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How Remembering Can Change Everything In Your Life

audio devotional

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“Such reminiscence can be healthier than you think. Despite nostalgia’s bittersweet rap and the oft-heard advice to live in the moment, studies suggest that the occasional detour down memory lane can give your spirits a significant lift.

Thinking of good memories for just 20 minutes a day can make people more cheerful than they were the week before, and happier than if they think of their current lives, report researchers from Loyola University.”

A secular article published in Psychology Today notes what God already knows to be true. He asks us to remember for a reason. Remembering who God is reminds us that no matter what we face, we have a faithful God who will guide us through it.

If I don’t remember, I will forget. Remember is an action verb. It is something we actively do.

There are many things I want to forget. Like two weeks ago, which was disastrous for me because I allowed the enemy to cover me with condemnation for every failure. What I wanted to forget, the enemy made sure I remembered.

In my kickboxing class last weekend, the instructor told us to destroy the prior week in our workout. I worked out so hard, I did a little number on my back. I desperately wanted to destroy the previous week.

God kept whispering for me to remember.

I remembered a post I wrote about 5 years ago titled How to Remember So We Can Forget.

If you haven’t read it, it’s a quick read on the power of remembering.

“In an instant we were all taken back to a time of beloved, treasured memories. Going back took us out of the current moment, which was filled with disagreement and strife. We were transported to a time of encouragement and were reminded of how much we loved each other. The boys never finished their argument that day. Remembering had changed their perspective.

Sometimes remembering can help us forget. Remembering the past can help us forget the discomfort of the present.”

I’m studying the book of Matthew this year through Community Bible Study. My homework brought me to this passage:

Aware of this, Jesus said, “You of little faith! Why are you discussing among yourselves that you do not have bread? Don’t you understand yet? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the 5,000 and how many baskets you collected?  Or the seven loaves for the 4,000 and how many large baskets you collected?'”

Matthew 16:8-10

Don’t you remember? Jesus asks.

The disciples were quick to forget and fall into worry about the problem in front of them. I do the same thing. Jesus instructed them to look back. Looking back will cause us to move forward with confidence if we are careful what we look back on.

Why don’t I remember? Because I’ve not made it a habit or a discipline. Instead I’ve allowed anxiety and fear to create habits.

Yet even if I stopped for 30 seconds to remember who He is, everything changes. Instantly.

But do we know accurately who He is?

What we remember is critical.

Who we remember is even more critical.

I’ve created an audio devotional experience titled Illuminate – Seeing God by the light of His Word in order to help us create the habit of remembering who God is. Illuminate is 14 days of looking at the question “Who is God? Really?”

Illuminate takes us back to the beginning. It doesn’t attempt to define God or explain God. It simply turns our attention to our Creator in order that our affections follow. My prayer is that God will take you deeper into your walk with Him. That you will see Him through refreshed eyes and a revived heart.

Here’s how Illuminate will work. It will release here on the blog (soonish), so if you aren’t signed up to receive email updates, you can do that here. After purchasing, you will receive one email each day for 14 days. 7 days will focus on the character and nature of God, while 7 days will be reflective, taking us straight into scripture and a time of prayer. In the days of reflection, I will guide you through questions you can ponder in your heart.

 

What others are saying about Illuminate


“Renee Robinson has a gift for seeing the invisible. Passionate about God and Scripture, Renee notices the light in the darkness and points our attention to it. In Illuminate, a 14-day study of short meditations, readers and listeners find hopeful reminders of who God is and how to find Him in our busy, overwhelmed lives. With calming reassurance this study helps us see current events in light of eternal promises – and how God can be trusted with it all.”

Kari Kampakis, blogger, speaker, and author of 10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know and Liked: Whose Approval Are You Living For?


“We live in a world of hurry that seldom stops to consider the glory and majesty of God.  Illuminate will help you get still, take a deep breath, and set your mind on God.  If you want to be less rushed and more peace filled, this is a beautiful resource to enjoy.”

 

Dear Boys, When You Compare What You Get For Christmas To What Someone Else Gets

ContentmentChristmas

“Most people, if they had really learned to look into their own hearts, would know that they do want, and want acutely, something that cannot be had in this world. There are all sorts of things in this world that offer to give it to you, but they never quite keep their promise.”CS Lewis, Mere Christianity

Dear Boys,

It happens every year, and this year will be no different. Or the years following for that matter. Or your whole life even. Actually, as you get older and become an adult, you will still struggle with this – it will just look different.

Christmas morning you wake up to find surprises that delight. You spend hours admiring your new gifts and falling in love with these treasures that now belong to you. You find the perfect spot to keep them safe. Throughout the day you go back time and time again to play with or admire  your toys or gifts. You love your new gifts. Really love them! Until…..

Until the phone call, visit, or hanging with friends or family when you hear their list of gifts received. The stack of books you treasured moments before begin to lose their appeal. The new basketball you wanted for months suddenly pales in comparison to the new iPod someone else received. That new art set you slightly push aside in embarrassment because it isn’t as exciting as the laptop someone else received. You blush as you listen to the list someone shares with you about all the gifts they received, and you shy away from sharing what you received.

Your 5 gifts or 10 gifts or 15 gifts will always be outdone by someone else. If you receive 5, someone else will always receive 6 or 7 or 10. If you receive 10, someone else will always receive 11, 12, or 18. If you receive a pair of rollerblades you’ve always wanted, someone else will always receive a better pair. If you receive a new bat bag, someone else will always receive a better one filled with brand new equipment.

Someone will always have more. Someone will always have better. But that is not the goal of life- to have more and better than anyone else. When you begin to understand this, you are on your way to discovering the secret path to joy God has laid out for you.

His Word is a treasure map. He is the treasure we ultimately seek. In Him is found everything our hearts could ever desire. Along the hunt, we tend to forget this. Sometimes we take a path and believe the treasure is elsewhere. We begin to hunt for what appears to be treasure, but it’s not. It’s counterfeit. It’s all along the trail though. So you have to learn to know the difference in the true treasure and the counterfeit.

This journey is exciting.

I want to tell you first, that it is normal to compare what you have to what others have. It’s happened since the beginning of time. The problem is what happens when you begin to entertain these thoughts. Envy, jealousy, discontentment, lack of joy, begin to find a spot in your heart. Spots that are reserved for contentment, gratitude, and joy. Spots God wants held for His Presence.

Comparison is a robber. It’s a joy robber. Along that treasure map are robbers hiding behind trees and bushes. They don’t want you to reach the treasure, they want to steal your joy so that you forget what you are truly searching for. Comparison does this. It takes your eyes off what you have and what you are thankful for and tells you there is something better out there. It tells you that if you have that one thing, you will be happy. Once you reach this one spot on the map, you will finally discover joy. Listen, boys, this is a great lie. And we all fall into its trap from time to time. Stay the course on your treasure map. Don’t let the comparison robber take from you what God wants you to possess.

Comparison kills contentment. Jealousy fills the spot contentment once held. Jealously is the joy thief that puts you on the path to never satisfied.

It’s a tricky thing our enemy does. He is always looking for ways to get our eyes off of God and onto something else. Stuff, toys, games, these are easy things he can use to tempt us to think this is the way to happiness and fulfillment.

Christmas is an easy time of the year the enemy can use this tactic against us.

If you got everything on the list that someone else received, it would satisfy for a moment only. Eventually, it would wear off and leave you wanting more. The more you have, the more you want. It’s a cycle. Underneath this desire for more stuff, better stuff, or what someone else has is a hole that God created in you to be filled by Him and Him alone.

Most of the world doesn’t know this secret. I want you to know this is the key to unlocking the clue that will lead you straight to the real treasure.

You see the people who seem to have more than you, they have the same desires you have. And they look at someone else’s stuff and feel they don’t compare. They too, lose gratitude for what they have as they place their eyes on the ones who have more.

Here’s part of the secret. People don’t go around talking about stuff like this. So you will feel these feelings, and you will think something is wrong with you for feeling this way. I want you to understand nothing is wrong with you. This is human nature. But it’s not God’s nature. I want you to learn to differentiate between the real, true, 100% treasure and the counterfeit version.

The fake treasure will make you happy temporarily, but it leaves you wanting more. The hole that it tried to fill in your heart, it will actually grow bigger. But that hole was intentionally created in you. It was placed there for a purpose. To be filled by God and only God. He is the only thing that satisfies that longing in us. That is the true longing. It’s for full satisfaction, which only comes from Him.

God created a heart in you that has deep longings and desires. The world will tell you it can fill those desires by giving you everything on your Christmas wish list. Or it will tell you if you have what they got, you will be happy. Don’t believe those half-truths. It’s only temporary. He is eternal.

Here’s the secret I really want you to know. If you are constantly filling up that hole in your heart with His truth and His Word, there is no hole to fill with the stuff the world will tempt you to use to fill that hole! You will be full and satisfied. You will have found joy and contentment in Him, which means you won’t be looking for it elsewhere. You will see the world around you on treasure hunts. Don’t follow their trails. Stay on the path God has placed you on. It’s the only one that leads to the real treasure.

After Christmas when you find yourself tempted by these feelings, pause and ask God to redirect your thoughts and to guide your heart towards truth.

Psalm 37:4 Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

The true desires of your heart aren’t for toys, games, clothes, and stuff. The true desires are for Him.

1 Timothy 6:6 Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Merry Christmas, my boys. May it be filled with the hope, love, peace, and joy found only in Him.

 

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When You Tell Yourself You Are Ok And Realize You Are Not

barn

When you are 5, and your world falls apart, your heart learns to protect itself. When your only sense of security shatters, you learn to calm the panic rising into your throat. When the hurt in the frailest parts of your soul scream in agony, you force it to stay inside. You tell yourself it doesn’t matter anyway. You are fine. You are strong. You can manage.

When your heart whimpers for comfort, you learn to distract it with other things. You learn ways to escape the pain. When you are 5, you turn to things that don’t destroy your life. When you are 5, you don’t see the intricate ways your Heavenly Father is caring for you, clearing a path for you to come to Him at the appropriate time.

When you are 37, it only takes a tone of voice, a word spoken, a smell, a sound to plunge you head first into the icy cold of familiar. And your heart comes to attention. It remembers the drill. It’s ok. Stay calm. You are fine. Blunt trauma to the heart early on leaves memory scars that you try and try to bury. Deep. You push and push determined you can keep them down. No matter how deep you bury, they will resurrect eventually.

You try to live your life relying on God. You try to see Him in every single moment. You try to keep relationships smooth. You try to find joy in the dailies of life. You Try. You hear His whisper. Stop trying. Stop everything. See me for all I am. Your everything. I am your everything.

You are 37. You see the God who loves you beyond any hurt that has ever come against you. You feel His tears wash over you as He reminds you that He will never hurt you. He will never leave you. He will always comfort you.

Your husband watches you dealing with hurts that others have brought into your life. He looks at you with eyes of compassion you’ve never seen like that before. And you see Jesus. And those tender spots created from early childhood trauma, they ache, and you are scared. But you see Jesus when you look into your husband’s eyes. And you hear Jesus through His words and in His voice. I’m sorry you have to deal with what you are dealing with. I’m sorry for the pain you feel.

And you think, “What pain? I’m fine.” And his eyes are filled with tears because he is feeling the pain you are shielding yourself from. He is taking it on when you are not. And he models Jesus to you, taking on suffering, taking on pain, taking on humiliation, for situations that have nothing to do with him. But he loves you so much, he takes it on himself.

My husband is not Jesus. Only Jesus is Jesus. My husband is not my god. I have but one God. But my husband allowed himself to be used by God to provide what God knew I needed and wasn’t allowing myself to receive. Comfort. Love. Acceptance. Healing.

Life can be brutally cruel. Thank God Almighty that life is more than this world. Thank God Almighty I have more than what this world gives me. Thank God I have a Savior.

We live in a dying, hurting world. We are surrounded by pain and suffering. And He is here. To be all the world can never be to us.

I have grieved over what I never had. I have grieved over parts of my life that I wish looked differently. I have grieved over losing relationships I once had. Life is full of grieving. But. There is always a but. God offers new life. God restores, rebuilds, heals. No matter what we grieve, there is always something to give thanks for. Sometimes the thanks hunting takes more energy than we have.

In my grief, I hear God speaking to me. When I stop. When I become still. You were never created to receive total fulfillment here.

There are parts of my life that I could have never created in my wildest dreams. Fulfilling parts of my world that give me more joy than I ever dreamed. And there are parts that have been taken away from me, and I’ve had to grieve what I lost. And there are parts of my life where I never had what I wanted. But that is life. And abundant life is here anyway. Right in the middle of mess, heartache, brokenness, and beauty.

I’m learning that I’m not ok. And that’s ok. Through Him I’m more than ok. He will meet all my needs.

Philippians 4:19 And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

 

Philippians 4:12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.

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Fighting Stress – The Great Joy Stealer

Gifts

 

“Dad, do you want to throw the baseball?”

As Steve answered yes, I thought back to all the times he told me he couldn’t wait for the days he could throw a ball in the yard with his boys. One of the many dreams of a dad.

Something comes alive in Andrew when he slips his hand into a baseball glove. His entire demeanor changes, his attitude shifts, his words become animated, and his eyes light up.

Not surprisingly the door from the garage to the kitchen had been left open, which allowed me to hear the steady thud of the ball hitting leather. Voices drifted in and out, mingling with the rhythm of chopping. Setting the knife down, I stepped outside and watched from a distance.

His 5-year-old little body had this electricity running through it. After a few minutes of throwing, he paused and put his hand on his chest to feel the rhythm of his heart. “Dad! Dad! I feel something in my heart! I think….I think. It’s….JOY!”

I know that feeling. That feeling of using a gift God has given me and finding the unexpected gift of joy. I also know the feeling of working out of my gifts and losing my perspective, thus losing my joy. Viewing my gifts not as gifts, losing my gratitude.

When I view my gifts as to-do’s they become too much to do. The joy fades, the stress invades.

One thing I remain thankful for. That God is ever patient with me. That He never gives up on me. That He promises to continue the good work He began in me until completion.

I’m a slow learner. God takes me on long journeys to teach me. He knows I need the extra time to process.

It has been one year since Seeking Christmas released. To that point I blogged when I felt like it and received extreme joy in the process. In the last year I began blogging more, attending conferences, speaking, writing book proposals, and meeting with publishers and agents. And just like that, I began feeling stress rather than joy. I’ve had practice with the enemy and his tactics. How he loves to get our focus off God and onto our to-do’s.

I’m fighting back by stepping back. No more conferences, no more meetings, no more proposals. For now. I need to rest in Him. I need to be restored by Him. This isn’t just about my writing life. It affects my everything life. It affects the kind of wife I am, the kind of mom I am, the kind of friend I am.

It doesn’t take much to lose our perspective. My gifts are to be used to glorify Him. When they stop glorifying Him in all ways, it’s time for a reset.

Here is something I’ve learned about working out of the gifts He’s placed in us. They fill this little joy tank in us that then flows out of us into the ones we are serving and doing life with. Our gifts glorify Him, our joy glorifies Him.

I hit the reset button here every time.

Psalm 51:12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Gifts aren’t just the obvious gifts like painting and singing and writing, but the unique expressions of Him He placed in you. Gifts are gifts, whether big or small. The tender way you parent. The way you patiently listen to your child tell a long-winded story. The way you remember to keep clean your husband’s favorite pair of pants. The way you never forget to send a handwritten card to your best friend on her birthday. The way you hug the child that enters your classroom door. The way you meet a neighbor and make her feel as though she’s always known you. The way you smile at the clerk every time you see her. Unique expressions of you, handcrafted into you by your Creator. Gifts you give of you to another. For Him.

Unique expressions of Him expressed through you. Those are gifts. Don’t let stress steal your gifts. Stress is the great joy stealer. Stress moves our focus from upward to inward making us less effective outward. Fight back by stepping back. Stepping out of the scene. Hitting the reset button. Allowing Him to restore the joy that only comes from Him.

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The secret to joy is hidden in the view

sunrise

His head was down, fingers flipping through his Bible. I paused at the doorway reflecting on the gift he is to me. The house was quiet, it was just the 2 of us. Looking up from his bed, his eyes did that thing that makes my heart melt. They’ve done it since he was a baby. Such life is in his eyes, such joy. When he smiles, he smiles with his eyes more than his mouth. No matter what I have going on in my heart, his eyes can soften me in an instant.

“Well, buddy, you are almost 9.” His smile spread a touch wider. Folding down the covers and positioning his body, gratitude filled me that he allows me to do this.  And then I began singing a silly song about this being the last night ever he would be 8 years old.

Snapping his head up, he sucked in his breath. The eyes so filled with peace moments earlier teared up, “Mom, what? Don’t do that. Don’t say that. I’m about to cry. I’ve never thought of it that way before. If I think about this being the last time I’ll ever be 8, it will make me less excited about being 9.”

I quickly changed the tune to a silly song about being 9. His shoulders relaxed releasing apprehension to make room for contentment.

He was right. How we think impacts our view of the horizon. His view is always one of longing for sunrise rather than despairing over sunset. Mine is not. For me it takes daily effort and asking God to help me view life in a way that brings joy.

When my oldest was 5 months old, I sat on the front porch bench swing. It was March, the air was cool hinting at spring ahead after a long winter. I held him in my arms as we rocked back and forth. I watched as his eyes lost the fight to keep focused on my eyes. I never released my eyes from his.

I’d begun to have fewer and fewer moments of him falling asleep in my arms. A reminder that moments that seem so ordinary likely come to an end to make room for new moments. It’s good, not a bad thing. But a mama always longs to hold her babies. As I watched him sleeping in my arms, I thanked God for that very moment with him because I had the opportunity for one more. I was keenly aware how fast he was growing and all moments would end and make way for new developments. I knew he wouldn’t be 10 sleeping in my arms.

That was the last time he fell asleep on me like that. And I look back not with sadness but with such joy that I experienced it, fully aware that all moments are gifts from God.

As I tucked in my middle son, growing at a rate I can barely keep pace with, I felt that sense of gratitude I’d felt 10 years prior swinging his older brother as an infant.

He is growing. But so am I. And that is how I can view these moments through a lens of joy rather than sadness. He grows, I grow. Together we grow.

Today he is 9. Yesterday he was one. Tomorrow he will be 18. Next week he will be 30. I know how this goes. Today as we celebrate Zachary turning 9, I’m reminded again that every moment is a gift from God. This child has brought a gift to me that words can never fully express.

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What to remember when school is in full swing

Butterfly

The excitement of new school routines quickly morphs into the stress of the realities of life.

Can you relate here?

Week 1: Lunches packed hours before bedtime, clothes laid out neatly the night before, children showered before bed with plenty of time for stories and snuggles, menus planned and groceries stocked, hot breakfast on the table, mom sings sweet wake up songs through the hall to awaken sleeping angels, spirits high, encouraging words come easily, the world looks bright.

Week 2: Honeymoon fading fast, lunches remembered right before bed, kitchen is destroyed in the haste of lunch packing, no time left for showers- they can wait one more day, rush them to bed so we can squeeze in a quick story and a speedy snuggle session, hit the bed grateful for rest to realize they will have no clean clothes for the morning, jump out of bed and smell the dirties – make a decision, choose to start clothes now and wake early to dry, go to sleep praying you remember to start the dryer when you wake up, wake and realize there is no time for playing, skip the singing and begin barking wake up orders, rushing begins, shakes on the go, breathe when everyone is where they need to go, pray your voice sounded sweet and pleasant or they will at least think it did.

Week 3: Honeymoon over, sports and activities begin, showers become weekend events, lunches become something I will not put on Instagram, dinner planning becomes a bit more spontaneous, my voice becomes a little edgier, I realize I have been holding my breath, they fight over who is wearing whose belt and who stole someone’s socks, rush, rush, rush, we make it to the end of the day, we try to remember to be grateful, we try to remember to be positive, we realize we simply can’t do it all.

Life is exhausting. Life will always be full. I can’t plan and organize EVER the way I would like to. The life of others will intercede and take us off the course from simply doing our own thing (and this is a good thing). I am more fragile than I thought. I am stronger than I thought.

We moms are incapable of being all we want to be. But there are 2 key verses to remember when we get into the full swing of a new school year.

Moms, whether we like it or not, we set the tone. The days I begin grumpy, my attitude slithers through my home like a stink bomb. On the flip side, I’ve seen days I choose to smile, I choose to breathe deeply, I choose to pray, I choose to speak kindly, I choose to let go of the small things. On these days, I see the power of my tone in setting my family up for a day that begins with joy rather than clawing their way to joy.

Proverbs 14:1 The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.

As a mom I have the power to build a home or tear one down.

I can choose joy. I can choose gentleness. I can choose kindness. I can choose to be ok with getting less done. I can choose to be ok with not being all to everyone, but being all to the ones I’m called to first. I can choose to find the things that cause me to tear my house down and tear them out of my life instead. I can choose to look for the reminders of His grace that will inspire me to truly build a home.

Proverbs 15:30 A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.

I can choose what look to wear on my face. I can choose a cheerful look, or I can choose a grumpy face. The face I choose holds power in directing my heart while setting the course for the day of the one who looks into my face.

When I don’t feel like it, I can choose to smile. That smile might actually cause me the slightest shift towards a change in my own heart. It might be just the thing that tears a wall down between me and the ones I love the most.

A cheerful look brings joy to the heart.

Moms, as the school year gets into full swing, let’s unite to be home builders, not home wreckers. We can’t do it alone. We can’t do it perfectly. But by His grace, we can do it better than we imagined possible in ways that are far simpler than we ever fathomed.

We start with Him, we fill up with Him, we give out of Him.

The key to building a home begins with asking God to grant us the wisdom we need to build a home that lasts. Then we take one step. We put on a cheerful look, and we walk through life looking for His grace each step of the way.

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The Blessing of You

Rain porch

After a full fall schedule, I sit here with few words.  Seeking Christmas released the last week of August, and I haven’t stopped until this week.  My last official event took place Thursday and Friday, so now I breathe.

The Lord has challenged me, encouraged me, and sustained me.  And He has blessed me wildly.  And not the way the world may recognize. (Remember this post?)  Seeking Christmas hasn’t broken records, topped charts, or won awards in its first season….yet I feel wildly blessed.  One of the ways the Lord has blessed me is through you.

Your words slipped into my inbox, your notes coming quietly through Facebook messages have filled my heart with encouragement and allowed me a glimpse at the work the Lord is doing in each of you.

I write to inspire and encourage….you.  I pray for you.  I connect with you when I write.  And the Lord has blessed me by bringing each of you into my life.  Writing has brought me an unexpected gift.  You are a gift and a treasure to me.

Through readers of this blog and readers of Seeking Christmas, I have come to love people I have never even met in person.  I have seen the goodness of the Lord in the lives of once strangers brought into my life through words shared, hearts revealed, and passions grown.

I sit here now watching the rain puddle on the porch- realizing I have months worth of life to catch up on.  But it can wait 2 more weeks. We are quietly seeking Christmas in our home. Each Christmas holds the same truths, yet each Christmas looks different.  Even when we are living out traditions year after year, each season may look different.

My prayer today is that we pause.  That we pause and reflect on the true meaning of it all-that we seek the true holiness of it all.  He is coming.  His birth was humble and simple, the message profound and turned the world inside out.  May he do that in our lives this season with the simple gifts of Christmas:  hope, love, peace, and joy.

Seeking Christmas is a 7 day family devotion that guides families into intentional times of worship and activities that focus on discovering the true meaning and gifts of Christmas.  It holds the same truths for each family using it, but will look different in each home.  Your family can create your own unique memories and experiences while Seeking Christmas together through guided devotions and activities.