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Merry, Merry Christmas!

Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year!

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When the perfect morning we planned unravels, when the day turns out just as we hoped, when our kids argue incessantly, and when our kids play seamlessly, let’s ponder and treasure the moments right in front of us just like Mary did. All is well because a Savior has been born to us, Christ the Lord!

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While we all are experiencing different things in this moment, let us remember that Jesus is the One who will fill our souls in it all. No matter the depth of pain or height of joy, He is with us always and will walk with us when we ask Him to.

In this world, just as we experience both joy and pain, Jesus did too.

Jesus spent quality time with friends.

Jesus suffered terribly.

Jesus walked along the road with friends.

Jesus was left in darkness on the cross as he carried the sin of the world.

Jesus broke bread and fellowshipped with friends

Jesus connected with those sick and outcasted and rich and poor and lonely, and offered Life to them all through Him.

As we are all experiencing different things this Christmas – some great and some difficult – let us pray for each other and not forget one another. And no matter where we find ourselves, know that we can ALL find hope in Jesus always.

In this world, as we experience trouble and joy and heartache and contentment, let us remember to seek Jesus first. There we will find peace, joy, and rest for our souls.

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” – Jesus (Matthew 11)

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A Great Saying for our Kids…

I started teaching this phrase to my triplets when they were very young. I wanted them to have in their hearts that more, more, more won’t make you content. I know that family and friends can disappoint us, but the premise of this saying is simply that material things won’t make us happy, but what will bring more contentment is relationship and things that last – time with family, time with friends, Jesus. There is a lot more fullness in life when we aren’t continually longing for the next thing. A great reminder this Christmas season.

I try to remind my kids (and myself!) that even when you get that thing you’ve always wanted, it will soon lose its appeal and you’ll long for the next thing. We should absolutely enjoy the gifts God has given us, and I sure love exchanging gifts at Christmas, but let’s always remember where our true treasures lie because that is where our hearts will be also.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21)

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Some of you might have heard the phrase, “Give It to Jesus,” if there is something you have been struggling with.

You’re venting or expressing your heart, and then you hear, “Give it to Jesus.” As though you haven’t done that because you’re still struggling.

I’ve thought about that phrase, and I think it can mean a number of things.

Yes, you might experience immediate freedom from something when you “give” it to the Lord, sharing it with him with open hands.

Or, the freedom might come for only a moment once you “give” it to Him, or pray about it, only to find yourself struggling once again with that thing, that heartache, that pain.

That doesn’t necessarily mean you haven’t “given it to the Lord.” It could just mean that you’re human and feel and have emotions, and that some things just take time.

And that’s okay.

If the Lord thought we didn’t need to come to him daily about things, he might have said, “Give us this year our yearly bread.”

But, that’s not what he says at all. Jesus says, “Gives us THIS DAY our DAILY bread.”

We are meant to come again and again to Jesus.

So, then, what does it mean to give it to Jesus? I think it means that when that heartache, that pain, that struggle rises in our minds and hearts, we ask the Lord to walk with us, to help us, to free us, to restore us, to strengthen us, again, and again and again. And, that, is where the healing comes.

And, that, is giving it to the Lord.

Yes, the Lord can work a miracle by setting you free in an instant, but he can also work a miracle by setting you free a moment at a time as you walk step by step with the Lord, and that is beautiful.

And, that, is giving it to the Lord.

Even if some pain and struggle remain.

That is just what he wants of us – to keep coming to Him.

Oh how the Lord wants you to really live by letting him into your heart to become your Savior, your peace, simply by asking him to. How he wants to walk with you because He loves you, in whatever you are dealing with, to set you free…

Day by day.

Moment by moment.

Jesus, set us free. Thank you that you have set us free to live in eternity with you when we ask you to be our Savior. Lord, set us free here and now too. Moment by moment, we give our pains and struggles and heartaches to you. Lord, release us. Help us experience the freedom you have come to give us. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

“It is for freedom that I have set you free.” Jesus

Whether this season is just how you hoped it would be or nothing like you wanted it to be…

You might have heard this verse many times: “We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him.” (Romans 8:28) I understood it in a new way after reading “The Hiding Place” by Corrie ten Boom.

She was a Christian evangelist who hid Jews during the Holocaust and was imprisoned because of it. When Corrie and her sister, Betsie, entered one of the filthy prisons infested with fleas, both starving, they cried out to the Lord.

As they lay side-by-side on a bunk with several other women, 1 Thessalonians 5 came to Betsie and she shared them with her sister: “Give thanks in all circumstances.”

Corrie asked what on earth they could give thanks for. Betsie said that they were actually able to be together in prison and that their Bible miraculously had not been confiscated.

Then, Betsie prayed, “And thank you, Lord, for the fleas.” Corrie said she could never give thanks for fleas, but Betsie insisted that it is God’s will to give thanks in all circumstances.

So, while lying on their flea- and lice-infested straw beds, they gave thanks for the fleas.

After some time, they noticed that the soldiers rarely came into the barracks where they slept. Betsie and Corrie did not know why, but it allowed them to share the light of Jesus to other women for hours during such a dark time.

One day, Betsie asked a supervisor to come to the barracks. Betsie said to Corrie, “'[The supervisor] wouldn’t step through the door and neither would the guards. You know why?’

Betsie could not keep the triumph from her voice: ‘Because of the fleas!’ That’s what she said, ‘That place is crawling with fleas!’”

Corrie wrote, “My mind rushed back to our first hour in this place. I remembered her thanks to God for creatures I could see no use for.”

Hours of ministering, changing lives, and offering hope in a dark time, all came because of the presence of fleas.

What is the hard thing in your life that God can use for good? To help someone. To bring comfort to someone. To point someone to the light of the Lord, and to finding hope in Him.

This daily shift of giving thanks always, can be hard and it takes discipline. But when we change our outlook, it moves our eyes and hearts upon things eternal and puts God’s purposes over ours.

Corrie writes,

“Side by side, in the sanctuary of God’s fleas, Betsie and I ministered the Word of God to all in the room. We sat by death beds that became doorways of heaven. We watched women who had lost everything grow rich in hope.”

Whatever is happening in your life, be encouraged by these words that relate to us even now:

“In everything God works for the good of those who love him.” Romans 8:28

May we pour out thanks to the Lord this season, whether it’s a seamless season or a difficult one, knowing the Lord is right there with you, walking with you, loving you always.

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

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A post from Veteran’s Day….

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I pray on this day, that you would know the Lord is right there with you,
however you’re feeling and wherever you are.
He calls you by name, he created you,
and he loves you to the moon and back.

“But now, this is what the Lord says—
    
‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…

Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
    and because I love you…'”

– The Lord (Isaiah 43)

Free Chapters on Women in the Bible!🙌

I’m excited to share this with you! This is awesome! Focus on the Family is giving away three chapters of my Mother-Daughter Devotional book about women in the Bible for FREE! You can find them in this interview (The book is for 6-10 year old girls). Enjoy! ❤️🙌 Interview with 3 FREE chapters!

You can find my book at the following places online (and soon to be in Mardel’s Bookstore!): Amazon,  Barnes & Noble,  ChristianBook.com,  Books-A-Million,  Target,  &  Focus on the Family

How the book works:
❤️ Focus on the “Words for your Heart” verse that week
❤️ Read the interactive story for that week
❤️ Read the prayer together at the end of the story (I usually have my daughter read the prayer)
❤️ You have all week to do the simple Daughters in Action prompt & Creative Fun Activity which help you connect with your 6-10 year-old daughter & the Lord.

This book is a 40-chapter devotional you can do at your own pace. You could do several chapters a week or just one, and you can pick what activities you’d like to do, or do them all. You could use it as a 40-Day Devotional if you don’t do the activities and only read the stories of women in the Bible (but the fun activities are so fun and help grow your faith). I pray this book helps you draw closer to Jesus and your daughter.

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I love these words by singer, Matt Maher…

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In case you missed last month’s post: “Small Things are Big Things to the Lord”…

I was at a store yesterday waiting for a cashier. An employee yelled to the other employee, “You got a customer at the front!” She yelled back angrily, “They can wait!” I was kind of surprised. And honestly, a little annoyed as I thought it was pretty rude. As she came to the counter she was talking on her phone to a friend venting about how a cashier didn’t show up and she had to do everything. I started to feel bad for her, and noticed she was fully overwhelmed. 

I told her I was so sorry that the person didn’t show up and how tough that must be (while she was still on the phone). Then she told her friend she had to go. Maybe when she saw I wasn’t mad but sympathetic she decided to get off the call? I told her how I had just been to a similar store to theirs, but left and came to this one because it was much cleaner and better organized. She let out a deep breath. 

Then she apologized to me for venting in front of me on the phone. I told her that I had just finished venting with a friend about something too and that sometimes we just need to. She said she doesn’t usually do that in front of customers, but that she was left to unload all the frozen foods alone while still being the cashier and that she just couldn’t do it all. She said she was fixing to cry and I could see the tears coming. I told her she’s doing a great job and that I’d pray for her. She said, “Now that’s what I need. That will help. Thank you.” As the line grew longer behind me, I told her again, “As soon as I get in the car, I‘m going to pray for you.”

There are other times I’ve been in a similar situation and have stayed frustrated, not giving as much grace, but this time I was able to see the reward of giving grace. I really believe that is what God means when He says to love our neighbor. To see through the exterior to the heart. To give grace when it’s needed. What’s going on with them – are they broken, struggling? God longs to lift people up in their heartache and exhaustion. 

While I’ve heard people talk often about wanting to do “big things for God”, I am convinced that in the Lord’s eyes, “small” things are big things. I think we can get caught up in thinking we have to do big deeds or have huge accomplishments to share God’s love, but as Mother Teresa says, “We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.” 

It’s sometimes in a smile or a few kind words that we share the love of Christ.

My response to the cashier was a “small thing”. But I believe the small things are big thing to God. How can we be people who spread God’s love and give grace in “small” ways? It doesn’t mean we can’t have expectations, but it does mean we ask the Spirit to lead us, and when we sense brokenness and someone crying out, that we take a moment to show them God’s love. 

God gives us grace All. The. Time. Let’s do the same with those around us. Don’t underestimate how powerful “small” things can be to others and to the Lord. 

Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” – Jesus

In the kingdom of God, small things are big things. Go love the Lord, your family, and those around you in “small” ways today. ❤️

“Small Things” are Big Things to the Lord

I was at a store yesterday waiting for a cashier. An employee yelled to the other employee, “You got a customer at the front!” She yelled back angrily, “They can wait!” I was kind of surprised. And honestly, a little annoyed as I thought it was pretty rude. As she came to the counter she was talking on her phone to a friend, venting about how a cashier didn’t show up and she had to do everything. I started to feel bad for her, and noticed she was fully overwhelmed.

I told her I was sorry that the person didn’t show up and how tough that must be (while she was still on the phone). Then she told her friend she had to go. Maybe when she saw I wasn’t mad, but was sympathetic, she decided to get off the call. I told her how I had just been to a similar store to theirs, but left and came to this one because it was much cleaner and better organized. Relief washed over her.

Then she apologized for venting in front of me on the phone. She said she doesn’t usually do that in front of customers, but that she was left to unload all the frozen foods alone while still being the cashier and that she just couldn’t do it all. She said she was fixing to cry and I could see the tears coming. I told her she’s doing a great job and that I’d pray for her. She said, “Now that’s what I need. That will help. Thank you.” As the line grew longer behind me, I told her again, “As soon as I get in the car, I‘m going to pray for you.”

There are other times I’ve been in a similar situation and have stayed frustrated, not giving as much grace, but this time I was able to see the reward of giving grace. I really believe that is what God means when He says to love our neighbor. To see through the exterior to the heart. To simply give grace when it’s needed. What’s going on with them – are they broken, struggling? God longs to lift people up in their heartache and exhaustion.

While I’ve heard people talk often about wanting to do “big things for God”, I am convinced that in the Lord’s eyes, “small” things are big things. I think we can get caught up in thinking we have to do big deeds or have huge accomplishments to share God’s love, but as Mother Teresa says, “We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.”

It’s sometimes in a smile or a few kind words that we share the love of Christ.

My response to the cashier was a “small thing”. But I believe that small things are big thing to God. How can we be people who spread God’s love and give grace in “small” ways? It doesn’t mean we can’t have expectations, but it does mean we ask the Spirit to lead us, and when we sense brokenness and someone crying out, that we take a moment to encourage them.

God gives us grace All. The. Time. Let’s do the same with those around us. Don’t underestimate how powerful “small” things can be to others and to the Lord.

Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” – Jesus

In the kingdom of God, small things are big things. Go love the Lord, your family, and those around you in “small” ways today.