“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’ve had a few experiences lately – from a stranger who told me genuinely that I was doing a good job as a mama (with a shopping cart full of restless toddlers) to having someone offer to return my grocery cart for me – and they really served to remind me that sometimes it’s the smallest, simplest things that impact your day. Everyone could use a little added sunshine in their day, don’t you think? A growing trend in recent years has been the concept of RAOK (random acts of kindness). There are lots of ideas and suggestions and we wanted to add to the trove by sharing 25 free (or almost free!) ways that you can really brighten someone’s day.
1. Look them in the eye when you’re talking. (A simple way to engage in conversation and show them that you’re listening!) 2. SMILE! (It really might be the highlight of their day.) 3. Compliment their name. (This recently happened twice in one day to me…. and it truly made my day!) 4. Tell them one thing you like about them. (i.e.- I love your smile, You have the greatest sense of style, etc.) 5. Ask how they’re really doing. (And than take time to listen and accept honest answers, be they good or bad.) 6. Let them go ahead of you in the check out line. (It’ll only add a couple extra minutes to your shopping trip.) 7. Pick up the tab of the car behind you in the Starbucks drive thru. (Because free coffee or tea is guaranteed to make anyone’s day!) 8. Hold the door for them. (Take time to put someone else first!) 9. Show interest in them — ask them questions and give them permission to talk about themselves. (This is such a great way to instantly make connections with people!) 10. Pass up the better parking spot. (Walking a couple extra feet ain’t gonna kill ya!)
11. Call them by name. (Growing up my mom always told me that people love to hear their name! She’s right! It honors others and shows that you value them to take a tiny second extra to call them by name.) 12. Give them “just because” flowers. (Sunshine in a vase!) 13. Ask how their family members doing. (Show some genuine interest in their lives and the people they love the most. Bonus: See how little you can talk about yourself.) 14. Take them a plate of cookies. (Cookies are a universal love language.) 15. Leave an anonymous note of encouragement. (A note on a co-workers desk? “You’re beautiful” scribbled on a sticky note in a public restroom?) 16. Ask how work is going. (Show some interest in the thing they spend the majority of their time doing.) 17. Offer a sincere apology when you mess up. (Be specific, ask forgiveness, and – if you have the courage – give them permission to keep you accountable in the future.) 18. Buy a homeless person a hot meal. (Another idea could be to keep a fast food gift card or two in very small amounts to have to a person in need.) 19. Give them your full attention – put your phone down when you’re talking with someone. (And for pity’s sake…. please show a little respect to your cashier by extending them this simple courtesy!) 20. Tell a young mom that she’s doing a great job. (I had a cartful of restless toddlers – and someone took the time to genuinely encourage me! That meant the world in a stressful moment!) 21. Offer to unload an elderly person’s grocery cart at the check out. (I actually had an older man unload my cart for me at Sam’s a few weeks ago! Such a kind gesture!) 22. Drop a “thinking of you” note in the mail. (Notice… I didn’t say text. I didn’t say e-mail. Snail mail. It’s a rare effort these days and people REALLY appreciate.) 23. Leave a thoughtful comment instead of automatically clicking the “like” button. (It only takes two extra seconds to leave a personal note!) 24. Introduce yourself to your neighbors. (Wouldn’t it be nice to actually wave and say, “Hi, Joe!” instead of awkwardly smiling across the street?) 25. Leave a bottle of water for your carrier in the mailbox. (We did this a couple times during the summer – leaving a frozen bottle out in the morning, so that it was thawed and icy cold by the time she came by – and she left a really nice THANK YOU note the next day! Again… amazed at the big impact little things can have!)
Leave a comment below and tell us about something simple that someone did that completely made your day!
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!
We are delighted to bring you a guest post today from a friend of mine (Laurel). Jess and I met earlier this year at an incredible and intense personal development seminar. Sometimes you have old friends with whom your friendships have seasoned nicely over the years of changes, joys, and trails. Other times you meet a new friend, who happens to have a LOT in common with you and a similar vision for life. That’s Jess. We’ve enjoyed so much sharing about our lives as stay-at-home moms and as moms of two toddler boys each. Additionally, I’ve really appreciated the heart Jess has shown through our personal correspondence (aka- Facebook Messenger) as she has supported her husband through a busy phase of life, so much so that I’ve asked (and she has so willingly agreed) to write as a guest on Canvas and Table. I’m certain you will appreciate the words she has to share!
We’re in a season, our little family, a season of changes and challenges. A season of long days and short nights. A season we weren’t quite expecting, but are fully embracing. Three years ago I left my full-time teaching career to be home with my children. I never in a million years thought that I’d be a “stay-at-home” mama, but here I am spending my days nurturing and fostering two tiny humans. This is the work I was called to do, to mother these sweet boys while my husband works hard to provide for our family.
This past year has been a rough one for my husband as he has taken on some new endeavors and had to navigate a new role within his company. He works long, often unpredictable hours, and spends his time at home pursing another venture we’re super excited about. Most days he’s maxed out before even coming home, having given himself fully to his career and passion. Though it’s hard to be on the receiving end of that some days, God has really challenged me this year to find ways to fully support my husband in this stress-filled season we’re in.
I want to share with you 5 ways I’ve been working to support my husband more fully during this season.
1. Do things for him joyfully. Get up early and make him breakfast – I’m so not a morning person; most days my children are my wake-up call. But there are many times when my husband has to head into work well before the kids wake up and instead of just laying in bed and catching some extra sleep, I’ll get up and cook him a warm breakfast while he’s showering. What a blessing it is to enjoy breakfast together, just the two of us! I also love to cook his favorite dinner, even if he won’t be home to eat it…he’ll surely enjoy the leftovers just as much when he does get home! My boys and I like to bake his favorite treat together, then drop it off at the office to surprise him. Even if we don’t see him when we drop it off, he’s so surprised and reminded of us when he does stumble upon the treat at his desk! Showing your love and appreciation for your husband in tangible ways, while maintaining a joyful heart will fill you both up!
2. Listen and stay positive. After a long day with toddlers, all I want to do is dump my frustrations on him and engage in an adult conversation without interruption! But, sometimes it’s best to be a listening ear and allow him to unload from his stressful day before dumping the days frustrations on him. Not every day is great, but there is good in every day! When you do share about your day, focus on that. Life with toddlers can be messy and unpredictable, filled with loads of challenges, but amidst the chaos, there is so much joy! Share that joy with your husband; I guarantee he wishes he could experience those moments with you each and every day!
3. Encourage him to care for himself. When you see your husband struggling, encourage him. As mamas we’re often reminded that “you can’t pour from an empty cup” and the same is true for your husband. Find ways to help him fill his cup. Encourage him to pursue a hobby or interest. Encourage him to go to the gym, get outside, or just read a book. There is a very noticeable change in my husband’s attitude and demeanor when he gets home from the gym. I do my best to encourage him to go as often as he needs, because I know it’s not only good for him physically, but mentally as well. Just like us, our husbands often put their self-care needs on the back burner as they struggle to balance working to provide for their family and being present to care for their family.
4. Don’t nag or compare. My husband and I have never been big fans of traditional gender roles. We’ve always approached our home with a team effort…if a task needs to be done, we just do it! However, over the past few years as I’ve been home full-time, many of the traditional gender roles have emerged in our home. I do the majority of the cooking, cleaning, and child-rearing, and he cares for our property, maintains our cars, and addresses household repairs. We still function as a team, but with much more defined roles. There are days, however, when I want to throw my hands up and ask him, “When was the the last time you washed dishes or did a load of laundry?”. I want to point out all the things I’m doing, yet totally ignore the unseen ways he’s contributing to our family. Friends, nagging and comparison are never productive. Keeping score only causes resentment and frustration. If you need help around the house, just ask! It’s so much more productive and respectful to admit that you can’t do it all than to nag your husband about how he hasn’t helped!
5. Have fun. Something I’ve struggled with during this season is whether or not to fill up our weekends. My husband rarely gets a typical weekend, so I try not to plan things on the weekends so that he can be home, catch up on household chores, and just relax. I’m very conscious of giving him that time, as I know it’s a rarity. However, over the past few months, I’ve made a point to go ahead and plan that special family outing or insist on a spontaneous family trip to the zoo when he is home. I sometimes forget that just because my husband doesn’t initiate or suggest these types of activities, doesn’t mean that he doesn’t value them!
Friends, this season we’re in is HARD. Raising children is HARD. But it’s also such an incredible blessing. I count it an honor to be able to support him in his work and make it my mission to never take for granted the sacrifices he makes so that I can be home full-time. I pray that if you, too, are in a stressful season, that you can find comfort in knowing that you’re not alone in this marriage and parenthood journey.
Hi there! I’m Jess. I live in Northern Indiana with my amazing husband, Dan, and our two sweet boys, Caleb and Abel. We live a simple life. Enjoy getting our hands dirty. Creating things. Spending as much time as possible as a family. Dreaming big. Being outdoors. Cooking with vegetables grown in our very own garden. www.getoiling.com/jessankney
Leave a comment below and share which suggestion that Jess shared to be most helpful or some way that you have found to support your own husband when he is in a stressful season.
Today, we are bringing you a guest post from Ashley’s second cousin, Joy Humble, whom lives “a simple yet enjoyable life”. Joy writes at Choose Joy about finding joy in the everyday ordinary and we are so happy to have her sharing here on Canvas & Table today!
Psalm 100, Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing, know that the Lord, He is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.
Today I am going to talk about how gratitude has changed my life, and even more specifically, how it helped me battle depression. I have found that it is easy to be grateful when you get that job you’ve been wanting or when you get a new car or a raise, but it is much harder to be genuinely grateful when you are going through a hard season in life. Maybe you are struggling to pay the bills, maybe you are having relationship issues, maybe you have lost a loved one. In times of hardship and suffering its really difficult to believe that there is any good in your life. My personal journey of learning how to be grateful has largely come through battling depression.
My parents named me Joy and I believe that the name I was given is a prophetic word of the personality and person God created me to be. I believe that the last thing the devil wants us to do is live out the calling that God has placed on our lives. I also believe that the devil tries his best to sabotage and destroy those plans and our destiny. Depression is the opposite of joy and I have dealt with depression for many years. I believe that the enemy likes to attack me with depression because that is what is most effective at killing my joy and hindering me from being the person God created me to be. When you are in that dark and hopeless hole called depression, it is very difficult to be grateful for anything. Gratitude is the opposite of depression. Gratitude says, “God is good”, while depression says, “Is God even there?” In the last year I have learned that, while in that dark place, I must choose to make conscious choices to see God’s goodness and be grateful for all of the amazing things He has done in my life. A large element of depression is self pity. Poor me, my life sucks. And its really difficult to get out of that cycle. Forcing yourself to be grateful begins to break that cycle. I started writing in my blog once a week about something I was grateful for. Some days it was hard to think of something. It is pathetic I know, but true. But, when you start to make those conscious choices, it becomes easier and easier to see God’s goodness in your life. Those daily choices will change the course of your day, your attitude, and the cycle of depression and self-pity.
I have taken many things for granted in my life. I like to call them the “Thanksgiving List.” These are the things we all list off at Thanksgiving when we go around the table. Things like our family, job, house, car, children, pet, food, etc. I don’t know about you, but many times it seems like Thanksgiving is the day I am grateful for all of those things and then I tend to take them for granted the other 364 days of the year. As an American, I expect to always have a home, a job, and food on the table. At times I feel like most Americans feel as if they are entitled to those things as human beings. But it is not that way in other parts of the world and even in some places in America. Because of this mindset I believe many Americans struggle with being grateful, because our lives are already so blessed, but we are too busy looking for even more amazing and wonderful things to happen to us to notice. We want a better job, a newer car, a bigger house. And while we are so focused on what we don’t have, we completely lose focus of all of the many blessings that God has given us already. The majority of Americans have what they need to live a very full life and usually a bit extra. I think it is important to understand that this is not as common in other parts of the world and realize how much God has blessed those of us living in areas of the world where we have all we need. This is one of the reasons why I have a desire to travel outside of the U.S. – I want to see the world outside of my own little bubble. I think it would be a great perspective to have.
Everyone can find something to be grateful for. If the only thing you can think of today is that you are breathing, great start. Tomorrow think of something else to be grateful for and as the days go by it will be easier and easier to see all of the blessings that surround you. Don’t wait until you have everything you want in life to be grateful. Start today and give God glory for all He has done and the goodness He has displayed in your life. Think of the good things He has done in your past, the good things He is doing today and thank Him for the good plans He has for your future!
My name is Joy and I am married with 2 little boys, who are very active and curious. I live in a small rural town in Indiana. I am a work from home mom and a Christian. I love to write and cook and I also ave an interest in food photography. I live a simple yet enjoyable life. I post regularly on my blog, Choose Joy.
Comment below and let us know- What are you choosing to be thankful for today?
Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages has been a huge help to so many, helping us all discover the languages of Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch.
Here’s a list of five simple ways to communicate in each of these universal languages, and what to be aware of as you do:
Speak life. Let the people in your life know they are loved and appreciated. Take the time to encourage and affirm them. Listen to what they have to say and speak to them based on the words coming from their heart. If this is their top love language…say everything- a LOT. Make sure you are telling them often not just that they mean a lot to you, but why they do. Don’t just tell them you love them, tell them things you love about them. Describe your feelings when saying “thank you”. Use lots of descriptives when talking to something who ranks high in words of affirmation! Practical ways to speak life: Cards, notes, text messages, letters
Be kind. Go out of your way to do nice things for the people in your life. Hold the door open, wash the dishes, give a foot rub, and generally be available to help in the everyday with things that will make the lives easier of the people you love. If this is their top love language…make sure you’re not lacking follow-through. If you say you’re going to help with something, be sure to help, consistently. Give acts of service without being asked- this is very important to the person who receives love this way. Someone who ranks high in acts of service sees helpful, cement acts as love in action- and nothing else says “I love you” to them the way actually doing things with and for them does. Practical ways to be kind: Performing a chore, making a meal, cleaning a car (all without being asked)
Go out of your way to bring joy to someone else’s day. Who doesn’t enjoy getting little gifts now and again? Find little ways to bless the people in your life- whether by bringing coffee or breakfast to the office for your coworkers, flowers to your mom, a gift card for your dad, or a personalized gift for your spouse. If this is their top love language…make gift-giving a top priority. Someone who ranks high in receiving gifts can feel a bit taken for granted when they keep speaking their language (by giving gifts) and don’t see their loved ones acting in kind. Be aware that it isn’t about how big the gift is (although this may not be as true with birthdays and anniversaries), as much as it is about the fact that you know how to buy a gift they will like and you are willing to spend the money & time to get it and give it to them. Practical ways to bring joy to someone else’s day: Gift card, present, coffee, flowers, book, that thing they’ve been wanting
Spend time doing something meaningful. One of the universal ways many people feel loved is by knowing someone else takes the time to do things that interest them. Put away your phone (unless it’s required for the activity) and spend intentional time with your loved ones doing things that mean something to them. This might be as simple as watching a movie or taking a walk and as complex as going to a museum or gun show. If this is their top love language…your attitude will matter more than it already would. If you’re spending time with them and you don’t seem happy, it won’t mean nearly as much as it would otherwise. Be sure that you aren’t spending more quality time with someone else other than your spouse, if this is their love language. Be sure to be “all there” and give them your undivided attention. Practical ways to spend time: Create a “day out” or “day in” itinerary, go on a coffee date, go on a weekend getaway, eat a meal at a quiet table together (all one-on-one)
Share the love. A hug, a high-five, and any kind of physical act of affection mean a lot to most people. As you discover how your loved ones want to be loved on and find the appropriate balance for your relationship, find non-verbal ways to show affection to the people in your life. If this is their top love language…it’s important to recognize that these people usually feel like they need hugs the way they need air. A bear hug, deep kiss, or warm embrace probably means more to them than any of the other above-mentioned actions. Holding hands, spontaneously hugging, and taking any sort of initiative to show affection (and receive affection) physically means a great deal to anyone with this language. Practical ways to share the love: Hugs, kisses, hand-holding, stroking one’s hair
What are some ways you love to be shown love? Comment below!
Not sure which love language you speak? You can find how your love languages rank here.
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
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?
Friendship- we all desire it. We were made for community. Having people in our lives who know us and care for us is one of the most welcome aspects of life. Community is an outlet to love and be loved, a place to serve, and filled with people with whom to live out one’s purpose.
In today’s fast-paced always-online culture, it can be difficult to cultivate a community of solid relationships. Many people are very lonely, surrounded by people all the time, in one form or another, but with very few people in their lives who actually know much of what makes up who he or she is.
Being the kind of friend you want to have and stepping out to form new relationships is of vital importance to someone looking to find community. In finding community, it is important to build a culture of relationships that last.
Here are five habits of someone with lasting friendships:
They care about what matters to their friends. Someone with lasting friendships consistently shows an interest in what is going on in their friends’ lives, even when it isn’t something that interests them. Much like a solid marriage, a person with lasting friendships discovers just asking about and listening to their friends talk about their lives is a huge way to show their care and support.
They accept their friends for who they are. Someone with lasting friendships accepts and loves their friends for who they are. Instead of attempting to correct or “fix” the quirks, someone with lasting friendships loves and accepts their friends as-are. Even when their friends are doing things they don’t approve of, someone with lasting friendships knows how to hold their tongue and simply be a friend.
They speak honestly with their friends about what they think, believe, and feel. Going hand-in-hand with #2, someone with lasting friendships is honest with their thoughts, beliefs, and feelings and knows the balance to offering unsolicited advice and being honest when they know their friends need to hear the truth. A person with lasting friendships is not afraid to be honest and can give honest feedback about the choices and thoughts of their friends. While this may push some away, those seeking lasting friendships will value this honesty and will recognize a deep, lasting relationship requires honesty.
They know the importance of give and take. Someone with lasting friendships recognizes the necessity of give and take in relationships. Their friendships reflect mutual interests, a sharing of the details of life, and the ability to be the person someone goes to for help and to be a person who can go to others for help. Humility is necessary for true give and take, as is the choice to be vulnerable.
They are there for the good and the bad. Someone with lasting friendships is not just there when things are good. They walk with others through the hard times in life, and surround themselves with friends they know will be there for them in such times. This is a make-or-break quality of relationships that last, versus those that do not. While sometimes it is necessary to walk away from unhealthy relationships, someone with lasting friendships only does so when necessary and is there for their friends, even when things aren’t comfortable and fun. Alternatively, when things are good, someone with lasting relationships knows the value of having simple fun with their friends and recognizes that this is an important element for the health of the relationship.
Do your friendships have these five qualities? Are you a friend who exemplifies these five habits? If you are looking for community, work on being a friend to those you know by living out these 5 habits in your relationships today.
Comment below and share a time a friend exemplified one of these five habits in your life!