WHAT I’M LOVING WEDNESDAYS

What am I loving today? Or this month, really? The weather!!! Don’t get me wrong, I would prefer a white Christmas, but I will NOT argue with God about the beautiful sunshiney December He has gifted us. And anyway, it looks like its about to change back to real winter pretty soon. But take a peek–a chance of snow for the holiday!!

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So what else am I loving? Music, my Bible reading plan, walks in the aforementioned weather, and everything Christmas with a preschooler.

MUSIC: The album Chain Breaker by Zach Williams was five dollars well spent. Remember his breathtaking voice at church last month? I knew I liked the song “Chain Breaker” from the radio, but I had never heard “To The Table” until he sang it during the service that weekend. Listen for yourself and you’ll understand!

BIBLE READING PLAN: LifeWay Women put together a concise yet thoughtful reading plan for Advent. Each week they email you what to read daily as well as things to do and things to pray. They even send an image to save to your “lock screen” on your phone with a memory verse for the week. When covered in flour as I bake cookies or reaching for the ribbon as I wrap gifts, a touch of my phone brings His word back into focus.

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It’s not too late to sign up! You can revisit the past week’s readings and get caught up. CLICK HERE!

WALKS: Because the weather is phenomenal and our boys are in awe by holiday lights, we manage to sneak in a “twilight” walk around 4:30/5:00PM most evenings. The sun is getting low, the lights are turning on, and daddy isn’t home from work yet. The boys see everything from Minions in Santa hats to Nativity scenes on the roof and we all get fresh air and exercise. Not always so easy in December!!

illuminated christmas lights at night

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

EVERYTHING CHRISTMAS with aforementioned PRESCHOOLER: Christmas is REAL by the time you turn four. As I write this post, I hear him in his room singing “Go Tell it on the Mountain.” Don’t get me wrong, we do Santa in this house, but we also do Jesus. And its pretty awesome hearing him shout “THAT JESUS CHRIST IS BORN!!” We have excitement daily to see whats waiting for us in the Advent calendar, what the tree looks like when it lights up, how we can arrange the Nativity scene, and which song is our favorite today. And of course, there are LOTS of discussions about how Santa could possibly fit down the chimney and which animals were at the birth of Jesus.

Lord, thank you for the beauty that consumes me this Wednesday and everyday. You are faithful and good and may this season continue to be about You. Amen.

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.”
Lamentations 3:22-23

making space for Christmas.

Oh the irony.

When planning out posts for this month, I agreed to write this post because I thought it would be a good personal reminder for me. Refreshing and joyful even.

God has a sense of humor, doesn’t He?

Because, boy oh boy, do I EVER need the reminder of this post. So, please, pull up a chair and join me as I preach to myself today. You can consider this post all the things Kelly needs to hear (and REMEMBER) on this Monday before Christmas.

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picture via Pinterest

Making space for Christmas. Creating the breathing room for the true reason of the season. 

Something I think we all agree is important…and yet very few of us truly take the time to  do and get right.

I LOVE this time of year. From Halloween on, I just adore it all. The holidays. The traditions. The time with family. The excitement and anticipation of the season and the winding down of the year. It is the best.

Every year, I vow to slow down, to savor, to remember the true reason and spirit behind the season…and every year, I fail to do so. I come close, I make an effort. I still come up short.

This year has been no exception. It feels like everything has been set up to get in my way and distract me. Sickness. Bills. Work. Prep for this. Prep for that. Buy this. Go there. This party. That party. White Elephant Gift. Cookies. Christmas program.

Before long, my calendar and to do lists were so full, so swamped. I have no space…some  of it all is unnecessary, simply burdens I (voluntarily) place on myself because I think the season needs it (hint, it doesn’t). A lot of those things though, are good things.

But good things aren’t the best things and, in the season of best things, I want the bestThe best that is not defined by what parties I go to, the cookies I bake, the holiday crafts and things I do, or the gifts I buy and get. 

No, I want HIS best.

His best that is made of the greatest redemption story of all time, the story that starts with a baby in a manger and changes the world and saves me from myself.

That kind of best demands space to take it all in. Space that just doesn’t have room on a calendar full to the brim with parties, errands, and seasonal to-dos.

Let’s pause for a second. Let’s switch gears. Maybe you aren’t in the same boat. Maybe you have all the space, but the holidays are tough for you. The holidays may be a reminder of what you don’t have that you wish you did/thought you would have/had last year and don’t this year. Maybe the holidays are tough because people have passed, traditions have died away, and you are left with the deep sting of loss. Maybe the holidays have good things in them, but they just aren’t what you hoped they would be (for one reason or another)…you feel double the negative at grieving the loss of what you hoped for and feeling bad for grieving. Or maybe the holidays are just hard because you find yourself comparing yours to theirs and you feel like you are coming up short and not doing enough or doing it “right”.

Regardless of the why, it can hurt. Hurt badly. You have the space to remember the season, but the pain is just screaming at you, distracting your soul from His best.

I get it. I’ve been there too.

That is why, in the one of the most joyful seasons, we have to fight sometimes to remember. With an ever increasingly secular culture and our own selves as our worst enemies, we have to fight.

This was never what the season was supposed to be about. Don’t let good things crowd out the best things.

What does that fighting look like? For me, it means getting into the Word. Specifically, the story of His Savior’s birth. It means saying no to things like Christmas cards and white elephant gifts. It means less doing and more quiet, contemplating the beauty and glory  and significance of the simplest and plainest birth story ever.

Sisters, in this last week of Christmas, let’s make space. It is not too late. Slow down. Say no to something. Unplug. Don’t overdo it. Remember the true joy of the season. To put more focus on the best thing instead of good things.

Remember. Make the space. He will meet you there.

Luke 2:10-12//But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

 

Knowing vs KNOWING.

I was listening to a podcast the other day and was really struck by the musings of the host and her guest. It has been weeks since I heard it and I still remember it perfectly. For a gal who has trouble remembering what I had to eat last night, that is impressive! …and speaks to the message shared.

The subject of their musings? Buddy the Elf. 

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Before I lose you, please hang on for a sec! Let me explain.

First of all, if you haven’t the slightest idea of who Buddy the Elf is, he is the main character of the movie Elf. Buddy is a socially awkward human who was raised in the world of elves and Santa. Because of his background, naivete, and complete disconnect with reality, he truly believes he is an elf, even after being told about his very human father. The whole point of the movie is Buddy going to meet his birth father, humorously attempting to navigate the real world and spreading Christmas cheer all along the way.

Where does that leave us?

Well, there is a point in the movie where Buddy encounters a department store Santa. Prior to the engagement (which if you’ve seen the movie, you know it doesn’t go well!), Buddy absolutely LOSES his mind in excitement and joy over the announcement of Santa’s upcoming visit.

“SANTA! I KNOW HIM! I KNOW HIM!” is his response. 

He is so excited that he just cannot contain it and has to tell everyone and create a beautiful space for Santa.

And that, dear sisters, is the thought that has stuck with me weeks after hearing it on a podcast.

There is a difference between knowing and KNOWING. One is a matter of head knowledge, the other one of the soul and heart. 

To use the Buddy perspective, there is difference in knowing Santa. For me, I know Santa. I know he is a heavyset, jolly old man who wears a red suit and has a delightful white beard. I know he drives a sleigh and brings presents. But that is pretty much where it stops. I don’t know his favorites, his deepest hopes, and dreams. I don’t know what he likes and dislikes beyond the canned response of “be good, kids”.

But Buddy, he does know Santa. He was close to Santa. He had personal experiences, times spent with Santa. He even knew what Santa smelled like. He KNOWS Santa.

My experience is knowledge driven, surface level. Buddy’s is relationship driven, deeper. Know vs KNOWING.

So where on earth am I going with this?

There is a HUGE difference between knowing God and KNOWING God.

And that difference? It makes ALL the difference. One speaks to knowledge only. The other speaks to a transformed life.

Please do not get me wrong. We need the knowledge of who He is, what He says, those foundational things about our faith. But if that is where our Christian walks start and end, we are in trouble. We cannot just know Him casually.

We have to KNOW Him.

Our words, our actions, our attitudes…they all should speak to that KNOWING. Because that kind of KNOWING transforms lives, makes an impact. It is the light in a dark culture. That is the type of faith to which we are called.

Where are you at, dear sister? Do you know God? Or do you KNOW God?

My prayer for all of us is a relentless pursuit of KNOWING Him and a life that sings the beauty of it.

TESTIFY THURSDAY // On Friday

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One of my biggest hopes for this blog is to share testimonies of women in our own community. I am always encouraged by hearing how God is moving in real lives and I believe there is value in sharing our stories. So we set out to offer Thursday Testimonies and I have been mulling over what to share for several days now. In no way do I think that God is somehow obligated to prove Himself faithful to me, but time and again in my life He has done just that. Yesterday He gave me a little reminder of just how faithful He is and how creatively He weaves our stories together.

As I was walking down the hall at church, I ran into a friend from my high school years. This kind woman was a Young Life leader at the camp where I first entered into a true relationship with my Savior, Jesus. As a young married woman, she opened her home to a group of high school girls and I opened my Bible in a new way to experience God’s Word. All I knew is she invited me in and I thought I should show up. If I’m honest, I suspect that she wondered a time or two if her efforts with me were making any connection at all.

As I reflect on the ways she impacted my life, I specifically remember two things. First, for high school graduation, she gave me a book, “Six Hours One Friday” by Max Lucado. I devoured it and the sacrifice of Jesus became more real to me. I started to really believe that Jesus loved me. Second, when I returned for the summer after my first year of college, she invited me to a weekly meal at a friend’s house where I was challenged to memorize scripture. I vividly remember the day when that group prayed over me, asking God to give me a godly husband. At the time, a husband was not on my radar and I nearly laughed out loud. Now I have tears trickling down my cheeks because I am grateful for God’s answer. Both of these are relatively small gestures in the big scheme of life, but they were amongst the first seeds planted in my spiritual journey and God continues to deepen the roots and bring forth seasons of fruit.

Our paths don’t cross too often, but I am thankful they did yesterday. It reminded me that God will continue to water the seeds we are allowed to plant in the lives of those around us. God used my friend’s humble offering of her time to plant seeds in my life and I am ever grateful that she shared her Savior with me. So, when we find ourselves wondering if our efforts will ever bear fruit, let’s remember that our offerings don’t have to be grand to have a lasting impact. We can share Jesus in the simplest of ways and He is the faithful One who will water and tend to the roots.

I’d love to hear about the simple ways you’ve been encouraged along this journey.  Whose obedience and love for Jesus impacted you? What small seeds did God plant in your life?

One last thought … you may be thinking that I could have chosen a more applicable scripture image to accompany this post. Normally I would agree, but this is the verse I was challenged to memorize all those years ago and it is a delight to my soul today!