Prepare Your Heart For Christmas – Advent #1

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Alive and Active Life
Prepare Your Heart For Christmas - Advent #1
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You prepare for Christmas in so many ways. But how do you prepare your heart?

Advent

The Christmas Advent Season has been richly celebrated for many years. Historically, an advent marks the arrival of a notable person or event. Often, a wreath with candles has been used during Christmas Advent, lighting a new candle on each of four weeks leading up to Christmas Day.

Even if you choose not to use a wreath with candles, there are simple, thoughtful ways you can prepare your heart.

This is the first in a series to help prepare your heart for Christmas. Each week we will light another candle in our hearts as a statement of preparation. (Notice each additional week’s article in this series has another candle lit in the main featured image.)

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Do You Wonder About Prayer?

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Alive and Active Life
Do You Wonder About Prayer?
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Sometimes I wonder about prayer. How to pray most effectively. Do my prayers make a difference? Similarly, I wonder how to deepen relationship with God. In our physical, visible, daily reality – going after invisible qualities can be hard to define. Do you ever wonder about how to deepen your relationship with God? Or do you wonder about prayer? Read More …

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Under Feathers

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Alive and Active Life
Under Feathers
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Feathers have captivated people for centuries. Inventors and scientists have studied flight by looking at birds, wings, and feathers. Artists use various mediums to capture the beauty of feathers. Coincidentally, there are still folks who make down pillows and comforters with softest feathers. Kids adore fluffy, colored feathers for fun projects. Feathers have been used for insulation. At one point in history, the best arrows were made using feathers. Today’s content is about being under feathers.

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Nature’s Diamonds

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Alive and Active Life
Nature's Diamonds
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Have you seen white clouds so fluffy you could reach out to touch them? Think about huge sequoia trees that take about 20 people holding hands to form a circle around the base. What about a simple, dainty butterfly alighting your arm for a moment. Waterfalls, majestic mountains, colored leaves, music of songbirds. No doubt – nature is beautiful! Inspiring. What a privilege to absorb the displays, relax in its calm, and explore its wisdom, precision, and wonders. With numbered days, we should ponder Nature’s Diamonds often.

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Turn The Light On For Direction: 7 Steps

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Alive and Active Life
Turn The Light On For Direction: 7 Steps
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One of the first things you do when you walk into a room is turn the light on. That enables you to see everything, prevents falls, and helps you find your way. A light makes your environment feel more welcome. And it’s sure easier to find a misplaced item. But here’s the question: if it’s easy to turn a light on in a room, why is it harder to turn the light on inside you?

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TRUE COLORS

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Alive and Active Life
TRUE COLORS
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I love autumn colors! I wait for them every year. In fact, autumn is my favorite time of year (next to Christmas celebrations). Incredible displays of color, the crisp, magical feel in the air, the cheer that rises. Gorgeous skies. Backyard firepits, s’mores, and hotdogs. Pulling out the warm, cozy sweaters. Yet, even as I enjoy the splashes of color that cheer the world, and as I indulge in the entire experience, the colors remind me of something else. It’s something that helps me, but it’s also rather sobering. It challenges me, too. And it all has to do with true colors.

(Your area of the world may have already finished autumn colors, and you may have snow! Perhaps your area of the globe is warm year around. The lessons of true colors are still applicable to every person!)

True Colors In The Community

Before getting into today’s content, would you like to see some community colors? The trees on a walk through my neighborhood are majestic and beautiful. They give so much joy and draw my heart to the Creator. Notice the gorgeous colors against the moody fall skies. Some of the trees look like a paintbrush that an artist dipped outer edges into bright colors.

Every autumn, I’m in awe at what is beneath (inside) the cloak of green over the leaves. As I consider this, I become pensive about my life, asking myself good questions and pondering my own changing seasons. Here’s a peek into my head during those times:

  • What is beneath – inside me right now?
  • What character do I need to developed further?
  • As I consider all the unknowns of the future, how will I respond when I hit problems and difficulties?
  • Do I represent Jesus well?
  • Is He formed in my life?
  • Do others see His beauty when they look at my life?
  • What changes do I need to make to have more true colors?

 

Back-It-Up Into Summer

Let’s back-it-up into summer for starters. All summer we enjoy the living green around us. Deep, rich, vibrant shades and hues of green compliment each other. A beautiful emerald sea. It feels comfortable. Add all the gorgeous blooms and fruits of gardens, the soft coo of mourning doves, and the cheery music of songbirds. Then add the hum of grasshoppers and buzz of bees. Maybe the smell of freshly cut grass. Finish this landscape with a glass of ice tea, sun glasses, and a good book.

But summer days shorten. Crisp air crawls over the earth, and a thin veneer of frost lingers each day until sun rays melt it away mid-morning. Unannounced, quietly, ever-so-slightly the show of true colors begins. Green slowly retreats. True colors give a “first peek” as fall gently nudges summer to the side. A new beauty emerges.

True Colors Emerge

As a child, I remember learning that chlorophyll pulls inward from the outer parts of a tree into the center during winter. As a result, colors that were hidden when chlorophyll was present are then seen. In other words, you see the leaf’s true colors. How interesting. The green was a sort of covering. A temporary cloak. Even a kind of blanket.

Every year this transformation from deep, rich green to colorful fall displays is an opportunity to see what is actually there in the absence of chlorophyll. And it’s a reminder to thoughtfully look at your own true colors. What’s underneath the daily chlorophyll, your covering, where others don’t see. Changing seasons can be a reminder to explore your true colors.

True Colors Of Shifting Seasons

Seasons of our lives shift and change. Some shifts are unpredictable. Some changes are regular and expected – like clockwork. The unique opportunity of shifts gives a peek into what is really going on inside you. It reveals your character, who you really are in your center (your heart), and who you are becoming.

Questions are excellent tools to help you identify and take advantage of your shifting life seasons. Sometimes a change of seasons feels like a threat. We are not ready for what it brings. Other times, it’s a welcome relief that couldn’t come soon enough.

There is good in every shifting season, even ones we strongly dislike, because God has promised to walk with us through each season. He has promised never to leave you. And He has said, “. . . in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, and who have been called according to His purpose.” (Rom. 8:28)

One of the “dependables” I’ve discovered about life is this. The good things always co-exist alongside the difficulties. There is always something to be thankful for. Because this is true, a person can train their heart to look for God’s blessings – and enjoy them with a grateful heart – even when they go through trials.

Good Questions About True Colors

So here are some good questions to evaluate your emerging true colors:

  1. What is revealed when stress and pressure push you to your breaking point?
  2. What is present in your heart that you try to hide? Why do you hide it?
  3. Do you remember God sees everything about you? Do you remember He loves you so much?
  4. What would others see if your veneers and presentations were pulled back?
  5. What do you try to paint as “more green” – and why? Is it worth all that effort?
  6. Do you ever wish you could just be yourself? (You can.)
  7. Are you pleased with how you present yourself? (You can be.)
  8. Is your presentation (thoughts, words, actions) congruent with God’s principles, and is your heart connected to God’s heart?
  9. What is the worst that would happen if you decided to be honest about yourself, revealing your true colors?
  10. Did you know you can change your colors to be more beautiful and pleasing to God?
  11. Have you come to enjoy your own unique true colors? (Instead of copying someone else’s colors. )
  12. Why not rejoice in the person God made you to be? God gave you beautiful true colors.

 

Those are sobering, critical questions. They require pensive interaction. Asking and answering them helps you engage an Alive and Active Life.

A Look In Your Back Yard (or Your Park)

So what do you see when you look out your window? What true colors are emerging in your yard or nearby park? Similarly, when you peek through the window of your life, what colors do you see? What true colors paint your character and your heart?

Sometimes a person is deeply regretful when they see the colors of their life. Their choices make shame and failure rise up in their mind. This reality is part of the process of choosing to change your colors. If you are truly sorry for past choices, simply tell Jesus. The Bible calls this repentance. Scripture says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 Jn. 1:9)

Did you get that? Your colors can change. You can find out what your true colors were designed to be. God always creates incredible beauty! That means your true colors are lovely.

Slow Down To See True Colors

It helps to slow down. I like to call that a “pause.” I remember a year when I was so busy – I completely missed the colors of autumn. I was grieved at my loss when I realized it was already done. Since then, I’ve tried to be more attentive to changing seasons and colors. This means slowing down enough to look.

Just like noticing nature’s changing seasons, slowing down means pausing to enjoy the beauty God intends to share with you each day. Ponder His creative power to connect with His colors. See the beautiful display of His love for you.

Slowing down also means connecting with the person God designed you to be. You are made in His image – beautiful and holy. Why not be the person you are designed to be?

Pausing is essential to know God better. You have to know who you are emulating. Slow down (pause) and take a look. “. . . live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God . . .”  (Col. 1:10) You can have true colors of good living. And you can personally know God!

Slow down. Pause. Look at Jesus. Look into your heart and character. Match your life colors with God’s palette of every imaginable color. Be the “you” God designed. Dip the edges of your paintbrush into God’s paint of true colors.

Application Questions and Thoughts

  1. Are you pleased at true colors that show themselves – or are you perhaps embarrassed?
  2. Are you willing to pull your green back and let God’s true colors show through your life?
  3. Do you pause long enough to see the blessings in your seasons, co-existing with your difficulties? Why not slow down? Pause.
  4. Why not engage your unique true colors with all your might, creativity, and passion?
  5. Are you willing to let your display of colors point others to Jesus and bring more joy to these troubled days?
  6. The color red dripping from the cross onto your life reveals your true colors. Why not stay very near the cross and let Jesus change your colors with His?

 

Let your true colors show and live an Alive and Active Life this week!

 

 

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I Just Don’t Care Anymore!

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Alive and Active Life
I Just Don't Care Anymore!
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It’s been a rough couple of years! People are feeling it. Communities, countries, the global community have challenges and threats that are astronomical with limited solutions. In addition, it has become increasingly hard to know who to trust. All this upheaval can sometimes make a person feel – “I Just Don’t Care Anymore!”

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Heart Atrophy = Stone Heart

Alive and Active Life
Alive and Active Life
Heart Atrophy = Stone Heart
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Pause! Right now stop what you are doing. Put your hand over your heart – or place your fingers on your wrist to find your pulse. Be ever quiet and still as you feel the beat of your heart. That steady beat keeps you alive. Can you imagine how ineffective your heart would be if it was a stone heart?

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A Little Thing That Encourages

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Alive and Active Life
A Little Thing That Encourages
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Sometimes you just need a little pick-me-up! Days can get pretty tough as the years slip by. Yet – there is encouragement for the taking – all around you. Little things here and there. Have you found God’s little thing that encourages today?

I remember realizing years ago – it takes growing in alertness to notice God’s little thing that encourages. I’d like to share just a couple of examples from my life.

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Angels

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Alive and Active Life
Angels
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Have you ever seen an angel? I have not. I have a number of precious “people angels” in my life. But face-to-face with a real, live, heavenly angel? Not a chance!

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