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When Life’s Hard, Remember These 4 Truths.

Life can be hard, let’s face it. It rarely ends up looking like we pictured or planned.

Our loved ones get cancer, children rebel, loved ones die, relationships fail. People who should nurture us end up scarring us. The evening news is maddening and terrifying.

How do you keep a godly perspective while walking this sometimes terrifying, discouraging, and uncertain path?

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A friend shared these reminders with me and I wanted to pass them along to you as they were a great comfort to me.

During times of trials, remember:

1. I am here by God’s appointment. 

He brought me here. It is by His will I am in this difficult place; in that I will rest. (Ps. 130:6,7)

2. I am in His care.

He will keep me in his love and give me all that I need in this trial to behave as His child. (Is. 41:10)

3. I am under His training.

He will make the testing a blessing, teaching me the lessons He intends for me to learn, and working in me the grace He intends to give. (James 1: 12)

4. I am here for His purpose.

In His time He will bring me through. He will not abandon me. (Rom. 8:28)

Isn’t it wonderful to know that we never walk alone? That our life is not spinning out of control, and that God is indeed Lord of All?

 

An Unexpected Pathway to Blessing

There are days when I feel truly blessed. Like the days I wake up with no knee pain and plenty of Starbuck’s coffee. When my children are all super cooperative and the house is in order.

I think my idea of “blessing” is sometimes pretty shallow.

Yes, all of those things are good things and the Lord does bless us with all that we have, but I’m studying Acts right now and learning about a less obvious way that God blesses us.

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In chapter 3, Peter and John are on their way to the temple to pray and they meet the lame man who was asking for money by the Beautiful Gate. They performed the first miracle of the church era with these familiar words spoken to the paralytic:

“I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” (Acts. 3:6)

Physical healing. What a blessing. People are taking note as a crowd begins to form to see this once beggar–now fully whole, walking-leaping-praising God man.

Peter was quick to give glory to God as he addressed the crowd and explain what just happened:

“Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power of piety we have made him to walk.

(Amazingly instructive verses. AS IF we did any of this ourselves. Look to the Lord! A good truth to remember as we work for the Lord.)

Peter then explains that the man was healed because of his faith in the risen Jesus Christ and how to be truly blessed. (Hint: it’s not the health or healing. It’s not the money.)

  • Repent and turn back to your God through faith in Jesus. That is the path of blessing.
  • Repent and receive times of refreshing and the promised Holy Spirit.
  • Repent and stop going your own way. Rather, “You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you.” (v.22)

“God, having raised up his servant, {Jesus} sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.” (vs. 26)

What? Bless me by turning me from my wickedness? That’s rather unexpected, especially in a culture that promotes the health and wealth gospel.

Did it ever occur to you that your biggest blessing today might be the supernatural enablement to stop being wicked by the power of the Holy Spirit?

  • To hold your tongue when you feel like giving a piece of your mind?
  • To choose to bless when you know others are choosing to curse you?
  • To choose to love when it’s not reciprocated?
  • To humble yourself when pride reigns all around?
  • To serve where nobody else wants to?

Sometimes wickedness is so ingrained in us that we don’t see it for what it is. We believe that we’re born this way so we’ll stay this way, or reason that because I was brought up this way, that’s just who I am.

You were created to bear God’s image.

What does this mean? It means to look like Him, to love what He loves and hate what He hates. To represent Him well.

Wickedness is a defamation of who we were created to be and misrepresents God to others on this earth.

Every time we believe Satan’s lie that living life on our terms is the way of empowerment and happiness, we’re rejecting this pathway of blessing and not bearing His image well.

Every time we quench the Holy Spirit and neglect His prompting because we’re too proud to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, we’re admitting that we don’t see holiness and sanctification as a blessing. We’re actually confessing that living life apart from God’s Word and directives is what we believe will make us happiest and bring blessing.

From the smallest child to the oldest adult, every time we choose sin we’re showing that we are still under the delusion of the old Serpent who whispers to all ages, “THIS will make you happy. “

This week, I’m praying that God will remind me daily that His way is best and that true blessing comes when we submit ourselves to His Word and forsake wickedness.

If you find yourself in the midst of a hard situation this week and you are struggling to see the blessing of God in your life, perhaps every time you fight against the flesh and choose obedience instead of wickedness, you’ll recognize how blessed you truly are to have the empowerment of the Spirit and the opportunity to be conformed into the image of Jesus Christ.

Praying for you, my friends. So very thankful for this community of women. If you need prayer support or encouragement from God’s Word, I would be honored to pray for you. Feel free to email me at joyfilledmama@gmail.com and I will answer as soon as I can.

Hello? Hello? Yes, I’m still here.

Hey guys. It’s been a while since I’ve written and I feel like I’m out of the blogging loop lately. We just got two of our kids back to college, we’re getting ready for school, caring for sweet Little B,  and we’re gearing up for house renovations.

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I was talking to a friend about how many transitions we’ve had in the past five years. I’ve realized that I get emotionally tired during transition times and that being self aware is not one of my strengths.  I’m super intuitive when it comes to caring for everyone else, but not when it comes to me. (Case in point: I was getting read for a dinner party last week when I realized that I had a headache. It was 5 pm and I hadn’t eaten all day. That.) Sometimes you need to plan for self-care.  Physically, I need to plan rest. Emotionally, I need solitude, even for just an hour. And spiritually, I need to take in God’s Word in slow, careful amounts, meditating and ruminating over the truths in them. I really appreciated this article 10 Ways To Overcome Spiritual Weariness.

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And although transitions are hard for me, it’s really exciting to see how God goes before, directs, and helps our hearts at these times. And can I just say that Peter is amazing during these times? He’s so wise about what needs to be done, what should be let go, what is primary vs. the peripheral. I’m so thankful for him!

Sometimes I really start to question what God is doing and if this is all going to work out in the end, and lately, everything that God has been pointing me to in my devotions, readings, and sermons can be boiled down to these 3 things:

1. The destination is not for me to choose. I go along for the ride and trust God.

2. The outcomes are not as important as faithfulness along the journey.

3. Sin is a daily companion that must be crushed. To overlook it in our own lives is to actually sow a crop that we don’t want to flourish.

I’ve been seriously overwhelmed by the news lately. Have you? It feels hopeless, doesn’t it? I recently read that nearly 400 pastors were “outed” in this Ashley Madison leak and can I just say that it is God’s mercy on them that they were exposed? And it was God’s watch care over His church that allowed such disgrace to be addressed?

And while we’re all wondering how these people could possibly be serving God and living such a double life, let’s remember our own propensity to sin and fear the consequences of it all the more.

I talked to my kids a little about it and explained that the fear of God is supposed to be our motivation not to sin. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” But honestly, because we can’t see God, sometimes we don’t respect him as we should. I told them that oftentimes, when I am tempted to sin, I think about the affect it would have on their father or them. I try to think about the look in their eyes. And then I came across this piece by Sarah Mae, What I Know About Cheating and Consequences, which expressed my thoughts exactly (and more beautifully than I could.)

This world is broken, and eternity looks better and better every day, doesn’t it? Key take-a-way from the nightly news? People need the Lord in a desperate way!

I tend to freeze up when I hear horrible news. OR I clean like a mad woman. I don’t know why. Does anyone else do this? Because I tend to be an Idealist, the enormity of the mess of this world makes me want to give up, which of course is crazy.

We can’t do everything but we can do something.

You can start right where you are, small. Start with you. Make sure your life is a life of integrity. Is your public life a true mirror of your private life? (Ask your family. They’ll tell you.) If not, this is the very definition of hypocrisy.

This article, The importance of What We Do In Secret is helpful. Then, be a light wherever you are. Do good, be kind, promote righteousness, and share the gospel.

What about you? Does the news make you want to shut down?

It’s been fun keeping up with your pictures on Instagram and Facebook and seeing what you’ve been up to. And I’m really enjoying Periscope right now. (I’m I’m @joyfilleddays if you want to find me.) Scopes I like: MacKenzie @BOLDturquoise and BoldTurquoise.com, @JessAConnolly from Naptime Diaries and of course, my friend, Ruth from Gracelaced.com @gracelaced.

What have you been reading and loving right now?

Happy end of the summer, you guys! Enjoy your weekend!

My Favorite Summer Make-Up Products

First up: My daughter Emily arrived safely in Switzerland!! Thanks so much for praying for her trip. My mom-heart can’t take those cross-Atlantic flights!

I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite summer products. I’ve always loved looking through my sisters’ make-up bags and seeing what they use, so I figured it would be fun to share my bag of tricks with you. I use a mix of drug store products and salon products, and if I find something that works I am cultishly loyal to it (some things I’ve used since High School.)

For summer, my routine is pretty basic. If I use anything, it’s a tinted moisturizer, some lip gloss, and mascara.

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I’ve always used St. Ives Apricot scrub but I found this one that has mint and smells better, Acne Free Energizing Wash. It’s cheap, like $4 and lasts forever. I exfoliate, pat my skin dry, then use St. Ives Timeless Skin (which gets horrible reviews of Beautypedia.com for some reason, but works great on my skin!) plus a little L’Oreal True Match foundation and mix it together for a hydrated coverage. I hate heavy foundation and find this mixture gives me just the right sheerness.

On days when I’m super tired or my skin looks dull, I love Maybelline’s Master Prime. It’s a pinkish illuminator and I put it on my cheek bones, nose, and anywhere else that I need some “glow.”

I’ve also discovered that nude eyeliner can make tired eyes look a little more alive, so I picked up this inexpensive NYC eyeliner at Walmart and it does the trick. I apply it on the inside of my bottom lid. I don’t typically wear eye liner in the summer. If I do, I just swipe brown eyeshadow on the top and bottom lids to give a little definition.

My sister Amy got me started on this cream blush from Mary Kay. I use the color Sheer Bliss. It’s transparent and natural looking.

My most expensive beauty trick is this Matrix Oil Wonders. It cuts your blow drying time WAY down, which is a blessing for people with super thick hair.

Also, not pictured but WAY up there in the indispensible department is my ELF Chubby Stick lip gloss in the color Sangria. I get mine at Target for a dollar and it’s sheer and makes my lips super soft. My kids all use mine which is why I couldn’t find it for the picture.

 

That’s about it. Does your beauty routine change in summer? What are your favorite drugstore products?

The Good Stuff for Your Weekend

Some family news:

Matthew is a high school senior and is graduating this May. He takes his ACT this Saturday. He’s working quite a bit to pay for college and is still applying. Pray for him?

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Rebekah is graduating from Bob Jones University this May. We’re so thankful for the experiences she’s had there. She can’t wait to come home for the summer because who doesn’t love New England, 😉 but she’s also been offered a job on campus for next year as she continues her education. She also has a boy down there that she thinks is pretty great, so…

Emily is getting ready to travel this summer with the Musical Missions Team!

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She’ll be singing and playing her violin in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Slovakia. We’re having a fund raising yard sale and a pie bake sale the last Saturday of April. We’ve already got pie orders galore and my mom and I will be elbow deep in rolling crusts for apple pies. So fun to be helping support my Emmy! Emmy also has a boy who she thinks is pretty great who just got an internship to do cancer research this summer, so they’ll both be busy as they are apart for the summer. :) 

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend. Here are a few good things for you. Enjoy!

Good Articles::

To the Well-Intentioned but Ignorant Parent of Teens.  You need to know and care about these social media outlets that you have no idea your teens are using. #livebroadcastingyourwholelife. Yeah, that.

A Clean House and A Wasted Life. We’re artsy over here and we like projects. Projects=temporary messes, so yeah, I loved this article.

Good Food::

Best Pound Cake Ever. Made this for Easter and will be making it again this week. Recipe via Southern Living.

You have to try this delish Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake that my friend Janelle made for Easter. I ate every morsel. Yum.

This is my favorite ever coffee. Prepared in the French Press, it’s like heaven.

Books I loved::

I read a lot and publishers send me advanced copies to read and review. Honestly, not many make the “raving” department. These did.

Everyday Grace: Infusing All Your Relationships With the Love of Jesus written by Jessica Thompson, Elyse Fitzpatrick’s daughter, so…

There is so much to love about this book. I shared quite a few quotes on FB. It is great for wherever you are right now because relationships are all around us. Our relationships with our husband, kids, and friends can either be healthy or idolatrous. This book helps you sort that out. Run thee to get it!

Fear and Faith: Finding the Peace Your Heart Craves by Trillia Newbell addresses all of the ways fear creeps in and paralyzes our hearts and how trusting Christ implicitly helps replace fear.

Look and Live: Behold the Soul-Thrilling, Sin-Destroying Glory of Christ. This is a book that was life changing for me. It’s about the glory of God. I’m still processing it and Matt is now reading it, but basically, if you feel that your worship is anemic, or that your love for God is sub-par, perhaps it’s because you don’t have a full grasp of the majesty and glory of God. As with many current books, I can’t recommend this one without reservation, because we are coming from different philosophies, but if you are a discerning reader you’ll benefit immensely from it. I really appreciated this book!

A Thousand Miles to Freedom: My Escape from North Korea. Peter read this to us all at bed time and it was a riveting and eye opening story about the oppression of the North Korean people and the desperation that drives them to flee the dictatorship. We couldn’t wait for the next chapter. (caveat: it needed very mild editing in our estimation for our youngest.)

 Good Products::

 

We have two cats and we love them both dearly. But we don’t love when they have accidents. This “Pet Odor Eliminator & Pet Urine Cleaner” works. Not at all glamorous, but you have to keep your home clean and fresh.

You all know how much I love my Ninja chopper. My girls use it daily to make smoothies and I use it for everything. The last time I made my Chai Tea Mix I scratched the plastic bowl all up and it looks horrible. We tried this Black & Decker PS1000B 3-Cup Ergo Chopper  and it seems like it’s comparable. It is less expensive than the Ninja and so far so good on the chopping. (For all of you kitchen tool connoisseurs out there, be warned that I am not one to spend big money on kitchen stuff. If I were going to spend money in the kitchen it would be on nice pans, but that’s about it. Apart from my KitchenAid  Mixer which I couldn’t live without, I don’t really need expensive kitchen stuff. That said, I make most of my stuff from scratch, and cook several meals a day and it all comes out okay in the end. 😉 )

I’m in the market for a small, cross-body purse that will hold just a few things: keys, phone, iPod, wallet, lipstick. I am considering a Vera Bradley or a Bagallini, but wanted to ask if you had any favorites you could recommend.

Have a great weekend.

(*Post contains affiliate links. )

 

 

You Delivered Us, And We Will Honor You

I want to take a moment to thank you all for praying for our sweet Addy. Her surgery is over, and we’re still in awe of God’s answers to our prayers. He alone is to be praised and we give Him all the glory. This is one of those stories that we’ll repeat to our children and grandchildren.

Addy’s surgery updates are here, for those of you who didn’t see it.

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Monday was a blur. We were attached to our phone and computer for updates all day. I drank some tea and ate a few bites, but for the most part, I had no appetite and time just stood still.

My day can basically be summed up in two words: fervent prayer. I begged God for mercy for Addy and my sister. I couldn’t stand the thought of Addy being paralyzed after she’d come so far by learning to walk and run with all the cousins. I wanted to see her running on Rye Beach with us this summer. And I certainly could not stand the thought of my sister losing another child. It was something I couldn’t accept.

At some point in the day I remember wrestling inside: “What is it that makes prayer effective? Is it the fervency? The faith behind it? The consistency? And what makes me think that God will grant this prayer of mine? I’m such a wretched being. He knows my weakness. I’m afraid to ask and be disappointed, so I am basically double minded.”

Then I had this picture in my mind. It was of one of my children asking Peter for something they wanted. One child was begging. It was pretty annoying. It was an insistent begging. A will-filled, I want it my way demand. I thought of those mentioned in scripture who thought they would be heard for their “vain repetitions.” I knew that wasn’t right.

Then I though of a lisping child, who went to a father because He knew the father was good and kind. The request was spoken imperfectly. The words weren’t right, but he knew where to turn for help. THIS was right. I’m praying to God because I know that He is my Good Father. My prayers have little to do with me or my ability at all. My prayers are directed to Him because of who He is. My faith in His goodness and steadfast loves drives me to Him for help.

After this, I pretty much was at peace. The wild emotions stopped, and I was able to rest in God’s goodness, no matter the outcome.

Happily, the answer coming back “Granted in Full” and we were brought to our knees again, this time in thanksgiving and joy. I’m so happy that our sweet Addy will walk and run and live. God is good and we’re certainly rejoicing in Him.

God is good even when life is hard. I mentioned to a friend that trials make us sane. They re calibrate our hearts and minds. They pull away the blinders and distractions that hinder us from realizing how truly dependent we are for everything on God. When we go throughout our day, barely giving a thought to the God who sustains, that is the definition of insanity. Reality is this: We need God. We depend on Him for life, breath, and being whether we know it or not. Trials are a great gift, causing us to see clearly who we are and Who God is.

How to turn selfishness upside down

When my kids attended the Wild’s of New England one year, they were asked to do a simple exercise entitled “List 75 Ways I’m Selfish.” This was a private exercise to be done in their quiet time, and was a tool for self-evaluation and change.

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Think of ways you’re selfish. If you’re a teen, maybe your answers would be things like:

  • leaving my cups and plates all around the house
  • not doing my chores
  • speaking hurtfully to a sibling, room mate, or friend
  • not sharing what you have
  • wanting praise on FB or Instagram and being deflated when I don’t get it.
  • moodiness when crossed

If you’re a mom, your list might look like this:

  • snapping at the kids when your “quiet tolerance level” has been crossed
  • expecting your husband to help you more than you help him, being lazy in service to others
  • spending money you don’t have on things you don’t need
  • expecting people to notice and appreciate all you’ve done
  • pouting when you don’t get help around the house

If you’re a ministry wife, maybe selfishness looks like this:

  • being possessive with positions, people, or programs
  • being hurt when people don’t include you
  • being touchy when your way is crossed
  • getting offended when your husband fails to keep you in the loop
  • pushing your own agenda because of your perceived rights
  • inserting yourself into ministries you’re not gifted to perform

Selfishness is sin because it violates the summary of the OT commandments given by Jesus: love God first and your neighbor as yourself.

Selfishness is the antithesis of the servant-minded focus we’re called to.

Selfishness also violates Matthew 7:12

So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Notice that this commandment is not stated in the negative: don’t do to others what you wouldn’t want done to you. That would be easy. I’m not going to steal, punch, defraud, or slander another person because I wouldn’t want that done to me or my family. The negative would mean to live and let live. Leave me alone, I’ll leave you alone.

But that’s not it at all. This command, and all its implications, is stated in the positive. “Whatever you wish others would do to you, do to them.” THIS takes supernatural Spirit-filling. THIS is how we change our homes, relationships, and churches.

It’s about turning selfishness on its head, thinking ahead (kindness), and giving honor, support, respect, love, and special treatment to someone else. It’s all about pro-active love and preference.

This treatment is not just for your family or inner circle. This treatment is for your neighbor, the person who is unlovable, and the person who is your enemy.

Matthew Henry states that Christ’s example is our example:

Christ came to teach us, not only what we are to know and believe, but what we are to do; not only toward God, but toward men; not only toward those of our party and persuasion, but toward men in general, all with whom we have to do. 

I wonder if our failure to love others as we would enjoy being treated is why our homes, communities, and churches are so weak and fractured and why our relationships are often brittle. Perhaps it’s due to disobedience or neglect to the most basic of all Christ’s teachings on love.

We pride ourselves in pure teaching from the pulpit, but teaching that does not impact a person on the human level is really useless. Your “religion” is tested in the arena of human interactions.

But perhaps our biggest failure to love is a sin of omission, withholding good when it is in our power to do it.

 “What would I like done to me?”–this is the prototype for our behavior.

So, take that selfish list, and flip it on its head. 

  • If I’d like others to be thoughtful and considerate to me, I must set out to be thoughtful and considerate to others.
  • I love it when someone drops me a note of appreciation, so I should set out to recognize, appreciate and encourage others.
  • I love it when people think of me and pick something small up for me, like a coffee, so I’ll show my love by doing the same.
  • If I’d enjoy help around the house, I must set out to help others around the house.
  • If I’d appreciate it when people to give me the benefit of the doubt, I must set out to give others the benefit of the doubt.

It doesn’t matter if you get these things in return. The blessing comes in obedience.

Christ is our example. He always did the will of His Father. He came to serve worthless, ungrateful humans who didn’t end up doing anything but killing Him in the end.But He rose in power and has given us newness of life so that we can walk like Him. Through the Spirit’s leading and empowerment, we can do this.

What good things would you want done to you? Think about it, jot it down, and, armed with that knowledge, begin treating others that way.

If you are discouraged by the treatment you’ve received this week, let those feelings of mistreatment prompt you to recognize how you want to be treated, and give you guidance about how you’ll treat others, so they don’t have to experience what you’ve experienced.Be the one to look outward and treat others the way you wish you’d been treated.

Imagine what a catalyst for change this could be in your community!

Getting Ready for a Blizzard {and Books I’m Itching To Read}

The temperatures are dropping and we’re bracing for a storm here! I am so excited about a good snowfall!

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Peter and I coordinated our day and each headed out to get ready. He’s getting the generator and I’ve got a huge pot of chicken soup simmering on the stove. I touched a raw chicken before I had my coffee this morning, something I don’t like to do, pre or post coffee.

Some of my favorite memories with my kids are on snowstorm days. We’d make maple syrup candy. We’d squirrel under blankets on the couch and read picture books. The kids would make Playmobil towns for hours.

One particular snow day, we all huddled under blankets to listen to the Railway Children by Edith Nesbit. I made strawberry scones and tea, and we all enjoyed the audio book in front of the cheery fire.

Of course, kids are fidgety, so there were sometimes flailing boy limbs that sporadically made contact with the girls eyes or face (1 boy, 4 girls) causing tears or at least pleas for sympathy from mom. It’s funny how boys do things to get a rise, and how girls react to get the same.

And it’s interesting how one very ordinary day can stick out as most pleasant one years later. On that day, in the moment, I was probably monitoring everyone’s arms and legs to make sure tea cups were not broken or spilled, that nobody knocked the food tray over, and that Legos weren’t swallowed or heads cracked on the sides of coffee tables. But that’s what moms do, and in retrospect it was the loveliest of days.

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I’ve got a great line up of books in my Kindle right now. I’m currently reading Own Your Life: Living with Deep Intention, Bold Faith, and Generous Love,
Come Boldly, and Sensing Jesus: Life and Ministry as a Human Being (which I am going through slowly, because I don’t want to miss anything, and because I don’t quite “get” the author’s writing style, slowing me down a bit.) I just finished Million Little Ways, A: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live which was an insightful read for artsy types.

If you’re looking for a good read for the snowstorm, there are a few Kindle deals right now. (I try to get books when they are around $2. I share a Kindle account with my daughters, so we can all benefit from the books even while they are away at college.)
When Sinners Say “I Do” is $1.99
The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness is a small book that I haven’t read, but am super excited to dive into it. It comes with high recommendations from dear friends. And it’s $1.62. Woo hoo!

Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet: Tasting the Goodness of God in All Things is $2.80 and is on my list to read, but I haven’t read yet.

Are you getting snow? What’s your favorite part of the snowstorm? The potential to read by the fire, like me? What are you reading these days? 

 

 

Favorite Gift Ideas For Teen Girls

It’s tricky to buy for teens and college aged girls. Trends change so quickly that it’s hard to keep up. Plus, picking clothing is tricky enough as a woman, never mind trying to choose for your teen girls.

My college aged daughters are old enough to make Amazon wish lists for me, thankfully, but for those who have no idea what to buy, let me share a few of my favorite takes for teens this Christmas.

1. This Under Armour Hoodie Name brands are faddy, and this one certainly is right now.

2.CHI Ceramic Straightening Iron My sister is a hair dresser and she recommends Chi products. I have one and can never use it because my girls steal it and take it up to their bathroom.

3. My girls love this quirky sticker for their MacBooks that makes it look like Snow White is holding the Apple icon. Snow White Holding Apple MacBook Pro Vinyl Decal Sticker 

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4. Alex and Ani Bracelet . There are charms for every interest. These are wildly popular here. Last year, Rebekah and Em said that nobody seemed to know what they were on their campus, but that their popularity is spreading to the south now.

Christmas is the perfect time to sign up for a free Amazon Prime Trial. I pay for a membership, although the fee is $99, and we find that it pays for itself between ordering homeschool curriculum, birthday purchases, sending goods to the girls at school, and Christmas. Whether you continue it or not, you get free 2 day shipping during the Christmas season. No brainer! :)

What would you add to this list? What are your teen girls into right now? Share in the links or on the FB page. :)

*Post contains affiliate links at no cost to you and are provided for your convenience.

Jesus: The Generous Gift Giver

Friend, are you alive inside? I know you are breathing, but is your soul truly alive and satisfied? Or are you more of an empty shell, numb, searching, and desperate for answers?

Are you searching for the one gift you think will make you happy?

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Jesus promises us life and tries to discourage us from seeking happiness in all the wrong places. He encourages us to come to Him and really understand what it means to be spiritually alive and satisfied.

I always think of Isaiah 55 during the Christmas season when I am frantically shopping for Christmas gifts for my kids.

Isaiah 55 pictures a coastal community and a merchant on the dock of a busy port, calling to passersby and anyone who would listen to come and “buy” his product. There are qualifications: you must be thirsty and poor. Upon closer inspection we see that this person is not a merchant at all because he’s not taking money. The goods are free because they were already paid for by another. He’s offering them free for the taking because it’s in his nature as a grace-giver to do so. He knows what will eternally satisfy us because he made us.

Come, everyone who thirsts,
    come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
    and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
    and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
    hear, that your soul may live;
and I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
    my steadfast, sure love for David.

The offer is made to all, and the gospel excludes none, except for those who would exclude themselves.

There are other merchants selling their goods, vying for your attention. The noise. It’s all around us. Blaring advertisements. Promises. Voices. “If you use this product, you’ll be beautiful, or popular, or relevant, or successful.” They offer satisfaction, but the Lord knows that these thing won’t satisfy in the end.

God reasons with us: “Why are you spending your money on things that will never satisfy? Why are you working so hard to get things that will never fill that void?

He’s calling.

He’s saying, “Listen to me. Come to me. Heed, and when you know me, you’ll truly LIVE.”

I don’t know if you’ve noticed but there are so many people who are unhappy and unsatisfied around us. Men and women who are seeking anything to make them happy. They need this message. We all need this message. We are not just flesh. We are spirit. And our spirits were created to be in fellowship with the Creator. Sin separates us from God, but the best news of all is that grace is for sinners, and Jesus makes a way back to Him by offering us the free gift of salvation. He died for you. He was buried and rose again the third day.

That’s it. That’s everything. And when you realize the impact of this, it truly is everything! No hoops, no penance, no working at all. Just faith. You can’t buy it by good works, friends, because it’s not for sale.

Why can’t you work or pay for salvation?

Because the gift has already been bought and paid for with the precious blood of Christ Jesus on the cross. It was enough. “It is finished.”

Do you fall into the category of looking for something to satisfy that ache in your being?

Are you working tirelessly to earn a good standing with God?

Are you the thirsty and the soul-sick person in these verses?

Perhaps Jesus is calling to you today?

He’s offering you a GIFT. Salvation from sin, wholeness of soul, and eternity with him in heaven. And it’s because of Christ.

Reach out and take hold of the gift by faith.

 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,  not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2: 8,9