Come as you are

“God doesn’t want something from us, He simply wants us.” – C.S Lewis

I don’t sit up straight on Saturday.

I do not typically begin writing these with such a random statement. I have to say though, the Lord spoke to me the other day. When the Lord speaks, He speaks.

It was the weekend – a Saturday morning to be exact. My favorite day to wake up just before my husband does, have my coffee, and make breakfast for us. I shared this all to get the point across that those are very relaxing mornings for myself.

I don’t have to get up and hit the ground running at the sound of an alarm, and I don’t have to act like I have it all together even if I’m really just not feeling it. I come as I am. Just like the Lord wants us to “come as we are”. As I’m relaxed on Saturday’s with my hair on the top of my head in a bun, over sized T-shirt, I’m also makeup free. Lastly, I am not sitting up straight.

I can blame my years of dental assisting for poor posture, or I can boldly admit that the Lord stopped me in my tracks and reminded me of that feeling I have on Saturday’s of relaxation. To simply just be me, is how the Lord wants us to come to him. We don’t have to be proper or put a smile on to hide the mess. We can be that comfortable for the Lord. Our true rest.

I hope today you choose to come as you are. We don’t have to “fit the part”. He created our part, and we are more than qualified with him.

“Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

Lord, thank you for the reminders you send to us through everyday life. We aren’t here to do anything more than to simply serve you, and to love how you love. Thank you for the reminder to be natural with ourselves and one another. We can truly be who you made us to be. Thank you for the rest we can find in you. Lastly, thank you for sending your Son to walk a perfect life with the knowledge that we would never be able to. Amen.

Good Eye

Guest Post by Mrs. Carrie Hunt

Matthew 6:22-23 The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.

In Matthew 6 Jesus is teaching His famous Sermon on the Mount. He gives very practical advice on how to give, pray, fast, and how to deal with anxiety. It is all very easy to understand and apply. But found in the middle of this portion of text are these two obscurely worded verses.

The phrases “good eye” and “bad eye” were a common figure of speech used in 1st century culture. It communicated how a person saw the world. If a person saw the world as a good place and trusted God was on the move and in control, they were said to have a good eye. Likewise, if a person saw and only lived for their own desires or only acknowledged the negativity in the world they were considered to have a bad eye. It is similar to our modern day figure of speech that someone sees the world through a glass half empty or half full.

God’s desire is for us to have a good eye. He wants us to be looking for His goodness in the world and to consider ways to join Him in His plan to bring the Kingdom of God to earth.

The beginning of this teaching warns us not to collect treasures on earth where they can get broken, stolen or deteriorate, but rather give while on earth! The greek word that is used for the word good in the above passage is the same word we use for generous. If you believe that God is good and want to partner with Him then you would naturally be generous. Being kingdom minded means we use the things God has blessed us with to serve others. It will cost us. We should freely give time, resources, and forgiveness.

Let us pray for a good eye and set our focus on kingdom advancement.

Get OK.

Sister, you’ve got to get ok with being different.

Here’s the thing – if you are God’s girl you will always be different. Just go on ahead and embrace that truth nugget.

God says you are holy.

Set apart.

You are set apart from them.

Stop longing to be like them.

Stop longing for the invite.

Stop longing for anything that isn’t of God.

Just stop.

Did anyone else just have the lyrics to Vanilla Ice go through their mind? Just me? Now I need to stop.

Seriously, be different. And be ok with being different. God’s word – His truth – states that He made you precious in His sight.

He thinks you’re awesome, girl.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

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

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.

Childlike Faith

Guest Post by Mrs. Ashley Post

To have childlike faith…

Sounds so simple doesn’t it? My daughter, Elle, just recently turned three, and the excitement of Santa Claus is REAL this year. Santa’s elf is perched high on our mantle and we even got to visit with the boss himself, Santa (despite the plexiglass window). With COVID you’d think Christmas magic would be in short supply, but not with our little! She is our Buddy the elf- constantly singing loud for all to hear!

Recently, Zak (my husband), was off work, so we took the opportunity to cross off a few things on our Christmas list. While shopping it seemed everyone’s anxiety was high- whether it was the mask-wearing, news of COVID numbers increasing, or just the “holidays” in general, everyone seemed to be on edge. Needless to say, when we finally got back home we were ready for bed.

After baths, nighttime routines, and putting Walker (our five month old) to bed, Zak and I got into bed with Elle. She was already snoozing hard. Zak and I looked at each other with a sigh of relief- “what a day” we thought. All of the sudden, as clear as anything I’ve ever heard, Elle started singing “Emmanuel, Emmanuel!”- one of her children’s program songs for church. Tears immediately came to both of our eyes. She was “dream singing”! With all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, the magic of Santa, and the stress of finding that perfect gift- God used this simple moment to bring us back to the true meaning of Christmas- the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. God spoke to my heart from so simply and sweetly from the mouth of babes. The weight of the day seemed to melt away. Did you know “Emmanuel” translated means “God with us”? *Cue the chills*

I want to encourage you this Christmas season to remember the reason we celebrate and remember your WORTH. The song “O Holy Night” has the lyric “the soul felt it’s worth”, which has never stood out to me until just recently. God loved you so much that he bankrupt heaven to send a Savior to a lost and dying world. For YOU my friend.

Times have been dark this year, there is no doubt. It is said that on the night that Jesus was born, three stars met to create the star that lit the wise men’s’ path. Light was brought to the world. Did you know that December 21st this year we will be able to see this same star on the darkest day of the year? The Christmas star. How appropriate that in this moment in time during the Christmas season, God sends this beautiful reminder that Light has and will step in forever and ever. He makes all things new again. “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel”- Matthew 1:23

We wish you and your family the merriest Christmas, this year. May God bless you and keep you!

Christmas

Guest Post by Mrs. Christle Jenkins

CHRISTMAS, a cozy time of year, where we get under a blanket, drink hot chocolate, watch Christmas movies, all while our Christmas lights are twinkling all around us.

We stay busy decorating Christmas trees, shopping for gifts, and celebrating with family. When I think of the true meaning of Christmas and what we are celebrating, I think of God sending us His Son, Jesus. He is the reason for the season, but sometimes all the distractions of the holiday tend to blur out Jesus, our Savior!

There are so many times I have dreaded Christmas because my mind goes straight to the shopping, the money that will be spent, and the weeks of busyness. I must stop and remind myself that Christmas is about Christ and God’s love for us!

I also think about how God chose a virgin, Mary, to carry His Son. Can you imagine what Mary must have thought? She was favored enough by God to be the mother of Jesus, her firstborn son, and He would be the Savior of the world.

“She will give birth to a Son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21

Today is my firstborn son’s birthday. This leads me to think about and realize just how much of a sacrifice God made, but also Mary. God trusted Mary enough to handle her son’s purpose in this world. It is unimaginable to me to know that my son, who would be sinless and blameless, would be born to die for the sins of the world. I can tell you with all honesty that my faith would waiver at that moment, but Mary shows a true testament of her faith. She trusted her Lord with her Son. She had to watch him be ridiculed, hurt, beaten, and crucified and keep her faith that He was carrying out God’s purpose.

As a mom I want to try to control and protect my children in every circumstance they face. I want to keep them from hurt, pain, and having to deal with any obstacles that would come against them. But these are the moments that God uses to mold them and help them become who and what He wants them to be. That is where I need to remember the faith Mary had.

I can only teach them to seek the Lord with all their hearts and then have faith that God has their future in His hands. God loves our children more than we do and they belong to Him. He has placed them on this earth to fulfill His purpose for them. They will face adversity, hurt, pain, etc., but we can strive to have the faith Mary had, and God will handle the rest.