Friday, December 17, 2010

Let your shine.....

We are getting closer and closer to Christmas and each passing day gets busier and busier. There seems to be no time for Jesus, but can you imagine throwing a birthday party for your child and forgetting to invite them. What would you think if you invited everyone to your childs party and the guest exchanged gifts amongst themselves and forgot your little one?  We cant imagine that, but we do it every Christmas.

Were so busy making the party about us that we forget who the party is for. Sadly we need a reminder that Christmas is about Jesus. So take a moment and listen to this childs rendition of the Christmas story. I promise you your time will not be wasted.

Thanks to Alice and Sheila for sharing...

Go to my playlist and pause the music before playing... 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A holy experience...

I had a realization the other day as I sat with my computer freaking out in front of me. I need a break. I need to do something other than blog. I need to get back to the heart of what inspired me to blog in the first place.

Of course my inspiration was Jesus. He is my everything and to be honest without him there is a good possiblity that I wouldnt be living. The funny thing is there was a time when I would have laughed at someone for saying that. I would have labeled them crazy and close minded, but like Paul my eyes have been opened and I have seen life anew because of it.

This little life that started out in a manger would grow into the light of the world and eventually set me free from myself. What is most beautiful about it is the fact that he did do it for me. He loved individual me. He loved Nicole... wonderfully messy, insecure, crazy and disturbed Nicole.He loves you. How awesome is that?!

I guess the question for me is do I love him. I mean really love him. Am I willing to wait for his return and not grow weary? Am I willing to set everything else aside and worship him this Christmas? In spite of what others expectations might be. Maybe??

Maybe with a little help we all can. Maybe with the support of other believers we can get back to the true meaning of Christmas.

Today I needed a little help myself and I found it in this post. I found my own holy experience within the words of a Holy Experience. All I can say is that its beautiful, but above all He's beautiful.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

We interrupt our regular programming.....

Hello everyone! My sincerest apologies to all my loyal and not so loyal followers for not posting. I have been given an unwelcome break from blogging because of some unexpected computer problems. So in the meantime I will have to leave the "adventing" to all of you with the hopes that you will continue to celebrate as a family and find Christ within this Christmas season.

You may continue to look at my other pages for ideas or use this unexpected interruption as I am by seeking the heart of God within the scriptures and the simple joys of the season. My hope is to be back up and blogging soon, but for now may God bless each of you with the joy that comes from knowing Christ.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The small things...

As yesterdays post can attest there were many things about my childhood that brought me to this place. Some bad and some good, but all a part of who I am. They are the stories that have shaped me for better or worse into the person I have become. I trust however that not one moment of my life was left to chance by my Father in heaven. In God's eyes no minute of my life was a small thing; every second held the potential for drawing me closer to him. Thats why in spite of the bad I can look fondly on my life and see the hand of a loving Father.

There was no other time of the year that this was more evident than at Christmas. I pray thats how it is for you also. Afterall what better time to witness God's love and mercy than at Christmas time.

It always seemed that life was better then. Looking back on it I've realized that for my mom it held the same significance it does to me now. Although she didnt have church functions to attend or Christmas plays she made sure to fill those days leading up to Christmas with wonderful memories. She was able to hold on to the childish faith of her past and see life through those eyes again. I know that it was very important to her that Christmas was special for my brother, sister and me and I also know that my dad worked very hard to make it special as well. The funny thing is when I look back on Christmas I dont remember the presents although there were plenty. I remember the moments when we were together as a family and life seemed magical and full of hope.

My most special memory was driving down  Bayshore Drive in Tampa (the place where I grew up) and seeing the real nativity they set up every year. Although Im sure my memory fails me it seemed so real to me. There were angels all gloriously aglow in the trees or at least thats what my adult mind has told me. The little girl in me tells me that they were floating above the manger holding the baby Jesus like they were so long ago. Of course little girl eyes miss the small details like wires and platforms and see the magic. They overlook the production and see the inspiration. To be honest if I asked my mom about it today Im sure she would tell me it was no more than 3 people in costumes in a very poorly made set, but in my heart it was so much more. It was, like I said yesterday, more real than anything I had seen before. There in 80 degree Florida Christmas weather was the inpiration for my faith and my most favorite memory.

Ive went back to find it in later years only to find out that it has long since gone. However I wonder if the people who gave their time to that little nativity set on Bayshore Drive know that I looked forward to that more than Santa Clause. I needed it more than I needed more presents under the tree. I know God did. So today I try to hard to inspire those very things in my kids with the hope that there favorite Christmas memories would include the story of Jesus birth, but Im trusting that these small things (Killian and Lotus) of mine and Scott's are no small thing to God and that he is hard at work awakening the magic of Christmas in their little kid hearts.

Take it deeper.....
  • What is your most special Christmas memory?
  • How are you keeping the magic alive for your children or most importantly for yours
  • Go on over to Home Sanctuary and start enjoying the small things and if your not the homemaking variety then think of small ways you can improve your life or the lives of others today.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Little Drummer Boy

Please pause my playlist before watching...

"Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God!"(Matther 5:8)

This by far is my favorite Christmas show. There was something about it, even though I wasn't raised in church, that made sense to my little girl heart. It made sense that hate was wrong and that love was the answer. Despite the fact that God was seldomed mentioned growing up I came to believe that it was true. He was more real than anything else and I needed him. I needed God because he was the only thing that did make sense.

Somewhere in the midst of growing up and doing everything in my power to hurt myself I cried out for him and he came running. Although he had been there all along.

I would love to say that was the moment I stopped fighting, stopped running, but of course happy endings arent always like they are in the movies. I,like the little drummer boy, had more pain than I knew what to do with and I was far from being willing to allow God to heal me. I was still seeking for something elsewhere, someone who could take away the hurt, something that would make me forget me.

Yet still he stayed steady by my side, looking more beautiful than ever. Offering more love than I had ever known and willing to take the punishment I had been inflicting on myself. He refused to give up. He loved me despite all I had done. He stayed true when I strayed. He gave all of himself out of the simple desperation of pure love. He came and healed my heart and I hold on to the love I felt the first time he took hold of me. I have too because nothing else makes sense.

So in spite of the fact that most days I make a mess of things I still continue to see evidence of him everywhere. I still believe, with that little girl heart, that hate is wrong and love is the answer. I still beleive in that tiny babe in the manger who is able to heal the hearts of the hurting and bring the dead back to life. Maybe that's foolish or maybe that simple faith was the only reason Im still alive.

My life testifies to the fact..."That blessed(happy) are the pure(not perfect) of heart for they shall see(taste, feel, and know) God."

Its not what you bring him, but the heart with which you bring it.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A day of rest...

Today is a day of catching up for me. As much as I love posting devotionals sometimes the chores and the homeschooling need to get done. Just simply because serving our family is one of the simplest ways to serve God. I have come to find that one of the biggest ways I can make an impact in this world is by making an impact in the hearts of my family.

So instead today I am going to share some other sites that have inspired me, encouraged me or just plain helped me to save a little dough so I can give more. As always let the people know where you found it and share a little blog love with somebody. Us bloggers love feedback. Were needy like that.

I also encourage you to take a look at my other pages (fun links, things to do, resources, local, etc.) for some new additions or if your new take a look at some of my older post by searching through the blog archives. 

So sit back, pour a cup of coffee, grab a Christmas cookie and enjoy.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The good and perfect gift....

James 1:17 AKJV "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no fickleness, neither shadow of turning."

Lets state the obvious.... there are about as many translations of the bible as there are people on the earth. So we must always be diligent in making sure that the translator stays true to the original text. Of course very few of us are able to read Hebrew or Greek which makes it even more important to stay true to the heart of Jesus. Times change, but the word of God like God himself stays constant amidst all the changes. No matter the changes in our dialect or culture God's word will remain true throughout eternity, because wisdom is wisdom. No matter the language it takes on to describe it.

That being said I will often use different translations, but at the heart of it is the obvious. God's word is living and sharper than any two edged sword, able to separate bone from marrow. Just in case you don't understand that let me put it simply..... It's sharp!! The word of God will ignite passion in you and it will convict you. It will hurt at times, but like anyone who has had surgery knows a sharp blade is able to heal as well. No one, no matter holy or righteous escapes its discerning nature. It is the only book written that is able to take any person no matter their class or profession and make something new of them. It doesn't care who you are or what you've done it will change you. So the standard I look to when discerning a translation is its ability to transform. If its telling me what I want to hear I typically take that as my cue to look elsewhere.

Call it poetic license, but there are times when I will use a different translation simply because of the flow of the words. The way it falls off the tongue or the way it uses a word that we might better understand its meaning. This is one those cases.....

"with whom there is no fickleness or shadow of turning."

These are words we understand. We understand the fickle nature of people, of nature, of ourselves. We understand the idea that basically we change our minds at a moments notice. We understand the conditional ways in which love. We can give freely of our love and loyalty only to be caught off guard by a word or deed and then withdraw both as quickly as we gave it. We understand, metaphorically and physically, the shadow that forms from someone that has turned away from us. The darkness that is cast on our lives.

Basically we, through this verse and so many others, are being told that God is not like us. God doesn't change his mind. If he decided, through his son, to offer us forgiveness and redemption well then that offer still stands. He doesn't make mistakes when choosing the best gifts for us. He doesn't give you the horrible Christmas sweater like grandma did. When he chose to give Jesus it was the perfect fit for everyone. There was no need for anything else. This was a one size fits all type of gift. Of course that doesn't make sense to us because were not a one size fits all type of people. We cant imagine a gift that would satisfy everyone completely. We cant imagine a gift that doesn't need to be exchanged although we try to do it all the time, because we are fickle.

You see Jesus was the good and perfect gift that came down from the Father of lights. He was the one thing that could satisfy all of us if we would let him. That doesn't mean he will be all things to all people.We can not translate Jesus. He wasn't made to fit us and all our crapt. We were made to fit him and sometimes that means we have to lose something of ourselves that was never meant to be there to begin with. We have to accept the gift before we can wear it and not the other way around. Heck lots of people try to wear it without ever accepting it. We wear a cross. We wear a verse that says what we need to hear. We wear a life (our faith) that seems to fit our needs, but we never accept "His" life and what that means for our life.

This is one of those instances where there is no need for taking poetic license. Jesus is enough. He is the word of truth by which we were given birth from sin. His life is the gospel by which we live. His sacrifice gave new meaning to the law which came before him. He is the word of God that is able to ignite passion in you, convict you, and heal you. He is what gives life to the scriptures and  to us .

Take it deeper.....
  • Read all of James 1.  
  • How has God's gift of Jesus changed you and in what ways have you not allowed it to?

Monday, December 6, 2010

The real deal...

Proverbs 16:2 NLT "People may be pure in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their motives.";
Jeremiah 17:9 ESV "The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick; who can understand it?"

These words, "The real deal", have been tossed around a lot in the past few weeks. A few times spoken in kindness as a reference to me, but something about it bothers me. Perhaps its that I'm fearful that something so innocent as a kind word might become the very thought that inflates my ego and makes me anything but real. Im afraid of becoming like so many before me who got caught up in all the hype. Maybe today my heart is pure, but tomorrow I could be laid to waste because my need for approval becomes more than my need for Jesus. I might believe it so deeply that I miss it when God trys to show me some hidden fault.

Then again maybe Im afraid Im not the real deal and that I have just done a very good job of convincing myself and others otherwise. Afterall the bible says that the heart is deceitful above all things and that all a man's ways seem innocent to him. One day I might come before my God and find that I had motives that I was unaware of.

Truth be told most days when I stand before my Jesus and in the light of his love and goodness I am made humbly aware of that I am far from being the real deal. What poses as real in me is nothing more than a faint image of who Jesus is..... the Living Christ, our redeemer, Immanuel,......

The Real Deal!!

Take it deeper....
  • Take an inventory of yourself (what you've done, what you do, what you give, your hopes, your dreams) and bring it before the one that weighs the motives of man.
  • Be aware that because of the nature of sin we often have motives that we might not be aware of. Be careful to not think more highly of yourself than you ought. (Romans 12:3)
  • Put your confidence in God alone. (Proverbs 3:26) Making sure that you do not count on your gifts, talents or good deeds as a means for salvation.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Rejoice for you are loved...

 "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again, Rejoice!" (Phil 4:4)
My last few post have bordered on the depressing or at least they may have seemed that way considering the joyful nature of the season. However that is not my intention. I fully believe that a life surrendered to Christ is the most joy-filled life there is. I believe that "when you lose your life for Christ, you truly find it" (Matthew 10:39). I believe that when you give of yourself.... share your talents, share your gifts, share your joys and share your trials then life starts to make sense. It becomes full and thats worth rejoicing.

So today I want to take a different approach and remind you to rejoice because you are accepted...
"We know, dear brothers and sisters, that God loves you and has chosen you to be his own people."(1Thes1:4)
Rejoice because you are heard...
I call on the LORD in my distress, and he answers me. (Psalm 120:1)
Rejoice because you have a God that loves you for you...
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.
How precious are your thoughts about me,O God.
They cannot be numbered!
I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! (Psalm 139:13-18)
(Pause my playlist before listening)

Friday, December 3, 2010

A vision of what could be...

(Luke 22:39-46) Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”
God has a plan. You've heard that a million times and yet still somehow its meaning is lost. Somehow what takes place in your day to day life is disconnected from that. Somehow you have lost sight of the fact that every detail of your day has already been worked over in the heart of God. Even those moments we swear are a full fledged attack by Satan are allowed by a mighty God that has a plan bigger than your life.

That might hurt a little but it is truth.

Nothing happens outside of the will of God. Our self will is not bigger than God's. In a moment he could put a end to it all, but he chooses not to. Why?
That is where Jesus comes into the story. He chooses not to because he has a plan. He has a vision which includes a restored* people. A people that have been made whole again and a kingdom that shines with his glory night and day. He sees us not as inhabitants of a sin filled world, but as future inhabitants of a glorious place where he rules. A glorious kingdom that starts in our hearts.

Yet great visions are only accomplished by surrendered leaders who are willing to die for those they lead. They succeed only with tender lambs who are willing to suffer the trials and ultimately sacrifice themselves for the vision.

Jesus saw this vision very clearly, He had a bigger picture in mind. Despite all his human frailities he was able to surrender his life for this vision of restoration that God had planted within him. He was willing!!

For the sake of his vision God, himself, had to stand back and watch his son die because in the end he wanted to save all his children, not just one. He saw what was to come and he knew it was worth it. We were worth it.

Today there are many people who have a vision of what could be and willingly sacrifice themselves for that vision. They willingly take the risk, make the tough choices and commit to a vision which is greater than them. They see with the eyes of the Father. They see people as they could be and not as they are. They become the tender lambs that are willing to suffer the trials and ultimately sacrifice themselves to the vision. They realize that God's will is the only way and on bended, bloody knees they cry out, "Not my will, but your will be done."

They sacrifice their wants and needs because they know that God has a plan.

Take it deeper....
  • Do you have a vision of what could be?
  • Have you seen life through the eyes of God? Do you view your life as part of a bigger picture or is it limited to just what you experience?
  • What about your current circumstances could be used to bring glory to God?
  • Oftentimes, especially during the holidays, we want to keep our minds on positive things. We want to make sure that nothing negative interrupts our celebrations. Make a point this season to open your heart to the things that break the heart of Jesus. Be willing to face the difficult things head on with the strength that Christ offers.
  • Think big!!

*restored- to bring something back to an earlier and better condition

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The gift...

Philippians 3:10...."I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death."

There are some gifts that dont cost a thing and then there are others that come with a high price tag. 

This is my second attempt at writing today's devotional and the only sentence that remains of the first draft is the one above. It seems that God had something else in mind. He always does. He always veers us off from the course we have set for ourselves. 

Last night was no different.

I was ready to write about what our forgiveness cost Christ when I watched a video that a friend of mine shared. I have mentioned her before on another blog, but here is the story again....

Her husband, Mike, was diagnosed with Stage 4 brain cancer 6 months ago. It is one of the deadliest forms of cancer known. He already has survived longer than most and in spite of the surgery, chemotherapy and many trips back and forth to Duke he has been doing well. However their life has changed. Mike, his wife and their two kids are surviving day by day because that's all they can do right now. They dont know what the future holds, but they know what the statistics of this disease are and it's a grim picture.

That's their story, but its not finished yet. Only God knows what lies ahead for them, but they know something about gifts that come at a high price.

They know that there are lessons that can only be learned through trials. There are things about God that can only be known by experience. Sometimes we must pay a price or risk never knowing it. Mike put it best....

"I never would have asked for this brain cancer. I never would have asked for this journey that were on. However I wouldn't trade anything we have learned either."* 
Take it deeper....
Please take 10 minutes and watch this video of Mike Hearn speaking at their church. His words are much better than anything I could say. Also please pray for their family.

(Pause the music on my playlist before watching)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

God is not dead...

Sorry for the late start today. The kids and I were ringing bells for the Salvation Army and to be honest I was having a hard time thinking of what to write today. Sometimes its hard to feel joy when all around me there is hate. Maybe not in my family or at my church, but its there. Its a mile down the road, in the yard with all the kids toys, where a few nights earlier we drove by and found out there had been a shooting. Its at the store we go to all the time where a month ago a lady was robbed. Its in the honking horns of people with no patience. Its in the person you see being rude to the cashier. Its in the news where you find out that another child has been molested or killed.

It threatens to take away our peace and causes us to despair, but then there is something deep within that softly calls out.... Peace on earth, good will to men. There is a smile on the face of your child that tells you there is hope. There is the kindness of a stranger that says, "The wrong will fail and the right prevail." There is a life sacrificially given that calls out, "God is not dead nor does he sleep."

God will not forget his promise, if we stand firm, he continues to say...
"I have seen what they do, but I will heal them anyway! I will lead them. I will comfort those who mourn, bringing words of praise to their lips. May they have abundant peace, both near and far."(Isaiah 57:18-19)
(Pause my playlist before listening)

Take it deeper....
  • Read all of Isaiah 57. Pay particular attention to the things that stand in the way of our peace. What "idols" have taken the place of the worship of the one true God? What do you think the worship of false idols looks like today? Hint: Matthew 7:3
  • Think of ways that you can bring peace on earth. Start by bringing into your own home and neighborhood.
  • Pray for those that are mourning. Pray for those that are living in fear. Pray for those that are at war.

Monday, November 29, 2010

On whom his favor rests....

Luke 2:13-14... "Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."**

A few years back I learned a definition of grace that opened my eyes to God's love for me and the world. Its very simple, unmerited favor*; but for me not being raised in the church some of the language of the church left me confused. Perhaps the real problem was that the idea of grace was foreign to me. I didn't understand loving someone for the sake of loving them; well outside of my own family. I didnt understand loving someone truly without getting something in return. I doubt, if we were honest, that many of us could claim to have known that well.

However here was this idea of grace that all of us seem to need, but not many of us truly understood. God loves us like his own children. Let that sink in for awhile!! For some unfathomable reason, despite all we've done to mess up the world, God loves us and holds us in high regard. He would give anything to bring us back to him. He did give everything.
When I think of it that way Luke 2:13-14 takes on a whole new meaning and the words come alive. Maybe as if a great company of heavenly angels were declaring to me....

"Hey you down there, he loves you guys! The God of the universe, the one we praise day and night, wants nothing but good things for you! He wants peace on earth like you've never experienced. He loves you above all things and he's about to show you how much!"

Something about that kinda love makes me want to be better. It makes me want to offer grace to someone else. It has the real power to change. The fact is he simply cant bring peace to earth when were bound and determined to do as we please. Honestly he loves us way too much to just give us what we want. God's wants to give us what we need because that's good news for everyone, not just me. That's God's grace in action.

Look at this way.... Luke 2:13-14 was the original greeting card**. It was bringing good news, it was celebrating something about to come and it was meant for you.
"When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways."Acts3:26*
Take it deeper....
  • Have you realized God's love for you? I mean really realized it. Do you realize that there is nothing you could do to make him love you more than he already does?
  • Are there any things in your life that may be hindering God from blessing you? Give them to God in prayer and recieve all he has for you.
  • Jesus was the good news that was to come. Make a point of sharing that good news with someone today.
  • Make a card for a neighbor and commit to praying for that person throughout the year.
  • If God is able to love us when we were undeserving how much more so should we love others. Take that step to love someone who is unlovable right now. Offer grace to an enemy.... even if all you can do today is fall to your knees and pray for a heart of forgiveness.
  • Go to "Our Advent" page to find out what were doing as a family today.

*Beth Moore Fruit of the Spirit bible study

Sunday, November 28, 2010

This child will die...

Luke 2:19 "But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart."

Imagine with me for a moment the birth of a child, maybe even your child. The pain of childbirth being met with the cry of a long awaited infant. The placing of that tiny life into the trembling arms of the mother. The hope of this promised life. The joyful tear that streams down the face of the father & the quaking voice of the mother as she brings the baby to her breast…… “My Child I have waited for you!”.

Imagine the celebration... the visitors that have come to meet this new life, the gifts and congratulations that accompany them, the first night spent watching your child sleep. This new life now so intricately connected to your own you cant even imagine a life without them but...



The tiny, tender hands you have grown to love will have nails driven through them. The head you have held a million times will have a crown of thorns placed painfully upon it. The feet you kissed & played with will be placed together, nailed to the rough wood of a cross & torn under the weight of their own body. The body that you had tenderly cared for will barely be recognizable.
You will watch as the life you loved will breathe its last breath.


I've often wondered what thoughts ran through Mary's head as she watched her son die. Did she curse God or was she able to hold on to the hope and promise of what was foretold years before? Did she return to the memories of that night in Bethleham as she weathered that storm?

What would you do?

What happens most often is that we forget God's promises in the midst of the storm? We forget all he has done for us or we fail to recognize it. I have no doubt that night in Bethleham that Mary, unaware of what was to come, treasured up for herself the very things that she would cling to as she placed her child within that tomb. That was the only thing she could do. Her hope was all that was left and there might come a day when that is all that is left for you.

If so, what promises will you hold unto when life storms threaten to overwhelm? Have you treasured (stored) up for yourself the promises of God? Have you pondered all the things he has done for you? Have you like Mary, treasured up all these things and pondered them in your heart?

Take it deeper.....

Look to God's word for the promises he has given to those who believe and store them up for yourself.
Ponder the tiny miracles, simple joys and tender moments that he has blessed you with. Better yet write them down.
Talk with your family about what it means to have hope, but most of all make sure that you put your hope in what last forever.... Jesus!!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Getting ready...

As I told you earlier we are already preparing our hearts for advent, but we are also preparing our home as well. Right now the kids and Scott are out taking in some of this beautiful weather and I am here sharing as much of our celebration with you guys as I can. Starting tomorrow I will post daily scripture, inspiration and thoughts on how to celebrate.

Of course if your looking to get a heads up on what my family will be doing take a look at "Our Advent" page which I will update weekly. You can also still go to "Things to Do", "Local Fun" or "Fun Links" pages for other ideas. Better yet go to the "Share the Love" page to share your ideas.

That should hold you over for til tomorrow, but to start you off here is a poem by Martin Luther that has inspired me for some years now....

“Ah! dearest Jesus, Holy Child,

Make thee a bed, soft, undefiled,

Within my heart, that it may be

A quiet chamber kept for thee.”

That is my prayer during the Christmas season; that Jesus would find a quiet chamber within my heart. That is my prayer for all of you as well as your getting ready today and as you continue throughout this season...."May Jesus find within your heart a place that is soft and undefiled. May Jesus find a quiet chamber kept for him alone."

May God bless each of you with that precious gift.

So it begins...

Tomorrow is the beginning of Advent and the excitement has already begun at our house. "What is to come?", are the silent pleadings coming from the kids hearts. Well perhaps not so much from my 13yr old. However even I am calling out, "What is to come?" Im expecting something new this year, something beautiful. Im praying that, no matter what it takes, God will bring us out of our normal everday lives and into a life lived in him. Im praying that Jesus finds a safe place within our hearts.

Today, all I can do, is do my best prepare my heart and prepare the hearts of my children. I will read the description given to the future Messiah in Isaiah (52:13-15,53:1-12).....
"But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquitites; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed."
"He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth."
"he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the trangressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the trangressors (us)."
I will tell them of God's love for us and how he had a plan of redemption already in place. Honestly, sometimes I need to be reminded of that myself. I need to have that love penetrate me because without it Im just a bundle of fear and anxieties. Im just running around trying to make Christmas special instead of just allowing the wonder of it to take hold of me.

So it begins....

We wait in patient expectation.
His love bursts forth in jubilation.
Our hearts cry out, "We need MORE!"
His calm reply, "You need your Lord."
We grasp, we take,
And still he makes...
no raging scream, no tyrants wrath,
no pointing finger, no menacing laugh
Our souls cry out, "We need YOU, Lord!"
His sweet reply, "I need you more."

Friday, November 26, 2010

It's True...

Before playing video go to my playlist and pause the music

So Mary trusted God for more than her eyes could see......

The words to this song are so beautiful and sum up the hope I have.

When doubts threaten to overwhelm I am trusting God for more than my eyes can see. Im trusting that Jesus is more than just a beautiful story. Im trusting that the tiny babe was more than just flesh and blood, but love in all its glory. Im trusting that one day I will meet my Jesus and that he, with open arms, will welcome me into eternity. I am trusting, as my heart leaps within me, that it is true! It is true! It is true!

Special thanks to "Girl with Blog" for sharing this song.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

New things to do...

Looking for more Christmas fun; then check out the new ideas I have posted on the things to do page. Then go enjoy your family and have a....


Oh and dont forget to look at my black Friday post.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Black (Good) Friday...

For the majority of Americans Black Friday means long lines and a shopping frenzy unheard of anywhere else in the world. Of course all in the name of giving, but we are giving to those that already have more than enough. When what we see Jesus doing is giving to the least of these; not his family, friends, bosses, co-workers or kids. So what do we do?

Well that is an something best worked out between you and God. How you choose to live out your faith is something unique to your family, but there is a guiding truth which leads us to a life worth living.

I will admit, I will be shopping on Black Friday, but I will be doing it with a heart focused on God. I will be doing it with a song of hope in my heart and I will not let my witness be wasted for the sake of getting the best deal. I refuse to get caught up in all the drama. I refuse to fight for the best toy. I will be a light and a help to those I meet. That might mean carrying a cart back for someone when my hands are already full or giving up a spot to someone in the parking lot. It might mean sitting in line singing Christmas songs while most everyone else is impatiently grumbling. It will definently mean letting everyone I meet know the true reason for my joy.

Mostly it will mean asking myself some tough questions as I search for the best deal & constantly reminding myself about another Black Friday close to 2000 years ago. See 33 years after Jesus birth he would be crucified and the hopes of his disciples would be crushed. They (unaware of what was to come) would suffer the lost of one that was their friend and only hope and God would watch as his son hung dying on a cross.

Of course we know the rest of the story and its because of that story that we celebrate, but countless others are living without hope. There are those all over the world whose idea of Black Friday means they will watch a child die because of unclean water, they will spend another night on the streets, they will spend another day hungry with no end in sight other than death.

Those are the real statistics of Black Friday! Those are the headlines that will get overlooked when searching through sales ads, but there are other trajedies that will occur on that day. There will be families that go even deeper in debt just so that there kids can have the latest gizmo and gadget. There will be families that will be torn apart because that debt is pushing an already tense situation over the edge and there will be people who will miss out on the good news because our society has chosen consumerism over God. Worst of all that is the reality for believers as well; who have lost sight of whats truly important.

Ask yourself... "Have you lost sight of whats important at Christmas?"

Even if the answer is no; well then are you sharing the good news of Good Friday (a life given freely as a sacrifice) with others or are you hoarding up that joy for you and your family alone? Are you reaching out to others everyday (even Black Friday)?

Are you extending the boundaries of your home so that it includes the world?

Are you living out Good Friday on Black Friday?

Another Gift Wrapping Idea...

Just found a really cool gift wrapping idea that comes from Lynn at Queen of the Castle Recipes.

Thats what I call economical and enviromentally friendly gift wrapping and for my scrapbooking friends this might be a nice way to use those scraps of paper. It could also be used to pack the goodies you made. Of course from the looks of the recipes on her site they wouldnt make it to the bag in my house. Make sure to scroll down to the strawberry butter recipe. Yummy!!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Advent Inspiration...

Here are the links and ideas I promised on how to make your very own countdown calender.None of which is listed in the picture above, but if your feeling creative please feel free to be inspired. Just remember to keep things simple and keep Christ at the center.  
For the younger ones try these Advent countdown ideas..

To make your very own paper countdown chain (which we have used before) or box advent calender

Still haven't found what you like use this printable list of daily activities that you can cut out and use as you wish.

Or if your looking for some visual inspiration visit flickr. This site might actually inspire me to do something more creative. Nah!!

That should be enough to inspire you, but if not you can use our family idea....
  1. Take a stocking and decorate it as you like or not at all.
  2. Hang it anywhere you like
  3. Fill daily with activities, scripture or candy
  4. Enjoy the Christmas season
Now you have something you can use year after year. This works perfectly, but I would love to hear your ideas so please comment below. Oh and please share your advent ideas with me. I would love to hear them.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Heart to Give

Thanks to my friend Lynne for sharing this video with me. What an inspiration Isaiah 58 is during the Christmas season!
***Scroll down to pause the music from my playlist

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Ring Those Bells: Bean and Bailey

Give til it hurts!!! Thats what I'm talking about. If you haven't watched it yet, stop/watch, then proceed.

*scroll down to pause the music on my playlist or watch the video on you tube.

Now that your back this is excactly what Ive been talking about. Giving til it hurts. It's what Jesus taught and lived out to his death. It's more than the 50 cents I give while buying the $100 toy for my kid.

It's taking the time to give back.Perhaps that mean ringing bells curbside while it's 30 degrees outside and raining instead of just throwing in some money.

I will tell you this.... It's Worth It!!

It's worth the cold fingers and toes when your heart is cozy and warm.

For more info about signing up to either ring bells or help in their distribution centers go to  or if your not a Knoxville local go to You can also sign up to purchase a Christmas tree and have it delivered with 25% of the purchase price going to Salvation Army.

See you on the streets ringing those bells.

What is Advent?....

We are only 14 days til the start of our Christian advent which starts on Nov. 28th. For our family that is the start of our Christmas countdown, but a lot of people prefer to start on Dec. 1st. However more important than the date you start on is that you make this a time of expectation.

The long awaited Messiah has come and will come again, but that sense of expectancy is somehow lost in our daily lives. We have forgot that we will one day stand before God in all his glory. At Christmas we not only celebrate his birth, but we celebrate his long awaited return. That expectancy is what Advent is all about. Its living passionately, fully aware that we are awaiting something great. It is also remembering that something great has already happened.... love came down to earth wrapped in flesh.

We choose to celebrate Advent because it reminds us of the reason we celebrate Christmas. It also strengthens our family and takes the focus off gifts. So how do we do this? Well it changes every year. Most of the time the kids awake to a note that gives them some activity to do that day. That might be as simple as praying for a neighbor. Some days it will include activities that we already have scheduled such as caroling or Christmas plays. It always has the days left til Christmas on it & it is always eagerly anticipated.

Personally I believe the kids need more than a piece of candy in a countdown box. They need a piece of what Christmas is all about. They need the joy, the expectancy, the hope of peace on earth. They need to know that their life's have meaning and that they are a part of Gods plan for redemption.. Not just later when they grow up, but now.

Yes that might seem like a tall order during an already rushed Christmas season, but like I said it is as simple as praying for someone each day during advent. It is as simple as reading a Christmas book everyday that focuses on whats truly important. It is as simple as making a point of reading your bible as a family during the Christmas season. Heck if you still want the candy, eat it while reading.

What matters is that you find a tradition that works for your family and I will do my best to share with you what works for mine with some added ideas along the way.

In the days ahead I will share with you some ideas for making the advent calender and some links for celebrating it. However if your interested in learning more about the traditional way of celebrating Advent take a look at this site for a more in depth intro.

As always remember at the center of everything should be your deep love for Christ. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

It's in the bag...

Here's an update on the Santa Sack I mentioned yesterday. Wal-Mart's is carrying them now. The bag measures 3ft and only cost $5.00. Not bad for something you can use again and again. Want an even greater challenge?! How about trying to minimize the presents for each child to what you can fit in one bag?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Update on the small details...

Hopefully most of you have not yet bought your gift wrap for the Christmas season or if you have; you bought it at a discount last year and donated the difference.

Well if you have not here is a little update on my last "small details" post. It looks like Target is not carrying the St. Jude's wrap. In fact they are also not carrying paper that is made from recycled content. So with that in mind Target is probably not the best bet for your gift wrapping needs.

However Wal-Mart is carrying gift wrap that donates a portion of its proceeds to Friends of Earlier Breast Cancer Testing and carries the pink ribbon symbol to raise awareness. Plus they are carrying the St. Jude's gift wrap.

Now lets pretend for a moment like you have a lot of extra time on your hand. Well if you do and your extra crafty you can make your own Santa Sack or if your not any of the above you can buy one at This is an idea that my family has used before. Basically you let Santa know that you do not want any gifts wrapped this year. Instead leave out the Santa Sack for the big guy to fill and come Christmas morning you have a big bag of Christmas presents for the little ones to enjoy.

Then you can take all the money and time you saved and donate to some worthy cause that will benefit far greater than the trash can will on Christmas morning.

Yet another way to give back...

Looking for another way to give back this year. Well check this facebook post out by a friend of mine who's daughter is living with Cystic Fibrosis...
The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation teamed up with CVS/pharmacy & Warner Home Video again this year! They’re donating $5 of every DVD sale of these videos to the CF Foundation: “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” “The Year Without a Santa Claus,” “Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tales” .........& “The Polar Express.” Stop by a CVS/pharmacy & buy your copies today!
To learn more about this fundraiser or Cystic Fibrosis visit the Cystic Fibrosis foundation. However if you prefer to save the cost of the video and donate that amount straight to the fight against Cystic Fibrosis you can visit

I know for a fact that your donation will make one very sweet little girl named Sydney extremely happy. Plus it might just mean that she sees a cure in her lifetime.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

It's the small things...

It's the small things that make a big difference. It's taking the time to look at the details and asking yourself is God in the small stuff of my life. Does he or whatever values you hold too show in the small decisions you make?

In a perfect world our gifts would be gifts of time and charity. There would be no need for fancy presentations because the gift would be relational in nature or it would carry with it the beauty of God's love. However the reality is that we are accustomed to giving and will continue to do so. It's a small way that us imperfect humans show love to one another.

So that being said; what are the small details during the holiday season? One is the way we present our gifts.
  • Could we choose to skip gift wrap so that we show our care for the earth and by doing so also make a difference with the money saved? For instance taking the money we spend on gift wrap and donating it to charity.
  • Could we choose to wrap our gifts with recycled items (ie. paper bags, newspapers, old maps)? Then once again we would be saving money and helping the enviroment?
  • Could we make the wrap a part of the present? Such as wrapping gifts in dishtowels or washclothes.
  • Could we choose to buy recycled gift wrap?
  • Could we choose to buy cheaper gift wrap and donate the difference to charity? 
God is in the small things. Our spending shows the condition of our heart. So with this small detail, gift wrap, you can make an impact in the world. One such impact is buying gift wrap that gives a percentage of it's proceeds to a charitable organization. In fact I just noticed that Dollar General is carrying gift wrap that is decorated with drawings done by the patients of St. Jude Children's Hospital and 40% of the purchase price goes directly to the hospital. It also can usually be found at Wal-Marts and Target. True...  it might not be the largest amount, but its a small light in a dark world.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Putting things in perspective...

I started this blog with good intentions. I wanted to share the joy of Christ and encourage others to celebrate Christmas fully. However I'm feeling guilty because I feel the endless organizing could be the one thing that distracts the most from the holiday. Planning is important, but is planning the best Christmas for your family excactly what God had in mine when he sent his son. My heart says, "No."

These small traditions were meant to bring my family closer to Christ and for the most part they do just that. However I dont want to replace one form of consumerism with another. I guess my hope was that if I could take the focus off the gifts than I could make the focus Jesus. Yet I worry that I have just traded one evil for another.

You see the picture of my family snug in their pajamas driving in our SUV to look at Christmas lights is starting to bother me. Although it is a very special time for our family, but lately it seems God is expanding my vision. He has given me a vision of the poor, the needy and the lost. He has made me want to look outside these four walls and celebrate our Christmas in a way that honors the heart of God. Afterall God's heart is with the poor, the widowed, the orphaned, and the lost. I want to be where God is and God is not in our celebrations. He is on the streets with those that are suffering the most.

The babe in the manger is crying out for justice. The question is.... "Will I listen?"

Thursday, September 16, 2010

100 days and counting.....

We are well under way with our Christmas planning. Well somewhat. So far I have managed to...
  1. Put myself in the fall, Halloween, Thanksgiving & Christmas spirit.
  2. Avoided a whole lot of everyday living by making a new blog... WELCOME!
  3. Made a list of everyone I need to send a card too or make a gift for.
  4. Filled in some of my advent list
  5. Cleaned off my front porch
  6. Organized a notebook for Christmas planning
  7. Spent time pondering the true meaning of Christmas
Did you get the last one? Well if you didnt. Let me state why I am planning 100 days in advance of Christmas. I want to have more time for Jesus. I want to awake everyday during advent and spend time in his prescence. I want to center our homeschooling around the Christmas story during the month of December. I want to center our lives around that. I want more of him more than I want a perfect Christmas. Honestly we are simple folk. I long ago minimized my stress over Christmas & chose to worship Christ instead of  commercialization which is why Im wanting to give back. I want to share that with others. Thats you.  I want you to know there is more to Christmas than gift buying, gift wrapping & gift giving. I want you to share it with your kids. I want you to take it into your heart and live it out in your daily lives and if that means you put all the planning aside and just plainly let him in well then do it. Do it now so that when Christmas comes around than you will understand why it is we celebrate Christ birth. You will understand the greatest gift ever given. You see "Christmas began in the heart of God, but it is only complete when it reaches the heart of man." (author unknown)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Never to early...

In the past few years I have found some new traditions to add to our families Christmas plans.

We do "Advent" with gusto, doing daily activites that are fun or charitable. The kids have learned that advent is a time of excitement & joy which is the purpose for which it was made. We are living expectact lives waiting for the day that our saviour returns. However in the meantime we are living with the joy that comes from knowing he is already more than enough right now.

We do secret Santa drive bys on St. Nicholas day leaving goodies behind & laughing our heads off as we try not to get caught. We also get an early visit from Santa's elves while we are out doing the secret santa thing. Amazingly the kids always come home to their stocking filled with Christmas goodies in exchange for the letters they wrote. Of course it is always filled again on Christmas morning.

We read scripture almost daily. We do camp outs by the Christmas tree. We go looking at Christmas lights in our p.j.s with hot cocoa to keep us warm. We celebrate the first day of winter by driving up to Sharps ridge, watching the sunrise while toasting in the risen sun & son with o.j. We go caroling with friends. We do winter hikes while it snows. We make birthday cards for Jesus & tape them to our windows Christmas eve. We enjoy each other fully. In fact the kids are more excited about the season than they are Christmas morning which was what I wanted all along.

Of course all this takes a little planning as any mom out there knows. For me I have just replaced most of the gift shopping with gifts of memory instead. Still it takes a little work, but I make sure to go to the source of my joy everyday to keep things in perspective. That is the number one thing when planning a wonderful Christmas. The number two thing is organization. Keep things simple & well organized. Typically well organized is not in my vocabulary, but this year I have found a wonderful site, Organized Christmas, to start my Christmas planning. By the way, yes I know its August, but the key to simplifying is avoiding procrastination. Typically being rushed to finish something just leads to being stressed which I prefer to avoid if at all possible. Yesterday I managed to put together a holiday grand plan notebook thanks to the printables they have on the website. Now Im off to go to enjoy the last of the summer fun, because nothing says Christmas planning like sitting poolside. Merry Christmas Planning!