By Beth Calhoun
I don't know about you, but sometimes there is a crowd in my head! Especially this time of year when there seems to be a lot of preparations for Christmas. I tend to be more like Martha who wants to serve people but sometimes focuses on what needs to be done and gets annoyed when others don’t help (Luke 10:38-42). This past week, the Lord reminded me of what is really important - His perfect love.
We have a Christmas tree in our home this year. By some people’s standards, it is not an ideal tree. There is a hole in the back, the branches are not centered with the trunk and a few of the branches stick out way too far. However, the lights, garland and family ornaments cover all of the imperfections and the tree is now beautiful! As I was admiring the tree one evening, I realized that I am like the tree - flawed and imperfect. Thankfully, Scripture says that God created me in His image (Genesis 1:27) and He makes all things beautiful (Ecc. 3:11). So, like the lights and ornaments covering the flaws and making the tree beautiful, His love covers me and love covers a multitude of sin (1 Peter 4:8). His love covers you. His love is perfect!
HIs love is perfect in difficult times. This week, while trying to get everything ready for out-of-state company, (READY = trying to make everything perfect) I learned that one of our daughters has a friend going through a life-threatening situation. This friend’s one-year-old daughter unexpectedly became ill and underwent a liver transplant two days ago. At this moment, she is fighting for her life. This precious family is definitely not concerned about temporal things such as a clean house or Christmas presents. They are focused on their daughter, crying out to the Lord, their ever-present help in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1). The Lord is meeting them where they are and giving them strength as they sit by their daughter’s bed. This family is a light to the nurses and doctors around them. His perfect love is carrying them through this difficult and uncertain time!
This Christmas, probably all of us will experience a loss or change. In August, a very close friend/family member passed away unexpectedly. None of us had a chance to say goodbye and we are still so shocked and sad! I need to show love and appreciation to every person God has put in my life. We are not guaranteed our next breath and one day it may be too late to tell them that we love them. So often, I forget this and get busy all over again - thinking of the things that I “have" to do - however, this year, I am trying to reflect God’s perfect love to everyone that He has put in my life for as long as He allows them to be in my life.
Lord, in the midst of our flaws, times of crisis and times of great loss, help our thoughts be focused on You. Help us accept Your perfect love, depend on Your perfect love and reflect Your perfect love to everyone we see. Thank you for your perfect love and for being Immanuel, God with us!
My precious husband, Bill, and I have been planted in Fort Myers, Florida for almost 35 years. As a newly married couple, God most graciously had placed people in both of our jobs to share Christ with us. Its hard to believe it has been almost 34 years since we asked Jesus into our hearts! Bill and I have been blessed with four children, 3 daughters, then a son. These blessings came quickly, all within 6 years!! During these years I'm so thankful I was able to be part of women's ministry classes at our church, helping me to grow in my walk with Him. Then came the day when I was asked that question that stretched me way outside of my comfort zone...will you teach a class? Its hard to believe that I have now been teaching more than 20 years. Bill and I love to travel, most of the time going to visit our 9 grandchildren, oh ya, and their parents! I also love reading, walking and hanging out with some very special young moms in Beloved that bless my socks off!
Julie is a Kansas girl who resides in sunny Southwest Florida. She's been married to her husband Sean for 23 years and they share two boys ages 21 & 17. She enjoys baking and biking, but her absolute favorite thing is snow skiing which is a little difficult to do in a sandy 80 degree land.
She became a follower of Christ at age 10. She loves studying and teaching God's Word. She has a passion for encouraging moms to love and follow Jesus.
Beth grew up in a loving home; however, in her early 20s she faced a very lonely time. During that time, she cried out to God and asked “If You are real, please show yourself to me!” God met her where she was and she trusted in the Lord Jesus at that time. Her life verse and desire is “no matter what happens, to conduct herself in a manner worthy of the gospel.” Philippians 1:27
Beth now resides in Tampa, Florida with her husband Larry. The Lord has blessed them by blending their family of five children. They currently have eight grandchildren and are hoping that there will be more grandchildren in the future.
Donna accepted Jesus as her Savior at the age of nine and has been amazed at God’s goodness and faithfulness throughout her life. She has been blessed to have had many mentors through each season of life, who have shown her what trusting God looks like. Donna and her husband, Bryan, have five children, one son-in-law, one soon to be daughter-in-law, and one wonderful grandson. Donna and Bryan have recently moved back to their home state of Arkansas after livingin southeast Alabama the past 23 years. Donna enjoys spending time with her family, laughing with friends (usually over coffee), going for long walks with her husband, and reading a good book (which may also be accompanied by a cup of coffee).
Sarah is a true Florida Cracker. She was born and raised in Southwest Florida. At the age of 6, Sarah accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior, and she hasn't looked back since. Hebrews 13:8 is one of her favorite verses, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." Eating delicious desserts, spending time with her family and friends, and teaching people about Jesus are a few of the things she enjoys to do in her spare time.
Sarah has been married to her best friend and husband, Brandon, for 7 years. They have been blessed with one beautiful, determined son, Asher, who keeps them on their toes. Sarah and her family live in the Tampa area. They love exploring their community together, family hugs, and eating pizza whenever possible.
Katie Flint just recently moved back home to Fort Myers, Florida with her husband, Ryan and two children, Collins and Madden. At the age of 5, Katie accepted Jesus Christ to be the Lord and Savior of her life, after attending Vacation Bible School. Through each phase of her life, God has shown her that He alone is trustworthy. The verse that has been her life source is Psalm 46:10- “Be still and know that I am God.”
She is a stay-at-home mom and enjoys exercising and baking. She has been married to her husband Ryan for almost 9 years, who is her high school sweetheart. They enjoy trying new restaurants, family trips to the beach, and relaxing at home.
Marsha grew up in a small rural town in upstate New York. In 2006, after finishing college, she moved to sunny SW Florida where she met her, now husband, Shawn. Together they enjoy spending family time with their two fun-loving toddler boys Zachariah and Kairos.
Marsha enjoys living an active lifestyle, which is helpful, considering that her favorite hobby is baking.
Though she attended church as a child, Marsha was not saved until adulthood when her eyes were finally opened to the love and mercy of Jesus Christ.
Since being saved, God has placed a loving burden on her heart to share the truth about God’s healing grace with those who may feel like forgiveness is not possible for them.