Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Greetings!

Merry Christmas 
From Our Home To Your’s!!

Hello Family and Friends,
One of my favorite parts of the Christmas season is hearing from you!! We all enjoy the pictures and updates, so thought we’d share ours too. 2014 has been a good year…life on the farm has been busy, overall we’ve been blessed with good health (2 days after typing this sickness hit and a week later hasn't left yet!) and made many memories.

Highlights from the year include - Labor Day camp-out with the Beran’s, Wisconsin Dells with the Biwer’s, coon hunting with Grandpa, sewing with Grandma Marie and shopping with Grandma Judy, fishing at Dalyn’s, AWANA’s, and no dull moments in “Beranville”.

James D. enjoyed his first football season, Joy went to her 1st FCA camp and has officially started basketball, Jaylyn enjoyed playing softball, Jed treasured his puppy, Jake, and learned sometimes life ends all too soon, and Jesse has become the family clown making us laugh daily. J.D. and Joy also enjoyed their first week of summer camp at Ironwood Springs Christian Ranch.

As I list all my little J’s, I am thinking of another baby J…one we focus on at Christmas time. The familiar song says, “What child is this?” and a popular verse answers this question - Isaiah 9:6 tells us, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

There are many things that can consume our mind this time of the year, but we are attempting to focus on the one thing…Jesus! Our faith in Him is what will carry us through the good and the bad. He has provided strength, peace and joy in the year that has passed and we trust He will do that in the year to come.

We pray this Christmas you are able to enjoy time with family and friends!! In 2015, may we all get to know the One we celebrate - Jesus, the Child born in the manger who came to be Christ our King and Lord our Savior!
                                                                                            Merry Christmas!!

                                                                                       Blessings from the farm,
                                                                                                    Job, Jill,
                                                                                       James D. (11), Joy (9),
                                                                                          Jaylyn (7), Jed (5)
                                                                                               and Jesse (3)

“I want to know Christ, yes to know the power of His resurrection and 
participation in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death…” 
Philippians 3:10

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Look at the Wise Men

If you grew up in the church or set up a nativity for Christmas, I'm guessing you know about the wise men. Perhaps like many, you could tell me - they were three men from the east who brought gifts for Jesus. You may even mention magi and astrologers along with gold, frankincense and myrrh. But friend, do you realize there's more to these men than we grew up understanding?

We find their story in Matthew 2:1-12, please take a minute and read it in your Bible or simply click HERE to read it in its entirety. These words may be familiar, but I want to challenge you to dive a bit deeper with me. Over a week ago I was challenged by 5 simple words when I read this statement - "Wise men still seek Him." I'd heard this before, but God used it to take me on a journey and I pray He does the same for you. Let me ask you a few questions and I encourage you to think about your answers before reading my thoughts.

Who were the wise men? These men were magi also known as astrologers who traveled from a distant land, which reminds us Jesus came for all. Researchers don't know how many...the song "We Three Kings" gives us a number, but Scripture does not. It is estimated they traveled nearly 1,000 miles and arrived when Jesus was 1 or 2.

Why did they come? In verse two we find our answer - they came to worship! One commentator also mentioned how they knew something of Jesus and wanted to know more.

How did they find Him? They followed the star, asked questions and knew what the prophet had said -"But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel."

How did they respond when they found Him? Verse 11 says, "On coming to the house, they saw the child with His mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him.Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh." There is a definite sense of reverence and the idea that they understood this truly was no ordinary baby. Also interesting to note the difference in their reactions to the two kings - they bowed for the baby Jesus, but that is not mentioned in their interaction with King Herod.

What lesson can we learn from them? Seeking is something the wise men did and is what we are called to do...may we learn from and be encouraged by the example they set. Seeking takes time, work and effort...we must persevere if we want to find Christ and see God. They presented gifts that were valuable to Jesus, do you? Do I? Matthew Henry said it well, "What God favors us with, we must honor Him with."  In verse 12, we are reminded of another important truth when it comes to our faith - "And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route." The wise men listened to God rather than following King Herod's orders; friends may we too live to fear and obey God, not man. 

As I've studied the wise men a bit more and learned a few things I never knew I've been encouraged and convicted. I haven't mentioned verse 10, but that short sentence hit me like it never has. Here we read, "When they saw the star, they were overjoyed." Their joy didn't come when they found Jesus, they were overjoyed when they saw the thing that would lead them to Him. As I thought about this, God impressed on my heart that the Bible was my star and too often my reaction is no where near to the wise men's. Praying you, and I, will experience joy when we see His Word because we know it will help us find Jesus.

In closing, I hope this little look at the wise men has been beneficial for you and I pray you take sometime and think about these questions. This Christmas may be the wise women who still seek Him!!

Why do you seek Jesus?

How do you respond when you find Him?

What can you give Him? 

Some words to encourage you as you seek Him, the One who loves you, this Christmas season - 

"But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul." Deut. 4:29

"I love those who love me,
    and those who seek me find me." Proverbs 8:17

"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:13

"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." Hebrews 11:6

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Ordinary Days

Most days around our house are pretty typical...farm chores, homeschool, meals, laundry, a sports practice or church activity. I hesitate in using the word "normal" because no day is ever the same, but our life is pretty ordinary. I don't know about you, but sometimes when things are "ordinary" I can lose focus and motivation. The other day I was encouraged to do something else in my ordinary...to look for Someone.

In a devotional, Wendy Blight challenged readers to pray a simple prayer and I did. In the early morning hours I offered up these words, "Lord, let me see You in the midst of my ordinary." Our day progressed and early on I was intentionally looking for God, but nothing out of the ordinary showed up. 

By late afternoon, my intentionality had faded, but my desire to complete the tasks of the day was strong. I was sitting in one room working on school with our 3 oldest kids while our little boys played in the other room. Suddenly Jesse, our 3 year old, ran into the room, shouted in his deep little man voice, "Mom, come here, me have a present for you." Without even giving me a chance to say, "Just wait a minute," he grabbed my arm and took me to the tree.

There I found a blanket covered "package"...one that looked similar to those I've seen in the past and Jesse did his "Ho, Ho, Ho!!" He helped me open the gift and was thrilled to help me find Jed, his 5 year old brother. 

Without even "looking" I instantly saw and experienced God do an extraordinary thing in our ordinary day. One, and most importantly, He reminded me of Psalms 127:3...children truly are a gift from Him. Jesse was so excited to "give" me his brother and Jed grinned from ear to ear as I "received" him. The thing is my kids are gifts I need to embrace and enjoy daily not just when they wrap each other in blankets and hide under the tree. 

I have to admit Christmas is a time that can stress me out...I'm not a great shopper so gift buying brings pressure, there's the money involved and time it all takes. The season brings more excitement to my kids which some times translates to frustration for me. But as God did an extraordinary thing in our ordinary day, I was reminded of the simple pleasures we can find and the joy they bring. 

Finally, through His answer I was reminded that He is always there and like I shared in my last post He is always working. The thing is I'm not always looking! How about you? Today will you join me in asking God to open the eyes of your heart so you can see Him? I believe He will show up!! Stop by to share what He does in your ordinary life!

In the meantime, my little guys were more than happy to reenact the story I described above...next to Jesus, I have to say they are the best gift ever!!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Always Working

Last night, my husband and I put the kids to bed like we do most nights. One of my little guys begged me to snuggle a bit and I did. Nearly twenty minutes later I headed back down expecting to find Job watching the football game; he wasn't. I figured he'd headed to bed himself, but he hadn't. Then I heard pounding coming from the basement and knew that wasn't a good sign.

I found my husband and also found out we had a problem - on a night when the temperature was expected to be near zero our furnace was not working. I did what I could to help and as I stood there getting chillier by the minute holding a flashlight that only worked when it wanted to thoughts went to my kids. They were all warm in their beds and had no idea of the problem that was taking place in their own home and the work their dad was doing to take care of them.

As these thoughts ran through my mind, God put another one on my heart - "Jill, you're just like your kids. You are unaware of the things, the problems, going on around you and you don't see half the work I do for you." I type those words and they sound king of mean, but friend as God whispered them to my heart they were good and reminded me of the powerful, loving, kind Father you and I have in God.

Like my husband does for our kids, He is always looking out for us, protecting us and providing for us. He longs to take care of us and does. My kids see their dad and often join him in working through the day, but last night they had no idea he was working on their behalf. The same can be true of my understanding of what God does...at times I see His work, others I join Him in it, but last night I was reminded of the truth in John 5:17, "But Jesus replied, 'My Father is always working and so am I."

About an hour into our work, I was ready to give up. We'd been able to get our old furnace running, so we had heat, even if it wasn't efficient heat I knew it would get us through the night. I'd looked at the manual and though it was the English version it seemed like a foreign language to me. The wires, cords, buttons and switches had left my mind a mess and I was pretty sure if we hadn't solved the problem yet it wasn't going to happen.

Job, on the other hand, was driven to figure it out and get it fixed. As I watched him work, I was given another important lesson. God knows everything. I may look at my problems and see the mess, think it's impossible and be ready to give up. God on the other gets it, He knows exactly what to do. What looked like a mess to me was something my husband had knowledge about and as long as I did what he asked (hold the flashlight and get him tools) he could do the work. And friend, God is the same only on a bigger, perfect scale. Our situations, our lives might look like a mess, but He knows, He understands and He is able.

Today I pray we will remember that our Heavenly Father is always working...He loves us, cares for us and will provide for us. May we thank Him for that and choose to trust Him with all that is not working in our lives today. It may seem to take longer than you'd like, but He will come through and provide exactly what you need. And may just teach you a lesson or remind you of a promise in the process!!

"We know that God is always at work for the good of everyone who loves Him. They are the ones God has chosen for His purpose." Romans 8:28