Pastors Message

Reaching Out from

Grand Lake Community Chapel

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Greetings in Christ!

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!  Let us rejoice in moderate temperatures and clearer roads, and let us be glad that the forecast doesn’t call for anything particularly scary for the next few days!  That said, let’s not kid ourselves, shall we?  It’s Northern Michigan, it’s February, and there’s no way that we’re anywhere near done with winter!  So why not embrace the season, and enjoy the warmth of our homes, a mug of hot chocolate, and a good book or movie!

And as we embrace the season, let’s also embrace love; Monday is Valentine’s Day, originally a feast day for a martyr of the early church by the name of Valentine, which has now become an almost entirely commercial holiday best known for candy hearts, Hallmark cards, and romantic gifts.  But at its core, St. Valentine’s Day is all about love; as is our faith tradition.  It is often said that God is love, at Christmas we talk about love coming down from Heaven in the form of a baby boy, and in many of our liturgies and prayers we speak of love.  While it is great fun to exchange Valentine’s cards with your honey-bunny, and most folks are happy to dig into a heart-shaped box of chocolates with reckless abandon; underlying these acts is love.  If you’re of a certain age, you’ll remember a song by Burt Bacharach titled “What the World Needs Now Is Love,” that opened with “what the world needs now is love, sweet love.  It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of,” and went on to state that love is not just for some, but for everyone.  Isn’t that the message of the Gospels?  Isn’t that what we teach and preach and live every day?  If that’s so, why is there so much conflict and strife in the world today?  We suggest that it’s because we aren’t lavishly generous with sharing the love of Christ with all people; we tend to be a bit selective with whom we are loving and kind and gentle, and that’s not what we’re called to do.  Maybe this coming St. Valentine’s Day can nudge us towards being the loving, love-sharing people that God calls us to be, and that Jesus Christ modeled for us.  Then maybe, just maybe, come next St. Valentine’s Day, the world will be a happier place.

With our love in Christ,

Karen and Greg

Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.
John 15:9

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      From the Desk of

TOBY THE CHURCH DOG
      February 2022

Hello, my dear friends!

Did you know that I consider myself a watchman?  I watch for birdies, for bunnies, and for people to step on my sidewalk or into my yard.  When out for a ride with my Daddy, I watch for potential traffic issues, fellow doggies out for a walk, and especially for BIG trucks. I LOVE big trucks! When I go to the office, I am on the lookout for my friends; and I remain on alert to protect my friends too. 

You may have noticed that I sometimes stretch out with my eyes closed.  At times there may even be some deep breathing that is heard, but do not be fooled into thinking that I’m sleeping. OH NO; for I remain alert even without the benefit of my sight! I am watchful at all times– with my nose, with my ears, AND with my intuition! 

 You, my friends, are in my care; and I do not ever want to let you down!  If I sense danger, I will sound my alert.  If I see harm coming your way, I will push you out of its path. A watchman is no good if he is silent.  A watchman is no help if he is sleeping. Why watch if there is no intention to make a difference for others? And when I know you are safe, I will remind you that you are loved by kissing your nose or by simply resting by your side.

In Ezekiel 33 one reads of the expectations of a watchman.  His first duty is to be on the lookout and to sound the alarm when danger is present.  Sometimes people may not be paying attention to this warning, but the watchman must still sound the alert where peril is perceived. Secondly, the watchman must bear the burden of his lack of engagement if he is negligent and fails to warn others of the dangers he finds. He must not fail the humans who are depending on him.  If others do not listen to his warnings, then it is their own fault; but the watchman is called to share his alert. Some who read this passage in Ezekiel believe that the watchman is our Savior who always loves and cares for us.  Others believe that these words point out the duty of God’s Children to protect others from situations that will bring with them distancing from our Lord and the path upon which we are called to travel. I want to be of help to you, my friends, and so I watch… 

With love from your Church Dog,

TOBY

Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel;
so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me.  Ezekiel 33:7

Wishing you joy and peace in your day!  Remember, God’s got this.

Pastors Message

Devotional – Fight With Joy (Day 5)

Scriptures – John 15:5-8. Ephesians 6:11-17

At first glance these two scriptures seem miles apart but if you hang with me I would like to share with you how they are connected and what on earth they have to do with being grateful and thankful for all that God has done for us. 

This passage in John teaches us the importance of remaining connected to the vine (that is Jesus), so that we bear fruit. When you think about it, none of us have apples growing out of our armpits, so clearly Jesus is talking about some other kind of fruit here. It would be some time before we would get the understanding that the fruit Jesus is referring to is actually the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22,23). 

The passage in Ephesians tells us that we are in a spiritual war and the way we fight is by having spiritual armor. Have you ever realized the weapons we wield to fight in this war are the fruits we bear by remaining in the vine? It is like a full circle; to fight looks like remaining in Jesus and by remaining in Jesus we bear fruit and that fruit becomes the weapons we use in the fight which keeps us remaining in Jesus. 

The fruit of ‘joy’ is just one of the weapons we can cultivate if we’re going to fight in this spiritual war. In this time and space of big feelings, valid feelings, wacky feelings, lack of feelings – I believe the weapon of joy has the power to transform selfishness into thankfulness, apathy into gratitude, idolatry into recognising the goodness of God. Because joy is not a feeling, rather, joy is the ability to believe that God is who He says He is and can do what He says He can do, despite what the reality of life looks like around us. 

Throughout this week, find some space to connect with God. I encourage you to put yourself in an environment and/or do whatever activity that helps you connect with Him. Then when you’re in that place I want you to remind yourself about the nature and character of God.

Ask yourself these questions: 
1. What are the promises He’s given us in the Bible that you can make your foundation to stand upon?  

2. What has He already done in your life that you can rejoice in?  

3. When and how have you experienced the goodness of God?

We can cultivate the fruit of joy by reminding ourselves of what we believe, by standing upon what we believe, by reading and memorizing scripture that backs up our beliefs, by claiming those beliefs so that we can rejoice in the goodness of God and not the goodness of our circumstances. And with this weapon, we can stand firm in this war. Glory!

Pray with me:

God I thank you for Your Word, I thank You for Your goodness towards me. Holy Spirit would You open my eyes, my heart, my mind and my understanding to recognise when You have been good to me. God I know that apart from You I will just wither away so I surrender again today and make the choice to be connected to You, to remain in You, to follow You. I love You Lord. Would You use me, fill me and lead me into all that You have for me today. Amen.

Written by Lisa Hoffmann, Location Pastor, Citipointe Church Ipswich

https://my.bible.com/reading-plans/26133-faith-love-hope-a-reason-to-celebrate

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Wishing you joy and peace in your day!  Remember, God’s got this.

Pastors will be back next week. I hope you have enjoyed and been renewed by selections from “Faith Love Hope.” If you are interested in joining our Study Group, we use the Bible App – You Version which may be downloaded onto the device of your choice. Please see the Women’s Ministry page for more information.

Pastors Message

As Pastors are vacationing for the next two weeks, with their permission, I decided to share selections from a devotional my friend Vickie and I did together. This devotion is from a seven day study titled “Faith, Love, Hope: A Reason to Celebrate” by various location pastors of Citipointe Church in Australia, the USA, New Zealand, and Europe. Be grateful, thankful, and full of pure joy every day in every way!


Devotional – Sustainable Gratitude (Day 4)

Scripture – Psalm 51:10

Is it possible to be grateful all the time, even through trials? Yes it is!

Have you ever met a person who seems to always be positive and have an attitude of gratitude towards life? Maybe you’ve thought they’re weird, or somehow they missed the daily trials the rest of us have had to be constantly and consistently upbeat, right?

I, too, thought like this once, but to be honest I actually wished I knew how to be grateful through trials and in my everyday life. I thought it was due to some external factor that I was missing that would somehow ‘make’ me grateful. The truth is, it’s not whether my circumstances are perfect, or whether all my ducks are in a row that determines my gratitude levels – God says it’s my heart posture.  

In the Bible, David cried out to God “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalms 51:10).  He didn’t say help me behave better or be more resilient.  David prayed for the condition of his heart to be right. He recognised that all gratitude starts in the HEART, not in the circumstances.

The heart through scripture is the ‘inner man’ and in both the Hebrew and Greek it’s described as the ‘seat of our emotions, passions, joy, gladness, thoughts’.  Luke 6:45 adds that “for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” – so, really the heart is that central place, or inner man, inside us which dictates our words, attitudes and emotions. Wow! No wonder David desperately wanted God to create a clean heart inside him!

In the Bible we see how Israel strayed away from God and made their own idols. They would often be reminded of the Lord, their God, who delivered them from Egypt. They were reminded of the Lord who did great things for their nation. God was their rescuer and deliverer.   

Even today we can be the same. So often we can stray from God, be distracted, idolize or dwell on wrong things. We need God to do what He did for Israel and give us a revelation in our hearts of how amazing He is – because when that fills our hearts, thankfulness, joy and gratitude overflows. Gratitude flows from the inside out.

And this is the key to being thankful in all seasons – no matter the circumstances or the trials we face. Pastor Mike Mulheran preached a message awhile back and he said the statement “Thanksgiving flows from right remembering”.  Whether you feel you are in the desert right now and life feels tough or whether life is great and everything is smooth sailing – having a  revelation of God – what He has saved you from, His immeasurable love for you, His unending grace toward you, His majesty and mighty deeds, His abundant creation all around, your future with God – is what creates a thankful heart, overflowing with gratitude.  There is a new horizon of joy for you when your heart is fixed on the right things.  Determine today that this will be part of your life – and you will be known as the person who has joy through all seasons of life.

What do I do from here? Let’s search for more than knowledge – but a revelation. Ask God to create a new heart inside us, founded on this revelation of who God is. 

Pray With Me:

God, You are steadfast and good, no matter the season I find myself in. Today I believe that who You are in my life isn’t dictated by my emotions or experience and that my joy is in knowing You are the same every day. You are always for me, not against me. You love me unconditionally and Your grace is sufficient for me everyday. God, create in me a clean heart that my emotions, thoughts, and confession will flow from;  that Your joy will be my strength and I will speak of your goodness and faithfulness all my days – Amen!

Written by Graeme Politanski, Location Pastor, Citipointe Church Brisbane North

https://my.bible.com/reading-plans/26133-faith-love-hope-a-reason-to-celebrate

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Wishing you joy and peace in your day!  Remember, God’s got this.

Pastors Message

Reaching Out from

Grand Lake Community Chapel

Why Living In Michigan In The Winter Is The Absolute Best

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Greetings in Christ!

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!  Let us rejoice that the snowplows are out clearing our roads, and let us be glad that there are skilled men and women willing to do such work!  Part and parcel of living Up North is that we get snow, which makes for beautiful vistas, but which also makes getting around a little bit challenging at times; so let’s be thankful for those who go out and clear away the snow, whether they be city workers, county workers, private contractors, or members of our own households (and maybe ourselves!).

And while we’re being thankful, let’s not forget those in the medical field, who have done so much for us in the last couple of years as we’ve dealt with the pandemic; so many have done so much to alleviate pain and suffering, all the while exposing themselves to the virus and often contracting it themselves.  These folks are angels on earth, and are deserving of our thanks and praise, and our ongoing prayers.  Also, let’s not forget the first responders, those who drive ambulances and fire trucks and police cars through the snowy roads, and save lives.  Think about the firefighters who respond to the alarm at all hours of the day and night, and work tirelessly to save homes and businesses from fire, even when the temperatures are below freezing and their equipment ices up.  Consider those in law enforcement, who fight their way over icy roads to respond to emergencies, never knowing for sure what they’ll encounter when they arrive at the scene.  While we regularly include these fine people in our prayers during worship, they are in need of our prayers every day; and they are deserving of our deepest gratitude every day as well.  Oh, and don’t forget to express your deepest gratitude to the One who made all things…

With our love in Christ,

Karen and Greg

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that can’t be shaken,
let’s continue to express our gratitude. With this gratitude, let’s serve in a way
that is pleasing to God with respect and awe. Hebrews 12:28

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Winter Scripture Images Quotes. QuotesGram

Wishing you joy and peace in your day!  Remember, God’s got this.

Pastors Message

Reaching Out from

Grand Lake Community Chapel

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Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Greetings in Christ!

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!  Let us rejoice in the (relatively) warm temperatures, and let us be glad that the (relative) warmth is helping to clear the roads of residual snow and ice, ensuring safer travel for all!  We’re now three weeks into winter, measured from the winter solstice on December 21st, and it looks like we just might enjoy a good old-fashioned Michigan winter this year, with plenty of snow and cold air.  It’s remarkable to watch how our world changes with the seasons; from the glorious colors of autumn to the bright white fields and snow-tipped trees of winter, to be followed in a few months by buds on those same trees, God’s Creation is a never-ended panorama of beauty and delight.  We highly recommend bundling up and getting out into the clean, crisp air of Northern Michigan to see what God is up to!

And while you’re out-and-about in the winter wonderland we call home, consider pausing for a few minutes to reflect on all that God has done for you; not only the wonders of Creation, but the wonders in your life.  From warm clothing and warm homes, to good food to eat, to family and friends, and myriad other things that we often take for granted, God’s presence in our lives is undeniable; we all know that, but we don’t always acknowledge it.  Our lives are packed with activities and events, there’s always something more to do, we’re constantly on the run so we don’t think we have time to stop and consider where everything comes from – or more precisely, from whom all things come.  As we enjoy a bit of a break between the Baptism of the Lord and Lent, try to carve out some time to appreciate the gifts that you have received, and continue to receive, from the source of all that is good and right and perfect.


God bless you!

Karen and Greg

This is what God the Lord says – the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it. Isaiah 42:5 

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Wishing you joy and peace in your day!  Remember, God’s got this.

Pastors Message

Reaching Out from

Grand Lake Community Chapel

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Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Greetings in Christ!

This is the last day of the Christmas season that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!  Let us rejoice that, on this twelfth day of Christmas, our celebration of the birth of our Savior continues; and let us be glad that we were blessed with a wondrous Advent and Christmas, filled with love and joy.  Hopefully, there aren’t twelve drummers drumming away outside your homes today; most likely they stayed in their own homes to avoid traveling in the snowstorm!

In a way, it’s sad that the Christmas season has come to an end; we’ve all been in need of a season full of hope, and Christmas is certainly all about the hope of a brighter future.  At the same time, it’s good that one season has come to an end and that a new season, Epiphany, has arrived.  Epiphany, which occurs on January 6th, is the day when tradition informs us that the Magi arrived in Bethlehem to pay homage to the newborn King.  For the next several weeks we will be in the season of Epiphany, a time when we, too, are invited to pay homage to the Prince of Peace with our words and actions.  Let us pledge to continue to be kind, compassionate, generous, gentle, and loving; let us live as our Savior taught us, not only during the season of Epiphany, but throughout the year.  One last time in this particular Christmas season – Merry Christmas!  And Happy New Year!  May 2022 be a year of good health, good fellowship, expanding faith, and limitless joy!


Blessings,

Karen and Greg

Behold, I make all things new.  Revelation 21:5

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Wishing you joy and peace in your day!  Remember, God’s got this.

Pastors Message

Reaching Out from

Grand Lake Community Chapel

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Wednesday, December 22, 2021 

Greetings in Christ!

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!  Let us rejoice that our celebration of the birth of our Savior is only three days away, and let us be glad that we have three days available to deal with the inevitable last-minute details of our preparations!  It’s remarkable to us how quickly Christmas has come upon us, especially when we remember how it seemed to take forever to arrive when we were children.  And yet we have the same sense of joyful anticipation and delight at what is about to come into our lives, and we’re not talkin’ about piles of presents under the tree and over-stuffed stockings hung on the mantle.

We’re talking about the birth of the Son of God, and all the incredible blessings that will flow from his arrival.  We’re talking about the promise of new life, a new relationship with God, the forgiveness of our sins, and the promise of eternal life in Heaven when our earthly days come to an end.  And yes, we’re talking about beautiful sanctuaries, and glorious music, and the priceless gift of fellowship.  Let us never forget that love comes down at Christmas, and that the love of God made manifest in a little baby is ours to share with all whom we meet.  As we meet this holiday season, we urge you to be cautious, as the pandemic has chosen to hang around for another year; at our worship gatherings on Christmas Eve, we ask that you be respectful of fellow worshippers and maintain a polite distance, and to sing your favorite hymns and carols at a somewhat lower volume.  Please consider wearing a face covering if you’re able to do so as you enter and exit the sanctuary.  In spite of the issues plaguing our nation and our world, we still say Merry Christmas to all!!


Blessings,

Karen and Greg

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

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Wishing you joy and peace in your day!  Remember, God’s got this.

Pastors Message

Reaching Out from

Grand Lake Community Chapel

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Wednesday, December 15, 2021 

Greetings in Christ!

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!  Let us rejoice in being only 10 days away from celebrating the birth of our Lord, and let us be glad that we have 10 days left to get everything ready!  As seems to be the case every year, no matter how well we plan and how hard we try, we’re never as ready as we’d like to be; there’s always one more gift to find, more wrapping to be done, and one or two decorations that haven’t been put in place.  On top of that, there are cookies to bake and meals to plan!  And yet Christmas Day will arrive on December 25th, whether we’re ready or not, so all we can do is all we can do, and trust that it will be enough.  Whatever doesn’t get done wasn’t that important anyway! What is important is readying ourselves for meeting our Savior, both at the manger and upon his return.

We cannot overlook the tragedy that befell our neighbors to the south, as devastating tornadoes ripped through parts of Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, and Tennessee, Kentucky was particularly hard-hit.  There are several opportunities to lend financial support, and all of us can offer the most powerful tool of them all – our prayers.  We know that these are busy days, and we also understand that the holidays can stretch our finances to the limit, and so we humbly ask that you make time to pray for those impacted by the storms, and make a financial gift to help ease the suffering if at all possible.  Thank you.

And let us remember that no matter what befalls us, or those around us; we are loved by Almighty God, who wants only good things for us and is present for us in every event in our lives – the good and the bad and the ugly.


Blessings,
Karen and Greg

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:13

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Wishing you joy and peace in your day!  Remember, God’s got this.

Pastors Message

Reaching Out from

Grand Lake Community Chapel

May be an image of indoor and door

Wednesday, December 5, 2021 

Greetings in Christ!

This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!  Let us rejoice in the fresh blanket of snow covering the ground, and let us be glad that the county and city crews have done a fine job of keeping most of the roads clear!  This morning dawned clear and cold, with the sun reflecting off the new-fallen snow, brightening the early morning and inviting us to enjoy this day that God has given us to continue our Advent preparations.

How are your preparations coming along?  Are at least some of the treasured decorations in place, and has a bit of the holiday shopping been taken care of?  Is the Christmas breakfast menu settled?  Have you reflected on what this season, and the season to follow, really means?  Yep, there we go again, being all “churchy” in the run-up to Christmas!  While it is most certainly a cliché of the first order, the reason for the season we’re in is being fully ready for the birth of our Lord and Savior, and the reason for the season that is to follow is the very same; Jesus.  Almost everyone delights in the sights, sounds, and smells of the holidays, but as Christians, we should all delight in the upcoming celebration of the birth of Christ far more than we delight in the cookies and tinsel and gifts.  That’s not to say that we shouldn’t revel in the more secular trappings of the holidays; it’s just that our primary focus should be on a newborn babe, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.  Our joy is made complete in knowing that our Savior is born in Bethlehem, not in the latest cool gadget in our stocking hung on the mantle.  Let us rejoice at his birth, and be glad that we are free to celebrate with our loved ones!

Blessings,

Karen and Greg

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13 

    

     From the Desk of

TOBY THE CHURCH DOG
      December 2021

Hello dear friends!

I love this season of the year; don’t you?!!  I love playing in the snow near Mary, Jesus, and Joseph.  I love those ornaments on the trees that shake and shimmy alluringly, but that I am NOT supposed to touch. I love the baked goods being prepared in my kitchen that sometimes fall to the floor. (Or get very close to the edge of the counter!) And, as always, I love being with my people.   

During Advent, we prepare for Christmas and to receive Christ into our lives, and we are mindful of how richly we have been blessed by God.  A great joy in my life comes in understanding that I can give to others from those very blessings I have received.  What joy I find in giving!  How close to God I feel when I am sharing love!

As you know, I treasure my time with my toy and best friend, Bob. We have such fun together; but I’ve learned that it is even more meaningful when I offer my beloved friend to others so they can enjoy him too.  I know you understand the depth of the sacrifice I am making with this gift, but in sharing I also share my love.   Like all things done with God, this gift of mine often becomes transformed into something greater in the process.  When I place my Bob at the feet of another, nine times out of ten that person will throw Bob for me to fetch.  Pretty soon, that person is not just enjoying Bob’s company, but mine too!  And, this togetherness blesses me as well!

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Many people think that a doggie like me doesn’t have much to offer.  My answer to them is that I may not have many things to give, but I always can give of myself.  Don’t underestimate how much comfort and joy can be created when one offers just his presence.  When I see someone in need, I will quietly slide in next to that person; just offering the presence of my body leaning into theirs. Often, an arm will reach out to hold me, or to stroke my fur.  And, my world improves with this ministry of presence too!  

Christmas is about God’s love being showered upon us in the form of that baby in a manger, Jesus Christ.  During advent, we prepare to meet Jesus when he comes again, and we practice loving others as Christ taught us to love.  There is no finer a gift to share this Christmas.  If this doggie can find something meaningful to share with others, anyone can!  Happy Advent and Merry Christmas!  

With love from your Church Dog,
TOBY

Give, and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.  For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  Luke 6:38

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Wishing you joy and peace in your day!  Remember, God’s got this.

Pastors Message

Reaching Out from 

Grand Lake Community Chapel 

Wednesday, December 1, 2021 

Greetings in Christ! 

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it! Let us rejoice in the beginning of a new  month, and let us be glad that we are now fully into the Season of Advent! Day by day, week by week, we’re  getting closer to the joyous day of Christmas. We should rejoice that we still have time to make our spiritual  preparations, and be glad that we still have time to make our homes ready for the holidays (assuming you’re  not one of those uber-prepared folks who had everything done right after Halloween!). 

We can’t emphasize this enough; Advent is a gift. It is not something to wish away, something to rush  through, or something to ignore. Advent gives us the time and space necessary to get ourselves truly, fully  ready to celebrate the birth of Christ. Wouldn’t it be nice to arrive at Christmas morning with nothing left  undone? All the gifts wrapped and placed perfectly under a perfectly-decorated tree, special treats perfectly  arrayed on perfect holiday plates, warm beverages perfectly poured into perfect Christmas mugs, and hearts  freed from worry and dark thoughts. What a grand vision! A grand vision that will take time to realize,  especially hearts freed from worry; Advent gives us the necessary time to work at releasing our worries, to  purge negativity from our minds, and to cleanse our spirits of doubt and fear. Embrace these four weeks of  Advent; treasure this gift, and take full advantage of it, so that you will awake on Christmas morn ready to  truly celebrate the greatest gift of all – the Newborn King! 

Blessings, 

Karen and Greg 

Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust.  Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.  Psalm 143:8

Wishing you joy and peace in your day! Remember, God’s got this.