How the Sand Dollar Points to Hope, Love, and Peace

“The legend of the Sand dollar
That I would like to tell
Of the birth and death of Jesus Christ
Found in this lowly shell.

If you will examine closely,
You’ll see that you find here
Four nail holes and a fifth one
Made by a Roman’s spear.

On one side the Easter Lily,
It’s center is the star
That appeared unto the shepherds
And led them from afar.

The Christmas Poinsettia
Etched on the other side
Reminds us of His birthday,
Our joyous Christmas tide.

Now break the center open
And here you will release
The five white doves awaiting
To spread good will and peace.

This simple little symbol,
Christ left for you and me.
To help to spread His Message
Through all eternity.”

– Anonymous –

The five doves inside are something I found out about recently. Doves. Signs of hope and peace. Signs of God faithfully sending His love. Signs that He will never forget us.

I have several sand dollars, but only one has five holes or lunules. There are several species of sand dollars. Key Hole Sand Dollars have lunules. All species do have the five doves inside which were actually their teeth when they were alive. God’s unique designs of His multitudes of creatures are fascinating, aren’t they?

Sand Dollar Facts Video

8 Things You Don’t Know About Sand Dollars

I’m taking off for the remainder of this year for a needed time of reflection, rest, and renewal. May God flood our hearts with the joy and hope-filled expectation of the celebration of Christ’s birth this Advent Season.

I hope to be back the first Tuesday in January.

“May the God of hope
fill you with all joy and peace
as you trust in Him, so that you
may overflow with hope by
the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Romans 15:13

Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love
by JDWood

“We long for Hope
When hopelessness is found
We pray for Peace
When violence abounds
We thirst for Joy
To lift our heavy hearts
We wait for love
To shine out in the dark
Then unto us a Son is given…”

Mary’s Devotion to God and His Way In Spite of Scorn

“Behold, I am the servant of the Lord;
let it be to me according to Your Word.”

Can you imagine an angel from God suddenly appearing in front of you? Telling you something will happen to you that is so incomprehensible that no one on earth can ever understand it?

What a shock it must have been for Mary, coming from the disregarded, despised city of Nazareth. She was among the poor and unnoticed.

But God noticed her. He chose her to carry our Savior, truly God who became poor so that we might become rich.

“You know the grace that has come to us
through our Lord Jesus the Anointed.
He set aside His infinite riches
and was born into the lowest circumstance
so that you may gain great riches
through His humble poverty.”
2 Corinthians 8:9 Voice

When the angel appeared, Mary became frightened, but the angel told her:

“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Now listen:
You will conceive and give birth to a son,
and you will call His name Jesus.
He will be great
and will be called the Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give Him
the throne of His father David.
He will reign over the house of Jacob forever,
and His kingdom will have no end.”
Luke 1:30-33 HCSB

Mary was baffled, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”

The angel replied to her:
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,

and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore, the holy One to be born
will be called the Son of God.”
Luke 1:35 HCSB

Wow! God poured in His grace, and Mary opened her heart and believed this was not impossible with God. She answered His call, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to Your Word.” (Luke 1:38 ESV)

What would this illegitimate birth mean for Mary in the culture in which she lived?  Her father might have cast her out and forced her into begging. She would be scorned and could even be put to death, but God took care of all this and told Joseph not to abandon her and to go ahead and marry her anyway.

She may still have been under suspicion. Maybe she even lost friends.

A difficult journey was ahead of her, and she knew her submission to God would be costly. Yet she remained devoted to Him and freely offered Him her body and soul. It was more important to her to follow God and have His favor than gain the approval of people.

O Lord, are we that available to You? Please help us to give You our whole hearts and lives, both body and soul. Make us open to whatever You have in mind for us in this life, even when we can’t understand it or we meet with resistance. Like Mary, help us to put Your favor and glory above people’s approval and favor. Enable us to throw ourselves into Your hands with a childlike trust as Your servants, ready to do or be whatever You ask us to! Help us to make room in our hearts for You! We invite You to be born in the stinking, dirty stable of our hearts! Help us to embrace and be filled with awe that You became poor so we might become rich! Thank You for Your free gift of unspeakable love!

 

Because Jesus Came Down, Love Will Never Fail

“Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast,
it is not proud.

It does not dishonor others,
it is not self-seeking,

it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil
but rejoices with the truth.

It always protects, always trusts,
always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

Don’t you just love the Christmas movies where love prevails? When a cold heart is melted? When a person’s life is changed for the better?

Sometimes all a person needs is one person in the world who cares. In The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, one little girl wormed her way into The Grinch’s heart. He hated Christmas and all the Whos down in Whoville who celebrated it. Christmas triggered a bad memory from his childhood when he was bullied and not accepted for who he was. But little Cindy Lou didn’t want him to be left out, and no matter how mean The Grinch was to her, she kept showing him she cared until finally the walls around his heart came tumbling down and his heart grew three sizes bigger. And peace was restored in Whoville.

Then there’s Jack Frost in The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause. He tried to take the warmth of love out of Christmas. He wanted it to be about him and his honor, not about love and giving. And again a little child leads, because along comes little Lucy Miller whose heart brims over with love. She hugs Jack Frost, and his cold heart melts and he becomes a better person. And peace was restored at the North Pole.

Even though some Christmas movies are make-believe and don’t speak of how love began with Jesus, there can still be an important message of love in them for our real world. Love changes things. One loving person can make an impact on others.

Sometimes we can get discouraged by all the hate, greed, and violence in this world, but love changes hearts, people, and circumstances. Because love came down at Christmas, peace is possible however impossible it seems.

When Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, tragedy both in the nation and in his family shook him to the core of his being. A raging Civil War, a son crippled from war wounds, and his dear wife’s tragic death sunk him into a deep depression. The joyous ringing of Christmas bells seemed to mock his sadness. Hate is so strong. Where is the peace?

And in despair I bowed my head ;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said ;
“For hate is strong
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men !”

Don’t we sometimes feel the same way when troubles and losses abound and when we look at everything that is happening in the world around us?

But God poured His love in, and hope revived in the heart of Longfellow. In the final stanza, he penned:

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead ; nor doth He sleep !
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men !”

Even though it may not seem so, love will prevail. Hope is still alive, because love came down at Christmas. Because Jesus came, love is possible in a world of hate, greed, and violence. Love can melt hardened hearts, change lives, and pour healing and peace into broken hearts and a broken world. Love that Jesus brought, love that can never be taken away, love that will be victorious forever.

Love Came Down
by Kim Walker-Smith

Love came down
Hope was found
A star lit the sky
The angels cried glory
Light broke through
The darkest night
Hope is alive
Hope is alive
Cause love came down
Love came down

May God pour into our hearts
His love, hope, and peace,
and may we pour it
out to others!