Mary and Joseph knocked on the door to inn, but there was no room. There was no space. Every inch of the inn was occupied.
“…She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.” (Luke 2:7)
As we prepare for Christmas, we are wise to create room for the greatest gift of Christmas to be delivered. We are wise to make sure we don’t say, “Jesus, I don’t have room for you.” Because, if we fill our mind, our actions and our hearts with other things, we will have a big sign on our hearts that shines “no vacancy.”
This means, we have to slow down, and clear out some internal junk to make room for Jesus. We must open the doors of our soul and say, “Yes, Lord, we have room.” We must look him in the eyes and say, “Let us roll out the red carpet – the VIP treatment – for you Lord!” We must say, “You are the preferred guest in my heart.”
Making room for Jesus means we:
– Pray and ask Jesus to make himself apparent in our hearts.
– Acknowledge to God that we are prone to stray.
– Keep our eyes focused on the word of the Lord.
– Meditate on the story of Christmas and the gift called Jesus
– Repent of any idols we are putting before the Lord.
– Let go of worries, anxieties and busyness to find Christ.
– Find joy in the grace and glory that Christ brings.
Prepare your heart. Make room for the King. He is coming.
Don’t let your heart blink with a no vacancy sign. Don’t turn away the greatest gift ever given. Create room for the arrival of baby Jesus.
“Hey when ya get a chance today, find one of those big empty boxes in the garage and have the kids start getting stuff to give away.”
A text from my hubby on his way to work one morning just before Christmas last year. How sweet. How noble. What a great Dad. None of those, however, crossed my mind. Instead, I kinda went, “Ugggggghhhhhh.”
Doesn’t he know we all still have the flu? Doesn’t he know I have disinfecting to do? Doesn’t he know the kids all have attitudes?
But in the spirit of Christmas I turned off the television, grabbed a box, and sat our little army all in a row.
“It’s time to clean out the toy box.”
They know the drill. We do it bi-annually. Once before birthdays. Once before Christmas. Clear out the clutter before we add more. I know what stays and what goes before we begin. Toys on top we play with on a regular basis. Those stay. Toys on the bottom – those are the forgotten, broken or replaced toys the kids are willing to part with.
Except for last year ….
Micah Sean, my rough and tough 3rd born with a hard head and a soft heart, sat on the rug with his little legs crossed. One of the first toys out of the box – Dad the Moose. Micah named him. Micah loves his Daddy and loves his moose, so it seemed appropriate.
Dad the Moose sleeps tucked under Micah’s arm. Dad the Moose travels with us wherever we go. Dad the Moose is Micah’s buddy, maybe even his best buddy.
So when I pulled the moose out of the box and said, “Give or keep,” I already knew the answer. “Keep!” Micah yelped and squeezed Dad the Moose close. We continued with several more “keeps.” Then,
“Wait,” Micah said with urgency. “I want to give Dad the Moose.”
And he tossed him into the box. I looked at Micah. Did he really mean it? Does he know what he’s doing? He’ll miss that moose! A few minutes later Micah changed his mind and dug the moose back out of the box. Three times this happened. Moose in. Moose out. Moose in. Moose out.
I watched this little boy struggle. Something inside him said give. Give away your moose. But something inside him also ached. Dad the Moose belonged to Micah. He chose that moose. He named him. He loved him.
And then he did it. Once and for all, he gave his moose away.
“Mom, someone else can have Dad the Moose.”
Elijah, our resident animal lover and stuffed animal collector, warned, “Micah, another boy or girl may not call him Dad.”
For fear of Micah’s tender heart breaking any more than it already had I jumped in … “But that’s okay. Because when we give, we also trust, that whoever gets our gift will love it as much as we did.”
I put my hand on Micah’s little leg and through tears I praised him for his selfless act. I told him about the boys and girls who won’t have much on Christmas and how happy they will be to receive this special gift.
Then I watched … as one gift of love spilled over.
“Okay, Mom, I’ll give Louie.”
Louie, Elijah’s stuffed owl. Just a few weeks earlier, Elijah walked all over the store, carefully considering every option before he picked Louie. He chose him. He named him. He loved him.
“I’ll give away pythor too, Mom.” And here came Jonah with his prize python. Jonah didn’t even like his siblings to play with this stuffed animal. Pythor morphed into a jump rope or super hero sling. His scales were blue, Jonah’s favorite color. Jonah chose him. He named him. He loved him.
But Louie and Pythor joined Dad the Moose in the box.
All of a sudden this box seemed so cold. How could these gifts given from such a tender place land in a torn, dirty, plain, brown box? They mean too much. They don’t belong here …….
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 (KJV)
For God so loved the world, he gave. He gave his Son.
He chose Him. He named Him. He loved Him.
Did He really mean it? Does He know what He’s doing?
God knew some would not call him by his Name. Some would not call him Savior. King. Emmanuel. But still, God gave.
He means too much. He doesn’t belong here. How could His gift land in such a torn, dirty, plain world?
But Jesus did.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 (ESV)
Our box filled up pretty quick after that.
Turns out once you give away what you hold dear, everything else is easy to release.
“And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:8 (ESV)
God gave it all, because He loves you and me. May that truth grace your heart in a new way today. And by His grace, may this greatest gift of love ever conceived spill out of your life into the hearts that surround you.
I left my job as a television news reporter to join my husband, Luke, on our adventure in the National Football League. 10 years, 12 moves, 6 kids, 5 teams, and 4 states later, it’s safe to say the road has been anything but predictable. Our dreams today don’t look quite like they did ten years ago, but I’ve learned along the way dreams do come true … even if you’re not a Disney World. I blog about a football wife’s life at www.katymccown.com, and I’d love for you to visit me!
Darkness can be alluring. It calls us, saying, “You won’t get hurt. Come and see what I have for you. Go your own way. No one will ever know. No one will see you.”
But often, what we hide in the dark ends up snagging us, catching us and having us for dinner. What we think is carefully hidden away, bites us when we least expect it.
It reminds me of the story of Little Red Riding Hood. She was cute. She was adventurous. She had good intentions. She was bringing delicious food to a sweet old grandmother, after all. It doesn’t get much more honorable than that!
Eager to give, happy to serve and ready to love – she was the ideal target for a hungry wolf. A wolf hiding and waiting to snatch her, so that she could not live out her calling.
He succeeded. Because our adorable Little Red Riding Hood, skipping with her basket of fruit, jumped at the chance to do things her own way…
Please know that you are loved. You are greatly adored. You are special. You are encouraged. You are seen. You are powerful. You have a sound mind. You have a future. You have a hope. You have purpose. You are secure.
Because of me. Because of your God. Because of Christ, who accepted every ounce of pain, so that he could grant every ounce of grace. Grace has been lavishly poured all over you. Do you know what this means? You are entirely secure.
I am the definition of love. I take joy in my creation. I give life. I show the way. I offer you truth.
Know this, dear child, know this:
I won’t leave you, ever. I won’t abandon you, never. I won’t forsake you, no way no how. I will help you, always. I will lift you up and exalt you at just the right time, just see. I will hold your hand in hard times, I will. I will guide you in all of your days, trust me.
Come. Come and receive.
Stop striving and come.
Stop trying and come.
Stop worrying and come.
Dear child of God, I love you. I won’t stop loving you.
Your Lord and Savior, your King of Kings, your All-in-All, your One and Only
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On a cool afternoon in late fall, I mow straight lines across our long expanse of lawn. I’m surprised by how much I enjoy it.
I see the neat rows of freshly cut grass growing with each trip across the yard. It is obvious when I miss a spot. As the strips freshly manicured section gets increasingly larger, I view my work with satisfaction.
Why do I enjoy this so much? It’s simple, really. For one, I get some quiet time of reflection without listening to kids bicker or ask me for snacks every five minutes. But second and perhaps more importantly, I see visible results.
I know when I haven’t done the job well because the results speak for themselves.
Other roles in my life are not this simple. They are complicated, and often leave me wondering whether I’m making an imprint.
I explain a complex subject to my six-year-old, but I’m not sure he understands. My husband and I make efforts to instill strong morals and character into our boys, but there are days when it seems as though everything we’ve been striving towards is falling apart.
On a bitter cold morning, I attempt to capture thoughts that go deep into the core of me on the page, but can’t quite grasp them. The cursor blinks mockingly and self-doubt creeps in before I’m able to type a single word. I wonder if I’m wasting my time.
I wonder if what I say resonates with anyone.
I see a pile of laundry looming in the corner and think, “Didn’t I just tackle that yesterday?” Before the day has even begun, thoughts of defeat overtake me.
Then, as God often does, he sends a reminder that strikes just the right chord. I realize my current state is temporary, but so much of me longs for the eternal.
My yearning for results often reflects a glory which will not be realized in this lifetime, but in the next.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 2 Corinthians 4:7 NIV
I am a planter of seed. I am a light in a temporary casting. I am a mere reflection of the One whose glory I will behold. A glory I long for so deeply at times it aches.
So often, I believe we become discouraged because it seems as though we are moving in circles. Saying the same things to our loved ones and kids over and over. Teaching the same lessons.
But friends, the truth is always worth repeating. People forget because it is their nature. We are still living in a flesh that continually pulls us away from what is true, what is eternal, what is lasting.
We continue to fight because the fight is worth it, even if we don’t see the result right away or even if this lifetime. We fight because we are more than conquerors through him who loved us first.
We long for that which we cannot see because of Him in whose image we were created.
Do not give up. Do not lose heart. You were made for more than anything this world has to offer.
As you lay your head on the pillow tonight, ask yourself this: Did I love? Did I open my arms in grace? Did I help someone who needed it?
If the answer to any one of those questions was yes, it was not in vain. Keep pressing forward, dear one. Your reward will be great.
Abby McDonald is mom, wife and southern girl who fell in love with writing at a young age. She started Fearfully Made Mom because she felt God gently pushing her to share her writing with others who may feel alone in their struggles with self-doubt, accepting God’s grace, and finding their identity in Christ. Her desire is to show women they are fearfully and wonderfully made by a God who will relentlessly pursue them, even during their darkest times.
When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, Abby enjoys hiking, photography, reading, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.
Do you want to be blessed? Maybe life has kicked you while you’re down and you need a pick-me-up. Or, maybe nothing exciting has happened in your life for a while? Or maybe you feel you deserve something good.
We all want blessings. And, we serve a God who delights in giving good things. He loves us like a father. He wants to bestow his love & his gift. It doesn’t get much better than being blessed by the Lord.
But, if we want to be blessed, we are wise to take a look at our part in the process. What are values that the Lord loves to bless…Read the rest of my post on Abby McDonald’s blog, Fearfully Made Mom.
***Plus, be sure to sign up for the Kelly Balarie & Friends Blog Posts via email. We have so many exciting things to say. Click here. And, you will be entered to win an Amazon gift card!
Have you ever felt like you went too far? That you were too vulnerable with someone? That you were standing right at the brink of feeling out of control? Wondering if you would be pushed over and taken advantage of?
We have all been in these situations.
Often, we share and open up, only to feel sorry we did, only to feel put down or only to feel a recipient of unwanted advice.
I understand. It can feel easy to want to hide, to cover our heads, to shut down, to close off, to get defensive and to self protect. I do these things all the time because sharing is risky. Being open is threatening. People’s responses are uncertain. It’s sometimes easier to stay on steady ground.
Standing completely open to another’s reactions, views and perceptions threatens to redefine who we are – or simply hurt us at our very core. It makes us feel like others hold control.
And, none of us like being acted upon – to feel unsure where things are going. It can feel too much to handle. Overwhelming. It’s much easier to avoid these situations by maintaining control.
This way, we can avoid doubt, self-reflection and feelings of inadequacy. We can avoid wondering if we will be accepted, judged or criticized. We can avoid worrying about others worrying about us. We can avoid worrying about being punished for our beliefs.
At the bottom of it all, we fear others, we fear ourselves and we fear we won’t be loved. We fear we are not good enough and others will know.
And, sometimes these fears feel justified. We remember what happened the last time we were in a position like this, we remember the result and we remember our feelings. It was hard. Painful. Damaging. So, when we come against it again, we stand afraid – ready to fight – or take flight. Either way, we know we aren’t going to be treated the same way as last time.
What are we to do? How are we to be honest, transparent and vulnerable with others when we constantly feel in fear? How can we move towards relationship without feeling like we need to move away?
God has been stirring up these questions in my heart lately. I know he wants me to see beyond fear, but often I wonder how. I am coming to the realization that I will never feel completely fearless with others; I will never feel completely safe based on who I am. It is impossible. We are all fallen.
And, I will never be completely good enough by my own merit, so if that is my goal – it is unattainable.
Only One makes us good enough, only One can be our refuge in a time of trouble, only One can be our rock when our ground is sinking and only One can be our hope when life is hopeless.
I know these things. I do. But, talk is cheap and the heart is what counts.
I don’t want to be a talking testimony; I want to be a walking testimony.
God sees my desire. He is opening my eyes. Gently, He is revealing truth – to change my perspective and to make me effective.
He captured my eye with just a couple words in His Word that made all the difference in my world.
The Lord said to me, “You are sealed.”
(He) set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (2 Cor. 1:22)
On face value, this may not appear the answer to all fear. But, these words have a powerful ripple effect that extends to the deepest levels of our hearts.
Why? Because being sealed means that we are enveloped in love. Like a letter wrapped in a sealed envelope, we are entirely covered above and below – wrapped by the ownership and power of the Holy Spirit. It covers us. Nothing can penetrate the seal or the mark of the Spirit.
Because we are in Him, our ultimate security is secure. We are sealed. Shut. Marked. Owned. Sent. Made right.
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit… (Eph. 1:13)
The King’s seal is on our hearts.
If he took the time to seal us, won’t he protect us? Guard us? Ensure we are ok? Help us forgive? Encourage us to speak his truth with love?
Afterall, we are his letter and words to all nations.
In this, we don’t have to live scared. If God stands with us, who in the world can ever stand against us (Ro. 8:31). At our deepest levels we are secure.
People can say or do what they are going to do, but it doesn’t matter, because the seal of the Spirit keeps us safe. Nothing can change that seal. The Spirit forever marks us.
And, when we have been marked, we have been marked as belonging to the Lord. We are united. One. He will help us. He will not abandon us. He knows us. He approves of us because of Him. We are protected.
But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit. (1 Cor. 6:17)
How could God destroy his very self?
Even if, in the moment, we are threatened – or at worst – taken advantage of, God always has the advantage. He always has a plan. He knows a way. He has a vision.
Do we trust Him?
We need not fear being hunted, threatened or hurt because – in the end – God will always be victorious. In fact, he already is. He has already won the battle. It is finished. Because of this, the battles of present day can lose their sting, because Jesus endured the ultimate sting.
Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (Jo. 19:30)
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Proverbs 15:1 A soft word turns away wrath but harsh words stir up anger. (NIV)
I scurried into the store and made a bee line for the customer service counter. It was the holiday season and I was in a hurry to find a specific gift.
There was one other lady standing beside the counter and several customer service clerks meandering behind it. When I got to the counter one of the clerks immediately approached me and asked me if she could help. I no sooner got the words, “I wonder if you could tell me where…,” out of my mouth before the woman standing beside me erupted into a soprano sounding hysteria. With sharp staccato inflections, she belted, “Is there something wrong with you? Can’t you see I’ve been waiting and you’re breaking in line? And… you’re taking my help!”
I felt the blood rush to my face and the hair on the back of my neck stand up as I glanced around and saw there was no line and plenty of help available. I have to admit my first reaction was to blast her right back with a big fat piece of my mind. But Someone bigger than me got the better of me. I almost couldn’t believe myself, when I turned to the clerk and asked softly, “Has anyone helped this woman? If not, will you help her?”
Someone bigger than me got the better of me.
Just as the key verse from Proverbs states, the soft words I spoke turned away this woman’s wrath.
What made her act that way? I suppose it could have been the holiday rush, too much to do on her to-do-list, or she might have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed, but maybe, just maybe, what I witnessed was her normal.
I say that because thirty years ago she, might have been me. Because on many a day that was my normal.
I grew up in a family of yellers. Yelling doesn’t have to mean being loud. Yelling can refer to the tone of your voice as well. Quick and sharp can sound harsh and brash. I didn’t necessarily like some of the tones played out in my childhood but it was my normal. And you don’t change normal.
But God does.
In my early twenties, it was no coincidence that I married a peacemaker, my polar opposite, a man who could charm the skin off a snake. Needless to say, my often sharp and abrupt approach was a shock to his system. He would say to me, “Christy, the way in which you deliver a message is just as important as the message you deliver.”
The way in which you deliver a message is just as important as the message you deliver.
Those words gradually went from my head to my heart. While raising our two boys, and watching them grow, I was growing too – spiritually. My deepest desire was for my boys to grow up to be godly men with gentle spirits. But whatever children see their parents do in moderation they will do in excess. It was then the Holy Spirit convicted my heart that if I was to be a brighter light I needed to have a softer voice.
Whatever we do in moderation our children will do in excess.
I needed to soften my sharp words and tune up my normal. To make this change I had to do 3 things, admit, commit, and submit.
1. Admit, I was a yeller. I had to admit my approach was often wrong.
2. Commit it to prayer. I couldn’t do this on my own, I needed to ask God for help.
3. Submit to accountability. Finally I had to have a few somebody’s to hold me to it. My boys were more than willing to oblige in that department.
Thanks be to God, He is still at work in me everyday changing me to be more like Him.
Today, I hope all my words will carry the sweet harmony of Jesus, whether it’s to family, friends, the bag boy at the grocery, the girl at the drive-through window, or a hysterical woman in a department store.
What about you? At the end of the day, don’t you want to be someone’s melody rather than their malady?
We are all gathered around the table. I can’t keep my eyes off the pumpkin pie, the mashed potatoes, and the creamed corn. I want to devour it all. My mouth is watering. As familiar family faces fade into the background, I develop a personal action plan of what I’ll eat, how fast I’ll eat it and when to fill up my plate again.
I hear distant sounds, words and discussions, but I am mezmerized by utter gratefulness as I take it all in – the pure beauty of the Thanksgiving spread set so perfectly on the table. Surely, God knew what he was doing when he gave us food; it truly embodies one of the greatest things we have to be grateful for.
But, as I smile, as I look, as I sit, deafening sounds quickly pull me out of my delightful daydream, and throw me back into reality. A storm is brewing. Someone is annoyed. Agitated. Frustrated.
It could be one of many things – someone got ticked off, another couldn’t get drinks fast enough, a rude piercing reply was launched or a digging question was fired over the table. Truly, it could be anything.
Who knows the exact reason why? But, all that mattered to me is that my moment was lost. My joy was stolen. Agitation filled me. Disappointment gripped me. Despite my best efforts to make this Thanksgiving great, someone messed it up. Again.
Why can’t we give thanks in peace? Why can’t we all get along? Why does it feel that we have to endure Thanksgiving rather than enjoy it?
This is should be a time of thankfulness – of gladness – not a time of madness. Not a time to push buttons. Not a time to get flustered.
Somehow we idealize Thanksgiving and Christmas. We turn them into perfect little gems of days that should only deliver sparkle, joy and peace. We think that, because we control the preparations, the decorations and conversations, everyone should meet our expectations. We hold on to these expectations with such strength that they crush under the pressure. And, this is when the true Thanksgiving weight hits us. We feel bloated with disappointment.
I guess I have come to realize that the bounty is not all about me. If we are going to truly be thankful for the bounty of the Lord, we have to be thankful for who the Lord has created. He created us all with strengths and weaknesses. It can be so hard to do. It can be so overwhelming when a storm blows in, threatening the day, but – if we trust the Lord – we can trust him to work things out.
God calls us to enjoy this day, rather than endure it. He calls us to leave perfect in the kitchen, and embrace imperfect at the table, so that expectations don’t leave us hiding in the bathroom with tears.
5 Tips to Survive Thanksgiving Chaos:
1. Seek to embrace verses erase the person in need.
Jesus ran to the people in need. His heart was inclined to those in pain. He didn’t demand what he needed, but he gave what others did.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
We are all chief sinners. But, in so many ways, we stand as chief judge. God is faithful to forgive us. With this, on Thanksgiving Day, let’s choose to sit at the foot of the cross. Let’s sit as saved sinners, basking in the glory of Him who is high and lifted up.
When we sit in this position, suddenly, we sit with more compassion for the meaningless jabs, frustrating arguments and aggravating words. We sit knowing that we are the same. We sit grateful for the one who paid it all. Who loved despite our actions.
Then, we find we have greater compassion and a heart to love.
2. Be truly thankful – for both the yummy and the yucky of life.
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. (Phil. 4:12)
True thankfulness sees both abundance and scarcity and gives thanks. Why? Because both are from the Lord. Both have a purpose. Both are meant to refine.
We can rest in the truth that God has good plans (Ps. 40:5). We can rest in knowing his ways are greater than ours (Is. 55:8-9). We can rest because the Lord promises to work for our good through trials (Ro. 5:4). We will be refined, refreshed and renewed.
When we feel Thanksgiving Day is only giving us yucky food, we can choose to see the great silverware, the great centerpiece and the great God who is at the center of it all.
3. A storm may brew, but know God will bring you through.
For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. (Is. 41:13)
When we are weak, the power of Christ sits upon us. In the stormy moments, we can run into his arms, feel his embrace and let him recharge us with his love. It can be hard to remember in the moment, but God stands ready to help us. It’s ok to feel weak, but it’s not ok to feel ruined when God stands ready to help.
Call out to God. He is famous for rescuing and helping in a time of trouble.
4. Know you stand secure, no matter what others do.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers. neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Ro. 8:38-39).
People can do what they are going to do. But, none of this impacts our standing with Christ. We are in Him. We are secure. We are loved. We are a new creation. If we stand in Christ, we can’t stand outside of him.
We can hold to this truth, when the Thanksgiving feast looks like it may topple.No matter what others do, think or say, they are not the essence of who we are. Christ is. We are part of his family. We are his beloved children.
5. Find a heart of thanks for the burnt food of Thanksgiving.
True gratefulness is not just being thankful for all the delicious pickings, but also for the burnt food. If we have food – or family to complain about – we are already blessed. We are blessed with the perfect, but also with the imperfect. Why? Because through the imperfect, we see our need for a Savior. Through our failings, our trials and our frustrations, we find hope in One who is greater than these things.
He makes imperfect burnt food taste delicious when we see it for what it is – an undeserved gift.
That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:10)
Bonus Tip (consider it your Thanksgiving second helping): Realize it is impossible to control others.
We can’t control things. We can only control ourself. And, no one can take our spirit of thanks away, without us allowing them to do it. No one can steal our heart – unless we allow them to.
The fact of the matter is that when we stop looking for everyone to be perfect, we can start enjoying them for who they truly are. When our standards aren’t higher than the Thanksgiving Day roof, we can see people’s hearts, history and pains. And, we sometimes, can even empathize and minister to them.
Thanksgiving is a special day, a needed day. A day to see all that we have – burnt food and all. If expectations consume us, we may find all we have consumed is an inability to be happy, a heart of discontent and a spirit of bitterness.
The truth is that people will disappoint – and we will disappoint people. No one is perfect – except One. But, the ultimate truth is that God’s grace never ends. It nourishes us when Thanksgiving leaves us hungry for more love.
Let’s lay this truth on the table so we can pass, dish and eat up all the goodness of grace – in our own hearts and towards the hearts of others.
I stood beside their beds in the dark, praying for each of my 3 little ones while they slept. Every night on my way to bed, I whispered thanks to God for the gift of being their Mommy. But often tears fell, because I knew the truth of that day. And the one before.
I was discontent with that season of my life, and I had become an under-the-breath complainer.
I didn’t always like that this was what God had called me to do. Because it looked like endless wiping. Wiping counters, spills, bottoms, floors, always wiping.
With a preschooler, a toddler, and a baby, my days looked like finding messes by the handfuls, like potty training and nursing and living chronically behind in housework. It was harder than I’d expected. I loved my babies so much, and yet I wished away the hard parts of those days.
One day, after lunch, I stepped in a huge blob of strawberry jam on the kitchen floor. When I grabbed for a dishrag to wipe it up, I ran my arm through more jam on the edge of the counter. I looked up to see this little trail of jam, smudged across the kitchen cabinets, and started to cry.
I felt mad about the mess, about the way I couldn’t stay on top of 6 sticky little hands, mad at my kitchen, mad at jelly, just mad.
And then, I noticed a verse I had taped onto the fridge, written in beautiful calligraphy:
Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18, NIV
The phrase, “this is God’s will for you” wouldn’t leave me alone.
His will for me then included days full of messes, all waiting for me to clean them up.
His will included a jelly-coated kitchen some days, and jelly-filled hands to clean.
His will included loving and serving three little people, much of which would be done from the ground, on bended knees.
His will for me also included giving thanks, even in never-ending, sticky-mess moments.
It’s easy to thank God when life feels good, when the house is tidy and the days go as planned. But thank God in the middle of the mess? I didn’t even know how. I hated messes.
I decided right then, to try, even though I didn’t really feel it. So I thanked God for the day He made, for the home we lived in, for three little people with small, sticky hands.
The more I thanked God, for both big and small things, the less I complained. And the more I enjoyed being a Mom.
I have to admit, I sometimes fall back into a spirit of complaint. But whenever I realize this and confess it to God, He is faithful to change my spirit, from being full of complaints to repeatedly giving thanks.
When we practice giving thanks in all kinds of circumstances, He fills our hearts with peace and makes us light with joy.
Do you need to confess a complaining spirit today? Will you begin to make a habit of thanking God in every situation?
Thank you Lord, for changes in perspective, for the ability to offer You thanks, even in jelly-smeared kitchens.