I don’t have time for this today. I have so much to do. So many other things in my head. I have places to go, things to do, people to see. But instead, I’m sitting here grieving and crying my heart out. The tears are flat out ignoring my will to stop and pull myself together. So I’m going with it today. I’m just going to let myself be sad. I can’t help it.Read More
Today, my longtime friend, Kristie Christie (yes, you read her married name right) is sharing a beautiful message here at Mother Of Knights. Kristie and I have known each other for more than a decade-long before either of us was married. We have been bridesmaids together, laughed our heads off over anything and everything, and we share a mutual passion for Jesus Christ. Will you give her a warm welcome--I love what she has to share about a Merry Family Christmas!
When I was a little girl I used to lay on my belly looking at the cover of the Amy Grant Tennessee Christmas album. I liked my family, but printed on this album cover was a large happy family in holiday sweaters posed in a house in the snow. It looked like heaven—or at least like a Hallmark movie—I wished they would adopt us into their wintery family. I lived in Burbank—-a bit of a departure from Franklin, Tennessee. As hard as I prayed for a white Christmas, we didn’t get one. Not even once.
The good news is that you don’t have to have snow or perfection in order to have great holiday memories—-just creativity and the commitment to slow down and to savor the moments you’re living. I don’t know why it is, then, that I always think it’s going to take maximum effort to make Christmas really super special. God just wants me—-present-to-my-life—-“me.”
I’m so good at filling up Pinterest boards. I love collecting ideas and dreaming of the moments I could create if I would execute these whimsical ideas. You too? Christmas approaches each year and I dream, “this year…I’m gonna…” and just as soon as the Thanksgiving turkey leftovers are finished it feels like it’s New Years again and think, “Oh next year, I suppose…maybe next year.”
The funny thing is that my favorite memories of Christmas were simple, they were cozy and I look back on childhood with wide-eyed wonder because something special seems to happen at Christmastime. I remember cutting down a Christmas tree with our friends from church and loading it on top of their station wagon. I loved putting out the nativity each year and planning where I thought each person should stand. Christmas memories are made by quality, not quantity. Rather than squeezing it all in—-I want to notice our life and savor it by the Christmas tree with the ones I love.
I have created Sunday School curriculum for the last 10 years—-creative, multi-sensory, and meaningful—-but fun. It’s been my greatest joy because I wanted to help kids know what Jesus meant when he said he had come to bring us “Life to the Full” (John 10:10) and that God isn’t boring like Sunday School had a reputation for being. Because of this, I received a few emails in recent years requesting I create a Christmas devotional for the family at home. I thought this was such a great idea—-but of course, this ended up on the list of “things I meant to do…but didn’t get to.”
This year, I’m making this dream happen and I’m gathering a group of loving, fun parents who want to do more than put an elf on a shelf—-and want to have some fun, meaningful moments that center around what the heart of Christmas. I have nothing against the elf on the shelf or Santa—-all so much fun—-I just want to make sure that we are having conversations that can help us pause together. I want to make sure that we’re not too busy to slow down to think about what this all means—- that God came to earth to love us.
I hope you’ll consider joining us for Merry Family Christmas. Here’s how it will work: each day you’ll receive an email with a daily devotion (story, good questions, scripture verse to read). You can do this around your table, before homework, before bed or in the car before you rush off to school. Next, you’ll receive a well laid out colorful guide to a weekly Family Night. This one will be a little more involved—-but not overwhelming. During the week you can gather a few items and be ready to spend time together in your living room—-making some memories and reflecting on the week together.
Join families across the country and some around the world who are already committed to have a Merry Family Christmas—-a time of intentional, focused time with people you love the most: your family
YOUR TURN! What are some other ways that you focus on Jesus during the holidays? I'd love to hear about some of your favorite traditions!
The worst part about having a bad dream is the insufferable feeling that my voice is building in my throat but my mouth can’t seem to release the scream.
It happened again last night. Someone was accusing me of a crime I didn’t commit and try as I might, I couldn’t shake the shackles in my throat to protest. So I woke up, churned up, and shaky for no good reason.
The nightmare was a symbol of my day yesterday. It was a doozey. It seemed that at every turn, someone was trying to thwart me. Silence me. Minimize me. Objectify me. Reject me. Steam roll right over me and leave me feeling flatter than a pancake. Those who tried to help, hindered. By the end of the night, I was a tearful mess and though I hoped that sleep would bring peace, it only brought panic.
The temptation this early morning is to assign the sinfulness of man to God and to bounce around the idea that maybe God doesn’t really care about me anymore. I had to fight hard against the heaviness of a feather-light bed sheet to untangle both my heart and my limbs so I could read my Bible.
I came begrudgingly to the table that the Lord set before me though I knew that He had run as fast as He could to meet me while I dawdled and drug my feet. I came because the alternative was doing me no earthly good.
There was no magical revelation as I read in 1 Chronicles or Romans that spoke directly to my current circumstances, and there was no flood of peace when I opened my mouth to pray. But there was commitment. And honesty. And I knew that the Lord was listening to the unspoken language of my heart. Sometimes, that’s enough. It’s enough to know that He loves me unconditionally as it says in Romans 8:31-39 (MSG):
“So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:
They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.
None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.”
I can’t help but believe that I’m not the only one feeling a bit bruised by people this morning. Maybe you can relate? Perhaps you are tempted to turn your cheek to the other wall and avoid God too? To throw the baby out with the bath water?
Let’s be people who persevere and believe the best about our Savior Who is worthy of our gratitude even when things don’t go “our way.” Come to Him and at the very least, be still and know that He is God.
Let’s meet at His table regardless of our difficult marriages, our messy friendships, our physical pain, or our failures. We may not be at a place to feast on the fattened calf but even the crumbs at the Master’s table are more than enough to satisfy. The Truth that He sees us and is intentional in the details of our lives is not the stuff of dreams. It’s a blessed reality for those of us who have a relationship with Jesus Christ, even when it seems that everything is against us. He is always FOR us. Sticking up for us. He is our voice when we can’t find our own.
When I meditate on God’s love for me I not only find my voice, it sings.
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Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
Anger is meant to remind us whose side of the spiritual battle we are on. It is a gift from God, that we would feel deep indignation towards the wrongs of the world-slavery, murder, thievery, destructive gossip, outright defiance towards Godly things, and sexual immorality. And it is meant to motivate us to run hard after all that is good and pure and lovely and to combat the wrongs in the world with all that is right.
What anger is not meant to do is be personalized.
We should feel anger when we see sin in the world and being lived out in the lives around us and we should be filled with humility and repentance when we recognize sin in ourselves. But anger over not having “our way” in life or with our kids is anything but righteous. It’s pride.
Save your anger for the “big stuff” that pollutes God’s design for righteous living in this world. Reserve your anger for those who suffer mercilessly at the hand of evil in the world around you. Go ahead and seethe over the news of that broken family whose mother has been sleeping around and whose kids are now bleeding from a broken heart. Rail against the man who dares to sell drugs to your pastor’s son and your neighbor’s 6th grader. And furthermore, may it move you to action to champion the poor, the mistreated, the enslaved, and the downtrodden.
May it never be wasted over dirty socks on the floor or a mouthy teen. May our anger never explode because an immature 3-year-old won’t eat his vegetables. Let us never sin in our anger over being late to school or become bitter because our husbands don’t help with the dishes. Let’s not be angry because of homework.
Perhaps, our anger is magnified because our perspectives are microscopic.
Pop the bubble of your own ideals for life and self-interested desires for what your kids or your home should like today, and consider that you are not a sex slave, or meeting underground for a Bible study in a dank room lit by candles, or searching for your missing teen amongst drug lords.
Let’s shift our anger to gratitude for all the good and ease with which we live life compared to the outright tragedy of rampant sin in the world today and let’s reposition our perspectives to combat that same permeating darkness by honoring God with our own lives well-lived. Let's not rub shoulders with the forces of evil by yelling at our kids over sibling rivalry and giving Satan ground in our own homes. There’s far too much darkness in the world already.
Get good and angry over the sin of the world. But there’s no place for sinful anger in the home of a Christ-follower.
Your kids are gifts who are apprentices under your master teaching. They need loving guidance and wise instruction-not angry moms. Don’t think for a second that God is naïve enough to send you into battle unarmed and ill-equipped. Call on the Holy Spirit to help you today and do the good that is set before you. It will often look like a calm response to an angry tantrum. It will require setting aside dinner to talk with your teenager and tell them that even if they “don’t want to talk about it,” that you care. It may very well mean denying yourself the luxury of a break so that when your husband comes home, you offer him some rest. And it will probably look a lot like time in God’s Word, being filled every hour by His love and grace so that as you pour out, you never run on empty. But may we never underestimate the effectiveness of defeating darkness in the world as a whole by scattering it within our own homes.
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1:19-20
But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Galatians 3:8
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. 1 John 2:1-6
For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light. Ephesians 5:8
YOUR TURN! What circumstances in the world cause you the most righteous anger? Is there something troubling you-how can I pray for you today?
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