Showers of Blessings

Today is the day of Thanksgiving in America. It is a day of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole (my contribution), and pumpkin pie. It is a day of football. It is family and traditions.

It is a time to be reflective on all you have to be grateful for.

This year, my Thanksgiving looks and feels a little different. Our traditions have been altered due to family logistics and other particular issues. Our college age daughter is working. There are other variables in life that just makes this year’s Thanksgiving different.

What about you? Are you trying to move forward with life even though things are different?

God uses those messy situations, those hard times, the devastating moments, the lonely days…all of it to draw us closer to Him.

It may not make things easy, but today I choose gratitude.

This Thanksgiving may be a bit different but wow, do I have so much to be thankful for.

Just a week ago, I was able to observe my college age daughter in all her glory leading a children’s program. This morning, my teenage son is baking just because he loves to cook. My dogs lay peacefully at my feet. I have accomplished a huge feat in my professional goals. My husband and I celebrated 20 years of marriage earlier this year. I have an accountability partner who is encouraging me to write daily for #Nanowrimo. And I sure do have a lot of great friends!

Yup, there’s a lot to be grateful as I reflect today.

Despite it’s been a few weeks since I have had a moment to catch my breath to blog and my back spasms continue and my stomach issues are flared, Thanksgiving is so much more than food and traditions. It is a moment to pause and realize life may be full of challenges, but it is also overflowing with everyday blessings.

Happy Thanksgiving. I am grateful for each and everyone of you. Thank you for taking a moment to pause and read my thoughts. What are you thankful for today?

Gratitude is a choice. Choose it.

#blessedbeyondmeasure

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Merry Christmas!

May we hold dearly to those simple yet profound moments that matter most this time of year and always…

A box of Wisconsin cheese arriving on my doorstep from dear friends.

A peaceful winter walk with my son’s new dog.

The fireplace lit, the stockings all hung, and my family close by.

A long kept Christmas surprise of a magical family vacation finally able to be shared, and he was so surprised!

The magic of a white Christmas.

Being perfectly okay with changing up traditions just a bit to accommodate work schedules.

And the most important part of this time of year and always…the greatest gift of all…the babe in the manger.

Merry Christmas to you and yours. I am so grateful for my blogging community!! 

What makes your Christmas magical?

Be Someone’s Waffle Maker

Life has been incredibly busy and non-stop lately, but I was reminded of something very important yesterday.

The smallest things make the greatest impact. Dinner with a dear friend, an employee telling you how much they appreciate you, and coming home to a homemade waffle.

My son decided to make me a homemade waffle. When I came home after a long day, a homemade gluten free waffle with real maple syrup was waiting for me. I’m not sure what possessed him to do this but I know it was an expression of his love.

The simplest, smallest acts make all the difference. Sometimes, these little things are exactly what someone needs to keep moving forward.

My Wednesday thought for you today…be someone’s waffle maker today.

Have a great day!

Rocks in the Road

When you feel like there is a rock in your road, remember there is a greater Rock.

Last night, I was in tears as I thought about the rocks in the road. These rocks are the things that attempt to stand in the way of our joy…Things like disappointments, illness, bad grades, struggles…On and on.
Then, I remembered Who is my Rock and my tears turned to those of joy. Despite the hard circumstances of life, and life is hard, I know God is working through everything to draw me closer to Him.

The Gift of Christmas Year Round

Today is the day after Christmas. I hope you enjoyed a blessed Christmas celebration amongst family and friends. In a few short hours, I will be on my way to yet another family Christmas celebration. Right now, I am enjoying the quiet by the Christmas tree as the rest of my family sleeps.

So much hype, anticipation, and expectation lead up to Christmas. It can result in feelings of let down after the excitement of the day is over. I want to share with you some reflections from Christmas Eve services this year that speak to my heart of the gift of Christmas year round.

Since our home church does not have a Christmas Eve service, our family has always chosen to attend Christmas Eve services at a local church. We used to attend a beautiful musical service at a church close to our home where we could walk. Although the service was beautiful and walking home in softly falling snow was magical on Christmas Eve, I admit I can no longer stay up until after midnight on Christmas Eve especially since I always work a full day on Christmas Eve. This year, since Christmas Eve was on Saturday and I did not have to work, we opted to attend an earlier service at a church we have never attended. I am so glad we did.

The Christmas story does not change. The meaning of its message does not change. I believe, though, that there are different angles and different personal messages that God may have for us to hear in a different light. This year, that very thing happened to me as the pastor emphasized the ordinary in the extraordinary events of that night.

The pastor began the message sharing about some homeless men in a rural area. As he journeyed deeper into his message, these homeless men became the shepherds on that night so long ago in Bethlehem. He shared the Christmas story message in Luke chapter 2, and about God’s favor resting upon these men, the lowliest in society. He also shared how God chose to use Mary and Joseph, common citizens, as well as the wise men who were wealthy and well-respected men in their society. The point…God uses all people. As the message continued, he highlighted and emphasized Luke 2:20…Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard.

The shepherds had been blessed with the gift of a front row seat with backstage passes to the greatest event of time, yet they did not leave that manger scene with a sense of entitlement. They returned to their flocks. As the pastor reflected…God did not make them smell better, did not elevate their position in society, did not shower them with financial blessings…rather they returned to their flocks of sheep with changed hearts full of praise and love for God and His gift to them.

When you look at the Christmas story through the eyes of the shepherds, you can’t help but acknowledge that God’s ways are not our ways. His way is not the way of the world. God does not value the things that the world values. He does not define self-worth and success through professions, bank account balances, the cars we drive, the clothes we wear, the houses we live in, our titles, our mistakes, or our failures. Our worth rests in Him. Whether we are tending His flocks of sheep or leading an organization as CEO with integrity, God loves us all the same. His gift is available to every single person at Christmas and every single day.

May His joy of this season live on every single day in your heart and life.

shepherds

Hope for a Silent Night

I love the Christmas carol Silent  Night. I love the peaceful significant serenity of being surrounded by candlelight as those around me sing the words.
As Christmas approaches, I find myself thinking a lot of Mary  that night in the stable.  Was it a silent night? Mary trusted God and willingly surrendered herself as His servant. She believed in God’s word and promises to her. Yet, I ponder, what was going through Mary’s mind as they approached Bethlehem? She had to be exhausted. She had to be feeling pain.  Was she worried at all or completely resting in the peace of God despite her exhaustation and pain?  Did she look at Joseph trusting he would take care of her and this baby? Did the animals surrounding her in the stable sense the significance of this event, this birth of the baby? Was the smell unbearable?
We enjoy children’s Christmas plays this time of year. There is nothing cuter than seeing a young boy and young girl dressed up as Mary and Joseph surrounding a wooden manger with a baby, usually a lifelike doll, inside. These plays help children understand the meaning of Christmas. A few years ago, I played the part of Mary in a play at church. It opened my heart to wondering…wondering about Mary on that night.
We sing Christmas carols about silent night, all is calm. Childbirth is a time of great anticipation. It certainly is not a time of calmness. Then, the baby is born…coming into the world screaming…the mother snuggles the baby close and the baby’s screams hush. All becomes calm.
Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright…
I reflect. I think about how so far away that sense of calm feels in my own life  which instead feels so busy and chaotic. It’s not that I am out shopping for the perfect gifts or baking dozens of cut out cookies. It’s a restlessness. It’s a longing for some stillness.
Someone nailed it yesterday in a conversation I was having at work. She expressed the modern day hype of Christmas and  all the expectations that we place on Christmas. Then, we can’t live up to those expectations. Because it’s Christmas, it just seems that much more magnified when the disappointment sets in.
This year as Christmas approaches, I want to choose to focus on expectant Hope. I believe that even though Mary didn’t understand everything going on in her world, she trusted and she hoped in God. Trust and Hope can birth a silent night despite the chaotic circumstances surrounding us. I long for stillness and peace. I long for a silent night where my expectations are in His peace and His hope.
silent-night
I will not let the world define Christmas for me. Instead, I will rest in the expectations of Christmas in His Hope and His Joy. Just as those who witnessed the star guiding them to the Christ child were overjoyed, this joy can consume our Christmas celebrations and our lives every single day.  Just as Mary placed her trust in God despite her circumstances, we can place our trust in Him.
Merry Christmas to each and every one of you! May your expectations of Christmas be in Him…He who is faithful.
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