My Advent Reading Plan

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I have shared many times that I tend to read a few books at a time, furthermore, it seems to an outsider that I over complicate my time with God. I enjoy hearing what others are reading for advent so I thought it would be fun to share what I am reading.

The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas

Hundreds of thousands of readers have already fallen in love with Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts, and this Christmas, Ann invites readers into the rich and meaningful celebration of Christmas we all long for — a celebration of the complete love story that’s been coming for you since the very beginning.

In what is certain to become an instant holiday classic, Voskamp reaches back into the pages of the Old Testament to explore the lineage of Jesus — the greatest gift.

Beginning with Jesse, the father of David, The Greatest Gift retraces the epic pageantry of mankind, from Adam to the Messiah, with each day’s profound reading pointing to the coming promise of Christ, so that come Christmas morning you find that the season hasn’t blurred past you but your heart’s fully unwrapped the greatest gift you’ve always yearned for.

Sure to become a holiday staple in every Christian home, The Greatest Gift, a New York Times bestseller, is the perfect gift for the holidays and a timeless invitation into the richness of the true meaning of Christmas.

The Women of Christmas: Experience the Season Afresh with Elizabeth, Mary, and Anna By Liz Curtis Higgs

Meet the women who played pivotal roles in Christ’s birth! Elizabeth is barren, yet trusts God’s promise. Mary is a virgin but says yes when God asks her to bear his Son. And prophetess Anna proclaims the Messiah’s arrival. Unpacking each verse from the Gospel of Luke, Higgs illuminates their love, faithfulness, and obedience to God.
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YouVersion App Devotionals:
From Darkness To Light, From Sorrow To Hope: Lessons from Jeremiah and Lamentations for Advent
Expectation. Longing. Yearning. These emotions fill our hearts during the season of Advent. Drawn from the Latin word adventures, which means “coming,” Advent is a time of anticipation for the celebration of Christ’s Nativity. It is also a period of preparation for our Lord’s Second Coming. Paradoxically, this holy season focuses our attention on the historical fact of Christ’s birth as well as on the promise of his anticipated return.
Waiting Here for You, An Advent Journey of Hope 
Advent is simply a season of expectant waiting and preparation. Join pastor and author Louie Giglio on an Advent journey to discover that waiting is not wasting when you’re waiting on the Lord. Take hold of the chance to uncover the vast hope offered through the journey of Advent. In the next seven days you’ll find peace and encouragement for your soul as anticipation leads toward celebration!
The Gospel of Luke.
Have you considered what you are reading for advent? Do you do anything else special during advent?
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Slowing Down in Gratitude

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Hurry has become an addiction in today’s culture. How many times are we rushing through the day? We are in such a hurry, we cannot enjoy any moment, each moment becomes something to check off the to-do list. Overcome with stress.

Many nights before I go to bed, I recite my to-do list for the following day, hoping, that I am not forgetting anything. Hurry, business, and the to-do list becomes an idol if I am honest with myself. Are these idols in your life as well?

Chronic illness has forced me to slow down, but I still need to work on being more present in the moment. “Giving thanks for one thousand things is ultimately an invitation to slow time down with weight of full attention.” Ann Voskamp What if I pursued thankfulness more than anything else? If in each moment I thanked God for something instead of letting my thoughts wander, creating meaningless chaos, or run with emotion.

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Looking back I see serval things I am thankful for, even in situations that were painful. I do not rejoice in the pain or situation but carefully laced in there is a tiny treaure to give thanks for. Thankful for pain as a warning sign when my body threated to shut down, the medication received, and my nurses. Thankful for the closeness of Christ when my friends deserted me. I honestly feel if more often I would give thanks in the middle of the day that I would experience more joy. Like Ann Voskamp shared, I would enter more fully into each moment.

Ann recorded one thousand gifts in a journal. A simple yet genius idea. One thousand seems like a large number. An enormous commitment. However, each individual must begin with one, anyway.  I came to the conclusion that aiming for one thousand could encourage this to become a burden which would defeat the purpose. So, I grabbed a journal with few expectations in mind. Simply writing things I am thankful for from now until this time next year.

Let me share a few of the gifts I have taken note of.

  •  My mother whom is my source of strength, encouragement, and inspiration.The stunning woman she is. Words cannot describe how thankful I am for her or for how many things I am thankful for.
  • The pitter padder of children’s feet. The embrace of little friends.
  • The smell of kitties fur. Their comforting fur.
  • Capturing tiny moments with Abby in photos.
  • God’s presence. Faithfulness. Who He is.

I would be humbly honored if you, my friend, would join me on this journey of journaling gratitude. More than that to live an abundant life of thanksgiving. Taking time to pause and give thanks. Enriching daily life.  There is no better time to start than now. I have crafted three inspiration of gratitude lists; one for those with chronic illness, college students, and mamas. I hope you will print one out. Copy of Wedding Invitation

 

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El Elyon (God Most High),

Your beauty takes my breath away. Every molecule reflects who You are and worships You. Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty full of wonder, majesty, and goodness. I witness Your faithfulness daily.

Often, I overlook the blessings in my life. Forgive me, Lord Jesus. I desire to divorce hurry. Enable me to slow down and to enter into each moment fully with a thankful heart. Give me eyes to see Your beauty and glory in the ugly. Cultivate in me a thankful heart.

Amen

A Life of Thanksgiving

Elegant snowflakes dance through the air as November makes a grand entrance. Many people begin to think about the holiday season approaching. The stores are full of ideas and holiday movies are plentiful. Thankfulness creeps into each mind. Even so, people do not give the gift of thankfulness enough thought.

A thankful heart is a joyful heart, furthermore, it opens the door for an abundant life. Thanksgiving is not merely a holiday but a way of daily life. Stopping in the middle of the day to give thanks enables people to slow down.

There are many individuals who give an example of a thankful heart in Scripture like Job, David, and Paul. The prime example being Jesus. I never stopped and took note that before so many miracles, Jesus gave thanks to God. Before the feeding of the five thousand Jesus gave thanks, before speaking to the crowds Jesus gave thanks, and before raising Lazarus from the dead Jesus gave thanks. Undoubtedly, we should follow this example.

Plesant emotions are not a prerequisite to giving thanks. In fact, it is vital to a soul to give thanks during the trails in life. Ann Voskamp shares how Jesus did this the night He was betrayed, “In the midst of what seems a mess, in the tripping up and stumbling down of all hopes” Jesus gives thanks.

Life is bathed with pain. This is why it is vital to learn to give thanks in the middle of each struggle. A few seasons of intense chronic physical pain has personally, changed my perspective in what I give thanks for. Furthermore, I know I cherish things that most young adults do not. There have been times the pain breaks the pain scale. It shoots, stabs, deeply aches, and burns moving me to tears with an occasional yelp. This type of pain is the type that one cannot ignore. In the middle of the intense pain, I can barely whisper thank you, Lord, for holding me now. Thank you, Lord, that You are faithful, You are stronger than any trial, thank you, for getting me though this second, and thank you, for who You are.

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God is waiting to do awe-inspiring things in your life, precious friend as you pause to give thanks. Your thanks is an act of worship and it is an offering. Though this simple act, you will receive the joy of the Lord and life abundantly.

I want to share with you a simple Bible reading plan for the month of November inspired by thankfulness.

Copy of Thanks Giving Flyer Template

I have been reading A Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. I am only about halfway through. Yet it has impacted my understanding and perspective of thanksgiving. If you are not familiar with this book, let me share a few things. Ann has a journal in which she records, beautifully one thousand reasons she is thankful. I am in awe of this discipline, even more so that she pauses in the middle of what she is doing to record something she is thankful for.

The description is as follows, “Drawing heartbreaking beauty out of the simplest of details, Ann Voskamp invites you into her grace–bathed life of farming, parenting, and writing–and deeper still into your own life. Here you will discover a way of seeing that opens your eyes to ordinary amazing grace, a way of living that is fully alive, and a way of becoming present to God that brings you deep and lasting joy.”

In addition, I would like to invite you to record at least ten things you are thankful for during the remainder of 2017. As you read the Scriptures and record your list of blessings take time to also reflect on the character of God.

Introduction to Psalm 5

It is simply an honor that you have dropped by! My prayer is that you will be a little encouraged or learn something here. This is a simple introduction to Psalm chapter five. Furthermore, look out for the next Psalm five post coming soon!

“The various psalms reflect nearly every human emotion: unbridled joy, deep-seated jealousy, seething anger, hope, and depression. These are only a few of the emotions behind the poetry we hear expressed in individual psalms. Feelings and emotions are central to what it means to be human. We cannot escape them nor should we. Psalms invite us to take the emotions we feel and bring them before God. This book model how to come before God in times of sadness, brokenness, and joy. Psalm 5 is a cry for help and a plea for guidance by a person who suffered at the hands of an enemy. It talks about the morning as the time to pray and listen for God to answer. Like many laments, it begins with a cry but ends in confidence.” Biblegateway.com

Psalm Chapter five is an emotionally rich chapter, yet consists of only a few verses. Another sorrowful Psalm crafted by David as he fled from Saul. His mature faith shines throughout the chapter as he not only pours out his heart to God but also praises Him. This Psalm is parallel to 1 Samuel 18-20, which I highly encourage you to read as well to gain a deeper understanding.

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 Clearly, this is a prayer, furthermore a brief overview of how our prayer life should look. Prayer is a complexly beautiful gift extended to us. “Words are not the essence but the garments of prayer.” In addition, prayer is longings beyond words, worship, and listening with a still heart to God’s voice. “Moses at the Red Sea cried to God, though he said nothing. Yet the use of language may prevent distraction of mind, may assist the powers of the soul, and may excite devotion.”

“Utterance is of no avail without heart, but that fervent longing and silent desires are accepted, even when unexpressed.” Humans make prayer into something formal with rules that Christ never intended. Perfection is not an element of prayer, yet it is accomplished in the Fathers eyes when we are seiner. I love how Rachel Wajo puts it, “you have permission to ache freely.” Christ desires for us to pour out our hearts. For us to share with Him every detail of every element of our lives and to share every emotion. He desires your heart even though it is not in perfect condition, even if you feel it is shattered and stained by sin.

It can be tempting to pretend that we have it all together and are just a step away from perfection. Aiming for the perfect body, perfect career, perfect family, and perfect relationship with Christ. Society has us in the mind frame that we can achieve perfection. The media whispers that everyone but you has it all together. We don’t want to be a burden to those around us so in a way we isolate ourselves in pretending it is all fine.

Lord,

We proclaim how great you are and tell of the wonderful things you have done. You are our strong defender. Our source of life. You have blessed us beyond understanding. All honor, glory, and praise be to Your name now and forever.

We praise You for the holy gift of Your word. Enable us to cherish it and engrave it on our hearts. Let us see clearly so that we may take in the amazing things coming from Your Word. Open the eyes of our hearts. We are eagure to receive Your Word. Bless us with understanding. Help us to apply Your Word to our life today.

Amen

 

Happy Monday

Happy Monday, precious friends! Monday’s don’t have the best response in our society as we tend to focus on the negatives instead of the positives of the week ahead. Monday’s might not be your favorite day, but it is a lovely reminder that you have been blessed with another week of opportunities. Yes, there are plenty of struggles you will encounter and things you would prefer not doing but there are many positives of a new week. Pause to take in the simple treasures of life. Greet this new week with your beautiful smile and open arms. You will have victory over this week. You will be a blessing to a number of people. You, my friend, will thrive.

From Honest Moments With God:“My soul is dry and thirsts for You, True God, as a deer thirsts for water. Why am I so overwrought, Why am I so disturbed? Why can’t I just hope in God? Despite all my emotions, I will believe and praise the One who saves me, my God.” Psalm 42:1 & 11

“My soul is dry and thirsts for You, True God, as a deer thirsts for water. Why am I so overwrought, Why am I so disturbed? Why can’t I just hope in God? Despite all my emotions, I will believe and praise the One who saves me, my God.” Psalm 42:1 & 11

God,

Increase our soul’s thirst for You, the Living God. You have seen the tears cried behind closed doors. The ones in the dead of night. You understand the heartbreak of shattered dreams. The depth of the effects of broken relationships.

People mock me and question my faith. Asking where You are in my time of need. They question Your goodness. Question how You could allow suffering. I will remain unshaken, firm in Your promises.

Help me in this holy time, at Your feet, to pour my soul out to You. Enable me to be transparent. I surrender every burden, fear, question, and emotion. Empty me of myself. Free me from all the clutter in my heart and mind. Consume me with Your Spirit.

Direct me in Your precious love. Renew my hope day by day. You are my mighty protector. I rejoice in Your sovereign name. I have witnesses Your goodness all the days of my life. I extol Your Majestic name.

Amen

 

 

*More prayer blog posts, resources, and printables coming soon be sure to subscribe so that you don’t miss anything.

Holy Thursday

 

The washing of feet occurs multiple times in the Gospels, furthermore, in Biblical times, this was common. In this song, it is believed that Mary Magdalene is the woman washing Jesus’ feet. Some time later, it is witnessed in Scripture that Lazarus sister, Mary washes Jesus’ feet. Lastly, Scripture records the tender moment that Jesus compassionately washed His disciple’s feet.

There are plenty of overlapping details and each has details that make it unique from the other feet washings in Scripture. One of the disciples proclaims Lord if you only knew who was touching you as well as the horrifying sin in her life. He was more aware of the depth of her sin than she ever could be.

Sin is a focal point for each foot washing story. Holy Thursday, Jesus is with His disciples. Jesus was aware when He cleanses the disciples that He was about to take on the sins of the world unlocking the power of Salvation. Even so, He put on a garment of humility as His heart’s sorrow increased for all He was about to endure; not only physically but also emotionally and spiritually.

“Jesus, knowing that He had come from God and was going away to God,  stood up from dinner and removed His outer garments. He then wrapped Himself in a towel,  poured water in a basin, and began to wash the feet of the disciples, drying them with His towel.

Simon Peter (as Jesus approaches): Lord, are You going to wash my feet?

Jesus: Peter, you don’t realize what I am doing, but you will understand later.

Peter: You will not wash my feet, now or ever!

Jesus: If I don’t wash you, you will have nothing to do with Me.

Peter:  Then wash me but don’t stop with my feet. Cleanse my hands and head as well.

Jesus:  Listen, anyone who has bathed is clean all over except for the feet. But I tell you this, not all of you are clean.

Jesus is lowering Himself to servanthood as an example for His beloved children.”

John 13:3-10 The Voice Translation

Each person is in desperate need of the cross. In need of forgiveness, mercy, grace, God’s love, and salvation. Jesus lowered Himself not only to servanthood but to a horrible unexplainable death on the cross. Regardless of what anyone does, we will never fully comprehend this sacrifice on this side of Heaven. May we strive to understand it better consistently.

Numerous examples are displayed by Jesus for us in Scripture, however, none of them are natural or easy. To live in His footsteps requires us to surrender ourselves to Him, to be connecting with Him, and to have His Holy Spirit.

“Now tell me why do we gather together in His name, Are we like the ones who merely watched, Tell me is that why we came, Are we like this sister, Do we truly enter in, In spirit and in truth, Have you come to worship Him? With your hands, are you touching him, And with your heart are you loving Him, And with your hands are you holding on to His, Then the source of life was right there in your hands.” Touching Him by Ray Boltz.

 

Ponder these lyrics in your precious heart as you reflect on each aspect of the Holy Week story. Come to the Lord, in spirit and truth; laying every sin and burden at the foot of the cross. Be transparent with Him in prayer. He knows your every thought, sin, and desire but wants to hear from you and connect deeply with you. Allow The Souce of Life to renew your heart.

Jesus Christ,

I am constienly amazed when I read the Scriptures of Your precious life. Help me to continue to know You fully and to pursue You in my daily tasks. Open the eyes of my heart this Holy Week. Soften my heart. Give me a deeper understanding.

I am like the woman in the song a sinner from birth so unworthy of Your love. At times, my sinful nature takes over. I make dozens of excuses for my sins. I confess that I have not obeyed Your commands, I have not kept You first in my life, I have lacked compassion, I have been selfish, and much more. I cry out, Lord have mercy on me! Extend Your amazing grace. Lavish Your forgiveness onto me. Make me pure once more. Enable me to turn from my sinful nature.

The concept of Your completely free love can be hard to understand. My good works would never have been good enough, but You do not require them for my salvation. My countless mistakes are as far as the east is from the west in Your Sovereign eyes.

I surrender all I am to You. I do not want to merely watch I need to enter into Your Holy presence in spirit and truth. I desire to reach out, touch Your hand, and walk with You daily. I want to love You with all my heart. Move my heart in a new way as I reflect on the Easter story. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for all that You have done for me. I love you.

Amen

Palm Sunday

Shortly before Palm Sunday Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead and was anointed by Mary of Bethany. These are emotionally packed events. The emotions become more intense as we know in Holy week.

Palm Sunday is a joyous day, but the joy is short-lived.  The majority of the people gathered are worshiping. Their hearts are consumed with joy, as a result, they praise God out loud. Yet, Jesus wept as He entered with sorrow because Here knew what events were about to unfold. Compassion, love, sorrow, and so much more consumed Jesus’, heart. “Only Jesus wept that day, while Jerusalem prepared to throw a party” (Liz Curtis Higgs, The Women of Easter. Page 82).

 They brought the colt to Jesus, threw their coats on the colt’s back, and then sat Jesus on it. As Jesus rode along, some people began to spread their garments on the road as a carpet. When they passed the crest of Mount Olivet and began descending toward Jerusalem, a huge crowd of disciples began to celebrate and praise God with loud shouts, glorifying God for the mighty works they had witnessed. Crowd of Disciples: The King who comes in the name of the Eternal One is blessed! Peace in heaven! Glory in the highest!

Pharisees (who were in the crowd):  Teacher, tell these people to stop making these wild claims and acting this way!Jesus: Listen—if they were silent, the very rocks would start to shout!When Jerusalem came into view, He looked intently at the city and began to weep. (Emphasis on weep mine)

Jesus:  How I wish you knew today what would bring peace! But you can’t see.  Days will come when your enemies will build up a siege ramp, and you will be surrounded and contained on every side. Your enemies will smash you into rubble and not leave one stone standing on another, and they will cut your children down too, because you did not recognize the day when God’s Anointed One visited you. Luke 19:11-44. 

It is assumed that Jesus’s “Women disciples” were present on Palm Sunday. They would be gathered here for Passover anyway. Never just glance over a passage in Scripture because you have read it many times. Always take

Never just glance over a passage in Scripture because you have read it many times. Always take the time to digest the Words asking the Lord to open the eyes of your heart. There is always something you can learn.

Jesus was busy Holy week, yet He took time out to spend with God. We should be committed to doing the same this week. Take time to read the Holy Week stories from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday in each of the Gospels. Additionally, take some extra time in prayer and at the Lords feet.

Youversion has some free Holy Week plans. Furthermore, John Piper offers some excellent FREE Holy Week Books. Your Sorrow Will Turn to Joy Morning & Evening Meditations for Holy Week. “Holy Week is not an obligation. It is an opportunity.

In the chaos of our increasingly fast-paced and hectic society, the annual coming of Holy Week each spring is a reminder to pause and ponder, to carefully mark each day, and not let this greatest of all weeks fly like every other.

It is a chance to walk with the church throughout the world and throughout time as she accompanies her Bridegroom through the eight most important days in history. And it is an opportunity to focus our minds on, and seek to intensify our affections for, the highest and most timeless realities in the universe.

We have assembled a team of eleven pastors and scholars to walk us through Holy Week as we walk together with our Lord. This collection of short meditations includes readings for each morning and evening from Palm Sunday to the triumph of Easter.”

Love to the Uttermost ““Love to the Uttermost: Devotional Readings for Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday, ends on Easter Sunday, and aims to focus our attention on Jesus as he displays his love to the uttermost (John 13:1). ”

 

Have a blessed Holy Week, sweet friends. I am hoping to post at least once more this week.