Gospel Hope When You Feel Like A Failure.

We’re coming to the close of 2014, and now is the time when many evaluate the past year to set goals and make changes for the new year.

If I’m not careful, this simple exercise can either lead me to feel proud of my accomplishments or, more commonly, to despair over failures, real or perceived.

gospelhope

I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs this year. I can think of times that I’ve missed opportunities to speak for the Lord, said words I wish I hadn’t, and had moments of failure as a wife and mother.

I’ve majored on minors, been impatient, let emotions get the better of me, slacked on things that needed to be done. I’ve flat out neglected my devotions on days and allowed busyness to steal my joy. I’ve served without heart, and have barely tolerated people I should have loved.

In short, in 2014, I was a sinner. Maybe you’ve had your share of failures as well. I want to give you several reasons to hope when you reflect and see failure. Gospel hope, friends.

1. 1 John 1:9 is still in the Bible. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” We serve a forgiving and patient God who knows our weakness, and that we are but dust, and loves us anyway.

2. I am “in Christ” and my standing “in Him” is not dependent on my works at all.  The Bible calls all my good works “filthy rags” which amount to nothing. Jesus lived a perfect life in my place, and His righteousness was credited to my account. Justified: Just as if I had never sinned. Just as if I’d always obeyed. All I can say is thank you, Lord!

3. God’s love is not dependent on our performance or failure. We don’t have to “qualify” for His love. Even in failure, God loves us and wants us to draw near to Him.

4. God uses imperfect people. Don’t let a day or week of failure freeze you from pressing onward. There are so many people around you who need to see the love of God through you. You can be the hands and feet of Christ to someone. Don’t let condemning thoughts stop you. Grace is for sinners for saving faith and for daily living!

5. When I am unfaithful, He is faithful. 

I love this passage from Spurgeon:

You fell in Adam; did he cease to love you? No; he became the second Adam to redeem you.

You sinned in practice, and brought upon your head the condemnation of God; you deserved his wrath and his utter anger; did he then forsake you? No!

He sent his minister after you; you despised him; he preached the gospel in your ears; you laughed at him; you broke God’s Sabbath, you despised his Word. Did he then forsake you? No!

And at last he arrested you by his grace, he humbled you, he made you penitent, he brought you to his feet, and he forgave you all your sins.

Since then, has he left you? You have often left him; has he ever left you?

You have had many trials and troubles; has he ever deserted you? Has he ever turned away his heart, and shut up his bowels of compassion? No, children of God, it is your solemn duty to say “No,” and bear witness to his faithfulness.

I can attest to God’s faithfulness and my own fickleness. I’ve had times of “leanness” in my soul” and didn’t desire Him or feel like praying.

I’ve had days when I wanted to be served and resented serving others.

What about you? As you reflect, are you discouraged by your failures?

Let me encourage you to run to Christ at the start of this new year. There you’ll find grace and mercy. Repentance is a beautiful “turning around” moment where we agree with God when He tells us who He is and who we are.

Friends, we are His beloved. However flawed and sinful, He loves us.

THAT is what gives you the courage to go to Him, move in close, and talk to Him. Even when you don’t know what to pray or what to say, do it anyways. He’ll pick you up at the first sign of distress. Moms, you know how quickly you’ll pick up your whimpering baby who can’t fully communicate their needs. You pick them up at their first “whaa!”  God’s the same way. He’ll help us because His heart is for us and He loves us.

And that’s good news in my book.

 

 

 

 

 

Mary’s secret for peace {for all of us.}

Do you find peace elusive? Do circumstances dictate your mood? Does the behavior (or misbehavior) of others rattle you and threaten to steal your joy?

On what does your happiness depend?

One of the greatest lessons we can learn is that peace is not dependent on circumstances when you are in Christ. When my peace is threatened, I know my focus is on the wrong things: problems, injustices, situations.

Getting alone with my Bible and some time with the Lord is really the needed re-calibration for my anxious heart. “Thou wilt keep Him in perfect peace whose mind is fixed on Thee, because he trusts in Thee.”

Mary-of-Nazareth-Nativity

Perfect peace.

One of my favorite examples from scripture, as you already know, is the humility of Mary.

Mary exemplifies a peace filled heart.

Mary’s world was turned upside down and we see her in a state of surrender. Angel appears, news delivered: You’re going to deliver the Messiah.

Peace. Belief. Surrender.—>And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38

Mary was living in a time when women had few rights. She was not master of her own destiny. She was dependent on God and she knew it. She called herself a servant–one who does the will of another.

Mary had few resources. She didn’t have riches or influence or people in high places that could get her out of a fix.

It’s easy to romanticize the manger scene with a soft-focused nostalgia. But think about Mary in her material state, flesh and blood, pregnant and uncomfortable with no where to give birth after traveling on a donkey to get to her birthing room, which turns out is no where, because there was no room for them. Plan B: Give birth in a stable on the ground.

Picture her giving of herself in order to give life to another, like every mother does. Her delivery wasn’t sterile or pain free. Shaking, sweating, panting, cold, hot, writhing in pain, holding her breath, frantic to survive another contraction and hoping the excruciating pain would soon be over. Her attitude on the dirt floor and hay bed of a birthing room: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord.”

When shepherds interrupted the scene to see the newborn, and people were invading their space, chattering on and on about the angels and the stars, about the news, and why they were there…

with all that noise and confusion after you just gave birth.in.a.stable.

and we see that Mary is not joining in with the noise and confusion, and is not agitated or demanding her space or rights, but is simply quiet. At rest. Pondering. Unaffected by the outward circumstances. She knew her God and she simply trusted Him. “But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

We see very little of Mary during the Lord’s 33 years on earth. We assume she did what normal mothers do. Night after night she nursed baby Jesus. She changed diapers, rocked, burped Him, cleaned a home, made meals, swept floors, cared for Joseph. Nothing spectacular by the world’s standards. Just faithful care for the people around her in her own little sphere of influence. But when we do see her, she was doing the right thing, and following the teachings of God. She followed Joseph when he was warned in a “dream” to flee to Egypt. We don’t see any recorded resistance to Joseph’s leadership. Then, years later, she was faithfully bringing the Lord to the temple when he was 12. Before Jesus first miracle, we see her instructing the servants to “do whatever He tells you.” Her steadfast heart was the same. She still saw herself as a servant of the Lord and trusted in Him.

And this is the secret to our peace as well. We need to see ourselves as servants of the Lord, to do what He commands, to walk where He leads, to serve in humility where He puts us.

Your life may seem mundane and maybe you are doing small things by the world’s standards. You may be obscure and poor and hidden. Maybe you are changing a baby’s diaper, or maybe caring for an elderly parent. And while you’ll never receive recognition for these things, an nobody seems to notice or care, God does see and notice. In fact, you are His servant doing His bidding right there as you feed that baby in the middle of the night, and as you calm that anxious loved one with Alzheimers.

Mary taught us that the ordinary, as well as the extraordinary, are to be embraced as “unto the Lord” and as “from the Lord.” This should teach us to say, with Mary, “Yes, Lord. Anything. Everything. Whatever you think is best for me.”

Mary held the “The Prince of Peace” in her physical arms. We have something better: We are “in Him” and have Him in our hearts.

Col. 3:1-3 “If you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”

This Christmas, why not hand over that thing that has toyed with you and robbed you of your joy for so long. Why not meditate on the Prince of Peace and the one who did so much to bring peace with God to your life, heart, and eternity? Like Mary, why not trust God with everything and proclaim yourself a handmaiden/servant of God?

Why did we allow that small thing to steal our joy and peace again? What can threaten our peace now?

Humility hands over the controllers.

Do you struggle with control issues?

I have. I always joked about being a “smother”–you know–one of those moms.

There’s a certain lunacy to trying to be in control–a fantasy world, really. The truth is that we can barely control ourselves let alone anyone else.

My kids enjoy playing video games. I watch with amazement as their fingers dance and scurry over their controllers at break neck speed and precision. They are expert controllers of the PS3.

ps4-controller

Well, the Christian life is about handing over the “controllers” because we know that God understands life better than we do, and that He’s actually capable and powerful enough to handle life, while we are not.

I know we live in a culture that defines  a successful woman as someone who is calling the shots, controlling others, influential, assertive, mouthy and equal, if not equal-er, to men. If you want to be seen as “someone,” you need to take charge, be sorry-not-sorry, and be in control of your destiny.

But a successful Christian woman realizes that she’s not a controller, but is to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. God has plans for us, and they are good and best.

A controller makes her own plans and works to make sure everyone else carries them out. A controlled woman seeks God’s face each morning to find out His will for her day. “Not my will, but Thine be done.”

A controller takes matters into her own hands. A controlled woman takes God’s hand and allows Him to lead and direct her steps. “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord…”

A controller says too much, does too much, meddles too much. A controlled woman is cautious about running ahead of the Lord’s plans. “Whether therefore you eat or drink or whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

A controlling woman, in her pride, thinks that she is the only one capable of handling the situation but humility hands over the controllers.

Let me just say this: we are not Spirit controlled woman when we are controlling women.

You may seek to control your kids, your husband, your friends and manipulate to make life work your way behind the scenes. But has all of your striving brought inner peace?

There’s great peace in handing over the controller to the Lord:

  • You don’t always have to be the driver.
  • You don’t always have to be right.
  • You don’t always have to fix.
  • You don’t always have to perform. 
  • You don’t always have to speak or give input.
  • You don’t have to be angry when your plans are disregarded.  
  • You don’t have to be bitter or critical when your expectations were not met.
  • You don’t have to get impatient when people are in your way or not doing things your way.

Instead, just like watching your kids play a video game, you observe and rest.

When God has the controllers

You can watch what He is doing in your life.

You can be at peace knowing that He can handle anything that comes up. Nothing takes Him by surprise.

You can be at peace knowing that He is in control.

You can trust your Heavenly Father because He’s promised that He’ll use the controllers to passionately pursue your holiness and best interests.

Thy way, not mine, O Lord,
However dark it be:
Lead me by Thine own hand,
Choose out the path for me.
Smooth let it be or rough,
It will be still the best;
Winding or straight, it leads
Right onward to Thy Rest

I dare not choose my lot;
I would not if I might:
Choose Thou for me, my God;
So shall I walk aright.
Take Thou my cup, and it
With joy or sorrow fill
As best to Thee may seem;
Choose Thou my good and ill.

Choose Thou for me my friends,
My sickness or my health;
Choose Thou my cares for me,
My poverty or wealth.
Not mine, not mine the choice
In things or great or small;
Be Thou my guide, my strength,
My wisdom, and my all.

Horatius Bonar

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 

snow white

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.

Frugal DIY Chalkboard Hack

Wanted to share this quick idea with you. I came up with it while trying to think of a frugal way to decorate for a church event this weekend.

Behold, the foamboard “chalkboard.”

Foam board "chalkboard"

Foam board “chalkboard”

My Walmart sells black foam board near the poster board. It was less than $3.

I brought it home, rubbed it over with chalk, then wiped it with a tissue. That gave it a chalkboard look, instead of it being solid black. I sketched words and the nativity (I used a clip art image as a guide) then, when I was happy with my design, I traced it with white chalk marker, also available at Walmart.

What do you think? Pretty convincing for a fake, huh? I don’t think it will hold up to erasing the chalk pen, but I will let you know if it does.

It’s large, so it would also be great as a focal piece on your Christmas mantle.
Let me know if you make one, or share your link in the comments! Have fun!
Magic Cabin

Virtual Christmas Open House

Magic Cabin
I love decorating, and never more than at Christmas time. It’s a love my mother taught me. And like I told you in Merry Christmas, Meager Budget , my decorations are not elaborate or expensive, but they don’t have to be. Simple things make the home feel warm and cozy.

I mostly decorate with natural greenery, lights, and ribbon.  I snip pieces of different greens and wire them in bundles and stuff them in corners here and there. It does the trick and makes the house smell beautiful.

I thought it would be fun to do a virtual open house, so come on inside.

Wreath Welcome

I found this ribbon at Homegoods and fell in love with it!

I found this ribbon at Homegoods and fell in love with it!

IMG_2908

Come on inside.

The kitchen. This is my favorite room to decorate. We spend so much time here. We homeschool at the kitchen table, so we are here a lot of the day.

The kitchen. This is my favorite room to decorate. We spend so much time here. We homeschool at the kitchen table, so we are here a lot of the day.

I absolutely love this antique jelly cabinet. It holds my extra dishes and behind the magic curtain I store home school resources.

I absolutely love this antique jelly cabinet. It holds my extra dishes and behind the magic curtain I store home school resources.

I stick cedar and holly everywhere. My grandmother gave me this brown transfer-ware gravy boat and dish set.

I stick cedar and holly everywhere. My grandmother gave me this brown transfer-ware gravy boat and dish set.

I found this antique recipe box at an antique shop 20 years ago. It's full of handwritten recipes. Someday I will go through them.

I found this antique recipe box at an antique shop 20 years ago. It’s full of handwritten recipes. Someday I will go through them.

I refinished this Hoosier Cabinet when I was 25. It was a wedding gift from my mother in law.

I refinished this Hoosier Cabinet when I was 25. It was a wedding gift from my mother in law.

Kitchen tree with antique style mini cookie cutters. My hoosier holds all of my Gooseberry Patch cookbooks.

Kitchen tree decorated with mini cookie cutters and mercury glass. My Hoosier holds all of my Gooseberry Patch cookbooks.

 

This beeswax lamb was made by my sister Bethy with an antique chocolate mold.

This beeswax lamb candle was made by my sister Bethy with an antique chocolate mold.

Motto sampler in old Adirondack style frame.

Motto sampler in old Adirondack style frame.

This is an idea I found on Pinterest. I altered it by adding mini lights inside the jars rather than tea light candles. I was afraid it would go up in flames the other way.

This is an idea I found on Pinterest. It’s an antique milk carrier, ball jars, and greens. It called for tealights inside the jar, but I substituted mini-lights…I was afraid it would go up in flames the other way.

Vintage Eatmore Cranberry box. They use to sell berries in these.

Vintage Eatmore Cranberry box. They used to sell berries in these.

Family room mantle and tree.

Family room mantle and tree.

My friend, Jen, gave me this sparkly "Merry Christmas" years ago. I filled pots from Ikea with mini trees, added greens and lights. Easy.

My friend, Jen, gave me this sparkly “Merry Christmas” years ago. I filled pots from Ikea with mini trees, added greens and lights. Easy.

Our tree is decorated with handmade ornaments. This is from a dear friend. Cross stitched on linen.

Our tree is decorated with handmade ornaments. This is from a dear friend. Cross stitched on linen.

The kids learned a simple whip stitch on felt ornaments.

The kids learned a simple blanket stitch on felt ornaments.

This mitten is needle felted onto a felt heart.

This mitten is needle felted onto a felt heart.

Calligraphy from a dear friend.

Calligraphy from a dear friend.

Another mantle

Another mantle

Greens inside the fireplace that doesn't work.

Greens inside the fireplace that doesn’t work.

IMG_2877

Entry way

Entry way

Hope set up this tea table.

Hope set up this tea table.

IMG_2977

Plum Pudding candle.

Plum Pudding candle.

Seasonal table.

Seasonal table.

That’s about it! I enjoyed sharing these pictures with you. Feel free to link up to your Christmas virtual tours or blog posts about what you’re up to!

Happy decorating!

Sarah

 

 

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?

Presents under tree

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

The Ministry of Jesus: Preach, Heal, Deliver

“The God of the Old Testament is angry, but the Jesus of the New Testament is love.” That’s the faulty view of God that some take. They almost breathe a sigh of relief that Jesus came to save us from the God of the OT.Nothing could be farther from the truth and we see this in Isaiah 61. The prophet is foretelling of the ministry of Jesus and the job He was sent by God to do. (Jesus himself makes it clear that this prophecy was fulfilled in Him when He stood in the synagogue in Nazareth in Luke 4: 16-21 and proclaimed “This day is the scripture fulfilled in your ears.”)

starry night

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
3 to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.

The Lord God Jehovah sent Jesus to preach, heal, and deliver:
Preach the gospel to the poor, or poor in spirit as He tells us in the Beatitudes.
Heal the brokenhearted. Just like tightly wrapping a wound (binding) stops the bleeding, eases the throbbing pain, and helps for broken bones and skin to begin to mend itself, Jesus binds up our broken hearts.
Set captives free. Before Christ, we are “under sin”–slaves to it, by birth (original) and by choice (have you ever sinned?). Jesus satisfied the laws demands on our account, by living a perfect life, free of sin, and then dying as the sacrificial lamb. He offers to pay our debt, if we’ll accept the free gift.
In short
For those who trust Christ, He offers these exchanges:

  • Beauty instead of their ashes (laying in ashes was an outward sigh of mourning in the OT times.)
  • the Oil of Joy instead of mourning (like we apply moisturizer to make our face glow, the oil of joy makes our face shine!)
  • A Garment of Praise instead of a heavy heart (festive garments are worn on special days like birthdays and holidays, and a garment of praise reveals a rejoicing heart!)

Not only does God release us from bondage, cure our wounds, comfort our sorrows, but he then PLANTS us, “the planting of the Lord,” “trees of righteousness.”

I don’t know about you, but the idea of symbolically being planted like a tree wherever the Lord is exciting. I embrace my ministry with joy when I know that God has gifted me with certain gifts, responsibilities, and sphere of influence.

And though each of us has different jobs and abilities, just like trees (ornamental, flowering, fruit, boundary line trees, shade trees) the purpose of our planting is plain: that God be glorified.

That means whatever you do, wherever you are, your job is to live in righteousness, reflecting the image of God. No complaining that you aren’t as flowery as the next tree or as sturdy as that one over there. God plants. Bloom where you’re planted for His glory and our good.

Herein is our Father glorified, when we bring forth much fruit.

************I totally forgot to tell you that I was guest posting over here yesterday….talking about how to have a Christ-Focused Christmas! 

Thy God Shall Be Thy Glory

Today is the first day of Advent, and a special time to focus on what Christmas really means. I’m posting devotional prep that I did for my kids. We’ll be lighting a candle during dinner, to represent the one true light and HOPE coming into the world…Jesus Christ!

lion-and-lamb-wallpaper

These are by far some of the most beautiful verses in all the Bible foretelling the coming of Christ and His ministry from Isaiah 11.

“There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide disputes by what his ears hear,
but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist,
and faithfulness the belt of his loins.

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
and a little child shall lead them.

From a humble family tree, the Messiah would come. This One was both anointed and appointed by the Spirit of God. He would show us what true, Spirit led, perfect wisdom, understanding, counsel and strength looked like. He’d show us perfect obedience–a life that truly feared God. He always did the will of His father, never trying to do more or less than was ordained.
He wouldn’t judge men by the sight of eyes, as He is no respecter of persons, fooled by outward shows and hypocrisy. He is not fooled by appearances, but sees into the heart to the integrity or lack thereof of a man or woman.
He wouldn’t judge by the hearing of ears. Men will often overly praise or gossip and malign another man, but these rumors and representations are not how God judges you.
He judges with righteousness the poor and meek, or the lowest of society. Righteousness and faithfulness will reign, and peace like we’ve never known will come. Those, who were once stubborn and headstrong will be compliant and teachable, so much so that a little child could teach them.”

Later on in the chapter, Isaiah talks about God enlarging His kingdom to the Gentiles. Amazing grace!
And what should be our response to all of this goodness towards us?
Isaiah 60:19
“The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee, but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory.”
When we truly understand and know God,
we won’t be enthralled by lesser lights,

things that distract us, that promise happiness but remain elusive,

even the sun and moon will be nothing when we truly treasure all that God is and all that we are in Him.

God will be an everlasting light to us, and we’ll GLORY in our God.

60 Stocking Stuffers that Encourage Creativity and Won’t Break In One Day

Need some ideas for stocking stuffers that will encourage your kids to be creative? I’ve got some ideas for you, because after 21 years of buying stocking stuffers, I’m pretty adamant that we NOT amass a pile of plastic junk. (Think junk times five kids, and it adds up!). I can’t afford to spend money on stuff that breaks after one use, so I opt for things we’ll use during the year, some socks, toiletries, and candy.

60 stocking stuffers

So here is a list of my favorite stuffers that encourage artistic pursuits, imagination, and creative play.

  1.  Crayola Markers
  2.  Strathmore  Spiral Drawing Notebook, 50-Sheet
    (rolls or notebooks, depending on age)
  3.  Pencil sets (HB should be included)
  4. General Kneaded Eraser Jumbo (stretchy eraser that can be used on watercolor paper.)
  5. Watercolor set (quality depending on age. Prang is fine for toddlers.)
  6.  Watercolor paper
  7. Stretched canvas (they make adorable 3X3″ canvases for mini artwork
  8. Acrylic paints
  9. Brushes
  10. Origami paper
  11. Sculpey clay
  12. Stamps
  13. Ink pads
  14. Colorful Duct Tape(patterns are fun for covering pencils, books, cans.)
  15. Scrapbook chubby pads (small 5X7 blocks)
  16. ArtSkills Neon Jumbo Glitter Glue, 5 Pieces (PA-1478)
    Glitter glue
  17. Jewelry findings
  18. Beads, charms, etc…for jewelry making
  19. Ribbon
  20. Blank Cards
  21. Glue stick
  22. Photo tabs
  23. Colorful tissue paper
  24. Pastel chalks
  25. Tackle box for art supplies
  26. Wool felt
  27. Wool Roving for needle felting
  28. Small scissors
  29. Embroidery floss in primary colors
  30. Wooden “people” to paint and dress. Some people use wooden clothes pins.
  31. Pipe cleaners (the huge ones are fun)
  32. Play Dough
  33. Rolling pin, cutters for dough
  34. Wikki Stix Rainbow Pak
  35. Pocket Microscope (My kids loved these things and still use them, including one of my college kids!)
  36. Mini Field Guides
  37. magnifying glass
  38. Pocket Dictionary
  39. Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Puddy in Candy Cane 2″ Tin
  40. Dress up clothes
  41. Sheet music
  42. Playsilk
  43. Wooden blocks
  44. PLAYMOBIL mini sets
  45. Legos
  46. Bubbles
  47. Jump Rope
  48. Butterfly net
  49. Harmonica
  50. Beach bucket and shovel
  51. Water toys, toy boats
  52. Puzzles
  53. Mind Teasers like Rush Hour
  54. Memory Game
  55. Mad Libs
  56. Checkers
  57. Magnetic Doodle Balls
  58. Kinetic Sand 
  59. Fun Water Games
  60. Hammond’s Natural Mint Candy Canes Because, old fashioned and fun!

Many of these items can be purchased at Michael’s or Hobby Lobby with a 40% off coupon. I provided Amazon links in case you can’t find them locally.

 

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