Friday, December 24, 2010

Remembering The Days of 2010...


New Christmas Cut... Titled: "The Free Gift" (created December 12, 2010)


“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10b

Life is so full to the point that every December of every year, we are surprised that the end of another year has arrived so quickly.

“So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12

At the beginning of this year, I felt a word stand out to me, a word that would somehow sum up this year and things that God would be working or tuning in me. My word for this year was: STEWARDSHIP. I felt it was necessary to focus on this word in my marriage, my family, my home, my relationships, my responsibilities, and my waitings. Here are some of the things I learned or relearned:

*Make the most of every opportunity.

Speak words of blessing. Don’t underestimate the very simplest acts- a smile, a phone call to say you care, a note of gratitude… Even the smallest acts can grow big fruit in the hands of God. You never know how you can cause change to occur just by making the most of an everyday situation, being a cheerful giver, being patient, etc… While waiting for our house to make steps towards completion, I have stewed and stormed in impatience. I go through waves of peace to storms of restlessness. There was a certain point when I was impressed that the kids needed to have good memories of even this, so I had a small dedication moment with each of them. Each was given a pillar to paint. Their initial was creatively decorated, and I explained the reasons behind it. Such a simple, fun, and creative time was all to remind them to “Stay in the light of the Son.” He takes our monotonous, day-to-day moments, and brings light and inspiration to them. He takes our less than satisfactory efforts and blossoms them. The kids often recall that activity and remember the message behind it. A seed-planting moment that I pray God will flourish and grow into thoughts and feelings of love for His Word.

*Be a “finisher”.

Keep your promises as soon as possible. I have done it many times. One of my kids will come up to me asking me something, and I push them away with a “yeah, sure, later.” That “later” has stretched out for days, and sometimes never has come to pass. That leaves a lasting impression on my kids, and I do not want them to EVER think that God is that way because of my example. I must keep my promises and put them as a main priority. Even their little desires and needs are to be met with care, love, and consideration. (still working on this) And persevere until the end. Our lives are journeys, not just steps from one goal to the next. Sometimes, there are long waiting times, stumbling blocks, and steep mountains to climb, but I must keep going. Even if I have to trudge, crawl, hop, jump, climb, or tiptoe along the way.

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6

*Simplify.

I began to see how being overly busy was damaging communion in our home. The kids were crying out for attention, and so I made a point to eliminate some things that were “good” but not “best” for our family. I even made a point to keep the kids home from summer camp and just let them experience lazy days of playing, learning, and boredom. They learned so much because they were not overly stimulated. They had amazing creative play. And they will remember learning about the bees, butterflies, praying mantises, and other creatures that we examined and researched. We read together and laughed together. We had fun, and we made some amazing memories. There is a reason why God’s word says, “Be still and know that I am God.” Relax and enjoy the simple blessings; and by simplifying life, give yourself more time to truly spend with Jesus and spiritual seed planting and growing in family and relationships.

*Take responsibility for my own words and actions.

“Don’t blame the man.” It was a quote in the movie Second Chance, with Michael W. Smith in it. It was a quote that made a mark in my mind. How much time do I spend blaming someone else, complaining that it was someone else’s fault, etc? I have seen that I and my kids have been making a bad habit of blaming someone else for our failings, our mistakes, our lack of responsibility, and laziness. Excuses only leave room for negativity, back talk, and disobedience.

*Let go of my dreams so God can replace them with bigger and better ones.

I guess every girl spends a good part of her childhood dreaming: about marriage, having children, her possible career, and on and on… God asked me to surrender my dreams to Him. And, I responded like a raccoon, hoarding his treasure in his hand while the precious possession is stuck in a jar. Yup, I was like my stubborn, then, two year old who insisted it was “MINE”. Jesus had to coax my insecure and scared hands open and reveal that there is REST in trusting Him with my dreams, my failures, my heart, my future… I was reminded of Joseph. He had dreams, which were all dashed when his brothers sold him into slavery, when he was taken from all he had every known. He was taken to Egypt and could have easily just given into despair. God took his old dreams and replaced them with joy, peace, talent, favour, blessing, and new and marvellous dreams. He was abundantly blessed and used in a grand way because God had a plan for his life. Since He is the “same yesterday, today, and forever” we can rest assured that He also has a plan for our lives. When we surrender and trust, He can work His perfect will. It hurt to let go of my old dreams, some I had since childhood, but… I am so blessed by the relief I have found in being able to let go and trust Him.

*The true significance of forgiveness DOES also include Forgetting.

Forget the pain, bitterness, and resentment of the offensive act, as they will only eat away at my soul and add weight and burden to my heart. Fight to forget. But… remember to learn from the experience, and, so, grow better. Just be cautious, those old feelings WILL try to grow back again. Keep fighting them off, and be at peace knowing that God is my DEFENDER, my Shield, my Advocate.

*Stand in the gap.

“For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20

This was a particularly special lesson to me. I was blessed to experience this revelation while praying for some immediate family members, a brother in Liberia, and some other spiritual siblings in China. I believe this verse can also be 2 or 3 gathered for a common CAUSE not just for those in the same location. I am not able to be near my family in body, but, when we join together in prayer for a common need, Jesus is the common bond between us and He truly does BIND US together by His Spirit, even if there is half a world between us. I have seen it, and I have experienced the wonder of this. I have seen prayers answered this way.

*Praise hard, Pray harder.

Prayer IS the work! I have experienced Joy and peace that make no sense in hard times, and it is only because of Jesus. I have laughed in moments where I should cry for pain. I have cried with joy over moments where grief should be strong and silencing. I have also been learning that praying for my enemies, or those who have hurt me, really does make a difference. There is victory through prayer. Don’t stress! Take it to Jesus in prayer, and know that He cares.

“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” James 5:16b

This can be further explained in a quote which has recently become my favourite. “There can be no healing without thanksgiving.” (Martin Rinkart) I know this FIRST HAND- especially in my burn/healing challenge. There is healing in the presence of Jesus. The Lord “lives in the praise of His people.” (Psalm 22:3) Where the Lord dwells is healing, restoration, refreshing, renewal, and all we need.

I took some time to really focus on the events of this year, the joys and challenges. Here are some of the challenges that took place since January: mid January to mid February was the chicken pox epidemic that arrived full force; April began my journey into driving in Italy (what stress!); May was the scarlet fever outbreak; July was Dario’s lime-in-the-eye accident; September was the diagnosis that I suffer from stress induced headaches (ugh!); and November was the 1 year anniversary of Nonna Nunziata’s death, the 10th anniversary of my Abuela Lydia’s death, and others too. Not to mention, early November’s battle with lice and the end of November’s burn accident (me)- see HERE for more on that.

Those are some of the major things that have weighed in our hearts. That does not include waiting for our home addition to be complete, challenges of the heart with certain family members, and innumerable other things.

But, now, let me publicly count my blessings: getting back into touch with old friends and family and getting to know newer ones on Facebook; getting a papercut published; getting my driver’s permit in May; the boys’ June guitar recitals in which they did beautifully (so proud of them); the great summer of learning and growing together; visits from Zios, Zias, surprise cousins, and Grandma and Grandpa; Passing my driver’s written test and getting our shutters installed in September; Passing my driver’s practical test and getting my license in October; our windows and doors being installed in November; and celebrating these days that God has made. He has filled them with rainbows, beautiful sunsets, laughter, all kinds of fascinating details, and so much love.

If nothing else you read in this newsletter touches your heart, I hope this will. Jesus is sufficient for ALL of your, and my, needs!!! His birth, His life, His death- all speak of His extreme, extravagant, and marvellous love for us. He is “Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

He is waiting with open arms for YOU. “Draw near to God and
He will draw near to you.” James 4:8
We must not wait, for time is short. We must live each day as if it is our last,
before it really IS our last. Let’s live with purpose.

May God “bless you, keep you, make His face shine upon you, be gracious to you, and give you His peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26)

Happy Holy-days!! And, Happy New Year to you all!

Sincerely and with much love-
The Perillo Family
(Anthony, Celita, Antonio, Giosaia, Luca, Miranda, And Dario :-) )

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