4 Steps to Peace When Peace Seems Out of Reach

4 Steps to PeaceGlory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. Luke 2:14 KJV (emphasis mine)

The angels proclaimed peace and good will to men on the earth over 2000 years ago. Looking at the headlines or your own circumstances it may seem they were wrong. Peace seems so elusive. So out of reach.

The angels weren’t wrong. Peace came. Peace remains. It’s ours. He is ours.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 KJV (emphasis mine)

This child who’s birth we celebrate each December is peace. Jesus, the Prince of Peace who promised to never leave us. We are constantly accompanied by peace.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Galatians 5:22 KJV (emphasis mine)

This peace lives in us. The Spirit comes with all its fruit.

So why don’t we feel peace? How often are you in a conversation with someone and one of you is not really in the conversation? Just because Jesus is with us it doesn’t mean we are engaging with Him. His presence doesn’t guarantee we experience peace. We must choose to connect, to engage.

4 Steps to Peace When Peace Seems Out of Reach

  1. Remember who’s you are, the Prince of Peace.
    • The promise of peace came with good will. The news that God is not mad at you should bring peace in any circumstance. He is unchanging. If He declared good will toward the people of the earth 2,000 years ago He still has good will toward the people of earth today.
  2. Remember who dwells in you bearing the fruit of peace.
  3. Give to God the things that are His to hold, the things interfering with your peace.
  4. Release peace

Jesus, thank you for being my Prince of Peace. Thank you for coming to be my Savior and my peace. Thank you for sending Holy Spirit to grow the fruit of peace in my spirit. I release to you all the things that concern me, all the things I can’t control – which is everything 😊. I will obey and not fear. I release the peace you have given me in Jesus name.

How do you find your peace?

How to Say “Yes” to the Impossible

As I looked back at the story in Luke this December I realized Mary is not so unlike me.

The angel came announcing Mary had the Lord’s favor. He immediately continued with “Do not be afraid.” Obviously Mary was showing signs of being afraid.

I fear.

The angel explained what God had planned for her, for the salvation of nations, and for the eternal Kingdom of the Messiah. Mary got stuck at the first part.

I miss the important parts of what He says the first time, or several.

“How can I have a baby? I’m not that kind of girl!”

I question.

The angel tried again. He didn’t scold for her question. He answered. He gave evidence. He reminded “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” [Luke 1:37 KJV] or stated another way “For no word from God will ever fail.” [Luke 1:37 NIV]

Mary believed. She responded with a “Yes”. Mary submitted without fully understanding.

I love that! NO word from God will EVER FAIL! What a promise!

I believe. I say “yes”.

The Lord is patient with our doubt and questions, even our fear. He also doesn’t leave us with them.

God answered Mary’s question, not with more details. He answered with encouragement, reminders of who He is and what He can do.

I believe this so quickly encouraged Mary to agree because she knew her scripture. She knew the faithfulness and character of her miracle-working God. She was able to agree with the angels proclamation. “Yes, anything is possible with my God.”

So how do you say “yes” to the impossible?

  • Ask your questions.
  • Set aside your fears.
  • Remember who you are saying “yes” to. What impossible things has He already done in your life? Meditate on the impossible things He recorded is scripture. Go back and remind yourself of who He is. Remind yourself of what His word is on the subject.

Remember His word that will NEVER FAIL.

Say Yes to the Impossible

4 Important Steps to Prepare for Christmas

Preparing for Christmas can take on a life of its own.
Somewhere in my past I became convinced that Christmas had to be “prefect”. Trouble is I wasn’t even sure what prefect was. But I knew I wasn’t. My home wasn’t. My children weren’t.
I sat in this hoped for “prefect” season allowing it to magnify my lack of perfection.
I am very grateful God walked me through this when my children were young. I didn’t want Christmas to be about unattainable perfection on any level. I wanted to live that Christmas was about Jesus, not just say so. I will not say I have arrived. I go through the process I am going to lay out for you every year. Some years I do better than others. Some days I do better than others.
to Prepare for Christmas

Here’s my process of preparing for Christmas.

1. Identify expectations:

I can create a great amount of stress for myself if I do not take the time to sort through what I am expecting of Christmas. For me it’s a whole season, not a day. I am naturally idealistic.  I tend to have expectations I’m not aware of until I’m disappointed.

2. Evaluate expectations:

Once I identify my dreams and expectations I take them to God. In my time with Him I ask questions like, “What is doable this year?” and “What is most important?”, and “What matters to my family?”. I can let many things go when we have this conversation. Time with Him and time with family are all I want. Everything else is fluff. Fluff is okay as long as there is no stress attached.

3. Evaluate traditions. Does this bring God glory?

When I had my children I looked at every Christmas tradition through this lens “Does this give God glory?” If I could not see a way it brought God glory I modified it or threw it out.
This is where my first book, Christmas Is about Jesuswas born. I wanted to do the advent calendar where there is a window to open each day. I wanted it to be more than counting down days until presents. To me Christmas is about Jesus coming to bring us salvation. Yet everywhere we encountered things that had nothing to do with Jesu. I wrote the daily devotions to point our thoughts to Jesus. I made ornaments so my children would have something to “open” each day. The ornaments also helped us talk about the devotion throughout the day. We usually hung them where we could see them from the table.
I am not saying fun activities like gingerbread houses or games are out. God loves families. He loves families enjoying each other and making memories. For me activities like pretending Santa was real were out.

4. Ask kids what makes Christmas special to them. (You may want ot try this even if the kids are out of the house.)

One year (while I was stressing over all the baking, decorating, making gifts, and whatever else was in my perfect Christmas that year) God inspired me to ask the kids what made Christmas special to them. Their list was short and totally doable. They wanted to look at Christmas lights, go to Gramma’s, and make gingerbread houses. That was it. That was all they cared about! It made letting my list go much easier. Now every year after Thanksgiving I ask and we schedule what’s most important to each of us. Anything else that happens is extra. Way less stress. Way more time for peace, the Prince of Peace.
 

How do you prepare for Christmas?

Countdown to Christmas: Focus on Jesus

As Christmas approaches it can be a challenge to focus on Jesus, the real reason for celebrating. God showed His love in such an amazing way. He became a human, lived, suffered and died in our place. Miraculously He rose again and wants to live in relationship with us!

I wrote Christmas is About Jesus: An Advent Devotional to help my family focus on Jesus in a busy season, a busy culture, that is often sending conflicting messages about what we are doing, or should be doing, and why. The links below are to posts I have done in the past that can enhance use of the devotions in the book or help you focus on Jesus even if you don’t have the book.

Blessings to you and your family this Christmas season!

 

Countdown to Christmas: Focus on Jesus Preparing to Prepare

Preparing for Christmas can take on a life of its own. Some where in my past I became convinced that Christmas had to be “prefect”. Trouble is I wasn’t even sure what prefect was, I just knew I wasn’t, my home wasn’t, my children weren’t. So here’s this hoped for “prefect” season that does nothing but magnify my failings and I’m trying to sell my children the idea that Christmas is about Jesus.

Christmas 2012 snowI am very grateful God walked me through this when my children were young. I didn’t want to model Christmas being about stress and unattainable perfection on any level. I wanted to live that Christmas was about Jesus, not just say so. I will not say I have arrived. I go through the process I am going to lay out for you every year. Some years I do better than others. Some days I do better than others.

Here’s my process for preparing to prepare for Christmas.

Evaluate expectations: Are my expectations from God?
I create a great amount of stress for myself if I do not take the time to sort through what I am really expecting of Christmas. For me it’s a whole season, not a day. I am naturally idealistic. So I recognize my dreams and expectations and take them to God. What is doable this year? What is most important? Thankfully I can let many things go when we have this conversation. Time with Him and time with family are really all I want. Everything else is fluff. Fluff is okay as long as there is no stress attached.

Evaluate traditions. Does this bring God glory?

When I began having children I looked at every Christmas tradition through this lens. Does this give God glory? If I could not see a way it brought God glory I modified it or threw it out.
CIAJ slideThis is actually where my first book, Christmas Is about Jesus, was born. I wanted to do the advent calendar where there is a window to open each day. I wanted it to be more than counting down days until presents. Everywhere we went we were bombarded with things that have nothing to do with Jesus coming to bring us salvation. So I wrote the daily devotions to point us to Jesus each day and made ornaments so my children would have something to “open” each day. The ornaments also helped us talk about the devotion throughout the day. We usually hung them where we could see them from the table.
I am not saying fun activities like gingerbread houses or games are out. God loves families. He loves families enjoying each other and making memories. For me activities like pretending Santa was real were out.

Ask kids what makes Christmas special to them.

A few years ago while I was stressing over all the baking, decorating, making gifts, and whatever else was in my ideal Christmas that year God inspired me to ask the kids what made Christmas special to them. Their list was short and totally doable. It made letting my list go much easier. They wanted to look at Christmas lights, go to Gramma’s, and make gingerbread houses. Gifts at Gramma's
Now every year I ask after Thanksgiving and we schedule what’s most important to each of us. Anything else that happens is extra. Way less stress. Way more time for peace, the Prince of Peace.
What do you do to prepare to prepare for Christmas?

Countdown to Christmas: Focus on Jesus Week 2

Our first week of Countdown to Christmas: Focus on Jesus did not go as planned, or more accurately, as pictured in my head. I really neglected to plan.

We missed more devotions than we read.
We were far from having peace in our house the beginning of the week.
We spent 3 days focused on a new truck.
What I picture – what I long for, is quiet moments – hours, with the Lord in front of a beautiful tree and candle light. There it is easy to focus on Jesus.
I realized last night that with less than 3 weeks until Christmas we are not ready. AT ALL. No gifts. No plans. Almost no preparation. There has been no quiet contemplation in the peaceful setting I desire.
It has been better – though I didn’t realize it until this morning.
My husband plows snow for extra income. We don’t count on it but in the midst of our God Sized Project extra is good. He feels a strong sense of responsablity to his customers. They count on him. So when it snowed at the beginning of the week and the old faithful plowtruck barely limped through the plowing it was more than a little stressful. Our mechanic didn’t even want to hear the  truck had been on the road at all much less on a regular basis. Needless to say it is not worth fixing right now.
I share that because the search for a new truck brought the blessings and focus on Jesus that I had not planned.
The whole family together in a new level of transparency and connectedness prayed for God’s direction and provision.
I followed my husband in praying, declaring, and praising in a way we never have before. Since finding the truck we were blessed with His praise has not left our lips.
We were/are busy finding the truck, taking care of paperwork and getting it ready to plow but our focus is on Jesus. Amazed again and again at His goodness.
Blessings sometimes come wrapped in strange packaging. I am blessed with eyes to see the gift inside.
What unexpected packages have come your way?
Is there a way God can use them to turn your focus to Him and His promises?

Countdown to Christmas: Focus on Jesus

December 1st.
The day to start counting down to the celebration of Jesus birth.
We didn’t start off so well. The book and ornaments only came in this afternoon.
Attitudes amongst the natives were far from festive this morning.

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Preparing to decorate

My daughter worked hard to begin the transformation. Maybe next year I’ll be more organized, better disciplined or whatever it is I’m lack so I can enjoy doing it with her instead of directing her while I’m busy with other things like school, making dinner, or blog posts.

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We're getting closer

I really do want to focus on Jesus.
His sacrifice.
His humility.
His love.
For me.

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We’ll read our devotion tonight.

Tomorrow I’ll ask the kids for their top Christmas wishes. I started this a few years ago when I was overwhelmed by my wish for a “perfect” Christmas. I asked what traditions were important to them, if there were any new ideas and we just focus on everyone’s top thing. If we get to more- bonus! I intended to ask this morning, but like I said, it was less than festive here…

How are you preparing to celebrate Jesus?
How is it going?

Resting in Celebrating

It’s the week before Christmas and all is at rest. 
Wouldn’t that be lovely? To rest in this beautiful time of year? 
I really enjoy sitting on the couch with only the Christmas tree lights on, preferably white. This year they set up the tree so we can plug in colored, white or both! Mostly only the white get plugged in. I think I have won my children over from colored. This seems so peaceful to me. How often do I take the time to rest and enjoy my tree? Not often enough, the list of things to do is too long. Who still needs gifts? What will the gifts be? What about the annual Christmas letter? Gifts to send to family far away should be gone already and they’re not done either.
It is a struggle to rest in the midst of all these extra demands. I’m getting better about not caring if I meet expected timelines. It would be nice to be one time, but I may have to be okay with being late. It’s better than being stressed. Every year I let go of a little more. Next year we’ve been talking about simplifying even more. Rest has to be important enough to make time and room for.  That means other things have to be adjusted, reduced or even eliminated.  
I also realized this morning I have not been taking time to meditate on the richness of God’s gifts to me. We often say God’s greatest gift was Jesus being born. That is really only the beginning of the story. All the wonderful gifts God has for us are only possible because Jesus followed the plan through death to be resurrected and glorified.
How lost do His great gifts to us become in the midst of all the holiday traditions and demands? In trying to prepare gifts and treats I am missing out on rest, not just because I’m busy, my mind is not at rest. I am missing out on the reason I say we are celebrating. I struggle not to lose Jesus in the holiday preparations.
Jesus came and that changed everything. 
It’s worth celebrating.
It is worth so much more than celebrating.
It’s worth changing for, living for, dying for.
He did. 
Will I? 
Will you?

Eternal Encouragement FREE!

Lorrie Flem, founder of Gabby Moms and Eternal Encouragement has a gift for you this Christmas. Her wonderfully encouraging, colorful magazine is going digital and it’s free! You can read and share all you want in December because it’s free! I hope you’ll take the opportunity to read this holiday issue and see if it is an encouragement for you. Articles are written by real moms who love Jesus. Many of the advertisers are moms as well. 

It is in a new format and it is FREE….you read that right FREE!!!!
To view it go to  http://www.eemagazine.com/ and click on the button that looks like this:
Inline image 1 
Please read, be encouraged and share with other women who could use some encouragement, too.

Schedule and Plan for Rest

Are your holiday plans well under way or running away?
To have rest at any time of the year we have to plan and prioritize. Even more so at Christmas. Make sure to plan in some rest. Also be sure to make a full inventory of all you intend to do. What preparation is involved? How many resources – not only money – time & emotions, too.  List EVERYTHING involved, every step in it’s entirety.
Now the reality check. Can you actually do everything on your list? Do you have enough of every kind of resource to pull it off? Another question, do you want to use all those resources? Do you have any reserves?
In the past I have failed in many steps of this planning. Every year I continue to simplify and learn to be more realistic in my planning, in understanding what it will really take to pull off my plans. As an example for many years it was a tradition to make gingerbread houses with two other families. A great day for everyone involved. For the planning though it was not just the day on the calendar. There had to be the rearranging of school plans. How long does it take to get snow gear for three children? What about lunch? A special trip to the store for candy we do not keep around the house but need for our project. This is a great tradition and worth all the effort, I just sometimes forget to plan all the parts I need to plan. It goes better when I remember.
It may be that when you really look at what goes in to some of your holiday plans you will decide you either do not have or do not want to use your resources that way. You may want some time to rest so you can have a better attitude toward your family in this “holly, jolly” season.
Question: How is your planning going?
Challenge: Do your holiday plans include rest? Do they focus on Jesus? 
An invitation: During December I’m posting Countdown to Christmas. Focus on Jesus. At myFocus on Jesus blog. I hope you’ll stop by for a quick note of encouragement.
Christmas Blessing: You can still enter for the $320 prize money until December 11, 2012. There are many great blogs sharing in the blessing. Read and enter on them all!