When You Can’t Stand, Sit at the Feet of Jesus

when-you-cant-standsit-at-the-feet-of-jesusWhen the news came that we were expecting our first child I jumped into planning mode immediately.  Within days, I was designing the nursery, collecting reading material and filling the freezer with meals for our first months as a family of three.

Every plan was carefully crafted to ease our transition into parenthood. When it was time for baby to arrive, I road to the hospital expectantly and walked blissfully into the delivery unit. What happened seven days later took me by surprise.

Caring for our son one morning I was hit suddenly with the realization of how dependent he was upon me to live. For years I had been responsible for only myself. I enjoyed coming and going as I wanted. Now, I was responsible for myself and the life I stood holding. Suddenly, my life no longer felt like my own, and the journey was only beginning.

I’m sharing the rest of these words over at Abby McDonald’s blog. Would you join me there to continue reading? Click here to read the rest of this post. 

Single Moms and Christmas {Home for the Holidays series}

Today we bring our Home for the Holidays series to a close, but before we do I have one last post for you from my beautiful friend, Micah Maddox. Micah and I met this past summer at a writing conference, and while we grew up in different parts of the country our stories share many similarities. What I love about Micah’s words are the hope and inspiration they deposit into my soul every time I read them. Today, Micah is sharing a personal story of how God brought joy to her family during a difficult time and how we might turn her story into a blessing for someone else.

Enjoy, my friends!


single-moms-and-christmasWith Christmas around the corner, I have no doubt there are moms who are already agonizing over a day that is supposed to be a glorious celebration. Although they want to make amazing memories and buy memorable gifts for their children, the lack of child support or the paycheck to paycheck living does not allow for expensive things.

I’ll never forget our first Christmas after my dad left. We were living in a one bedroom apartment above a little garage. My mom got a job and did her best to provide for us. That year was different in so many ways. A new place to live, a new church, a broken family and a small income. I don’t remember going without or not having things, but I do remember the amazing way God gave us Christmas that year.

A man from church pulled up into our little driveway and opened the trunk. He pulled bag after bag from the trunk. The bags were filled with Barbies, a new basketball, and everything you could imagine a child would want to receive on Christmas morning. I remember sitting in the living room watching my mom wipe tears from her eyes as we opened gift after gift.

A few years ago, my husband and I decided to choose a single mom each year and give as much as we could. Some years it’s been a check, other years we’ve unloaded the trunk with toys for each child. I don’t know if our gifts will be enjoyed and played with for years to come, but I pray that there is a child who sees God’s provision as clearly as I did so many years ago.

Would you consider adopting a single mom or dad and blessing them with Christmas this year? Your act of kindness might be remembered for years to come!

If you are a single parent, my prayer is that God would provide abundantly for you this year! I’m sharing this in hopes that someone will be compelled to support you, love your children, and encourage you this Christmas.

That man from church who unloaded the trunk adopted me a few years later. I now call him Dad.

Merry Christmas!

Micah

Can you think of another way to provide for those in need at Christmas? Share your thoughts in the comments below. Your idea just might be the one that brings a blessing to another!

Micah Pink Head ShotMicah Maddox has a passion to help women find purpose, peace, and calmness in our chaotic world. She is a speaker and writer about all things encouraging. Micah is a recovering Dr. Pepper addict and lover of coffee. When she is not tending to children, dishes, or the next meal, you might find her reading a good book, writing, or chatting with a friend over coffee. While Micah enjoys small talk, she loves digging deeper and discussing the stuff in life that keeps us up at night. To get to know Micah better visit her blog http://www.micahmaddox.com/about/

 

Holiday Traditions

What’s your favorite thing to do during the holidays? Mine is visiting with family and friends. I absolutely love spending time with others! And the holidays often present that opportunity more than any other time in the year. Today, my dear friend, Carmen, is sharing her Top 10 Favorite things to do during the holidays! When you’ve finished reading, I hope you will share your favorite tradition or thing to do during the holidays in the comments below! 

Enjoy! 


holiday-traditionsY’all. It really is the most wonderful time of the year.

I have always stated that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. While I still stick to that, (It is the only holiday where I get to see most of my cousins) I have come to realize that, for me, it is the BEGINNING of the season. I am a person who has always accepted the “Happy Holidays” greeting. Because, for ME, “The Holidays” are all of the days that comprise the times and days between the last Thursday in November to January 2. It’s a whole season of happiness!!  (Legit dancing in my seat because I’m getting excited!)

As a kid, I learned A LOT about making the season memorable without busting tail to try too hard. My mom always says, the things we remember the most, weren’t the big things she went out of her way to do. It wasn’t the presents or having the perfect dress. It was the things we did together to make the house feel warm and festive.

(DISCLAIMER: Jesus is ABSOLUTELY the meaning behind everything we do. ABSOLUTELY. However, I feel strongly that there is something extra special about the whole season. While keeping Jesus at the forefront, we do a lot of other things to focus on love and joy instead of stress and perfection.)

Here is my top 10 favorite things we do during the holidays:

10. BAKE!!! – My favorite is to bake homemade party mix, cookies, crème de menthe brownies, peppermint bark and cinnamon roll. As a kid, my mom always baked for my teachers, and I do now for my kid’s teachers. I mean, they don’t need another mug, but another cookie…

9. MUSIC!! So. Much. Music. Fun music, Jesus music, pretty music, classical music… Some of our favorites are: Chris Tomlin, Oak Ridge Boys, Amy Grant, Kenny G., the kid’s Christmas play music, Alvin and the Chipmunks. Play it in the house, in the car, while you’re baking…PLAY IT, SING IT, DANCE WITH IT. 

8. Decorate together: True, most of the ornaments on my tree are at knee level, but the kids have so much fun. We have a Nativity in every room and I LOVE the way they perceive the Holy Family by the way they arrange them. Your house can be pretty in a few years when they’ve gone off to college.

7. Movie night, often. Everyone sits and you watch together. (Enjoy #10.)

6. Do the family stuff! The biggest cause of conflict is uncommunicated and unmet expectations. Talk to both sides of the family early in the season to establish their hopes and your schedules. The more you talk, the happier everyone is.

5. Be a team: If one member of the family is expected to do it all, there’s going to be a lot of joy lost. Wrap presents together as you get them. (And do #7, #9, and #10 while you’re at it) Stuff Christmas cards together. Make it a relational time, not a stressful time.

4. Turn the room lights off and the tree lights on. Often.

3. Spend extra time with people. Take the extra cookies to the neighbors. Give an extra hug. Make an extra phone call. Choose the right extras and do them.

2. We do Santa. (That may put me in jail for the Christian parents.) We don’t emphasize it. But, we both were raised doing Santa and still 100% believed in Jesus from a young age and were able to decipher the difference. And the wonder of Christmas and the element of surprise is so fun and something I looked forward to. We still read “The Night Before Christmas” and we sing “Rudolph”. We make Santa cookies. “Santa” brings 3 presents to emphasize the 3 presents from the Wisemen. The other presents they get are from us. As a mom, I find it exhausting to always do the “right” things especially in raising my children to love Jesus. And, for our family, we don’t feel that a little Christmas imagination thwarts that.

1. Advent wreath: Advent at church is beautiful. And meaningful. But, often the skit, or the reading is over my kids’ heads. There are tons of pretty wreaths with candles to buy to use at home. We light one candle and talk about what that means. Let them ask questions. Reteach the previous week. Because, we can never talk too much about LOVE, JOY, PEACE, HOPE, AND JESUS. We chose to do the Jesse tree with the book leading us: “Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas” by Ann Voskamp. It has a daily reading taking us from the beginning of the Bible to Jesus and what all of the signs along the way said about the coming Messiah. There are ornaments the kids can color and hang on a tree. It has been one of our greatest times together. Every night, we relight that week’s advent candle to reemphasize the characteristic of Jesus we want to embrace.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year y’all.

Now it’s your turn! What’s your favorite thing to do during the holidays? Share in the comments below.

CarmenCarmen Boso is a pastor’s wife who is a teacher on the side. She is married to Lee and together they have a daughter, Nina, and a son, Brooks. They also have a Lab and a Golden Retriever. They share a love for cooking and traveling and eating copious amounts of junk food. To learn more about Carmen visit: www.babyboso.blogspot.com

 

 

How to Plant Hope in the Hearts of Your Children During the Holidays

Hello Friends, 

I am absolutely delighted to bring you this message from my good friend, Lori Schumaker. As a momma, I want nothing more at Christmas than to plant the love and hope of Jesus in the heart of my little boy. But, I confess sometimes this seems challenging. Today, Lori is sharing how we can turn our everyday activities into “hope” lessons.  

Welcome to our series, Lori! 


how-to-plant-hopeChristmas.

Hope.

They really are supposed to go hand-in-hand, aren’t they?

After all Hope was born, not only in the darkness of night, but amidst the darkness of a torn and hopeless world.

In humbleness, He was born in a manger bringing light and hope to the world. And hope to us today.

It’s a hope I want to share at Christmastime with my children. I want to make sure they know hope at the core of who they are. Praying they have the ability to keep it front and center as they walk through this life merely one moment away from a situation bearing the potential of hopelessness.

As parents, hope is a precious gift we all desire to plant within the hearts of our children.

But how? How do we plant the seeds and fully share hope with our children during the Christmas season? How do we make hope shine brighter than the rushing and the to-do lists?

Hope isn’t an isolated lesson. It isn’t something we abandon at other times of the year; it is something shared in the everyday moments. The planting, watering, and cultivating takes place every single day.

But during Christmas, we have the opportunity to wrap all our everyday lessons and our heartfelt moments together into a beautiful gift of hope.

And, from one Mama to another… It doesn’t have to be another addition to your to-do list!

It’s simply about the intentional conversations we have with our children during the activities we are probably already doing! And, it’s about the way we live our lives as their observant little eyes take note.

When picking out or making that perfect present for a very special loved one, a door is opened to discuss the depth of God’s love for us. He created and called us wonderful and marvelous. Because of His love, He gave us the best gift ever on Christmas! His precious Son! Just like Him, we can give gifts out of our great big love.

As we buy even the “obligatory” gifts we can talk about the joy found in blessing another. We can pray the receiver’s heart fills with the love and hope of Christ as they receive the gift. God uses us as His hands and feet in giving presents that can share His hope.

While participating in an Angel Tree or other outreach opportunity, we can talk about the difficult situation in which the family or child may be living. It’s a great place to explain the truth of our hope. It’s not about life being fair because it isn’t. God’s Word tells us that it won’t be easy. He tells us we will have troubles. But He promises He is with us every step of the way. Immanuel means “God with us”.

Make gratitude a priority. I love keeping a Gratitude Jar on the counter. I cut up note-sized pieces of paper putting them in a drawer near the jar with pens and pencils. As the kids are standing around the kitchen, I remind them to write out at least one unique thing they are thankful for today (not the same thing every day). It doesn’t have to be a jar. It can be a journal, a daily conversation, or anything that keeps us actively noticing good! Gratitude is a powerful weapon protecting both our joy and our hope.

During dinner or drive-time, sharing a hope-filled scriptlori-schumaker-christmasure is a great way to teach our children how the Word of God is filled with truth and hope that impacts our daily life. One child reads the verse followed by a discussion as to what this verse means to our family. How does it apply to each of us today? This week? This year? In life? You can download and print my favorite hope-filled Bible verse cards just by signing up to join Searching for Moments and Raising an Arrow! Click here to go to Lori’s site where you will find more details!”

When our children say, “I hope I get _______ for Christmas”, we get to smile and share their excitement alongside them. An extension of that moment is stepping into conversation about a greater hope! We hope for these fun things right now, but we have something even bigger we get to hope for because of Jesus. Reminisce the times God showed His faithfulness to us and our families. Maybe share a story from childhood. My children love to hear those “long ago” stories! Because of His hope, we need not fear whatever we face. Our hope in Him says Jesus is fighting for us. It says He is with us and He is making a way.

Let our children witness our hope in Christ. Sharing our (age appropriate) struggles allows them to see us leaning into that hope. We communicate the reasons behind our thoughts and actions. Explaining financial responsibility of a budget and how it honors God. Explain that even in the struggles we know God will hold our family tight and Christmas will have treasured moments. Let our children see us give our worries to Him.

This list is only a beginning! Now that your mind is spinning in the direction of intentional conversations, what would you add? I’d love if you would share your thoughts in the comments below! Your idea may be just the one another Mama needs!

And friends, may your Christmas holiday be filled with hope. The hope that was born that night!

“You can download and print these hope-filled Bible verse cards just by signing up to join Searching for Moments and Raising an Arrow! Click here to go to Lori’s site where you will find more details!”

lori-schumakerAs a wife, mom, teacher, friend, and writer, Lori seeks to encourage others to embrace hope. Pointing others to Jesus brings her joy. Writing about the hope of Jesus is her focus. It’s because of this that she is excited to welcome you as a friend as you struggle through brokenness, celebrate life’s joys, and grow to know Jesus more and more. Find her blog, Searching for Moments, at www.lorischumaker.com or visit her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagam.

 

 

Remembering the Reason for the Season

As we continue our Home for the Holidays series, I am delighted to introduce  you to my friend, Lauren Gaskill. Lauren is an author, speaker and podcaster who spreads the joy of Jesus in everyday life. Lauren is sharing one of her family’s Christmas traditions with us today.


lauren-gaskill-postI could hear my sister and my cousin plotting as we ran up the stairs to get ready for our annual Christmas Eve play.

“Hey! You guys always get to be Mary … but I want to be Mary this year!” I yelled as I followed closely behind them.

My sister turned around just in time to catch a glimpse of my puppy dog eyes.

“Oh fine,” she replied. “I’ll be the shepherd.”

We spent the next 10 minutes dividing the remaining roles and preparing for our big curtain call. Then it was lights, camera, action. Time for the grandkids to act out the story of the birth of Jesus for the whole family to see. And for a grand finale, my gramma would bring out the “Happy Birthday Jesus” cake, thoughtfully topped with one candle to signify our one and only Savior’s birth.

Before any talk of presents. Before the hot chocolate and gingerbread cookies. Before the caroling music. Before anything else, Christmas was and forever will be about Jesus in my family. And although traditions have changed somewhat since we were kids (we don’t do the play anymore, we just read the Bible instead) some traditions stay the same, like our treasured Jesus cake.

When I was growing up, it was pretty common for teachers to ask students to share their holiday traditions with the class. And while I used to be embarrassed to talk about the Jesus cake, today I’m proud of the unique tradition. In fact, it’s become one of my most favorite things about Christmas.jesus-christmas-cake

Last year, my husband and I couldn’t make it to my gramma’s Christmas Eve celebration, so I asked her to send me a picture of the cake in my absence. There’s something about preparing a cake for and singing to my Savior that brings me so much joy.

There are so many reasons not to choose joy during the holiday season, and if we don’t keep our focus on the reason for the season, we end up focusing on the wrong things — things that fill us with sadness and sorrow. 

Things like not having enough money to buy everyone the presents you wanted to buy them. Things like not having the prettiest outfit to show off to all your family members. Things like not feeling beautiful enough to be in family photos. Things like that diagnosis you just received. Things like that boy who just broke your heart and left you dateless. Things like that friend that just stopped calling.

But when we fix our eyes on the reason for the season, we are filled with joy.

No matter what’s going on in our lives during the holidays, we can delight in the birth of our Savior. We can shut the noise out by focusing on giving praise and thanks to our great Father, who loved us so much that He sent His son to come live among us and die for our sins.

Each new year brings a different Christmas experience for me and my family, but one thing remains the same: Jesus is always at the center of our celebrations. He is our Home for the holidays, no matter where we are or what we are going through.

He is our refuge and our fortress, our God, in whom we can trust. {Psalm 91:2}

We can choose joy at Christmastime because love came down to set us free.

 

lauren-gaskillLauren Gaskill is an author, speaker and host of the Finding Joy podcast. She is in the process of publishing her first non-fiction inspirational book. When she’s not writing, Lauren loves to cook, bake and go on hikes with her husband and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, who is affectionately named Reese after Lauren’s favorite candy — peanut butter cups.