Category Archives: Holidays

From Now On: A Christmas Miracle

When I read the Christmas story each year, God gives me the gift of a new lens, known as another year’s experience, to filter the spoken and unspoken details of those precious participants who lived out the story without the benefit of knowing what would happen next.

In our current culture, I’m constantly blown away at how much humanity seems to thrive on a good scandal. Before all of the facts are in, a vehemently-drawn line has been drawn with people spewing assumptions they believe to be true.  This problem isn’t a new one. Mary would undoubtedly agree.

We don’t know her entire back story. It’s easy to assume she was the best good girl you could ever meet, and while she very well may have been, one thing I’ve learned from living is that God tends to use us in big ways after we’ve proven our faith is genuine. We can’t prove our faith is genuine until we’ve endured trials.

When the angel visited Mary in Luke 1:28, he called her “favored one” and just a few minutes later reiterated that she had found favor with God. (Luke 1:30) My reading lens this year can’t help but ask what Mary had gone through to make the God of the universe point His loving finger at her and say, “Her. I want her to be a part of this fantastic plan I have for mankind.”

To live out the gift that God gave Mary, she had to have a faith that could endure all kinds of whispers of scandal. She had to be okay with the fact that some people would never believe the truth, that the very Son of God was divinely growing inside of her.

As I’ve thought through this fact this year, I appreciate the power of God’s grace even more. He gets His children through the most humbling and devastating circumstances so that we can come out on the other side clinging to a gift more precious than we could have possessed otherwise.

I was touched by the observations and declarations that Mary made in her song of praise to God shortly after she began carrying the Christ-child. The words that we choose to speak about God and to God say much about what we’re experiencing.

And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,

  and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
  For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
    and holy is his name.
And 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.
He has helped his servant Israel,
    in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
    to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

                        Luke 1:46-55

From now on, generations will call me blessed” she said. The specifics of what that young woman had endured to make that statement will remain a mystery to us, but that’s one of the things that’s so beautiful about the love and grace of God. He knows every detail of our stories, the things about our pasts that have caused us to feel shame, the dreams that fell flat, the tragedies that tore us up with grief, and He pours His love and grace all over them to make a beautiful gift.

Maybe you, like me, have had a difficult year. No one but God will ever know or understand how the challenges have wrecked you and changed your perspective on so many aspects of life. That’s kind of a gift in and of itself, don’t you think? Sure, what has happened matters, but what is actually important today and in the future is the from now on. My prayer this Christmas is that others can see how blessed I am by my almighty, loving, merciful, and faithful God and want even more of His grace themselves.

Merry Christmas friends!

Favorite Christmas Movies

This intensely deep post is brought to you because of the fun little photo a day challenge I decided to take on this December. I’ve done these kinds of things before from time to time, and I really enjoy them in small doses. Now that I check my Time Hop app every morning, I’m even more happy I’ve done the challenges in the past because nothing is more sad now to see no posts for a certain day in my life’s history. Or if I happen to have some awkward status post from my younger years come up on my Time Hop to remind me that I really was that naive, immature, or obsessed about being without a phone for a week of my life, it’s much nicer to have a fun little picture to soften the reality check. Haha!

Anyway, my post for December 2nd asks me to somehow incorporate my favorite holiday movie in a picture. I’m feeling undue stress over deciding what movie is my favorite. Which one do I pick?!? Just one movie???? I feel like I need to break it up into categories or something.

The best classic Christmas movie award goes to……………………………extended drum roll please, because I am still trying to decide what makes a classic a classic. When I move past that, I feel like I’ll be snubbing so many worthy contenders. It’s A Wonderful Life has such a powerful message.

Its a Wonderful Life

White Christmas is the one classic movie I watch without fail every Christmas season in recent years while I’m wrapping or crafting presents.

White Christmas

I’m going to make my brain hurt if I start thinking of more classic movies. Then I’ll start hyperventilating if I think about the unfriendly debates that could ensue with people who would disagree with my choice. So I’m not going to pick one.

The best romantic comedy Christmas movie award goes toWhile You Were Sleeping for many obvious reasons.

While You Were Sleeping

Sandra Bullock is beyond adorable and relatable in this one. Is it over-the-top unbelievable? Absolutely. That’s one of the things that makes a Christmas movie so charming to me. I also distinctly remember the first time I watched this movie. It was with my mom and sister in our cozy little farm house on a snowy evening. This was one of the very first romantic comedies I watched, and it will always hold a special place in my heart whether it’s Christmastime or summertime.

The best animated Christmas movie award goes toRudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Rudolph

I remember watching it every year on TV and what a big deal it was when there were holiday specials on network television. Plus “missfit” (yes I spelled it this way on purpose) was my self-appointed nickname in my teenage years as a play off of my a common mispronunciation of my maiden name, Fite. (See why I spelled misfit that way? I had a reason. 🙂 ) It’s also my son’s favorite Christmas movie, so that makes me extra happy and fond of it, of course.

The best family Christmas movie award goes toElf.

Elf

Duh. It’s so quotable, and hilarious, and nearly the entire family can enjoy it, no matter their age. “I like smiling. It’s my favorite.” Don’t be a “cotton-headed ninnymuggins” and disagree with me on this one.

So I still don’t know what I’m going to pick for my favorite holiday movie picture. Oh, the stress I must endure. It is hard to be me. Perhaps you want to weigh in. What’s your favorite holiday movie?

Or maybe you want to join me and a few of my friends on taking the photo-a-day challenge. I got my prompt from A Content Housewife. If you decide to do it and share your pictures on social media, we are using the hashtag #capturingdecemberphotoaday2014

Yes, this is the first time I’ve actually used a hashtag somewhat seriously, and I know it’s excessively long, but I can’t go back and change it now. So if you’re up for the challenge, and only if you find it fun, join us!

 

In Everything Give Thanks

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” ~1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I have a started a half dozen different posts in recent weeks and months that I can’t seem to complete for the simple reason that I can’t seem to express properly how much I am changed. A new woman. Never able to be 100% the same girl I used to be.

And I am grateful to the point of tears that God in His mercy renews us. Renews me. At some point in every day, He uses little things to remind me when I need a shift in perspective, but He loves us too much to only use the little things.

I am one who holds on tightly to the little things. I have spent years applauding anything and anyone who shined a light on the importance of people, moments, and things that don’t seem significant. This will always be a part of who I am, and I don’t want to completely rid myself of this mindset because it truly is the little things that make all the difference in the world.

Those five minutes extra I spend with my kids at bed time, sending that text to say hello to a friend, sharing an evening watching TV with my husband, a hug, a funny video, a clean sink – the little things are things to intentionally keep a part of our lives because they work together to complete our purpose on this earth.

But what about the big things?

They don’t come every day or even every year, but they will come. I’m not referring to the happy kind of big things. I’m talking about the daunting, overwhelming, oppressive, stop-you-in-your-tracks kind of big things. A devastating illness, death, a broken relationship – you’ve already filled in the blank if you’ve faced your big thing.

The truth is, big things will change you. No matter how much you try to convince yourself that they won’t. Anytime you lose the ability to live your life in the same way you were accustomed, something has to change.

The big things make you realize how many happy little things you took for granted before. The big things make you see the little habits that you’ve held onto that you should have purged long ago. The big things tempt you to take on one little negative thought and let your mind run with it until you have a million lies taking you captive.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says that God’s will for me is to give thanks in everything. That means my big, ugly things as well as my mundane little things. As much as we say that it’s hard to remember to give thanks for the little things, I’m going to propose that perhaps that’s not always the case. Those big things are big. They’re hard. They hurt. They won’t go away and let you go back to the way life was before.

In Everything Give Thanks

And yet, I’m more grateful for my big things than I ever was for the culmination of all the little things I took notice of before. It’s because of my big things that I became aware of my need to change. Before my big things, I took my gratitude for the little things a bit too far and never wanted to step outside the comfy little nest I’d built for myself. When the big things forced me out of my nest, however, I saw that I needed real freedom, genuine change.

For the first time, I have an understanding of what God meant when He said His will was for me to give thanks in everything. Even when I wasn’t able to give thanks for the tough stuff, I realized that I could at least be thankful to God in the middle of the worst days. Eventually, God conquered them, and I could get a peek into why I needed to go through the experience.

So this year, I’m thankful for the many gifts God has given me. Some of them are happy little things that kept me going in while I was grappling with the big things. Others have been beasts that threatened to destroy me. The great thing is, they succeeded in obliterating parts of me that needed to change, and as a result I have been made new because of God’s beautiful grace. They worked together for my good, for my freedom.

Simple Easter Activity for the Preschooler in Your Life

If you’ve read anything I’ve written in the past few weeks, you’ll probably notice that simple is my motto. The only way that I’ll accomplish anything is if I keep it short, sweet, and a little bit flawed. And I kind of like it that way.

With it being Holy Week this week, I wanted to do at least a couple of things to make the specialness of Easter stick in Dash’s head. Based on the sweet fruit I’ve seen come from our simple activities and conversations, he is starting to get the true meaning of Easter. My heart could not be more full as I listen to the questions he’s asking.

I used to worry so much about trying to create the most adorable crafts and plan the coolest activities the online world had to offer when it came to teaching Dash, but life and grace have taught me something far greater. God truly makes everything beautiful in His time. Just because it works for someone else doesn’t mean it will work for me or my child. That doesn’t mean I give up completely, it just means I stop hyperventilating and teach as we live life.

For us, that’s meant a lot of conversations where I relate something he’s interested in with truths from God’s Word. It’s also meant making sure he’s involved in the wonderful classes and programs our church offers for kids his age. I’ve seen him really flourish from being in that environment. In the end, what I want is for his faith to be real. If that means we don’t have dozens of cute crafts to show how we celebrated each of his early holidays, that is okay.

This Christmas and Easter have been the first holidays he’s acted interested in anything “project” related, so I was very excited when I found this idea on Pinterest. It was something that I could prep as we talked and cut paper together plus I had all of the supplies on hand. (As a side note, don’t you love all of the dinosaurs covering the floor in the background?)

Easter

This project was a culmination of several conversations we’ve been having about Easter over the past several weeks. It was really neat and funny to watch him put it all together here. If you’re in the mood from some adorable 3-year-old chatter, you can watch the video of him telling the Easter story here. I drew some stick men on paper to represent Jesus & the angel. See? I told you that simple and flawed were part of how I roll.

It wouldn’t be a complete Easter story from a three-year-old’s perspective if I didn’t tell you that after I drew the “bad guys” he requested at the end of the video, he proceeded to draw a sword for Jesus to use to fight the bad guys. Or that Jesus then saw fit to knock the poor, innocent dinosaur setting next to him on the table onto the floor. But the main facts have been planted in his heart, and it’s a beautiful thing to watch them come out in the midst of silliness.

Happy Easter everyone! What special thing(s) are you doing to celebrate with your family this year?

If you’re new to this site, thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to have you as a part of this humble little community of women who want to find the exceptional power of God in our otherwise average lives. If you would like to receive updates when I add new posts, you can like my Facebook page, subscribe to my RSS feed, or receive new posts by email. You can also find all of these options easily by going to my home page and clicking on the appropriate icon located in the right side bar.

Why I’m Celebrating This Easter

Good Friday. Such an interesting title for the most unjust and tragic day in all of earth’s history. Yet it can be good because of what Christ’s death accomplished. Today, I’m celebrating because of what the sacrifice of Jesus’ life accomplished for me. Even more so, I’m celebrating because of what His defeat of death and sin means. My hope, my strength, my purpose all come from the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Many people before me have put into words more eloquent than I can compose what Easter means, so I’m going to instead point to a couple of beautiful poems put into song that illustrate some of the grateful emotions I’m feeling this Easter season.

Because He Lives
(Written by Bill & Gloria Gaither)

God sent His Son
They called Him Jesus
He came to love, heal and forgive
He lived and died to buy my pardon
An empty grave is there to prove my Saviour lives

Because He lives I can face tomorrow
Because He lives all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living just because He lives

Stronger
(Sung by Hillsong)

There is Love that came for us
Humbled to a sinner’s cross
You broke my shame and sinfuless
You rose again victorious

Faithfulness none can deny
Through the storm and through the fire
There is truth that sets me free
Jesus Christ who lives in me

You are stronger You are stronger
Sin is broken You have saved me
It is written Christ is risen
Jesus You are Lord of all

No beginning and no end
You’re my hope and my defense
You came to seek and save the lost
You paid it all upon the cross

So let Your name be lifted higher
Be lifted higher be lifted higher

If you’re new to this site, thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to have you as a part of this humble little community of women who want to find the exceptional power of God in our otherwise average lives. If you would like to receive updates when I add new posts, you can like my Facebook page, subscribe to my RSS feed, or receive new posts by email. You can also find all of these options easily by going to my home page and clicking on the appropriate icon located in the right side bar.

Not My Average Easter

Photo Credit

Sometimes it seems that holidays come and go without making much of a difference. I eat more candy and big meals, give and receive a few presents, and before I know it, it’s history.

This started bothering me a few years ago as I put effort and joy into decorating for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but once the actual day came, I was kind of disappointed because the excitement that came with the season would end promptly the next day. The entire reason these holidays exist are for me, a daughter of God, to celebrate, honor, and remember what He has done for me. I’m not here to discuss the commercialization of the holidays, but one thing is clear: I am responsible for my reaction to the few remaining acknowledgements from society that Jesus has made an impact on history.

The more I grow in my faith, the more I see the incredible significance that Easter represents in my life. It’s because of Easter that I have hope to keep the faith. While Christmas celebrates the wonderful miracle of God becoming man to fulfill His promise of saving the world, Easter celebrates the fact that the promise was fulfilled in a painful, humiliating death followed by His mind-boggling resurrection, sealing the deal for my salvation forever.

Easter, this holiday I can’t help but consider the greatest of all holidays, has been just another Sunday to me far too many times. And as it approaches this year, I am praying that God will make me intentional in taking it to heart. I don’t want it to be just an average Easter where the pews are more populated because of others’ moral obligations. I pray that I am able to see God’s life-changing power take place in not only my life but others around me.

I want to be passionate this Passion Week about taking to heart all of the love that was poured into Jesus’ sacrifice.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ~Romans 5:8

For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.  ~1 Corinthians 15:3-4

LORD, make me more passionate about You this Easter, and thank you for preserving this day to remember what you have done for me!

If you’re new to this site, thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to have you as a part of this humble little community of women who want to find the exceptional power of God in our otherwise average lives. If you would like to receive updates when I add new posts, you can like my Facebook page, subscribe to my RSS feed, or receive new posts by email. You can also find all of these options easily by going to my home page and clicking on the appropriate icon located in the right side bar.

 

ap·pre·ci·a·tion

(uh-pree-shee-ey-shuh-n) noun

1. gratitude, thankful recognition
2. the act of estimating the qualities of things and giving them their proper value
3. clear perception or recognition

(Thanks to dictionary.com for these insightful definitions.)

The fact is, there just aren’t beautiful definitions for the precious words gratitude or thankfulness. The phrase, “the act of being thankful” just doesn’t inspire me or cause me to go into a state of soul searching. What it means to be thankful or grateful, however, is something far greater than the simple definition.

In my search for prettier ways of saying thankful or grateful, I came across a word that’s just not as pretty, but its definition is incredibly deep and challenges my soul to the core. Appreciation.

My eyes continually go back to the second definition: “the act of estimating the qualities of things and giving them their proper value.” This defines gratitude in such a rich way. The thing is, gratitude is a choice. It does not come naturally in all circumstances. However, when I choose to assess the true value of what I have instead of looking at its face value, then I can’t help but feel so incredibly grateful for what I have.

After going through a trying season, I inevitably come out on the other side with a far deeper appreciation for all that I have because I’ve gotten a glimpse of what it would be like without it.

As I look at all the cracks in my house’s walls and the marred places in the flooring with the idea of appreciation, I see that each flaw makes up part of my home. I can appreciate my home as a whole because it is what houses my family and the memories we make together each day. Additionally, I don’t have time to stress about the crumbs or fingerprints all over everything because when I look at the value of the culprits while I’m assessing their true value, I get a clearer view of what is worthy of my attention.

I’ve been working to make my view of thankfulness be one of sincere appreciation. Doing this takes more effort than simply listing off everything like I’ve done in the past. I appreciate the deliberate focus that it requires, and I pray that I never lose sight of this target.