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 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
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,
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 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 this really about Jesus or is it about saying to the world, "Look at what I did?"  Finding the perfect 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 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,


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 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,


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!!