When You Are Weighed Down by “Getting It Right” At Christmas

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I ran upstairs to get dressed “real quick”. Fifteen minutes later, I had a pile of clothes on my closet floor I’d tried that didn’t work. I ran through scenarios in my head. The temps would start out cold, then get warmer. I kept saying to myself, “I have nothing to wear.” This was a lie. The bigger issue is that I had too much to choose from. I just didn’t like much of what I chose from and spent too much time trying to make the perfect choice. I was weighed down by the pressure of making the perfect outfit selection.

I was meeting a friend for breakfast. Other than that, I’d be home working. Grab the kids from school, play outside hopefully, possibly see another human being other than my kids. So why in the world did it take me 15 minutes to find something to wear?

It didn’t stop there. I then had to hang up all the clothes I’d thrown on the floor, then wash my face and put on makeup. Forget the shower, I’d run out of time.

My “run upstairs to get dressed real quick” ended up taking 30 minutes- what should have taken 5 minutes. Too many choices and my desire to make the best choice tilted my morning routine.

At this point, I am now rushing, which makes me snippy with my boys. All because I had too many choices and couldn’t make a simple decision.

Christmas isn’t only complicated because of what the world does to Christmas, it’s become complicated because what we have done to it as well.

We have more choices than we can manage for how to have an intentional Christmas. Get on Pinterest, type in some key words, and you will spend hours trying to determine which one is the very best.

Stop in the Christian bookstore, and you will find no shortage of advent books and activities. Talk to a few friends to find out what they do. People become pretty passionate about what they do with their family and are convinced it is the very best choice. And it very well may be. For them.

Here’s the thing. Too many choices, too much clutter, and we freeze. We have a hard time just grabbing something and going with it. We have a hard time blocking out the noise of what everyone else is doing and finding joy in what we are doing. 

What makes Christmas special in each home will look drastically different from home to home. Sometimes it is the simplest acts, the smallest of traditions that make the biggest imprint in the heart of a family.

In our home, there are a few traditions we do every year, but we have learned to change as our children have grown. Traditions are vital to a family, but traditions can still be a tradition and change shape at the same time.

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Seeking Christmas has been a tradition for the last 6 years. It is one that I’ve loved for its simplicity and flexibility. It doesn’t add so much that we become bogged down in choices and activity. In the simplest of ways, we celebrate the Savior, who offered the simplest, yet most elaborate gift the world has ever seen.

Our boys are getting older, Seeking Christmas gives us room to go deeper now and build on the foundation we’ve been laying. This year, I stumbled upon something we are adding to Seeking Christmas that adds no more stress, no more activity, no more clutter. It adds another layer to understanding the gift of our Savior. And it works in perfect harmony with our Seeking Christmas tradition.

I’m sharing not to overwhelm you in more choices when you already have plenty to pull from. I’m sharing because for our family who seeks simplicity so we can enjoy what truly matters, this has been a gift.

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Seeking Christmas began in our home when our boys were little. We had 7 ornaments that told the Christmas story. Each night we’d hide an ornament and send them on a hide and seek adventure. Their faces would light up when they found the ornament, and we would read the devotion together. As they’ve grown, they still race to find the hidden ornament. As they’ve grown, they take greater part in the advent activity. Now they read to the family. Now they answer questions with enthusiasm, now they write in the journal as well so we have a record of the years.

This year I discovered Ever Thine Home. I wasn’t looking for anything to add to advent or to our Christmas tradition list. But when I stumbled upon it, it was clear that this is something that would bless our family.

I love everything about their purpose and their products. They have something that goes along with Seeking Christmas so beautifully, so I’m excited to add to our tradition list this year. Simply.

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7 Savior Names ornaments. And a tiny little booklet to accompany.

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They also have 7 Christmas Names ornaments, which are gorgeous as well.

For our family, we are already hiding and finding an ornament with Seeking Christmas. Now we can hide and find 2 ornaments. The reading is so brief that it adds only a minute or two to the time. It adds no more complication, only another layer of the beauty of His story.

This year I’ve been having my own secret tradition. In the quiet morning hours, I’m Seeking Christmas alone. I’m studying His names alone. All these years, I’ve reserved these readings for times only with my family, but this year I’m enjoying this private time of devotion as well.

And here is one more resource your family may love. It’s one of our favorite books. One Wintry Night by Ruth Bell Graham.

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This book tells the Christmas story from the beginning of time. How God was always putting into motion a plan to save us. The story is told in such a way that the kids are drawn in and held by her words and the illustration. It’s beautiful.

Again, this isn’t one more thing to try to squeeze in. It’s just a simple way to emphasize the true meaning of Christmas. It’s a long book, so we enjoy reading it over several day. I read it while the boys are eating breakfast in the morning.

By now, you know that for me, simplicity is key. I’m drawn to simple ways to communicate truth. Simple ways of doing life. I feel that the less clutter we add, the more the gifts of life shine through.

This is true at Christmas as well. Sometimes it’s the simpler traditions, the simpler activities, that shine the brightest in our season.

Sometimes it helps when we just make our choice and go with it. Even if it’s not the “perfect” choice. We prevent ourselves from getting weighed down in a sea of too much to choose from in an effort to make the perfect selection.

It’s Jesus. And it’s the heart of your family that will make any tradition you choose beautiful. It won’t look like anyone else’s. But it was never intended to.

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How To Not Miss Christmas

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We’ve all had that kind of Christmas. The one that seems to rush by only for you to look back and feel you missed it all. The one that you feel you are on the Christmas treadmill, checking off the list, racing from obligation to obligation, panting for air.

Then you wonder, did you miss Christmas? Did you show your kids what Christmas really means?

If you are keeping a close eye on your social media feed, you will feel you’ve failed at Christmas. When you see cutesy crafts one friend does. When you see the elaborate home decor of another friend. When you see the friend who is invited to party after Christmas party, and you’ve not received one invite this season.

If you scroll through Pinterest, you will feel unspoken pressure to make new recipes, attempt new projects, do something cuter and more unique than anyone else.

And when you can’t keep up with it all, you can begin to feel Christmas passed you by.

I don’t go to the store much at all this time of year. I don’t much like the crowds, the overspending, the pushing and shoving. But there are times I can’t avoid it. Like when Andrew begs me to take him to use his birthday money to buy a gift for his brothers. I see the buggies loaded with gifts and toys falling out. I’m thinking to myself that our Christmas doesn’t look like that. Before I realize what I’m doing, I begin to think of additional things I can buy my kids. As if I can buy Christmas.

It sneaks in. This pressure of society to do to Christmas what has nothing to do with Christmas.

Here’s the secret to not missing Christmas. The absolute certain way that you will not miss it.

It’s to remember this. Christmas isn’t a day or a season. 

The true spirit of Christmas can’t be wrapped in a package. It can’t be decorated fit for a magazine. It can’t be dolled up and posed for pictures.

Christmas is the gift of God becoming man. Heaven coming to Earth. To die. So we can live.

So if you fail to get the perfect Christmas picture of your kids. If you fail to make cookies or a gingerbread house. If you forget the teacher gifts or sending out cards. If you never got to watch the Christmas movies. If the tree never gets decorated or the lights are never lit outside. If the Christmas projects fail. If you buy your gifts and feel they don’t compare. If your Christmas dinner isn’t perfect and is burned instead. If your home decor is hodge podge compared to the amazing images on Instagram. If some of your traditions didn’t take place. If all of this combined, Christmas is still yours if you have Christ.

Christmas isn’t a day or a season. It’s not bought in a store. It’s not baked in cute tins. It’s not posted online.

Christmas is the gift that came and that is alive every single day.

So if you feel your season is setting up for one big failure, here’s the secret to making sure you don’t miss Christmas.

It’s to change the way you look at Christmas. It’s to dig down through the clutter. To get back to the basics. To rediscover simplicity.

Everything we do to make Christmas what it is in America is an add on. It’s a bonus. It’s not what makes the holiday the holiday. You can’t take away what He did. That gift came. That gift remains. That gift is celebrated at Christmas, yes. But that gift is to be celebrated every single day of our lives.

Give yourself a gift this Christmas. Release yourself from the pressure to create the perfect Christmas by changing the way you view Christmas. When we remember that Christmas is alive everyday, we realize that no matter what our season looks like, we can’t miss Christmas when we look to the cross.

Everyday is Christmas. Everyday is Easter. Everyday is Thanksgiving. Remembering this is how we let go of the pressure of “the day” or “the season”.

No matter how behind you feel you are, it’s never too late to capture the true spirit of Christmas. Right now.

You don’t need any supplies, no materials, no planning. You need one thing and one thing only.

God’s Word.

Open up the Bible. Matthew 1-2. Luke 1-2. This is a good starting place and you can sit with these verses and these chapters for days.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by Christmas and all that accompanies this time of year, maybe this is a good time to push everything aside and pull out His Word. Focusing our hearts on this story of Christmas, with nothing fancy to distract. Sometimes it’s the very thing we need.

When I sat down to write today’s post, I’d intended to write about some of my favorite resources that you may love. And I still plan to post those for you. But as often He does, the Lord changed what I’d planned to write for today.

It’s funny when He does that. He’s so unpredictable and unconventional. I wrote a Christmas devotion. I have a window of about 6 weeks out of the year I can market and sell my book, yet today, I felt the Lord leading me to share with you the simplicity of going to His Word. Rather than pointing you anywhere else, just pointing you to His Word.

And you know what? It might be the very thing your soul needs today. I believe it’s the very thing I need today.

So for today, release yourself from the burden of creating the perfect Christmas. Inhale. Exhale. Open His Word. Read His Word. And remember, He is Christmas. Because He is Christmas, if He is in you and you are in Him, you can’t miss Christmas. Even if no decoration goes up, no gifts are bought, no parties attended. If you have Him, you can’t miss Christmas.

If you are reading my blog, you are in my prayers. I love you from the bottom of my heart, you are the reason that I write. I pray the Lord blesses your Christmas season as you focus on Him and Him alone. He is all we need.

Much love,

Renee

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Am I Really A Christian?

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Andrew has always had a sweet sensitivity to God, God’s Word, and all things Jesus.

Don’t get me wrong, the boy isn’t an angel. He isn’t perfectly obedient and free of trouble. At all. He is all boy. And he is 7. But. The boy loves Jesus.

He sleeps with his Bible. He asks me to read the Word to him nightly. He listens with attentiveness to Bible at school. Other than lunch, Bible is his favorite part of the day.

Andrew has asked for at least a year to be baptized. We’ve held off because of his young age. We really wanted him to understand that baptism doesn’t grant salvation. We wanted him to understand that baptism is a symbol of him dying to his old life and resurrecting to new life in Christ, a public profession of his faith, but not a seal of salvation.

A couple of weeks ago, we were driving down the road when he said he is so afraid he isn’t really a christian. He went on that he loves God and is so afraid he isn’t going to be with God.

We had the discussion on the level a 7-year-old could understand about how we are saved by faith alone in Jesus Christ. I reminded him of the verses we’ve learned. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved – Acts 16:31. If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved- Romans 10:19.

But I thought to myself that any religion other than christianity, there is always this question of “Am I good enough? Have I done enough?”

In christianity, the answer is No. We aren’t good enough, but He loves us with an unimaginable love anyway. We are sinners, saved by grace. This is not of ourself it’s the gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8) We couldn’t do enough. It’s why Jesus was born to die for our sins.

Before we accept Jesus as Lord of our life, we have to confess we are a sinner in need of a Savior. My fear for the children of this generation is that they are told so often how good they are. They are praised and esteemed to the point I wonder how they will recognize that they are a sinner in need of a Savior.

Over the last several weeks, Andrew has asked us to pray with him to receive Jesus. Again. We’ve stressed that when we are saved, nothing can pluck us from His hands. He’s afraid he didn’t do something right, say something right. We’ve explained that is religion, not christianity. Christianity is faith. God knows Andrew’s heart.

I’ve shared this before, but I often pray with or over my boys that God would grant them a “different” kind of spirit like He gave Caleb. One that is willing to follow God wholeheartedly. I want to raise wholehearted men who love the Lord more than they love their wives, their children, their life, their anything.

Last night Andrew and I read from The Jesus Storybook Bible (his very favorite). We discussed the story and God’s relentless pursuit of His people. Then we prayed. In the middle of praying, I said, “Lord, I pray you create in Andrew a spirit like Caleb’s, willing to follow you wholeheartedly.”

Andrew’s eyes flew open as he cried out, “Caleb??? Caleb? Oh no, mommy! I’m never going to be with God in Heaven. I can never be as good as Caleb!!”

I looked into his innocent eyes, and ran my fingers over his cheeks. “Andrew, you don’t have to be as good as Caleb. God doesn’t expect you to be “good enough” or like anyone else. He created you to be you.” I continued, “When I pray that, what I’m asking God to do is to make you love Him so much that you will follow Him wherever He leads you.”

He let out a sigh of relief, then he said, “But, mommy, I’m still so worried I’m not really a christian.”

“Andrew, do you love God?”

“Yes.”

“Do you believe you are a sinner?”

“Yes.”

“Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God sent to die for your sins and He is the only way to God and to Heaven?”

“Yes.”

“Did you confess to Jesus that you are a sinner in need of a Savior and ask Him to be the Lord of your life and tell Him that you want to follow Him?”

“Yes.”

“God knows your heart. You need to stop worrying. The fact that you even question it shows me that you understand that a life with Jesus is worth making sure you have. And I did the same thing when I became a Christian. I was so worried because it just seemed too easy. There had to be more to it than that. But there isn’t. It’s a gift to us. We didn’t earn it. It’s grace.”

He still didn’t look convinced, so I asked, “Do you want me to lead you in prayer again?”

“Yes, please,” he said sheepishly.

I led him for about the 4th time in prayer asking Jesus to be the Lord of his life.

And for many years to come, I will continue to pray for his faith. That it will be strengthened, matured, and that it will become his own, not merely an extension of our faith.

And this. This is Christmas. Christmas isn’t the season, the day, the gifts, the parties, the food, the decorations. It’s not the Christmas movies by fire with hot cocoa. All fun and wonderful.

Christmas is the most amazing gift we could fathom, given in the humblest of ways. God became a baby to grow up to die for our sins. Willingly. What kind of love is that?

So, I get Andrew. That kind of love is too much to bear, too grand to understand. To receive that kind of love freely? It makes no sense.

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Fighting the Christmas Pressure to Impress

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There is something about a Christmas stocking I love. It’s this idea of giving in secret. A simple gift from the heart. One that doesn’t seek to sit on center stage, doesn’t demand attention, desires not to impress. One content to wait patiently and humbly in hiding for one reason and one reason only. To bless.

As I sit here looking at our stockings hung from the mantle, they all look the same on the outside. Christmas morning each stocking will be filled with items uniquely given for the one to receive. On the outside they will all look the same. But there is this little humble secret inside. These gifts given from the heart. Simply.

When a gift from the heart is wrapped in simplicity, room is made for splendor. No distractions compete for attention or overshadow the true gift.

Christmas simplicity makes room for the splendor of a King.

Luke 2:7 Then she gave birth to her firstborn Son, and she wrapped Him snugly in cloth and laid Him in a feeding trough-because there was no room for them at the lodging place.

Jesus, the ultimate gift ever given, was wrapped in simplicity. Magnificence cloaked in simplicity. The gift came humbly.

Jesus, Savior of the world. Prince of Peace. King of Kings. God became a baby. This gift sought not attention from the world or desired to impress the world. He sought only to give of Himself. He came quietly and humbly.

Simplicity makes way for the splendor of a King.

It’s not hard to drift into the American way of bigger is better, more is preferred. Christmas is a simple message. Christ was born to die for our sins so we could have eternal life through Him. He was born to die. A simple message that needs nothing added to it to make it better.

Many of us struggle to keep Christmas gifts simple. Our culture creates a pressure to add more. Outdo one another. Images shared at lightning speed fill social media that whisper to us, we should add more, we should do more, we aren’t enough, give more, do more, decorate more. Be creative, be unique, be different. Stand out.

We feel this unspoken pressure to consult Pinterest to create the most creative teacher or friend gifts ever given or to create memories for our children in the most unique of ways. Simplicity and humility flee.

This is why I love the stocking. It’s gifts given in humble simplicity, hidden, not shouting for attention. A gift in a stocking isn’t crying out, “Look at me. Did I win best gift award?” It’s not asking, “Do I earn your approval?” It seeks only to give and desires nothing in return. No favor.

When we fall to the pressure of our culture in our gift giving, it becomes about us.  The attention is taken from the gift recipient and placed back on us. We might earn favor or impress, but we lost our humility. Christmas is the greatest picture of humility the world has ever seen.

If we want to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas, it starts with modeling humility.

Jesus knew He was the ultimate gift.  Heaven came to earth. What greater gift is there? Pinterest has got nothing on that.  He came to be the gift, and He wrapped Himself in cloths, lying in a manger, announced to simple shepherds, delivered by a simple, humble girl. All humbly simple.

When we simplify, we can magnify Christ.

In a share all, show all world, we feel the pressure to perform, which holds hands with the pressure to impress.

The spirit of christmas is humility. It’s seeking the lesser position. A gift given in humility is not a gift that seeks to impress. It’s a gift straight from the heart that has lowered itself.  It’s one that attempts to be the stocking gift, tucked away quietly waiting to bless privately.

The attention we receive from our gifts can change the intention of our hearts with time.

What if each gift we give this season seeks to be the stocking gift? The one wrapped in simplicity.

When we aren’t influenced by the idea that we will receive credit, we are able to focus on loving and blessing the receiver of the gift rather than seeking to impress the receiver.

I’m finding freedom this Christmas in choosing to simplify my gifts.

When I let go of the pressure to receive praise or earn recognition, it’s amazing how my heart changes. When I take the focus off of myself and what I receive back from the gifts I give, suddenly my heart is turned to the ones I want to bless. And I can love them in the most simple of ways.

I’m not weighed down by putting together friend or teacher gifts that will receive praise. Instead I’m free to humbly express my heart towards the one to receive the gift. It stops being about me, and the blessing has room to bless.

If you feel weighed down by the pressure to impress, choose to follow the example of Christ. Give a gift packaged in humility that seeks only to bless and desires nothing in return. No favor. No attention.

Be the stocking gift that tucks away quietly awaiting its moment of private blessing.

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How We Can End the War On Christmas Right Now

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I’m ready to put it to bed. This idea of a war on Christmas. It’s only a war if we let it be a war.

Now, satan, he loves to watch us get in a tizzy over this holiday. A holiday that, by the way, we created.

We created Christmas. We are fighting the world to keep the Christmas tree and the words Merry Christmas. Jesus wasn’t born under a Christmas tree. He never declared we greet each other with Merry Christmas. We are fighting to keep ideas and traditions that I can’t for the life of me imagine Christ desiring us to fight for.

We are falling right into the hands of satan’s plans.

Christ can’t be removed from Christmas. Christmas is the celebration of His birth. Jesus overcame the world on the cross. John 16:33.

It’s impossible for the world to remove Christ. The world will try, the world is trying, the world will continue to try. But have you read to the end of Revelation?

The war will end. He wins. He won on the cross, but there is coming a day the entire world will know who wins. So why are we fighting over a holiday that celebrates His birth?

Instead of fighting against the world to keep Him in Christmas, we need to fight a different battle. We need to fight for the world that is blinded by the enemy. That’s where the true battle is waged.

It doesn’t matter if someone says Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas. What matters is that whatever they say, we show love. We don’t scowl, cross our arms, stomp our feet, and huff ‘Merry Christmas’ as we storm away.

We don’t demand to have Christmas our way. 

Pride demands to have its own way. Humility places love over the need to be right.

Jesus is the ultimate picture of humility. Lowered Himself to be born a baby to one day willingly hang on a cross. For us. So we could have eternity with Him.

He wasn’t born so that we could have Christmas adorned with trees, singing carols, decked out halls, and shouting Merry Christmas for the world to see.  He was born to die so we could have eternity with Him.

Oh, church.

Is there a more humble birth than to be born to a common family, wrapped in swaddling cloths, placed in a manger because there was no room in the inn? When you are the Son of God!

Is there a more humble death than to hang on a cross and cry out to God to forgive them for they know not what they do??

It’s overwhelming.

Our humble Savior.

If we want to keep Christ in Christmas, it begins with taking the humble position. It’s not standing up straight and arguing to the world around us that this is our holiday and how dare they take it from us.

We are called to LOVE the world.

God is love.

If we want to keep Christ in Christmas, we love the world in a radical way.

If a company removes Merry Christmas, it means nothing. Not one single thing. Jesus never said this world would honor and adore Him. Why are we surprised?

We are fighting the wrong battle.

When a secular company doesn’t recognize Christ at Christmas, why are we aghast?

Love them. Love them. Love them.

Love wins.

We better love this world in such a radical way that they will come to know the One who gave His life for them.

Jesus was unconventional. Let’s follow Jesus. He never did things in the ways we would expect.

There is an enemy blinding our world. We must be the light. We are here for such a time as this. We can’t fall into the trap the rest of the world is falling into. Not at Christmas. Not at anytime.

Let’s rise up together. Then together, let’s sink. To that lowly position. The one that doesn’t demand to be heard, to be recognized, to be seen.

Christ doesn’t need us demanding Christmas trees and Merry Christmas greetings to make Him known.

They will know Him by our love.

Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. John 13:35

Let’s do it different this year. Let’s CHOOSE to not be offended. Let’s CHOOSE to show love. Let’s CHOOSE to be the hands and feet of Christ to the world rather than demand a Merry Christmas from them.

Maybe we take it a radical step further?

When the world races and fights to complete shopping lists, we stroll among them, be with them, but we serve them, we love on them. Let’s put ourselves in the middle of the chaos and shine a light. Smile, hold the door open, pick up the last item only to place it in their hands, wave them into that last parking spot and choose to walk the distance along the way chatting with others not so lucky in the parking lot.

Love them to smothering pieces. I believe love grows. I believe the more you love, the more you love.

I believe that when we ask God to help us to love others, He delights to say yes to that. But do we dare? Are we afraid, perhaps?

People often say be careful what you pray for. Yes, God delights to make our hearts bent to Him. If we ask Him to help us love others, watch out.

We never know how our small acts impact eternity. There is an actual war. If we had eyes to see what is happening in the spiritual world, I can’t imagine we wouldn’t fight a different fight. I believe we’d stop fighting the silly battles and we’d fight unconventionally. With love.

Merry Christmas. Season’s Greetings. Happy Holidays. Whichever you choose, say it from the heart, smother it in love, deliver it for Christ.

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The Power of a Story and Help With Your Christmas Shopping

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I attended the Allume Conference a few weeks ago. I leisurely strolled the tables displaying businesses and products. None really grabbed my attention initially. It takes a lot to get me to stop if I think you want me to spend my money. So I’m very careful to move at an appropriate pace so as not to be caught.

When I reached the table for Ever Thine Home, I stopped. Willingly. Abruptly.

I love beautiful things, but I love beautiful things with meaning so much more. I don’t want a house full of beautiful things with no story. I want a home that tells a beautiful story.

The entire table of Ever Thine Home products was nothing but beautiful things that tell a story or help you share a story.

Stories. We are missing good stories today. We are too busy running after life and chasing what we will never catch. In the process, we are missing grasping the most beautiful gifts and moments wrapped in the package of a story.  Stories shared in relationships.

That is what captured my eye. A table full of beautiful home decor items that opened the door to the stories. That created a reason to unite in relationship.

I was drawn into this table and began talking with the lady at the table. She was so lovely – her name was Laura.

Her story captivated me. It’s her story I continue to hear the Lord whisper to me.

She told me how her mom was gifted artistically, but knew the Lord wanted her to lay down her talents for the season of raising her children. I believe they had 6 children. And it was AFTER her children were grown that the Lord led her to pick up the gifts and talents He’d given to her to create art to be used beyond her home.

I’ve thought of this many times over the weeks. What obedience. As moms it’s easy to feel that life is passing us by. When the Lord gifts us or places passions in us, it’s easy to believe He must want us to do something with them now. Right now.

I wonder sometimes if He allows us to see the gifts and talents He’s given us, yet He asks us to use those in our homes first. And to save the dreams for when He says Go. I wonder if we chase our bigger purposes and miss the greater purposes?

I’ve thought how much I admire Laura’s mom for her obedience. Obeying isn’t always easy. Especially when our gifts are itching to be used.

In the season of motherhood, those gifts are never wasted. They are used in the loveliest of ways right inside our homes. When they are given in our homes, they will reach outside the home. And then a season comes where the Lord might say, “Ok, now go.”

I likely scared poor Laura silly. I think when you set up a table, you are expecting to have to “sell” someone on your products. Tell them why they would love them. Laura didn’t have to sell me on a thing. I get it. So get it. And so want others to get it that my excitement can be a bit uncomfortable at times.

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So that is what happened when I discovered these Untie Your Story napkin ties. I started babbling about how much I’m in love with them before I’d even bought them.

 

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I bought every kind of Untie Your Story she had. Memories, Gratitude 1, and Gratitude 2.

And then I proceeded down the table. Ornaments. Oh goodness. One day my dream is to have Seeking Christmas ornaments produced and packaged and sold with the book. And part of the reason is that I never find beautiful Christmas ornaments that tell His story.

Until now. My friends, you are welcome.

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It’s hard for me to give a gift that simply has no meaning to it. These napkin ties, make the perfect gift to keep on hand. Teacher’s gift, a thank you gift, birthday gift. Obviously, Christmas gift.

We should really share stories more with each other. Remember my coffee post last week? Stories open doorways through which relationships enter.

Today, share a piece of you with someone. Tell a story. You never know how the Lord will use it in their life down the road.

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The One Christmas Preparation We Can’t Miss

truelight

I avoid going out in the final days before Christmas. The hustle and bustle, the anxiety and stress, the talk of preparing for Christmas, and the conversations of “I’m not ready” or “I’m ready for it to be over” are a discouragement. Instead, I hide away at home with my boys in these final days. To rest. To be still.

While the world keeps itself busy in preparing for Christmas, I pray He prepares my heart. It’s the one Christmas preparation I pray to remember. If the gifts don’t get wrapped, if I forget a gift, if I fail to get everything on my grocery list, if I forget to send a few cards, Christmas will still go on. Christmas won’t be ruined. If I stress about the preparations, I will miss Christmas completely.

If I don’t create the most magical Christmas imaginable for my kids, it might be the greatest gift they unwrap this season. It might just make room for them to be dazzled by their Savior.

It’s not too late, my friends, to change the course of your Christmas season. If you are tired, stressed, and overwhelmed, be still. The only preparation He wants from us is to clear space in our hearts to receive Him this season. He doesn’t want us to work so hard to prepare to celebrate Him that we fail to experience Him. He doesn’t need our never-ending to-do lists.

If our kids don’t get everything they dreamed of, it’s ok. If our company doesn’t think we were the best hosts imaginable, it’s ok. If it doesn’t all get done, it’s ok. It’s deceiving to think it’s possible anyway.

In these final days, as we prepare to celebrate the birth of our King, let’s do one thing. Slow down. Slow down so we don’t miss Him completely. Slow down so we have eyes to see Him right here, right now. Mary and Joseph didn’t speed their way into Bethlehem. They journeyed. Let’s journey in these final days.

Then let’s not stop. When we pack away our Christmas decorations, let’s not stop preparing our hearts to celebrate Him. Let’s not stop talking about Him. It’s not just one day. It’s every single day. He was born to die to offer us eternal life and to glorify His Father.

The Light has come. The light shines for the world to see the greatest gift that has ever come, the greatest gift that will ever come. Let that light shine for the world to see. Let that light illuminate your heart and your home in these final Christmas days. The light remains past Christmas. Keep shining. Be still and watch that light. Stand back and watch your children and grandchildren mesmerized by the Creator of true Christmas magic.

Let’s fix our eyes on the light. The Christmas light that shines all year long. The Christmas light that has come into our world. The Christmas light that never burns out, that never fades, that never short-circuits.

These last days can be hectic or slow. It’s our choice. When we slow we truly see the light illuminating the world around us.

From our family to yours, we wish you a very merry Christmas. We pray blessings over you and your families this season and beyond. Thank you for being a part of my life here in this blog space. I hold you close to my heart and truly treasure each of you. Thank you for the love you have shown to our family.

Much love,

Renee

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