Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Wonder of Christmas

As the holiday season approaches, it can be easy to get lost in the clamor of finding the right gift for everyone on your list.  I remember when I was little, it used to seem as though Christmas would never get here and now that I'm an adult with two kids I often find myself saying, "It's Christmas again already?" The years seem to fly by at a lightning fast pace and sometimes I wish I had a pause button or could slow things down a little.  That is one of the reasons I love to take pictures.  There's something magical about being able to freeze a moment, to capture it and be able to look at it again and again, even though that small capsule in time will never repeat itself.

Christmas is a very special time of year and ever since having children five years ago, it's become more important than ever for me to remember the true meaning of this holiday.  I want my kids to see that it's not about the tree or the gifts or Santa Claus or reindeer.  All of those things are lovely and bring wonder and delight to the season as well, but they should not be our focus.

Christmas is about the birth of Jesus Christ, who gave up all the beauty and glory of heaven to become a baby who would grow into a perfect man and die on our behalf.

During the past five years as this time would approach I constantly questioned myself and pondered how Chris and I would keep our kids centered as parents.  Do we tell him there's a Santa or immediately dismiss the idea?  How many gifts should we get the kids?  Should we tell the grandparents to limit the number of gifts they get?  And on and on.  I nearly exhausted myself, forgetting in the midst of it all that Christmas is also about joy.  Family.  Enjoying each other and the gift of relationships.

The truth is that the biggest way my kids will see the true meaning of Christmas is through me and Chris.  If we show them the happiness and love we have over the coming of our Savior, that joy will translate to them.  Worrying about it will do nothing but add to my wrinkle lines.

Every family is different and it's important to remember what works for some may not work for others.  Some choose not to introduce Santa at all.  Some do extravagant gifts and some don't.  Stockings hang from the mantle in some homes and others don't have them.

As fast as the past five years have moved, I am sure of this.  My kids will not stay small for long.  And even though Santa is not our focus during the holiday season, seeing my kids faces light up when they see their video message from Santa or hear his bells when he enters a room truly melts my heart.  Their imaginations soar and they are allowed to enter into a enchanting place in their minds which for me was cut far too short.  

I have no intention of ending that place any sooner than necessary.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

What Would You Do?

Today I am participating in Proverbs 31 Ministries' blog hop as we study Renee Swope's book, A Confident Heart.This is an online Bible study which will take place over the next four weeks.

For today's topic I'm writing about some of my God given dreams.

As I state in my bio, writing has been a passion of mine for a long time. Although I've been writing poetry and fiction for many years, non-fiction is a relatively new endeavor. I've been amazed at the support and encouragement I've received from the online community since I started my blog this past summer. I never imagined that God could use people I'd never met to help me realize my potential in Christ. It is truly overwhelming.

When I think about my dreams, more than anything I simply want to encourage women. I want to write, yes, but I want the Spirit to speak through me, to glorify God, and to show women that they are invaluable to their Maker. I especially desire to reach mothers, as I am a stay-at-home mom, and I know that this audience needs daily reminders that what they are doing is praiseworthy and significant.

I know that being a new mom can be especially challenging, and as one who battled postpartum depression for a long time I would love to uplift mothers during this isolating time. To let them know they are not alone and offer support. 

My desire is to reach a larger audience and author a book one day, and plan to attend the She Speaks conference in 2014, Lord willing. I trust that if this is in God's plan, it will happen.

P31 OBS Blog Hop

Thursday, November 14, 2013

I Am Not

Today I am participating in Proverbs 31 Ministries' blog hop as we study Renee Swope's book, A Confident Heart.This is an online Bible study which will take place over the next five weeks.

For today's topic I chose an experience where I felt like a failure and responded with a resounding #IAmNot.

I am a far better writer than speaker. I once heard a preacher quote the statistic that on average,  people are more afraid of public speaking than they are of death and I believe that 100%. However, a week ago felt God pushing me to share some of my testimony with my MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group, and since I was very inspired by this online Bible study, I volunteered to do so.

I serve as Co-Coordinator on our MOPS Steering team this year, and our theme for the year is called A Beautiful Mess: Embrace Your Story. My testimony, along with the short devotion and verses I planned to share, would be the perfect opportunity to highlight our theme.

After days of rehearsing what I was going to say in my head and preparing an outline of the points I wanted to share, I believed I was somewhat ready. Or, as ready as I would ever be. My story contained several experiences which are extremely personal to me, which I'd only shared with a handful of people until that point, but I knew there were women in that room who needed to know they were not alone.

Until that day I never realized how much more difficult it is to stand in front of a large group and share your heart, to reveal things  which are deep and caused you pain, than it is to simply make announcements and talk about everyday matters. I was shaking like a leaf. It was painfully obvious that I was nervous. When I sat down after five minutes, I needed to throw up. I was sure that half of what I'd said didn't make sense.

I felt like a failure. Why did I think I could do this? I wasn't a speaker.

About ten minutes after I floundered through my speech, a fellow mom approached me. She told me how much she could relate to my words. She said how we shared similar experiences. She told me she was grateful  I shared.

I sensed God's still small voice saying to me, "If what you said spoke to even one woman, you have accomplished what I sent you to do." I knew somehow, despite my nerves, despite my mouth becoming unhumanly dry a minute into my testimony, He had spoken through me. I couldn't have done it on my own.

Although I don't have the burning desire to speak in public again any time soon, I know that I did not fail. Do I have room for improvement in the public speaking realm? Absolutely. But I am not a failure. That I am not.

P31 OBS Blog Hop

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Unpacking John 1:12

Today I am participating in Proverbs 31 Ministries' blog hop as we study A Confident Heart by Renee Swope.  This is an online Bible Study which will be taking place over the next six weeks.

For this week's  topic I am unpacking John 1:12. In other words, taking a closer look at this verse and telling you what it's meant to me.

Although I've steered away from the verse mapping so far during this study, I couldn't resist the urge to unpack this verse because the book of John has meant so much to me since becoming a follower of Jesus in 2009. John 1 is, to me, one of the most powerful passages in scripture.

It's important before we look at the actual verse to keep in mind what John is trying to accomplish in writing this Gospel. Each book of the Gospel had a specific purpose, and John's was no different. Others were to show Jesus was Messiah, Savior, and King. John's was to show Jesus is God.

In the verses leading up to John 1:12 the author is establishing the fact that Jesus was both fully human and fully God, and He always has been, even before the foundation of the earth. He is the eternal source of all light and truth.

In verse 12 we read, "Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God."

The following words stood out to me while reading and meditating on this scripture:

All:  every, any. Jesus is not just for the Jew but for the Gentile also. For everyone who accepts Him. Just as Adam and Eve were given the choice of whether to obey God or go their own way, we are given free will. The Holy Spirit will pull at our hearts, but the decision is ours.

Received:  accepted, to take into one's possession, as in gifts. The freedom and life we have in Jesus is a gift. We do not have to work for it or earn it.

Name:  identity, designation. Accepting Jesus also means believing in who he is. He is the Son of God, the only way to eternal life.

Children:  son, daughter, family. When I become born of God I am a new creation. I have been spiritually reborn. Although I will still have fleshly desires and temptations, because of the Spirit in me, I no longer am a slave to them. 

When I let these words and their meaning resonate in my heart, I am overwhelmed by the grace and beauty of the simple message. God left his Heavenly home, his Father and all the unfathomable glories in his grasp to be a mere human and die for me, a sinner. All I had to do is receive the free gift extended to me to have freedom from the power death had over me. I am eternally grateful and will forever praise His Name, the Name above all names.

P31 OBS Blog Hop