Friday, December 31, 2010

What's Your Favorite Christmas Decoration this Year?

Have you started putting away your Christmas decorations yet? Before you do, let me ask you a quick question. What has been your favorite Christmas decoration this year?

Is it your tree filled with all sorts of ornaments or the beautiful wreath on your front door?

Maybe someone gave you a holiday platter loaded down with lots of Christmas cookies this year. Now that the cookies are all gone you've decided to display it on your kitchen counter in hopes that someone will fill it with cookies again.

Or, maybe it's that special angel or star placed on top of your tree. The one that is a priceless family heirloom or holds special childhood memories.

My favorite Christmas decoration is our family nativity set. It reminds me of my mother. Growing up we didn't have a lot of money. In fact, mom would use lots of candles during Christmas time because they were cheap and gave off such a beautiful scent in our home. I'd always help mom set up the nativity which was, besides our tree, the main decoration that always brought her such joy.

When I got married she gave me a nativity set for our very first Christmas. I had it for years but during our family's move to North Carolina, it was accidentally dropped and shattered in what seemed like a million pieces. I was so upset and decided to replace.

There was only one problem. I had a really hard time finding a nativity set that I truly liked. As I went from store to store, I saw shelves filled with Santa Clause, Frosty the Snowman, and Rudolph trinkets instead of nativity sets. The ones I found were so small and basic. Until this year....

I approached my search for a nativity a little differently. This time I prayed first. I told God how much I longed to have a nativity set again. One that my children would remember when they grew up. Not something small and basic but a nativity that would be glorious and reflect the true meaning of Jesus' birth. A nativity that would take my breath away. It was two days later that my prayer was answered.

Take a look....

Honestly, the pictures don't do it justice. I wish you could come to my house and see the nativity set for yourself. You'd find it sitting right next to our breakfast table off of the kitchen which is the main hub of our home.

Each ceramic piece has so much detail. I love the palm trees and animals. Especially the camel. It is absolutely beautiful!

Once again, I'm reminded of how God really does care about the intimate details of my life and the desires in my heart, no matter how small they be.

I learned years ago to ask God for anything - no matter how small and significant -then thank and praise Him regardless of His decision.

I know that He loves me unconditionally and promises to work all things together for my good.

Because I trust Him, I have peace and confidence whether His answer is yes, no, or not now. I DO love it when He says yes though!

Every time I look at this nativity set, I think of my wonderful mom. Oh, how I wish she could see it now. It would definitely take her breath away too!

One last note...sorry about the formatting of this post. I still don't know how to transfer pictures into blogger without them getting all messed up. Maybe finding out how should be part of my New Years Resolution! Speaking of, have a wonderful and safe New Years celebration.

Sweet blessings,

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas Everyone

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!!!

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”, which means “God with us”.

Receive the gift of His almighty presence today...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Are You Ready for Christmas?

Should I even ask?

Are you ready for Christmas?

Decorate the tree ~ check!
Buy & wrap presents ~ check!
Bake cookies ~ check!
Hang Christmas wreath ~ check!
Send out Christmas cards ~ oh well....

I can't believe Christmas week is here already. It seems like only yesterday that I was packing our suitcases and heading to Houston, Texas for Thanksgiving with my parents. We celebrated Texas style with all our siblings, nieces, and nephews. There were 25 of us in all and it felt like Christmas day even though it was a month early.

Being gone that week put a wrench in my Christmas shopping & decorating but I wouldn't trade that trip for anything. I'm going to tell you a secret. I just started shopping this past weekend and finally hung our wreath on the front door yesterday afternoon. This year is different though. Although I'm way behind on my Christmas preparations, I have such a inner peace and joy in my heart. It feels unexpected but wonderful all at the same time. I think it's because I've been mentally and spiritually preparing for Christmas for two months now. Let me explain...

Two weeks ago I was privileged to speak at The Cove Church Ladies Life Christmas Brunch. For weeks I had been preparing and praying over what message God wanted me to share with these precious women. I finally landed on the story of Joseph's visit by the angel Gabriel found in Matthew 1: 18-27. As I pondered and prayed some more, I was drawn to the words "The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel which means "God with us".

As if a huge light bulb went off in my head, I suddenly realized this was the message I would focus on for Christmas 2010. I wish I had time today to share everything with you but in a nutshell...

If finances are tight and gifts are few - God is with us!

If loved ones are no longer here and we feel alone - God is with us!

If marriages are struggling and family members aren't talking - God is with us!

If children are rebellious and hearts are wounded - God is with us!

If sickness is upon us and we're weak in our bodies - God is with us!

If depression is looming and hopelessness is calling - God is with us!

No matter what our circumstances this Christmas season we can be certain of one thing. God is with us and will always be with us no matter what. He is our constant companion and our source of strength. He is our ever-present help in time of trouble. He will never abandon us or refuse to listen to us. He was there in our yesterdays and will be there in our tomorrows. The Lord always has time for us. Even His name proclaims His presence.

Immanuel, God with us

I'm pretty certain I won't be winning any neighborhood awards for best yard decorations on my street. Martha Stewart probably won't email me for my famous cookie recipes. And, I can guarantee I won't be mailing out any Christmas cards again this year. But, ya know what? I'm totally fine with it. I have peace, joy, and contentment which is the absolute best Christmas gifts I could possibly receive this year. And, it's all because I know that no matter what, God is with us.

Do you have that same assurance this Christmas season? Oh, I hope you do. If not, please write and let me know so I can be praying for you. I would love to!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Smack Dab in the Middle of Mundane

Would you consider yourself an adventurous or cautious person? How about daring or conservative?

I've always been a rule follower. I'm not one to step out of my comfort zone and do something "on the fly". Yet, I admire people that have an "out of the box" approach to life. Their life seems so exciting and adventurous to me. In fact, it kinda makes me want to be a little more daring too.

As I sit on the sidelines, watching these people take big risks, I'm amazed at how much fun they're having. I want to have fun too! So why am I so hesitant?

I've always associated risk-taking with fear, stress and problems. I'm sure that goes hand in hand with adventure but problems and stress can certainly be constant companions to someone living smack dab in the middle of mundane. Trust me...I know.

God's been challenging me lately to live a more adventurous live. As I spend time in His Word, God's showing me that my unwillingness to take risks is really a form of unbelief. What I'm really thinking is "will God come through for me" if I step out in faith and do something radical for Him.

He's showing me that if I really want to follow Him I need to surrender my tendency to always play it safe. I have to trust that He is always with me and no matter what He will see me through whatever comes my way.

What about you? Is God asking you to do something really adventurous for Him today? Is this something WAY outside of your comfort zone and just thinking about it makes you sweat? Is God stretching you emotionally, mentally, or physically in ways you never imagined?

I dare you to step out in faith and allow Him to lead you step by step though this adventure with Him. If you stay focused on Him, I bet your fears will be replaced with joy and excitement. Why don't you give it a try and see. Then be sure to write and let me know what's happening in your life.

Remember, God promises to always take care of you - to never leave you! So have nothing to lose.