The Real God

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Happy New Year! If you have been following this blog for a few years you know that this is my favorite time of year because of the opportunity of new beginnings.  I am a big fan of new beginnings, second, third, or fortieth chances.  But instead of writing about how you can set new goals in 2016, let go of things weighing you down from the past, or start brushing your teeth more, I wanted to share one simple thought.

What if you started this year with a right perception of God?  What if you woke up each morning and walked through your day in whatever unique way you do with the correct filter of how God sees you in every circumstance… wouldn’t that be amazing?

Think about it.  What happens between you and God when you mess up?  Say, loose your temper…again?  Or fall flat on your face with a struggle that you thought you had overcome?  Or drive by the homeless person whose frosty breath makes you thankful for your warm car–yet you keep on driving?  Or gossip or overindulge or judge or lie… just a little?

Shame. Guilt. Remorse. Defeat. Hopelessness.

And as a result you avoid facing your creator because of the label you have picked for Him in that circumstance:

Moody God, Judgmental God, Fickle God, Distant God, Prejudiced God, Unhappy God

Take a lot of those over the course of the year and you have turned your face away from God enough to give you whiplash.

But those are False Gods.  Fake. Made up by messy human hearts. And the whole time the real, true God is patiently waiting for you to put down your label maker and turn toward him.

You have a God who loves and LIKES you.  He is patient, kind, enduring, warm, close.  He is infinitely forgiving and pursuing of you REGARDLESS of your actions, words and thoughts.

“I have come to call not the self-righteous, but sinners.”  Matthew 9:13

My friend, we are all sinners.  We are all called by God.  Wooed by him, pursued.

“The men and women who are truly filled with the light are those who have gazed deeply into the darkness of their own imperfect selves.” Brennan Manning, The Furious Longing of God.

So back to 2016.  Can you walk into this year setting aside your false prejudices against God and yourself?  Can you be filled with the light because you realize the truth of your imperfections and still cling tightly to God’s mighty hand in your life?

Can you confess your sins to God and still look him in his loving eyes?

I think our year might just be amazing if we can figure this out.

To a new year and a real God,

xoxo,

Amy

 

12 Days Of Christmas PRINTABLE

Christmas is just a few days away and I thought I would post something fun to share with your children or guests on Christmas Day. This may be old news to you, but I just was enlightened to the fact that the traditional Christmas song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” was possibly originally created as a way to teach about God during a time when teaching the Catholic Faith was illegal:

“According to the Handbook of Catholic Sacramentals by Ann Ball, the famous song about the 12 Days of Christmas was written in England as a catechism song for young Catholics in the days when it was illegal to practice or teach the Catholic Faith.  It contains hidden meanings intended to help children remember lessons of faith. ”  ~Dr. D’Ambrosio

This has not been proven, but it is an interesting story nonetheless.  I love anytime we can take something secular at Christmastime and use it to glorify God.

I created this PDF for you to print and share! PDF The Twelve Days Of Christmas

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Try “testing” your friends, children and family with fun game to see who can name the 11 Faithful Disciples, the 9 Fruits of the Spirit, etc.

Please feel free to print this printable and share!

xoxo,

Amy

Are You Resisting Change This Christmas?

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This year seemed to be a struggle to get our Christmas decorations up. Usually we pick a day soon after Thanksgiving for the massive explosion of gold ornaments and half lit light strings, extension cords and Christmas wall hangings all cheerfully (to Christmas music of course) to be placed in trees, on mantles and doors by our family in one long but satisfying afternoon.  This year, however,  it was a slow motion eruption that took days instead of hours.   And some decorations were left in the boxes–they are just not coming out this year.  And this all was frustrating to me, because this wasn’t how we usually did Christmas and I couldn’t change it.

Change has been knocking on our door for a while now and I have been resisting it.  It has been a gradual but monumental shift of how we do family life, all as a result of our children growing up.  We now have an 18, 15 and 13 year old, and they are tall and independent and busy.  But I still want them to be short and dependent and not so busy –or busy in a controllable sort of way, where I schedule the sports and play-dates around my mom-agenda for our family, like sitting together around the dinner table or 8:30 bedtime.

But that is not reality anymore.  They are busy being the people we have taught them to be; involved in church commitments, holding down jobs, being loyal friends and studious students.  Which means they are most often not all home together for dinner, or in bed early, or around on the weekends.  And I find myself resisting this all the time.  I am constantly surprised and often frustrated at how little we all sit down together at the dinner table, or when we would plan a time for all of us to go out to eat or watch a movie, inevitably someone has been scheduled to work or has a sports conflict.  My children feel like slippery jello through my mom-fingers.

And then this year change messed with a very important thing–Christmas Tradition.

Traditionally, for many years, we have formed a SUV caravan  with friends to Winter Park the Saturday after Thanksgiving to cut down a tree.  We meet at Starbucks at 9:00AM with our boots and hats and saws, make our plan and head off. We do this as a family, a whole family.  We spend the day trekking through the forest in search of the not-so-perfect Charlie Brown tree, and after all the families finish the hunt, we tailgate with cheese and bread and wine.  It is wonderful.  Then we drive back down the snowy roads of I70, drag the tree through our front door (always realizing it is way too tall),  crank up the reindeer and holy night music and create Christmas in our home for the evening.   Did I mention we always did this…all five of us?

Until this year.  We found out one of our children had to work at 2:00PM on the sacred tree cutting Saturday (and could not get out of it), another wasn’t feeling well, and my husband was exhausted from a marathon of work trips, and it just seemed like it was too much for our family this year.   We cancelled.  And as we sat on the couch watching football that day we told ourselves, “This was a good decision.” And it was.  But it was still difficult, and felt like more of the jello issue.  Our dear friends still went and brought us back the perfect tree– just without the memories.

Two days later the tree sat in its stand, half lit and unadorned because we just couldn’t get it together to decorate…anything.  It was like herding cats–my husband had to leave out of town again, the kids had church commitments and friend plans.  And I was being stubborn–I wanted us all to do this together, like we always did.

By Tuesday, I realized it was happening again–I was resisting change.

I pulled out the Christmas boxes from the basement and began to decorate.  I remembered an hour in to turn on the Christmas music, and began to do a little jig while placing gold balls all over our tree. The lights went up, the nutcrackers and Santas and manger and snowmen all took their respective places.  Later in the day Maddie, our youngest, walked in the door from school and exclaimed, “Holy Christmas!”  I smiled inside.  That night, when I considered not putting the garland wrapped up the stairs like I always do, my oldest daughter said, “Mom, you HAVE to do the garland up the stairs!”  I smiled again…some things don’t change.

The following weekend, when my husband and I snuck away for a quick anniversary trip, this same daughter drove to Target, bought outdoor Christmas lights that were missing, asked a good friend to come over to help, and ran extension cords and timers and red and white lights throughout the trees in our yard.

Well, this was new.

I have decided to stop resisting the fact that change is no longer knocking but has a recliner and a personalized coffee mug in our home.  I am learning this Christmas to look for the new traditions, the gifts the older children bring to our home and our life (like driving themselves to Target to help with Christmas decorating without being asked), and be okay when some traditions shift temporarily or even permanently.

Times are changing, and most likely they are for the good.

When I feel frustrated that things are “different” I am going to ask myself–where is the frustration coming from?  Am I being too controlling?  Is this an area where I am resisting instead of embracing change?

To Think About:

Jesus was a great implementer of change.  His birth and life challenged and frustrated many who resisted his message because it was different than their traditions and ways of life and thinking, but it changed EVERYTHING for us for good, for eternity.  Change and doing things a new way can be incredibly positive if we are willing to embrace it.

  1. What change are you resisting in your life?
  2. Why do you think you are resisting it?
  3. What things frustrate you that could possibly be a blessing if you embraced the change?

I wish you a blessed Christmas!!

xoxo,

Amy

 

 

HOW TO DECORATE A CHRISTMAS MANTLE

This past year I “officially” started a home design company-I say officially because I have been interested in design for several years but never truly did it as a paid job. I had a staging business with a friend for a few years, often help friends with ideas for their homes, and do a little happy dance whenever I find a Better Homes and Gardens magazine in my mailbox.

A Measure of Thankfulness

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It is easy give thanks.  They are words we say, lists our lips speak around the Thanksgiving Table.

Family. Home. Health. Friendships. Faith. Travel. Opportunities. Blessings.

Giving Thanks With A Grateful Heart, however, seems just a touch more difficult.

To GIVE THANKS is to speak.

To BE GRATEFUL is an act of the heart.

It means that we mean our thanks, deeply, truly.  With all of our soul. Maybe that is easy?  The list above is beautiful, sweet, full, joyous.  We can deeply feel the thanks.  But God asks us to give thanks in all circumstances:

Whatever happens, give thanks, because it is God’s will in Christ Jesus that you do this. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:18

So what about the list that comes from that?

Sickness. Death. Pain. Broken Dreams. Loss. Sadness. Loneliness. Unwanted Change.

We are asked to give thanks when things go well, and not so well in life.

We can, possibly, maybe on our best day, do that.

But with a Grateful Heart also?

I ran into an old friend at Costco the other day. We used to teach together and hadn’t seen each other for about fifteen years. She reminded me as we caught up that her son, a junior in high school at the time, died in a car crash shortly after I left the school where we taught.  As she recalled that night she said, “The moment I found out my son had died, I cried out to God, ‘God, thank you for all the years that you gave him to me.”

These were not just words. My friend had a grateful heart.  She meant her thanks.  She deeply meant it because all those moments of his life now were infinitely more precious to her since he was gone.

I think Giving Thanks With A Grateful Heart means we MEAN our thanks….from the bottom of our soul.  In life’s highest highs and lowest lows.  We are deeply, deeply thankful for it all because we believe that God is Good In All Circumstances, and that he will bring healing and blessings out of our trials.

Pain has nuggets of peace within….Gratefulness is the pan that sifts peace to the top.

May we Give Thanks With A Grateful heart today! We have so so much to be thankful for.

xoxo,

Amy

 

 

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