All I Want for Christmas is… (Part IX)

All_I_Want_For_Christmas_IsAs far as I’m concerned I don’t need a single present under the tree or even a piece of coal in my stocking. While both are appreciated, my soul is set on a few other goodies. Not necessarily things to be wrapped, but much-needed gifts. Join us during the month of December as we explore several blessings we’d love to receive this Christmas.

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I did it again! I keep telling myself I am going to put an end to this nonsense, and yet here I find myself back in the same place. I’ve gotten a grand total of four hours sleep, and I’m now paying the price. The silliest wish for Christmas by far this year is a desire to get more sleep!

I always intend to go to bed earlier; really, I do. But by the time the kids are settled for the night I just want five minutes to breathe slowly and enjoy a chapter of the book which has been sitting on my shelf for days. Before I know it, one chapter has turned into ten and the clock is so blurry I can’t even tell how much trouble I’ve gotten myself into. Sleeping in is an option, I suppose. However I’ve always struggled with this. Daylight offers too many adventures, learning opportunities, and things to do. Who can sleep once the sun rises, encouraging me to embrace the day and make the most of each moment?

Ultimately it appears what I’m asking for is more time in my day to do the millions of things I’ve planned plus downtime for less active pursuits; then get a full night’s sleep so I can do it all over again the next day, and the day after that. – I did mention this was a silly request. – Silly because in truth I have all the time in the world I need. I simply choose to overfill my day. The lesson lies in seeking the Lord to oversee every second of every day so that each moment is overflowing with Him, especially in the stillness.

Perhaps it is because we have too few moments we appreciate them. If given all the time in the world, we would take them for granted and they would be wasted. By limiting our time we are forced to make the best use of our moments, giving precedence to Kingdom goals.

More sleep would be grand. Oh, it would. But the culmination of our Christmas list comes to this: May we use the time we have, the resources we’ve been given, the gifts of the Spirit, and the blessed relationships in our lives to further the Kingdom of Christ. If by sleep I can better accomplish this, I thank the Lord. And if by less pillow time I can meet a need, praise be to God who sustains us. May He be glorified today and always.

“I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.”
~ Psalm 3:5

Your Turn!: If you could either give up eating or sleeping in order to get more accomplished, which would you choose?

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All I Want for Christmas is… (Part VIII)

All_I_Want_For_Christmas_IsAs far as I’m concerned I don’t need a single present under the tree or even a piece of coal in my stocking. While both are appreciated, my soul is set on a few other goodies. Not necessarily things to be wrapped, but much-needed gifts. Join us during the month of December as we explore several blessings we’d love to receive this Christmas.

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Living in America, truth be told, we are a little spoiled. Even when times get hard they are nothing compared to what some of our brothers and sisters experience on a daily basis in many other parts of the world. So it is with no little shyness and humility that I share one of the last items on my Christmas wish list. One of my personal prayers for the coming year is to finally go on vacation.

Before I have CPS breathing down my neck, or a concerned family member texting me, please allow me to elaborate. We do take breaks from learning. When I say I’d like to go on vacation, I mean I would like for my entire family to be able to take a few days break and get away from home to enjoy one another’s company. Not mom spending the day out with the kids while Pop works; not a day trip where we have to rush home so Pop can get to work the next morning. Not even a business trip turned family adventure. A genuine, we might need an airplane, vacation.

Believe it or not, with all the hustle, bustle, and struggle of the last few years, we haven’t been on an honest-to-goodness vacation in over five years. Maybe not even then. It’s about time, don’t you think?

It’s a funny thing. While I’m sure the kids would enjoy a large trip to somewhere like Disneyworld or a cruise to the Bahamas, what excites them most is renting a cabin in the woods and watching it snow. They would also like to know what it’s like to fly in an airplane. It’s not the destination as much as the traveling they want to experience. Most of all, it is undivided attention and family time they’re looking forward to. I’d like to be able to give that to them.

Before the kids all graduate, and we no longer have the opportunity, we’d like to take advantage of the years we have left and make some memories. Together we’ll learn the art of saving for a mutual goal, using our money wisely, planning the adventure, and making the most of these God-given opportunities. I don’t know where the year will take us, but I hope it’s somewhere fun.

“There, in the presence of the Lord your God, you and your families shall eat and shall rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the Lord your God has blessed you.”
~ Deuteronomy 12:7

Your Turn!: If you could take your family anywhere for a week’s vacation, where would you go?

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All I Want for Christmas is… (Part VII)

All_I_Want_For_Christmas_IsAs far as I’m concerned I don’t need a single present under the tree or even a piece of coal in my stocking. While both are appreciated, my soul is set on a few other goodies. Not necessarily things to be wrapped, but much-needed gifts. Join us during the month of December as we explore several blessings we’d love to receive this Christmas.

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When I look back over the past few years I’ve come to the realization I have kept myself so busy with day-to-day activity I just possibly have neglected friendships. Oh, we see the occasional homeschool family and attend events with various groups, but how many people can I truly call friend and mean it? This Christmas, I want to be purposeful in seeking out those ladies whom I’ve had the blessing of knowing on a personal level, and making a point of being a good friend.

Life gets busy, and one of the first things to get put on the back-burner is outside relationships. The calendar becomes full so play dates get cancelled and coffee nights are put to the side. Before we know it, several weeks have passed since we’ve contacted our friends even to ask how they are doing and how God is moving. If we’re not careful, these friendships become acquaintances and it takes a great deal of work to rebuild what has been lost.

Thank the Lord for friends who transcend this limbo. Relationships which seem to know no bounds, and pick right back up where they left off. It’s as if no time has passed and we just saw each other yesterday. There are no hard feelings and lots of laughs as we catch up. Let us not take them for granted. Instead, this Christmas season, let us use this holiday as an opportunity to rekindle friendships which might have gotten placed to the wayside in order to keep life functioning on a somewhat normal level.

My Christmas wish is just as much for me as those I’ve had the blessing of knowing. Through friendship and God-given closeness, my family is renewed and edified. These relationships build, encourage, and refresh. May the Lord take this coming year to do mighty things in His name.

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
~ I Thessalonians 5:11

Your Turn!: If you could treat a friend to a lunch date, where would you go?

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All I Want for Christmas is… (Part V)

All_I_Want_For_Christmas_IsAs far as I’m concerned I don’t need a single present under the tree or even a piece of coal in my stocking. While both are appreciated, my soul is set on a few other goodies. Not necessarily things to be wrapped, but much-needed gifts. Join us during the month of December as we explore several blessings we’d love to receive this Christmas.

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Never mind the holiday madness, my life is busy. Your life is busy. Our lives are packed to the gills with wonderful things. Perhaps overly stuffed. We have filled our days to the point that taking on one more task feels overwhelming and impossible. But what if that one more thing is an incredible opportunity to be used by God?

This Christmas, I’d love to be gifted with a heart to serve the Lord. In truth, He is using me right now, where I am. But if I’m honest, I’m not always as gracious about it as I’d like to be. And definitely not as gracious as I ought to be. I lose sight of His vision and replace it with my own warped image of what I think I ought to be doing. My eagerness to serve can sometimes find me adding more to my plate than the Lord is asking of me. Thus when He does bring ministry my way, I make excuses. I don’t have the time, I can’t possibly go where He is leading, or I find myself incapable. Excuses of the first order.

Please don’t think I take this lightly. Being willing to serve the Lord no matter where He leads is a leap of faith and obedience. While we might have visions of television opportunities, grand book deals, or concerts which amaze thousands, God might have better use for us in a remote jungle or in the slums of big cities. Humbler still; He might not ask us to move at all, but to remain quietly where we are because this is where we are needed. This, too, can be hard. Serving is not meant to bring us glory or fame, but to draw others close to the Father. In addition, serving whole-heartedly might also cost. Our lives, our security, and our comfort are all surrendered in order to carry out His mission.

Before I ask the Lord to bless me with ministry, I would do well to ask for a heart to serve and a willingness to follow wherever He leads. I would ask for wisdom, both in knowing when to say “yes” and “no”. I pray for courage to step out in faith; obedience to stand no matter the call; and an overwhelming desire to do what is right. My I serve the Lord with all that is in me, holding nothing back.

“How can you tell if you have a servant attitude? By the way you react when you are treated like one.”
~ Unknown

Your Turn!: Do you have a least favorite chore? Mine is coming up with what’s on the week’s menu. I love the cooking, but hate figuring out what everyone is willing to eat!

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All I Want for Christmas is… (Part IV)

All_I_Want_For_Christmas_IsAs far as I’m concerned I don’t need a single present under the tree or even a piece of coal in my stocking. While both are appreciated, my soul is set on a few other goodies. Not necessarily things to be wrapped, but much-needed gifts. Join us during the month of December as we explore several blessings we’d love to receive this Christmas.

…..

It’s happened again. That moment when I realize I’ve not only stopped listening to what my friend is saying, but have been rude enough to interrupt in order to express my own opinion on the matter at hand. I wish I could say this doesn’t happen often. But it occurs more than I’d like to admit. Thus, the fourth gift on my Christmas Wish List is the ability to listen better.

I want to see people as Christ sees them, and I want them to leave my presence feeling as if they matter. One of simplest ways to do this – though not always the easiest – is to listen. To hear not only when they speak, but the volumes communicated when they remain silent. There is restorative power and edification in being given the opportunity to bare our burdens and joys with someone who is willing to hear us out. I want to be that person.

Unfortunately while I may start off with the intention of listening, open to this person sharing with me, I often end up trying to “fix” the problem with words of advice or wisdom. Perhaps an example of having gone through the same thing so my friend understands I relate. It took me some years to realize this was not always desired. In fact, sometimes it can be a turn-off for the person trying to communicate. They aren’t looking to hear from me. They are looking for a listening ear.

Thankfully I seem to have gracious friends who overlook my fault, or at the very least have never confronted me on the matter. I’ll be completely honest and say it doesn’t bother me when I’ve been interrupted. I understand. However, for the sake of those who are offended and out of a desire to be considerate, I should make an attempt at being self-aware of this issue.

What I’d like to do is approach conversation with the intent to only listen. I want to ask questions, and seek to know the other person better. My desire is to wait upon the Lord and His wisdom when is the right time to speak. Then pray the Lord would give me the right words, in the right moment.

As we gather with friends and family this Christmas season, my desire is that each person I come into contact with would feel the love of Christ, and understand their importance in my life. I pray I would have the heart to listen and the wisdom to speak only in the right moment. May this holiday, and all the days to come be less about what I have to say and more about leading people to God; the only one worth listening to.

“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;”
~ James 1:19

Your Turn!: What are you listening to right now; perhaps music, a podcast, or a Christmas movie running in the background?

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