“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:14 KJV
Have you heard the Christmas song, “This Christmas“? It goes, “This Christmas will be a very special Christmas for me…”
Each Christmas, we remember all that’s transpired since the last Christmas. For some, it’s a time of happiness with loved ones, and for others, they’re feeling more like “Blue Christmas”.
From Scripture, we can find several threads that connect to the kind of atmosphere we choose and the type of Christmas we can decide to have.
A Christmas of peace. When we are at peace, we choose to embrace tranquility and trust God and His hand in our lives, regardless of our circumstances. Christ’s coming is the biggest gift and reason to be at peace we could ever have. The earthly life of Jesus wasn’t marked by a lack of strife, but it was marked by peace, and ours can be the same, if we so choose. “…on earth peace…” (Luke 2:14)
A Christmas of joy. We can choose joy for the great things God has put into our lives. No one has perfect lives, and some years highlight that more than others, but when we choose a lifestyle of joy, we recognize all of the amazing blessings God has given to us. “I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 2:10b-11, NIV)
A Christmas of hope. This year more than others, I’ve heard a lot of people deciding to hope for the good God has for them, and that makes my heart rejoice! Truly, when we zoom out, so to speak, and take a good look at our lives, it is so obvious that our problems aren’t that big and our reason for hope is so huge. “And his name will be the hope of all the world.” (Matthew 12:21, NLT)
A Christmas of good will. We can choose to believe the best of others- be friendly, helpful, and forgiving, never forgetting all that we’ve been forgiven of. The birth of Jesus is the first part in the salvation story, and as much as we need it, how can we not give the same? “…good will towards men.” (Luke 2:14)
May your Christmas be defined by choosing peace, joy, hope, and good will in your life. May broken relationships be restored, pride be set aside, hope be embraced, peace be chosen, and joy be overflowing.
From your friends here at Canvas & Table, may you have a very blessed and Merry Christmas.
“…I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which He has called you, what are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His great might…” Ephesians 1:16-19 ESV
Hoping is hard work. The act of hope is defined by Merriam-Webster as, “to desire with expectation of obtainment” and “to expect with confidence”. As those whom have gone through long waiting periods know too well, waiting with expectation is a difficult thing to do.
I wrote about waiting recently, and while that in and of itself is a topic for another day, in the wait there must be hope, in order for us to grow and flourish as God intended. As I heard it once said, in painful times, you either become bitter or better, and waiting seasons are a vivid picture of a time when we make the choice to become bitter or better.
A friend recently shared that, in a time of loss, she recognized that God asked of her to give Him her hope, however small. I happened to read this on a very tough day, in a tough week, and in a tough season. Hope & loss often go hand-in-hand – the feeling that you’ve lost or given up something, and whether tangible or not, the emotional journey is deep and arduous. Pain seeks to put out the light of hope by teaching us that hoping can hurt, and if it is just too hard, we can choose to stop hoping and no longer go through the pain of disappointment and emotional suffering.
To be completely honest, it has been a week in which I don’t feel like writing and I haven’t felt a whole lot like hoping, either. Emotions have been deep and wide, but I was reminded of my friend’s words on hope as I came across this Scripture this morning- “…having the eyes of your heart enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which He has called you…”. My friend did not reference this Scripture, but her testimony and this Scripture clashed together before me and reminded me, God has called us to hope.
In the original Greek of the New Testament, the word “hope” in this Scripture is the Greek word “elpis”. It comes from the word “elpo”, meaning “to anticipate, welcome” and in and of itself means the “expectation of what is sure (certain)”. (Strong’s) To anticipate and welcome the expectation of what is sure is to put all your cards on the table, so to speak. It is to say, “this is happening and I will wait here, expectantly, until it does”.
Reality is that type of waiting is hard, because it is in our flesh to not want to wait and experience discomfort and the great pain that can sometimes come with it- but it’s what God has called us to, to wait upon Him, and to hope in Him. And hoping in Him is what makes all the difference.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NIV
Many times, when the burden just feels like too much, we’ve stopped waiting in the Lord and relying on Him for our strength to do so. Staying and abiding in the Lord, we receive the strength of the Holy Spirit that is so much greater than we could ever summon on our own. One of my favorite Scriptures is Proverbs 4:25. It says, “Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you.” (NLT). Oftentimes I’m reminded that I’ve stopped fixing my eyes on Christ when I feel like the burden is just too much.
Scripture calls the hope we have, as Christians, “the riches of His glorious inheritance…and the surpassing greatness of His power to us who believe” (BSB). Through Christ we have the hope that that thing we are waiting on and believing for breakthrough in is going to happen and come to pass, because of the power we as Christians have been given, if we only believe and hold fast to that belief.
I believe there is power in speaking the Word and calling things that aren’t as through they are. When God gave Abram his new name, Abram chose to share that with other people. In a time when the meanings of names were well-known and recognized, letting people know, “I am now Abraham” and letting new people you meet know, “I am Abraham” would have the same as saying, “I am the father of many nations”. Abraham enacted his faith in God’s calling on his life, years and years and years and decades before the meaning of his name would ever come to pass. He was likely ridiculed and his name would have at least been talked of, due to its meaning, and it was 40 years before the truth of his name became visible to everyone else. It would have been so easy for him to give up on his hope, but He believed and stood firm because He knew God is faithful to His promises.
Whatever you’re going through, God has given you the tools you need to persevere, and what’s more, He has called you to hope. Hope for the “future and a hope” God has given you and the dreams He has placed in your heart. Whatever you’re waiting on, if you’ve read this post this far through, you likely feel a depth of pain in choosing to hope, because it literally is “getting your hopes up”. I believe God has good and not evil for you, and the dreams and vision God has put in you are there for a reason. I encourage you, search Scripture for a promise you can hold on to. Find a Scripture that speaks to your situation and pray that over yourself. Believe that for your reality, not what you see.
“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” Galatians 6:9 NLT
I want to believe with you today, whatever you’re hoping for. If you feel comfortable, leave a comment below or send us a message at our Contact page. Hoping is hard work, but we’ve been equipped, and joining together in prayer and persevering for one another truly results in such a blessing when we live in the hope we’ve been called to.
1. Spend some time meditating on the promises of God. Find your Scripture, tape it on your mirror, make it your phone lock screen, or share with someone that this is the verse you’re believing for in your life.
2. Commit to praying that verse over yourself for the next 30 days.
3. Receive the Holy Spirit’s strengthening for you in this season- and believe that good things, God’s things, are ahead.
This week, we have chosen to focus our posts on adoption- in honor of National Adoption Month. During the next week, we will share the stories of five different women whose lives have each been radically impacted by adoption.
Today, I (Laurel) am delighted to introduce you to my friend Kristin. Kristin and I met a couple of years ago through mutual friends (it was at a Young Living oils class!). Kristin’s heart and spirit are so gentle and sweet – something that I know you’re going to pick up on easily today as she shares candidly about her and her husband’s journey of adopting their three children.
C&T: What are the current demographics of your family? Kristin: We are a tri-racial family. Greg and Kristin (Mom and Dad! White), Madalyn (age 10, Latino), Isabella (age 7, White), and Corban (age 2, Black – he’s bi-racial, but on many official forms, the race of the birth father is used to determine the race of the child).
C&T: What led you to consider adoption?
Kristin: We received a calling to adopt after seven years of marriage; we had not “tried” for kids yet, and as far as we know we can conceive, but we realized pretty quickly that the LORD had adoption in mind for our family. All three adoptions are completely unique and were fully God-led! It was amazing!
C&T: Did you foster before you adopted? Was it a domestic or international adoption? Closed or open?
Kristin: Our oldest daughter was adopted from Guatemala — it was a wonderful, beautiful experience! We waited 16 months and brought home a precious little one. From start to finish, it was one of the best experiences of our lives! God was so close at every step. The LORD taught us HOPE!
Seven years later, we felt the stirring again to adopt, and began the process again with our agency – this time, we were open to anything: domestic, foster-to-adopt, international. The day before our first meeting with our caseworker, we received a phone call from a family friend about a birth mom that was due to give birth to a boy soon, and would we be interested? She said she had been praying for the baby and heard the LORD whisper our names. We just knew this was God. It is a private, open adoption (we know both birth mom and birth dad). One of the biggest blessings was that I got to be in the hospital room when he was born–the hospital gave us our own room, so we had skin-to-skin time immediately and we got to bring him home from the hospital. The LORD taught us JOY!
Seven short months later, we were just coming up for air from our “newborn” experience (lol!). We received another phone call from a friend about a little girl named Isabella. Isabella was four years old and had lived with four families at that point. She had been adopted by a family through CPS and it was disrupted, so she came to us via a “re-adoption.” I honestly had never heard of this before, and it was very painful and difficult for all of us to process. It has been two years, and each day has been strenuous. Isabella has attachment issues that impact her on a daily basis. Life is hard for her. She has made HUGE strides, but our family is forever marked by this precious little girl — we are still learning how to parent her most effectively. God is teaching us GRACE!
C&T: How did you decide the when and where of your adoption process?
Kristin: When we received the undeniable call to adopt Madalyn (it was EVERYWHERE we turned!), we knew we wanted to adopt internationally and from Latin America. We had done short-term mission work in Peru, so thought that might be an option. We went to an info meeting at the Gladney Center for Adoption since it was down the street — and walked out of the there three hours later sold on them and their Guatemala program! The other two precious ones came to us through private adoption — people who knew our hearts for adoption. We had two or three other opportunities to adopt privately that never came to fruition. God places children in the homes He ordains!
C&T: What have been the top 3 challenges of your experience?
Kristin: Our first two adoptions were marked by joy, hope and light. It was full of all the beauty that adoption can bring. When we met Isabella, we got to experience the other, very real side of adoption: brokenness, heartache, pain, loss, rejection, shame, grief. It has been an experience that has changed us, strengthened us by breaking us – but it is a privilege to have a front-row seat in watching Him transform her heart.
Madalyn: Madalyn struggles the most with identity; she has a strong love for her Guatemalan people, and a heart for the lost; she sometimes feels “guilty” for celebrating July 4th, for instance – so we make sure to celebrate Guatemala in all the ways we can.
Corban: Having an open adoption has its challenges. We have recently had to stop seeing the birthparents due to personal decisions they have made – choices that we don’t feel best to have our kids be around. I think I have had to understand my role as Corban’s mom and trust that the LORD placed him with us and that its okay for us to keep him healthy and safe.
Isabella: Adopting out of birth order does impact a family unit! We didn’t realize it until afterwards, and its His plan of course, but we did have to adjust. And we had to learn a whole new language (vocabulary, brain-based study, parenting techniques, etc.) concerning adopting a child from a hard place.
C&T: What have been the top 3 joys of your experience? Kristin: Realizing that Jesus wants to know and save each one of these kiddos is the PRIMARY JOY! He plucked them for all different reasons out of their families of origin and placed them with us where He would be pointed to as the Way! It’s the Gospel before us! And helps me understand my salvation as His adopted child so much better!
C&T: If there is one thing you would want people to know about the process of adoption, what would it be?
Kristin: Wait on the LORD, hear from Him and if He gives you a call to adopt, get on board — it will be a wild ride!
C&T: What has been the most helpful post-adoption resource for you?
Kristin: Hands-down it would be Karyn Purvis’ blog The Connected Child. Another great blog resource has been Thankful Moms.
C&T: How did you/do you want to be supported before and after the adoption took place? Kristin: Our biggest needs today are prayer and respite care. Isabella’s special needs impact all of us on a daily basis – the biggest being a drain on energy and depletion of joy (being completely honest!). We are blessed to have family and friends nearby who take the kids so Greg and I can have a date once in awhile.
C&T: What would be your advice to someone else going through the same experience?
Kristin: One of the biggest suggestions I can give is to know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE! And, SEEK HELP! My husband was pivotal in deciding it was time to put the girls in school (we have homeschooled previously and have chosen to place our children in public school next semester) — he came to my rescue! It is hard for this former perfectionist to ask for help! I am a little nervous, but also excited to see what the LORD has planned for the girls as they start school. I just get to be “mom” and that makes my heart sing!
The other biggie is DO NOT NEGLECT YOUR MARRIAGE! We were pastoring a church during all of this transition of growing our family (my husband was bi-vocational), and through a series of God-ordained events, the church plant we were pastoring ended peacefully. We can see God’s Hand of provision and tender love in letting that go in our lives — we were running below empty, on ALL levels. Sometimes our biggest disappointments become His biggest blessings. We have since found a wonderful church home and are beginning to purposefully work on our four walls, starting with our marriage, which always took a back seat to parenting and church work. God is good, faithful and omnipotent!
C&T: Do you have any blog links/websites/fundraising links we can share for you?
Kristin: A dear friend who worked as an advocate for Corban’s birth mom is adopting twins from Taiwan: adoptingtheekpos.wordpress.com
Kristin Campbell makes her home in Fort Worth and loves Jesus, His creation, coffee, and doing anything with her husband, Greg. They have have been married sixteen years and make their home with three beautiful kiddos, Madalyn, Isabella, and Corban. They are about to make a move to the country so life is about to get quieter and slower. She is looking forward to seeing the stars at night!
Here we are, new year, new roadmap. Many of us end a year and start a new one thinking about where we are in relation to where we hoped we would be.
I’ve always appreciated the newness a new year brings. It brings inspiration and a blank sheet without anything truly changing, save our mindsets. Most of us feel the subtle change, yet there are others of us facing the disappointment and stark reality of what the old year did not bring.
I’ve always enjoyed New Year’s, but only as I got older did it really begin to mean something to me. Over the past few years, I’ve decided to set goals with the new year. I have never been one for resolutions and there is something decidedly different about goals for the year, at least in my eyes. My husband & I, since we’ve been married, have made a practice of going somewhere different every New Year’s Eve and really setting apart that time to recognize where we’ve come from and where we’re going. I’ve gone along that way for a few years now, and last year I really set some big goals for myself. I knew where I wanted to be and I poured myself into making those things a reality.
However, in about September, it hit me that some of those things weren’t going to happen. I really struggled with that- these were big, life-changing goals that I had worked toward with all my heart but I couldn’t “make” happen. These things I so deeply desired for my life were out of my hands, yet I didn’t want to let them go from the timeframe I wanted them in. All around me, I could see others experiencing life change, but my life was staying the same.
Sitting at a dinner table with friends the following month, a dear friend gave me some golden advice. She told me that those things will happen- I just need to stop focusing on them and trust God to handle them. I went home and really mulled over her words. It wasn’t the first time I had heard them. My husband is such a faithful encourager to me, always reminding me of God’s goodness and faithfulness in regards to these matters of the heart. I think the thing that changed was that I was ready to take them to heart.
So, as I started this year, I was reminded of all that is the same and all that has not happened over the past year. I recognized for the first time how people can be filled with disappointment and disregard for New Year’s. If you keep constantly being disappointed, it is quite natural to learn to protect yourself from that disappointment by simply not taking a part in what caused it.
As I’ve processed all of this, I felt compelled to write it out. I might not be where I wanted to be, but I’m still where I am for a reason. I look around and am filled with compassion for bitter, hurting, and disappointed people whose lives are not what they wanted them to be as well as the realization that I have to make choices to not end up with that same outlook on life. So, this year, I wrote down my goals for the year. I decided to be at peace with what did not happen last year and to look forward to the possibilities of this year. “The heart knows its own bitterness, and no stranger shares in its joy.” (Proverbs 14:10) I took time to recognize and accept the sorrow of what did not happen, yet I also made the deliberate choice to not allow that the power over me to cause me to not take the time to hope for what this year could be.
Life doesn’t always turn out how we hope it will. In fact, even in the good things, it is rarely what we ever imagined for ourselves. This past weekend, my husband & I hosted some friends and watched all six Middle Earth movies (and extended editions at that), in a 20-plus-hour marathon, complete with the seven meals eaten by Hobbits. A year ago, a friend and my husband had hatched the plan, and we actually did it. It was completely ridiculous and silly, but it was something that really struck me deeply as a way of just enjoying the season we are in and making the choice to recognize the blessings of where we are, even if it isn’t where I would have chosen to be.
This year, I ask you- will you choose to enjoy the blessings of the season you are in, even if it isn’t where you would choose to be? Maybe you aren’t in the job you hoped you would be in, or the house, or the relationship, or with the family you hoped you would have. Yet, not having that job allows you some sort of freedom- perhaps from responsibility, perhaps in your time- you wouldn’t otherwise have. Not having a house, or a spouse, or a baby all present their own freedoms.
I am confident God gives us the desires of our hearts for a reason. I am not turning my back on those desires, and I am not implying that you should, either. Yet, in the waiting time, in that time when you don’t know why you aren’t at that next step, will you honor God by enjoying the blessings of that season He has placed you in?
“Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment…” 1 Timothy 6:6 ESV
“But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33 ESV
“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content…” Philippians 4:11 NKJV
“Well, it’s been quite the year,” we all say. It’s a phrase laced with bittersweetness – joy at memories made, a sigh of relief to have closure on the hard parts that the year held, and anticipation of a new year.
What summarizes your year? Was it a year of triumph – goals reached, soared beyond? A year of jubilee – sweet rest, joy, and restoration? Or maybe you’re just weary. Maybe your year was characterized more by grief, strain, or restlessness. What do you need? Hope. What will break the back of weariness? Joy.
“A thrill of hope; the weary world rejoices!”
This is what I love about the Advent season. We wait and long, we anticipate, we recognize, and we celebrate and rejoice all over again! One of my favorite Christmas hymns so opens up so honestly: we’re weary and worn. We crave deliverance and peace. And that cry is answered and fulfilled in the most perfect, seemingly senseless way: the birth of a baby. The God-Child who was born for you to die for you. That’s the thrill of hope that rich hymn talks about.
Rejoice this Christmas. Let the hope of Gospel deliverance thrill your soul. Let your heart “prepare Him room” and let the “light and life” that He brings refresh your spirit.
A couple years ago, it hit me- being healthy doesn’t have to be complicated. I mean, that’s when it really hit me. I saw the wholesome diet of many people as being an impossible goal. I didn’t think I had money to eat that way or time to live that way. I thought I was doing just okay, and I was satisfied.
Then, the inevitable…I began recognizing the ways my diet was hurting my body and my lifestyle. It was that moment when I realized that I actually did need to eat those greens my mom always told me to eat when I was growing up. That was the beginning of my interest in my wellness and in a healthy lifestyle. Before long, I realized it actually didn’t have to be hard. Being healthy is a series of choices making up a journey, and it’s a wonderful, interesting journey, and no one person’s journey is going to look just like the next person’s.
Here are 8 simple tips I have embraced over the last couple of years that have led me to the much healthier, much more wholesome lifestyle I have today (which is ever-improving as I walk my own fitness journey):
Choose water. My mom really drove home this point in our home growing up, so I have never struggled to drink water. The flip really switched to help me get to where I am now when I realized that by choosing water the mass majority of the time, it was a very simple way to reduce empty or bad calorie intake. As they say, “Don’t drink your calories,” and it really has been a big change in my life that has made me feel and look much healthier.
Drink more water. Really though- drinking more water helps clean your system out and is actually a proven way to lose weight. Most of us don’t drink nearly the amount of water we should every day, and by increasing that water intake, it cuts down on food cravings, helps us eat less, and helps us lose a bit of that extra weight, too!
Don’t buy the things you know you will binge eat. My husband and I instituted this in our home when we got married, and we have kept to it (for the most part- and when we haven’t, we have really appreciated this house rule and gone straight back to it after seeing the binges begin again). I LOVE chips. So much. I can eat chips pretty much all day long, so I know not to buy them unless I have a very specific purpose for them. We try to keep healthy things on hand to munch on if we are TRULY hungry, but we mostly just don’t have snacks in our house. You will also rarely find any kind of drink but water and coffee in our home (and some great Young Living NingXia Red). The fact is, if you love it, you’ll eat it, and if it isn’t good for you, that isn’t the best choice. We know our weaknesses and take steps to protect ourselves from them by simply not having the things around we would binge on.
Be intentional about your “splurge” food days. One of the top reasons we can struggle to change our diets is the fear of losing the foods we enjoy. Now, I’ll tell you a secret- you actually may find yourself lose your taste for the super sugary or super carbed-up meals you once loved after changing the way you typically eat, BUT we all have ooey gooey cheesey or chocolately dishes we just love. Allow yourself to guiltlessly eat those meals you love by creating splurge days. Be smart about how many you give yourself and plan for them to work in tandem for the changes you want to see in your body (for example, if you are hoping to lose weight, 3 splurge days a week probably isn’t the best idea). Some people do weekends, others do one night a week- whatever your decision is, make a plan and stick to it.
Find healthier ways to make your favorite meals. A really easy way to start getting healthier is by changing the way you make those meals you enjoy. You can start small- switch out regular sugar for coconut sugar, or white rice for brown rice, or potatoes for cauliflower. I’ve said it once and I will say it again- Pinterest is your best friend for easy food substitutions. Do you love fried chicken and mashed potatoes? Try pan frying your chicken in coconut oil instead or deep frying it and making mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes. From using spaghetti squash in place of noodles to using cauliflower as pizza crust, there are so many creative ways to make those calorie and carb-packed meals a bit more friendly to the waistline and body as a whole.
Plan your meals ahead of time. I know the drill. Last-minute meal choices rarely equal healthy meal choices. Make a point to plan your meals ahead of time to incorporate the healthy ingredients and recipes you want to make into your menu. Check out my post on an easy way to plan meals ahead of time right here– it includes some great printables to help make this even easier.
Don’t give in to peer pressure. It can be difficult to stay on track when it comes to food and friends. Peer pressure is very real when it comes to diet choices. There are the diet fad friends who want you to join them, the fitness buff friends who can leave you feeling a bit overwhelmed and discouraged by their fitness level, the social eater friends who always want everyone to have dessert or want to eat out all the time, and friends all in between. Decide on the kind of diet you want to have, how that works when eating out or eating at the office, and DO try to have accountability with friends you know will help you stick to what you want to do with your diet plan.
Remember each choice matters….and you are on your own unique journey. I implore you to make the decision not to compare. As mentioned above, we all have friends in about every boat, and remember that what you are doing is for you and for your family and future. Good choices today will impact your tomorrow, and every choice does matter. It’s hardest at the beginning, but in remembering that it’s a journey, you come to recognize the fact that you are making progress, little by little.
The diet is a huge part of our lifestyle and has ramifications far beyond what we weigh, so it is one of the most natural places to begin when trying to life healthier lives. Cleaning up one’s diet doesn’t have to be hard and truly begins with the simple decisions to start making healthier decisions. I hope these 8 tips are of use to you and help you make healthier decisions in your life. Comment below and let us know one “tip” that you live by!
And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him and let it drop (leave it, let it go), in order that your Father Who is in heaven may also forgive you your [own] failings and shortcomings and let them drop. Mark 11:25 AMP
Awhile back, I was reading one of Joyce Meyer’s devotionals on YouVersion, and the topic was on the verse above. It struck me that so many of us don’t live this way, and simply doing so would be incredibly freeing.
How many of us say that we forgive others? At least a good portion of us do so. Yet, many of us still hold that hurt in our hearts and in our thoughts and muse over those hurtful events. I recognized, when reading this particular translation, that doing so actually fosters bitterness and prevents us from truly forgiving someone. Real forgiveness starts with a willingness to let the hurt go, and when it does come back knocking when someone seems to not be living up to our expectations, we have the responsibility to turn away those thoughts.
2 Corinthians 10:5 says to cast down high imaginations and take captive every thought in obedience to Christ. It is easy, especially for us women, to start letting our thoughts go with imagined stories of how someone is going to hurt us again. We often can let our thoughts run, over-analyzing why someone did what they did and wondering what the hidden intent was. We can dredge up the past, things that happened in ways we didn’t want them to, things that were said in meanness against us, and things that hurt us deeply. The fact is, by letting our imagination go and embracing those thoughts, we are accepting that hurt into our lives all over again. That is exactly why I found Mark 11:25 in the Amplified version (which describes what the original language meant instead of using a single word to translate) so incredibly powerful.
I don’t want to hold on to hurts. I don’t want to spend my time mulling over things, small or large, that I have found offensive. I want to let it go- drop it- get over it. I realized I had a whole lot more unforgiveness in my life than I thought I did when I started processing this concept of “dropping it”. I didn’t want to become bitter, unhappy, angry, hopeless. I knew forgiveness was freeing to the forgiver as much as the person forgiven. I made a choice and recognized the need to every day, drop offenses and choose to reject those high imaginations and thoughts that lead to bitterness. Dropping it is work. It takes really deciding to let something go. No more concentrating on the faults or pain caused by someone else. But, it is so incredibly freeing.
I entreat you to doing some dropping in your own life. Doing so opens the door for God to do so much inside of you.
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What makes the difference between a bad day and a good day? Sure, the circumstances of the day have a pretty big bearing on how it goes, but I think much more than that, your mindset has the biggest impact.
Lately, I’ve felt like I have been in a bit of a funk. The days have been full, draining, and long. I’ve been needed from sun up until sun down (and usually once or twice between those, too). A month or two ago – after a full week and a busy weekend – my husband sent me to a coffee shop for a few minutes of quiet. I sat there drinking my coffee and read a passage from the book of Philippians. It’s a passage we hear often…
“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
It’s a great “guideline”, but as I read it again and meditated I realized that there was much more to it than that. This is not just a check list for “okay” and “not okay” thoughts – this is a command to purpose to set our minds on a certain genre of thoughts. That changes the game a bit doesn’t it? It doesn’t just happen. It takes concentrated effort.
What does looking for the lovely look like practically?
Prioritizing time with the Lord. We cannot know what is lovely unless we first look to the Lovely One.
Make an environment conducive to finding loveliness. Keeping clutter at bay, playing peaceful and worshipful music, and avoiding being busy at all times all work to open our eyes more to the lovely, beautiful, and peaceful moments around us.
Control your mind. This can be so difficult. Our minds race from one thought to another. We started in our back yard and ended up on Pluto. Purpose to focus your mind on the things that are “worthy of praise” and put away the thoughts that drag you down and away from what honors God.
Pray! My desire in prayer lately has been that the Lord will aid me in seeing His greater purpose throughout my day and that I will act in grace and love as I face less than stellar moments.
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. (Colossians 3:1-2)
Leave a comment and tell us… In what ways do you look for the lovely?
Comparison: It’s the thief of joy. Especially among women, comparison is rampant. You likely know how the story goes- you want to be prettier, more capable, able to do it all. You can see those who you perceive to be those things, and you slowly become bitter and dissatisfied with who you are.
The secret is, living this way corrupts what you have. We all have our own giftings, our own beauty, and our own talents. However, comparison tells us one of two lies- we are either better, which is not true (Romans 3:23, “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…”), or, all too often, it tells us we just come up short, and we just aren’t as good as so many other people, which is also untrue.
I want to challenge you today to stop comparing. Be YOU. YOU are gifted. YOU are beautiful. YOU are- wow– unique. Do you know what a gift that is? You are the ONLY you. Why not embrace that? You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)- embrace God’s plan for you and grow in that.
Be the best you you can be. Stop trying to be that one friend who seems to have it all down, that one woman who seems to being a living Pinterest board, or that woman on television. Decide to be you and find out what YOU are gifted in. One of the most liberating things to someone stuck in comparison is the realization that there is no one like me, God made me for a reason, and that I am special. Say those things. Believe those things.
So, what am I suggesting you do? Three simple things…
Stop comparing. If you struggle with comparison, I highly recommend reading the Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer. This is a fabulous book that addresses many things that start in the mind, including comparison and discontentment.
Focus on maximizing your God-given gifts and talents. If you aren’t sure what you are good at, StrengthsFinder 2.0 is a fabulous book based on the premise that each of us has natural strengths that we have the capability to become much better in than other strengths that don’t come naturally to us. Maximize your giftings by focusing on those that come naturally to you.
Lastly, join me in the 30 Day Living Your Best Challenge. Ask a friend to do this with you, or to simply hold you accountable, and for the next 30 days commit to shutting down those “I suck” and “I wish I was like…” thoughts and, instead, to discovering and maximizing your giftings and your talents and thanking God for all He has given you and made you to be.
It’s time to start living the best life you can have. How rewarding would it be to look back on your life one day and know you lived to the best of your ability? Let’s not be those that would look back and see a life riddled with discontentment and marked by having always wanted to be someone else or in someone else’s shoes. Comment below to let us know you are joining our challenge!
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