Monthly Archives: December 2012

Cross Training

cross-trainingFootholds

“The Sovereign LORD is my strength;

he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,

he enables me to go on the heights.” Habakkuk 3:19 NIV

My kids and I enjoy rock climbing gyms. Each of us strives to reach  the top of the wall. The only reason I have for looking down is to find a spot for my foot that will push me high enough for the next handhold. My forward progress is aided when I look back for a better and higher foothold.

Stop for a moment on this New Year’s Eve . From what heights do you now sit and look at the waning year? What struggles have you fought through? What victories were won? What lessons learned? Were there any life-changing events this year? Take inventory. What do you remember most about 2012?

Now, look at these things as potential stepping stones, footholds for the new heights of 2013. Your biggest struggle may catapult you forward in 2013. My son recently completed Hell Week as part of his training with the U. S. Navy. This will neither be a fun nor a fond memory of 2012. He has survived an experience few men choose to endure and when I see him for the holidays, he will be different. Yet, I know this same experience will propel him to new heights and I can’t wait to see what the next year will hold for him.

How about you? What peaks are you eyeing for 2013? Look back, find a good foothold, and press on.

Questions for the Week:

1) Reflect on the passing year. What were your struggles?

2) What were the high points? Victories? Sins conquered? Bad habits changed?

3) How did you grow? What lessons did God teach you? How has your relationship with God changed this year?

4) How have the struggles prepared you to move forward?

5) What are you looking forward to in 2013?

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Cross Training

cross-trainingLayers

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3: 17a-19 NIV

Have you ever prayed for something and then were surprised when God answered? God’s loving response is that Christmas gift wrapped in multiple layers of boxes and wrapping paper. I never get to the end and each new box or layer of paper thrills me.

Paul challenges us to tackle the dimensions of this love: height, width, depth, and length. God surrounds us with grand things: the Amazon River, Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon, Mount Everest, the Pacific Ocean, the Milky Way. Each are profound in their magnitude, yet each has limits. God love knows no such limits. It stretches past our understanding and leaves us shaking our heads and wondering, “For me?”

For you.

God’s love is the ultimate gift and it never gets old. Unwrap it. Dive its depths, scale its heights, explore its length, and walk its width. Keep unwrapping into next week, January, February, forever. What will you discover this day? This year?

Questions for the Week:

1)                  List things that are : High       Deep    Long    Wide

What is the largest thing you can think of for each category?

2)                  How does God’s love compare with each of these?

3)                  Do you believe this love is for you? Why?

4)                  How does this affect you on a daily basis? Does it change how you live? If you don’t believe His love is for you, what would change if you did believe?

5)                  Paul talks in the last verse about “knowing this love that surpasses knowledge.”  What is the difference between knowing about and knowing personally?

Merry Christmas! God’s greatest blessings on you and your family.

Gayle

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Cross Training

cross-trainingEmpty Boxes

“In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly. But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well along in years.” Luke 1:5-7 NIV

Barren. Empty arms. Empty cradle. Quiet house. No cries. No laughter. Just two people now in the twilight of life.

Life had been an empty box for Elizabeth. Her barrenness covered her like a tattoo. Why had God withheld from them? From her? Had she learned to live with it by the time Zechariah returned from the Temple with quite the story to tell? As he played a life-changing game of charades that night, did she dare to hope again?

God is not the god of empty boxes. He is the god of fullness and in Him, all our promises are “Yes.” Through the following months, Elizabeth’s box began to fill. Did she grin through the morning sickness? Did she and Zechariah marvel as her belly bulged? Can you picture her baby shower? Boxes and boxes, full of promise and hope.

If you are in a place where your boxes seem empty, be patient. God is a god of full boxes. Nothing is impossible with Him. What is He wrapping in your box?

Questions for the Week:

1)                  What are your empty boxes, things you desired but that did not or have not come to fruition?

2)                  Has God revealed a reason for the present emptiness? What are some possible reasons? Is it harmful? A timing issue? There’s something better in store?

3)                  Do you trust Him enough to leave it in His hands?

4)                  What doubts do you have? Do they line up with Scripture’s picture of God?

5)                  What encourages you to keep trusting when the boxes look empty?

I Cor. 2:9         Rom. 8:28       Jer. 29:11         I Peter 5:10

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Gayle’s Gable

Currently reading:

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Everything by Mary DeMuth

The Warrior Elite by Dick Couch

Brotherband Chronicles: The Hunters by John Flanagan

Recently read:

Divergent by Veronica Roth

The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

Alienated by David O. Russell and Andrew Auseon

The Bell Maker by Brian Jacques

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

Skipping Christmas by John Grisham

The Landry News by Andrew Clement

What’s your current read? Any favorite holiday stories?

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Cross Training

cross-trainingHidden Treasure

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” Matthew 13:44 NIV

“Mom!” This groan echoes through our house every Christmas morning.

Brains shift into overdrive as the kids solve riddles in an effort to find Christmas gifts. I don’t remember when the Christmas Quest began, but it’s a yearly event even our adult children wouldn’t skip. To find their “best” presents, the kids must follow a series of clues. Helpful hints are offered but if you can’t figure it out, try a sibling. Their brainwave may track with Mom’s better than your current one. Clues are attached to everything from the dog to the diving board. I’m even contemplating submerging one in the pool this year.

God staged His own Christmas Quest years ago. Who would look for the King of kings in a stable? The Magi did the logical thing and went to the palace. Angels gave a bunch of scraggly shepherds a heads-up on the treasure and the first clue in finding it:

“This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2: 12 NIV

Picture the shepherds striding off to nearby Bethlehem. Where did they park their sheep? Were the sheep dogs left in charge? As they searched the local stables, did more than a few surprised farmers scratch their heads in disbelief? Imagine their faces when they find the right one. When our kids find their gifts, they must bring it back to the kitchen so we can watch them unwrap it. Imagine God’s joy as His Gift is unwrapped for the first time.

God has treasure for you every day. Are you willing to hunt for it? It’s not easy. The clues can be difficult and it takes time, but the treasure? Priceless.

Questions for the Week:

1)                  Think about a treasure hunt. What must the treasure hunters do?

2)                  Think about the one hiding the treasure. What must they do?

3)                  How do you feel when you discover treasure?

4)                  Does God leave clues or a treasure map to help us find His treasure?

5)                  Have you found the Treasure? What have you discovered? Could you help someone else in their Treasure hunt?

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Zuno’s Pick

Some of Zuno’s Christmas favorites:

The Candymaker’s Gift Written and Illustrated by David and Helen Haidle

The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore

The Real 12 Days of Christmas by Helen Haidle, Ill. By Celeste Henriquez

Other fun stories for Christmas time:

The Man of the House at Huffington Row by Mary Brigid Barrell (4 paws!)

Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo, Ill. By Bagram Ibatoulline

Minnie and Moo: The Night Before Christmas by Denys Cazet

Jingle Bells, Homework Smells by Diane de Groat

The Christmas Cobwebs by Odds Bodkin, Ill. By Terry Widener

Mr. Willoughby’s Christmas Tree by Robert Barry

Ernest’s Special Christmas by Laura T. Barnes, Ill. by Carol A. Camburn

The Farolitos of Christmas by Rudolfo Anaya, Ill. By Edward Gonzales

The Christmas Crocodile by Bonny Becker, Ill. By David Small

Harriet and George’s Christmas Treat by Nancy Carlson

Santa and the Three Bears by Dominic Catalano

Christmas Cricket by Eve Bunting, Ill. by Timothy Bush

What are your favorite holiday stories?

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Cross Training

cross-trainingHave You Lost Your Marvels?

“The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him.” Luke 2:33 NIV

The Christmas story. In Matthew and Luke’s accounts, miracles burst forth like microwave popcorn. But does the popcorn seem stale? If you were raised in church, you’ve tasted this story DVDed, Christmas-pageanted, and Nativity-scened.

Have you lost your marvels?

Luke tells us Mary and Joseph marveled at the goings-on surrounding Jesus’ birth. Interesting in light of the fact they had both received angelic heads-ups. Did such knowledge require a lifetime to process or was its unfolding cause for awe and wonder?

Explore the Christmas story this month. Put on Joseph’s sandals and walk in them. Feel his rejection when he hears of the pregnancy, wake up in a cold sweat after an angel-driven dream, and travel to Egypt with your power tools and an Israeli-Egyptian dictionary in your pocket.

Wrap Mary’s shawl around your shoulders or better yet, check out Elizabeth’s new nursery, stocked with Similac and Geritol.

Hold your breath in Herod’s court as his paranoia runs rampant.

Get saddle sore with the Magi as they travel mile after mile, not to Disneyland, not for business, but to worship.

Lace up your boots and hike through the fields with the shepherds. Search for the Messiah in a manger.

You just might find your marvels.

Questions for the Week:

1) Begin to read through the Christmas story. You can find it in Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2.

2) What is your favorite part of the Christmas story? Why?

3) Choose one character from the Christmas story and immerse yourself in their story. Ask God to show you something new.

4) Share what you learned from Question 2.

5) Did you find your marvels? What do they look like?

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