Keepin’ it Real at Christmas

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As much as I would like you to think this is how my entire Christmas season looks, or my life for that matter, well…it’s just not. And as much as I enjoy all the picture perfect posts with inspirational words woven throughout, I decided to keep it real here. I thought about cleaning my entire house and then perfectly staging little Christmas pictures to let you in on how we do Christmas around here, but everyone’s doing that. I’m keepin’ it real here, folks, and letting you in on how it REALLY goes around here. You see, I have about 2 hours to myself right now and I don’t even know where to start.

My writing area has turned into “wrapping central.”

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The pretty basket that we use to hold all of our Christmas cards is buried. Ummm…yes, that is a broken lamp. A casualty from a nerf gun war.

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For some reason the kids think that by lighting this candle they are creating some sort of Christmas ambiance. Does no one else see the chaos all around it??!!

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And my personal favorite, the Christmas tree from the OTHER angle! This is how we live, people. We finish what we are doing and leave it all where it is.

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So, just in case you are feeling that everyone else besides you has it all together, I’m here for ya. Keepin’ it real, but with a smile on my face (most of the time). I really do love this time of year, but so often we have to be intentional about enjoying it. Life still happens. Responsibilities exist. Choices continue. But are we making the right ones? As I walked around my house taking pictures for this post, my attitude changed. I began to see the whole thing as quite comical. I looked at my stuff through your eyes and found humor. Sharing with you has lightened my load and changed my perspective. Make sure as you go through the next 2 weeks that you don’t lose sight of what is important. There are people all around you needing encouragement just as much as you. Choose one of them and take time to laugh together. It really is much better than feeling overwhelmed alone.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! 

I am now taking a break for Christmas, right after I find all my minions kids and get them to clean up this place, and will return to writing in January.

‘The LORD bless you, and keep you;
The LORD make His face shine on you,
And be gracious to you;
The LORD lift up His countenance on you,
And give you peace.’
Numbers 6:24-26

How God multiplies our surrender…and other lessons learned in Latin

Fides Gratia graphicLast week I was grading my 12 year old’s Latin exercise. Now, before you think, “Wow! Latin?” let me just tell you that he has a wonderful tutor, I use the answer key to check his work and usually ask him if it is really wrong or not. I know very little about Latin, but am slowly learning as we homeschool with Classical Conversations. Anyway, as I am checking his work, he comes over and points to the bottom of the page. There, tucked away on the corner of his paper are the words: fidēs grātia. He says to me, “Mom, do you know what that means?” Of course my answer is no because of how much Latin I don’t know, remember? He looks at me, as he smiles and says, “It means: A Faithful Influence.” I smile back and I realize…Someone has been watching me. As I have stepped out in faith and have begun this blogging/writing journey, my son has watched, listened, and knows I’m doing something important. That just really struck me. My obedience has made an impression on my son. As I have set out to be a “faithful influence”, and teach others what I have learned, I am inherently influencing the people the closest to me, including my own children.

Everyone has a different and unique calling. Sometimes that calling seems like it has nothing to do with our family and friends. Sometimes it is directly related. But either way, people are watching you. There are byproducts that come from our obedience that just sweeten the deal and a lot of times we don’t even know they happened. There are weeks that I sit here and write the words that God has placed on my heart, I click “publish,” and I wonder…did I make a difference? But you know what? The answer is “yes” simply because I obeyed. I became vulnerable and even though I might not hear what people thought of my words, something did happen that is even more precious to me. I caught the attention of my son.

If you are feeling like you are taking steps forward and nothing is happening, if you are just doing the next thing because it is all you can do, or if you are wondering how you are making a difference, it all boils down to this…be sure you are living each moment in surrender to Jesus. As we lay down our will and live out His, He works in ways we may never see. But once in a while, He gives us a glimpse of how our surrender has produced offshoots of growth in areas that we had no idea a seed had even been planted…like in a son in Latin class.

How finding contentment is not the answer

Cayton Heath Lifestyle PhotographerThe word “contentment” is very near and dear to my heart. God has taught me quite a bit about that little word over the years, but even so, sometimes is still feels very much out of reach. Recently, I was talking with a friend about being content, and I realized that we may be looking at it in completely the wrong way. When a trial comes our way and feelings of anxiety and fear flow through us, wouldn’t we do just about anything for a little contentment in our lives? Soon we find ourselves dreaming about being “in a state of peaceful happiness” instead of the state of constant upheaval we feel in our soul. Often we make contentment our goal, but should it be? I think the danger is that we can find ways to be content that don’t include godliness.

It says in I Timothy 6:6 “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” Godliness and contentment go hand in hand; a reverence for God’s character with a state of peaceful happiness. As we put our desires aside and align our hearts with God, He begins a work in us that only He can do. And we begin to realize that it’s not that our dreams don’t matter but it’s that God’s dreams are better!  Does that mean that it is up us to find a way to put aside what we want and figure out a way to replace it with what He wants? NO! Our job is to simply trust. But as we trust we also need to be careful not to leave out obedience. Trusting doesn’t men that we sit back with our hands folded and wait for God to do everything for us. God gave us specific gifts, talents and desires that He has called us to. As we step out in obedience and DO these things, we will experience contentment like we never have before. When we are in the center of God’s will, actively trusting and obeying, it is like being in that peaceful spot in the center of a hurricane. Life can be raging all around us but we know that we are EXACTLY where God wants us and in that place there is perfect peace. We are completely satisfied in who God is. “The Lord is my shepherd and I shall not want.” (Ps 23: 1) We come to the place where we desire God and every other desire flows from that. It is in this place that we realize contentment is found not when you resign yourself to the way things are, but when you align your heart with God’s and the future He has planned.