Now is the time to prepare our Hearts for tHIS CHRISTmas!

I know… I know… It’s not yet Thanksgiving but Christmas decor is everywhere and Christmas shopping is in full swing!  Usually by this week in November, we have already put up our Christmas tree.  (That’s on next week’s list this year.)

Personally, I view the celebrations of Thanksgiving, Christmas, Epiphany, and  the New Year as one long and wonderful holiday season full of gratitude, love, and giving.

Focusing on the celebration of Jesus’ birth shouldn’t detract us from exhibiting a spirit of “thanksgiving.”  In fact, in my way of looking at things, early Christmas decor should enhance our attitude of gratitude… especially as we acknowledge all that we are and have in Jesus Christ.   :-)

It’s fun to be able to lightly enjoy the coming Christmas season at a leisurely pace for a few days.  However, as we all well know, within a mere week or two, schedules will become filled and pressure will be felt.  So… now is the best time to do some pre-season preparation.  {And I’m not talking about gift-purchasing, though that is a great idea, as well.}

What I’m talking about is the preparing of the heart.

The Christmas season gets so full and frantic that, though the season really IS about JESUS, if we aren’t intentional, we’ll leave Him completely out of it all.  (Or He will be an afterthought, at best.) Isn’t that sadly true?

The traditions, the shopping, the decorating, the family gatherings, the ministries, the parties, the movies, the music… they are all wonderful and have their rightful places.  But if we don’t prepare our hearts BEFORE we prepare our homes and make our holiday plans, though the calendar may look full, we can find ourselves empty and lonely inside.

It is with humility and hope that I admit that this is a work-in-progress for me.  That’s why I am starting NOW to begin to prepare my heart for CHRISTmas.

One thing I’ll be doing this weekend is getting my spiritual life in order… As in, deciding what I’ll be doing for my Bible study time each day, cleaning out and refilling my Quiet Time notebook, and making a dedicated commitment to the Lord to awake early enough every day to begin the day with Him.

Because we can NEVER out-give God, giving Him the first fruits of our days – that time most precious to us in the morning – is and investment in the day ahead.  God knows the paths on which we will walk.  We don’t. Time spent at the feet of Jesus is never lost or wasted.  When we begin each of the upcoming busy and hectic days with Jesus, we will navigate this Christmas {which is really tHIS CHRISTmas} season with our eyes and ears tuned into the REASON for the season ~ Jesus Christ.  He will fill us and guide us and spill out of us as we move through this year’s holiday festivities.

Do you want to spend some time with Jesus, but you’re not sure how to do it or where to start? An intimate fellowship with The Lord, time in His Word, soaking in what He has to say to you and responding to Him as if you are “best friends” is offered to each one of us. We just have to take the time to invest in our relationship with The Lord.

Like building any friendship, it takes an investment of time, energy, and purpose. But my friends, it is SO worth it!

If you’re wondering where you’ll get any extra minutes in your day, let me ask you this: Do you use your snooze alarm? If so… there’s your answer! ;-)

My personal philosophy (though it is sometimes a struggle to abide by it) is that if I have time to snooze in the mornings, I could invest those 10 minutes in Jesus and be more rested than if I had slept a few extra minutes. If you’ll set your alarm back just 10 minutes earlier, and get up when it goes off, you can start your day filled and refreshed – rather than tired and cranky. I promise. We can never out-give God. If we give Him those precious 10 minutes, we will see just what He gives in return: strength, encouragement, hope, a plan for the day, inspiration, peace… to name a few.
Prepare Hearts for tHIS CHRISTmas{From my own experience, I trust that soon you’ll find that 10 minutes just isn’t enough, and you’ll see such a “return” on your investment, that you’ll be craving more and more time with Him.}

 

 

Need a Jump Start? Here is a plan for 10 Precious Minutes with the Lord.

Have these items handy:

A Bible (easy to read and understand version – I LOVE the Amplified, Holeman Christan Standard, Message, NIV, and the New Living Translation)

Paper - I use a spiral notebook or several sheets of notebook paper folded up in my Bible for these moments with God.

A Pen or Pencil (highlighter optional)

 

Here’s the plan:

 

1 minute – Submit yourself to the Lord. Bow yourself to Him, acknowledging Him as your King and Authority over you. Give yourself and your day to Him. Ask Him to speak to you.

 

1 minutePraise God for three of His Characteristics and Thank God for three ways He’s blessed you. Quickly write the date and record these on your paper.

 

1 minuteAsk God to create in you a clean heart (Ps. 51:10). As He reveals any unconfessed sin, repent of it lay it before Him. (Of course, this is more than a minute long process – it’s an every day, all day long process. This minute just opens the door for the Lord to speak to you throughout the day about your sin. As He convicts you of sinning, repent right then. Don’t wait until later. Confess it. Ask for forgiveness immediately, and stay clean throughout the day. It’s like washing your hands each time they get dirty, instead of waiting till the end of the day or the next morning. There are times we all need a long, deep spiritual cleansing, and I encourage you to set aside a special time with The Lord to do that.)

 

2 minutesAsk God to fill you, cover you with His armor, shine through you, and speak to you.

 

“Fill me” – Colossians 2:10 says in the Jewish New Testament, “It is in union with Him that you have been made full.” Especially when we are rushed and stressed, we tend to run on empty. It is in union with Jesus – this time together with Him before anything else depletes us – that we are made and kept full.

 

“Cover me” – Using Ephesians 6:10-14, put on the armor God has provided for you to wear in Victory! You might want to list the armor pieces at the top of your notebook paper so you can quickly go through and picture each piece. I picture myself putting them on piece by peace, as I speak each piece aloud, thanking God for this awesome protection.

 

“Shine through me” - Pray that you will “Shine (be radiant with the glory of the Lord), for your Light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.” Isaiah 60:1

 

“Speak to me” – Pray Psalm 119:18, “Open my eyes that I might see wonderful things in Your Law.” and get ready for God to reveal Himself to you through His Word.

 

(Now, you’re about 5 minutes into the 10.)

 

3 minutesRead God’s Word. Have a specific place in the Bible in mind, so you won’t waste your time randomly searching. I’m going through Psalms right now. Other wonderful books are Proverbs, John, James, Philippians… they are all so wonderful, it’s hard to choose one. But for this quick quiet time, I would encourage you to stick to one of the books mentioned above.

There is just something special about getting a Word from what I like to call “the raw Word of God”. I LOVE devotional books and Bible studies… and I encourage you to find time through out your day to add a Bible study or devotional book reading to your life. But if you truly have only 10 minutes, I encourage you to spend them in God’s Word first and add what someone else has written about God’s Word later. {If you have The Holy Spirit living within you, He will speak to you just as He speaks to those who write those devotions and Bible studies… That is…if you ask Him to…and if you then get in His Word. :-)}

What to do: Start at the beginning of the book/passages you are reading. Read for 3 minutes or until you have some type of “reaction” (Wow! or Oh, You are so Good, Lord! or I am so sorry! or I never thought of it like that before… or even, I don’t understand…) Stop reading at that point. You’ll pick up at this spot tomorrow and continue reading.

1 minute – On your paper, under your praise/thanks, write the reference for what you just read, then write your reaction. This makes Scripture come alive, because God has just spoken to you, revealing His Truth to you in some way, and in your reaction, you are responding to Him. It’s like you are writing to each other. This is so important, because as we get busy, we tend to forget the wonderful things The Lord revealed to us. Having them written down, gives us a reminder and a visible picture of God’s activity in our lives at the moment. These types of papers are a treasure to me.

 

1 minute – Pray these truths into your life. Ask God to help these truths be a reality in your own life.

 

The 10 minutes is over, but your fellowship with Jesus has just begun.

As you begin preparing for your day, continue to talk with Jesus about the day ahead, about your family, your concerns, your needs and those things/people heavy on your heart. You can even pray that these same truths you just heard from God in your time with Him would be found true in the lives of others. As you go about your day, drive to work with Him… fold the laundry with Him… acknowledge The Lord in your daily life … lingering in His presence as you would your best and dearest friend. The presence of God’s fellowship and the awareness of His personal involvement in your life will be a sweet blessing and reward for seeking Him!

 

No matter how busy the day ahead becomes, or what lies ahead, this 10 minutes with the Lord will help jump start your day with the breath of the Lord God Almighty propelling you forward in His strength, joy, and fellowship!

 

Will you begin to

prepare your HEART 

for CHRISTmas

by starting your days 

with Jesus?

James 1:5 promises that if we ask for wisdom, God will grant it to us.  So ask Him, my friends.  Ask the Lord how YOU can begin to prepare your heart for tHIS CHRISTmas season.

May the Lord’s Peace rest upon us all as we seek Him first… (Matthew 6:33)

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For future reference, this post can be reached under the top tab “Want to grow closer to Jesus?” or by clicking this link: How to Start A Daily Quiet Time.

And if you want to dig a little deeper into God’s Word, see this post (also under the tab “Want to grow closer to Jesus?”): How To Study The Bible for yourself, by yourself.

and…

Do you need a fresh approach to Christmas this year?
Read Keeping Christ AS Christmas
an e-book by Jennifer Walker

A practical and inspirational approach to seeking and finding Jesus this Christmas season, Keeping Christ AS Christmas offers simple strategies and sanity savers to help your Christmas be meaningful in a new and treasured way. Prepare your hearts, households, and homes for Peace this Christmas season by Keeping Christ AS Christmas.

$4.99 ; Amazon.com
ChristASChristmas.com
(for all other e-book formats)

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Monday’s Makes Me Smile – The Thanksgiving Edition

It’s almost here… Thanksgiving.  I’m making my lists and checking them twice… (grocery lists, that is.)  I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw some of these funny Thanksgiving themed pictures.  Hope they make you smile on this Monday.  :-)

 

 

This next one is one of my favorites! hahahaha

 

 

 


This next one isn’t as funny as it is true… Which line are you and I standing in right now?


As we approach this new week, may each of us let our gratitude outweigh our complaints.  Yes?

(On a grateful side note, per this post, our team won Friday night, so we have at least “one more last” football game.  That absolutely makes me smile!!!  We travel several hours away for this next game, and if we win, we will play for North Half of MS champions on our home field the next week.  It was a bitter-sweet win, though.  During third quarter, our head coach’s wife got a phone call telling her that their house was on fire.  By the end of the game, they found out that their two precious dogs didn’t survive it.  We are so sad for their loss, and at the same time, so grateful for our win.  We are especially grateful that they didn’t lose home, dogs, and ballgame all in one two hour period of time!  I know they would appreciate your prayers as they pull life together this week and prepare for another WIN Friday night! ;-)  Honestly, in most of our minds, the desire to win isn’t any longer about the boys, but it’s for the coach.  God knows.  And God cares.  And win or lose, God will work all of every bit of everything for His good in every life.  The same is true for your life, too… just in case you needed to be reminded of this today.)

A very blessed week to each one of you.  As always, I thank my God upon remembrance of you…

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This, too, shall pass… So I don’t want to miss a moment!

Sometimes the phrase “… and it came to pass” can be one of our favorite Bible verses… An anchor to our souls when our worlds aren’t how we would prefer. 

But sometimes these words can be a solemn reminder that nothing lasts forever, and that this “whatever” we are in at the moment will, in just a matter of moments, becomes a memory. And if it’s something good that we are in at the moment, these words can be a call to store up every treasure of the present in our hearts and minds.

I find myself thinking a lot about this lately. With a high school senior this year and one next year, we are experiencing a lot of the beginnings of the end of life as we know it. (However, at least one mom a week tells me that the best is yet to come, empty nest is glorious, etc.)

These “beginning-of-the-end-of-life-as-we-know-it” thoughts aren’t new and certainly aren’t unique to me. They’ve been pondered by probably 99.999999999%  of parents worldwide for centuries as they watch their toddlers become teenagers and their babies turn into young men and women.

Though Solomon’s words in Ecclesiastes 1:9 are comforting, (“Everything that happens has happened before; nothing is new, nothing under the sun.” ) for each one of us and for each of our children, this letting go becomes a new thing over and over again.

As I type this, Isaiah 43:19 pops into my head.  I learned it recently from the New Living Translation and love how it is worded as it reminds us that this “new thing” is nothing to dread:

For I am about to do something new.
    See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
    I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
Isaiah 43:19 

 

“The wilderness” and “the dry wasteland” can definitely describe the heart pathway of a parent learning to let go, especially for the first-time or first child.  What a comfort it is that God has already cleared the trail through this, in His Strength, and for His Good glory as His “new things” unfold.

Tonight, our son’s football team plays in round 2 of the state playoffs.  We won last week’s game on our home field, and I couldn’t help but wonder if that was the last home game they would play.  If we win tonight, we could play at home next week, but there’s no guarantee.

Engage in THIS Moment.  SmellingCoffee.com

There are times in my children’s lives when I have known that “this is the last _____”… The last day of preschool, the last day of kindergarten, elementary school, and junior high. Even the last day I nursed them & the last day they drank from a bottle or slept in their baby beds, I stored up those lasts in my heart to last my lifetime. But there are other lasts that I didn’t realize were lasts until said last became a thing of the past…a treasured memory I didn’t even know to treasure at the time.

As I sat in the stands and looked around at the other parents – some who were in the same situation we were in… some who had done this years ago… and some who’s years would come – I determined to soak in every moment of this possible “last time.”  I looked down from the top of the bleachers at all of those boys dressed in back and gold, fixed my eyes on my son, and asked God to help me bottle the moment.  His “Thor-like” hair was flowing from his helmet and covering up some of his name on the back of his jersey.  He was swaying back and forth in the same rhythm and stance that has marked him on the sidelines for all of his football-playing days.  And when he ran out onto the field, instead of talking to my friends in the stands as I usually do (I like sports mainly for the fellowship in the stands – haha), I followed every move, praying for him as he played. And I took pictures.  Lots of them.  Just in case this was a true “last.”  It wasn’t, so I will repeat the process of soaking and bottling tonight… making sure I won’t miss a moment.

Engage in THIS Moment.  SmellingCoffee.com

My current motto is “Engage in this moment.”  I keep it written on a chalkboard in our den because I don’t want to be so focused on what was, and what is to come, that I miss what is right now.

With the Lord’s help, I want to hold on to today as long as it’s today and treasure all of these things in my heart. Because this, too, shall pass… a new thing will come… And I don’t want to regret missing any of it!

“So you’ll end up heading out…. Heading out down some back roads and long roads and roads I’d never pick for you and I wished I’d lived more backwards, backwards from the knowing that ends really do come.” Ann Voscamp 

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Preparing for Thanksgiving Day, especially if you are the hostess this year…

Thanksgiving Table. SmellingCoffee.com

{an original post written by my friend, Amy, back in 2008} O Give Thanks to the Lord for He is Good! Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away. Are you ready? Each year I host the meal for our family. It’s usually around 15 – 20 people. If you are the host in your family, […]

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Thank you, dear Veterans and families!!!!

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  The older I grow, and the more aware I become, the more grateful I am for our Veterans and their families.  James and I had the privilege of beginning our ministry years in the Kentucky town surrounding Fort Knox. Though we never saw the gold stored there, we experienced an even more valuable treasure […]

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Monday’s Makes Me Smile

Hi there.  It’s another Monday and November is rolling on.  How can this be?   May these silly pictures bring a smile to your face as you’re off to a wonderful new week! hahaha.  I’ll admit that’s true for me! (Shhh… don’t tell!) Love this coffee cup! and this one, too!     Does anyone […]

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The Incredible Benefits of Giving Thanks to the Lord

The Benefits of Counting Blessings. SmellingCoffee.com

What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday? What would you have? Since November ushers in the holiday of Thanksgiving, our minds regularly turn to things for which we are thankful. But like a billboard on the way out of our town says, “Gratitude Has No Season” – […]

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Throwback Thursday – Today, Be Where You Are

Throwback Thursday's Favorite SmellingCoffee.com Posts

(May 2012)  I’m home from a WONDERFUL trip to Oregon, made lots of new friends, had lots of new experiences {including getting a little too up-close and personal with a juniper tree} and can’t wait to sit down and share the trip with you.  It is so beautiful out there, and in five days, I […]

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