Christmas is about Gifts?

When I was younger, I remember asking my mom why she didn’t get as many presents for Christmas as my sisters and I did. Her response was simply, “When you get older, Christmas is about your kids.” She didn’t say it with disdain or angst. She said it with a smile, as if to say, “You’ll see. One day you’ll feel the same way.”

And she was right. I have 4 kiddos and it never fails that every single Christmas, I would much rather watch their faces light up as they open their gifts then open even one gift of my own.

When I was thinking about this curious little part of parenthood, it made me think of just how amazing it is to be the giver of gifts. Yeah, it’s awesome to be the recipient. I LOVE getting gifts…especially ones that someone put time and thought into. Those are the absolute best. But, giving the gift has its perks, too.

Just go with me here. To give a gift requires planning. It requires paying attention to the receiver. What do they like? What makes them smile or laugh?

It requires an attitude of gratitude as you think about how the right gift can portray a message such as “Thank you for being in my life.”

Then, once the gift is picked out and wrapped up in bright, festive paper, you get to wait until the day arrives to give it to the other person. Oh, waiting is hard on any given day, but it’s WAY harder when you have something amazing to give away. Feelings of anticipation and excitement fill you up on the inside and beg to be released a few days early. But, no. That feeling signifies something so important to the gift-giving process.

It represents the love you have for the person that gets the gift. Tangible love.

So when the child or the mother or the husband finally gets their hands on the present you’ve been waiting for weeks to give them, you get to watch them experience a form of love . Their expressions are so worth it. Their reactions are priceless. It’s amazing how a gift can change sullen into cheerful and downcast into hopeful. That’s what love does.

This is what God foresaw when He decided to give us the most perfect gift ever in the form of His Son. He saw a world that desperately wanted to know love. Not just hear about love from a distance but actually feel it because they’ve experienced it first hand. This is what the manger means. It means we get to be the ones whose faces light up as we recognize that the Giver of love came just for us.

And our response is so natural and pure. There’s nothing fake about it. We, then, love someone else because He loved us first. He gave the first and best gift and we get to continue that legacy of giving until our very last breath. That, my friends, is why giving is a gift in itself.

Lord, let the cycle of love continue through me and my kids as we celebrate your birth this Christmas. It’s always been about love and will always be about love. I wouldn’t want it any other way. Clearly, you think so too. Thank you, Jesus. Amen

 

Finding Hope in the Mundane

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus

Look full in His wonderful face

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of His glory and grace. “

Helen Howarth Lemmel

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I love this hymn. It’s probably my favorite one. It addresses the questions and uncertainties of this life with an answer of hope.

The Answer is Hope.

This Wednesday, this mid-week slump of a day, has me all caught up in the mundane. I need some renewed hope. How about you? So, here’s my rendition of this timeless hymn. I pray it brings you newness of spirit, soul, and body.


I slightly see you Jesus. But I choose to turn, to redirect the position of my body so that I am facing in a different direction, to change my course if it is not in line with Your perfect will.

I really see you Jesus. I desire to look, to use my sight or vision in seeking, searching, examining, watching, to gaze upon Your beauty more than I stare at my ugly circumstances. 

I only see you Jesus. The darkness of this temporary place can’t overwhelm my soul. It has to fade away, disappear, vanish without a trace of existence in your presence.

I live to see you Jesus. Your love shines on every part of my life causing me to run wild and free because of your beaming favor that welcomes me into fields of grace.


Whatever you’re facing today, just look to the Jesus. the source of all HOPE, the answer to every problem. He will meet you where you are. And always guide you home.

The Best Big Bro Ever

Romans 8:29 says, “For God knew His people in advance, and He chose them to become like His Son, so that His Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”

Take a minute and really read the verse above. Let it sink in for a second.

Jesus is our big brother.

This is such a simple yet profound concept. It struck me right in the heart as I was reading my Bible plan today. You see, I am the oldest of three sisters. I have felt the sting of losing a sibling way too early in life.  And my baby sister just had her first child yet I couldn’t be there. We live many states apart and the distance makes it difficult to be actively involved in each other’s lives. Both the loss and the separation are extremely hard for me to deal with some days.

Can you imagine how hard these things are for our big brother, Jesus? He has to deal with loss and separation ALL THE TIME.

Those that turn away from Him because of the harshness of this world. 

Those that reject the free gift of family He offers and choose to do life on their own.

Loss. Separation. My whole perception of family changes when I think of it like that.

I have always cheered my sisters on. I have always tried to lead them down good paths. That’s what big sisters do. Don’t we all want someone rooting for us? Don’t we all need an example to follow?

But I have failed many times in my efforts to love them well. I have fought with them over hair dryers and clothes. I have chosen my own comfort over their well being. I have made bad choices that they saw and sometimes chose as well. I am, at most, a flawed big sister who has always wanted the best for my siblings but didn’t always get it right.

The amazing thing is: Jesus doesn’t mess up. He is the best big brother a kid could have. He fights for us not against us. He sacrificed physically, mentally, and spiritually so that we could live a life of freedom. He only chooses what’s in our best interest. He never leads us down a trail of mistakes or mishaps.

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He is all we could ever want in a big brother. And more.

For those of you who have felt loss and separation in your families- Jesus truly understands. He hurts with you.

For those of you who have never had an older sibling to watch out for you and lead you well- He can be that for you. Jesus is the most overprotective brother you could have.

For those of you who are the oldest in your tribe and have had to carry extra responsibility- Jesus wants to take that burden off your shoulders and carry it for you. He has super strength!

He’s holding up a big foam finger right now and screaming,  “You’re number 1! You’re number 1!” Can you see Him?

Ask Him to make the heartwarming truth of His brotherly love real to you today.

The Morning Light

Freedom is calling your name. Step into the light and never look back.

It’s a new day. Go ahead and take a deep breath. Remind yourself that His mercies are new every morning. 

Last night, in the dark, you may have said or done some things that you regret today. But my friend, the light of the morning sun has risen in the sky. The things done in the dark are forgotten in the light.

The light literally can’t contain the blackness of yesterday’s night. It has to shine. Bright and beaming, the glow of today overshadows yesterday’s dimness. All that’s left is what we remember.

Can you let the streaming rays call out to this hidden truth inside of you? Can you forgive yourself for what only you can still see? Let the early gleam of dawn refresh you with its brilliance, its illuminating possibilities.

The darkness limits us, confines us, traps us. The light sets us free to walk in a spacious place. Bask in the warmth of knowing you never have to be a prisoner to the dark ever again. Freedom is calling your name. Step into the light and never look back.

 Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life” (John 8:12).

Sunday Rest #10

Psalm 62:1-2

“I wait quietly before God,

for my victory comes from Him.

He alone is my Rock and and my Salvation,

my fortress where I will never be shaken.”

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Sunday Rest #9

“Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
    make known among the nations what he has done.
Sing to him, sing praise to him;
    tell of all his wonderful acts.
 Glory in his holy name;
    let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Look to the Lord and his strength;
    seek his face always.”

1 Chronicles 16:8-11

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Sunday Rest #8

“I will remember the deeds of the Lordyes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.” Your ways, God, are holy. What god is as great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; You display your power among the peoples. With your mighty arm you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.” -Psalm 77:11-15 

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Finish Your Race

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This past Saturday I ran the Go Girl Half Marathon.

It was the second race that I finished all by myself. And it felt good.

I signed up for it before my life took a tailspin out of control .

And then I didn’t want to do it because I was having a hard time getting up.

My training was hit or miss because of emotional stress.

My consistency was lacking because of my heartache.

But I showed up. (At 5:30am nonetheless.)

In the cold and windy darkness of the early morning.

I pushed past the pain of sore knees and tired soles.

Because I decided that I couldn’t do it for myself.

Not anymore. At first it was a personal achievement. A goal of pride.

But when my life got hard, it became a lesson in grace.

I was doing it for HIM. Because my focus was on what He did for me.

The very next day was EASTER Sunday.

The day we focus on the fact that Jesus showed up when He could’ve stayed away.

What if He had not run His race? What if He had left us hopeless and void of light?

What if Jesus never got up out of the ground?

Thank God that I don’t have to imagine such a thought.

Thank God I have His overcoming example to follow.

Thank God He enabled me to get up. To finish my race. 

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Potential or Problem?

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How do you speak to those in your world when an issue arises? What do you call out of them?

One of the things I’m the most passionate about is speaking with intention to everyone around me. Especially my family. Because if I can honor them with my speech first, then honoring those in this world will come naturally.

It’s hard to speak to my son’s potential when I notice him repeating the same frustrating patterns over and over again. But that’s when I rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to season my words with salt so I can respond to him in a gracious manner.  (Colossians 4:6)

It’s crazy difficult to address my husband from the viewpoint that he has inherent worth when I only focus on the areas that he lets me down in our marriage. But that’s when I ask God to show me my hubby’s strengths so I can then speak to his amazing purpose.

I think I have the hardest time recognizing when I do this to myself. It’s so natural to resort to self-defeatism when messing up, isn’t it? But if I am really aiming to speak to other’s potential instead of their problems, then I have to include myself. Having eyes to see my flaws isn’t bad, but looking at the flaws more than I look at my flawless God can result in dishonor to not only myself, but to everyone around me.

If I can’t see my own worth through the lens of Christ’s love for me, then I’ll never be able to see it anyone else. And we are ALL made in the image of God. So we are ALL marked for greatness.

Today, this Good Friday, I challenge you (and myself) to consider the words you speak over yourself and others. Are they a good reflection of what God says about His chosen people? Are you misrepresenting the gospel by focusing more on mistakes then on the One who died for every single one of your sins?

Matthew 3:17 says, “This is My dearly loved Son, who brings Me great joy.” God not only said that about Jesus, but He says it about you and me. We are His adopted children. When we walk in this truth, then we can’t help but speak to the potential of those around us.

Let’s speak the Father’s heart today.

 

(For more of my thoughts on the importance of words, click on my past post here.) 

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He’s Got You on His Mind All the Time

 

 

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Wholehearted devotion.

These words define the love of my life, Jesus Christ. And you know what? I’m the love of His life too. So are you.

Do you know Him? Can you even wrap your mind around this kind of earth shaking love? I can’t and I’ve been following Him since I was 5.

It literally takes eternity to fully grasp His eternal love.

He loves us.  It doesn’t matter what you have done. Like my daughter, Grace, (aptly named nonetheless) said yesterday at lunch, “Jesus forgives all of us even if we make really bad mistakes.” He wants to embrace us all.

Jesus died for you to show you that you are loved beyond any shadow of a doubt. I can never understand this kind of sacrifice but I will spend my whole life fervently pursuing the author of this love.

I get to discover more about Him every single day. For the rest of my life. There is NO END to His amazing love. Try to wrap your head around that.

You can’t. Which is why it’s so amazing.

 

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