Weekly Verses…

Weekly Verses…

Monday
Sing to God, sing praise to his name, extol him who rides on the clouds — his name is the Lord — and rejoice before him. A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.
New International Version
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY’S VERSE…
I can’t help but think of what James, Jesus’ brothers said: “Pure religion, undefiled before God the Father is this: keep oneself undefiled and care for orphans and widows in their distress.” Jesus showed clearly this was the Father’s heart in his ministry. Now it is up to us to continue it!
MY PRAYER…
Father, may my life, my compassion, and my ministry reflect your heart for those who need care and protection and love. Give me eyes to see this need more clearly and a heart to responded more certainly so that your love may be demonstrated through me. Through Jesus I pray. Amen.
Tuesday
Fathers, do not exasperate your children, instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
New International Version
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY’S VERSE…
Mothers have such an inside road with children that it is interesting that God commands fathers to be about the work of spiritual nurture. I don’t believe he means to exclude mothers. No, I think he assumes they’ll do their part. But the father’s influence and intentional training is so essential.
MY PRAYER…
Abba Father, may my children come to find you in me. Through Jesus I pray. Amen.
Wednesday
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy.
New International Version
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY’S VERSE…
For husbands, there is sacrificial love in our purpose and purpose in our sacrifice. We give up ourselves to love our wives. But Jesus is the example here, and he gave up everything. His purpose? Simply to make us holy. Our motives are to be equally as sacrificial and pure in surrendering our rights to bless and love our wives.
MY PRAYER…
Holy God, help our families to be full of love and may it begin with me, today. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.
Thursday
What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his very soul?
New International Version
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY’S VERSE…
We chase after so many different things. Only one thing is needed. Having a fist full of dollars, a great estate, and lots of prestige doesn’t mean a whole lot if you’ve gone to your ultimate address without the Lord. Even worse, is to find that in the middle of your busy-ness, you awake to find yourself in the barren land where Christ does not dwell and life is not found.
MY PRAYER…
Father, help me to keep my priorities right and my life holy and my heart open to your will rather than being blinded with my own self-seeking. Through Jesus I pray. Amen.
Friday
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
New International Version
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY’S VERSE…
How good it is to be as close to God as his shadow and share in the comfort of his shelter. He is not far if our hearts choose to draw near him.
MY PRAYER…
O great Almighty God, tender Shepherd and Abba Father, make known to me your nearness. I long to live in your presence and reflect your holiness and grace. By Jesus’ blood I draw near to you in full assurance of your love and grace. Amen.
Saturday
The Lord will keep you from all harm — he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
New International Version
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY’S VERSE…
Our lives are not lived alone. The Lord is with us personally. He holds each of futures and our safety in his hands. We live to serve him and go to be with him when we die. The Lord will keep us from all harm!
MY PRAYER…
Mighty Protector, Rock of my salvation. Thank you that my future is secure with you. Make this assurance the convicting power in my life to turn over my future and my life to you. Through Jesus I ask this. Amen.
Sunday
Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and will not be faint.
New International Version
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY’S VERSE…
It is easy for us to live victoriously for the Lord when we soar on eagles wings. It can be exciting when we run and don’t grow weary in the work of the Lord, buoyed by his power and presence. But it often takes heroes to keep walking and not faint when trying times come. Keep on walking, brother and sister. The Lord is there when you most fear he has forgotten you!
MY PRAYER…
Majestic God, whose voice holds together our universe, give those who can barely walk under the stress and assault the strength to continue. I specifically want to pray for those I know personally who are facing trying times. Please, dear LORD, give them strength and meet their most pressings needs. Through the intercession of Jesus I ask it. Amen.
Devotional credit: Oneplace.com

 

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My Parents Have Gone Home…

My Parents Have Gone Home…

sunset-hands-love-woman.jpg

Hello Dear Friends,

I write this message to let you know what has happened this last several years…as previously promised to many.

For those of you who have followed me on YouTube and Instagram know there has been a series of emergencies and family that have passed away. Out of my efforts to help protect my parent’s/family’s privacy, I chose to refer them to “my family member”.

My Parents were very special people in my life. When all things were amiss, they always kinda stepped in and tried to help. They didn’t always know what to do…but they definitely tried. And I knew they were always there.

My Daddy had many struggles this last many years with his health but he kept plugging away. And literally after many in and out of hospitals, rehab, etc….he literally was on the phone while in the hospital giving directions of what to do here and there. As they were taking him from his regular room to ICU, I asked him for his phone…so he could rest. He was a very very talented man when it came to numbers. And he truly had the gift of giving. There were some that took that for granted for sure, but as he traveled his journey he tried to help. I pray and know the Lord is blessing him now. We were all so blessed by him. And as he continued to work until his death, for those of us helping with his health and at times care…he was definitely not giving up. ūüėČ

As his time came to close on this earth, we were all able to be with him and say goodbye. And he was able to tell all goodbye as well. I was so beyond thankful for this. Being the closest in proximity to my parents, it was a huge weight I felt to be sure to keep my siblings informed. And my prayer always that everyone could be there as his time drew closer to an end. He very much made his lists…who to call, his funeral program and even his obituary. In many ways this was great…and for those who felt left out or slighted…there was really nothing we could say or do. We had to honor our Daddy, and we did our best.

My Dad loved my Mom very very much. And for years, he would talk to me about Mom’s care…in case anything happened to him. So I listened and made notes. And she loved him as much if not more. Even in her own illness, she loved him and continued to dote on him.

I was blessed to realize and address my Mom’s health the last 10 years. I had noticed she began to struggle with her memory. So I immediately began taking her to every doctor I could to slow down what I recognized to be happening. My Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. She was a very active and bright woman. She was a teacher by her university training. She ended her working career helping my Daddy in his practice as he moved it from a large practice in an office to an at home office. He would get up every day and go work in his office. And Mom would work in the kitchen close by until he called her for help. She became his secretary, data entry and all around gal Friday. Mom loved helping Dad and when she wasn’t helping him…she would be attending all her clubs, loving her family and cooking amazing meals for Daddy and all of us. As her memory began to struggle it was a hard transition. Not only for her, but also for Daddy. He was losing his friend, wife and helper. As I watched them both, it was a very heartbreaking yet interesting journey. Each day she became even more and more sweet with her Alzheimer’s. And it was clear how much they loved each other…but he Daddy was truly overwhelmed with her transition and loss.

He would talk to me with many many tears and tell me how much he missed her “sass”. As their daughter, friend and helper…I knew that all was changing. But I also realized it was her blessing and ours as well. She wasn’t angry or sad many Alzheimer’s patients struggle with. She just loved each moment to the best of her abilities.¬† And that is the most beautiful legacy she could leave. I miss her pure joy when I would enter a room. As if I had been on a long journey and she missed me the most…even if I had just stepped out for 10 minutes. Yes, I missed my friend every day but I knew I didn’t get to write her story…nor Daddy’s. I used to think I would fix this or fix that. Then in the end…I knew I knew nothing!! The Lord knew the very very best for each of them.

We saw those that were truly there because they truly loved them. And then we saw those that were there for less pure motives. As you walk this journey with your parents, the worst thing is to see those that take advantage of the situations. And then there were those that sometime floated between the two perspectives. Most importantly, they were my parents and I was protective for sure. But honestly, that was my job…and I wouldn’t be any less protective looking back. As I had someone fuss at me…I thought about it as I listened to them repeat a caregivers complaints. And with a good pause as others jumped in and defended me…I looked the family member square on and said…I was quality control. And even now, I would encourage others who may find themself on this road…you be quality control. I will never regret that role…ever.

If there are those caregivers that push back from correction and guidance while working to provide care….they do not need to be working with your family unless there is the ability to be correctable. And yes, these are hard decisions, but even one of the specialist doctors were recommending letting certain caregivers go due to the end effect of serious “stress on the patient”. The situation lends itself to friendships being assumed. And this happens on both sides. There still needs to be a professionalism that is upheld. Listen to those who are a part of the health care journey. It may be hard…but in the end you must do what is best for the patient/s and what is best for the family “in the trenches” so to speak. I will address more on the perameters of these relationships that I wish I had better understood in the journey in my future blogs.

In time, I will write a series of blogs on HealthyLiving4Him.Wordpress.com on some basic observations. I just kept saying…someone should write a book about all of this. And though this blog is heartbreaking enough as I am beginning this at the end of my first Mother’s Day without my Mom. I know in time, the lessons learned could possibly help the next person who might have to walk a similar path. So please just check back in a month and look for that series of blogs.

So yes, Mother’s day comes to an end. My children as always were my blessings. My siblings were so sweet. And my extended family loved and supported me. I tried to not focus on the humongous loss in my life…but to focus on the here and now. And after all have gone to sleep…I write and that is ok. Today I read and shared with my siblings Beth Moore’s quote from Twitter: “If you feel like sobbing, do. If you feel like going to church on Mother‚Äôs Day would crush your heart, don‚Äôt. You won‚Äôt lose your salvation because you don‚Äôt want to go to church on Mother‚Äôs Day. Grab pen and paper and get alone with God and pour out your heart to Him in full…” AMEN!!!

After spending so much time focused on my parents and their health…I have a new walk. I have spent the last 3 months working nonstop on their estate and their home as well and my husband and I taking over my Dad’s practice. And…by the way, we are in no way perfect in any of these areas, no one is…we are just trying. And yes, there isn’t a book to tell you what to do here…and what to do there. It is a trial and error and seek as much help via prayer and professionals as possible. My parents did/do have a great attorney that has been invaluable as well as his admin. I am blessed beyond all words at all their advice. And then there were those that had walked in the Alzheimer’s steps as well that I sought endlessly for advice. And then finally, I cannot say enough about my parents’ doctors, nusing facility staff and hospice that lovingly helped us in the last days for both my parents. Their servant’s hearts are nothing to be given any less than full on praise!! And then the family that was family. The ones that loved, listened, encouraged, prayed for us, and at times…held me up. I am in awe at who rose to the top in such selfless love. We were all so very blessed. And above all else, I thank the Lord Jesus Himself for His endless love, guidance, wisdom and help for all of us. I still sit and shake my head in disbelief in all the blessings in this journey. It is what kept me going. Truly a Proverbs 3:5-6 journey. And I give the Lord praise in the good and in all the bad. I know all things happened for a reason. Though in my logic, I cannot understand always why…but I trust Him. And there is my peace.

We were all also able to be there with our Mom as she passed away less than 5 months after my Daddy.¬† I was amazed at God’s timing and provisions for her life. Once she was moved to my hometown…it seemed everyone knew Mom. I was so amazed!! I literally had an EMT come sit with me in an emergency room after he was finished with his shift. And this was in a town over from where we all lived. And then there was the friend from Bible study who happened to work on the ICU wing who loved on me and brought me food and drink for our 8 day stay. And then the EMT shift leader who I ran into in the hall of the hospital. He immediately asked about my Mom. I was in shock he remembered me…much less Mom. Even my siblings couldn’t believe in less than 2 weeks in the nursing facilty how many truly knew Mom!! It was and will always be remembered as a true provision from the Lord. Not only did all love and care beautifully for my Mom…they loved us. Again, we didn’t have a clue how to walk through these journeys…but the Lord gave true blessings of incredible people that prayed with us, hugged us, loved us and yes…put up with me!! ūüėČ I was overly careful…but I look back now and am thankful for the opportunity to have been there. I also had this amazing support and love from so many of you via YouTube and Instagram. Thank you to each of you!!!! Your prayers and encouragements were beyond my meager thoughts and words!!¬† I am truly blessed. This has all been a truly life changing journey.

So now people ask me as I finish up our last child’s homeschooling and both my parents are gone now (as I had planned to fully focus on them as my teaching was changing), what are my next steps. Well for now, the estate is full blown busy. Their house is being renovated and I am still working to get all cleaned out. And after over a year of emergencies, their office moved into an already messy house from our son’s wedding a year ago and boxes upon boxes of the items from their home always finding it’s way to our home. You know…pictures, movies, memorabilia for all the grandchildren/children and extended family…etc. If I spent the next year cleaning out our home alone…that would be a truly full time job. ūüôā And so with both, I continue. After all is finished, I will see where the Lord leads.

My first goal personally is to crawl back into the Word in a very different and deliberate way. Though Jesus never left me, I know my heart needs a different level of healing. There is not only the incredible loss of both my parents…but all the bumps on the road that have left me a little wounded or battered. And then it was the many years of slowing cutting this out and that out in order to be available in case of an emergency. And yes, there were endless years of if I left town…you know the rest. My sister began to tell me this as well. So as a result, I began to trim up all my different activities. And finally, my best friend of 17 years moving out of state with her own ailing parent.

So I now try to go eat with a sweet friend who was there every step of the way. She and I seem to be working towards at least 1-2 times a month lunch. She unfortunately lives 45 minutes away…but the road is short between true friends. ūüôā And just the logistics of this sweet friend and adding to our already lovely friendship. I now life in a whole new world. I am not in hospitals, my parents home in their town, the nursing facilites, drs offices, etc. It is truly a new walk with very different people. And also, I am graduating out of the homeschool world I have been heavily invested in for the past 26 years.

Now I not only in my private time am I trying to dig into the Word through Bible study, I am journaling to the Lord as well with my memory verses and prayers. We have gone back to our family Bible study and it is wonderful!! I am still in search of a Ladies Bible study…as my old Ladies Bible study began to use the same study as the family Bible study…and now they are literally on the same lesson each week. So I am feeling led to seek out a different study. And Lord willing He will guide my steps. I know the Lord will begin to heal my heart and help me find good Christian women friends in the journey.

My parents have gone home to be with the Lord. And though it is hard now, there is joy and peace in knowing…they are with Jesus, healthy and together. And I smile every time I think, Daddy is now sitting with Jesus, Moses and Billy Graham having some really great conversations!! There is my peace. I believe in His Word and in His promises!! God is so good!!

I will be also sharing a question answer video on my JosephinesDesigns.com YouTube this next week. As well as I also wanted to share here. As I said earlier, I will share more on my other blog: HealthyLiving4Him.wordpress.com. So if you are interested…please feel free to visit. Also if you like, come by JosephinesDesigns.com on YouTube as well. We’d love to encourage you!! You are welcome!! ūüôā

And if you have any questions, please email me at JosephinesDesigns.com@gmail.com and HealthyLiving4Him@gmail.com.

I pray each of you have a blessed, creative and lovely day….k

Photo by Min An from Pexels

 

National Scrapbook Day Online Class…

National Scrapbook Day Online Class…

12x12 Hunter Green Full Bloom Album Cover

Hello Dear Friends, 

I am soooo excited to share with you a fun new event to my YouTube channel!! I have loved Creative Memories for many many years!! I loved when I was a consultant many years ago and I am thrilled to be apart of them again!! 

Having a Grandmother with dementia and a Mom who recently passed with Alzheimer’s, memory keeping is invaluable!!! I loved working on albums for my family!! I loved making albums for my Grandmother and Mom. When they were confused, I would show them pictures and walk them through time by looking at their memory books. The nurses and doctors always thanked me. They knew that love and sharing memories was so much better than medications. And I must tell you though it didn’t heal their struggles, they both knew they were loved and they always could find a part of their history to bring them back to the present…as much as they were able. For my Grandmother it was always successful…for my Mom, I was so blessed that she found comfort and could always find something in her albums to remember.¬†

Now they are both gone, and though I miss them both, I now am the caretaker of those precious albums and those incredible memories. It was a blessing then…and it is a blessing now.¬†

Being a story teller is the greatest gift we can give to our families…I know this with all my heart. I know I have allot to be thankful for, and this part of my journey is a blessing from the Lord. And now it is my job, to pass on the stories to my children…and one day my grandchildren. And I will be thankful to have these family history books ready to share.¬†

So come join with me and let’s build our family story journals together!!¬†

Prayers and hugs…k ūüôā¬†

12x12 Violet Secret Garden Fast2Fab√ʬĄ¬Ę Album

The¬†NSD Project Recipe‚ĄĘ Kit below can be yours when you attend my NSD class online!! Just email JosephinesDesigns.com and get your kit today!! ūüôā See how below.¬†

The class will be posted on my YouTube JosephinesDesigns.com.

You can watch it when it’s posted on May 5th. And if for any reason you cannot make that day, no worries!! The class will be available at anytime on my YouTube channel and my here on my website: JosephinesDesigns.com.¬†

PS…There are 10 openings and each kit is $18.00 plus shipping.¬† I will also keep a waiting list and if we have enough interest by April 27, 2018, I will gladly order more kits!! ūüôā

I will be adding some fun goodies to each kit to encourage you in your memory keeping!! ūüôā¬†

After April 27th, each kit will go up to $25.00 plus shipping. So please hurry and grab your kit as soon as possible. 

To order your kit today, email me at JosephinesDesigns.com@gmail.com

The first 10 people to order and pay for their kit will be signed up for the online class. 

12x12 Hunter Green Full Bloom Fast2Fab√ʬĄ¬Ę Album

Weekly Verses…

Weekly Verses…

Monday
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not  self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
1 Corinthians 13:4-5
New International Version
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY’S VERSE…
Love does not focus on me, but on others. ¬†Each of these¬†qualities of love is based upon an affectionate, compassionate,¬†and forgiving attitude that regards others of value and not¬†just self. ¬†No wonder the old saying goes “The middle of sIn is¬†a big I!”
MY PRAYER…
Holy God and Sacrificial Father, teach me to notice others and value them just as you do. I know you loved me when I was not lovable, and redeemed me when I was not worthy.  Help me to take my eyes off myself and see others as you see them. Through Jesus I pray.  Amen.
Tuesday
Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1 Corinthians 13:6-7
New International Version
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY’S VERSE…
Always love – pretty tall order and pretty tough stuff.¬†Only God is “always.” ¬†But then Christians are fueled to a
always love through the Holy Spirit! ¬†Check out the promised source of “always” love in¬†Romans 5:5.
MY PRAYER…
Sweet and Glorious God on High, I humble myself before you, recognizing your boundless power to love, the incredible need for love in the lives of those around me, and my limited ability to love. ¬†Please pour your Holy Spirit into my heart and fill me with the power to love as you do, always. ¬†In Jesus’ sweet name I pray. ¬†Amen.
Wednesday
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16
New International Version
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY’S VERSE…
Did you know the Bible doesn’t just say, “God loves you?” Now don’t let me confuse you, it does say God loves us many times, but each time it does, it shows us that love as well. God loved us so much time he didn’t just say I love you with a valentine, he showed he loved us by sending his Son!
MY PRAYER…
Loving and almighty God, thank you for loving me.  Thank you for both saying it and showing it.  Please know, dear Father, I love you, too! Accept my words and actions today as a testimony to my love.  Through Jesus I pray.  Amen.
Thursday
A new command I give you:  Love one another.  As I have loved you , so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
John 13:34-35
New International Version
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY’S VERSE…
How do you recognize Jesus’ followers? ¬†How do you find Christians? ¬†Jesus said they love each other just as he loved the disciples. In the immediate context, this means he is willing to give sacrificially and extravagantly by dying for them on the cross, and he is also willing to love selflessly and practically by washing their feet. His ministry reveals he also will do almost anything in between extravagant and practical. Imagine if we all read the Gospels, and committed to love each other in the same way Jesus showed his love to his disciples!
MY PRAYER…
Father of Compassion and God of all grace, I thank you for teaching me to love through the example of Jesus.  May my words and actions reflect some resemblance of his love toward your people today.  Through Christ, my Great Example, I pray.  Amen.
Friday
This is love:  not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
1 John 4:10
New International Version
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY’S VERSE…
He loved us first!  He offered his Son to save us regardless of our decision to believe or ignore his grace.  We are given the ability to accept or reject the death of his Son as the sacrifice for our sins.  The only condition, as 1 John 2:1-2 emphasizes, is that we realize that he died for everyone else in the world, too!
MY PRAYER…
Precious King, God Almighty, why you should love me and send Jesus to die for me I will never fully understand.  Thank you for your love. Thank you for your sacrifice for my sins. Thank you, Jesus, for coming to save me.  I pray in your name and by your intercession.  Amen.
Saturday
This is the message you heard from the beginning:  We should love one another.
1 John 3:11
New International Version
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY’S VERSE…
The original message – love one another. ¬†The enduring message – love one another. ¬†The most convicting message – love one another. ¬†The most difficult message – love one another. I’m reminded of the little verse: ¬†To dwell above with saints we love, O that will be glory. But to dwell below with saints we know, now that’s another story. ¬†But it’s the story we’re called to write!
MY PRAYER…
Loving Father, I commit to you that I will intentionally show my love for your children this week in what I do and say. I do this, trusting your grace to empower me to do more than I would do on my own.  Through Jesus my Savior I pray.  Amen.
Sunday
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
Romans 8:35-37
New International Version
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY’S VERSE…
Conquerors! We win!!  When you open up the final book of the Bible, Revelation, that is the message РChristians win because Jesus is the one true conqueror.  No matter how the battle is going for you right now, remember that in the end, we win!
MY PRAYER…
El Shaddai, God Almighty, thank you for securing the ultimate victory for me by raising Jesus from the dead.  I know he is coming with victory on the day you have determined, but I pray that I may live victoriously for you until that day. Through Jesus my conquering King I pray.  Amen.
Devotional Credit: Oneplace.com
Weekly Verses…

Weekly Verses…

Monday

This is what the Lord says, “Forget the former things; do not¬†dwell on the past. ¬†See, I am doing a new thing! ¬†Now it¬†springs up; do you not perceive it? ¬†I am making a way in the¬†desert and streams in the wasteland.”
¬†—Isaiah 43:16¬†and¬†Isaiah 43:18-19
New International Version
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY’S VERSE…
The year is gone, finished, past. ¬†We cannot reclaim it or¬†undo it. ¬†We cannot rest on the things it has brought us. ¬†If¬†tomorrow¬†dawns, it will be another day, a new opportunity, and¬†the time to show our faith in Jesus as Lord. ¬†Let’s journey¬†forward, knowing that God already inhabits the future and¬†promises to provide us refreshment.
MY PRAYER…
Lord of all eternity, please help me to learn from my mistakes but not dwell on them.  Please help me not rest on my accomplishments in this past year, but use them to further your work in me and through me.  Please help me not quarrel with those who injured me yesterday, or last month.  Instead, O Father, lead me in your paths and help me see your mighty works this next year.  In Jesus name and by his power I ask it. Amen.
Tuesday
If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
2 Corinthians 5:17
New International Version
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY’S VERSE…
We all like “do-overs” or second chances. God does much better than that! He allows us to become new again. Being the “God of new things” he can even make us new. Beyond forgiveness, beyond cleansing, he makes us holy through Jesus. Let’s use the opportunity of a New Year as a springboard to living a life fresh and new and alive to God!
MY PRAYER…
O LORD, thank you for a New Year and a fresh start. Please give me wisdom and strength to serve you with integrity and faithfulness in this coming year. I pray that your work be done in my life as I offer myself, my plans, and my future to you. I pray this through Jesus, my intercessor and Lord. Amen.
Wednesday
Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Psalms 90:12
New International Version\
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY’S VERSE…
So often we look up and time has passed us by. The things we promised ourselves we’d accomplish and the deeds we told others we’d do get left undone. Before we know it, days have become¬†weeks, and weeks months, and months years. We find ourselves unable to do what we once assumed we could do any time we want. We must ask the Spirit of God to help us see and seize the opportunities the LORD places in our path.
MY PRAYER…
Father, I confess that so often I leave undone what needs to be done. Please help me see your plans in each of my days and live in a way which not only honors you, but also blesses those you want me to reach. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Thursday
While [Joseph and Mary] were [in Bethlehem], the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.  She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Luke 2:6-7
New International Version
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY’S VERSE…
I’ve always been amazed at how God chose to place his Son into our world. ¬†He could have done it any way he wanted. ¬†But he chose this way — to enter the world in difficult times under difficult circumstances as a helpless infant who must be cared for by parents who were vulnerable to so many frailties. Yet in spite of the challenges that lay ahead and the bewildering mystery that confronted them: ¬†Joseph and Mary, along with everyone around them, were caught up in the great joy this new child gave.
MY PRAYER…
Give me a heart of faith, O God, so that I might always see your sovereignty and grace being poured out on me in special ways.  I am thrilled that you, the Creator and Sustainer of the entire universe, chose to enter my world as a child.  Thank you for trusting your wonderful salvation to human flesh so we could know that you deemed us worthy of entering our world to make us right for yours.  Through Jesus.  Amen.
Friday
[God] has showed you, O man, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8
New International Version
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY’S VERSE…
God’s desires for us are not hard to discern. ¬†He wants to bless us with salvation. The incredible gift of his Son is powerful testimony to this truth. ¬†But salvation from sin and death is not something he wants to happen in our lives only¬†once. ¬†He wants our lives to daily reflect his salvation and to share it with others. ¬†We should act justly and pursue mercy in our relationships, and honor him with our worship from a humble heart.
MY PRAYER…
Almighty and compassionate Father, as I embrace this New Year, help my eyes see what your heart sees.  Teach me to hate sin and be merciful to the repentant.  Teach me to know truth and act fairly, while hating abuse and exploitation. Through your Spirit, stir me to reflect on the great distance between your holy majesty and my inconsistent character.  Make me more your child, I pray, in Jesus name.  Amen.
Saturday
Stop doing wrong, learn to do right!  Seek justice, encourage the oppressed.  Defend the cause of the fatherless.
Isaiah 1:16-17
New International Version
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY’S VERSE…
Do you find it easy to replace service to those in need with religious rituals? ¬†I know I do! ¬†But God wants us to not get so caught up in talking about him and celebrating his deeds, that we forget we’re supposed to care for others like he does. Whether it is Jesus defining his ministry in¬†Luke 4:18-19¬†or James talking about the kind of piety that pleases God (1:26-27), we must realize true faith is treating others as God would. Today’s verse defines what God does and asks us to live the same.
MY PRAYER…
O Great God of all comfort, open my eyes today to see those who need your love and give me the attentiveness, time, and compassion to serve them. ¬†May Jesus’ work be seen in my life today. ¬† Amen.
Sunday
Prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.
1 Peter 1:13
New International Version
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY’S VERSE…
When Jesus came the first time, he came to reveal God¬†(John¬†1:18). ¬†As wonderful, powerful, and gracious as he was in his earthly ministry, it did not fully reveal Jesus our Lord. ¬†Our hope is tied to his return. ¬†When he comes this time, he won’t come to reveal God, but to reveal himself — the conquering Lord, the Rider on the white horse. ¬†Every knee will bow. ¬†And we will see him as he really and fully is, Immanuel in power and grace. ¬†With this as our hope, ¬†we can be ready for active service to our king as people who live their lives under his leadership and control.
MY PRAYER…
O Almighty God, I long for the day when I get to see Jesus face to face coming with the angels in power.  Until that time, fasten my heart in hope to the glory Jesus will share with me on that day, and please empower me to live as one who knows that victory is mine in Jesus.  Jesus, through your powerful name I pray.  Amen.
Devotional credit: Oneplace.com
Discovering the Advent Season

Discovering the Advent Season

Every year, I plan on buying a traditional Advent calendar to help my family get ready for Christmas.  I like the idea of daily Advent readings that help build anticipation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth.  Unfortunately, I’m usually busy and forget to buy the calendar until after Advent has already started.  There is so much going on at Thanksgiving, and then the parties start, and before you know it, Christmas is upon us.  The calendar itself is not the most important thing; it’s about what celebrating Advent does for us during a very busy time of the year.

Advent is the season that starts four Sundays before Christmas.  For hundreds of years, Christians have used this season to remember the coming of Christ, and to prepare for Christmas.  It’s more than just a piece of history, though.  So, why do we celebrate Advent?  Celebrating the Advent season can help us today to follow Christ more faithfully in at least three ways.

Advent helps us focus on Jesus.

We‚Äôve all heard the clich√©s like ‚ÄúJesus is the reason for the season‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúLet‚Äôs keep Christ in Christmas.‚ÄĚ ¬†Even though they are clich√©s, they contain nuggets of truth. ¬†One of the reasons that they exist is that it is just so easy to let all of the activities, and shopping, and parties overwhelm our focus on Jesus. ¬†Celebrating Advent gives us daily and weekly reminders through Scripture about who Christ is and what He did for us when He came to earth.

Advent helps us honor Jesus.

The word ‚ÄúAdvent‚ÄĚ means the arrival of someone or something important. ¬†When an important event like a graduation or wedding is coming, we work hard to make sure everything is perfect. ¬†When an important person is coming to visit, we work hard to properly prepare for them so that they will know they are valuable to us. ¬†We plan the menu and the decorations; we clean the house and edge the lawn. ¬†We don‚Äôt just wait until the last minute and throw something together. ¬†Similarly, celebrating Advent helps us give Jesus the proper attention and focus He deserves. ¬†By focusing on Him throughout this season, and not just on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, we honor Him more faithfully.

Advent helps us remember Jesus is coming again.

Advent is not only a celebration of Christ’s first coming as a baby; it is also a reminder of Jesus’ return that is yet to come.  Just as God’s people awaited the first coming of the Messiah, His people now await the return of our Savior.  The four weeks of Advent remind us of both of these comings.  In weeks one and two, the Scripture readings look forward to His second coming and remind us of the importance of being prepared for His return.  Weeks three and four look backward and help us remember the excitement and expectation that the hope of the Messiah brought to the ancient Jews.  It has always been important for God’s people to remember that God is up to something, and that we need to live in expectation of what He will do when He comes again.

In our world, there are so many things that can occupy our attention. ¬†The Christmas season is one of the most exciting times of the year, but it is also one of the most distracting seasons of the year. ¬†Even for those who want to keep focused on Jesus, it is difficult to do so. ¬†By celebrating Advent, we acknowledge that celebrating Jesus is more than one evening and the following day. ¬†The ‚Äėhow‚Äô to celebrate Advent isn‚Äôt as important as the connection you make with Him, so create¬†special traditions as a family¬†and grow in Him together. ¬†Let us be a people who acknowledge God‚Äôs great love and generosity for his people every day this Advent season.

Devotional credit: Dayspring.com

Simple Advent Activities for Your Family

Simple Advent Activities for Your Family

I often think of the crazy holiday season countdown as a great big package we tear into (earlier and earlier!) every year. It’s bright and flashy, but we don’t find a whole lot at the heart of it.

And then there’s Advent.

Advent is like a small and carefully-wrapped gift that invites us to open it slowly, day-by-day, to discover new treasures inside each year. It’s the quiet, magnificent story unfolding beneath all the shopping and celebrating. It’s the real journey that will still be beautiful and true when everything else passes away.

This is the story I want my children to be swept up in.

They love anticipation and discovery; They love creating and celebrating.

I want to help them pour that God-given energy and excitement into the stuff that truly matters.

If you’re looking for some simple, meaningful ways to celebrate a special Advent season this year, read on. Find a few easy Advent activities that feel right for your family, and give them your personal touch! Starting your own Advent traditions is a wonderful way to celebrate the marvel of the season.

Start simple.

Hang a traditional Advent calendar that includes Scripture near a busy place in your home. Let children take turns opening each day, and spend a few moments talking about the message that’s revealed. Or place a small dry erase board orchalkboard in the kitchen to keep track of how many days until Jesus’ birthday.  As simple as it seems, even taking a few moments each day to shift our focus toward the One we’re truly celebrating can make a big difference.

Pray each day.

Have the kids decorate a prayer jar, box or basket. (Check out our Bible journaling craft supplies for some great inspiration!) Cut 24 small slips of paper and sit down together to fill them out with names, situations and even parts of the world you want to pray for. Set it in the middle of the dinner table or living room, and have a child draw one out each day of Advent as your family gathers to pray.

Shine your light.

Set out an Advent Wreath, and take a moment to light one of the candles each Sunday during Advent.  Talk about what it might look like to shine God’s light in the coming week.

Then consider putting His love into action with a weekly family outing to bless someone in need. It could be a nursing home visit, flower delivery, or a grocery store run for a homebound neighbor. Make a reverse advent calendar collection box and add one new item each day or week to donate to a food pantry or other organization. Get the kids involved and see what creative ideas they come up with!

Have some fun.

Our family doesn’t have the magical plush toy that shows up in some houses at the holidays, but we do love to have fun with our Shepherd on the Search. We hide him around the house each day of Advent, and he makes his way to the manger on Christmas Eve.

Create your own advent calendar countdown.

Make an advent calendar together for a personalized way to count down. Gather some supplies and give the kids a few hours one afternoon to create their version of a Christ-centered Christmas countdown. There are no rules; it can be as simple as stickers on paper, or elaborate as a colorful clay sculpture. Talk with them about how we each have a special journey to take, and theirs is unlike anyone else’s. Remind them how much God delights in walking with us every step of the way. Allow their creativity to guide you through the Advent season as you draw inspiration from their homemade advent countdown.

Go all-inclusive.

If you‚Äôre looking for a more comprehensive guide for the season, there are some wonderful¬†advent devotionals¬†that include Scripture, devotions and activities for your family to share. One of my favorite Advent books is¬†Ann Voskamp‚Äôs ‚ÄúUnwrapping the Greatest Gift.‚ÄĚ

No matter what, remember that every little step we take toward the heart of this beautiful season matters: every meaningful conversation we share, every prayer prayed together, every act of kindness that shines His light. Don’t let the celebration of Advent become another burdensome thing to check off a holiday to-do list. Pray about your plans; do what’s right for your family in this season of life, and enjoy the journey of a Christ-centered Advent celebration together!

Devotional credit: Dayspring.com