The countdown is on! Only 21 days until one of the most anticipated holidays of the whole year.
One of the things I most look forward to – other than the food, and the family and the fellowship. . . . and the food (did I already mention that?) - is the opportunity to give gifts. I love giving gifts. It’s my love language. I like options that are personalized to suit the interests and personalities of my friends and family members.
The Going Beyond Ministry team and I kept this in mind while dreaming up this year’s Christmas packages.
Each one centers on a different theme that we hope will be personally suited to the people on your list this holiday season. Hopefully, they’ll be a blessing to you or your gift recipients. If you are buying for a friend, we’ll autograph and personalize their resources and send directly to your recipient. It’ll be beautifully packaged by our resident champion gift-wrapper, Nicole, and will be finished off with a quaint gift tag letting them know that the gift is from you.
In the meanwhile, I thought it would be fun to give you an opportunity to win a package for yourself. So, we are giving away four of them today!
Playing along is easy! You’ll automatically be entered to win when you do the following:
- Leave a comment below telling me what you are most looking forward to on Christmas day.
- Copy and paste a link to this giveaway to your twitter, instagram or facebook.
You have until Tuesday, December 10th to enter. We’ll contact the winners on the 11th and get your gift shipped out to you just in time for Christmas.
Happy Holidays sister! So glad I get to share mine with you ☺.
PS. . .if you want more information on all of our gift packages click here.
There are few women that have mastered Christmas cooking and entertaining like Tammy Maltby.
This woman has been a friend of mine for over two decades now. From my teenage and young adult years, I have fond memories of being at her home and staring in amazement at the unbelievably stunning décor that graced her living spaces. Then I’d listen in wide-eyed wonder as she’d take time to tell me the practical, hands-on, no-fuss and frugal way she’d pulled it all together.
Then my taste-buds would be tantalized by some unbelievable culinary creation that she served on a table that was almost too beautifully set to actually mess up. Afterward, she’d answer all my questions about how she’d gotten it done and then lead me to her recipe box so that I could photo copy everything that I wanted. Shoot, I’ve kept those recipes for years (along with some photos of all the cute corners of her home that I snapped – unbeknownst to her).
I’ve always been stunned by her home; her life really – it is godly, life-giving, fun and immaculate all at the same time. And some how, she has always made it all seem do-able for regular girls like me who aren’t known for their “Martha-Stewartness”. So, even before I had a home to make for a family or to entertain others in; this woman inspired me to make memories in the kitchen and every other room in the house.
This was the woman that told me that pie-crusts didn’t have to be made from scratch for the pie to taste homemade and that decorating your house creatively with the things that can be found in your backyard is cost effective and often far more beautiful than store bought options. When I registered for wedding china, she was the one that told me silver plated flatware was just as gorgeous as the real deal and required far less maintenance. (I should have listened.) And, she was the woman who told me not to save my china for special occasions because family and my most familiar friends ARE SPECIAL.
Yes I’ve learned a lot from this lady so right here at the start of the Christmas holiday season, I wanted to share her with you.
So many of her amazing recipes and simple ideas for making the holidays memorable are tucked in this book. You’ve got to get your hands on a copy. It will help you make this Christmas your most beautiful one yet. In reality – and I can just hear Tammy’s voice in my head when I say this – we have no business waiting until Christmas to do some of these special things anyway. The stuff you’ll find in this little treasure chest of wisdom can be used all year long – and should be!
In fact, Tammy is available to you and me on more occasions than just the holidays. You can find her and all of her deliciousness right here. Your life will be so much richer when you connect with her!
Here’s to a beautiful holiday!
The church is the living breathing mechanism through which God works in us, to spur us on to victorious Christian living, and through us to edify and encourage each other. The profound beauty of the body of Christ in its breadth is staggering when you think about it. It's so much bigger than your local church or mine. It is THE CHURCH - the global gathering of all who have placed faith in Christ. Those whom the Lord has given us as pastors - shepherds to disciple us, encourage us, comfort us and, yes, correct us, have a big job on their hands. No church is perfect - with all of us and our junk crowding the pews every week. These courageous folks, who have answered the call of God to walk beside us, as our souls are conformed into the image of Christ, have an enormous task and we should never take them lightly.
I was reminded of the importance of covering our church leaders in prayer when I watched proudly from the front row of a crowded auditorium as a seminary colleague of mine, Ikki Soma, was installed as the pastor of City Of Refuge Church in Houston, Texas. Ikki, originally from Japan, has been like a "big brother" for fifteen years now. Tears formed in my eyes as the men of his denomination surrounded his kneeling body, laid hands on him and spoke to the Lord on his behalf.
I was very profoundly impacted when the elder hosting the proceedings asked the congregation to stand to their feet. He then asked if they would commit to pray for Ikki and his family, submit to his authority and encourage him as he serves them as pastor.
The entire group responded in unison with an enthusiastic, “Yes”!
It was beautiful - a congregation making a commitment to pray for their leader.
Going into Thanksgiving this year, I’m especially mindful of and grateful for my own pastor and for the many others who serve the global body across the earth. Leading the church is a broad burden for which they have willingly volunteered their own shoulders. May we never take for granted the load that they carry on our behalf.
Bless them Jesus. I'm praying for my pastor, Dr. Tony Evans and expressing gratefulness to God for his integrity, teaching gift and tender heart for people.
Who is your pastor and what are you most thankful for about him?
This is it...the week that the mayhem swirling around Christmas and holiday festivities officially begins. The turkey will barely have settled in our tummies before some of us will venture out into the frigid, winter cold at zero-dark thirty on Friday morning to catch the first hint of a sale.
I'll admit that I'm not much of a Black-Friday kind of girl. I'd rather stay in bed and fully sleep off the gluttonous coma that I fully intend to put myself into the day before. My sister Chrystal, on the other hand, rises early and hits every neighborhood store she can. She's back home and in bed before I've even brushed my teeth and said "Good Morning" to anyone in my family.
So, while I won't be out shopping for Christmas gifts this week, I have started to think of what I might get my three boys this year. Jerry and I like to buy them a couple gifts apiece and then my parents, whom my boys affectionately call Poppy and Nonny, get them a few more to open at their house. Thing is, my mom has too many grandkids to brave the stores on each of their behalf. So, she emails me and my siblings with instructions to buy a couple things for each kid and give her the receipts.
Bottom line: I've got to figure out several gift options for three little boys ages eleven, nine and five. And this year, like every single Christmas since they were old enough to want something more than a stuffed animal and a rattle, I'm clueless as to what I should get them.
I figure that there have to be a few of you who feel the same way that I do.
So, how about you leave some suggestions based on gifts your son or daughter has enjoyed in the past or something that you intend on getting them this year. If we get a good list going, we could save each other a whole lot of time this holiday season. Leave as much detail as you can about the product (like brand/company name) so that we can easily find it online. Better yet, post the link!
Someone bought this for my boys over five years ago and each of them have played with it when they were between the ages of 2 and 7.
As you can tell by the well-worn box, it has gotten alot of usage in this house. Here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/Pacific-Play-Tents-Tunnels-Junction/dp/B00005KGOJ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1385327394&sr=8-1&keywords=Tunnels+of+Fun+junction+set
It's a little bit pricey but it has provided years of fun. All three of my boys have loved it and my youngest, Jude, still pops it open in his bedroom for he and his buddies to crawl in and out of.
My two oldest sons are really into Legos right now. Here's their most recent interest:
Apparently, all the sets that come in the "Legends of Chima" collection are something worth unwrapping at Christmas time. Here's that link: http://www.amazon.com/LEGO-Chima-Eagle-Interceptor-70003/dp/B00A8HOX4E/ref=sr_1_1?srs=2595364011&ie=UTF8&qid=1385328027&sr=8-1&keywords=chima+lego+70003
I'm so sorry that I can't help much with girl options (although I do think that the tunnels would be great for little girls and boys alike). I haven't been down the barbie-doll or hair bow aisles in decades. But, I know there are a bunch of other ladies with daughters who can.
So, sisters, please chime in. We need suggestions for boys and girls, toddlers and teenagers!
Let's make OUR Christmas list together!
One of my favorite verses in all of the Bible is found in 2 Corinthians 9:8: "And God is able to make all grace abound to you so that having all sufficiency in everything you may have an abundance for every good thing." Isn't that fantastic? Such wonderful words packed into one little verse.
All. Abound. Everything. Abundance.
This robust, rich verbiage remind us that we have enough to take on any and every task that God sends our way.
That is why I love what my friend and guest blogger, Rachel Anne Ridge , is sharing with us today. Every sentiment she writes is dripping with the beauty of this verse and, even more, the beauty of her life. She teaches me the joy that comes when a woman truly understands the boundless depth of her value and riches in Christ. She has shown me that a simple life can be more full and fabulous than I ever imagined if I'll just remember this one small yet profound principle: You have enough.
I'm so grateful to her for that.
She is a dear friend and much needed mentor wrapped in one gracious, gorgeous package. I'm so glad to share her with you today.
I don’t have enough time.
I don’t have enough money.
I don’t have enough talent.
I don’t have enough education.
I don’t have enough connections.
I don’t have enough.
I AM NOT GOOD ENOUGH.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve spoken those words. Or how many times I’ve stepped back from a new opportunity because I felt the things I lacked “disqualified” me.
Honestly, I’ve had a “Not Enough” mentality my whole life. I’ve heard it called a “Scarcity” mentality, and I believe that describes it well. It’s the mindset that says, because there isn’t enough (fill in the blank) you’ve got to hold on to what little you have because you might run out.
Scarcity, or Not Enough, looks like this:
I don’t have enough money for my bills, so I can’t give to church.
I don’t have enough time to teach Sunday School, so I won’t even be a classroom helper.
My husband may leave me someday, so I won’t give 100% of my heart to him today.
I’ve been rejected by friendships before, so I won’t invest in any more of them.
This job is all I qualify for, so I can’t consider looking for anything better.
I need to hang on to my valuable ideas because someone might steal them.
I won’t compliment this person because they’ll take over my position.
I must keep my money and resources safe, “just in case.”
Helping others succeed means less success to go around for myself.
Scarcity makes us become territorial. It makes churches fight over members. It makes us make catty remarks about others. It makes us hoard our resources. It keeps us from stepping out and experiencing the thrill of depending on God.
The Scarcity mindset makes our lack big - and makes God small.
When we operate out of lack and fear and holding on, we are essentially saying, “God is not big enough to take up for me. He is not big enough to fight my battles. He is not strong enough to hold my marriage, or provide a new job, or use me in ministry. My lack is greater than God’s ability to overcome it.”
But I’m convinced that God never asks us for more than what we can give. And when He does ask, He wants to reveal His mighty power in our circumstance. He asks us to jump in with His plan, boots and all, and watch Him be enough to make a miracle happen. He makes us enough through His ability.
I’m reminded of the widow woman in I Kings 17:9, who was asked by Elijah for a cake of bread and some water. At that very moment, she had only enough flour and oil for one last meal for her son and her to eat, and then they faced certain starvation in a time of famine. It was a hopeless situation - real, true scarcity.
No doubt she had been carefully rationing her supplies for months, knowing that eventually she would run out. And the day was finally here. This, THIS would be their last pitiful meal together. With a rumbling stomach she gathered sticks for the fire and set the scene for their good-bye.
And then Elijah showed up and asked for THEIR meal.
The widow faced a decision. She did not have enough food for all of them. She could have explained her situation and been perfectly justified in not sharing. But rather than keep what little she had, she was willing to give all of it.
She said YES.
That’s when a miracle happened: As she poured her oil, it just kept coming. As she scooped her flour, there was more to scoop. There was enough. Enough for Elijah’s meal. Enough for her and her son’s meal. Enough for the next day, and the next day, and the next day.
Enough to feed the three of them for two whole years.
I love that Elijah’s request was for ONE cake of bread. It was just what she had. She had just enough. He did not ask her for two years’ worth of food. He asked her for one meal. And she stepped out in faith to meet the need.
I wonder how many times I’ve missed out on a blessing because I didn’t think I had enough “food for a whole famine?” Scarcity made me clutch my paltry possession instead of opening my hand in His abundance. I focused on my little bit, rather than His bottomless provision. On my lack, rather than His endless supply.
God never runs out.
He has enough of whatever it is you need.
He has everything for every circumstance.
His standard operating procedures are Abundance, Fruitfulness, Provision. Strength. Mercy. Grace. Love. Generosity. Miracles.
He. Is. Enough.
Questions: How has a scarcity mindset kept you from experiencing God’s abundance? Would you share how you have overcome this and stepping into His “Enough?” We’d love to hear!
I've watched conflict play out minute by minute, like a sports game, on social media. Relationship statuses will change from 'single' to ' in a relationship' to 'it's complicated' and then cycle through the gamut of options available on different networks illustrated by blanket statuses, subtweets and #OOMF replies. On one hand it's the beauty of social media, the opportunity to share all the time...but on the other hand, it can get pretty ugly because suddenly the whole world is privy to the challenges we face is our relationships.
Alas, this single girl's not just talking about a dating relationship, but virtually any one that involves consistently relating to another person. True, many of our relationships (personal, professional, family relationship, etc.) are indeed complicated because they involve many different people, circumstances and layers, but I'm learning that if we truly value others to apply truth over emotion every time.
Here's how I'm learning to address and defy conflict:
- Speak the truth…in love: But watch out! Being loving doesn't mean you sugarcoat the conversation. Step back and make sure you can see all angles of the situation, and if not, get clarification before you keep going.
- Re-evaluate when and how you express yourself: The right message at the wrong time can become the wrong message if not delivered correctly. The person you're reaching out to might not be in a place to hear you clearly, but make sure you're delivering your communication wisely and in the right voice!
- Don't be afraid to ask for coaching and feedback: This requires a willingness to be receptive to constructive criticism AND to be prepared to change the way you do things.
Addressing conflict may not make you feel better, but navigating relationships are not about feeling better. When dealing with conflict, success won't always give you the positive outcome you might expect but be confident and make the necessary changes necessary to move forward.
Are there any 'leaky faucets' in your relationships with others? Is it a lack of effective communication? An unwillingness to admit or address an offense? Luke 17 packs a big punch and speaks clearly on our duty to forgive! An exception to these steps is when you are in a relationship that is harmful or toxic to you. If this is so, reach out to someone close in your life who can be objective to your situation and offer you practical guidance.
Does conflict in relationships keep you up at night like it can for me? How do you deal with it?
I don't remember the first time I met Lysa TerKeurst. That's what happens when you have a heart connection with someone - you don't know exactly when or where or how it happened, it just did.
And it just is.
Lysa is one of those women whose smile and heart for God draw you to her immediately. You want to be her best friend and you are floored when you find out that she'd actually allow you to. She's open and honest and authentic. Her family and ministry are dedicated to serving the Lord wholeheartedly.
And to top it all off. . she's funny. Just flat out hysterical.
Every time I hear her speak, I'm falling on the floor laughing as she shares another story from her life as a wife and mom that I can totally relate to.
. . .like the one she's written for you and me today.
I was spittin’ mad at my man. We had scheduled to watch a movie together but then he got a phone call. A call he had to take.
And instead of being patient and remembering how he had been understanding all the times I’ve gotten phone calls I had to take, I just got mad.
I felt put off.
Because this was supposed to be our time together. And I was really looking forward to our time. I wanted to know he was looking forward to our time. That’s one of the most important parts of a date for me - knowing that he is looking forward to it.
But the longer the call lasted, the more I convinced myself he was just doing this movie date with me out of obligation rather than out of a desire to really be with me.
So, when the call went from “it will just be a minute” to over 40 minutes, I shut down and went to bed. Mad. Really mad.
The next day, Art asked if we could try again.
I was still mad. I didn’t want to try again.
Because this wasn’t just about that one phone call and one missed movie. It was about a collection of situations where I’ve gathered up little pebbles of frustration. I carry them around and think it’s no big deal.
Pebbles seem so innocent until they collectively turn into boulders.
And boulders don’t just weigh you down, they wear you out. They don’t just frustrate, they fracture.
That’s why I had to push past mad and talk this through. The scariest place in a marriage isn’t when the talking is hard - it’s when the talking stops.
So, I want to encourage you today… keep talking. Keep connecting. Keep pushing past mad.
My sweet, creative, artsy, brilliant neighbor and friend Rachel (http://www.homesanctuary.com) is a lovely gift giver. From little ornaments and fresh picked flowers to handmade artwork and homemade sweet treats, she's knows how to make her friends smile.
Which is why I was grinning ear to ear when she painted this little sign and brought it over to my house several years ago:
I love it's simplicity and poignant declaration over my home. It's like the calm in the midst of the swirling mayhem of muddied football cleats, half eaten sandwiches and dirty laundry.
So, I keep it in my bathroom; one of the only sanctuary-ish places in my house. . . kind of. . .
There it is. Do you see it? Tucked behind all those legos that my son Jude plays with. . .in MY bathtub. . .that is in MY sanctuary/bathroom is the sign - imprisoned like a caged animal trying desperately to get out from behind its multi-colored cell.
Oh well. . so much for peace, order and beauty, right?
I giggled when I caught sight of this irony today but I didn't have time to do much of anything about it. I was headed into the kitchen to put together the beginning of our evening's dinner.
Needed a recipe from my recipe box. . .
I never found the one I was looking for.
I giggled again as I started taking out ingredients to whip together a dish with a recipe that was already in my brain instead of in my black-hole-recipe box. Needed some red wine vinegar out of the pantry and on the way across the kitchen I came face to face with the far wall beside the dining table:
A different rotation of words like these have been there for years now. Taught all three of my boys to read during the pre-kindergarten years and our "wordwall" has been a huge part of the process. It's my four year old's turn now (the same one that turned my tub into a toy box). We've all gotten so used to seeing our kitchen wall scattered with random papers that it doesn't phase us anymore. It's just our "wordwall", that's all. I'm sure a guest's eye might see it differently and laugh hysterically if they knew about my sanctuary sign - the caged animal on lock down in the bathroom.
My sanctuary sign seems more displaced then ever in my small, crowded house where kitchen walls are school boards and bathtubs are toy bins. But then I realized that this little place we call home - with all it's loving pandemonium is actually exactly what my sign declares it should be - just in a way that looks different from the Pottery Barn catalogue that came in the mail yesterday.
Peace - my children and husband are healthy - body, mind and spirit. The assurance and rest of Christ rules amid the craziness of daily living and all who enter these doors can sense His love. We feel safe and at ease here. We can be authentic with one another. There is peace here.
Beauty - We laugh and smile and cuddle and eat and play and forgive and tuck precious memories into bed each night. Beautiful.
Order - . . . well maybe I'm still working on this one . . .
This is my sanctuary. God's presence makes it so.
This is Home.
Enjoy yours today, ok? No matter what it looks like :)