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

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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.

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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.

Giveaway

Prayer should be as natural as breathing to the maturing Christian. The principle is so simple yet we complicate it and allow ourselves to become intimidated. Prayer is a stunning way to intimately connect with Christ. Nothing in the world can replace it.

There are plenty of excused not to pray yet none truly valid. We do not need more than a few seconds, an education is unnecessary, and you cannot do it wrong.

At times, we hit a roadblock in our prayer lives, which simply could be from maturing. You wouldn’t expect a toddler to live on only milk, similarly, as a maturing believer, you may need to find a way to go deeper. You might need to renew it.

I am passionate about prayer furthermore, teaching others about it. I believe it is something we never cease learning about. A few months ago it was mentioned several times that I should write another book. Someone soon added to the suggestion that it should be a prayer book. After praying I was certain that this was the direction God wanted me to go for my next book, “Honest Moments With God: Thirty Days of Prayers That Allow You to Grow Closer to God’s Heart.”

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Thirty days of beautiful and unique Scripture-based prayers. Each prayer is complimented with Scriptures that enable you to grow closer to Christ. Also includes five devotionals, a worship playlist, and fifteen Scriptures to inspire you to write your own prayers. I am confident that God will use this small book to do amazing things and to bring His name glory.

“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

I thought that it would be fun to do a giveaway! The winner will receive a PDF copy of my book “Honest Moments With God: Thirty Days of Prayers That Allow You to Grow Closer to God’s Heart.”

Entering is super easy. Pick a question/prompt from the list below and respond in the comments. Don’t forget to share with your friends, the more the merrier. The winner will  be announced September 28th, 2017.

 

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Renewal Road

 Beginning yet another online Bible study I am able to identify with the author who happens to be a precious friend, furthermore, I am confident that you can relate as well. On the first page of the Renewal Road The Journey of Becoming More Like Jesus, Jill waste no time, jumping in with an important message. Dying so that Christ may live. She shares an important flashback of an encounter of depression, which is where I want to park to explore for a bit.

I know this is not the most comfortable topic. However, it is important to share our times of depression, sorrow, doubt, and hopelessness with one another. Many times, as Christians, we attempt to have it all together, to appear happy at all times might I dare say perfect. We want to appear in a way that we were never meant to be. Christ calls us to live for Him not to live in perfection.

With that said many people in the Bible encountered depression seasons consumed with sorrow and hopelessness. The world can feel like a dark and hopeless place. It is a fallen and painful world. We encounter countless mistakes or painful events every week. It might take the form of final burdens, a shattered relationship, or a malfunctioning body. Due to our sins, the sins of others, and simply because we live on earth we are bound to encounter at least one season of depression. 

Questioning as many amazing people before us what is the meaning of life? At times, it all seems so utterly worthless. For countless reasons, we mutter that we are worthless, unworthy of love, unworthy of life. It seems to sneak up when we least expect it during a time we would expect to encounter joy.

I have battled some depression in a few seasons of life though I am well aware those bouts of depression could have been more severe. I can recall many times the feeling of hopelessness. The heavy sorrow that seems to compress the soul till spiritually I couldn’t breathe. 

My most recent battle began to unfold after some gossip and lack of compassion at my Church. I felt like I needed just that one thing to be okay. To provide me with stability. As much as I love my Church family they are not my anchor they are a community who should provide support. Christ alone is my anchor, my hiding place, stability, and hope. 

Transitioning from I want to die to I want to die so that You may live is a challenging journey which requires persistence.  The transition demands continual prayer, pursuing the heart of Christ, searching the Word, and reaching out to others. 

This transition is astonishing, furthermore, it is beyond comprehension. The drastic shift in perspective enabled by Christ changes our world.  We are not immune from depression or hardship. When we walk through the valley, we are more equipt to battle the depression. Surrendering all to Christ changes every moment of every day for the rest of our life. 

Jehovah Rohi (The Lord is my Shepherd), 

You are my anchor which never wavers, furthermore, my unending hope. Regardless of what occurs in my life, You remain the same. Lord Jesus, from the depths of my soul I praise Your might name. Holy, precious, and mighty is Your name now and forever.

I thank You for the lessons I have learned from the seasons of depression in my life. I ask that You would use those painful times to bring honor and glory to Your name. Enable me to pour out my heart to You. Let me be transparent in my quiet time with my emotions. Help me to praise Your name even when my soul is overwhelmed with sorrow. 

Amen 

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 “If you want to follow Me, you must deny yourself the things you think you want. You must pick up your cross and follow Me. The person who wants to save his life must lose it, and she who loses her life for Me will find it.” Matthew 16:24-25

A Morning Prayer

“Put the word into action. If you think hearing is what matters most, you are going to find you have been deceived.” James 1:22

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El Elyon (The Most High God),

I praise Your name for a magnificent sunrise. Help me today to do my to do list in a manner that is pleasing to You. Let my words be infused with gentle, compassion, and grace.  Please allow my words to build others up and encourage others to grow closer to You. I ask for self-control to resist temptation and to battle my flesh. Establish the work of my hands.

I cherish Your living and holy Word. It is more valuable than money or earthly pleasures. Sweeter than the finest cuisine. Help me walk in the way you commanded. I desire to be obedient. Please give me a deeper understanding of Your word. Let me desire Your Word more day by day.

I desire to cultivate a constant heart of thanksgiving and praise. Fill me with the Holy Spirit. Direct my steps allowing me to make the most of each moment. By your mighty grace allow all I do to bring honor and glory to You.

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

Hope

New Year’s sweet bells of hope ring loudly as January launches. Fervently we compose resolutions so that this year will be astonishing. However, the sweet song evaporates. Leaving us in silence by mid-January as we waltz back into the reliable beat of everyday life. Focus is no longer aimed at hope or the resolutions. Slither into daily calamities, apprehension leeches on, despair dangles overhead, and sorrow is deep.

Providing joy, strength, and adding depth to our relationship with Christ. Despite heartbreak, pain beyond comprehension, and when our world seems to be crumbling before our eyes there is always a spark of hope. It is not always instinct, but then again living the way Jesus called us to is anything but natural. As Christians, we are required to battle our flesh. In addition, we are to fight to remain firm in the hope Christ provides for us. It is a daily fight. Let me assure you, my precious friend that the reward is immeasurable.

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How would you, dear friend define this simple word hope? Appearing frequently, it is engraved on our hearts. Yet we need a reminder of the biblical definition so that we resist conforming to the world’s definition of hope. Additionally, so that we remain steadfast in Christ and transformed by Him.Bible.org defines hope this way, “Hope” in Scripture means “a strong and confident expectation.” Furthermore, there is a clear element of trust throughout Scripture when hope is examined. Moreover, I find it essential to highlight the usage of hope in the New Testament, which I found on Biblestudytools.org. “The New Testament consistently uses the verb elpizo [ejlpivzw] and the noun elpis [ejlpiv”] for hope.” Both words here are Greek.

 

Elpizo is defined as (30 times in NT)1. to hopein a religious sense, to wait for salvation with joy and full confidence2. hopefully to trust in.png

Additionally, hope molds our character, providing joy, peace, confidence, endurance, strength, courage, and comfort. Expanding beyond our dreams when we are consistently feasting on the Word of God. Furthermore, our hope cultivates as we become consumed with the Holy Spirit.Perspectives are transformed by hope as it gives new light to an existing situation. Likewise, it modifies the way we view ourselves, transforms what we value, and affects how we spend the gifts God has graciously entrusted us with such as time and talents.

Practically, how do we remain anchored in hope when our circumstances are screaming give up? When we continue to receive one piece of bad new after another. As mentioned before, we must continuously feast on God’s word. In addition, it is vital to the health of our hope to spend time simply in  Christ presence. Additionally, prayer provides a path to the renewal of hope. Various books, sermons, and worship songs can be an asset. Lastly, we can remain anchored in hope by leaning on Christian friends.

Lord,

Rekindle our weary souls with fresh hope. Fill us with Your HolySpirit. Enable us to have a deeper understanding of Your hope and of who You are. Regardless of what we face enable us to remain steadfast in hope. We praise You for the hope of salvation found in Christ Jesus. Blessed be Your Holy Name.

Amen

 

 

Live Loved: Advent

 This is our fourth week of advent, which focuses on God’s love for us. In addition, our love for Christ and for others. God desires nothing more than your love.  He cherishes who you are today with all your imperfections. “The Eternal your God is standing right here among you, and He is the champion who will rescue you. He will joyfully celebrate over you; He will rest in His love for you; He will joyfully sing because of you like a new husband.” Zephaniah 3:17. God invites you in to have a deep personal relationship with Him. To live loved every day from here on out. God’s love for you surpasses human understanding it is that complex and beautiful.

The Christmas story is laced with love. Christmas points us to the cross where Jesus displayed His amazing love for us. Jesus lived loved in His ministry. God’s love is evident through Scriptures, creation, and our personal lives. “ This is the embodiment of true love: not that we have loved God first, but that He loved us and sent His unique Son on a special mission to become an atoning sacrifice for our sins” 1 John 4:10.

An element of living loved, is giving love. Christ enables us to love others. You can give love from where you are today. You don’t need to be wealthy or healthy. You only need a willing heart to serve the Lord and to give love to others. He will surely direct your steps. He will deeply bless your words. A hug, words of encouragement, or praying with someone goes a long way.

Additionally, living loved is praise God with a thankful heart for the simple blessings in your life this advent. Worship Him as the shepherds did in the Christmas story with a sincere heart. Mary also praises the Lord for His favor, “My soul lifts up the Lord! My spirit celebrates God, my Liberator! For the Mighty One has done great things for me; holy is God’s name!” Luke: 1:46, 47, and 49.

As Christmas draws near find someone to give love to; someone to encourage. Practice living loved this week. You are a child of the one true King. Reflect on His amazing love, which is evident in your life. Remember times this year that you felt His love and praise His holy name. Consider how you can live loved this advent season as well as in the new year.

God,

We praise you for the gift of Your Son consumed with Your love. For His example of love. Thank you for loving us. Allow us to live loved no matter what events play out in our daily lives. Enable us to give love to others. Let us be a blessing to them. May our hearts forever sing Your praises. Bless these days leading up to Christmas. We love you, Lord.

Amen

Advent & The Belt of Truth

The belt of truth relates to advent. Jesus, the truth put on flesh and joined the world as a delicate baby. “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world” John 1:9 NIV. Through Jesus, God reveals to us His truth. In addition, His word exposes it. His truth enables us to discern right from wrong as well as almost right from right. Truth is essential to our spiritual well-being.

By putting on the belt of truth we are a reflection of Jesus. Take time from the businesses of the season to go deeper with the one who is the reason for it all. Meditate on God’s truth. Consider how God might burden your heart to be a vessel for His truth to the world. Furthermore, you sweet friend are a light to this world.

Like the belt holds together the armor, God holds together our world. “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” Colossians 1:17.

God’s truth sets us free which provides peace that surpasses all understanding.  Despite, not so silent nights Christ’s peace continues to rule our hearts. This peace is not affected by the events or chaos in life. The second week of advent we reflect on the peace candle. We are reminded to slow down. To breath. Basking in His presence. Surrendering all to Him.

As you strap on the belt of truth this advent season and ponder these things in your heart rejoice in the goodness of God.  Praise Him for who He is. Rejoicing in the fact that He sent His only son.“Heavenly Choir: To the highest heights of the universe, glory to God! And on earth, peace among all people who bring pleasure to God!” Luke 2:14 The Voice

My prayer for you this advent is that you would develop a more intimate relationship with Christ. That He would use the Christmas story to move your heart in a new and beautiful way. That there are many moments are consumed with deep joy and laughter. The Lord would use you as a vessel of truth to others.

Lord,

We rejoice in this stunning Christmas season. Our hearts sing praises for the precious and priceless gift of Your son. Enable us to put on Your belt of truth daily. Give us discernment. Help us to remain focused on Your truth. Thank you for holding together the universe and our individual world. For all the blessings You have graciously given us. Use us to bring honor and glory to Your name. Allow us to be a vessel in the work You are doing in others lives. Use us to bring others closer to You. Fill our hearts with your peace, love, and joy. Allow us to grow closer to you daily. Deeply bless this Christmas season in a new way. Provide all we need.

Amen