Personal Challenge

Christian rejoice!! You are a child CHOSEN by God! You know that thought makes you smile because it is true!! He has chosen you for a special purpose, to bring forth fruit.

As I have been looking toward the new year in front of me, I want to give you a challenge that I have given myself. What am I doing this year to further glorify my Savior and the Kingdom of God?

Jesus died for me. He died in such a violent and degrading way, It hurts when I think of all the pain He went through because He loves me that much. How could I not want to serve Him now? What can I do to minister to those that He puts in my path? I want to use my life to magnify our magnificent God!!

All to say, if a person does not have a sincere need to know and grow closer to God, there is a very good chance he has never met Him. He has never become a child of Yahweh. The hunger has been placed within us. So, how do we then magnify the Lord?

You need to spend time alone with God. In your quiet time, allow your mind and spirit to discover things about God that are in depth, penetrating and personal. Don’t be satisfied with what the world shows you. Worship Him in the Holy of Holies. It is there that you will see God. It is there that you will encounter that nearness your soul has been longing for.

God wants to know you as well. He is the Great Pursuer. Seek Him, as He is seeking you. Don’t be satisfied with a Sunday morning messages. Dig into His Word. Go deep! Spend time alone in His presence. Connect with Him through intimate vulnerable prayer time.

You will discover things that you never knew—new things, profound things and life-changing things. God will give you opportunities to share His great love and blessings with those who you might not have seen but have seen Him in you.

So again I ask you the same question I am asking myself on this eve of a new year…What can I do this year to glorify my Savior and further the Kingdom of God?

Christmas Traditions

I absolutely love spending time with my family during Christmas. I love the heavenly scents of baking, the boisterous giggles during games (when my youngest will play with me), the crackle and pops from the fireplace as we all cuddle under blankets watching White Christmas together quoting lines as Bing speaks them. The moments when new family members get to join in our traditions and see them just fall into the comfortable bit we have made and want them to feel welcome. These are the family moments that are such a gift to my heart. You can’t wrap them and they are worth more than gold.

Christmas service, specifically children’s service, has been my most watery part of the season for years. Quite possibly because watching my children worship the Lord so openly…its like my soul is on the outside. I become completely undone. Its not pride. I don’t even know the word for it. It feels like I am witness to part of what heaven will be like. My children, worshiping at the feet of Jesus. Even now I am choking up.

Last year, because my youngest is height challenged, she was allowed to stay in children’s choir longer than others. Its good for them, having another child who can follow rules and keep the littler ones in line. This year even though it seems that height was still not gifted to my baby girl, she didn’t have time to join the choir. So this was the first year I had no children in the Choir at church. Yes, that was a sad sigh you heard as you were reading this. Was it still magical? Honestly, I had no intention of it being enchanting at all. I was a little sulky. I know, it is about Jesus. I just missed openly that it was missing one of my minis.

I sat in the back. Not to be a stinker. I really felt the momma’s needed the front photo spots and the family that came to see the kiddos should have the good seats, not the lady reminiscing of years past. Our church changed it up this year. They went back to how it used to be before my kids had the opportunity to join. It was a full Christmas play! It had every single child that wanted to be in the choir, not just the select few! It was glorious!!

There were 170 children singing or acting out the story of Jesus birth.

One thing I have truly missed from our old church and have always thought was so sacred, was the candlelight carols. There is just something so serene having a congregation in dull flickering light singing Silent Night or Away In A Manger. It is like a Christmas hug from your favorite grandma. This year our church incorporated a version of candlelight in our sanctuary. I understand how dangerous this is, but its ethereal.

This year someone found battery operated candles. Everyone including the littles got candles. To be in a room, surrounded by hundreds of believers, men, women, children, all singing in somber tones with subtle little lights lifted high for the Lord…it was something my heart did not realize how much it had missed. It was more than a peek into heaven.

These are the things that make Christmas for me: Faith, food and family. I pray you have special things like this that just make the season of celebrating the birth of Christ a joy for you and those whom you love the most.

Timing

There is nothing wrong with wanting something. Some things we want are just to make our lives easier or maybe someone else’s. Sometimes we just want stuff because its cool, the new “it” item or we think it will make us look like we are more than we actually are. Then there are the wants of healing. This could be your heart, your marriage, your grandmother’s terminal illness, your prodigal child or your life situation in general.

Being in want is part of life. We just need to be careful that we don’t start to become fearful of not receiving exactly what we want or getting it when we want it. When we make that our focus, it can put us in a formidable funk. We can start to get angry that we are not getting our way. Might even start the seeds of animosity towards God for not following OUR PLAN for how we strongly feel our life should be flowing.

We must remember, even when it seems ridiculous, to have total trust in our incredible God. His timing is ALWAYS, ALWAYS PERFECT. Our duty is to believe in His goodness and fearlessly wait for Him to bring us to precisely what our lives require when it’s absolutely essential. It takes strong faith and fortitude to stand firm in the knowledge that what we “want” might not be what is right for us to cultivate our spirit in the way God has outlined for us. Even if the situations don’t turn out the way we desperately want them too…God always guides us to what is for the best, in His timing, through His plan.

When Christmas isn’t sparkly and joyful…

Elijah was alone in the desert. All by himself, in the desert, alone. I am talking no nothing around. There was no corner market, no coffee shop, no park to watch kiddos play…there was absolutely no Wi-Fi signal at all. He was in a place so removed from society uber eats could not even find him. He was so isolated that for him to eat, birds brought him food!

I have lived in this spot. I don’t mean literally in the desert being catered by ravens. I mean hurting so deep, in a way that kept me so far emotionally from the world around me. It’s a dark, desolate, empty and deserted place. You feel so alone. You kind of embrace the aloneness because you are just so incredibly broken.

Sadly, I know that at Christmas time more people seem to find that secluded spot. There are many reasons that you can find yourself there, being saved a seat in a dark corner of rejection and unworthiness. I have personally been fortunate enough to even have Disgusted seated at my right and Unneeded on my left for dinner partners. Lucky me. There are many reason you might find yourself there too. Maybe the death of a loved one, loss of a friendship, adulterous spouse, reduction of workforce, sickness, a breakup, moving, overload of bills, watching someone you love walking through something painful…so many different paths to get you to the same place of withdrawing.

Friend, don’t allow this new normal to rob you of your intimacy with God and what He could show you in the days to come. Whisper the truth to yourself in these difficult times, to remember that ultimately, this season, though now different, still brings with it ETERNAL HOPE in the person of Jesus Christ.

Sometimes God brings you to this place, so you will remember He is there for you. He is greater than any hurt you can imagine. I am NOT discounting any of your pain. It is 100% REAL and I KNOW IT HURTS LIKE HECK!!! I know I felt like I was drowning, truly drowning with my feet planted firmly on the earth. Yet there I was gasping for breath, dragging myself to possible moments in an attempt to inhale even a small sliver of life into my soul. No one noticed. My heart fell further. Of all those people I had been there for, not one could see that I was dying right in front of their eyes. I felt more desolate than I had before. I was forsaken in the overpowering pounding oceanic waves of my mind. No one was coming to save me. Have you ever been there too? Maybe somewhere similar? Are you there now?

You are not alone.

Jesus sees you and your pain.

Please hear me. Jesus knows exactly where you are. HE CAN SAVE YOU. Lift your hands. Reach up to Him. Share your tears and sadness. He can take it. He wants to take this pain from your heart. He wants to heal your wounds.

The holiday may not look exactly as you might want it to, but please don’t allow grief or bitterness to steal joy from you. YOU ARE LOVED AND WANTED IMMENSELY!! Your real Christmas gift was born in a humble stable to homeless parents. He was honestly hated by many, felt alone in a crowd, knew betrayal and loss. He CHOSE to die for YOU so YOU could live with Him FOREVER!! If this is you, please reach out. If this is someone you know, please hold them tight. Share Jesus with them and bring them light into their darkness.

Please if you don’t feel that you can speak to someone you know and you are going through a truly dark season, call this number and have your feelings heard and validated. You are important and your feelings do matter. People do care. 1-800-273-8255

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

little gift of monumental love

I love babies. I REALLY love babies, all kinds of babies! I am so in awe of how our incredibly good God puts these wee little people together so perfectly and how each tiny life is unbelievably unique. Babies have been being born since Adam and Eve got together and created in love, the first chubby cheeked bundle sweetness. As amazing as our scientist are, children are not factory creations from a scientific mold. They are all original, priceless and beautiful little bundles of life.

As special as all babies are, one baby will always stand above them all. One so perfect, so precious, so pure, born to ordinary parents who were without a home at the time. This baby was wanted and feared by those who had heard of this prophesied babe. The heavens rejoiced when His first breath was taken! The angels sang as they could now look upon the serene face of this Prince of Peace.

Luke 2:20 ” The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” Can you imagine the emotions these lowly shepherds must have been filled with? To have been some of the first to SEE the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords after his humble birth. An unassuming stable housing the most important baby ever born. All glory and honor and praise lifted high for this little gurgling bundle of cuteness that would bring salvation to the world through His glorious grace and blood.

What an honor to have been bestowed upon them. They must have been overwhelmed! I imagine their hearts must have been overflowing with divine delight!! Falling to their knees because the gravity of the situation was so ginormous. Knowing the blessing of being the first to hear of the birth of the messiah! SUCH AN UNBELIEVEABLE HONOR!! I am sure they could not keep it quietly inside themselves. They had to share the good news with every one!!

JOY TO THE WORLD!!

THE LORD HAS COME!!

Advent: season of hope

photo by Eloisa Rodriguez

How easy it is to forget that advent begins in the dark. That the prophecies of a coming Savior were proclaimed in the midst of long, trying times of ache. As the Christmas hymn reminds us, it’s a weary world that rejoiced. Or how about this one, “from our fears and sins release us”? I think it’s okay to let the aches surface and the longings tug on us in this season. So long as our hope is rooted firmly in the expectation of the promises of our Savior. I think this is a bit of what it means to partake of the advent season, putting all our hope in Jesus even when we may be in the dark. -Kelly Minter

Christmas Cocoa Party 2019

Family traditions are so important!!

This year has been a year of getting back in the swing of things so our Christmas Cocoa Party was tiny but memorable. This year we had a really casual get together with just Belle’s besties. So, yes it was tiny but intimate. Right there is a gift!

We started with a pot luck. Everyone brought a smidge of different things and we ended up with a plethora of choices!! Sodas, lemonade, chips, candies…so many different snacking choices!!

The kids ate so much!! Now that their bellies were filled and they were a little mellow, before the sugar rush from the muddie buddies and gummy worms kicked in, Belle put The Grinch on for background movie noise and I pulled out the yearly gingerbread house supplies! Okay, well I pulled out the boxes of pre cut cookie houses that I got from Five Below.

Cute right? Well you know my daughter wanted more candy choices for her house, so into the spice cabinet I dug and pulled out more sprinkles, marshmallows, chocolate chips, and whatever else I could find in there for them to drown their cookie houses in.

We had one disaster and three tiny shacks by the time they finished. The funny thing is the one whose house fell, her parent is an architect!!

They played some games, got some presents…

Cocoa ready but these youngsters had drained their energy and were content to just sit on the couch together watching Christmas classics. I thought I was the old one!! LOL!! When their parental units came in to take them home we made sure that every one got to head home with a special handmade ornament from Proverbs 31 Woman (you can find her on Instagram @_proverbs31womanboutique_ ) and a handmade candy cane from Logan’s Candies.

I love that every year our friends that we share our Christmas celebrations with have a matching ornament. Those that moved far away,( yes Cortney I mean you,) are still sharing the spirit of Christmas with us in our hearts, so we sent them out to still include them in out tradition.

I want for my kids, no matter how old they get, to remember doing things like this. We may not have the money to take trips to Ireland or Italy and have amazing photo ops every year. I am okay with that. We did have moments of bringing together great friends and making memories of laughter, joy and celebrations. I want them to know that it is not about how much money you spend but the quality of time you concentrate on deeper relationships that count.