Thursday, December 27, 2012

before you pack up Christmas...a sale!

before you take down the tree, clean up the tinsel, or pack up the garland, shop DaySpring's After Christmas Sale! 

All Christmas items are now major marked down! take advantage of this sale to stock up on beautiful Christmas decor for next year, for yourself, or for a gift! all under $15 each:

Chevron Print Christmas Stockings designed by artisans of Northern India are just $11.99. i'm thinking our stockings need a modern makeover. 

Praise Be to the Lord 16" x 16" Throw Pillow features Luke 1:68. perfect for Christmas and year-round. now only $12.49. 

Names of Jesus Blocks reveal four powerful Names of Jesus along with significant Scripture. i've had my eye on this gem for a while now and what a deal at just $7.49.

browse around the bargains! Christmas gifts and decor are marked down 50-75% while supplies last at DaySpring's After Christmas Sale:

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

wishing you & your families a very Merry Christmas!

i pray wherever you are, whomever you're with, and however you're celebrating, 
that you know the most precious gift of all: Jesus Christ
who promises us unconditional love, unfailing hope, and eternal life because we believe in Him.

"Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."

Merry Christmas! God is good! amen.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

noontime gifts {perpetually thankful}

just a swingin' // "Little Drummer Boy" performance // protected driving in the rain // lunchtime smile // still in slippers at noon // feeding our neighborhood ducks

life will be brighter than noonday!

care to capture & share your noontime gifts? grab the button, link back to here please, and/or use #noontimegifts on Twitter or IG.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Pursue the Word: shield

like many other Moms across the nation, i woke up Monday morning afraid. the "what if's" raided my peace as i thought about the families in Connecticut and imagined buying bullet-proof vests for my entire family to wear all day every day. no place is safe, i feared. 

i laid there in my bed as the sun was rising and i was scared of the world. i needed God. i needed to pray. i took a deep breath and opened my devotional to today's date. this is what i read:

my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.
He is my shield, the power that saves me,
and my place of safety.
He is my refuge, my savior,
the one who saves me from violence.

David's song is the perfect reminder for a time like this of who God is: my shield.

shield /SHÄ“ld/
Noun A broad piece of metal or another suitable material, held by straps or a handle attached on one side, used as a protection against blows.Verb Protect (someone or something) from a danger, risk, or unpleasant experience.

God is my shield! i can face this unsafe place with confidence that God is our shield and our refuge. get closer to Him, get under the protection of His Mighty Hand, and we have nothing to fear. sure, it's not a physical shield, like that of a bullet-proof vest, and yes, there are real dangers in this world. but God's shield is a spiritual shield that we can always count on protecting us if we have faith enough to believe. God's shield gives us hope for a perfectly safe life for eternity with Him.

God’s way is perfect. All the Lord's promises prove true. 
He is a shield for all who look to him for protection. 2 Samuel 22:31

But you, O Lord, are a shield around me; 
you are my glory, the one who holds my head high. Psalm 3:3

The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; 
my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. 
He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. Psalm 18:2

We put our hope in the Lord. 
He is our help and our shieldPsalm 33:20

Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm 
against all strategies of the devil... 
hold up the shield of faith 
to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Ephesians 6:11 & 16

armed with God's Word in my heart, i'm ready to take up my shield and face this world with hope as my confidence. watch out, world! i'm a fierce woman of God!

Pursue the Word for your every need. it's a great way to find your way through the Bible. my friend Stef Layton and i love to Pursue the Word together. visit Educating Laytons to see the word God has put on Stef's heart.

photo credit: Lawrence OP via photopin cc

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

"i'm telling you why"

"you better watch out
you better not cry
you better not pout
i'm telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town"

catchy little jingle, isn't it? i'm sure i learned it at Christmastime when i was very young, maybe 3 or 4. as a child who really wanted a great Christmas, with lots of presents under the tree with my name on them, i took those lyrics to heart. Santa was watching me! he sees me when i'm sleeping and knows when i'm awake! so i better be good, for goodness sake.

now i am grown and i know the truth about Santa Claus and about Christmas. and as a parent who really wants to teach her children the truth and keep the focus on Jesus, this catchy little jingle is simply confusing things.

that innocent children's Christmas song recently prompted yet another conversation with my 4-year-old son about Santa and Jesus and Christmas. the lyrics imply good behavior means a good Christmas, and that Santa rewards only well-behaved children with presents. inspired by the character of Santa Claus himself, the song motivates kids to behave in the days leading up to Christmas to get on Santa's "nice" list.

and then what? Christmas comes and the kids get their presents and everyone is happy. but what about the rest of the year? teach my children to share and be kind and clean up after themselves and use their manners and do unto others because Santa is watching? no.

it's Christmas and i have to teach my children the truth. they are young and learning, this is foundation-building time. i want them to be nice and good because God wants them to be nice and good. the Bible lays out exactly how God wants us to behave and spells out clearly His commands for us to live an abundant life in His love. our reward isn't under the Christmas tree brought to us by the big guy on a sleigh - it's in the promise of eternity brought to us by a loving Savior! 

the Bible is full of hows and whys. here are just a few scriptures i use for teaching my children why to have good behavior:

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 
bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you...
Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, 
do not demand it back. 
Do to others as you would have them do to you. 
Luke 6:27-31

Love the Lord your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, 
his laws and his commands always. 
Deuteronomy 11:1

If they obey and serve God, 
they will spend the rest of their days in prosperity 
and their years in contentment. 
Job 36:11

For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, 
but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 
Romans 2:13

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 
Ephesians 6:1

We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. 
Whoever says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, 
and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, 
love for God is truly made complete in them.
1 John 2:3-5

you won't hear us threatening our kids with coal in their stocking or nothing under the tree if they don't behave, don't take a good nap, don't share the Legos, or don't eat all of their vegetables. instead, i'll be speaking God's Word into their hearts, praying for them, and claiming what i want for their lives.

Christmastime offers an opportunity to clear things up between Santa and Jesus, Christmas song lyrics and God's Word. it's my responsibility to teach my children how to behave and why to behave. unlike Santa, God doesn't keep a list of who's naughty and nice. our God is a God of forgiveness, grace, redemption, salvation, and unconditional love. 

so when the song plays, "you better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, i'm telling you why" my kids know it's not because Santa Claus is coming to town. it's because we want to live a life that is pleasing to the Lord. yes. i'm using worldly song lyrics to teach my children that Jesus is not only the reason for the season, but also the why.

photo credit: nettsu via photopin cc

Thursday, December 13, 2012

do not be anxious

we lived in a hotel suite for 3 weeks while we waited to move into our new house. the entire time we were there, from the day we moved into the hotel room until we turned in our hotel key, i had a horrible rash covering my hands, arms, neck, feet, and knees.

it was itchy and red and bumpy and gross. and it was mysterious. i had no idea what was causing it. there were so many changes going on in my life at the time, it could have been anything. new laundry detergent? yes, the hotel's laundry detergent. new water source? yes, in a new city. new bathsoap? yes, the soap provided by the hotel. dry skin? yes, suddenly it's winter. all the usual suspects could have caused my itching.

i slathered on lotion, sprayed anti-itch remedies, and even sprinkled on cornstarch (weird). i made all the changes that i could to soothe my skin, but the rash didn't respond. it was stressing me out!

and then it occurred to me: the most likely cause of my rash was anxiety.

as soon as i realized that, and admitted to myself that i was indeed anxious, and as soon as i made an effort to address my anxiety instead of trying to address the rash, the itching went away. the best way i know to address anxious feelings stirring in my spirit is to whole-heartedly pursue God's Word.

on a Sunday morning at our new church, i was gently reminded:

Do not be anxious about anything (Phil 4:6)

Do not worry (Matt 6:25)

anxiety: (noun) A feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, 
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

...Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? (Matt 6:27)

When anxiety was great within me,
Your consolation brought me joy. (Psalm 94:19)

anxiety steals our joy, robs our freedom, kills our happiness, destroys our ability to love fully, hampers our self-control, and keeps us from being able to enjoy God's peace. anxiety is an enemy. but God has promised to take care of me and my "what if's"! i am offered complete consolation, a peace that surpasses all understanding, and a heart that is guarded by my Heavenly Father. 

it's blasted on bumper stickers and bedazzled on's completely cliche, but it's true: we are too blessed to be stressed. do not be anxious. do not worry. pray and seek the Lord! take Him for His Word, and His Word is good.

Lord, thank You for reminding me not to be anxious. Thank You, Father for being my source for comfort, consolidation, joy, and peace. Lord, thank You for Your faithful promises and Your unfailing Word!

Stef Layton and i love to Pursue the Word whole-heartedly! go see the Word God put on her heart today.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

noontime gifts

life will be brighter than noonday...

care to capture & share your noontime gifts? grab the button, link back to here please, and/or use #noontimegifts on Twitter or IG.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Advent Angel {our elf on the shelf alternative}

so, my kids know the truth about Santa. 

we don't pretend he's the one bringing them Christmas presents. we don't threaten them to be good because Santa's watching. we are good sports about it, and we wave hello to mall Santas, but we don't give him any credit. Christmas is all about Jesus in our home. and believe me, my kids (ages 7 and 4) aren't missing out on anything. my kids love Christmas just as much as the next child does.

...except maybe that child who's Mom is an Elf on the Shelf superstar. 

you know what i'm talking about: that Mom who comes up with amazingly hilarious and creative poses and positions for her family's Elf every day in December, giving her children a thrill each morning when they find the Elf's Pin-worthy antics?

oh, it all looks like so much fun. i really am a Fun Mom. but that Elf on the Shelf business is completely focused on naughty and nice, Santa's list (of good children and bad children?), and gift-getting. not our M.O.

so, not to be out-did as a Fun Mom, i made up my own non-Santa version of elf on the shelf.

i am pleased to introduce you to Mary, our Advent Angel:

Mary, as named by the children, hides in a silly place every night. in the morning, the kids find her and read the letter that she carries in her arms. the letter tells the children their Advent activity and devotional for the day, from Truth in the Tinsel. yep, Mary knows Amanda.

the Angel arrived gift-wrapped on our front porch on the evening of December 1, with a letter explaining her mission: to celebrate the coming of Christ and keep Him the focus of Christmas through fun activities, crafts, and Bible stories.  

Mary is an ordinary tree-topper angel that my children picked out, not fully aware of why we were bringing her home. but now they know, and she is anything but ordinary. Mary is fun, funny, beautiful, she knows her Bible, she has great hiding places, and she gives my kids a little thrill each morning. "Let's go find Mary!" and "What does Mary's letter say today?"

when they find her, we read her handwritten letter, read the day's Bible verse(s), and make the accompanying Advent ornament or craft. Mary helps us intentionally keep Christ in Christmas.

my kids love Christmas.

we don't do Santa or Elf on the Shelf, and yet, i am racking up the Fun Mom points ;)

i have a feeling Mary the Advent Angel, our elf on the shelf alternative, is going to be a beloved Christmastime tradition for our family for years to come.

it's not too late to start Advent activities! get the Truth in the Tinsel eBook and start today! 

Sunday, December 02, 2012

noontime gifts

the word noon in Hebrew as used in the Old Testament means double light, splendor, or to glisten. it is referred to as the strongest, clearest, brightest part of the day. but also, noon/noonday/noontime is often used in scripture as an analogy for the true Light of the world.

yet if you devote your heart to God
and stretch out your hands to Him,
if you put away the sin that is in your hand
and allow no evil to dwell in your tent,
then, free of fault, you will stand firm and without fear...
life will be brighter than noonday,
and darkness will become like morning.
job 11:13-17 

and so, i accept the challenge of capturing my noontime gifts. each day at noon, the brightest part of the day, i take a photo and a moment to give thanks.

what can i be grateful for in this moment? 
is there anything in this moment that is good, noble, lovely, or excellent?  
who does God love in this moment?

here are some of my noontime gifts from this week:

in this moment, God loves my family // closing on the new house is excellent // Bambi getting comfortable in our new house is good // i am grateful for car-time conversations with my kids

care to capture & share your noontime gifts? grab the button, link back to here please, and/or use #noontimegifts on Twitter or IG.

see you next sunday for more #noontimegifts! 

Saturday, December 01, 2012

major marriage milestone: 10!

it's been ten years

ten years of togetherness
ten years of growing
ten years of learning
ten years of working
ten years of laughing
ten years of bonding
ten years of maturing
ten years of experiencing
ten years of fighting (the good kind)
ten years of falling asleep side-by-side
ten years of waking up to his perfect-brewed coffee
ten years of inside jokes
ten years of doing his laundry
ten years of establishing ourselves
ten years of making memories
ten years of looking ahead
ten years of making plans
ten years of taking risks
ten years of studying his love language
ten years of sharing (or not) dessert
ten years of that look
ten years of figuring out what works
ten years of knowing his nuances
ten years of him being my absolute favorite
ten years of hand-in-hand
ten years of doing life
ten years of growing more and more in  l o v e
ten years of wedded  b l i s s 
ten years since i married my mister  r i g h t 

h a p p y  1 0 t h  a n n i v e r s a r y
to us! we are celebrating! 
and if the next 10 years are half as good as the past 10 have been, we're in good shape, babe {wink}