Thursday, November 22, 2012

WEAVINGS: Give Thanks

WEAVINGS: Give Thanks
by Cindy Stiverson

"The Lord Jesus, on the night that he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it..." -1Corinthians 11:23-24

I purchased a book last winter which I was so excited about that I purchased two extra copies to give away. I had stumbled upon the author's blog and was incredibly intrigued. Yet, somehow the excitement of my purchase was derailed before it arrived. I have just in the last few weeks engaged it, only to discover the timeliness of this read. One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp: it's the perfect read for Thanksgiving, for Christmas, for the alignment of my life's current endeavors, and perhaps...yours
 
The author wraps her mind, her heart, her life around the Greek word eucharisteo, "giving thanks". In the midst of her pain, disappointments of the past, and gruntwork of the day-to-day, the author begins a simple yet profound list. One thousand gifts. No, this is not a "what I want for Christmas" list! It's a list of how the simplest things are the sacred. It's a list of day-to-day unnoticed taken-for-granted blessings.

Eucharisteo: the word defines the final activity of Christ with his disciples. Knowing they were about to betray him, to deny even knowing him, he ate a meal with them, "he took bread, gave thanks, and broke it"(Luke 22:19). Today, the Eucharist is the church's sacrament of communion, the breaking of bread, the drinking of the cup, symbolically partaking of the broken body and poured out blood of Jesus Christ. Thanksgiving is the giving and receiving of charis: grace.
 
I'm guessing many of us will be seated around the turkey among family, friends, who have betrayed or disowned us. We have deeply rooted disappointments, disagreements, that show up at the family table. It will require grace to break bread and commune with them. There are loved ones who have passed on, leaving an empty chair that no one can fill, a void in our hearts. Yet, in the midst of this, we can search for and discover profound treasures in the unnoticed, the seemingly simple, the everyday. And the simple becomes profound in the writing of it.
 
Will you join me this Thanksgiving, this Christmas, in writing a list? Not a list of wants, but a list of haves; the simply profound joys of life and living and breathing. 
  1. a sun-kissed day of Indian Summer
  2. a soft butterscotch kitten purring against my chest
  3. the thrill of sharing my heart, my God-thoughts with unknown readers around the world...
What's on your list? The sharing of our lists is like breaking bread together, the communion of giving and receiving grace. Thanksgiving. I pray you will begin your list...and share it!



______________________________________


I am a speaker, writer, artist and an ordained minister in the Church of the Nazarene. I lead the women at NewarkNaz in Newark, Ohio. In 1998, God gave me a vision for Woven: Women of Virtue Network. It's a blessing to be involved in so many women's lives. Sometimes I think my heart will burst.
So very thankful for my hubby Mark. Extremely proud of my daughter speaker/author Nicole and son-in-law Matthew Bromley. Love my grandsons Jude and Isaac beyond measure.

Loving the Lord with all my heart and leading others to do the same is the greatest joy of my life!
     

Saturday, November 17, 2012

WEAVINGS: Traveling Light



Weavings: Traveling Light
By Cindy Stiverson

For most of us, the holiday season equates to traveling. More than that, for many of us it comes with the emotional baggage of being around relatives and people that we may see only once a year. With Thanksgiving this week, I hope this post will help us to keep things in perspective...

"Come to me,
all of you who are weary
and carry heavy burdens,
and I will give you rest."
Matthew 11:28


I love to travel. My heart longs to go places I have never been. At the top of my "bucket list" is the longing to travel to distant lands, experience many cultures, meet people who are different than I am, minister to their needs, introduce them to Jesus, share the love of Christ.

This is a burden that often weighs on my heart and mind, especially as I get older and my body grows wearier. Traveling takes a toll on my body. It seems I now have to remember to add a few days to my trip itinerary after I return just to rest from having been gone!

My Boy and I take an annual spring vacation. It's a trip we look forward to all year. Sometimes, out of nowhere, he will smile at me and say, "Eight months (or whatever the length of time) from now we will be in Florida." It always catches me off guard because he begins the countdown even a few weeks after we return home!

As the weeks progress, I start thinking about the things I will pack. But every year, it seems when we get down to the wire, we pack in a last minute frenzy! In fact, I've noticed a trend of every trip. When I don't have time to plan in detail, I start throwing everything in! I tend to over-pack in fear of under-packing!

Over-packing definitely makes traveling more difficult. It's wearisome to lug all that baggage around: to be responsible for it at the airport, to lift it off the luggage rack, into the shuttle or rental car, into the hotel, up the elevator, into the room, and put it all away. Then, we have to do it all in reverse to get it back home!

There's much to glean from "traveling light". Yet, it seems that when it comes to life, few of us do. We carry around a lot of baggage. We are heavily burdened. The problems of life weigh us down.

In this passage, Jesus invites us to bring our baggage to Him. Yet, so often, He is our last resort. As a pastor and evangelist, it has amazed me when people put off "coming to Jesus" until they get rid of their baggage or until they know more scripture, or until they get their personal lives straightened out...or until _____________. (You fill in the blank!)

What's wrong with this picture of Jesus?

He is the only one who can take away our baggage, our burdens, the luggage of life that we carry around. We walk around like oxen, with a yoke around our neck, unhealthy attachments to unhealthy people, clinging to the past and to material things that are really worthless. We think, "I can't go to Jesus with this!" As if He can't see it?


Take a trip to Jesus. He's inviting you to come. Not someday, but now.
Come with all your baggage, all your burdens, all your imperfections.
Come weary of your life so that you can receive His life.
Come just as you are.

This is one trip you don't want to put off until "someday".
This is a trip we can and should take "everyday".
Make sure you bring all your baggage.
And be sure to leave it all there too.
Just Come.
"Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you because I am humble, and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls (Matt. 11:29-30NLT)."


 
______________________________________


I am a speaker, writer, artist and an ordained minister in the Church of the Nazarene. I lead the women at NewarkNaz in Newark, Ohio. In 1998, God gave me a vision for Woven: Women of Virtue Network. It's a blessing to be involved in so many women's lives. Sometimes I think my heart will burst.
So very thankful for my hubby Mark. Extremely proud of my daughter speaker/author Nicole and son-in-law Matthew Bromley. Love my grandsons Jude and Isaac beyond measure.

Loving the Lord with all my heart and leading others to do the same is the greatest joy of my life!

Friday, November 2, 2012

WEAVINGS: Whiter than snow

 
WEAVINGS: Whiter Than Snow
by Cindy Stiverson
 
David's cry of repentence in Psalm 51:

"Create in me a pure heart, O God."
"Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me and I will be whiter than snow."

The trees are now bare, naked from the strong winds of Hurricane Sandy. The timing of the storm has blown away the last leaves of the season. Hope awaits. Hopelessness prevails. A sense of gloom, loss of life, color, light. Tis the season: the in-between of nature.
 
Like the trees, "We do not want to be found naked." Like David, we "do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed." It's uncomfortable to be caught in the in-between of our sin and God's gracious forgiveness. "Meanwhile, we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling..." (Romans 5) 
 In fact, "the whole creation groans." (Rom. 8) And God so mercifully responds.
 
In His timing, He covers the trees, the earth with a blanket of white. The snow, etching their nakedness with beauty, brings definition to the finer lines and details of every limb, branch, twig. It hides the imperfections, the ugly of the earth. It turns horizons of greys into the brightest of whites. Pure. Peaceful. Profoundly white.
 
As much as I dislike winter, I find myself longing for the white stuff of it. David's cry of repentence was a prayer of hopelessness, helplessness, with the assurance of hope, peace, profound cleansing. He prayed for purity, longing for the white stuff of God: redemption of his sin. He knew he was a sinner, but he also knew the saving grace of God.
 
"We groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies."(Rom. 8) Let your inward groanings produce a harvest of righteousness, redemption of sin and a right-standing before God, who turns all our greys and uglies into pure, profound beauty.
 
Cleanse me...and I will be whiter than snow, Lord, whiter than snow.


Have Thine own way, Lord! Have thine own way!
Search me and try me, Master, today.
Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now,
As in Thy Presence humbly I bow.
(Adelaide A. Pollard, 1902)
 



______________________________________


I am a speaker, writer, artist and an ordained minister in the Church of the Nazarene. I lead the women at NewarkNaz in Newark, Ohio. In 1998, God gave me a vision for Woven: Women of Virtue Network. It's a blessing to be involved in so many women's lives. Sometimes I think my heart will burst.
So very thankful for my hubby Mark. Extremely proud of my daughter speaker/author Nicole and son-in-law Matthew Bromley. Love my grandsons Jude and Isaac beyond measure.

Loving the Lord with all my heart and leading others to do the same is the greatest joy of my life!