Thursday, January 29, 2015

What Do I Want To Be When I Grow Up?

Hey Friend,
 
This may seem like an odd question to be asking myself when I am 53 years old.  I was never one of those kids who always knew what they wanted to be.  I envied those who had dreams of being a doctor, nurse, actor, lawyer, engineer, policeman, dancer, etc. 
 
The one thing I do remember wanting to be as a young girl, was a wife and mother (yes, I hear the collective groan of the feminist movement).  My mom's predominant role was being a good wife and mother and I looked up to her. 
 
I remember sitting down with my parents to decide what I was going to major in in college.  I remember our humorous conversation reminiscing about my dad trying to help me with my math homework and me always ending up in tears.  From those experiences, we deduced that I probably wouldn't make it as an engineer. 
 
Since I didn't have any great desire to "be" something, we started with what am I good at?  English and writing rose to the top. (That's why I cringe with ending a sentence with the word "at" lol)  Okay, English/Communications Major was what I would be.  Finished. End of discussion - except for my dad's final parting words, "Make sure you take a typing class."
 
I did well in my major in college, and I did take that typing class.  Jobs were scarce when I graduated so my typing sustained me for awhile in temporary jobs until I finally landed in the Human Resources department for a large holding company.  I walked employees through their relocation benefits as they moved about the globe.  I discovered that I loved working with people and helping them.  After getting married and relocating, I worked my way up as Relocation Director for a large Real Estate and Construction Company.  It's interesting how God takes us down paths that we would have never imagined.
 
Finally it came time to be what I always wanted to be - a wife and mother.  I would say, by far, this was the most demanding, most exhausting, yet most fulfilling job I have ever had.  I loved (on most days) being home with my kids.  I felt like I was in that sweet spot where God wanted me to be.  Sure, I had my days when I wanted to run away from home. 
 
I still remember vividly the day the UPS driver came to the door to deliver a package.  I was in sweats, my greasy hair up in a pony tail, wrestler's knee pads on my knees because I was scrubbing tile floors.  Barbie, and her excessive wardrobe and yacht were strewn all over the floor and Steven, my youngest, was running around in a t-shirt only because being naked from the waste down was the only way he seemed to "get" the necessity of getting to the bathroom when nature called.  I will never forger the look on that driver's face when I opened the door to sign for the package. Yes, this is what I had dreamed of being?!
 
Fast forward through many years of being a stay at home mom.  That is until infidelity and a divorce blindsided me.  I was immediately thrown back into the search for a job.  Only thing was that while I was busy being Mom, the computer age blew by me and left me in its dust.  What marketable skills did I have?  After much searching and fretting, I signed on as a teacher assistant at a private Catholic school that was just opening its doors. 
 
God certainly was looking out for me as I was assigned to work with a beautiful Christian teacher in the third grade.  Kim and the children filled a gaping hole in my life and as much as I helped and loved on those kids, they returned the favor ten fold.  So I could now add "teacher" to my resume.  I followed up teaching grade school with becoming a preschool teacher for several more years. 
 
Then, God brought a wonderful man into my life...or I guess I should say back into my life since we had been friends in high school and at the same time I was sidelined with two major surgeries that took a long time from which to recuperate.  My work life came to an abrupt halt and it quickly became clear that I would not be able to return to a job that required a lot of standing, stooping, kneeling and getting down on little people level.
 
It was during that time that my blog was born.  Out of sheer boredom and not being able to put any weight at all on my knee, I rediscovered my love of writing.  Once again I felt like I was in that sweet spot...only problem was that it didn't pay the bills. 
 
Once again, God's timing was impeccable.  My husband and I were married and I was excited to once again be in the fulfilling role of wife.  I was still needed in my role as mother to grown children (Mother is a job from which you never retire).  I sunk my teeth into my blog and being the General Contractor for a myriad of repairs needed on our 18 year old home that desperately needed some TLC.  My wonderful husband encouraged me to take some much needed time for myself - just to be good to myself after many years of neglect. 
 
This felt good for awhile, but I was always used to serving.  You name it, within the church and the community, I had done it.  Everything from Sunday school teacher, to MOPS (Mothers of Preschool) coordinator, to Junior Achievement board member, to helping start a Christian School in Pakistan,etc.  Serving has always been as necessary as breathing for me.
 
So here it is January 29, 2015 and I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up?  I apologize that this post has been less about answers and more about journaling questions in my head.  I feel, once again, like I am back at square one wondering what I want to do with my life.  Do I go back to work? And if so doing what?  Do I serve in another area and if so where?  Do I take classes to improve my computer skills?  Do I learn another language?  Do I take up playing the piano again?  I honestly don't know...I am thankful, however, that I have the luxury of making a choice and am not back in that world of being a single parent trying to make ends meet.
 
All I know is that God brings us to these crossroads in order that we learn to wait expectantly on Him.  I do believe that He wants us to not sit passively, but to strike out in a direction in which we feel led and if that's not the way, He will close doors.  (This has happened to me already). 
 
I am brought back to having the scale read "less of me and more of Him".  I need to trust and believe that He has a perfect plan for me.
 
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you a hope and a future."  (Jeremiah 29:11)
 
Notice, from this scripture, just who it is that has the plans that will give me hope...the Lord!
 
I am not good at waiting and being patient, but God's word has instruction on that as well:
 
They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.  (Isaiah 40:31)
 
And so, I wait...and I pray...and I listen for His still small voice.
 
I know I want whatever I do to glorify Him and to build His Kingdom.  That is about the only thing I'm sure of.
 
What about you?  Do you ever struggle with the question, "What do I want to be when I grow up?"  Would you share how you have found direction.  I love stories that give us all hope. 
 
Thank you for reading the ramblings in my head.  I pray, as always, that you would be blessed in your endeavors no matter what part of the globe you are tuning in from!
 
In His love,
 
Bev
 
ps. Please continue to pray for safety for the staff and children of Redeemer Christian School.  If you want to see REAL faith in action, follow the lives of Christian servants working to spread the gospel in places where radical Islamic ideals prevail.  I pray earnestly for our world...
 
 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

You Are Never Alone

Hey Friend,
 
This may sound a little sacrilegious to some, but I have learned many lessons about the nature of God from my dogs - the two I have currently and the one who passed away a couple years ago. 
 
I could come through the door after being gone for hours, or I could have been gone for ten minutes and I would get a greeting that said, "You're the best thing since peanut butter!"  Tails would be a wagging and a whirling with pure unconditional love.  A glimpse of how God sees me.
 
Recently, I got yet another glimpse of God's loving nature when I was down and out with an episode of OCD anxiety and depression.  Fortunately these episodes are few and far between, but when they hit...they hit hard.  It's hard to explain to someone who has never experienced it, but sometimes the best way to cope is, like when you are sick with a cold or flu, to go to bed and rest.  Resting or sleeping gives my brain a chance to take a much needed break from the onslaught of the repetitive, anxiety producing, obsessive thoughts. I may be in bed for a day, maybe two. 
 
Amazingly though, I am never alone.  Even if my husband has to go to work, Topper, the beagle, will jump up on the bed and curl himself into a ball near my chest.  He snuggles in nice and close, shuts his eyes, and there he stays.  Zoe, the senior lab, will lumber up the stairs (aching joints and all) to find me.  When she does, she lies by my side of the bed, lets out a big sigh and there she abides. 
 
All day they stay, they abide, and they never leave my side.  They are there and I never feel alone.
 
Another glimpse of God...
 
They forego their fun times in the back yard to comfort me in my pain.  They know I am hurting and though they can't make the pain go away, they can bring me love in the midst of it. Does this remind you of someone?
 
"Be strong and courageous.  Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you.  He will not leave or forsake you."  (Deuteronomy 31:6)
 
In this passage, Moses is speaking to the Nation of Israel who is on its way to the promised land.  The "them" Moses is telling them not to fear are the nations/enemies that lie in their path.  If you read the longer passage, I love how Moses reminds them of the path that God has already cleared thus far. 
 
In The Message version it reads: "God is striding ahead of you and is right there with you." 
 
I love this because only God can be striding ahead of you and right beside you at the same time.  He is omnipresent.  He has also been with you in the past.
 
Past, present, future...with God you are NEVER alone!
 
I don't know about you, but this brings me great comfort.  I may not feel  God at the moment, but if I choose to go with the facts found in scripture, I know that He is always there with me and will never leave me or forsake me. 
 
He is Jehovah Shammah - The Ever Present One
 
Not only is God with us, but He promises us strength and help.  He even promises to uphold us when we can't stand in our own strength.
 
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)
 
The Lord even promises to fight our battles for us if we will only be still.  Who does that?
 
A God who thinks you are the best thing since peanut butter...
 
A God who loves you with an unfathomable love and has fought to the death with evil in order to save YOU...
 
A God who draws near to you, abides with you, and never ever will forsake you...
 
That's who.
 
Draw upon these facts whenever you feel alone...
 
"Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."  (Joshua 1:9)
 
"Behold, I am with you to the end of the age."  (Jesus speaking in Matthew 28:20)
 
All three persons of the Trinity are with you always.  The Bible tells us that God sends us a Helper - the Spirit of Truth (Holy Spirit) who dwells in us and we can call upon Him in times of trouble. 
 
I don't know about you, but that's a pretty strong defensive lineup!
 
The days are sunny and bright now, but I am confident that when trials come, I will never ever have to face them alone. 
 
Lord, thank you for your promises to us, over and over again, that you are our constant companion and that you will never leave us or forsake us.  Thank you that you promise us strength, help, and will even fight for us.  Help us to claim the truth of these promises.  In Jesus' name, Amen.
 
In His love,
 
Bev
 
ps.  Will you please pray for Redeemer Christian School in Pakistan?  Pray for God's hedge of safety and protection to surround them and keep them safe from the evil that is in this world and on their doorstep.  Pray for protection for the leaders and teachers and the innocent children. Pray that Jesus' light would shine victoriously.   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Fitbits, Facelifts, and Best Kept Beauty Secrets

Hey Friend,
 
Obviously the title of my post is a little tongue in cheek, but I titled it such after reading an article in USA Today.  It talked about how cosmetic companies and cosmetic surgeons are capitalizing on the "forever young" mindset that pervades our society.
 
The article went on to say, "Boomers, in an attempt to keep the dreaded signs of aging at bay, will push the U.S. market for anti-aging products from about 80 billion dollars now to more than 114 billion dollars in 2015."
 
I am a baby boomer, and I would by lying if I said I didn't own any of these coveted fountain of youth serums.  In fact I once owned a small jar of one of the finest, most expensive creams on the market.  You see, my ex-husband had a very good work relationship with a certain Chinese company.  As is their custom, when they would come to visit the States they would bring lovely gifts usually from their country.  I had gotten to know them as well and so they would always bring me something beautiful - a silk scarf, a piece of jewelry, an art object. 
 
One year when they visited, we were all out to dinner and the Chinese contingency presented their gifts to the Americans gathered around the table.  For each of the men - a silk tie.  My turn came (note I'm the only female at the table)... I reached into the gift bag and pulled out 1.7 ounces of, you got it, anti-wrinkle cream.  All American eyes turned toward me awaiting my reaction.  I admit, at first, I wondered what they were trying to tell me, but after Mr. Lee piped up and said that his wife gives him big hugs and kisses when he brings her this cream from his world travels, I knew that it was being offered as a generous gift, sure to delight.  And delight it did...right down to the very last scraping of the bottom of the jar.
 
Fast forward to exactly one year ago when, at the age of 53, I walked down the aisle in a small intimate ceremony and I can honestly say that I have never felt more beautiful.  Even in my youth, with fresh soft skin and many pounds less than what I carry now, I never felt as beautiful as the day I married my husband Dave.  Friends described me as "radiant" and "beaming". 
 
Why was I able to pull off what no face lift or anti-wrinkle cream could? 
 
I was simply mirroring and reflecting the love that was being shown to me.
 
I was radiant because I was flowing together with the two greatest, most unconditional loves of my life:  My Lord and then my husband. 
 
And all of us, with unveiled faces, reflecting like bright mirrors the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same likeness, from one degree of radiant holiness to another, even as derived from the Lord of the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
 
Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.  (Psalm 34:5)
 
As we come, unveiled, just as we are, before the Lord and spend time in His presence we are transformed into the same likeness and begin to radiate His glory and likeness to those around us. 
 
Spend enough time with someone and eventually they begin to rub off on you.
 
What also helps is a shift from "exterior thinking" to "interior thinking".  I'm not knocking your resolution to join the gym to lose those extra pounds or getting a facial or a new "do".  We are called to take care of our bodies - the temple in which the Holy Spirit dwells.
 
The Bible tells us in 1 Peter 3:3-4:  Do not let your adorning be external - the braiding of hair and the putting on of jewelry, or the clothing you wear - but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.
 
"Imperishable beauty" the kind of beauty that transcends laugh lines (aka wrinkles), sagging skin and extra pounds is a gentle and quiet spirit. 
 
Think of the type of people you are drawn to in a room...yes, at first glance it might be the toned, tight skinned externally good looking people...but after awhile, who do you want to linger with longer?  Might it be the person who possesses an inner beauty or charisma? 
 
Beauty truly is fleeting (Proverbs 31:30).  If you don't believe this, pop in on your 30 year class reunion. Just kidding... 
 
Once the youthful good looks are stripped away, all that is left is the soul.
 
Perhaps because I have an anxiety disorder and have battled depression, I can look into a person's eyes and easily see into their soul.  Behind fake smiles, I can pick out in a heartbeat those who are dealing with depression or an illness of the spirit.  I am also able to see the radiant beauty of those who love the Lord.  I think it's because I am both of those people??!
 
But, how are your insides? What is the condition of your soul?  Look in the mirror.  Does your face scream wrinkle cream or are you radiant because you are mirroring the One who loves you unconditionally? 
 
God does love you unconditionally...just as you are.  You don't need to "pretty up" in order to come before Him.  Crawl into His arms and let His great love strip away your shame and let time in His presence radiate beauty from your countenance.  Like early morning sunshine shimmering on a lake, so will His holiness glisten in your eyes.  Just come.
 
Lord, let me come with an unveiled face before you.  Let me spend time in your presence so that when others look at me they will see the beauty and glory of your face.  Amen. 
 
In His love,
 
Bev
 
 
Happy 1 year anniversary to my loving husband, Dave!! 
 
Redeemer Christian School in Pakistan:  Thanks to your generosity we have big plans for 2015.  We will be adding additional books and school supplies as well as seeing that each child has their own Bible.  The children are already joyful over the scriptures they have committed to memory.  We always have the ongoing expenses of rent and teacher's salary.  On our wish list is being able to add tables and chairs (the children currently sit on blankets on the floor) and possibly a second teacher.  If you would like to help this dream come true:
 
Send donations to:  Bev Rihtarchik/RCS
                              103 Silver Lining Lane
                              Cary, NC  27513
 
 
Smiles of joy have replaced faces filled with despair as the children celebrate Jesus' birthday. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Measuring Out Grace

Hey Friend,
 
Happy New Year!  I have noticed with each passing year that I have gotten better at breathing in God's grace.  As I grow older, and one hopes I have gained more wisdom, I struggle less with the notion that God is somehow disappointed in me.  I was a tried and true perfectionist who attempted to not sin or disappoint God.  Every time I messed up, I would heap guilt upon my head and feel like a failure.  This is not living how God would want me to live!
 
It's taken a lifetime for Romans 8:1 to sink in (and I am still a work in progress):  Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  One translation of the word "condemnation" is disappointment.  Note that the verse does not say, "there is now less condemnation" or "there is now a little bit of condemnation". No, it says, "There is now no condemnation...no disappointment.  There is only grace.
 
God wants us to exchange our guilt for His grace!  Go ahead and breathe it in!
 
When I was a little girl, I liked to collect rocks and stones.  Even a glimpse of everyday quartz was enough to catch my eye and deem a rock worthy of being picked up and stashed in my pocket.  On my walk home from elementary school, my friends and I passed by Gracie's store.  It was a little Mom & Pop grocery store with a penny candy counter and tucked way in the back of the store was a glass counter that held the most beautiful gemstones.  I always had to make my way back there and marvel at the amazing crystals buried within what seemed to be ordinary rocks.
 
I would work hard to save up my money and on special occasions like Mother's Day or my mom's birthday I would pick out and purchase the rock that I thought my mother would love best.  Amethyst was one of my favorites, so I skipped all the way home the day I was going to bestow this gorgeous purple-hued rock upon my mother.  (Just what every mom wants). 
 
One day, when I was an adult with children, my mom showed me the collection of "rocks" I had given her over the years (both purchased and found).  She knew they were gifts from the heart. 
 
Giving rocks and stones is one thing, but there are stones that are not so pretty - the ones we throw at others in judgment.  I like to think that I am a gracious person, but am I really?  How quickly do I get annoyed at the person in front of me in the check out line at the grocery store who has 50 coupons (half of them expired or with special conditions) that requires the manager to be called over?  How quickly do I lose my cool with the customer service representative that I've called with a question or problem that isn't getting resolved?  How did my young children learn to call out, "You idiot" to other drivers on the highways and byways?
 
On a sideboard in my kitchen I have a little plaque that says "Grace".  Beside it is a smooth coal colored stone with these words on it:  "He that is without sin among you let him cast the first stone." (Jesus Christ)
 
God pours out His grace like rain on me...and then what do I do with it?  Do I pass it on or do I measure out judgment?  God has put it on my heart for me to truly try to walk in another man or woman's shoes before I make hasty judgments.  They are people too - with lives and "to do" lists and frustrations all their own.
 
If I want to be a directional arrow pointing people toward Jesus...I need to act a little more like Him.
 
That being said, I have chosen the word "GRACE" as my watch word for 2015 (last year I picked "INTENTIONAL").  As I am learning, with more success, to breathe in God's grace, I also want to grow in measuring it out as well.  Tall order, but with God all things are possible.
 
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ.  (Romans 3:24)
 
Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.  (1 Peter 4:10)
 
Lord, I thank you for the merciful grace that you not only give, but lavish upon me.  Enable me to excel in the act of giving grace to others.  Let 2015 be the year I consistently measure out grace.  Amen.
 
What is your watch word for 2015?  Would you share?  If you've never chosen one before, would you consider praying for God to reveal to you what He wants to build in you this year?  I pray so...and let us be transformed together!
 
In His love,
 
Bev
 
ps.  Know that if you are reading my blog that you are being lifted up in prayer every morning and every evening.  That is my commitment to you...be blessed.
 
I will report next week on the great things happening at Redeemer Christian School in Pakistan. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Company's Coming

Hey Friend,
 
Over the years I have graduated, somewhat, from being Martha (the sister who ran circles around Jesus cooking, cleaning and serving) to being more like Mary (the sister who chose, instead, to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to Him).
 
You probably wouldn't have said that, though, if you saw me yesterday as I was a force to be reckoned with as I zoomed around the house with my roaring vacuum cleaner.  Topper, the young pup, got into a play bow and barked relentlessly at the dust-bunny sucking beast.  He jumped playfully from couch to floor to chair and back again.  Oh what fun!!
 
Zoe, my senior gal who is deaf, would saunter into whatever room I was vacuuming and proceed to lie in the middle of the floor and would peacefully doze as I tried to vacuum around her.  Couldn't they see I was on a mission here?
 
I became frustrated and huffily pulled the cord out of the socket.  Right at that moment I gazed upon the baby Jesus in my Nativity scene.  I was frantically preparing my home for earthly people to visit, but was I preparing my home, my heart for my Savior who is coming? 
 
At some point we will all be Innkeepers asked if we have room in our hearts for Jesus?
 
What have I done to prepare my heart for Christ's coming during this Advent season?
 
Every year this is a struggle for me as I fight the urge to get caught up in the world's vision of preparation, when what my heart desperately craves is to be still and focus my eyes upon Jesus.
 
This year I had the special blessing of a mystery elf...more like one of God's angels, who sent me a copy of Ann Voskamp's "The Greatest Gift - Unwrapping The Full Love Story Of Christmas".  It is a daily Advent devotional that retraces the epic pageantry of humankind from Adam to the Messiah.  It offered me time for reading, prayer and reflection as I got to Abide in Christ as I traveled, step by step, one day closer to the wonderful celebration that is Christmas.
 
This was not an easy task and yes there were times when I was nodding off to sleep as I heard God whispering in my ear.  Most mornings I set my alarm at 5am. to be able to get in my time alone with my Creator.  What I found was that I was revived, remade, rekindled, redeemed.  I sat at His feet...and I listened.
 
My home may not be ready for company, but my heart is.  This Christmas I am having a heart that whispers, "Come Holy Jesus". 
 
Company is coming and though they may need to sign their initials in the dust on my coffee table, my heart is ready to embrace them.  Celebrating Advent in this way is by far the best Christmas present that I've ever given myself. 
 
Since I will have company for awhile, I'm taking some time off from my blog.  Never fear...like dirty laundry, I'll be back.  Meanwhile I offer the Light of scripture to warm your heart this Christmas: 
 
The people who walk in darkness
will see a great light.
For those who live in a land of deep darkness,
a light will shine...
 
For a child is born to us,
a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His government and its peace
will never end.
He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne
of his ancestor David
for all eternity.
The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven's
Armies
will make this happen!
 
(Isaiah 9:2, 6-7)
 
 
May you be blessed with a Christmas that wraps you in God's embrace and whispers, "I love you dear child.  I love you enough to send you a Savior to save you from yourself.  Seek my truth with an open mind and you will find Me.  Open your heart, and I will enter in."
 
 
In His love,
 
Bev
 
Christmas at Redeemer Christian School, Pakistan:
 
 
 
 
 


 

  
 "When you light a dark world and the unexpected places with a brave flame of joy; when you warm the cold, hopeless places with the daring joy that God is with us, God is for us, God is in us; when you are a wick to light hope in the dark - then you believe in Christmas."  (Ann Voskamp)
 
Funds greatly needed for 2015!!  Even a modest gift will help...
Send to:  Bev Rihtarchik/RCS
               103 Silver Lining Lane
               Cary, NC  27513
 
Thank you to all who have donated thus far...be blessed!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Dare To Draw Near

Hey Friend,

I will preempt this post with a WARNING!!  Warning, I may step on a few toes...

Christmas is about Christ.  Christ + mas(s). Most of us are fairly well intentioned that way, but pride does have a way of creeping in.  It's the "ME" part of Christmas that brings all the stress, frustration and ultimate disappointment.  The only way to "mess up" Christmas is to make it about you instead of about Jesus.  In short, I need to get over myself.

Believe me, I include myself in the throngs of people who manage to insert themselves front and center during this season.  Decorating our homes to the hilt...is this really about Jesus or is it about saying to the world, "Look at what I did?"  Finding the perfect gift...is it truly about the person we are giving it to or is there a part of us that wants to be the person who finds the perfect gift for everyone on our list? 

Here come my toes...is the best picture I selected to put in my card (deleting the other 50 disasters) and the witty Christmas letter truly intended to bring Christmas cheer to the receiver or is it somehow secretly about me?  Ouch!

You can't mess up or fail at Christmas if you make it about Christ.

So what does that look like?  Most self-help plans give you 5, 10, or 12 steps to success.  Follow these simple steps and Voila! you will achieve success. 

The key to a successful Christmas takes one step...and really it's not even a "step".  It is the simple act of BEING STILL.  Be still and dare to let the God of the Universe draw near to you. 

When we are still, God does the moving and He will, as His word promises, draw near to us.  In order for Him to draw near, we need to let go of something...we need to let go of ourselves. We need to let go of all the things that highlight us and instead focus on the things that highlight Jesus.

Christmas has gotten so glitzy, grandiose and materialistic.  But what IS Christmas about really?  It's about relationship.  God sent Jesus into this world so that we could live in relationship with Him.  It is impossible to draw near to God unless we are sinless, perfect.  That's a tall order.  God knew that so He gave us a bridge to himself...He gave us His son Jesus.

Think about Mary, Joseph and the shepherds...a rag tag bunch that drew near to Jesus that first Christmas.  Imagine the joy they felt as they gazed on this tiny innocent baby.  Imagine their lighthearted smiles as this newborn reached out and wrapped his tiny fist around their rough fingers.  Imagine Mary's peace as she gently stroked Jesus' face and smelled his tiny newborn head.  For a moment in time...they were still...and the God who formed the heavens, lay in a wooden manger and drew near to humanity in order to have a relationship with us and to ultimately save us from ourselves.

When we are still...God in three forms (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) draws near to us.

You have made known to me the path of life; you fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. (Psalm 16:11)

Will you put down your cards, your wrapping paper, your wallet, your spatula and for a moment pick up God's word to you.  Pick up your Bible and read the Christmas story.  Only this time, read it as God's love letter just to you.  Hear Him whisper to you..."I sent my son as a baby, to be a servant unto you, to heal your diseases, to provide for you, to fight your battles, to bring you peace, to be ever present with you, to redeem you, and to ultimately carry a cross for you so that you would, through his wounds, be made righteous in my sight."

Hear God's voice, as if in a lullaby, say, "I love you so much my child.  I so delight in you that I could not just give a little to you, I had to give you my everything...even unto death." 

Do you hear His words of peace?  Stay for awhile and dwell in them.  Abide in His presence.  Drink in His love.  Dare to draw near...

What places deep within your soul do you long for the Lord to seek out during this season of Advent?

In His love,

Bev

ps.  If you haven't already, would you consider bringing the message of Jesus' love to the little children in Pakistan?  God commands us to proclaim the gospel that the world may know. Your gift will proclaim the light of good news in a very dark corner of the world through Redeemer Christian School.  Gifts can be sent to:

Bev Rihtarchik/RCS
103 Silver Lining Lane
Cary, NC  27513 
 
Do you want to invite Jesus into your heart this Christmas?
Let's face it though, letting Christ draw near can be intimidating...even somewhat scary.  What if he doesn't like what he sees when he gets up close and personal with me?  After all what does scripture say about Jesus?

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.  (Philippians 2:9-10)

We can tend to keep Jesus at arms length because if we get too close we may just realize that we need saving. If you would like someone to pray with you to receive Jesus into your heart as your Savior and to live in relationship with Him, please feel free to contact me and I would be honored to pray with you...be blessed.




Wednesday, December 3, 2014

There's Room For It All This Christmas

Hey Friend,

I sat at the kitchen table with pen in hand.  I moved the pen several times into the poised position above the ivory card stock beneath.  I waited impatiently for some words...any words to come to me. 

What exactly do you write to your friend, neighbor and dog walking buddy who two days before Thanksgiving waited for her husband to return from his usual morning run only to get the horrendous news that another runner had found his slumped body beside the road where he had collapsed and died? 

What do you write to this mother of three young men who was madly in love with her high school sweetheart?  A woman who just days before was happily preparing for the holidays and now was going to bury the man she so deeply loved?

The answer is...there are no words...

I have really struggled these past two weeks, because this is not what Christmas is supposed to look like.  At least not what the world or commercials say that it should look like. Christmas is not supposed to be painful. 

Sure Christmas can be brimming with Christmas cheer and joy.  My husband and I will be celebrating out first Christmas together and we are trying to savor every moment of this season.  We want to celebrate how God has blessed us with each other and a love neither of us ever thought would happen.  Surely this is Christmas?

Christmas (at least in my home) is often chaos and clutter and me trying to find presents that I have tucked away in such a special place that now I can't find them.  Christmas is wrapping bright packages with paper and bows and imagining the delight upon the faces of the people who will open them.

But, Christmas is also moving furniture around to accommodate the tree only to realize that my dad, who always occupied the same chair Christmas morning, will not be in "his" chair this Christmas.

It is remembering what it was like to muster up the energy to make Christmas special for my children when only weeks before their father had walked out and left us.  Is this Christmas I wonder to myself??

Christmas time for many of us can be bittersweet or even downright painful.

Why then do we think that there is something more spiritual in being stoic through pain?  

Christ came for the broken, the hurting, the lost...He didn't come for a world that "held it all together".  Maybe we need to allow ourselves to be real in His presence this Christmas...whatever that may look like. 

God holds all things together.  (Colossians 1:17)

"It's okay to be broken.  Holding it all together is in someone else's job description."  (Holley Gerth)

Many of us have become experts at ignoring our hurt...especially at the holidays.  Ignoring our hurt, however, only serves to drive it deeper. 

So back to my statement that "Christmas is not supposed to be painful."

Maybe, just maybe, that's not true.  Jesus came, took on human flesh, to save us from ourselves and to make a way that no one else was capable of making.  His birth, being human, was painful...and his death certainly was painful.  Why then do we think that on this side of Heaven that we will be exempt from pain and suffering? 

Maybe the pain we feel is the homesick longings we experience for when we are home at last with our Heavenly Father and all the saints who have gone before.  Maybe Christmas is meant to have a touch of pain to remind us that this is not our home?? That we were meant for something greater??

Perhaps I have raised more questions than I have answered.  Our questions keep us seeking after God.  He, ultimately, is the One who holds it all together and I believe that there is just quite possibly room for it all this Christmas.

I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy.  Because he inclined his ear to hear me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.  (Psalm 116:1-2)

No matter what you may be experiencing this Christmas, may you know that the God of the Universe inclines His ear to hear your pleas.  Know that He loves you enough that He sent his one and only Son just for you and He longs for you to call upon Him as long as you live.  May you be blessed...

In His love,

Bev

ps. Redeemer Christian School Update: Plans are being made and presents purchased for the RCS Christmas Program.  It's still not too late to bring Christmas for the very first time to these, God's children in Pakistan.  Help them to meet and fall in love with Jesus this Christmas...Hurry with donations to:  Bev Rihtarchik/RCS
                                                              103 Silver Lining Lane
                                                              Cary, NC  27513
Thank you and may God bless you!!