2017 in Review, if You Dare

After Christmas, I always take the last few days of the year for personal review. What could I have done better? What opportunities did I miss? Are there amends I need to make? Ugh! Self-examination can be exhausting.

This is not an hour-long process. The first layer of discovery hits the usual culprits. I could have exercised more, eaten less, or offered more kind words to the down-trodden. Easy ones to see. But when I dig deeper I often find more than I bargained for.  I see the real me.

Am I seeking justification for any bitterness I hold in my heart?

The challenge is for you too. To help you get started … prime the forgiveness pump … check out the following video.

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Reminders of Blessings and Goodness

Lew and I have been keeping a Mason Jar of Blessings and Goodness for years. The idea is to write on a piece of paper good things or experiences that happened over the year and collect the slivers of paper in a mason jar. At the end of the year, open the jar and enjoy the reminders of all the goodness we had experienced.

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As Hours Tic By …

As I watch 2017 fill the rearview mirror, I couldn’t let the year end without thanking you all—each one of you—for all your likes, comments and follows.  A blogger isn’t a blogger unless their words are read.

You’ve encouraged me, challenged me and consoled me when Life didn’t go as planned.

I appreciate each of you and look forward to continuing our chats in the new year. May God’s blessings fill your life beyond measure.

Another Powerful Post from Brandon Adams

If you’ve been following me for any amount of time, you know that I enjoy promoting other bloggers and writers. Check out Brandon Adams’s latest post, Christmas is Bigger Than Your Opinion of It. Listen to his heart. Follow his blog. You will be challenged AND blessed. 

It was during a December that my family fell apart.

I do appreciate that the blow had enough grace to wait until the 27th before coming out of nowhere, but is there really ever a “good time” for such things to happen?

Anything that’s ever harmed family tends to feel highlighted, called out, by the approach of Christmas. The season has a way of reminding you of what you’ve lost (or never had to begin with). I know what it’s like to rely on the charity and love of non-family during the holidays, to struggle with the emotions, to feel left out of the joy because you’re dealing with things that (it seems like) nobody else is.

So I’m the last person to tell anyone to “just get over it and celebrate”. That’s not my approach at all. The Bible defends, even celebrates, our grace-given ability to honestly approach the throne of God with our pain, fear, and disappointment. Psalms is full of it. Jeremiah vents to God even though he knows exactly why God is inflicting his nation. Even Jesus does not try to hide his sweat and blood from his Father. He cares about our hearts. He has big shoulders. He will always listen to our tears.

BUT.

But.

Sometimes, I think, there are days when a swift kick in my own butt really is warranted.

The manger pointed to the cross. The cross pointed to the empty tomb. Victory over all suffering, and the wiping away of all tears, has been secured. It is coming. Though sorrow may last for the night, joy comes in the morning.

Does my life reflect that? My attitude?

I’m learning to find a balance between mourning and morning. I have come to believe that there are times for us to grieve and times to give Jesus credit for being bigger than our disappointments. Perhaps there are days – not every day, but some – when just taking a deep breath and thrusting aside the weight of the world is appropriate. Even holy.

It makes a good defense against self-pity, which grief can quickly and subtly slip into.

It makes a marvelous defense against despair, something the enemy is only too happy to twist our disappointment into.

It lifts our eyes to the horizon, to the second coming of Christ, no longer a babe in a manger but a reigning King.

Perhaps this would be a good exercise for you this season if you find yourself cynical and bitter towards the holiday. Try taking a day and dedicating your attitude towards God’s superiority and victory over your travails. Just a day. Though he graciously accepts Where We Are, the fact remains that only the cross and the empty tomb really matter in the end. Without that, we are more to be pitied than any man. With it, we are more than conquerors. Our hope is immutable. Our God is incredible.

That’s why I bought my first Christmas tree last year, and why I will do so again this weekend.

Find solace and comfort in God. But remember also that he is bigger.

Holidays and Depression

Holidays. They’re supposed to be a time of celebration and gaiety. But if you’re in the clutches of depression, Christmas may serve you a platter full of darkness instead of the traditional turkey or ham.

If your life has been touched by the ramifications of a medical trial, depression can be magnified. I struggled with all kinds of depression the first year after I had brain surgery. You could be dealing with a different type of illness. Maybe a stroke has left you needing to learn how to walk again. Or maybe you’ve lost someone—a spouse, friend or even child—due to a medical catastrophe.

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5 Ways to Settle the Soul Before December Begins + A Free E-book Reminder!

I love Cathy Baker. I love her wisdom. I love her wit. And I also love her way with words. Check out her latest post. She’ll slow you down and have you consider taking a moment for yourself. She does all of this while staying focused on what is most important in this glorious season.

Thanks, Cathy. You got to my heart again.

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