Joyous labor was mine to brainstorm, scrutinize and craft each little mom-made treasure for my golden heads. Laying each unique package out on Valentine morning beside the tower of raspberry cream crepes, the craft and delivery was indeed my focus for a time, but after the thank yous are said and they whisk out the door, I'm left with the substance: loving affection for my fold. Love is more important than the tangible gift.
In the middle of stuck inside winter, when the days seem unbearably long and monotonous, I am guilty of focusing on what I want (to avoid the downers) but I error because I miss seeing Jesus--the true answer to my need. I want Jesus to pull me out of this slump but I become so focused on deliverance, I miss the Deliverer.
When I am truly focusing on Jesus, the circumstances will become less important than the eternal Savior. Last Sunday, I heard "Christianity is an on-going call to every day believe in the Word of God." So my prayer must be submitting my spiritual and physical circumstance to God because He has power over the physical and spiritual realm (Colossians 2:15, Hebrews 2:14 Mark 4:39-41) and choose to believe His Word that
..for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the first born among many brothers. Romans 8:28-29
He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6
Do you believe God is working? He has an endless number of powerful possibilities He may choose to work in your circumstance. Will you focus on what you think you want or on Jesus, the one you need? He is superior to the gift.

It's Grace

Everyday my reckless decisions unleash more opportunities to become attuned to God's grace toward me; to realize His generosity toward me when I have done NOTHING to deserve it. Actually, I've done everything to incur His hatred, punishment and damnation. There is truly nothing good in me!
In His righteous judgment, I deserve to stumble and perish, to sink in the pit I have made, to catch my foot in the net in which I've been hiding, to be caught in the work of my own hands (from Psalm 9).
Holed up during the arctic blast, we watched movies and had conversations about character's attitudes toward God and their rebellion. Instead of turning to God for purpose and satisfaction they turned to sex, drugs and alcohol. In my rebellion, I tend to turn to food. Yet because of His grace, Jesus says, "You don't have to stay there. Come to Me."
And those who know your name put their trust in you,
for you, O Lord, have not forgotten those who seek you. Psalm 9:10
Because I Come to Him, He awards forgiveness toward my rebellion and all the wickedness and evil propensities in me are replaced with Jesus' perfect righteousness. I trust that's what Jesus did for me. I am reminded of this when I clean up the smudges, crumbs and goo from my little guy's face.
It's typical for me to categorize the wicked as crooked politicians, shrewd businessmen, drug dealers and traffickers, but I am wicked. The ONLY thing that differentiates me from "them" is my choice to come as Jesus invites!
Pray that more would come to Jesus and do not neglect to thank Him for His undeserved grace toward you. 

"All who labor"

As the morning affords just a couple quiet minutes, I'm praying and pondering my thoughts, my circumstance, my anxiety. Am I valuable? Am I replaceable? Am I appreciated? Am I used?
"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30

It is human to spend my days acquiring self-worth and approval from others. I am easily fixated on approval from mankind. Desiring validation and  commendation, I feel deflated without it. It feels heavy.
The fear of man lays a snare,
but whoever trusts the Lord is safe. Proverbs 29:25
Jesus whispers, "You are working too hard for man's approval and it is a heavy burden, so come. No matter what others say, how they label you or make you feel, believe in My estimation of you."
First Peter 2:4 assumes we are coming to Jesus, ("As you come..") and affirms that we will be rejected, devalued by mankind but God has chosen us and deems us precious and as we choose to come to Him, rather than men for our identity. And as we come to Him, we are being fashioned into the person He has designed us to be.
Fearing man will leave you a hot mess but rightly fearing God, as we come to Him, is being fashioned into a masterpiece.

"Come to Me"

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30
What would it look like if I learned what this really meant? For a month now, I've been praying this daily. Meditating on it. Believing it. Acting on it.
Today it means trusting in the Creator, not the created. Trusting in God for my hope and happiness, significance and security (New City Catechism, Question 17). My hope for this week doesn't depend on sticking to my new year's resolutions. My happiness for this day doesn't depend on a member of my family. My significance is not dependent on my job, or lack of employment.
The infamous they (whoever that is) say that one day your baby will just start waking up happy, jabbering to himself, playing, smiling... Well, I'm fourteen months into this and I can count on one hand the number of times that's happened. Nearly every wake time is followed by crying and panic. This little one wakes and depends on me for his happiness and security. It's a pathetic picture.
Is that what I look like? When the day's been a little tipsy-turvy, will I become an adult version of wailing, moaning and groaning for someone or something (uh, hum: chocolate and coffee) to be my hope and security? (Idolatry.) Or will I come to the Creator?
My security today and tomorrow rests alone in God my Creator, the very one who gives me breath.
I will claim that He is my happiness. He is my hope. He makes me significant. He is my security. I will come to Jesus and find rest.