Monthly Archives: January 2015


DSC_0316By Judy Villanueva

Philippians 4:11-12

 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

“As soon as God comes through for me and heals ‘this’ area of my life or provides ’that’ answer to prayer then, I’ll be content!  I’ll never doubt Him again and I’ll finally be happy!”  Sound familiar?  Tying contentment to circumstances can be a slippery slope.  If you are anything like me, my favorite solution to any and all angst usually involves getting what I think I need now.  But,   IF  I’ll make a little room for my discontentment to do its work, I just may find myself tripping over my truest and deepest longing, the one that is always reaching for God and touched by His presence!

The secret of contentment that Paul speaks of seems to be unraveled by the imperfect and discontented places of life.

They remind us that our souls ache to be filled!  I’ve often wondered if God didn’t create the five senses so that we can physically experience a foretaste of fullness.  Good food, sweet melodies, and inspiring vistas help us to know what it is to be satisfied.  Likewise, feeling hungry or empty, bored or lonely can motivate us to reach beyond the here and now for the ONE who is able satisfy our souls deep cry for love.   We were made for His presence  and in His company we find the secret of  contentment.

Today, as I shoveled snow off the driveway, I looked up and noticed I was being showered with the fluffiest, most beautiful snowflakes!  In this unexpected midlife moment, I felt like a child playing outside, caught up in the beauty and magic of what felt like a living snow globe!  I looked over at my husband, who was also helping to relocate millions of snowflakes, and felt Grace enfold me.  It drew me into an acute awareness of God’s goodness and seemed to sift out worry and offer me a cupful of joy! 

All of a sudden, I felt lucky and aware of what IS blessings my life, rather than what ISN’T.

I stood there with my face toward heaven and my arms stretched out, so as not to miss one ounce of the Grace that was falling all around me!

“Father, thank You that You want to be my place of deep and residing contentment.  Help me to follow my longings to Your heart that waits for me.  Thank you for always waiting and reaching for me.   Amen.”

What about you?

When did you last feel full and content?

Where and how are you now discontent?

What helps you feel close to God?

Have you experienced the secret of being content?

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To Live is Christ

DSC_0021By Judy Villanueva

For me, to live is Christ. (Philippians 1:21)

With my eyes closed, I soaked in the beauty of the worship ballad being sung over the congregation.  It was a sweet melody that offered an enfolding of love so scrumptious that I felt I could stand under it all day long.  Suddenly, a jarring noise from across the aisle pierced the song and shook me out of my blessed trance.  Feeling my peace disturbed, I glanced over in search of the source of these discordant notes and felt my breath catch as I found it!  There, across the aisle, was the most beautiful face lifted upwards and a little boy singing at the top of his lungs.  With one hand on his walker, he stood and belted out his perfect gift of worship with a smile that I believe lit the heart of God.  I wiped away tears, deeply touched and taught by this pure and holy offering of love.

The experience felt like a sacred moment where God was pointing to purity and saying, “Look!”  I’ve been praying lately about my fickle heart that, in one moment flows with love and, in the next, with self-interest and impatience.   I don’t like that.  It feels jangling and yet, reminds me of my great need for Christ and the fact that, while saved by grace, I am still a “creature in-process” of becoming holy.

The discord in my heart alerts me to the choices I have throughout the day to either turn to the Holy Spirit for help to live well or follow the impulses of my heart.

Without this tension, I’d likely become complacent and  step out of the flow of grace that is meant to wash, refine and carry me into the likeness of Christ.

I want to live, love and worship from a pure heart and truly mean it when I say, “For me, to live is Christ!”  Today, as I prayed for God’s help, I became aware that Jesus had drawn near and was, once again, pointing to something and saying, “Look!”  There was a hush in my soul as I turned my attention to my dearest friend who gently and lovingly drew my eyes to the cross.

There, beneath the echo of love’s purest song, I could feel my heart surrender and all preoccupation give way to joyous gratitude!

Can it be that simple?  In the shadow of the cross my heart is inspired, filled up and set free!  Love’s purest gift made a way once…and once and for all.

“Jesus, thank you for the cross and for belting out your purest gift of love so that I can be set free.  Help me remember that my job is one of receiving this gift and letting it empower me to live well.  Thank you for that little boy who gave me a picture of a heart freed to love!  Amen.”

What about you?

What does “To live is Christ” mean to you?

Do you want what you want?

Can you discern the discordant notes in your soul that are meant to help you feel  your need for Christ?

Have you felt the power of the cross wash over you?

Stand still and look up at your dearest friend…on the cross…pouring out love’s purest gift to set you free.

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