Monday, November 26, 2007

The Real Holiday To Do List

Recently I bought a decorative tile from our local Hallmark store with “The (real) To Do List” printed on it. I keep it by on my desk as a constant reminder of my priorities. Here’s what it says:
Smile at strangers.
Keep learning.
Notice kindness.
Eat ice cream.
Count your blessings.
Love some more.

Isn’t that great? Isn’t this list what we ought to include in our lives every day? Well maybe not the ice cream, oh and singing for some of us maybe shouldn’t be included. But you get the idea don’t you? As the Holiday season is in full swing, I need to check and recheck the Real To Do List, before I scurry around doing all things I think must be done on my daily list. For my own personal To Do list I add one more line item: Abide in Christ. As I continually turn my eyes toward Him and walk in His love, He gives me strength, wisdom and a sincere love for others. So as we hustle through our To Do lists this month, let’s remember Christ’s words, “I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”

Monday, November 19, 2007

Every Day is Thanksgiving

This morning I spent a good portion of the morning going over my lists in preparation for Thanksgiving. There’s the list of menu items for the big day, then a list of groceries and a list of meals for the rest of the week while the family is in town. Phew! There’s a lot of food to think about in this next week. But it saddens my heart that I spend so much time worrying about the food, when I wish I spent more time reflecting on the areas of life for which I am grateful. Not don’t get me wrong, I do recognize the importance of preparing memorable meals and the fellowship which takes place over those meals. I just don’t want to overlook the beauty of Thanksgiving. Truly I am grateful for much. I am grateful for the people in my life; my family and friends. I am grateful for the people the Lord allows me to encounter each day. I am grateful for my work and the opportunities God brings into my life to serve and to grow. Most importantly I am thankful for something that can never be taken away from me and that is the fact that Christ died for me. I am grateful that through faith He allows us to be a part of His family. I am thankful He has given us His Spirit to live inside of us and help us walk in His ways. For the last several years I’ve begun taking time each morning to thank God for these very things. Honestly a smile comes to my face every time I reflect on the goodness of the Lord and all He has done for us. It is a great way to start off everyday. As I write this to blog, I have grown to recognize that every day is Thanksgiving Day if we allow it to be. Let’s each commit to starting each day thanking the Lord for all He has done and will do in our lives. Yes the food is important, but what’s even more important is to have a grateful spirit not just on this Thursday, but all year long.

Psalm 118:1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.

Family Conversation Starter: How have you seen God work in your life this week? Have you thanked Him for it?

Family Fun: Allow your kids to choose one of their favorite recipes for Thanksgiving and bring them into the process of helping you prepare or cook. Even little ones can pour or stir. Encourage the kids to help in setting the table. Place five kernels of corn at every place setting as a reminder of the first Thanksgiving where they placed several kernels of corn to never forget the previous winter’s rations and how God brought them through the difficult times.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Super Stress or Perfect Peace

Are you feeling a little twinge of stress rise up in you as you see the Christmas decorations going up? I am decorating for the big Thanksgiving meal coming up, and I already feel a season behind. My mind is now beginning to race with thoughts of, “Oh my, I need to get organized. I don’t have my Christmas cards addressed yet. I haven’t bought and wrapped all the out-of-town gifts. What am I going to get the kids this year?” I can feel the tension rising in my arms, flowing to my neck and camping out in my shoulders. Christmas is still a month and a half away, but I already feel like I’m playing catch up! By God’s grace, last night I read Isaiah 26:3, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, whose thoughts are fixed on you.” So I turned my thoughts toward Him. I turned my fears, anxieties and concerns to God. I asked Him to give me strength and wisdom and peace. My friends, I want you to know there was a great calm that came over me as I took my eyes off of the overwhelming circumstances and put them on the God who loves me. Looking to Him keeps things in perspective. I can hear Him saying, “Stay focused on me.” As I do, I realize what is necessary and what is fluff. I begin to see that a joy-filled heart is more important than a perfect place-setting. I begin to see the value of love He can pour through me to the people around me. And isn’t that the most important gift we can give? So as you begin to feel the need to fret, turn your eyes upward and ask for His peace. Let’s place our responsibilities at His feet and walk hand and hand with Him as we step into the Holiday season.

Family Conversation Starter: As we begin to look toward the wonderful Thanksgiving celebration, what would you say you are most grateful for in your life right now?

Family Fun Activity: Set aside time to go on a Fall hike. Gather some colorful leaves as you go and talk together about God’s beautiful creation. When you return home make placemats with the leaves. Glue several (not too dry) leaves onto an large piece of construction paper. Place a piece of clear contact paper over the top to create a smooth, plastic surface or take them to the local copy center and have them laminated.

Monday, November 5, 2007


Don’t you love it when God surprises you and shows his power in unexpected places? This past weekend we vacationed in Destin, Florida for a refreshing and relaxing get-away. As my husband and I sat around the hotel hot tub, two people approached the tub and asked if they could join us. “Sure!” was our response. We always love chatting with other friendly travelers. This precious pair was actually a man with his adult daughter. As my husband chatted with the dad, I talked with the young lady. I soon found out that her mother (his wife) had just passed away less than two months ago from cancer and they were still working through the grief. I shared my heart felt sympathy as I too knew the pain of losing my mother at an early age. As we visited about her life I discovered she was a committed believer, a former English teacher and an avid writer. She hoped to be published one day but didn’t have an idea about how to proceed. It immediately became evident God had placed us together at the hot tub that day so I could share with her the initial steps to getting an article or book published. It was a sign of hope for her and a touch of God’s beautiful loving hand on her life. It was a thrill and blessing to be a small part of what God is doing in her life. I look forward to keeping up with her and seeing the fruit of what was planted through our conversation. There is great joy in being a part of God’s work and being a blessing to others. Let’s continue to seek His direction and be open to the opportunities and surprises He brings along our path.

Family Conversation Starter: The word “serendipity” means unexpected pleasure. When is the last time you experienced a serendipity in your life?

Family Fun: As we enter the month of November, I think about celebrating Thanksgiving and reflecting on the blessings God has brought into our lives. Create a Thanksgiving Poster by decorating an orange poster board with colorful leaves. Write at the top of the board, “Give thanks to the Lord for He is Good. His love endures forever.” Ask family members write what they are thankful for on the board throughout the month.