The Hope Within


Christmas Crib Father Christmas Nativity Scene

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13

As Christmas quickly approaches I can not help but ponder what this time of year means to people. What comes to mind when you think about the Christmas season? For some it means food, family, and gifts. For others it means sadness and pain. Yet, for others it means presents, trees, and stress. What word would you use to describe Christmas?

As I thought about this question, one word kept coming back to me. Hope. Personally Christmas is not so much about the decorations, food, or the presents. Do not misunderstand me, I love all of these things. However, Christmas is so much more! It is a time to stop and remember the gift that was given to each of us all those years ago. There were not immaculate decorations, tables of food, and tons of presents under a tree. No, there was a young woman and her husband, a stable, and a star. More importantly there was Jesus. There was Hope.

When I stop and think back on that first Christmas, my mind often turns to Mary. I can not help but wonder what she must have been feeling. What thoughts were going through her mind as she traveled with her husband on that long journey?

Any woman who has carried a child understands how Mary must have felt physically. We can all relate to the discomfort she must have been in and the anxiety she must have experienced along the way. As a mother I understand the uncertainty she must have felt concerning childbirth. I know the excitement she felt as she thought about holding her baby boy for the first time. But what about the deeper feelings Mary must have experienced? What must have she been feeling deep inside her heart knowing she would soon deliver the Son of God?

I believe above all else, Mary felt Hope. Not only did she feel that Hope inside her heart, but inside her body as the Hope of the world grew.  From the very first flutter she felt, Mary knew that Hope was growing. I believe as those flutters turned into kicks and nudges, Mary understood even more that she carried the Hope of the world inside of her.

Friend, do you have this Hope? The same Hope that Mary carried all those years ago is still a gift for you today. Amid all the busyness and stress Hope can be found. No amount of money can buy it. No store sells it. It can not even be put in a pretty box and placed under the Christmas tree. Hope only comes through salvation and salvation only comes through Jesus Christ.

Do you want to lay down the sorrow that has been weighing you down? Would you like to lay aside that shame and heartache you have been carrying? Today you can. Give it all to Jesus. Let go of all that has you bound down and accept the free gift of Hope that is being offered to you today. I promise that no other gift you receive will ever measure up to the one that was given on that first Christmas oh so many years ago. Find Hope today, friend.

Put on Your Armor


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Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual wickedness in the heavenly places.
Ephesians 6:10-11

I often feel that I am in a battle. Trials sometimes come that I do not understand. There are days when I feel as if a war is being waged against our family. Can you relate to these feelings? If so, I pray that these words will encourage your heart today.

There are mornings it seems we awake to a battle being fought in our home. Before the first cup of coffee is poured we are under attack. Before I can get my eyes open and focused I am being hit from every side. Surely as you read this you are shaking your head in agreement because you too experience the same situations in your home. Your battle may look different from ours, but the struggle is the same. The aggravation is still there. The urge to pull the covers back over your head and wave the white flag of defeat is all too real.

Often times we are left asking, “Where is this coming from?” Is this just a figment of the imagination? Absolutely not. These battles are real. We can not see them with physical eyes because we are facing spiritual battles. There are wars being fought on a level we can not fully comprehend. My dad often tells our church if we could have our spiritual eyes opened to the world around us we would be scared to death at the war we would see being fought. Even though we can not see what is going on, we can feel the weight and strain of the fight. Often times these attacks leave us feeling discouraged and defeated. Be encouraged today, Friend. You have not been left to face these battles alone.

Paul understood these attacks all too well. With God’s prompting he penned the verses I am sharing today and many others  to encourage us as Christians. He also wrote these verses to guide us to victory. How great is our God that He did not leave us to fight alone?

I want to encourage you to daily put on the whole armor of God. Get into The Word and arm yourself for the fiery darts the devil is going to hurl at you. If you are missing even one piece of armor you will surely face defeat, but armed with your spiritual armor you are safe. God has equipped you with everything you need to face your day with boldness. He has also promised to go before you and fight for you. The battles will still come, the storms of life may toss you around, but you can rest assured that God has not abandoned you. Remember that He loves you, Friend.  With God on your side you are sure to win in the end. Let us suit up today and boldly go face the world!

God Knows Your Worth


For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Psalm 139:13-14a

Have you ever noticed how little children want to impress those they admire the most.

I work with kids every day and I see it many times over. One child brings a new toy to school and what is the first thing he says? “See my new toy!” One child learns to dribble a basketball and he can not wait to show the bigger boys who are on the basketball team how well he can bounce that ball.

I see it with my own children every day. One finally passes a level on a game he is playing (Please, no hate mail. Yes, I let my children play video games 😉 ) and the first thing he want to do is show it to me or his dad. When our little girl learned to put her own hair in a pony tail she could not wait to show me how she could do it herself. Our children love to play music; when they can finally make that chord they have been working to make we must stop what we are doing and listen.

Children are always searching for acceptance in the world. Sometimes it is from friends. “Other times it is from their own siblings. Often times it is from a parent.

As I thought about the need for acceptance, I thought to myself, “Children are not the only ones who feel this way.” Even as adults we often try to prove ourselves to each other. Too many times we work very hard to be seen by those around us. I will not even begin to list the ways in which we do this. I am sure that even now each of us is thinking of one situation or another in which we try to gain the acceptance of our peers.

Do we not do the same thing with God? How many times do we bring our abilities to God and say, “Look God! See what I can do.”

Friends, we do not have to try to impress God. Our worth is not in how much money we make or what car we drive. God does not place a value on us depending on our job or relationship status. God loves us just as we are.

Our verse today says that He knew us while we were still in the womb. God knitted us together Himself. God wants us to come to Him just as we are. God desires for us to bring Him all our imperfections and lay them at His feet.

You see, with God all things are beautiful. In our own hands they are nothing more than filthy rags. It is only when we lay them at the feet of our Savior that He will take our gifts and use them to bring honor and glory to His name.

I want to encourage you today. Stop trying so hard to impress those around you. Do not let the world tell you that your worth lies in what you have or what you can do, and stop trying to prove your worth to God. He loves you just as you are. John 3:16 tell us that God loves us so much that He gave His one and only Son to die for us. We did not do anything to earn that love, nor can we ever earn it. It is a free gift, given from a Savior who knows we are worth dying for.

I pray today that you will see your worth in God’s eyes. Offer Him your gifts, not trying to earn his acceptance, but as an offering of praise for all that He has done for you.

Sailing Uncharted Territory


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 “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
    the fruit of the womb a reward.” Psalm 127:3

Today our family will embark on a new journey.

We are headed into uncharted territory.

We are officially the parents of a teenager!! Today our oldest son, Big D turns 13 years old.

As this day has quickly approached, I have found myself filled with mixed emotions. On one hand, I am extremely excited to see what the future holds for our family and for our son, yet on the other hand I feel a bit unsure and unprepared for what is to come.

This new time in our lives has brought me back to where it all started. 13 years ago, today, I was a 19 year old girl with no idea how my world was about to change. I was young and believed that I knew it all. (You see, teenagers think that for some reason.) I had not really considered the future to any extent and I surely had not thought far enough ahead to realize that one day I would be raising a teenager!

I was a newlywed. My head was still in the clouds.

Even as I sit here now and look back on that time, I shake my head and chuckle under my breath at the naivety. Praise God, He has carried us through all these years!

Today we celebrate this new trek of our adventure. We boldly (and prayerfully) march into an entirely new phase of life. As the shock wears off, I am more and more excited to begin this new journey. I have loved being a mom since that first day, 13 years ago, and I have enjoyed every stop of this adventure since then.

While I do understand that children do not come with an instruction booklet, I am confident in the assurance that God has given us all the instruction we will need in His word. As our children grow, I find myself holding onto God’s promises more and more. I would like to share some of these promises with you this morning.

Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Deuteronomy 6:5-7 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

Proverbs 29:17 “Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart.”

2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”

I hope that you have enjoyed listening to this overwhelmed Mom ramble on about a new phase in life. I also pray that it has somehow encouraged your heart. I truly believe that children are a gift straight from the Lord. As a parent you think that you are teaching your children life lessons every day, but I must say that I learn so many things from my children on a daily basis. I feel very honored to carry the title Mom to these three “not so little any more” blessings of ours, and I am thrilled to see what God has in store for our future.

Some Advice From a Fixer


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“As you do not know what is the way of the wind, Or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child, So you do not know the works of God who makes everything.”
Ecclesiastes 11:5

Do you ever find yourself trying to figure it all out?

I will tell you something about myself that you may not know. I am a fixer, a problem solver.

When I was a little girl, I once took my bike apart because it was not working properly and I was determined to fix it. I had no problem getting the bike apart, however, putting it back together was a totally different story. After many failed attempts I had to ask my Dad to help fix my mess.

Even now as an adult, I find myself in situations where I feel the need to figure it all out. If there is something going on in life that I do not understand then I feel it is my job to figure it out. If there is a problem, I feel as if I should fix it.

There are times when this type of personality can be helpful, yet there are other times when I get so busy trying to figure life out that I forget to practice my faith.

More times than not, I end up making a bigger mess of things. I find myself in the same situation I was in when I was a little girl. I have to go to my Dad for help. This time, however, I am speaking of my Heavenly Father, the creator of the universe.

After all my failed attempts at fixing my own problems or figuring out a situation for myself, I take my tangled mess and lay it at the feet of Jesus. I humbly confess that I just can not do it on my own. Each time I do this I am met with forgiveness and compassion. Jesus takes my mess and does what I can never do on my own. He makes it beautiful in His time.

The verse I have shared today is from one of my morning devotions. As I read this Scripture I was reminded that I do no always have to understand everything and that I do not have to fix everything. Oh, what peace I felt in my heart when I read the words in Ecclesiastes 11:5: “So you do not know the works of God who makes everything.”

Friend, if you are a fixer like I am, let me encourage you today. Stop trying to figure it all out. Life is full of things we do not understand. Praise God, we were not put on this earth to wander and struggle through each day. We have a Heavenly Father that understands all, knows all, and sees all. If we will stop trying to fix it ourselves and hand it over to Him, He will make beauty out of even the most impossible situation.

What are you holding onto today? What problem have you been trying to fix yourself, only to find that it is an even bigger mess now? Give it to God. Lay it at His feet. Confess that you can not figure this out on your own, and allow God to take it. You will be amazed at the outcome.