Thursday, December 29, 2011


Over the last 2 weeks, in the midst of the hectic life around me during this time of the year, I've had the time to relax by browsing on Pinterest or by catching up with people via facebook.  As we near the new year, I'm noticing a shift in posts and in conversations.  While this shift to new things and resolutions can be a good thing, I have been broken by some of what I've read.

Things like...

You were given this in life because you are
strong enough to handle it.

Live strong in 2012.

God will never give me something I can't handle.

None of those things are wrong...exactly.  But each one of them and many more like them lack one truth.  You see the emphasis in these things is on the Me/Myself/I.  The focus is on what I can do or what YOU can do.

Have you ever stopped to think about this?  I have been...lately especially!  Our family, church family, and friends have all endured many hardships over the last year. 
  • We've seen loved ones die suddenly.
  • We've experienced dire financial circumstances.
  • We've watched dear friends pack up and move away knowing we will most likely never see them again in this life.
  • We've watched children make devastating choices.
  • We've watched children make amazing choices...but those choices will affect our family's life forever.
  • We've dealt with illness, injuries, and the pain that comes from those.
  • We've experienced unfairness at work or at school.
  • We've walked with our children through unimaginable heartbreak.

Really, I could go on and on!  This morning while catching up on facebook, God kept impressing on me the FACT that I cannot ever be strong enough.  Many of things my personal family has been through this year and in years past would have left us paralyzed if we had had to be strong enough to deal with them.

PRAISE GOD we didn't have to be strong enough!

You see God tells us in His Word over and over that HE IS OUR STRENGTH!

Deuteronomy 31:6  Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.

Joshua 1:9  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.

Psalm 18:2  The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

2 Corinthians 12:9  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Philippians 4:13  I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

While we are commanded over and over again throughout the Bible to "Be strong.", that strength always comes from the Lord.  I'm so thankful that He is my portion and my strength, and that although He calls me to be hold have courage, He ALWAYS supplies the strength for me to do those things.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.  Psalm 73:26

A current song on Christian radio is a great reminder of the truth that we don't have to be strong enough.  God is strong enough for both of us!  Strong Enough by Matthew West


Saturday, December 10, 2011

It's Beginning to FEEL Like Christmas

I did it!  I finished all our Christmas shopping in just 2 days.  I must say that a couple of weeks ago, I was completely stressed about Christmas.  The thought of trying to scrape money together to fill our living room with presents for our 4 children stressed me!  I found myself dwelling on how we always had done Christmas in the past and how daunting the task ahead of me was for this year.  After all, we have Brooke in college, Blake and Cody are seniors, and Dale just turned 16.  The money we put out monthly for tuition, school expenses, insurance, food, and so much more is far more than we can "afford" and we usually have more month than money.  So to add Christmas presents to that was enough to produce a migraine!

Then, one evening as I was stressing and browsing Pinterest, I ran across a saying for Christmas giving...

The idea is that each child receives four...YES THAT'S ALL...FOUR gifts.  They can ask for whatever they choose in each category, but they will receive...

Something they want.
Something they need.
Something to wear.
Something to read (or listen to).

We sat down with our kids and talked about Christmas and how we needed it to look different this year for several reasons.  The first is that Christmas is about the ONE true gift that God gave us when He sent Jesus to be born as a baby in Bethlehem.  God has blessed everyone in our family with the gift of salvation.  THAT is what Christmas needs to be about.  We also explained that money is tight (they already knew that) and we found this new way of planning for Christmas that we hoped they  would appreciate.  Being the wonderful children that they are, they were all for it!  They each made a list in the four categories.  What a blessing to get their lists and not feel the pressure of the world to provide them with hundreds and hundreds of dollars worth of stuff that in the end will mean nothing.

So two nights ago, Doug and I set out with lists in hand.  How great it felt to be able to shop stress free.  How awesome to realize our children all asked for things that will help them grow in their walk with Christ.  How amazing for God to take us to just the right stores and show us just the right deals!  Truly, I've prayed in the past for money to be able to buy more and more.  (By the way, His answer to those prayers was usually "no".)  This time around I found myself praying for God to lead me to items that would please my children AND would get us the most for our money.  I found myself excited once again about this Christmas!  We didn't finish shopping Thursday, so I went out this morning to finish.  I was able to find perfect gifts for our kids and for our parents.  It feels wonderful to be able to say I'm finished!  Whew!  I'm so thankful I won't need to go out into those crowds again!

As I sat down to relax a few minutes after returning from town this afternoon, I felt a peace about Christmas that I don't know if I've ever felt before.  God is so good!  I'm so thankful for His intervention through, of all things, Pinterest!  Now, we will all have this blessed season to enjoy each other without the pressures of MORE MORE MORE.

"Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow." James 1:17