Early Christmas Spirit

I've been listening to Christmas music for over a week. This is unusual for me. Most years I prefer to wait until after Thanksgiving to usher in the Christmas season.

But this year has been different. I've been searching for, and buying, new Christmas music. I started decorating for Christmas before Thanksgiving, and finished up the final touches while watching the Thanksgiving Day parade.

It's not that I was in a hurry to rush through Thanksgiving; I just feel this joy for the holiday season that I haven't felt in a long time.

I have no specific reason for the change of heart, so I know it has to be God's work. And that's all the explanation I need.

Like so many other people, it's been a year of highs and lows. Disappointment and difficulties take their toll, and yet I feel incredibly thankful.

God has walked with me and taught me to depend on Him even more than I thought I was already relying on Him.

He's helped me up when I've been knocked down, and eased the pain when I've been forced to let go of things I didn't want to let go of. (I still don't, but I'm working on it.)

And He's given me what I need to support others when I had absolutely nothing left to give.

Day by day. Just like He provided manna in the desert for the Israelites, this is how He provides strength and courage to get through each day. {Tweet this}

I don't anticipate that next year will be easier, but I hope it won't be as raw or leave me feeling as vulnerable.

It will be different, and I don't know what to expect with different. But I'm praying that different moves us forward, whatever that looks like.

I struggle when He tells me to wait while He works. It's part of letting go of what I want to see happen, and choosing to trust Him when I feel myself starting to worry.

Perhaps this was all part of my early desire to celebrate with Christmas music...I'm still standing, despite the enemy's work, and all thanks to God.

I don't know what you've had to deal with this year, but if there's a way I can be praying for you, please let me know by leaving a comment.

In Christ,

[Photo credit: Unsplash.com]

5 Verses for Visiting with Family

The upcoming holidays can be a season of joy and celebration, but it can also be a time of sadness, turmoil, stress, and frustration.

For many, the get-togethers and visits with extended family are less than pleasant and more let’s-just-get-through-this, adding more pressure during a busy time of year.

I’ve been thinking about how God’s Word can help us through the difficult reunions.

5 Scripture Verses for Visiting with Family

We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need.

Patience. No matter how well we get along with family members, we need an extra supply of patience. Extra excited children running around, long-winded story tellers, doting aunts and grandparents…there’s a lot going on at a gathering. Some love it, some don’t. Some thrive in crowds, some crave a few minutes alone. That’s the great thing about silent prayer. While you smile and try to stay engaged, you can be asking God for patience to get through the next minute…and the next hour…and the rest of the day.

The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

What we see doesn’t tell the entire story. Just as we may wear a mask and try to act like everything is alright, others do too. When we’re growing weary of others, it might be helpful to remember that we don’t always know what someone else is going through. But God knows, and perhaps He’s placing you in this person’s path for a reason.

My commandment is this: love one another, just as I love you.

When I’m struggling to show love to someone not acting loveable, I have to remind myself that I’m not always loveable myself. If someone seems extra irritable or moody, it’s possible they’re weighed down by life. (And aren’t we all at times?) Whether they want to talk about it or not, compassion, even when we don’t know the circumstances, goes a long way. {Tweet this}

Sensible people control their temper; they earn respect by overlooking wrongs.

I’ve known family members who refused to talk to each other for a long time because of misspoken or misunderstood words. Most of the time, getting the last word just isn’t worth the drama and hurt feelings. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to resist the urge to engage and walk away.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

We cannot control other people’s behavior, but we can control our own actions and reactions. {Tweet this} Don’t take the bait leading to an argument, gossip, or any other behavior more pleasing to the enemy than to God. If you feel yourself getting pulled in, ask for His help to hold your tongue, change or leave the conversation, and to forgive others’ behavior.

No matter how hard we try, the truth is not one of us is perfect, and family relationships have never been easy. {Tweet this}

Remember Jacob? He had issues with his twin brother Esau; was tricked by his father-in-law into marrying Leah when he loved and wanted to marry Rachel; and played favorites with his sons from both Leah and Rachel, which, of course, led to many years of more family drama.

And yet, God loved Jacob, giving him the name Israel, and placing him directly in the lineage of Jesus.

Happy Thanksgiving!

In Christ,

[Photo Credit: Pixaby.com] 

Disappointment and Perspective

Some days, right?

One day last week started as expected. It was going well, but took a turn I wasn’t expecting. I probably should have anticipated it, but I didn’t and it led to disappointment. Disappointment I struggled with.

I felt let down and frustrated. It’s something out of my control and I don’t like that. I want to see change, but it’s not going to happen when or how I’d like. I went through a range of emotions—anger, sadness, and feeling overwhelmed.

Then, I decided I had to stop thinking about it and just focus on right now because worrying about tomorrow was keeping me from appreciating today. {Tweet this}

Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

Disappointment in life is inevitable, and sometimes it takes time to bounce back. But when it leads to discouragement and worry, then we need to make the decision not to go down that path.

Worry doesn’t solve anything; it makes things worse.

Don’t worry about anything. No matter what happens, tell God about everything. Ask and pray, and give thanks to him.

Worry makes us miss what we have today. It pulls our attention away from trust and thankfulness.

I decided to take a step back and not think about tomorrow and what’s out of my control. Instead, I reminded myself of what God has been doing and how He’s taken care of us.

I focused on what is happening instead of what’s not happening, and it changed my perspective.

Sometimes God will calm the storm around me. Other times He quiets the storm within me. {Tweet this}

Only God gives inward peace, and I depend on him.

That’s what He did last week. Nothing in the situation changed, but He eased the upset that was taking me over, and enabled me to see it from a different viewpoint.

That day’s disappointment wasn’t the end of what I was hoping for, but a reminder to keep trusting Him in every single part of my life, regardless of setbacks, or when I misread a situation.


It’s time for a giveaway!

I have two books which I’ve reviewed in past months to share. Click on each title for my review and more information on the book.


There are three ways to enter: (Each one earns an entry.)
-sign up to receive my blog posts by email (in the right side bar)
-follow me on Twitter
-like my Facebook page.

Then, leave a comment letting me know how you followed (or if you already do), which book you’re interested in, and your email address so I can contact you if you win.

Drawing ends on Friday, November 17. (Sorry, only U.S. residents are eligible to win.)

In Christ,

[Photo credit: Unsplash.com]

Fighting Regret

Have you ever had a time when it seemed like old regrets you might have kept coming to the surface giving you the opportunity to rehash them...again? That was my past week. Things I’d done, or not done, coming to mind over and over for no apparent reason. It was frustrating. And exhausting.

It's hard to forget things we wish we’d done differently, but the longer we linger in the past, the more it affects us in ways we’ve struggled with before—guilt, shame, sadness, anger, and feelings of depression and anxiety.

The enemy knows this and uses it to his full advantage. He knows where he can slither in to our days and get our thoughts reliving the past.

What can we do we do when we’re under attack like this?

➤Pray. Immediately and often.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Where we are weak, the enemy will attack. But,

Where we are weak, God is strong!

The enemy has already been defeated by Jesus. When we call to Jesus for help and stand behind Him, the enemy has no choice but to retreat. {Tweet this}

But still, often something will continue to bother us because it’s time to confess and receive God's forgiveness. If that’s the case, have a heart-to-heart with the One who loves you more than anyone else.

Then, ask Him to help you forgive yourself. Sometimes this is where we struggle the most—letting ourselves off the hook long after we’ve received God’s forgiveness.

We can’t change the past, but we can learn from it. No matter how hard Satan tries to keep us there, with God’s help we can move forward.

➤Scripture. Remind yourself of God's truth.

Everything God says is true—and it’s a shield for all who come to him for safety.

Write out your favorite verses and keep them where you will see them often. Replace Satan’s lies with God’s truth. Personalize Scripture by inserting your name. God’s Word is meant for us. Let’s not ignore the power of praying Scripture over ourselves.

I like to go back through my journals because I often find that God has already shown me particular verses He knew I’d need for that very day.

Our thoughts can have an effect on every part of our day. If we think too long on what we can’t change, it will drag us down. The quicker we can replace the negative thoughts with God’s Word, the better we can keep ourselves from going down a self-defeating path.

Remember, the enemy cannot stand in the name of Jesus. {Tweet this} 

➤Consider your physical state. Change your focus.

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

I'd been fighting a cold all last week and it made me extra tired, and at times, made my thinking kind of fuzzy. When I’m over tired and not feeling well, my thoughts can easily start to spin out of control.

Throughout the week, I had to keep reminding myself that it was a perfect opportunity for the enemy to attack. When regretful thoughts kept coming to mind, I had to be intentional about changing my focus.

Self-care is important. Whether that means getting enough sleep, eating well, or taking care of ourselves when we’re sick, it’s the way we’re created. When we struggle to function physically, we can’t expect our emotional and mental state to not be effected.

Anytime we find ourselves under attack, we need to turn to God immediately, especially when we’re already feeling weak. He promises to help us fight against the enemy’s attack.

Then, find a distraction—turn on praise music, read a book, call a friend—anything that will change what you’re currently thinking about. And be prepared to take these steps all over again, because the enemy is persistent.

But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.

In Christ,

[Photo credit: Unsplash.com]