Friday, December 13, 2019

How to Plan Ahead for Christmas Peace



By: Sarah Geringer 

Today's devotion is an excerpt from my book Christmas Peace for Busy Moms.


Lord, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us.

Isaiah 26:12

This year I have made a promise to myself to conquer procrastination with planning.  Procrastination is a familiar, toxic companion of mine.  It destroys my peace by upsetting me right before big events.  But if I tackle one regular task and one holiday task daily, I can wipe out December procrastination.     
I am searching for make-ahead recipes which freeze well, especially cookie dough.  My peace will multiply if I only need to thaw dough out, slice or roll, and bake in busy December since I did all the prep and cleanup ahead.

I plan to wrap gifts as I buy them.  Rather than using wrapping paper and tape, I will use tissue paper to cover the gifts with an attached gift receipt, then drop them into one designated gift bag per person.  If I need more than one gift bag per person, I can easily adjust it later.  I want to spend less time wrapping this year and more time enjoying peace with my family.

This year I plan to delegate more tasks to my children.  They are able to help more at their current ages than in years past.  They can do one task while I’m doing another.  For example, I need to start asking them to put away clean dishes while I cook dinner every night, and vacuum on a regular basis.  Teamwork will create a more peaceful December for all of us.

I’m thinking about cutting out peace-buster projects.  What is your peace-busting project that needs to go?  Christmas cards?  Light displays?  Cleaning up after a live tree?  I’m thinking through what can go this year so I can experience more peace.  If I miss it too much, I can always add it back in next year. 

I’m planning ahead for peaceful conversations with several loved ones.  I can avoid touchy subjects and move forward with peaceful subjects.

I’m planning to set aside my anxious feelings and dwell on the peace Jesus has established for me.  I’m planning to reflect on all the ways he has worked through me this year, and to thank him for all he has accomplished in my life. 

Which plans will bring you more peace this year, and which plans will also create peace for others in your world?


Prayer:


Heavenly Father,


Thank you for establishing peace for me. You are the ultimate planner. Help me plan ahead for greater peace in the days before Christmas this year. I want to plan ahead so I can celebrate the birth of Jesus with peace. Give me guidance on where a little more planning will help me share peace with others.

In Jesus' name,


Amen.


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Have a wonderful weekend!

Blessings and God's peace to you,





Photo from Canva.com




Wednesday, December 11, 2019

He Will Give Us Rest

By: Jenifer Metzger

The holiday season is beautiful! There is so much to love and so many memories to be made. But for some, the holidays can be difficult.

With the holidays come such a rush and busyness. We say we are going to slow down and enjoy the season. We say we aren't going to get caught up in the hustle and bustle. We say we are going to focus on the true meaning of the season. Yet, by the time Christmas gets here, we are once again overwhelmed and stressed.

He will give us rest.

For some, the holidays are difficult due to the loss of a loved one. We try to enjoy the season but memories flood and our heart aches for the one we miss.

He will give us rest.

For others, the holidays are good, but we are reminded of a broken relationship. Maybe that relative that is hard to get along with or maybe the one that won't come around. We walk on egg shells to avoid a conflict. We feel so on edge that the day becomes stressful.

He will give us rest.


If the Christmas season brings stress, heartache, loneliness, or pain, remember that God will go with you and give you rest. Let Him be a part of your season. Let Him hold you up when you feel like you just don't have it in you to stand anymore. Let Him bring joy to your heart when it is breaking in two. Let Him wrap His arm around you when you are hurting. Let Him cover your mouth when you need to let things go. Let Him open your heart when you need to forgive. Let Him be what you need.

Friend, God is with you this holiday season. He is always with you. Enjoy your Christmas knowing that He will give you the rest you need.



It's time for Share A Link Wednesday! Each Wednesday we invite you to leave a link to your latest blog post in the comments. We still desire to connect women of God with one another and encourage each other in Christ. So grab a cup of coffee or glass of sweet tea, sit back and visit a few blogs. Be encouraged and share your own stories.






Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Joanna and the Quest for Impact






Photo Courtesy Of: Alexis Brown


“Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with Him, and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities—Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance.” ~Luke 8:1-3



I have shared a few different times that I went through a years-long season of legalism in my teen years. Part of the way in which this legalism manifested itself was in my view of what constituted as truly biblical womanhood. I had a very narrow and confined view of what womanhood by God’s design - so narrow, in fact, that if you were not either a stay-at-home daughter living under your father’s roof until marriage or else a stay-at-home wife and mother following marriage, then there was no hope for you to be a “biblical woman”. 

What I didn’t understand (besides the fact that none of that was actually biblical!) was that it left out women who were single with no father in their lives, widowed, divorced, working, etc. In my narrow worldview at the time in order to have positive impact for the kingdom of God as a woman, you had to be waiting around for marriage, a wife, or a mother. There were no other options. 

And yet, this is not what we actually see in God’s Word! What we see in the Word is, for example, what Luke shows us in the eighth chapter of his gospel - that women were the ones who played a very key role in sustaining, supporting, and encouraging Jesus’ earthly ministry. Interestingly enough, in the case of at least Joanna, at least some of these women were married and presumably had children at home. 

Why is this interesting? Because in the kind of ultra-conservative construct from which I operated for so many years, to do what Joanna did (being a wife and yet not staying at home, but rather traveling with and supporting Jesus) would have been to sin against God’s design for her as a woman. 

This is not at all what we see portrayed in this passage, however. Instead, we see Luke intentionally point out and praise these women for the key role of impact they played in advancing and making possible Christ’s day-in and day-out ministry. They were His comrades and partners in ministry, they supported Him financially, and they encouraged Him. They made quite an impact, to be sure!

Perhaps you have been in a season of striving lately. You have been striving to prove yourself, to defend your gender, to shout, “I am woman, hear me roar!” to those who think that you are deprived of the opportunity to make a difference in this world because of your womanhood. Maybe you have been striving to justify yourself, to pile so much on your plate in the hopes of having an impact in some tangible way. My friend, this holiday season, cease your striving.


Instead, take heart! Rejoice in who God made you to be as a woman! Delight in the example of women like Joanna, Huldah, and others who impacted God’s kingdom for eternity. You can do the same! Just remain in step with the Holy Spirit, and allow Him to lead you every step of the way. He will grow you, sanctify you, and equip you to be on mission and to live a life of kingdom impact in big ways, in small ways, every day of your life. God created you as a woman for a purpose. Now go out there and live it out!

Monday, December 9, 2019

A Christmas Wish List (+Annual Christmas Blessing Giveaway)

By: Joanne Viola


I went through my teenage years listening to Amy Grant music. One of my favorites Christmas songs is on Amy Grant’s Christmas CD. Even at other times of the year, this song speaks to my heart.
“Here’s my life long wish, My grownup Christmas list. Not for myself but for a world in need.”
There has ever been a time where I have been more aware of the brokenness which is in our world, and in the lives of many. It is into this brokenness that our Savior arrived on the very first Christmas. Or perhaps He broke open our brokenness.
“No more lives torn apart, that wars would never start and time would heal all hearts.”
Time does not heal all hearts. But the Babe in the manger did come for this very reason. “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3). He, Himself, dresses our wounds, bandages our hearts so that we do not hemorrhage forever.
“Everyone would have a friend.”
During this time of year, loneliness is most on display. May those who are alone experience the truth that we have a friend that sticks closer than a brother (Prov.18:24). The Life born in the stable came to bring life and to call us His friend.
“Right would always win and Love would never end.”
Right will always win. One day He will right all wrongs. And in the meantime, we keep loving others. And loving Him.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends.”
(1 Corinthians 13:7-8, ESV).

 

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash





And now, for our 8th Annual Christmas Blessing Giveaway!


One blessed reader will receive $250 in Paypal cash! We pray it is a blessing to you this holiday season.

This blessing was brought to you by these blog:
Woman to Woman Ministries
Jenifer Metzger
Skill Trekker
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Joanne Viola
Rachael Gilbert
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Giveaway Rules: No purchase necessary. Must be 18 to enter. Void where prohibited by law. **Open to US/Canada residents only.** This giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed, or associated by Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest. By entering this giveaway, you agree to release Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Woman to Woman Ministries, and all participating bloggers of all liability. Contest ends at 12:01am EST on December 15, 2019. Winning entry will be verified. Winner is randomly chosen by Rafflecopter and will be emailed.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

God's Gift of Peace


This passage of scripture found in Isaiah chapter nine is a prophesy of the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ. It is a familiar passage to most Christians.
"For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." 
Isaiah 9:6 NKJV
I was a bit confused when I read the same passage in The Message Bible and read the words Prince of Wholeness instead of Prince of Peace. I looked up the passage in a Hebrew lexicon and the definition of the word for peace, shalom, really does include completeness and wholeness. When Jesus is born the angels declare, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:24 NKJV). In the original language of the New Testament that word peace means, not only peace of mind, but once again it also means wholeness. Then in John 14:27 (AMPC) when Jesus declares, "Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.]", the word peace is the same word used in Luke 2:24 meaning peace of mind as well as wholeness.

It seems the human condition includes a constant search for something or someone to complete us, to make us feel whole. We hope to find wholeness in a mate, in a fulfilling career, in having a family, in achieving our life goals. Yet, even if we attain what the world would describe as "having it all", we can still sense that there is something missing. That's because there is. No one can complete us, can make us truly whole, but the Prince of Peace, the Prince of Wholeness, Jesus Christ. 

At Christmas time we can be especially vulnerable to having high expectations. We can have a lot of expectations on ourselves. We have long lists of things we have to do in order to make Christmas perfect. We can have a lot of expectations on our loved ones. We want the kind of warm and loving family gatherings we see on holiday tv movies. We want our family to make us feel loved and appreciated. Our high expectations set us up for disappointment and resentment. When we accept the truth that no one and nothing on earth can truly complete us and make us whole, that Christ alone can do that, then we begin to lighten the heavy load of high expectations that we place on ourselves and others. 

This Christmas, let's open our hearts wide to the Prince of Peace, the Prince of Wholeness. Let's let Jesus fill all of our emptiness with His perfect love and let Him meet all of the desires and longings of our heart. Chances are high that none of us will have a perfect Christmas because none of us are perfect and none of us have a perfect family. Accepting that fact and leaning on Jesus to be our source  of completeness and wholeness will enable us to let go, relax and enjoy the beauty and wonder of the Christmas season right in the middle of our messy imperfection.

Our Woman to Woman Ministries Christmas break starts next weekend so this will be the last post from me on Woman to Woman Ministries until the first Sunday in January. Merriest of Christmases to all of you and may God richly bless each one of you!