Merry Christmas from our family to yours!
I don’t know about you, 9x out of 10, if I’m in a hurry- my hands are full with kids in tow.
Most places I go, now, have automatic doors, curbside, or drive through. That’s because I tend to frequent places that help make life a little easier.
However, there was a time that I had: my large bag, a baby bag, and 1, 2, or 3 kids.
And, I don’t know if you’ve ever had your hands full, when a stranger holds a door open for you. . . But it’s small things, like holding a door open where people find hope in humanity.
So, for Day 3- Let’s do it. Hold open that door, wish them a great day, and smile!
The theme of 21 Days of Christmas is kindness. I believe at the root of kindness is hope and love. We will start with showing ourselves kindness!!
This weekend, my kids have been with my in-laws. Today, I was going to take a day to get it all done. Did that happen? No.
I didn’t change out of my pajamas today. I lounged around, watched Christmas movies, and my husband slept. All.day. We both needed a day of complete rest.
To be honest, with traveling and COVID, we haven’t had many days without any of our kids. I didn’t realize just how worn out we were.
When you are that worn out. It is super hard to pour into others. It’s hard to show love and kindness, when you are running on empty.
So, for day 1: Take time for yourself. Get rejuvenated and refreshed, as best you can with the resources you have.
Take a nap. Read a book. Go on a walk. Do nothing. Whatever it is for you. Do it. Because, you can’t show others love and kindness well, unless you are doing it for yourself first.
This year has been hard, there’s no doubt about that. There’s been hardship for practically everyone this year. Fighting a world pandemic. An intense election. Much needed fight for social justice.
So much division.
I feel like this year was inevitable.
Over the past 10 years, it has seemed that each passing year there’s been more anger, more division in the US and across the world. It feels as though this year was the eruption point. The lava has been building for years, and now it’s seems everyone is shouting and not many are listening and doing, and frankly showing love to others.
What if we took the next 21 days, and created a new habit to love others when we disagree, even if we don’t want to.
Ya’ll. This is hard. Yet, I know that if we dig deep, find it within ourselves to say “enough is enough”, we can make a greater change and impact in our social circles. When we do that, I know it’ll make a big difference.
Now, I know I’m writing and sharing this later than I planned. The beauty is. . .we can take 21 days of Christmas and extend that into 2021 when most people feel the hope of Christmas leading up to Christmas Day, and the “magic” fades away. Let’s take that “magic” and keep spreading into the new year and beyond.
I’m not really sure how we are already over a week into December. . . And, I just wanted to send well wishes out to you all!! I hope that you are receiving joy, hope, and love. That you see light in the world.
It seems like there are a lot of people who need to feel the love.
A lot of people going through tough times.
And, I know, I know- that’s honestly been the theme of 2020. It’s been a tough year for all.
Through these types of seasons- It’s easy to get stuck inside our own thoughts and our own problems. What if we saw the opportunity in this last month, of this ridiculously hard year to spend each day, of the rest of the year gifting love, compassion, and kindness.
And then, carried it over into next year!
That’s what this season is about!
It takes 21 days to make a habit. So. Let’s take 21 days of Christmas, and give the gift of love, compassion, and kindness. Let’s show up, and come together. Let’s show up, and show the people in our world love.
Malachi 3:6-11 throughout the Bible and throughout time, scripture shows again and again that God is an unchanging God. He remains the same. When we feel distant from God, it is not God who is distant, it is us.
In Malachi, 3:6-11, we see that our actions can keep us distant from God. We rob God our time and our resources.
Read Malachi 3. Meditate on verses 6-11.
Have a conversation with God.
Ask him: “God, where in my life am I robbing you of my time and resources?”
Write it down. Whatever He speaks…it may come later, while you are working, doing chores, watching TV…stop what you are doing and write it down in your journal.
Now. How can you reconcile “that thing” with God? Spend time with God this week asking Him how you can give back to Him and His kingdom. Once you’ve figured it out, with God. Tell your spouse, mentor, accountability partner, or friend. Make sure to check your heart, before you do. This is about accountability, and God getting the glory…not you. Got all that done? Great. Now go do it.
Verse 11 shows us what will happen when we reconcile with God, what will happen when we are honest with God. He basically tells us “Child of mine, I’ve got your back. I will defend you”. Meditate on verse 11.
Repent and ask forgiveness: God, I have robbed you of ___________. Father, I repent and change my ways. Please forgive me for _________. I want to draw near and close to your heart.
Follow through- Do the thing you said you would change.
Thank Him and Give Him the glory. Thank Him before, during, and after. When God is faithful to do what He said He would do, your story is now His story. Share what happened with someone who needs to know. Invite God into that process. Ask Him who needs to know. When you share what He has done in your life, He gets the glory.
Have you ever been waiting? Waiting on a promise of God? You can see right behind you, the old is gone, yet, in the same breadth, the new is just out of reach. Your fingertips are touching it, but you can’t quite grasp it, yet. Oh, that place is such a hard place to be.
In Isaiah 43, the Bible 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 wilderness and streams In the wasteland.” ( v 18-19).
“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more. Review the past for me, let us argue the matter together; state the case for your innocence.”
We hold onto the past, and still hold onto hope for the future. But..we can’t have both. We must come to God with open hands and say: Father, I lay down who I was. I have sinned. I repent, and I choose to walk with you. I choose your ways over my ways, Lord.
This week, thank God for who He is. Thank Him that He blots out your transgressions. Thank Him that He remembers your sin no more.
Repent to Him. Repent for the ways you have sinned, known and unknown. Lay it all down at his feet, with open hands. Don’t pick it back up. He’s already forgiven you. And if you do pick it back up…because we’re human. Repent again, and put it right back down.
Now, look up. Look for the new things He is doing. When you see it, jot it down in your journal. Or save it on your phone to jot it down later.
Talk with Him about it: God, give me wisdom. What is my role in your plan?
Thank Him, again.
Thank you God that your promises are true. Thank you, God that you are faithful.
Change is hard. Change takes a conscious effort on our part. When our circumstances are chaotic, and we desire change in the people or circumstances around us- we often need to start with ourselves.
How many times have you wished that a person’s annoying behavior would stop. A co-worker? A friend? A child? A spouse?
We all know someone. We are all that someone! Gasp! Yup, I said it. You and me. We are that annoying person with an annoying behavior. We are all that person that needs to work on something. Have you ever found yourself grumbling: “Ugh, I wish _______ would just. . .”?
Here’s the thing. . . We can focus on what every other person is doing wrong. We can grumble, and complain. We can point out the speck in other people’s eyes. Or, we can do the heart work. We can do the work inside ourselves, and wait. Wait and see how our spheres of influence, and our circumstances change.
And the best way we can do that is to give abundant grace to ourselves and others. That takes what I like to call: Heart Work. Making changes within our own hearts.
So, let’s do the heart work!
If I’m honest, I can do a great job at pointing out all the ways everyone else is doing all the things wrong. Just ask my husband!
To be honest, I’m excited to start working on my heart, again. Yes, I said again. I go through seasons of my fair share of grumbling and complaining. Let’s face it. . . heart work is a life long journey. When I’m working on having a gentle spirit, I feel more at peace.
Read 1 Peter 3:1-7. (If you don’t have a physical bible with you, I love reading from The Message version on the YouVersion Bible App).
In 1 Peter 3, the Bible says, in short, that our husbands will not be won by words, rather our actions. (Re-read 1 Peter 3:1-6)
In the Message version, verse 4 starts off “Cultivate inner beauty. . .” I love the picture this paints. When I think of inner beauty, I think of someone who is at peace. She is graceful, gentle, and elegant. What does inner beauty look like for you? Write that down, and put it somewhere you will see it on the daily.
What I love about the Bible, is that I can often take what I’m reading and learning, and apply it other places in my life. Even though these verses are referring to the husband-wife relationship, here, we can apply this to all of our relationships-working on yourself and how you respond. Work on your inner beauty, and it spills out into not just your relationship with your spouse, but it’ll spill out into all areas of your life.
Again, 1 Peter 3:4-6 refers to creating an inner beauty within yourself. For me specifically, that looks like uprooting my impatient and angry responses.
Is it ok to feel these emotions?
However, I’ve learned that reacting from these emotions only hurts my relationships. And being someone who struggles with cultivating relationships, I’ve learned, the hard way, how important it is for me to communicate in a healthy way. To breathe, think, and process before I respond. To take a re-do on any given situation. To apologize when I’m in the wrong.
In my opinion, a lot of changes we desire boil down to communication: how we speak to ourselves, how we speak to others, and how we speak to God. We also have to be willing to release other people from our expectations. That’s not to say that we don’t have healthy boundaries; rather, letting go of the thought that things need to happen a certain way. Letting go of feeling we need to control every aspect of a situation.
I’ve noticed that when I’m working on these things, it’s easier for me to find my gentle, quiet spirit.
Think of a way that you can practice having a gentle and quiet spirit. Do you lose your patience with your kids? A co-worker? Your husband? Think of a strategy you can use to rewrite that habit to turn to a gentle and quiet spirit amid the chaos. Write it down. We live in a world of chaos, and at the end of the day, our husband, our kids, and the people in our spheres need us to be a place of gentleness and quietness.
Thank you for this beautiful day. Thank you for change. Thank you that even though every day brings change, every day- you remain the same. Father, we need you. Fill us up. When we struggle, send us a whisper to remind us to respond with a gentle, quiet spirit. Help us to make time to spend with you each day. You are the gentle spirit we seek. Help us to be more like you, each day. Amen.
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Earlier this year, a friend invited me to her Tea and Tidbits. I absolutely loved it. We met at her house (pre-covid), had tea, snacks, talked, and had Bible study. She asked me to write these challenges to go with the verses we were reading.
Well, I expanded on one of them and into a devotional, and I wanted to share it with ya’ll. I may expand on the other three previous ones, as well!
11 years ago, this girl had NO IDEA that the pain she was going to walk through over the next few months and years….it would be hard. It would be dark. It would affect her relationship with her fiancé. It would affect her future pregnancies. It would take time to heal herself, and her future marriage.
If you have lost a baby- no matter how long you knew you were pregnant… your pain is real. I have no words for the hurt and pain you are feeling, because although I have been there…your story is different than mine.
If you’ve been feeling the hurt and the pain for days, weeks, months, years…yes, even after you’ve welcomed other children into the world…know that you are not alone.
I can’t promise anything to you. I can’t promise you a rainbow baby. I can’t promise the hurt will never go away. I can’t promise that around certain dates your mood won’t be affected.
But there is one who is a promise keeper. And it may not feel like it now, but He is sitting with you through your pain.
And if you allow it…the pain you are going through can allow you to grow, heal, and see that the days that were associated with deep grief and hurt…new days come and they can be associated with joy, love, and peace.