I lack any and all joy. He reminded me that my ungrateful heart spills over into my relationships with my family and friends. The Lord helped me to remember that my bad attitude can and often does result in my families bad attitude.

So I sat down, and began to give thanks.

I thanked the Lord for a wonderful family vacation.

I thanked Him, that though I’d lot a diamond, I didn’t loose my ring. And it can probably be fixed.

I thanked Him, that my daughter had bounced back from her sickness, and was back to her lively self.

I thanked the Lord that though my computer had crashed, and I’d lost some things, most things I had backed up.

I thanked Him, that getting a new hard drive restored my computer.

As I began to thank Him, He brought more and more things to mind that I had reason to be thankful for.

It is oh so much easier to complain, than to give thanks.

Yet, God has called us to be thankful. To rejoice always, to give thanks in all circumstances.

This is certainly not always easy, but it is possible.

Choosing to give thanks is a decision we must make daily. Will we choose to give thanks for the good, or complain about the bad.

To be honest, I have yet to figure out how to be thankful for the muddy roads or the gnats, but I rejoice that if those are my biggest problems, I have much to be thankful for.

How about you? Are you focusing on all the good the Lord has done in your life or are your eyes solely focused on your problems.

The enemy would like nothing more than to keep our eyes on our problems, for us to have ungrateful hearts, for then we are no threat to him.

But the Lord calls us to be thankful, and this can only happen when we choose joy.

Choose joy today by choosing to be thankful!

No matter how bad it is, we always have reason to give thanks!

Created by Him, through Him and for Him

created for Him“In the beginning God…(Genesis 1:1)”

In the beginning God was there  because God had always been there. There was not a time He did not exist.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1).”

In the beginning all that was created was created by God.

“For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created (Col. 1:16).”

And all was created not only by Him, but through Him, and for Him.

You and I were created by God, through God, and for God.

I listened to a message earlier by JD Greear, and he said this about creation.

  1. The story is about Him, He is the major character, not us! God’s Word begins and ends with Him.
  2. We were created for God, not for our pleasure. We thrive only when our lives revolve upon Him.
  3. We were created in the image of God, to do that which He created us for.
  4. Only the One who brought life out of nothing can bring life back from the dead.

As I listened I was challenged by the reality that far too often I make myself the main character. I make myself the focus, or my kids, or other things. Rather than remembering the story is about Him. His life lived out through me, for His glory.

I was reminded that God created me and called me from before the foundation of the world to do the good works He created me for. My life is not my own, it belongs to Him. And I am most joyful and content when my life revolves around Him.

As my kids grow older and begin to think and dream about tomorrow, one of my greatest desires is that they know that they were created by Him, through Him, and for Him. And that whatever He calls them to do, they do it to bring much glory to Him, their Creator. That they do not loose sight of the fact that He must be the Center, and that their lives revolve around Him. For only then, will they find true joy, true contentment, and true peace.

Is He the center of your life? Satan desires to get us to put other things at the center. He lies and tells us that we will never be truly happy until we _(fill in the blank)__.

Yet it is a lie! For God did not create us, save us, and call us unto Himself to lives our lives for ourselves. He did this so that we might live our lives on passion for Christ. Making Him known, wherever He leads us, calls us, and places us.

May we not loose sight of these simple truths, and may our lives be motivated by our great and merciful Savior!

 

Lumps of clay

lumps of clayThe past few weeks in Pottery Class, we have been learning to use the wheel. Let me just say, it looks a whole lot easier than it actually is.

The first step is centering, which is the art of learning how much pressure to apply with the right hand, while holding it steady with the left. Too much pressure, will send the clay flying off the wheel, and not enough pressure will keep it from centering.

After almost two weeks of trying, with clay sometimes flying, and other times becoming a very uncentered mess, I finally achieved this aspect.

The second step is to pull the clay upward, and then flatten it out, while using your thumbs to apply pressure in order to create a bowl.

I am far from victory on this step. It seems my bowls are either too thick, or they collapse when I’m trying to get them thinned out.

It has been quite the frustrating time for me, as I have watched the other students sail through this much quicker than I have .

As I worked with the clay today, I would be so close to having it , when suddenly it would cave inward, and I would be forced to begin again.

And I could not help, but think of the fact that I am the clay and the Lord, He is the potter. I was reminded of all the shaping He must do in our lives to get us molded into His image. Many times, He must feel similar frustration that I felt today. When He sees us doing so well, moving in the right direction, growing in our walk with Him, then suddenly, falling back into sin.

For once again, the Lord must come along and center us and our eyes back upon Him. He does this by applying some pressure to our lives, causing us to look to Him. Then, once our eyes are back on Him, He can begin shaping us once more into the image of Christ.

Thankfully, the Lord is merciful, and long suffering. He doesn’t give up on us, He doesn’t throw in the towel (like I wanted to do today), He doesn’t quit on us. No, He is faithful to continue day by day to shape us and change us. Faithful to mold us into the image of His Son.

I am so thankful for the verse that says, “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Phil. 1:6).”

Thankful that the work He began in me, He will complete. I have a long way to go. There is much shaping, and molding God must continue to do in my life before I will reach this point. Yet, He doesn’t give up on me. He keeps working, keeps allowing the pressures of life to draw me to Him, disciplining me when I fall away, and lovingly bringing me back so that my eyes are centered upon Him.

How is the Lord shaping you today?

 

 

 

To the one who is waiting on God…

A good reminder for those waiting upon the Lord…

mandylynncarpenter

thG2HN27RCI know it is hard, I understand.

I’ve been where you are, and it is a tough place to be.

For two years, our family went through a time of waiting. A time wondering what God was doing and why at times He just seemed silent.

Two years of seeking to know what He wanted, two years of praying, fasting and crying out to Him.

Then, He answered, and led us to the other side of the world to serve Him.

In those two years, we learned so much about trusting Him. And in those two years, He worked to prepare us for the life we are now seeking to live.

In my quiet time this week, as I read the story of Abraham and Sarah, I was reminded of some truths about waiting.

Waiting on God often leads to….

  1. Doubt, and questioning if God knows or cares.

Abram and…

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