Hating Christmas?

I was recently in a store when I overheard a woman at the register saying, “I’m beginning to hate Christmas.”

My heart sank because I adore Christmas. But not for reasons most would know.

When I was a little girl, I went to church but never really knew God. And what I knew of Him, I was afraid of. I felt like He was this big monstrous person who was out to get me.

Until Christmas.

Christmas time, the church was decorated with trees in the front of the sanctuary. The harsh, overhead lights were dimmed and the soft glow from those trees gave a gentleness to church.

And there was baby Jesus lying in the manger right in front. I found myself standing on tippy toes (we always sat in the back), believing He was going to move any minute, and I was going to see Him and tell everybody. I spent most of those December services, staring at baby Jesus. I was hopeful. Expectant.

It took years (that’s another story), but I realized God wasn’t a cruel god who was out to get me and zap me with a lightning bolt whenever I messed up. Like the baby Jesus with His arms reaching out from the manger, God was reaching out to me. And He’s done it every Christmas since.

It has nothing to do with decorations, although I enjoy them immensely. It has nothing to do with baking and presents and watching my favorite Christmas movies (there are many).

Christmas has everything to do with Jesus Christ reaching out to save us from eternal darkness and from our own personal dark places (mine – the falsehoods I thought were true about Him). It’s about Him drawing us into a relationship with Him by showing us how much He loves us. He came for us. He’s coming back for us.

It’s all about standing on tippy toes with expectation and excitement and joy sending you into fits of laughter because His love is swelling within and you can’t  contain it. You just can’t.

So, my dear friend, if you’re saying you hate Christmas, ask yourself why.  Commercialism, despair, stress, and anxiety are all thieves. They will steal your joy if you let them.

Don’t let the darkness distract you from the Light of the world that’s reaching out to you. Instead, dance in the light of life this Christmas with the One who came to draw you into His arms for all eternity.

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” (John 8:12 NIV.)

When God is Working On You


I’ve been struggling this summer with various trials, and I’m sure I’m not alone. Health, finances, direction…whatever you’re dealing with, I pray this revised post brings you some clarity and peace as it did for me. (If you’d like to read the original post, click here.)

When you ask God for more of Him, sometimes things can get painful as He works on you, as He renovates you.

But it’s okay. God is in the renovation business.

He is like the silversmith that heats the silver, revealing the dross, those impurities in your heart, so He can scrape them off and toss them out of your life.

But before He removes them, He lets you see them. All of your bitterness and anger surface and sit there like ugly black chunks beside the bright, hot metal.  God allows you to get a good look at it, to really see it for what it is.

You get more and more uncomfortable the longer He allows it to stay. You want it gone.  You want God to hurry up and dispose of it because it’s painful to see.

And you can’t help but notice the striking contrast:  His blinding, powerful light against the darkness of your sin.

But again, you asked God to draw you closer to Him. This isn’t a task to simply point out your flaws but to point out your need for Him.  He’s the only One who can remove such agonizing and toxic things from your life.

He’s the only One who can prepare your heart for the blessings that are coming.

So you take a deep breath, acknowledge what you see and ask for forgiveness and for help. And then you let go.  You let go of the control. You let go of the situation. You lower your head because it’s all to much for you to handle. You just can’t. You’re too overwhelmed to fix anything, and you realize you shouldn’t be trying anyway.

It is God who is in the renovation business; taking the old, worn, and broken and making it new.

So you focus on Him. You imagine His mighty hand removing all the dross, all the poison, refining you.  Perhaps you hit your knees, completely falling apart knowing He is about to rebuild.  Or maybe you stand taller, tears streaming down your cheeks as you close your eyes and lift your face heavenward, knowing He is watching you… and smiling.

His renovation has brought you not only closer to Him but to a place of peace. You can let go. You don’t have to try to figure everything out. He’s got you. And He’s got this situation.

Which means you don’t have to let the stress of everything suffocate your joy.

You are free to walk even closer to God. It’s where He’s wanted you all along.

“For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver.” (Psalm 66:10 NIV.)


You Matter Too

you matter too

When I was much (MUCH) younger I used a yellow hair brush as a microphone and sang to my reflection in the mirror hanging on my bedroom wall. I won’t tell you my favorite group at the time only to spare more giggles, but I will admit it was a popular 80’s band.  I would sing those songs to myself and have a great time, glancing every so often at my door to make sure my brother wasn’t trying to take a peek to gather ammunition for a later date.

Ahem. Moving right along past that embarrassing image to a lesson God has been teaching me recently: sometimes we need to look into the mirror.  I’m not talking about serenading ourselves or admiring how cool we look when we lip sync our favorite tunes with all the facial expressions we can muster to give a great performance. And I’m not referring to spending hours working on fussy hair or applying layers of makeup.

Sometimes we need to look in the mirror simply to remind ourselves that we matter too.

This isn’t putting ourselves in the #1 slot of our priority list (not hardly), it’s simply making sure we make it on the list. It’s acknowledging we have physical bodies that need attention. (Note to self: Stop eating all those chocolate eggs and have a decent lunch…no, that cold piece of pizza doesn’t count.) We have emotions that are like fragile bottles full of different colors of sand; delicate and in balance until too much shaking (not enough sleep, not eating right) can mix them all up, even bring them crashing and spilling on the floor. When that happens, we also come crashing down in a heap on the floor in tears, wondering why we feel all out of sorts. And we each have a spirit that needs rejuvenated by sitting at the feet of Christ like Mary (Martha’s sister) did, ignoring a pressing to-do list. Time with our Lord is like fresh air when the world is trying to suffocate us.

I’m sure you’ve heard about the oxygen masks on airplanes, that you’re instructed to slip on your own mask before assisting others.

If you’re running around all stressed out and doing your best to help everyone you know strap on their “oxygen masks” without making sure yours is on, well, how long can you operate on that stale air, those leftover fumes burning in your lungs before you collapse?

So take a moment and look into that mirror. Take a deep breath and a good, hard look at yourself. Perhaps you’ll notice the dark flesh under your eyes and those smile lines just sitting there on your face, unused. Maybe you’ve got a few hives on your cheeks from eating too much dairy-infused chocolate (or maybe that’s just me!). Or perhaps you’ll notice a deep well of sadness in your eyes, one you’ve been pretty good at hiding from nearly everyone around you.

But you’re not hiding any of it from God. You can’t hide it from Him. And He doesn’t like seeing you run-down, worn-out, and exhausted.  He sees how you’re treating yourself, and He never intended for you to be at the bottom of some list.  He knows you have people counting on you, those you care for.  He wants to help you take care of them.

You may feel alone like the weight is all yours to carry and no one understands what you must do on a daily basis just to get by. Perhaps there are some days you feel like you’re sinking in mud up to your eyeballs, totally stuck, helpless. And you can barely breathe.

My friend, God knows, and He will help you in ways you can’t even imagine. Call out to Him and ask. He knows you don’t like to ask for help.  He knows why, too.  But if you will just trust Him, let Him lift some of that weight off of your shoulders, let Him check off some of those tasks on your list, you’ll be able to breathe a lot easier.  (Note to self and YOU: Don’t turn away God’s help because it isn’t what you expected.)

No, things won’t be perfect on this side of eternity. But you will be able to smile again and be a little more tender with those God placed in your life to love. Who knows, you may even be able to breathe so much easier that you’ll have enough oxygen left over to dance in the living room when no one is looking.  No lip syncing, hairbrush, or mirror required. Just your loving Father who knows how badly you need to understand that you, His precious and one-of-a-kind child, matter too.

Especially to Him.

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:6-7 ESV.)

“Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” (3 John 1:2 NIV.)

“Jesus replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:37-39 NLT.) [Emphasis my own.]

“The apostles then rendezvoused with Jesus and reported on all that they had done and taught. Jesus said, ‘Come off by yourselves; let’s take a break and get a little rest.’ For there was constant coming and going. They didn’t even have time to eat.” (Mark 6:30-45 MSG.)

“Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NLT.)






Put on a Little Color


When I was a teenager my favorite attire was anything gray, dark gray, or light gray. You get the picture.  It would drive my Grandma nuts, and I’m pretty sure my Mom wasn’t too happy about it either.  Grandma would always say, “Why don’t you put on something with a little color?”

So when I heard God whisper that very same thing to me the past few days when I went to my closet, I thought, Really, Lord? Okay, if it means that much to You.  I found myself wearing turquoise one day and red the next. But something still wasn’t right.

Then I realized He wasn’t talking about my shirts but my socks. Okay, I’m about to reveal how goofy I am, so please be kind.  I am a fuzzy sock kind of girl.  The crazier the colors, the warmer and thicker, the better.  I mean, I wear them as long as I can until summer hits and my feet feel like they’re in a sauna and I have to pack them away for cooler days.

But why would God tell me to put on a little color and wear my crazy socks?

Because sometimes I take things way too seriously. I worry a LOT about the people in my life, circumstances I can’t control, writing deadlines, the food I buy, the fabric softener I use. I stress about money, our daughter’s braces, the car getting stuck in the driveway, and what needs fixed around the house and when will we be able to get to it.  I check and recheck my email (waiting to hear on writing projects) until frustrated sighs leave my lungs and hover over me like the Goodyear Blimp.  Meanwhile God is patiently waiting, sitting on the chair beside me, wondering when I’ll stop this frantic nonsense and turn to Him.

Worry has become a way of life for me, and God is telling me to knock it off.

He wants me to laugh more. He wants me to loosen up, let go, take a deep breath, get back into the kitchen and slide on the floor, turn up those 80’s songs I love so much and start doing my ridiculously silly dance moves while no one is here. No one.  Hmmm.  God is here.  And like any good father, He wants me to get silly and have some fun, to relax my grip on the reigns of my life.  Actually, He wants me to hand them over to Him.  Not just sort of, kind of, here you go and then snatch them back.  He wants me to really give them over to Him, so I can sit back and enjoy this ride we’re on together.

Sure I’ve got work to do. A lot of work.  But God knows if I keep stressing, keep overthinking, keep trying too hard, that I’m not really trusting Him to work things out the way only He can.  It means I’m still trying to do everything in my own strength which means I’m going to fall flat on my face, lying there like a pig in slop wondering what just happened.  Not fully trusting God is not really trusting God at all.

Lord, help me to trust you more and forgive me for my doubts.

Yes, I’m going to put on a little color today; a little more joy as I concoct a new gooey chocolate dessert just for fun that I’ll have smeared all over my face in no time. I’m going to giggle like the little girl I used to be (who loved walking in mud puddles, the mud oozing between my toes) as I dance in my fuzzy socks to the music I love. And I’m going to listen for the sound of my Heavenly Father’s voice as He laughs with me, giving me a big hug when I laugh myself into tears.

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”  (Matthew 6:34 MSG.)

The Smallest Details

tiny detail

God is in the details of your life.  Do you believe that?  Do you really believe that the Creator of all things cares about the smallest details of your life?

Let me tell you. He does.

I had a writing deadline to meet this week and I was working on getting all the details in order. But then I hit a brick wall called a synopsis.  Now for some of you, I’m sure writing a one page summary to cover an entire novel is no big deal.  But to a newbie such as myself, I’d heard so many negative things about it that I was dreading the process.  So I fretted and stressed and worried.

And when I started to pray, I stopped myself. This is dumb, I thought. I don’t want to bother God with this. But the clock was ticking, the deadline was approaching, and after researching a few different places and seeing opposite instructions, I was desperate.

So while I was taking my daughter to school, I prayed and asked God to teach me how to write a synopsis. I even laughed while praying because of course God knows how to write one!  There’s nothing He doesn’t know!!

After I got home, I checked my email and guess what I had in my inbox? The recent blog post from the literary agency whose blog I follow.  The topic?  The synopsis!!!

You see, God can and wants to work in all the details of your life, even the smallest ones. He wants you to know how much He cares about you, and He wants you to see Him work. Don’t stop yourself from praying because you think your request is silly or not worth His time.  YOU ARE worth His time. He made that very clear when He sent Jesus to die for you.

So don’t hold back! Go to God and thank Him for all He’s already done and then ask Him to work out those details you’re struggling with.  You may just find yourself sitting at your computer screen with your mouth hanging wide open.

“And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever!  Amen.”  (Philippians 4:19 NLT.)



Do you feel like you’re being squeezed by all the stress in your life, like you can’t breathe? Or maybe you feel you’re about to break under the heavy load you’re carrying.  Maybe you’re not certain you’ll have a job tomorrow, or the outcome of an upcoming medical procedure or even a diagnosis is unclear.  Maybe you’re in an emotional state of agony, and you feel like you’re barely able to hold on.

But… there is God.

And God can do anything.

God can rescue you in such an amazing, creative way that you never even imagined. What you might think is a painful trial, may actually be the setup for one amazing rescue, one detailed story you’ll be able to share with the world.  How things were so increasingly impossible, hopeless, and dark, but God showed up and burst through to rescue you.

He has unlimited time, resources, and imagination. Nothing can stop Him.  Nothing can distract Him.  When He’s set on rescuing you, it will happen.  It’s all a matter of His timing.

So instead of stressing out (like I did this morning…see, this is for me too!) go to God in prayer. And then be excited to watch His rescue unfold before your very eyes.

“You stand up to judge those who do evil, O God, and to rescue the oppressed of the earth.”  (Psalm 76:9 NLT.)

The Eye of the Storm


I was talking to God about you last night.  I asked Him what He wanted to tell you, what you needed to hear.  We were about to watch a movie and during the previews a Scripture came to my mind, and I knew it was for you.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Maybe you’re overwhelmed, stressed-out, burned-out, or just plain worn-out right now, and you’re wondering how long is this going to last?  Do you feel like you’re in a storm, a chaotic rush of things needing done or people demanding more of you, and you feel you have nothing more to give?  Do you feel like it’s knocking the wind right out of you and you can’t breathe?

Jesus knows.  He sees you right now.  Imagine Him offering you His hand with this sort of expression that says, “Come here and catch your breath for a minute.  Rest with me.”

Maybe you’re wondering, “How can I rest?  I have too much to do.”

Let’s keep going with what Jesus said:

“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.”    

Okay, what in the world?  A yoke?

A few years ago we went to an Amish farm and saw this massive, black ox yoked to a smaller one.  I had never seen an ox up close before nor had I ever seen one yoked to another.  When I started to pet the big guy, he turned so I could scratch his face in another area that must have itched (or maybe he wanted to get a better look at the woman who was “oohing” and “ahhing” about how beautiful he was).  Whatever the reason, when he turned, the little guy beside him did too.  Whenever the big guy stuck his mouth into the food trough, the little one had to follow along.

So I have to ask, who or what are you yoked to that is wearing you out?  What are you following?  The world?  Let’s narrow it down a bit…are you yoked to people instead of Jesus?  People may try to go easy on you but sometimes they’ll hurt you or overwhelm you.  Some may even load up the guilt if you don’t perform to their standards or do what they think you should be doing.  Not Jesus.  He’s “gentle and humble in heart.”  He’s not going to burn you out.  Why would He?  He loves you, and He doesn’t want to see you suffering with anxiety or panic attacks.  He has more for you.

But isn’t a yoke a form of bondage?

Jesus said, “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

What?  Something that’s easy and light?  That doesn’t sound like bondage but freedom. If you yoke yourself to Jesus you’ll not only be able to breathe and the heaviness you’ve been carrying will be lifted off your shoulders, but you’ll be doing what you were created to do.  No more overload.  No more panic attacks.  Just like the eye of a storm, there will be peace like you’ve never imagined.  It’s as if God will hold back the world from burning you out like He held back the Red Sea.  No more guilt (unless you allow it), no more hives (unless you eat something you’re allergic to), and no more wondering what in the world you’re supposed to do with your life.  Jesus has it all.  All the answers and all the calm.  Yoke yourself to Him, and you’ll see and do things you never dreamed.

How do I know?  Because this wasn’t just for you…it was for me too.  And I’ve finally come to the eye of the storm.

“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.)