Remember When

Guest Post by Mrs. Britni Bryan

I think we can all agree that 2020 was a rough one. As I ponder what 2021 might hold, I’m hit with conflicting feelings— excitement for the new, anxiety for the unknown. And if I’m honest, sometimes the fear of the unknown can crush any desire to dream of the goodness that this new year could hold. Perhaps it’s a guard I’ve put up in effort to block the blows that may come. As I wade between my conflicting feelings, I feel the Lord gently whisper just one word: “Remember.”

This year throughout my study, it’s come to my attention how many times scripture calls God’s people to remember. In Joshua 3, we find the Israelites in the home stretch of their journey to the Promise Land. They found themselves standing before the Jordan River, where God, once again, split the waters as the priests stood with the ark of the covenant in the center. He was leading them out of the wilderness and onward toward promise.

In chapter 4, the Lord gave one final instruction as they transitioned from one season into the next. He commanded Joshua to choose twelve men, one from each tribe, to take twelve stones from the very place where the priests had stood, the place where the Lord delivered them safely across the river. The Lord commanded them to carry them with them. These stones would serve as a symbol of their deliverance from the wilderness, as well as the fruition of God’s promise.

Joshua said to the Israelites, “In the future, when your children ask their fathers, ‘What is the meaning of these stones?’ you should tell your children, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until they had crossed over, just as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed over. This is so that all people of the earth may know that the Lord’s hand is mighty, and so that you will always fear the Lord” (Joshua 4:21-24).

You see, God, in His kindness, knew His people would need reminders of His faithfulness. Why? Because life is hard. And just like the Israelites, we also need to be reminded of His faithfulness in our own lives. We will not always be on the mountaintops, and when we find ourselves in trial, we, too, must remember the countless times God has delivered us. It keeps us focused, trusting that the God of the universe and God of our hearts can do all things. And just like those stones, carry them with you–those moments He’s already shown himself faithful to you. Because it’s those moments that will also carry you. Write them down. Memorialize them however you choose, but remember.

So, if you find yourself discouraged or afraid to hope or dream this new year, recall these three words: Remember the Lord.

Big Dreams

The other day I had – what I thought was – a great plan brewing in my mind. I was telling God all about how to bring said dream to fruition, and you know what He said to me?

For real – clear as day – He spoke these words right to my heart, “Daisy, when are you gonna stop telling me what to do.”

Insert awkward side-eye emoji here.

Yikes. Are there any other Daisys out there? You know – someone that’s always telling someone else what to do including God. Honestly, I’m the worst about that.

I’m a planner and a dreamer and a big idea-haver, and boy can I delegate the how-to-get-it-done to the left and to the right. Listen, there’s nothing wrong with having big dreams if [and that’s a big IF] I keep the focus of all of these big ideas and dreams where my focus should be – and that’s on God.

Are these dreams:

God centered.

God driven.

God purposed.

Some days – ok most days – I have to remember to take off my bossy britches and hand them over to the one they belong to in the first place.

As we journey into a brand new year I’m going to reiterate to myself and to anyone else reading this – God’s plan is always the best plan. Let Him be the one in charge.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21

On Purpose

I’m an educator.

I’m an educator that loves to rest over Christmas Break. Each morning while slowly sipping coffee I sit on my comfy couch and listen to my praise and worship music.

With my Rae Dunn cup in hand:

I read my Bible.

I do my devotional.

I write.

I pray.

And I always think – wouldn’t it be nice if this were my normal? If all mornings were unrushed. No hair and makeup to be done. No leg prisons [aka pants] to put on.

And then I remember.

I’m here for a purpose. I’m here on a mission. And if I sit on my couch slowly sipping coffee and nothing else then what good am I to God’s Kingdom? I can read my Bible all day long, but if I’m keeping everything I’ve learned to myself then what’s the point? Honestly.

God’s girls are movers and shakers – no doubt. We have to get up and get out. Whether it be the grocery store, the hospital, the school house, or the home, we have to run to our mission field and fulfill our purpose.

Yes, Christmas Break for an educator is good. It’s so good. Educators need the rest and the refresher. We need down time after running in literal circles for the past few months.

But then we need to get up. We need to get up and get out to that mission field. We need to remember why we are here.

My house is my refuge. It’s my safe place. But God didn’t call His girls to be safe. He called us on purpose for a purpose.

So, in less than a week let’s be ready to go girls.

“He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace” (2 Timothy 1:9).

Good Enough

Guest Post by Mrs. Kylie Lyday

“God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.” Luke 1:43-45 NLT

One of my favorite memories from when I was young has to be standing by my siblings and cousins in my grandparent’s living room reading the Christmas story on Christmas Day.

I have always thought so highly of Mary. How wonderful to be hand chosen. How blessed she must have felt to be picked to birth the son of Christ. The mother of the Lord of Lords, the King of Kings, and son to come into our world to save each and every one of us.

Wow. Just wow.

I still think highly of Mary to this day. Of course because she’s the mother of Jesus that gave birth on Christmas Eve many many years ago.

– but also because of her character. For who she was. She was ordinary. Just like all of us. She was one who looked in the mirror and didn’t see much more than just a servant girl, but the Lord saw so much more in her. Just like he does in each of us. Mary never once thought she was worthy enough. She found herself in awe of the fact that He took notice of “his lowly servant girl” to which she called herself. It shows her character. Maybe we can relate to her today.

“For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed. For the Mighty One is holy, and he has done great things for me.”

Luke 1:48-49 NLT

She could have questioned God’s will for her life. She could have chosen to live in fear or disbelief. She could have chosen to run and hide. But she didn’t. She came to the realization that she was good enough, and He saw the capability to impact the world through her. God noticed her even when she felt “unnoticeable” and used her for his glory.

As we wrap up 2020 and head into 2021, what if we all strived to be less like the world and more like Mary? Simply believing the Lord is who He says He is, and trusting in His plan. Maybe you do not see much when looking into the mirror, but perhaps this “New Year” you can trust in the Lord and remind yourself that He sees all of your capabilities.

Perhaps next Christmas you can say, I strived to be more like Jesus this year. Merry Christmas everyone, and Happy New Year.

True Joy

Guest Post by Mrs. Melanie Wheeler

When my children were small, there was such anticipation and excitement as Christmas drew near. The wonder of the season can be seen in the eyes of our children.

As they have grown older and seasons have changed, I find myself struggling to recapture the joy that Christmas used to bring.

I recall the fun of sitting on Santa’s lap, baking cookies, and reading Christmas stories. Of Santa’s elf, Doodle, who sometimes forgot to find a new hiding place. Of riding around to see all the beautifully decorated homes. I remember how fun it was on Christmas morning to see their eyes light up with excitement over all the gifts under the tree.

Sometimes when we reflect on the “good old days”, we start to believe that they were so much better than the days we are in right now. The struggles of 2020 have led many of us to think back to better times and wonder how we will be able to experience the joy of Christmas when all we want is for this crazy year to come to an end!

Has the wonder of the season really gone away?

Or have we just stopped looking for it?

When we search for joy in circumstances or within ourselves, we come up empty every time. True joy only comes when we look up and look around.

LOOK UP and praise God for good news of great joy! The birth of our Savior, Christ the Lord!

LOOK AROUND and thank God for all the blessings in our lives.

The joy of the season is not found in decorations, gifts, or gatherings. It can only be found in Jesus and the salvation we have through Him. If you are struggling getting into the spirit of the season this year, LOOK BACK. Not to Christmases past, but ALL the way back to the night everything changed. When Christ came into the world to save us from our sin.

The good news of the gospel produces great joy in our lives! It’s God’s gift to us that we get to keep long past Christmas.

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10-11 ESV

Merry Christmas

I love saying Merry Christmas, and when I am out and about enjoying the hustle and bustle of the holidays – I love when someone says it to me. It’s an instant connection. It’s an instant reminder of everything that is good in this world. It literally makes me feel like my whole heart is bursting, and I don’t care at all if that sounds cheesy.

It truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

Covid has changed things up these past few months – no doubt. I won’t argue that fact, but I will hold onto the promise that some things will never change.

Like saying Merry Christmas.

Like singing Christmas Carols.

Like celebrating Christ’s birthday.

There’s not a mask, election, virus, or pandemic that can take away that beautiful, holy night that my God sent His son to save a wretched sinner like myself – and that’s the truth.

So, when I say Merry Christmas – when I hear Merry Christmas – I am instantly reminded of that sweet, baby in a manger. The meaning behind those two small words will never ever change.

You see the seemingly small things are inevitably the big things.

Merry Christmas my sweet, sweet friends.

“6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

The Thrill of Hope

Guest Post by Mrs. Jessi Collier

💛Guest Post by Mrs. Jessi Collier

We all know, far too well, that 2020 has been a hard year. We’ve experienced the fear and instability of a global pandemic, lost loved ones to a confusing virus that we still don’t fully understand, struggled with the political division in our nation, shifted our plans and reprioritized our lives, and come face-to-face with the fragility of life that our hearts do not know how to handle. It almost feels like too much to list, much less experience.

And throughout all of this, we’re still experiencing the daily struggles of normal life: hectic schedules, family commitments, hard decisions, weddings, births, divorces, deaths, job

transitions, and moving. And yet, while the virus has pressed the pause button on so many activities and gatherings that are closest to our hearts, life has still been zooming ahead. As surreal as it seems to still have the daily mundane tasks to attend to while the world deals with such a large scale crisis, this is how living has been in the long months of 2020.

All of this has been turning in my head as the holiday season has approached. At times I’ve felt guilty for not feeling my usual amount of joy and wonder, and other times I’ve felt so incredibly thankful to be here to see the lights go up and the trees come out. All of the emotions I’ve felt swirled particularly intensely when I heard “O Holy Night” for the first time this season:

“O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
it is the night of our dear Saviour’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
till He appear’d and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,
for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.”

If there has ever been a year in my lifetime when the world felt weary, it has been this year. If we’ve ever been reminded of our need for a new and glorious morning, for a new sun to rise, it’s been this year.
But the miracle of this season that cannot be dulled by the difficulties in this year is that He came. Jesus Christ knew our need for hope, and so He came. Veiled in flesh, “the King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger; in all our trials born to be our friend.” Jesus has never shied away from our struggle or our despair.

The Bible shows Him not only coming to us in the form of a baby, but to people in need over and over. He comes to Peter’s mother-in-law on her sickbed, to the crippled beggar on his mat in Jerusalem, and to Jarius’s sick daughter. There are so many examples of Jesus getting right into the middle of the messes made in people’s lives, from the miracle of His birth to the small moments He shared with individuals.

Ultimately, we celebrate Christmas to honor His coming, and His choice to be with us and die for us. But the incredible news is that He is coming again, to set all things right, and to remake the Earth as it was intended to be. In a year like this, when the very patterns and intricacies of our lives seem to remind us that all is not well, this is the hope that we have: that God hears, and sees; that Christ came, and will come again; that we are not alone.

We were in need of hope, of a Savior, of God, long before 2020. He came then, and He comes now, and He will come again.

Highly-Favored

Guest Post by Mrs. Samantha Graber

The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

In this translation of Luke 1:28, the angel Gabriel announces some very exciting news to a young, poor girl from Nazareth.  Mary not only hears that God favors her, but will also hear that she is chosen to carry the long-awaited Messiah.  God had been silent for over 400 years, and now she is the first recipient of the news that she is to be mother of the God Most High. 

Can. You. Imagine?

I love everything about the Christmas story. I love to study it, to teach it, and to ponder on it. There is so much to unpack in this story of Jesus’ humble entrance into our dark world.   No matterhow many times I’ve read it, reviewed it, or studied it, God always allows me to walk away with another “ah-ha” moment.  I’m so thankful he loves me enough to speak to my heart in ways I can understand!  

The Bible clearly tells us that Mary was highly favored.  However, it doesn’t tell us exactly why. Yes, Mary was hand-chosen to be the mother of Jesus, but Mary was also just a normal, everyday, common girl. She was human and sinful, even at her early age. Therefore, Mary couldn’t have done anything to deserve God’s favor.  He favored Mary, because HE CHOSE TO…not because she deserved it.  It had nothing to do with Mary, but EVERYTHING to do with HIM. She was highly favored and received this unmerited favor as a Grace-gift. 

A Grace-gift. 

Ponder on that for a moment.

A Grace-gift: He wasn’t just blessing Mary with a child, but wasdelivering her through her son.

A Grace-gift: God wasn’t only thinking of Mary, but was thinking of each of us.

We, too, are the recipients of that Grace-gift. A gift of unmerited favor, given by God, through a precious little baby. A baby that was born in a dirty manger, wrapped in dirty clothes, having his first visitors being dirty shepherds. A Grace-gift that would grow and become our sin payment…payment in full for our eternal salvation. 

What a gift! Please unwrap your gift this Christmas. Yes, Mary was highly favored, AND so are you!

Pivot & Pause

Guest Post by Crystal Breaux

Pivot, change, pause, cancel! The different words we have had to say this year, for obvious reasons. No matter your age or profession, I am positive you have had to re-adjust and learn to do things in a new way in some area of your life.   With Christmas as our final event of 2020, we are still faced with having to pivot and perhaps change things.   This season, I am challenging myself and asking God to show me how to see Him and His birth in a new way. 

First, no matter our circumstances, the coming of our king promised hope because we have a God who is sovereign, powerful and has authority over everything, as prophesized long before His birth.   

Daniel 7:13-14

“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

Second, as some of us have experienced loss, disappointment and fear this year, there is one truth that I have been reminded often from words of the apostle Paul in Philippians 3:8.

“What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.”

I cannot think of anything more valuable than the peace of knowing I have Jesus Christ as my Savior and that no matter what, I have eternal salvation through Him.  That is what it is all about it.

Without question, we have been forced to slow down, change perspective, and do things differently in 2020. What could happen if we threw out our thought patterns, traditions and mindset around Christmas with a daily reminder? The birth of Jesus brought us peace, grace and the offer of eternal salvation which is the most valuable gift we will ever receive. And that is what it is all about.

It’s True

You ever parented during a pandemic? Yeah, me neither.

The line is fine, and the decisions are daunting. We want to keep life normal for our kids, but we don’t even know what normal is anymore.

Here’s the deal – nobody has ever been here before, so nobody knows where this crazy train is taking us.

This. Is. Hard.

I don’t have any ground-breaking advice. I just have truth. And that truth is found in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

This is what I know from digging into the roadmap that God left for us: He wins. There really is hope. And this awful pandemic will eventually pass.

These words aren’t trite.

They are true.

Hold onto hope, momma.

Hold onto God.

– Daisy

“And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts,” 2 Peter 1:19