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A Real Christmas

This weekend I got to do one of my favorite things of the whole year. The Farm where I used to work was putting on their annual Christmas event and I got to volunteer for it. This event is great- a wagon ride that stops at different scenes where the story of Christ’s birth is told by volunteer actors. The culmination of the scenes is the last one. A simple nativity in a barn and angels singing. The gospel is told at this scene which means that all the thousands of people that come to this event have the opportunity to hear the gospel. I. Love. It. 

Friday went really well but Saturday came around and it was POURING. Torrential downpours, people. And for an event that is outside, it didn’t look like it was going to be quite as much fun that night. But I was reminded that things go on and the gospel is shared no matter the weather. And I prayed. Lo, and behold, we had practically no rain for the tours and as soon as we finished, it started to rain again. Isn’t God incredible??

But this weekend, I also had a good friend of mine say something unusual to me. She asked me why I was smiling so much and said I just looked so happy and she loved it. She said she is so happy and wished her face could show it like mine can all the time.

Gotta admit, I was kind of taken aback for a minute. I had to stop and think. Of course my answer would have been different if this person wasn’t saved but she’s a strong believer and we are good friends. I thought and just realized that somehow, seeing God answer small prayers like clear skies and being surrounded by people I love, doing something I love filled me with a joy I haven’t felt in a long time.

But I think there’s more than that. Growing up, I was the embodiment of the Christmas spirit. I was ALWAYS cheerful, ALWAYS singing carols, ALWAYS excited for Christmas. And that’s a hard expectation to live up to. The last two years, I have felt very depressed and numb at Christmas but I didn’t show it. I felt like I needed to be the cheerful person that my family and friends expected me to be. And I hated every minute. I hated pretending to take joy in my favorite time of year when I felt nothing. I would enthusiastically participate in every Christmas activity and then come home and cry because I felt so empty.

And this morning at church, sitting taking communion, I realized that I wasn’t faking that joy this year.

It was real.

Amidst all the pain and difficulties this year has brought, God has given me his joy for this season and I don’t have to pretend to have it. I suddenly felt so relieved and unburdened.

So if you saw me quietly crying during communion this morning, no worries, they were tears of thankfulness. Just pure gratitude as I remembered all Christ has done for me.

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2018 in Christmas

 

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What Stirs Your Affections?

Earlier this year my Young Adult group went through Matt Chandler’s video study on Philippians, “To Live is Christ, to Die is Gain.” I have to say, I was SUPER excited to do it because I had already read the book and loved it and was ready to share that with my closest friends. Pluusss…I just love Matt Chandler…

There was a thought in the series that really struck me. Chandler is asking you to look at your life and think about what stirs your affections for Christ and causes you to passionately pursue Him. To be honest, I hadn’t really thought about it before. From the book:

“What is it that stirs you to know Him, to love Him, to worship Him? It will probably look different for a lot of people. It will have to involve the Scriptures, because that’s how God speaks to us. It will involve prayer, because that’s how we speak to God. It involves worship, but we have to remember that worship is bigger and more expansive than singing songs in church. What is it that incorporates the Word and prayer and ultimately builds your heart in worship?” pg.98

He goes through several things that build his love for Christ and let me just say, I’m pretty sure he and I are kindred spirits. Most of the stuff on his list is on mine too. But I wanted to share with you a couple things that stir up my affections for Christ. I want to be clear that these aren’t just things I like in the way that I love cozy blankets but they are things that actually cause me to love and worship Christ more than I already do.

The first would definitely be early mornings. There is just something about waking up early and watching the sun come up as you do your devotions. There is a quiet beauty during that time that makes my heart whisper thankful prayers to the Lord.

Secondly, listening to others who are passionate about their faith. Being in the presence (or, ummm, screen) of someone who SO obviously loves Christ and is excited to share about Him and what he has done encourages me to love Him and serve Him better!

Thirdly, SNOW. I’m already prepared for some negative feedback on this one. I don’t know what it is about snow but it makes me giddy. I literally start giggling like a little girl and laugh (out loud) with joy when it snows. That God would create something so unique, soft, and beautiful is just amazing to me and I love it! It adds a beauty and quietness to winter.

The last one is probably weird. Music. Worship music, yes! Singing praise songs by myself or, even better, with my brothers and sisters in Christ is a beautiful thing! But it doesn’t even have to be that. Have you ever listened to movie scores before? Like from awesome, epic movies? There is something so moving and incredible about them that causes me to worship God. I thought at first it was because I was relating it to what I knew was happening at that point in the movie but I’ve listened to scores from movies I’ve never seen and it can still happen. Classical music can have the same effect. The pure beauty of music itself screams out glory for the Creator!

The book also addresses things that can steal your affections for Christ but I want to talk about that in my next post (whenever that comes.)

What about you? What are some things that make you love and rejoice more in our Savior? What stirs your affections for Him?

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2018 in books

 

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The Fight for Joy

Obviously my time has been filled with things other than blogging recently. The IDEAS are here, it’s the motivation and energy that’s been lacking. So here’s what I’ve got for you today.

My evening devotions the other night talked about fighting for joy. To be honest, I was taken off guard. I feel like this really shouldn’t be a new concept but it was for me. I have always been such an upbeat, cheerful, and content (mostly lol) person that I didn’t have to work at it much. I mean it. Optimism and joy was just naturally part of me. My best friend has told me that I used to be obnoxiously cheerful. Which was her (kind) way of saying I lacked compassion. 🙂

But recently I’ve been having trouble finding joy. I KNOW how blessed I am and I KNOW that thankfulness is the key to having joy but the days keep dragging on and my joy is missing. I’ve read the verses and I’ve prayed over and over about it, asking God to give me back my joy in him.

And I think that’s why this devotion hit me so hard. Joy has always been easy, a part of me, something God provides. I have NEVER considered fighting for it. I’ve never thought that joy was really a choice in my life. It was just something God gave me and I wanted it back.

I love this definition of joy by John MacArthur:

“Christian joy is the emotion springing from the deep-down confidence of the Christian that God is in complete and perfect control of everything, and will bring from it our good in time, and our glory in eternity. That’s Christian joy. Christian joy is not an emotion on top of an emotion. It is not a feeling on top of a feeling. It is a feeling on top of a fact. It is an emotional response to what I know to be true about my God.

I love that. So when I drag myself out of bed every morning, weary before the day starts, I don’t feel very joyful. But I know what is true about my God. I know how much he loves me, I know he is faithful to his promises, I know he cares for my whole being, I know he is good, I know he never changes. And in THOSE things, I can find joy. You can too, friend.

It really is a battle, and I’m aware and ready for it now.

“If the Lord had not been my help, my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence. When I thought, “My foot slips,” your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up. When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.”
Psalm 94:17-19

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2018 in contentment, joy

 

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Lonely in a Crowd

I can’t say that I EVER remember being lonely as a kid. In fact, I’m pretty sure until I moved away from home I still had the idea that usually lonely people were elderly ones who couldn’t get out of the house and sat by themselves for days on end. I had 5 siblings so there was always someone to talk to. And if you got tired of one person, you just went and found another. 🙂

But I’ve grown up a little since then and I know the pain of loneliness. But I also know that most people don’t admit that they are lonely. My friend’s mom has this saying, “If all the lonely people in the world would turn on their porch lights at night then everyone would be a lot less lonely.” Oh, that just makes me laugh. Lonely people don’t TELL others they are lonely! And, from experience, I think I’ve figured out at least one reason why.

There are different types of loneliness. There’s the kind where you actually are alone. When your spouse is out of town for the week on business or when your kids grow up and leave home. I live by myself so I know that every night when I get off work, I will come home to an empty apartment. I will be alone. How about when you are alone in your convictions? When those around you don’t share your faith? That can set you apart and make you feel like an outsider too.

But there’s another kind of loneliness and I actually think it’s worse. When you are surrounded by people and still feel alone. I have often felt this way and it’s taken me a long time to figure it out. How can I be surrounded by my friends and family and STILL FEEL SO LONELY?? Finally a light bulb came on and I realized that (at least for me), while everyone else is present and accounted for, I’M the one not there. My body may be there but my heart and mind feel trapped somewhere else. Somewhere that makes it hard (practically impossible) for others to get there or me to get to where they are.

Maybe this sounds crazy to you. There is a good possibility that I am crazy so just go with it. Or maybe you haven’t experienced this kind of loneliness before. And this is the reason people are afraid to admit they are lonely. They don’t want to make their friends feel bad. And they have found that more “social gatherings” doesn’t help with anything. There doesn’t seem to be an answer.

At this point maybe you were expecting some incredible cure for loneliness? I’m going to have to disappoint. I really don’t have anything to cure but here’s what I know: I KNOW our loving Father never leaves us so we are never truly alone. Talk to him more than ever if you are lonely. Even if you don’t feel like it’s helping: just keep praying and reading his Word. Also, keep in fellowship with his body. Let others know even though YOU. WON’T. LIKE. IT.

I’ll leave you with this quote I read the other day by Paul Matthies on loneliness. As you and I talk with the Lord this week, let’s ask for a deeper joy in Him.

“In Philippians 3:10, Paul uses the phrase, ‘the fellowship of his sufferings.’ So many of us love to enter into the fellowship of God’s joy, but Scripture also calls us into the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings. And sometimes, we don’t need to avoid the pain or numb the pain; we need to look at that pain and ask God for a deeper joy.”

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2018 in contentment

 

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Video

Caroline’s Present

You know the feeling when you have the BEST present for someone? When their gift is perfect for them and you’re just bursting to give it to them? That was how I felt about Caroline’s gift this year. She has always wanted a video of her singing posted on YouTube to hear what people would say about her voice. My parents decided to do it for Christmas. We secretly taped her singing (she thought it was to send it to our Grandma). We had several people in on it, including the wonderful pianist. She was so surprised. We really knew she liked it because she started to cry. It was the perfect present for her.

 
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Posted by on December 26, 2012 in Christmas

 

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Bah! Humbug!

A Christmas Carol is one of my favorite stories. Of course, the BEST version out of all the movies is The Muppet Christmas Carol. It is almost word-for-word from the book.  I think a lot of people may identify with Scrooge.  Christmas is a bother and can make you spend money, ect.

Not me. I’ve always loved Christmas. It’s my favorite time of the whole year. I love going into stores and wishing the cashiers a Merry Christmas (right after they tell me Happy Holidays).  I work on my presents (I make most of them) from January to November. Usually, I have them all done and wrapped early in December so that I can just relax and really remember Christ’s birth.

This year is different. There is one particular present that I’m STILL working on, despite the fact that I started it in August. It is a slow process and it seems to crawl towards the finish line. Also, I just wrapped all my presents last night.  It just doesn’t feel right.

In fact, all day yesterday I felt sort of Scrooge-ish. Not that I hated Christmas or anything. I just was feeling a little overwhelmed.  I told my Mom that I didn’t think I was going to finish that present in time, but she reassured me that I would if I just kept going. I didn’t believe her.

But last night, right before bed, I was listening to the Joy: An Irish Christmas cd. I was laying in bed as the last song finished. It reminded me of the TRUE spirit of Christmas. It’s not about the presents or wrapping. It really isn’t.

It’s about God sending his Son as a baby for us. I’m so thankful.

So, I’ll still attempt to finish that present, but if it doesn’t happen- it’s OKAY!

 

 
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Posted by on December 11, 2012 in Christmas

 

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Random Bethany Quotes

Bethany is definitely the sweetest little girl ever! And the funniest. Here are some random quotes from her.

“Rebecca, we don’t have wishing stars around here. I wished for a pony once and it NEVER came!”

We were stringing popcorn for the tree this year and I remarked to Bethany that her cheeks were really red. “That’s probably because I’m blushing because I’m so happy to be doing this with you.”  (Awwww….)

Rebecca told Bethany once that if she asked Mom about this one particular thing, Mom would tell her it was none of her business. “Becca, she would say it’s none of your beeswax!” (My Mom never says that! We do sometimes…)

My Dad used to play this (evil) game with the little kids. Whenever he was sure I was listening, he would ask them if I was stinky, and of course they always said yes. He played it with Bethany one day and she gave the usual answer. I then proceeded to put on my pouty face and said, ‘I’m stinky?’  She looked at me and said, “Well, Kimmy, you’re not really stinky, but if I tell Daddy that, he won’t think I’m any fun anymore.”

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2012 in sisters

 

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