Can We Wait for Christmas?

For most of us, the Christmas celebration began long before we finish eating our Halloween candy. When the clock struck midnight, the fall decor was consigned to basement bins and the wreaths, stockings, nativity sets were brought forth.  Before Advent had even arrived, we rushed past the waiting and to the fulfillment of God’s promises at Christmas. Is it because our hearts can’t stand the waiting? Are our hearts so broken that we even join in the longing of God’s people? Advent beckons us to enter into the long wait God’s promised people experienced. From the moment that forbidden fruit was plucked from the tree, we were torn from the life we were intended for and have been waiting, longing for the world to be made whole. Because we trusted in the promise that the Messiah would come.  Can we stop for a minute and think about the weariness of the world before the Christ child appeared? Because I’m pretty sure that we are still an aching, weary world waiting to see Him again. We are aching from years of saying, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom the bride You won! And when we skip over Advent, over the waiting, I fear we sell ourselves short. Because when we ignore the waiting, when we bury it deep down and pretend that all is well in the here and now, we send a message to our hearts and to those around us that we do not believe we are waiting for more.  For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war,…

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41+ Delightful Gifts for Christian Women (A.K.A. – My Christmas List)

I was hestiant to share a gift guide this year because Christmas is about so much more than what is under the tree. However, I also love celebrating the greatest gift of all by sharing gifts with those around me. And since we all are likely giving and receiving gifts this Christmas, I wanted to share with you a few items that I came across this year and would love to see under my tree that would be a perfect addition to your list or for the Christian woman in your life. Last year, my tree sheltered quite a considerably large pile of books nestled underneath it. This year, there are again many books at the top of my list but there are also a few hygge surprises, hospitality tools, and some new faith growing finds I wanted to share with you.  Here are 41+ Gifts for Christian Women Note: This post does contain affiliate links which means that I may receive, at no additional cost to you, a small percentage of sale made through the links below. See my sidebar for my full disclosure.  Bibles on My Christmas List:  This might seem a little odd, but I love using different types of Bibles! While I primarily work out of my journaling Bible, I also love my study Bible and readers Bibles. Here are a few more I’d love to add to my collection:     Hospitality Finds on My Christmas List:  I am a huge propnent of simple, easy hospitality. My go-to is to offer guests popcorn (an easy snack) and/or tea. However, when I am feeling particularly domestic, I also enjoy making freash bread (although not currently with the ease of a breadmaker). Also below are a few of my favorite games to play when hosting.  Hygge Finds on My Christmas List:  You guys know how much I love hygge. Here are some practical (and some totally impractical) hygge items on my Christmas list. While these are completely superfluous, they are all lovely and bring a smile to my face. As you can see, several items involve warmth because, while my heart is so excited to be back in Michigan among family, my body still misses the warm Hawaiian weather.    Books on My Christmas List:  You all knew this part would come eventually! Here are the books on my Christmas list (and a few old favorites to add…

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How Zechariah’s Doubt Taught Me To Trust God’s Faithfulness

When the angel, Gabriel, announced to Zechariah that God has heard his prayers and would be fulfilling his desire for a child by granting him a son who would prepare the way for the long-awaited for Messiah, he did not respond in faith. He doubted what the angel was saying and that God would be able to use them because of their circumstances.  Instead of seeking to trust, Zechariah, a priest, a man of God, doubted what God was capable of doing.  While I would love to stand here and say that I would not doubt, that I would stand strong and believe in the promises of God, but my attitude often shows otherwise.  Doubt seeps into my mind and like Eve in the Garden and Zechariah in the Holy of Holies, I wonder if what God has promised is trustworthy. Because in the day to day struggles of life, it’s hard to see the good and perfect plan He is working out for my life.  God has given me His word, and but like Zechariah, I often doubt it with my actions, if not my words.  But Zechariah didn’t let his sin, doubt and His disbelief in God’s power, define him. He demonstrated faith in angel’s message and later shared that he trusted God’s fulfillment.  He declared before all Gabriel’s words about his son and God’s faithfulness. And he continued by sharing that this Messiah would save His people by forgiving their sins.  And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;     for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people     in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God,     whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,     to guide our feet into the way of peace. – Luke 1:76-69, ESV Do I move forward, move on, from sin into a life of holy living or do I let the sin in my life define me? Zechariah sinned, but he moved on in repentance, and instead of doubting, boldly proclaimed what God could do.  Because what he was proclaiming was that God’s people would be free from their sin. Instead of being pulled away from Him, they would be drawn close once again.  Zechariah’s prayer shows…

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Making Mary’s Prayer of Adoration Mine

When the Angel came to Mary, she responded with belief that God would work the impossible. But her faith isn’t the area of her life to be modeled after. And as we approach Christmas Day, looking at her joyous proclamation of God’s faithfulness is a model of prayer that we all should follow. Her prayer, the Magnificat has become a beautiful model of prayer over the last year for me. Often, I struggle with prayers of adoration. I burst forth with requests and can even muster up some prayers of thankfulness but when it comes to sitting at the feet of the Lord, adoring Him, I falter. But Advent brings me back to the story of Christ’s birth and Mary’s proud proclamation of adoration for our God.  My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior -Luke 1:46-47, ESV She wasn’t just offering up prayers, she was living a life that magnified who God is and what He had done in her life. Her submission to His will and desire that, no matter how difficult the path, her life be used as a living sacrifice, exemplify adoration in deed, not just words. But the rest of her prayer shows us how eyes open to God’s mercies, ready to adore Him. His mercy is for those who fear him     from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm;     he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;      he has brought down the mighty from their thrones     and exalted those of humble estate;     he has filled the hungry with good things,     and the rich he has sent away empty. -Luke 1:50-53, ESV Her eyes sharply observe the mercy of God. She sees the strength He gives to the poor, the good things He fills the hungry with, and the remembrance He gives the lowly and forgotten. Mary reminds me to open my eyes, see God at work, and respond with adoration.  Can I praise Him this Advent? Perhaps more necessary, can I open my eyes to see Him working? Instead of rushing through this season, can I slow my movements and slow my mind to bear witness to what God is doing around me? Maybe it’s observing the beautiful workings of Creation or asking a neighbor how God’s working in their life. Today, I’m going to pray and thank God for…

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A Prayer for Thanksgiving Day

As we approach Thanksgiving, I am eager to find a way to intentionally focus our hearts and minds as we break bread and give thanks together. One of the ways we can do this is by proclaiming together a prayer of gratitude, both for who God is and for our many blessings.  Here is a prayer I’ve written for my family, and yours, to use this Thanksgiving. It is written as call and response and I encourage you to read it aloud at your table.  My hope is that it draws our eyes and hearts to the goodness of God and the beauty of His redemption. May this Thanksgiving prayer be a blessing to you and yours.  Leader: Let us gather here at this feast and acknowledge with thankfulness the Maker of this food and of our beings, body and soul.  All: It is right to give Him thanks and praise, for He formed our beings out of the dust and from that dust brings forth food to sustain our fragile bodies year after year.  Leader: As we look to you with thankfulness, we also look to those who have mirrored Your creative ability and prepared for us this meal. All: May we all in our own way continue to mirror You, oh Lord, as we go about the tasks you have prepared for us, today and every day. Leader: These delightful smells and tastes will satisfy our gnawing stomachs, may they also stir our hearts to remember and long for the Bread of Life.  All: As we savor this meal, may we long for you, our true Sustainer.  Leader: We reflect on your providence in our lives this year, each lifting up prayers of thankfulness for ways we’ve seen your grace and goodness displayed in our lives. May we give thanks and tell of your deeds together.  Going around the table, each person can now share what they are particularly thankful for this year.  Leader: Your goodness is evident to all around this table. But for some of us, there are aches in our hearts that even on this day, remind us this world is not our home. We thank you for sustaining us in these trials and for redeeming all things.  May we continue to labor on in the tasks you have given us knowing that we will reap a reward if we do not give up. Let…

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