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.
My Anxious Brain
My brain likes to trick me, and it’s good at it. If you have an anxious brain, like I do, maybe you can relate. My brain sends my body danger signals when there is no danger. My body believes my brain and reacts by initiating safety protocols of fight, flight, or freeze (along with physical symptoms such as sweaty palms, racing heart, nausea, paralysis, etc.). My clever brain also likes to trick my spirit. I used to assume my anxious and fearful feelings were the Holy Spirit trying to warn me of a threat. I would get on an airplane and think, these fools don’t even know we’ll probably be dead soon (and it was up to me to pray us all the way to a safe landing). Once Dave (my husband) and I left the kids home with popcorn and a movie. As we drove off, I remembered a story about a child who choked on popcorn and got brain damage. I was certain the Holy Spirit was speaking to me about this and I began to fret. Then something wonderful happened. A different thought slipped through a crack in my brain: What if I’m worrying about nothing? I prayed for their safety and then added, “Lord, if this is from you, please tell me. If it’s not, then help me forget about it. Replace my fear with peace.” I soon became distracted and had a lovely evening (nobody choked, either). That particular fear-thought-loop got broken. After that night, I started to “test the spirit” (so-to-speak) and ask the Lord to redirect worrisome thoughts that were not from Him.
Have you noticed we have various women who write our monthly devotional? Devotions lead us to the heart of God and help us live as a disciple. They can stir us and direct us to the scripture in a way we can apply to our everyday life. Our newsletter needs devotionals that are story based, share a struggle, and show what God taught you based on a specific scripture. Want to give it a try?
Thursday night, September 17, found the church sanctuary filled with nearly 200 women having a good time together. The creative songs of Camille & Haley had us smiling and then standing to join in singing I’m proud to be an American…God Bless the USA! Then came the comedy of Amy Barnes. I’m not sure which joke or funny story I liked the best—wearing Yoga pants to go to Target, the hamster that died twice, or the thigh-gap giving way to the pie-gap! Amy was not just talented in writing witty lines, but also songs that she sang, accompanying herself on keyboard. Definitely a multi-talented woman!
If you saw my front porch today, you might think somethings wrong with this picture. In the tiered plant stand are three very tired looking begonias. The leaves are brown on the edges and beginning to curl as they slowly die (so sad). The color of the flowers are fading as they, too, have peaked and are making a slow decline. But then sitting on the cement at the base of the plant stand are three very bright, very happy looking yellow mums. Hmmm.