Monday, November 30, 2015

Hope, Mercy and Why I'm Celebrating Christmas

I know it can be tough to get Christmas cards out and even tougher when the holidays aren't as joyful as we would like them to be. In fact, when life is hard, we're tempted to not even celebrate the Christmas season. But, truly, it's the best time to do just that because if it weren't for our Savior's birth, we would indeed be without hope. Because He came to earth we have hope of a future in heaven.
“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4
Because of circumstances in my own life right now, I'm acutely reminded about what mercy is how it is such a critical part in my redemptive relationship with God. It was His complete mercy that He even saved me. It's easy for us to see ourselves as "not too bad" but when life turns us upside down, we have a much more clear picture of what we're really like and the good news about His mercy in our life comes into focus.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The ABC's of Keeping Warm, Saving Energy and Money This Winter

**Thank you to Hilary Smith for wanting to contribute an article on Purposeful Homemaking. I hope you find her post helpful as you look for ways to keep your house warm while saving money this winter. 

Similar to the proverbial grasshopper and the ant, many of us are beginning to prepare for the onset of winter, but instead of gathering food, the majority of us are making our homes ready for the upcoming colder months. But we don’t need to spend an inordinate amount of time or money to keep our families cozy and warm this season.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Hardest Thanks

Here in the Midwest, we just got our first big snowfall of the season...and it's not even Thanksgiving yet! As I watched out the window while my kids played in the snow with their cousin, I noticed that the blanket of white that covers up my beloved green world, reminded me of the sorrow and fear that has fallen on my heart right now.

If you've never lived in the north or Midwest, then you may not know what it's like to live month after month after month with cold and snow all around and have it leave you wondering if spring will ever come again.

But those of us who do live there know quite well how long those winter months can drag on and that when Spring does come again, it brings a burst of light and life back into our cold bones.

I'm in a season right now where, if I'm not careful, I can wonder if the sun will shine in my heart again. I'm not depressed, but I am sad and admittedly, fearful. But I'm learning to rest in the will of God, and as surely as the seasons of our earth come and go, I know that the seasons of life will as well.

When the winter comes into our world, the animals take cover for the winter, the bulbs stay deep in the ground and the frogs burrow their way to the bottom of the ponds to wait until the world thaws again. None of those parts of nature are dead, of course, but they are resting and waiting. They don't question the ways of their Maker. They just wait.

I'm learning, too, that I must wait. Scripture tells us to "Be still and know that He is God." (Psalm 46:10) And as I wait for the Lord's will to be made known I'm not to fret, worry, or curl up in a ball on the couch as fear overtakes me. What I am to do is seek His Kingdom first (Matthew 6) and to pray "Thy will, not mine be done."

When trials and tribulations come into our lives, they are fresh reminders that we are not in control. And while they pretty much always take us by surprise, they never take our loving Creator and Father by surprise. If He could make the earth and suspend it in space (and keep it there for thousands of years!), I can guarantee you that He knew each of our life's paths before we were even formed in the womb.

Oftentimes we forget that our bodies, and therefore our lives, are not our own. As believers we are bought with a price and, as such, we ought to glorify God in our body and in our spirit which are His. No doubt, it's a battle to say, "Thy will be done" while my heart chimes in with a "don't forget about what I want, Lord..." God knows we're made from the dust of the earth. He knows our frailness. And He also knows that even when we want His will, it's hard for us to let our own will go. Of course we can (and should!) submit our requests to Him but it helps to know that His will truly is best even when we can't understand it.

As we enter the week of Thanksgiving some of us may be experiencing "the hardest thanks." The hardest thanks is when we praise God in our pain, when we praise Him in our fear and when we praise Him in our sorrow. It's an act of worship when we do this. And when we do, God supernaturally gives us the grace and strength to keep moving forward one day at a time.

What about you? What has God ordained to come across your path this week? This month? Maybe you're in your season of sunshine. If so, don't forget to draw near to God during that time so that your spiritual roots will grow down deep in the soil of God's love.  (Colossians 2:7) You will need that spiritual growth to sustain you during the difficult seasons of life.

Or perhaps you're in a season of winter where your life feels blanketed with trials much like a snow covered world. Use that time to bury yourself under the security and protection of the Word of God. His Word always accomplishes what He wants it to in our lives. And remember, if God can suspend our earth in space, call out each star by name every night, and take notice of when the sparrow falls then He surely has not forgotten you. In fact, just let Him carry you through until spring comes again.

I recently discovered a new song and it was exactly what I needed to meditate on because it reminded me of who my wonderful Jesus is.


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Friday, November 20, 2015

ESV Men's Devotional Bible Review & Giveaway

Guest Reviewer, Adam Zale

Crossway Bible Publishers wants one of you to win a copy of their new ESV Men's Devotional Bible!

The English Standard Version (ESV)

Now maybe you're not familiar with the ESV.  I had heard of it prior to reviewing this devotional Bible, and I know our kids memorize this version in Awana, but I really didn't know much about it.  Upon further research, I found that Crossway actually commissioned this translation.  It was first published in 2001.  According to the preface, the Revised Standard Version (RSV) was used as a starting point and the translation is described as "essentially literal". 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

ESV Journaling Bible Review & Giveaway

Crossway Bible Publishers wants one of you to win a copy of their new ESV Journaling Bible! Journaling Bible's are so fantastic because, as someone who likes to make personal notes in my Bible, the margins in my other Bible are never big enough for all of my little notations and thoughts. Having an actual journaling Bible is fantastic if you like to do the same. Even more incredible is the Bible journaling art that regularly pops up in my Instagram Feed. It is BEAUTIFUL!
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