Spending the holidays away from family and friends can be hard. It can be even harder when you are on the other side of the world. Last Christmas my team and I spent the month of December in Namibia, Africa. (more…)
We have always purchased and decorated a tree the day after Thanksgiving, but not this time.
Truthfully, we are not decorating this year. I know. WHAT? We are in the middle of moving into our fixer-upper and there are many details yet unfinished and more boxes from storage than I remembered still needing to be unpacked. I haven’t even found my Christmas stuff yet!
Twenty-seven years ago, Mike and I celebrated our first Christmas together and purchased a tree that was bigger than we had decorations. I had grown up with colored lights and an artificial tree. He had grown up with a live tree and white lights. He won my heart and how to decorate a tree that year and love was the garland and grace that filled our tiny apartment.
This year, we moved from our house to an apartment and then into our new-to-us house and have not, to date, even thought about a Christmas tree. Even though it has been our tradition to always decorate the tree on Black Friday, it is not happening this year. We may get one when the furniture is finally in place and the house in a semi-state of order. If not, it will be OK because I have learned that grace is the garland of love that fills our lives and the faithfulness of our God never ends.
In the middle of our mess and messy lives and finding what our new traditions will be in our Empty Nesting Season 2, where is the presence of peace? When the presents, packages and bows are put away, will we have experienced the presence of Jesus? When the lights are entangled once again on a shelf and stored away, will the Light of Christ be shining outwardly from within my heart? Will joy be untamable? Or will the cloud of too much to do and unrealized expectations hide the truth of peace on earth and in my heart? Will the presence of Christ permeate each day or will the Light of the World within me be dimmed by depression, doubt and another holiday gone by without the gift of Sabbath? Will surrender shine like a radiant beam from His holy face to mine?
How to Practice the Presence of Jesus:
- Be Intentional
- Create space on your calendar for reflection, grace and love.
- Read the Christmas story out loud to yourself.
- Appreciate God moments as they come.
- Be Honest
- With yourself: what is realistic?
- With others: what is realistic?
Tip: It’s OK to gracefully decline and say no to some things, even family.
- Be Still and Quiet
- Turn off the noise, social media, TV, etc.
- Take time to breathe, take a nap, rest.
- Be grateful for His perfect presence.
I am preparing now to practice the presence of Jesus in my heart and mind. I am planning now to talk with Hunky Hubby about our future, which includes daughters-in-love and a baby girl next year. So much has changed in our lives this past year that I find myself wondering how I will navigate this new season. One thing is sure: Christmas trees are not required to cultivate faith, family and home or to practice the presence of the peace of Christ.
Challenge: Will you stop today to ask God how you can practice the presence of His peace during this busy season? How can this busy time of year be simplified?
Question: What has God whispered to you in a quiet moment that inspires you to embrace His peace in the middle of a filled-up calendar? What is keeping you from trusting God’s promise of peace to you? We would love to hear your comments.
If you are looking for a simple devotional, will you consider taking a look at my book? You can find it here or by clicking the photo below.
We are fast approaching June, the wedding month of the year. Countless couples are busy picking out dresses, tuxedos, cakes, photographers, videographers, venues and every detail associated with their wedding and reception. And let’s not forget the wedding showers, bridal luncheons and bachelor and bachelorette parties.
All this preparation becomes a stressful season to produce that magical wedding every girl dreams of. There are times, I’m sure, when they wonder if all the stress and worry is worth it. (more…)
Good Friday had come and gone. Jesus, God’s own son, had been rejected as the Messiah and crucified. Darkness had covered the earth in the middle of the day for three hours. A sudden split in the curtain separating the Holy of Holies from the common man created quite a stir amidst the temple priests. And an earthquake shook the area, causing rocks to split and graves to open. Many bodies of saints who had gone to their rest were raised. A centurion guard had even exclaimed, “This man really was God’s son!” (Matthew 27:54) Certainly the day was to go down in history as one to never be forgotten. (more…)
In recent years as Easter has approached, my thoughts have gone back about 15 years to when a boss who may not have been completely in touch with her employees decided to host an Easter egg hunt. The eggs were hidden around our small building and the employees searched for them. I was filled with dread as this sort of activity is not in my comfort zone. I managed to get the job of hiding the eggs, so I wouldn’t have to go searching for them later.
When the day arrived, I hid the eggs and then watched and waited as my coworkers went searching. When all the eggs were found and the hunt was done, we spent a few minutes together opening the eggs to find lottery tickets.
Several weeks later my boss commented that no one had thanked her for the activity or chance to win the lottery. I could understand why they had not thanked her. I think my coworkers were as unexcited about the Easter egg hunt as I was. (more…)