Monthly Archives: November 2016

Looking for Him this Season

shepherd-on-the-search

We have had an unseasonably warm fall here in Minnesota, something that has been such a gift this year. So it has been hard for me to get in the “Holiday” mindset. Maybe it is the impending blizzard watch we are under for later in the week or the fact that every store is decorated for Christmas, but thoughts of Christmas were on my mind this morning.

I was remembering the times we spent at my grandparent’s home and how before we opened any gifts on Christmas Eve my grandpa would pause and read us the Christmas story. As a child, I was filled with the excitement and anticipation of what was in the packages under the tree …not of the miracle of Christ’s birth.

But my grandpa recognized something that I now understand more deeply myself…the season should be a celebration of the amazing gift God sent for all of humanity. 

I try and put myself in the place of those we read about in Luke 2. How must Mary have felt, carrying the Son of God inside her? What was the journey like that the wise men took to travel incredible distances to bring gifts to Jesus?

Or the shepherds, have you ever thought about the shepherds?

Typically the shepherd was kind of the low man on the totem poll. They spent their days and nights out in the field with sheep. And yet God sent His angels to the shepherds so that He could announce the coming Christ child.

Luke 2 paints a beautiful picture for us:

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”[d]

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

As a parent, I would love for my kids to see the wonder of Christmas in the birth of Christ and not just in the gifts laying under the tree.

With wish lists and toy guides and elf-on-the-shelf, often Christmas loses its focus on Christ pretty quickly.  So we have to be intentional during the Advent season to bring things back into a right focus.

One of the ways we will be doing that this season is with Dayspring’s Shepherd on the Search kit. In the kit is a book, a small shepherd doll and a box that creates a manger scene. The book tells the kids the journey the shepherd will be on throughout the month of December.

Inviting the kids to go on a journey of their own, each morning the kids will search for where the shepherd might be. His final destination is the stable on Christmas Eve. One of the things that I loved about this kit was that Dayspring has a website specifically dedicated to sharing ideas on how you can incorporate this kit in your day to day life.

This is a fun, yet focused way that you can incorporate the anticipation and celebration of Christ’s birth every day during the Advent season.

Dayspring also has a Christmas CD that features kids singing some of our favorite Christmas Carols! What a wonderful way to create a worshipful environment all season long!

The excitement of presents and new toys will always be something our kids will have, but my hope is that with a daily focus on the miracle of Jesus, we will help establish them a love for the true meaning of the Season.

What are some of the ways you keep Christ present in the Christmas season for your kids? I’d love to hear your ideas!

 

I was provided the Shepherd on the Search kit for free from Dayspring in exchange for my honest review. All stories and opinions are my own.

Love You More

3-crosses-love-you-more

Music has long been a point of heartfelt worship. I don’t get much time alone, but when I do and am in the car, I will crank up the music and belt out worship songs to my God.

Tonight was no exception. It had been a long day already because of the short night the before. Watching, like many of you, the election results come in and wondering at what was next. I finally gave in at about 11pm and went to bed for a few hours. Dominic came to bed a little after 2am with the news.

I knew that no matter what the results there would be people that I love affected. People that strongly supported her and were now dealing with fear, others that thought he was the only choice at a change and saw this as a victory.

I couldn’t sleep and spent the next hour in prayer. Prayer for both the candidates and their families. Prayers for our nation and for unity. I remember seeing something on Facebook awhile back that challenged those who shared negative posts about either side and asked how often we first stopped and prayed before we shared something negative.

I know that I am guilty. Guilty of making assumptions and not doing my own research. Guilty of seeing and believing the worst and not recognizing that person is a child of God just like I am. I no longer want to be part of the problem…but instead I committed to praying for unity and peace, acceptance and kindness, fairness and equality.

I had heard the song “Love You More” by Nicole Nordman many times before. A song about loving God more…sure we all want that don’t we? But tonight I was challenged by the words. How do I do that? How do I love God more?

You see, it isn’t just about me feeling love towards God for all He has done for me. I have LOTS of reasons to be grateful for who He is in my life, and of course I love Him for it. Tonight though I thought maybe, just maybe, it is being love to others that is the best way I can love God more.

Loving those friends that I don’t always agree with.

Taking time to really talk to the people I come in contact with in my community.

Being a light in what seems like a very dark world.

Finding ways to unite with others, to educate myself, and understand another’s point of view.

I love God more when I love well on His people.

I love God more when I pray for our leaders.

I love God more when I let go of judgements and disagreements and seek to find unity with my fellow man.

I don’t have any idea what will happen when the presidency changes hands. I don’t know what shape our country will be in 4 years from today when we are facing yet another election season. But I do know that I can make a difference, in the name of God, by being His representative here.

I want to share the words of Love You More here because I want you to see them. I love how she takes broken, sinful people from the Bible and marries that with God’s incredible love for us. God really has been loving us forever. Chance after second chance. Even when we have run away, blamed Him, cursed Him, crucified Him.

I know I won’t ever love with the unconditional love that God has for me. I am incapable of it. But with God’s grace and guidance I can be His love to others. I am committed to that tonight…won’t you join me?

Love You More – Nicole Nordman

You said, “go and sin no more …”
Though my eyes could not meet Yours
I started running the third time the rooster crowed

You threw a party just for me
Though I squandered everything
I was blinded in the middle of the road

Climbed up in a tree to see You
Swallowed by the sea to flee You
Sold You for a little silver and a kiss

Killed a man to love his woman
Burned a bridge back to Your garden
Hung beside You while you took Your final breath

You’ve been loving me since time began
You’re behind my every second chance

I love You
I’m trying to
Love You more

I’m ready
Please help me
Love You more

I keep thinking there’s a limit
Sure I must be getting near it
When I’ve used up every pardon and regret

But You promise there is freedom
Gathered up the broken pieces
Scattered them as far as East is from the West

You’ve been loving me since time began
You’re behind my every second chance

I love You
I’m trying to
Love You more
I’m ready
Please help me
Love You more

With all the sand that fills the hourglass
With every breath between my first and last

I love You
I’m trying to
Love You more
I’m ready
Please help me
Love You more

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The Unmaking

the-unmaking

Recently I had the opportunity to hear Nicole Nordman perform. She has a very powerful testimony and she shared about  how walking through some of the darkest moments of her life helped her to find God in a new way.

Then she sang this song called The Unmaking. It was incredibly powerful and as I have listened to it over and over again I have realized that this is where I am finding myself once again.

It is coming to that place where we are broken because we can’t manage life on our own. It’s the giving up of the lies we have believed, the things that have shaped us and kept us stuck. It is the letting go of the need to control and finally being ready to trust God with our lives.

The chorus of her song says it beautifully:

This is the unmaking
The beauty in the breaking
Had to lose myself
To find out who You are
Before each beginning
There must be an ending
Sitting in the rubble
I can see the stars
This is the unmaking

I have walked some difficult roads over the past several years. Ones that were hard by my own doing. Through a lot of hard heart work I have come to that place where I am letting go of shame, embracing who God has made me to be. I am finding joy and contentment in where I am (especially with my writing here) and am letting go of the burden of jealousy and envy. Something that has tripped me up for far too long.

Just like the song says, I had to come to that place where I was completely unmade and yet because of my faith, I could trust that God had a plan for it all.

Freedom came from that refining. I wrote an entire 31 Days series that came as a result of that time in my life. I am so grateful that God met me there and I really thought that maybe I was done with my “trying” times for awhile.

But today I had a realization that I once again was going through a refining time.

I am inching closer to 42. When people told me that things would change once I turned 40, I didn’t really think it would happen to me. But (of course) it did happen and over the past almost 2 years I have gotten more physically weak, more tired and deal with back pain every day.

Something had to change. I was tired of making excuses and so I joined an accountability group that’s led by an amazing coach and started on my first round of the 21-day fix exercise program. Guys, it’s HARD. And this morning I shared the following in my accountability group….

“My husband and I were talking to our oldest son a year or so ago and joked that when you turn 40 all bets are off. It gets harder to keep off the weight, to exercise etc. We made up this acronym to describe ourselves. WOLFS. You would think it might mean something strong but no, it stood for Weak, Old, Lazy, Fat and Soft. That’s how I have viewed myself for the past year or more.

Back in 2012 he and I were doing the 30-day shred videos. I was stronger and more fit than I had ever been. I felt great about myself. Then my husband fell off a 15ft extension ladder and shattered his heel bone into 3 pieces. It was a major injury, changed his life. He lives with constant pain and will never run again. He has 10 screws and a plate holding his foot together. It was a miracle he didn’t break his back, leg etc.

Once that happened I felt guilty when I would go exercise because he physically couldn’t. For 4 months he couldn’t even walk on his leg. And so I quit. Once I stopped it was easy not to get back into it, to make excuses.

Today as I did the pilates fix I struggled. At one point I cried. I am so not flexible. I can’t even fully straighten my legs. I always have to follow Kat (the modified exercises) and I am so tired of being a WOLFS.

This is not only a physical battle for me but an emotional and spiritual one. I believe lies much faster than I do truths. I get discouraged and quit when it gets hard. This time I want something different. So while I am discouraged at how poorly I do on the exercises, I am determined to keep going. I am only 4 days into the actual program. But I have done at least 20 minutes of hard exercise 9 out of 11 days. That’s huge for me.

I can do this. Tomorrow I will get up and do the next cardio workout in the program. I will probably have to stop and my body will hurt, but I am getting stronger. And I will see results. I am holding on to that this morning.”

Sharing that truth felt like a weight lifted.

But laying on the floor this morning I realized that I was in that place of brokenness once again. I could stay there and feel sorry for myself, or I could commit to getting back up and working for my best health.

I don’t know where you are today, what needs rebuilding in your life, but I am guessing you are stronger than you realize. God has equipped you and will strengthen you and even in the rubble you can see the beauty…the hope that’s available.

If you are holding onto lies, I am praying you would ask God to reveal the truth. And remember that when we are at our “bottom”, the only place we can look is up. I encourage you to listen to the entire song The Unmaking…I hope it blesses you like it has me!

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Photo credit: changeable focus

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