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The Gift for All

Merry Blogmas … I pray you are staying warm and enjoying all the sights, sounds, and blessings of this wonderful holiday season. We are heading back PA … we had so much fun in South Carolina! Welcome to my crazy lil RV-World, so glad you stopped in.

Like most children, I thoroughly enjoyed every part of Christmas. With great anticipation, I would snoop under the tree to see what toys and games awaited my eager grasp. So I felt upset, and a tad deflated when I started getting things like shirts, pants, deodorant, and underwear! Grownup gifts were no fun!

Then a few Christmases ago my kids gave me some pink fuzzy socks with bright colored designs. I almost felt young again! The icing on the cake was I got a foot bath too….clean feet & fuzzy socks, made me one happy mama!! As I think back to that memory I really have to chuckle…. Everyone could wear these socks, as I remember the label reassured me: “One size fits all.”

That welcome phrase “one size fits all” reminds me of the best gift of Christmas—the good news that Jesus is for everyone.

The point was proven when the first invitation sent by a choir of angels was to shepherds who were labeled and placed on the bottom rung of the social ladder.

The news was underscored further when the VIPs—the wealthy and powerful Magi—followed the star to come and worship the Christ-child. (We will get more involved with the Magi in tomorrow’s blog post ) … truly fascinating!

Christmas began with a gift, the gift of a Savior wrapped in the body of an infant—the greatest gift the world has ever known. The idea of gift-giving is central to Christmas. True, much has been secularized, and we can be distracted by materialism run rampant.

But we should think of gifts as trinkets that symbolize the greatest gift ever given. And every Christmas, Jesus Christ, the greatest gift-giver, continues to give us gifts. Let’s unwrap five Christmas gifts from Jesus.

1. Ultimate Joy: Jesus said,“So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (John 16:22).

2. Answered Prayer: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:23–24).

3. Father Love: “For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God” (John 16:27).

4. Lasting Peace: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace” (John 16:33a)

5. An Overcoming Heart: Jesus assures us, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33b

Jesus gives us these five, amazing gifts, but the ultimate gift is always Jesus Himself. With Him, you get everything; without Him, you have nothing, no matter what you have.

I challenge you today to take time to unwrap each of these beautiful gifts and never forget that He was the greatest gift we will ever receive!

Be blessed, be bold, and be you!

Xoxo

Thank You, Lord, that no one is unqualified for the gift of Your love. Teach us to rejoice in the fact that Your love was just right for us, and help us to share that love with others.

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Stop the Hustle

Merry Blogmas!! It’s a little chilly here in South Carolina, but the sun on my face feels amazing. Welcome to my crazy little RV-World, I’m so glad you stopped in.

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.” Luke 2:16 (NIV)

“Hurry up! We’re going to be late for the program…. come on!”

“Come on kids. I need help unloading these groceries right now. I’ve got to get these cookies baked before I go to bed tonight.”

“It’s almost time to hit the after hour sells! Let’s hurry up and get this dinner mess cleaned up. I gotta use that coupon tonight…so I don’t miss out on the deals!”

…. “I seriously can’t wait until all this Christmas stuff is over , and things get back to normal.”

Every radio station in every store is belting out tunes of a Holly Jolly Christmas & having us all dreaming of a white Christmas. But in all reality, most of us find this time of year lacking the jolly … and the only white we wanna see is a few more white spaces on our overbooked December calendars!

Packages, boxes, and bows are shoved in every nook and cranny of our houses and cars.

There are parties to attend, shopping trips to squeeze in, baking nights followed by wrapping weekends.

Let’s not even mentioned all the holiday potlucks that seem to add another page to my ever growing grocery list!

Every day there are people to see, stuff to buy, and things that have to get done.

The hustle and bustle of this so called, “wonderful time of year” can knock the holly-jolly right out of you and replace it with bad case of the…bah-humbugs!

As a result, our lives become overwhelming and a tad overloaded, this truly drowns out the meaning of the season.

I wonder if the individuals in the first Christmas story ever imagined that the celebration of Christ’s birth would become so hurried and full of hassle. The shepherds? The angels? The wise men? Mary and Joseph?

Was hurriedness present the night Jesus was born? Im sure we like to think that it wasn’t. But actually, “hurry up” was very present that night. However, it wasn’t to, Walmart, the mall or grocery store that people were rushing to.

The shepherds were working in the fields when suddenly a choir of angels told them the Christ Child had been born. Luke 2:16, says they hurried off to find Him lying in a manger.

If I had been one of those shepherds, I would have been quiet and amazed once I got there.

There is just some thing about being around a newborn that makes me speak softer, smile brighter, and dream bigger …. I feel such “awe” when I see a new life. In the presence of Jesus I wonder if those men too were settled and silent.

Maybe we could do the same today. In the midst of our holiday hustle and tasks, I challenge each of us to just stop for a moment and leave our pile of work. Let’s slow down long enough to hurry in another direction.

Let us for a moment put our activities on hold so we might quietly meet with our Lord. We could be settled and silent in the presence of Jesus.

As a result we just might discover an unhurried holiday: a beautiful season that will strengthen us spiritually instead of draining our joy and energy.

How about it? Today I will pause and purpose to hurry into His presence instead of rushing from task to task!

Dare we linger long enough to be refreshed by the company of the One whom the holiday is really about?

Here’s to more “white space” on our calendar this Christmas; space that creates more room in our days for meeting with Jesus!

Be blessed, be bold, and be you !!

Xoxo

Pondering the Moment

Merry Blogmas… today as I sit writing this post I’m watching the world go by from the backseat of our car. It’s gonna be a good day … welcome to my crazy little RV-World! So glad that you stopped in.

For me one of the highlights of the Christmas season is remembering and reminiscing…. I truly enjoy going through my old journals and reading Christmas cards from years gone by. As we decorate our Christmas tree with ornaments from our family’s journey…they bring back sweet memories of long ago Christmases when our children were small.

It brings moments of gratefulness and tenderness. Yes, and trust me; even some regrets…the “wish I could go back, the what if’s, and can I have a few do-overs”. And although we cannot go back, we can gain perspective through remembering.

This morning as I was packing my crafty tote I was thinking of a scripture in Luke ….

“But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.”

I googled the word pondering and this is what this power little word means: to consider something deeply and thoroughly; meditate 2. to weigh carefully in the mind; consider thoughtfully

Mary took time to be still in the moment even with everything going on around her…. she allowed herself a moment! In the awe of having given birth to God’s Son, I believe she took time to ponder and remember Who Jesus was and worshiped.

The shepherds had come and were spreading the word the angel had shared with them, and Mary was reminded of The Baby.

In the craziness and hustle and bustle of all that is going on around us, don’t miss worshiping the Baby. This Child born in a lowly manger giving access to anyone who will come to Him.

Had He been born in a palace as the Prince of Peace and King of Kings He was, very few could have come and worshiped. It would have been so difficult to gain access to Him.

Even if He had been born in the inn, I seriously doubt that the “dirty, smelly” shepherds would have been welcomed.

So in God’s great wisdom, not by chance, there had been no room in the inn; Mary and Joseph had taken the only shelter offered to them – the stable…with the animals.

God chose to make Baby Jesus accessible both in His birth and in His sacrifice on the cross.

So today I challenge each of us to set aside time to ponder God’s great love this Christmas.

Let’s make room for the Baby (Jesus) in the inn of our hearts and worship!

It’s going to be an amazing day … and my heart is so full of love and worship for the Lord that I’m truly overwhelmed.

Be blessed, be bold, and be you!!

Xoxo

Flowers in Winter

Well, it’s Monday again and a tad frosty in my neck of the woods. So… I find myself bundled up, sipping hot tea, and watching the lights dance up and down my tree! Merry Blogmas my dear friend… so glad you stopped in! Welcome to my crazy lil RV-World.

One of my most favorite things is flowers … I truly love getting fresh flowers and just their appearance & smell can transform any room… anywhere…. and bring delight to your soul!

“I am the rose of Sharon, The lily of the valleys.” Song of Solomon 2:1

I know…it’s Christmas and you would expect this post to be about the beautiful poinsettia.

But for now, I wanted you to be surprised because our God is a God of surprises, God of the unexpected.  We cannot try to put Him in a box.

And trust me I know the scripture verse I’m using for today is not a “typical” Christmas verse.

The entire book of Solomon is a love story depicting Christ’s love for His Bride, the Church, and His Bride’s love for Him.

…. anyone who knows me, knows I’m a sucker for a good love story. (Insert laughter), or even a bad cheesy love story!!

This young woman stood out among others not only because of her outer beauty, but because of the fragrance and beauty of her life that was changed by his love for her which in return caused her love for him to bloom.

Christmas times brings with it a wealth of emotions & memories… and I sit here writing, my mind is drifting … always drifting.

We were at my brother’s memorial service just a few weeks back and Connie’s (my sister-in-love) aunt stood up to speak and what she said makes today’s post even more emotional for me. In a nutshell she said Connie was always a kind & beautiful girl but quiet & shy BUT what Connie’s family watched over the 30 years of being married to my brother was that Connie blossomed under Duane’s love & devotion!

That memory is flooding in … such a beautiful picture of what was also happening in the book of Solomon.

Isn’t that what God’s love does in us?  He loves us with such a great love in sending His One and Only Son that our lives may be changed, that we may be rescued, and in return our love for Him blooms!  His beauty becomes reflected in and through our lives as a flower in full bloom.

In Luke 12:27-28, Jesus speaks of lilies also –

“Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.  “But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith!”

How often we take God’s love for granted. How often we forget how great it is!  How often we put Him in a box and forget He can do the unexpected!  He can do the impossible!

God’s love changes everything.  When Jesus was born, God did the impossible.  He stepped out of eternity into time.  He took on flesh and became like us.  (John 1:14)

Then He took our death, our punishment, and died.

But on that third day…again the impossible happened…the unexpected…He arose!

Because of the Cross there is a Christmas.  Because of His death there is a new birth. Because of the beauty of God’s great love for us, there is hope.

So even though it’s winter…look for the flowers.  Even though you may be struggling through a very difficult time, look for the beauty of His love.  He is there.  He is near.

The greater One lives in you and He will never leave you nor forsake you .. you are His beloved!

Have an amazing day !!! You are loved beyond measure! Xoxo

Sweet As Candy

Merry Blogmas…. my hope is that you and yours are slowing down and enjoying the moments around you . Welcome to my crazy little RV-World.. I’m so glad that you stopped in.

“Pleasant words are a honeycomb,

Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

There is just something special about Christmas candy!  The smiles and giggles its sweetness brings out in the young as well as the old is part of the joy of Christmas.

There is something else that brings a sweetness to the lives of others though and that is encouragement – “pleasant words.”

A dear friend of mine often references a quote by author Mark Twain: “I can live for two months on a good compliment.”

Our words matter. They either build others up or tear them down. They are able to both soothe and scar.

Last night as hubby and I watched the Nutcracker from high in the balcony (actually in the little crow’s nest where he ran spot), I was able to see everything…. and I have to say those children did an amazing job.

What touched me the most was the way the audience clapped, whistled, and Whoo hoo-ed as the children danced their hearts out .

The more we clapped the higher they leaped … and the louder the whistles the bigger the spins.

You could truly feel the love for these children… and sense the pride at how hard they worked.

But the part that truly made my heart melt last night was during intermission …. as I stood in the little black box no one knowing I was even there …I overheard a conversation. Oh no, I wasn’t eases dropping I was active listening.

It was a big sister sharing with the others around her that her sister was tired , nervous, and really didn’t want to perform. The big sister totally understand but instead of trying to make the little girl perform in the Nutcracker. The big sister simply hugged her little sister and told her she was proud of her, that she knew she could do it and she told her how many people would be blessed by watching her dance . And I looked down from my perch I noticed that the big sister had a bouquet of flowers & a huge candy bar waiting to give her little sister after the performance.

As intermission came to an end and the curtain began to rise I had to giggle because the scenery for Act 2 was a beautiful candy cane “forest”… and yep, you guessed it …. I started writing this post in my head!

So….. do our words build others up in their need of the moment and bring grace to those who hear?  Both our words and actions affect those around us.

Kindness…it is a strong and powerful gesture whether it is through “pleasant words” or kind actions.

Today, I challenge each of us to put this Christmas post into action and take the time to notice those around us and spread a little kindness.

Let’s allow this sweet fruit of kindness (Galatians 5:22-23) to become evident in our lives that it may have a ripple effect just like the big sister’s act of kindness did.

May our words be sweet like candy and give grace to others.

Have an amazing day … let’s sprinkle kindness around like confetti.

Be blessed, be bold, & be you.

Xoxo

Fear Not, It’s Good News

Merry Blogmas…. welcome to my crazy lil RV-World, I’m so glad that you stopped in.

I found this quote early this morning and I keep playing it over again and again in my mind, “do not let fear paralyze. The scariest paths often lead you to the most exciting places”.

And because it’s Christmas time my thoughts have been on Jesus’ birth and all the things that surround that truly amazing night.

Luke 2:10-11 an angel of the Lord delivers a powerful message to the shepherds – “Do not be afraid.”

Fear strikes the hearts of men and women on a daily basis. Fear is no respecter of persons. It reaches out and causes us to either cower and run for the hills or to become paralyzed due to dread or awe.

I’m sure the shepherds were probably struck by both – dread of the unknown of what was happening and the awe of these majestic creatures surrounded by the glory of the LORD!

However, the fear itself is not the main point here. The reason they did not need to fear is because, the angel told them the “good news” – the Savior had come, and the Messiah had been born!

How many life changing verses in the Bible begin with these two precious words – “But God…” No matter what happens today or tomorrow, no matter what the known or unknown of it may be…God is still God… He cares about the details! He will never leave us nor forsake us!

And when we are faced with the unknowns of life, never forget the Greater One lives in you & you are His beloved Child!

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

His perfect love casts out fear. (1 John 4:18) When we know Christ as our Savior, nothing can separate us from the love of God.

“But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39

So any time you see an angel during this Christmas season, let it remind you of the angel’s message… “Do not be afraid…. there is Good News”!

God’s love has made a way to cast out fear – trust in Jesus.

He can cause all things to work for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose! (Romans 8:28)

Have an amazing day…. fear not because the Lord is with you, you are not alone!

Be blessed, be bold, and be you

Xoxo

Handcrafted by God

Merry Blogmas, wowza I can not believe that another Friday is upon us. It’s gonna be a good day … a very good day! My prayer for you is that today you will have a moment to just enjoy the special beauty that surrounds this time of year. Welcome to my crazy lil RV-World, I’m so glad you stopped in.

Parts of this were taken from a memory of mine from December 2002…. so many memories, so many journals, I truly love my life.

This particular day I found myself tired and ready to be home in my jammies sipping some hot tea … BUT here I was patiently standing in a long checkout line. As I stood there my eyes fell upon the cover of a cooking magazine. I found myself captivated by the ornately creative and beautifully decorated cookies!

All of a sudden I felt a strong surge of “Betty Crockeritis” come all over me. I was so overwhelmed by the beauty of these cookies that I almost jumped out of line and forged the store for more ingredients. I heard myself saying things like, “I can do that! It can’t be that hard! Wouldn’t my family be so impressed with…?”

Immediately, the voice of reason kicked in and I’m truly thankful that it did. This timely voice has come to my rescue more often than I’d like to admit. It went something like this, “No, you and your family are not related to Norman Rockwell. You are not June Cleaver. And yes, you are right that you neither have the time nor the money to invest in this fantasy, so back away from the women’s magazine…. and no one will get hurt !!!! I mean I’m an intelligent woman I know those magazines are strategically placed right by the checkout to suck me in!

Wow! I was not even through the express lane and was already feeling defeated, overwhelmed, and exhausted!

After arriving home, I quickly finished the dinner dishes and decided to pull out some of my old cookbooks….. I also pulled out my beat up recipe file box. Trust me they were not quite as glamorous as the ones I had seen earlier. In fact, I had to carefully pull some pages apart that had gotten stuck together by careless batter spills, cracked eggs going roque, and quite honestly…who knows what else.

I regretfully noticed multiple tea cup rings on the outside cover from one of the many late night cook-a-thons from holidays gone by. Despite their less than perfect condition, I continued my quest for new and improved recipes.

To my pleasant surprise, I discovered, way in the back of my cluttered bookshelf was an old family baking notebook. I smiled to myself as I ever so carefully pulled it down, at the same time trying to intercept the loosely filed “favorite family” recipes that were now free-falling on the floor. As I looked down at this worn and torn notebook, I realized it was like an old friend to me.

There were so many memories of family gatherings around the dining room table. Memories of delectable dishes made by the loving hands of my mom, grandma, and even some extra special ones from my hubby’s side of the family. As I turned the pages, it seemed to fall open to a very popular sugar cookie recipe. As I slowly read through it, I heard myself saying, “Oh yeah, this one is definitely an oldie but a goodie.” But something began to happen as I read through it a second time. I began to see a very interesting spiritual parallel.

I saw how we, as God’s creations, start out as nothing more than ingredients in God’s mixing bowl.

Thus saith the Lord that made thee and formed thee from thy mother’s womb. (Psalm 139:14)

We are rolled out with God’s rolling pin upon the flour-coated cutting board made ready by our Master.

“And the Lord formed man from the dust of the ground ,” then God takes His woman and man-shaped “cookie cutter” and presses down firmly into the pliable dough. (Genesis 2:7)

Afterward, we are placed on a large cookie sheet and slipped into the pre-heated oven.

Behold, I have refined thee though not as silver, I have tested thee in the furnace of affliction. ( Isaiah 48:10)

Next, we are removed and placed on a cooling rack, allowing us to cool down before the finishing touches are added.

“For he that has entered into his rest has ceased from his own works”. (Hebrews 4:10)

After the entire “baking” process has been completed, He then takes us and very lovingly hand-decorates us.

“He that overcometh shall be clothed in white raiment” (Revelations 3:5)

Lastly, we are ready to be served to our fellowman, to be tasted and enjoyed by all. We are to remember that we are carrying about the sweet aroma of a sacrifice acceptable and well pleasing to God – living epistles to be read of all men! (Philippians 4:18)

As I closed my notebook/ cookbook and placed it back on the bookshelf, I found myself thanking God for sharing His eternal recipe. He was teaching me that the very ingredients that are needed for life are available to me. They were written in His own “How To” book (that by the way has been on the best-seller list for quite a long time).

As I dried my hands and hung my dish rag on the oven door, I sat down with a glass of cold milk. I picked up one of the warm cookies, and as I was eating it, I thought to myself I would probably never again look at a simple sugar cookie the same way. I knew I had been altered by God’s loving hand.

That night as I made my way up the stairs I heard that small voice …. and I knew it was the Holy Spirit whispering to me …And as I crawled into bed and grabbed my journal from the bedside table, this is what I penned ….”Never forget, you are my handmade creation, a one of a kind, and yes you are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made.'” (Psalm 139:14)

I challenge you today to take a moment for yourself… find complete rest in the fact that you are uniquely made by the hand of God! May your Christmas be all that you need it to be … and may you find pure joy in being you!!

Be blessed, be bold, and be you!

Xoxo