I admit it! During the holidays, I undoubtedly have FOMO, fear of missing out. I don’t want to miss a single invite if it means getting together with my friends having ornament exchanges, favorite things parties, or just being in their homes admiring their beautiful décor.
I'm no Scrooge--I'll have a minimum of two decorated trees in my house! And, I will probably have one or two "angel" ornaments on it. But I know something about angels--and Hallmark missed the memo. I don't want anything resembling a real angel on my Christmas Tree because it would scare my grandkids.
Nearly 150 women gathered with anticipation to hear local expert Denise Lopez share about opening your heart and home to others during the Christmas season. She gave great ideas for overcoming the usual excuses for not hosting: I’m not the type, I don’t have time, I don’t cook, my house doesn’t measure up. Wrapped into her message on hospitality, she offered creative tips for decorating (placing fresh greenery, adding cranberries and cut limes to your water dispenser or pitcher, layering items for added interest and depth) and cooking (making take-out look homemade, easy Mexican that everyone loves, great cookbooks). She made us all want to rush out and buy a cake stand to make that Walmart Bundt cake look amazingly homemade—especially when freshly drizzled with icing we can make with powdered sugar and milk (or water). To top off her segment, Denise selected several giveaways that each woman received in a hand-painted Christmas bag … a Magnolia-style apron, an instructional book to learn fancy lettering, prayer cards for each room in your home, Advent scripture cards, and a leather Dignity bracelet that helps support women in Southeast Asia.
It’s finally December and many of us are anxious for 2020 to wrap up and be gone. It has been a year of the unexpected—from being told to stay home, forced to watch church online, kids home from school, job loss, delayed weddings, vacations cancelled, relationship issues magnified—the list is endless.
Persistent in Prayer
I woke up the other day with an ongoing desire on the forefront of my mind. You know--the one that becomes a prayer request and soon consumes your thoughts as you wake up and fall asleep. Sometimes our prayers are intense for a short season and then an answer comes. Sometimes they linger for months and even years. This particular prayer is the later type. It has been on my mind and heart to varying degrees for years now. Sometimes I read deeply into God’s Word searching for the way to pull an answer into existence. Sometimes I turn to “self-help” books to see what kinds of tips and tricks will help to get me “there”. Sometimes I try to carry the burden myself feeling like “I’m the only one”. At other times I’ve reached out to God-fearing friends and mentors for encouragement and prayer. Sometimes I write off the desire as an unreasonable expectation or something I should just not worry about. So, I get busy and forget about it…almost.
Have you ever been really excited to meet someone? I mean, really excited, like nervous stomach, sweaty palms, happy dance excited? When I was a kid and heard we were on our way to meet Santa Claus, I was thrilled! I was about to see the big, jolly fella with the long white beard with my very own eyes. Of course, the best part would be telling him everything my little heart desired for Christmas—guaranteeing him that I had been a very good girl.
“I was baptized by Pastor Tom as a baby,” Joe says. “I remember going to church just because my parents wanted me to. But as I continued to grow, I decided on my own to be more involved, especially through my friends at church and it grew from there. I was plugged in with the help of former youth pastor Mark Fowler. I joined the junior high worship band and ended up volunteering with the media team.”
Growing up in a household without any siblings is one of the most defining parts of my child and personal journey. Oftentimes, children are defined by their ranking in the birth order of their family. The oldest usually ends up being the “type A” overachiever while the middle child is constantly striving to be seen and heard. These generalities sometimes come to fruition and other times couldn’t be more wrong. But what about the only child? If you’re the parent of an only child, there’s no comparisons to be made between children. It’s a unique and special opportunity! As an only child, and also one who ADORED being the one and only, I thought I’d share a few of my observations from my own journey to provide insight on what it means to guide an only child toward Christ.
We have all be in that place of feeling unnoticed, unwanted or maybe even overlooked. We've all also felt what it's like to be welcomed with open arms, wanted and loved. If you have a beating heart, I'm sure you can relate to all of these high and low feelings.
Dave and I have come full circle on the “how should Christian families handle Halloween” debate. As our children grew we processed through several phases: From dressing up and trick-or-treating (reserved acceptance), to participating in the biblically-based ‘Fall Festival’ at church (Christian alternative), to going to friends’ homes for parties (controlled exposure), to skipping the whole thing by taking the kids out to dinner (avoidance), then back to celebrating with family and friends, costumes and trick-or-treating (happy acceptance). We did not know what was the “right” thing to do so we simply did the best we could. Just as the kids were growing in “wisdom and stature,” Dave and I were also growing as disciples. Over the years, our kids changed, the opportunities changed, and our attitudes toward Halloween changed (more than once). What worked for our family when they were toddlers, was different than what worked during elementary, middle school and high school. We started with carefully walking the kids around the cul-de-sac and ended several years later with inviting family and friends over for Frito-chili-pie, then sending all the kids off to trick-or-treat on their own while the parents stayed behind to socialize and answer the door. This year, my 22-year old (who still loves cosplay) is throwing a murder mystery dinner party for her friends.