Christmas Time is Near!

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Can you believe it is almost Christmas already? Where did the time go? It seems like just a few weeks ago I was shopping and wrapping presents! And here I am doing it again. But I love it! I actually love to wrap my daughter’s presents because I cannot wait to see the look on her face when she opens the boxes. She believes only clothes come in boxes so I mix it up a little and put toys or stationary or jewelry in boxes. Then at least I know she will be excited to open all the boxes, even if it is just clothes! Do your kids do anything like this? 

Baking is one of my favorite things to do for the holiday season. I love making candy! This year I plan to made red velvet cake balls. Yum! I also hope to make some hard candy in cinnamon and peppermint. I love hard candy. I’m practically addicted! My granddaddy used to make Applesauce Cake every year. He got sick with cancer and passed away, but my grandma carried on the tradition until she passed away a few years ago. Christmas just is not the same without the Applesauce Cake. Christmas just is not the same without my grandparents. Do you have a certain cake or food that has been a family tradition? 

Christmas has always been so magical to me. Yes, even at my age I still find Christmas a magical time. For as long as I can remember my family has celebrated Christmas Eve by first going to my grandparents house and having dinner, then opening presents. After all the excitement there we head to my parent’s house for Christmas candy and cakes, then open more presents. We then head home to put the kids to bed so that we can wait patiently for Santa to come. Christmas morning we wake up and have breakfast and open our presents and the kids get to see what Santa brought them. Then we head to my other set of grandparent’s house where we have Christmas lunch. The kids have more presents waiting for them there! (You can imagine what my house looks like after Christmas!) After finally heading home exhausted, we have one more Christmas – my in-laws. After all the excitement I am more than exhausted! But I love all of it! What are your family traditions?

Of course while running around like crazy every year, I still take a moment to stop and remember why we celebrate this season – our Lord Jesus Christ. What do you do to make sure Jesus is remembered during this stressful time of year?

 

 

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Regrets

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He sat up in bed, saying his goodbyes, grey eyes staring right into mine. I stared back as I was being pushed out the door. I did not get to hug his neck or tell him I loved him. We continued to stare at each other until I was out of sight. Everything seemed to be moving in slow motion. My heart screamed out to him and my head filled with fear. I would never see him again.

This happened when I was thirteen years old. My granddaddy was the man sitting up in bed; a hospital bed. Cancer had taken over his lungs and he lost his battle a few nights after my last visit with him. I cannot remember a time in my life when I did not give my granddaddy a hug before saying goodbye. After visiting with him and my grandma at their house, they would walk my mom, dad, brother and I to our car and he would always tell me, “Come hug my neck.” And I would reach my tiny arms around this seven-foot tall man and hug him with all my strength. He was my best friend. We did everything together. I was by his side at all times. I loved this man with every bit of my heart. But that last night – my last time every seeing him – I did not hug his neck.

Regret. What a powerful word. Our sermon yesterday at church focused on this word. The pastor spoke of regret and disappointment and described the difference between the two. Disappointment is when you wish something would have turned out differently, but you had no control over its outcome. Regret is something you know would have turned out differently had you made a better choice. Regret will paralyze you. Regret will imprison you. John Ortberg said, “Hell is human regret consolidated.”

Matthew 26 tells us the story of Peter’s promise to Jesus that he would never desert Him (Matt. 26:33). However, Jesus knew that Peter’s promise would be broken. He told Peter that he would deny Him three times on that same night. Yet once again, Peter insisted that this was not true.

When Jesus is arrested by the traitor Judas, Peter waits outside in the courtyard. A servant girl tells Peter that she saw him with Jesus. Here is where Peter’s first denial comes in. In front of everyone in the courtyard, Peter denied knowing Jesus. He denied knowing the Lord. He denied knowing Jesus a second time to another servant girl who claimed to have seen him with Jesus. This time his denial was done with an assurance. The bystanders knew that he must have known Jesus because he spoke with a Galilean accent. Yet again, Peter swore he did not know the Lord. Three denials in the same night. Then the rooster crowed.

Imagine Peter’s shock as the sound of the crowing rooster entered his ears. Oh how his heart must have stopped at that very moment. The Bible says that Peter went away and wept bitterly (Matthew 26:75). He was overwhelmed with regret at what he had done. He denied the Lord! He denied knowing his own creator.

In Psalm 38:4-8, David speaks of his own regret. He says that his guilt is overwhelming because of his own poor choices. His heart is grief-stricken over the choices he made. He is spiritually imprisoned.

Our pastor ended our sermon yesterday with three ways in which we can be set free from the prison of regret. One, we can accept our second chances. We can be set free through the forgiveness of Christ! (Psalm 32:5) We just need to be honest and come clean with God (Proverbs 28:13). Second, we need to clarify our values and think about what is really important. Think about what your life looks like to you when you are on your deathbed. Are you happy with how you lived? Do you have any regrets? Third, we need to pursue God’s plan for our lives with all of our heart, mind, and soul.  The Lord gives us a great promise in Isaiah 43:4-8. He tells us not to dwell on the past because He is doing something new. What a wonderful promise from the Lord! Isn’t He amazing?

What about you? Do you have many regrets? I would love to hear from you in the comments section below. May you have a very blessed day. Do not dwell on the past!

No More Excuses!

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I’m comfortable being a stay-at-home mom. However, our finances are not. Plus there’s a tugging at my heart to help others. Not to mention the fact that after my internship I will graduate college. But I just can’t get a job!

My excuses

1. I have to be home for the kids. Logical excuse. My six year old gets home at 2:30 and I need to be home for her. I do not like sending her to a babysitter’s house. However, I do have the option of the after school care program at the local YMCA. So that could easily be taken care of.

2. I have two teenage boys that both get home at 4:00. My oldest son is fully capable of being trusted to stay home by himself and fix himself something to eat after school. Plus he will get his homework done no problem. However, my other son is not capable of doing these things. He has behavioral problems and refuses to follow directions or rules. Not that he can’t, he just won’t. He has burned food in the microwave, almost catching the house on fire. He has broken windows. He has vandalized the neighbor’s house. He has scratched both vehicles. He has cut huge holes in the trampoline. And the list goes on. And he will most definitely not get his homework done. Needless to say, he cannot stay home by himself. He also cannot go to the YMCA after school. He was doing that for a while before he got caught doing drugs with some older kids there. So nope. Not going to happen. And what babysitter is going to babysit an almost 15-year old child? None that I have found.

3. I’m scared to go to work. Okay, this may sound a little ridiculous, but I am a tad afraid of going back to work. It’s been years since I had a job and my last job I worked from home. I only had to go into the office once a month, but every other day I was in the comfort of my own home. What if I fail? What if I cannot keep up? What if I just can’t do the job? Maybe it’s rejection that I fear most. Either way, going to a new job is scary. Bad excuse. I know.

4. How am I going to start a new job when I will have to take off work a lot to go to the doctor every 6 weeks for me, counseling for both sons, and the doctor for my daughter’s asthma and allergies? I do not want to get fired from a job I just started! How embarrassing.

So these are the top excuses that cross my mind. I know that all of these can be taken care of, yet the excuses still roll in. I don’t want to have any more excuses. I want them erased from my mind. I want to be able to just get up and have a career I love and enjoy. So no more excuses!

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My dream is to work with children with Down syndrome. When I first went back to school I had no idea what I truly wanted to do. I knew that I wanted to study psychology. I threw in some criminal justice classes thinking I wanted to go into prison ministry, or counseling. That didn’t tug at my heart. I took a special education class thinking I could work in preschools with kids with special needs. But that didn’t tug at my heart. It was not until the last semester of school that I realized that I wanted to desperately work with children with Down syndrome. This tugs at my heart. I feel this is my calling and my purpose. I feel strongly about this career choice. And yes, my dream is bigger than my excuses, and far more important.

The men in Luke 9:59-62 kept making excuses as to why they could not follow Jesus when Jesus told them to. The first man’s excuse was that he needed to go home and bury his father first. The second man’s excuse was that he needed to say goodbye to his family first. Jesus’s reply was this: “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.” I want to be fit for the Kingdom of God. I want to go forward and not look back. I want to stop making excuses and live my dream.

“I can’t” statements can either come from truths or from laziness or fear. Obviously my “I can’t’s” are strictly from fear. Each one of my excuses are things that can be worked on and figured out. I just need to get that in my mind and stop making excuses.

What is your dream? What excuses are holding you back?

#StickWithIt

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Life can be challenging. There are so many things to do and not enough time to do them in a day, or sometimes even a week! My six-year old daughter has cheerleading twice a week – Monday and Thursday. Wednesday nights are Awana nights. Saturdays are early morning football games where she cheers. Sunday morning is church, and then sometimes in the evenings we have dinner with my family. That leaves a Tuesday open and everybody knows that Tuesday is that day of the week that we are already exhausted! I’m not complaining because secretly I like the go-go-go of my life. (Shhh…don’t tell anybody!)

I am currently in a Bible Study through Proverbs 31 Ministries. We are working through a book by Lysa TerKeurst (whom I adore!) called “What Happens When Women Say Yest to God.” This book has changed my perspective on quite a few different areas in my life. Last week, the third week of the study, I was feeling a little down because I was reading about my other sisters in Christ and how they have heard God speak to them. They all had amazing, touching stories about their walk with God. I loved this. However, I still had not heard from God and I was sort of wondering when it was my turn. I thought maybe I was doing the study wrong, perhaps not putting enough time and passion into it. But then, Sunday at the end of church service, I heard it. God’s voice.

In our church bulletin there was a card called Vision Sunday. On this card were places to check for you to help with the church. Now this is not my home church and we are not currently members there. However, we’ve been attending for a while. So in my mind I did not feel comfortable enough to check any box on that card. However, at the end of service, while standing in prayer, I kept hearing, “Nursery Worker.” I thought, “Say what? A nursery worker? ME? I do not feel comfortable working with other peoples’ children. God, is that really You?” I kept hearing the words repeat themselves until I looked back at the card I had so nicely tucked away into my bag. There at the bottom of the card were the words “Nursery Worker” with a small check box placed just to the left. I found myself taking my pen and checking that little box. After clicking my pen closed, I no longer heard the words “nursery worker” and I swear I could feel God smile.

Honestly, week one and two of the study were so fresh and exciting to me. But by week three I was feeling a little drained and down that I still had not heard from God. But then at the end of the week, there He was, speaking to me and calling me out to help in the nursery. I had thought of giving up. However, now I am chosing to #StickWithIt because I know that I am going to hear from God more often. I am learning how to find a peaceful place and just be quiet and listen. Psalm 37:7 tells us to “be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for Him to act.”

I could have quit, I could have just given up. But I feel like giving up on the study is giving up on God. In her book, Lysa says, “It isn’t going to be easy. But we have Jesus and His power and that power is able to completely change our outlook on life.” How amazing is that statement? We have the power of Jesus to change the way we see our lives! When going through hard times, we sometimes feel all alone. However, we can lean on Jesus and #StickWithIt!

Are you going through something now in your life that you would like to quit because it isn’t easy? How do you see yourself getting through it?

 

“Rejoice in what God is doing in me through difficult times.” ~ Lysa TerKeurst

P31 OBS Blog Hop

Psalm 23 – Day 3

Psalm 23 – Day 3

Psalm 23:3

Verse 3

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“He renews my strength,

The King James Version reads, “He restoreth my soul.” Oh the power of these words! When our souls grow weak, God strengthens it. When our souls become sinful, God purifies it. When our souls grow sorrowful, God revives it. The power of God over us is shown here and it is such a comfort to know that He can restore our souls. Sheep are wonderful at straying and getting lost. However, the Lord – our Shepherd – brings them back, showing them how they have erred. Repentance is given and the soul is restored.

 

He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to His name.”

We are to follow in His footsteps, so to speak. He leads us to the right path so that we can follow the example of Christ. Sometimes as His sheep we stray, yet God prods us back to the right path. The Lord does this so that His name may be honored. He does not do it just so we can be saved, He does it so His name is honored.

Reflection

I am broken. I am exhausted in all ways. I have been these things before, yet God has renewed my strength. He has restored my soul. When I strayed off the path, God helped me find my way back. He let me go through trials so that His work could be seen in me. He let me become weak so that He could restore me. He did this all for me so that His name could be honored. And I praise Him and thank Him for it all!

Prayer

Dear Lord,

Thank You for all that You do for me. Thank You for restoring my weak and sorrowful soul. Thank You for bringing me back to the path of righteousness so that Your name may be honored. Lord, continue to bless me so that Your name will be honored through me.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 

 

Psalm 23 – Day 2

Psalm 23:2 – Day 2

Verse 2

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“He makes me lie down in green pastures,

He makes me lie down. God does not suggest that I lie down. He makes me. The Lord knows that we need to rest. Sometimes we get so into whatever it is that we are doing that we believe we can simply keep going. But the Lord knows better for us, therefore making us rest. And that’s okay. We need to rest! Rest is nourishment for our bodies. We all need to take time to rest in the Lord. Resting in God is very important because the best part of our life comes after rest. Even if we refuse to rest, the Lord will make us.

He leads me beside quiet waters.”

The words ‘quiet waters’ put together brings such a peaceful feeling to me. To me, this verse represents the peace and harmony coming from resting in the Lord. God knows that we need to rest and we cannot do so standing beside a raging river. Therefore He makes us rest beside quiet waters.

Reflection

I have had many storms blow through my life just over the past month. Some of you know the story about my son. I am in my resting period now. The Lord made me rest and I know that soon He will lead me beside quiet waters. I have faith that my peace will come and my anxiety and depression will be swept away under the current downstream.

Prayer

Dear Lord,

Thank you for making me rest. Sometimes I feel like I can keep going and I think I can do it all on my own. But I know that I need You and You understand my need for rest. You know when it is time for me to rest. Thank you for the peace you bring into my life after the storm has passed. Lord, I pray that I can continue to walk beside quiet water with You.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen.

Psalm 23 Bible Study

Psalm 23:1 – Day 1Image

I want to try a little something different. I have been praying on Psalm 23, reading it every day when I wake up, every night before I fall asleep, and in between when I am feeling like my world is crumbling. The more I read it the more I see the verses working themselves out in my life. So I want to do a little study on the meaning of each of the six verses throughout the Psalm. I would like you to also study Psalm 23. I would like to see how the verses are playing out in your own life. Perhaps you can start a prayer journal and write down a verse a day and explain what the verse means to you. Either way, I would love for you to be a part of this journey. Let’s get started!

Verse 1

“The Lord is my shepherd;

God is like our shepherd, protecting us from evil and helping us to find all that we need. When we step out of line, or off the path, God gently prods us back to where we need to be. This is our relationship with God. He is there to guide us, like a shepherd guides his sheep.

I have all that I need.”

If we allow the Lord to be our shepherd, then He will provide. We shall have all that we need. He is our supplier.

Reflection

I have read and reread Psalm 23 many times before verse one stuck out at me. I was going through a very difficult time and came across a website that mentioned this verse. It was as if God was highlighting it for me. I knew by just this first verse that I would be okay. Everything was going to be fine because the Lord is my shepherd and with Him I have all that I need. Have you seen this verse work for you? How?

Prayer

Dear Lord,

Thank you for protecting me. Thank you for prodding me when I stray from Your path. Thank you for supplying me with all that I need. I pray for your continuous protection. I pray that You nudge me back onto Your path whenever I stray so that I may walk with You forever.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen