#freedomin15--The Magic In The "Slight"

freedom in 15 It's February! Can you even believe it!? I saw an advertisement for something on February 25th and I thought, "yes... I can't wait for February 25th because then it's nearly March." Can you tell I'm over winter? Come on Spring! Caitlin and I are so very excited about all that God has been doing even in just a month of opening up to receive and experience all that is offered to us. He's been moving hugely, and it has been nothing short of blissful being able to excitedly share these things with one another and with you. So without further ado, let's get into what the Lord has given us going into a new month.

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Meditation

It has only been within the last year that I have realized I have been dwelling in a wilderness for the last ten years of my life. Have you ever been there? A barren, desert place in life that leaves you dry and wandering? This particular wilderness space has been a place of numbing loneliness and quiet for me--I haven’t heard or felt God because I haven’t been listening for Him. I was unfaithful to Him, simply existing and not seeking.

Yet, in His goodness and love, God has been there all along, whispering to me to come back

You see, sometimes the Lord actually leads us to these wilderness places. In Hosea, a scripture that has become near and dear to my heart, we get to see God’s love for his unfaithful people through Hosea’s story. God has called Hosea to love and marry Gomer, a woman he knows will be unfaithful to him, essentially living out a real-life allegory of Israel’s unfaithfulness to their Groom.

In chapter two, after God says all that He will do for Israel’s unfaithfulness, the Lord softly speaks saying: But then I will win her back once again. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there. (Hosea 2:14, NIV)

The Message version says I’m taking her back out into the wilderness where we had our first date, and I’ll court her.

What a revelation that was for me, realizing that the Lord himself leads us into the wilderness, not to punish us, but to romance us. He leads us into the wilderness not to leave us alone, but to pull us away from the distractions and to Him.

Though our wilderness spaces may seem barren and dry to us, though we feel as if we are wandering, we are never lost and alone. The Lord is with us in every moment of our wilderness, whispering to our hearts and romancing us to come back to Him. These are the spaces where He works deepest in our souls, bringing us back to the days of our youth. These are the spaces where He offers us restoration and transformation.

Where He offers us hope and freedom.

Has this first month towards freedom been dry or quiet for you? Have you hit some obstacles or faced emotional battles? If so, you are not alone friends. The Lord is working in all of us, calling us to a wilderness space of sorts for this year. To move forward in freedom, we have to let go of the chains, and that means we may have to enter into places that are uncomfortable and places where we must grieve. But our faithful God is ever present, romancing us, calling us to enter in, promising freedom on the other side.

-Caitlin

*Looking for a great print for this months meditation? Check out this one from Stephanie Moors. You can also print this one out or save it to your phone for a great repeated reminder of His heart and pursuit of you.

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Thoughts On Body Image

Entering into this year I felt so hopeful that this would be my year. The year that I ditch these haunting thoughts and replace them with freeing truth. I wonder what it feels like for God to watch us head into a storm totally thinking it's just a sunshower. That was me. January 1st. Ready to get a little sprinkled. Little did I know there was a hurricane coming.

From adolescence until now, I've been in one of two modes: hiding or protecting. There's been a lot of hurt, so my body and mind have learned how to cope--how to live in survival mode. So it's no wonder God is asking me to give Him my heart and trust that it's safe out in the open and in His rescuing hands. Having said that, it is important to recognize one very important truth if we are to fully entrust our hearts to Him: our body image cannot be dependent upon another person or persons. It must be dependent upon our God alone. Just when you think you've attained a healthy view of yourself something will happen, no doubt at the hand of another, and your lens will immediately cloud with doubt and despair. And going into 2015, my body image was still dependent upon another. You see, even your most intimate of relationships here on earth can and will wound you. Most of the time not even on purpose, but the reality is that these loves of ours are fallen just like we are. So our body image absolutely must come from our view through the lens of Christ.

My body image has been shattered over and over because of the actions of others or of my hopes of what others will give me. That, my sweet sisters and brothers, is a house built on sand. And you know what? Life happens... God allows certain things in our life to shape and mold us into our original design, and He doesn't do patch work--he does complete renovations. So while I may find a recent shot to my body image earth shattering, He sees it as vital in getting a good work done.  In love He lets me stumble and grasp after false self worth and knows that with each scraped knee and scuffed hand I'm getting closer and closer to giving up on all that is less than Jesus. He's a really patient God. He wants to give me the gift of wholeness but He wants me to appreciate the freedom found there, so He's not going to give it to me willy-nilly. He's also not a rich and disconnected daddy trying to win my affection with instant gratification. He's after my heart. Not always my comfort.

So body image is a journey, and I don't think I'll ever fully achieve full satisfaction in this body, but I wonder if I'm supposed to. Our bodies are decaying, and if I were able to find complete satisfaction in this one then why would I long for my heavenly one?

I think one of the very first steps to receiving freedom in our body image is simply accepting the journey. Taking a big, deep breath and gearing up for the long haul. Like venturing out on hike up a mountainside, we step out knowing what awaits us: challenge, fatigue, small victories, breaks to catch our breath, and always, always, always beauty along the way. One day we will reach the top and the view will be breathtaking. And He is good to give us such beauty along the way, too.

Take a deep breath and venture on, dear ones. He's got this.

-Laura

Yoga Poses

If you are working on your heart space, hang out here. If you are working into your hips and lower body, head on over to see what Caitlin has for you this month!

January brought with it some unexpected bumps, but God knew what I didn't and He was faithful to supply all my needs and show me that the change is not found in the yoga but in Him. With a few simple adjustments to my day to day life as well as to my practice, I've already been able to experience some incredible freedom in the opening up of my heart space. It's so very good.

Firstly, let me encourage any of you who are looking to correct your upper body posture and create some more space in your chest--it's so about more than just your yoga practice. How are you standing? How are you sitting? How are you sleeping? Begin to check your posture in all of these places. When standing have you let your belly go? Did you know that your entire core should always be slightly engaged when you are standing? It's not just your legs that keep you up; that core of yours is vital. It's so essential to all movement. Even just the movement of living out your life.

This month I have made a conscious effort to check my posture, and when it's off I draw my shoulders back, draw my skull back, tighten my belly a bit, and bring my weight back in line with my ankle bones. You can check out Christina Mroz for incredible insight into all things alignment. She is a wealth of knowledge and has helped me immensely.

Otherwise I've just made some slight adjustments to a few common postures in my practice. Consider moving into these variations as you practice at home or in a studio, as no instructor would (or should) tell you otherwise. It's your practice so do what your body wants and needs.

Chair Pose with Heart Opener (Or as my husband calls it, "ready to jump" pose)

Forward Fold with Heart Opener

Extended Side Angle with Wide Reach (that's my own made up name for it, anyways)

Crescent Lunge with Cactus Arms

Try incorporating these variations into your practice and see if you don't notice a significant difference in your heart space afterwards. It's freeing, reassuring and oh so wonderful. I've felt the goodness and closeness of my Father just in making these seemingly "slight" changes. He's doing the work of reassuring me that my heart is safe with Him. I'm beginning to trust Him in that, and willing to keep doing the work to receive and experience all that He has for me.

Be blessed this month, beloveds! Let's see what He has in store for us in February.

laura b

Don't forget to show us how God is encouraging you to join in on experiencing the Freedom He has given by hashtagging #freedomin15. You can also tag your yoga/body-image specific posts with #experiencingfreedom and your meditation/soul-changing posts with #receivingfreedom. We can't wait to see what He does in and for you throughout the year!

This Year I'm Choosing To Receive

freedom in 15 As we begin the year, my sweet friend Caitlin and I are embarking on Freedom in ‘15: a Journey of Receiving & Experiencing Freedom, and we hope you will join us.

 Over the course of the year, we will be sharing scriptures and meditations in the hopes of helping each of us receive the freedom we are already gracefully given.

A life of freedom starts in scripture and so the first part of this journey is rooted in the Truth of God’s word with an intention settled firmly in Him.

The second part of the journey comes in the experiencing as we talk through body image issues that seem to be the struggle of many women. Two of the major areas we tend to carry trauma and self-hate are our heart spaces and our hips, so to work into those areas, we will be offering yoga poses to physically work on freeing ourselves and find healing from the trauma and emotions that are deep seated.  There is something profoundly powerful about meeting Christ on our mat and letting him work through us in our movements.

Walk with us together friends as we live, move, and breathe in Him.

 

receivingFMeditation 

Freedom. Have you ever noticed how easy it is to say or think or act as if we are enslaved to our sin or bondage?

“I’m so trapped in my body.”

“I feel like such a prisoner to my negative thoughts.”

But guess what… we’re not trapped and we’re not prisoners.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. 

-Galatians 5:1

The word “freedom” here is eleutheria which means “liberty”, saying that “true liberty is living as we should not as we please.” How comfortable is it for you to just revert to your ways of bondage? It’s way more comfy for me to just settle in with the “my posture will always suck” thoughts rather than believing that Christ has also set me free from the effects of years of self-hate. Liberty is mine because of Christ, and it is found in living according to the gospel.

If I could break up Galatians 5:1 for you, after picking apart each word’s meaning and some commentary, I would say this to you:

Christ set you free from the dominion of sin so that you might choose to live your life for Christ, according to that freedom. Sometimes that means life is lived uncomfortably. So be persistent-- don’t let yourself be ensnared by what used to hold you in bondage.  This is life lived for Jesus. Free. Rooted in what you know is true. And ready to go forward through uncharted waters in hope and faith that He is so much better.

That’s what this year is about for us. We’ve been free all along. It’s time we start receiving and experiencing it. Where are you putting the shackles back on? Where in your body, heart, practice, relationships or faith are you believing that this is just all it will ever be? Where are you choosing to turn your back on freedom?

“Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.” -Gal 5:1 (msg)

-Laura

*Click here for a PDF download of our scriptural meditation for this month. Print it out and let it remind you daily of the freedom that is already yours for the taking.

experiencingFThoughts on Body Image 

For most of my life, I have struggled with my body image.

I have never been too skinny nor have I ever been overweight. I’m a average-sized, typically healthy, little on the short side, curvy woman. I have no need to complain about my body, but we’ve had a love-hate relationship since I developed hips my freshman year of high school.

Over the course of the last several years, I have found myself running (quite literally) from a deep seated and hidden revulsion of how I have been created.

I never truly knew this until now.

In the last few months, the Lord been revealing to me that I carry self-hate as well as trauma in my hips, and just this week He has shown me that I am not alone.

So many of us are in bondage to the way we feel about specific areas of our bodies. And it’s time that we realize we are already free in Christ and begin to experience freedom.

-Caitlin

 

Yoga poses

To begin the year, Caitlin and I have chosen a few heart’s desire poses that we plan to seek freedom in for the course of the year. We are not looking to these as goal poses to work to perfection, but instead we are prayerfully asking God to move in freedom through these poses helping us to release the trauma and emotions we store and physically find freedom in our movement.

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Laura-forearmstand

 

  This year my focus will be heart and chest openers and sharing freedom finding poses to work into that area of the body. Caitlin will be focusing specifically on hip openers and will be sharing her freedom finding poses on her blog Wildly Free Life. Each month we will be offering different sets of poses that work into those specific areas and will help us in the physical aspect of the journey.

As we share these poses this month, we encourage you to do the same. Prayfully ask God what pose does your heart desire to move into freely? Where are you holding negative emotions or storing trauma? What area of your body do you tend to dislike or unintentionally self-hate? Ask Him to reveal to you the area He wants you to find freedom in, and share a photo with us (via instagram with #freedomin15 or in the comments section below) this month of the pose you hope to move into. This heart’s desire pose (or poses) are something we can continue to work through as the year progresses, a symbol of our disciplined trust in Him to free us, and a physical representation of our obedience to Him.

Caitlin and I have been praying for years that God would instill a dream in our hearts and pour forth words from our souls that would allow us to collaborate and share our stories and our lives with those around us. It is a joy to finally come together and share our mutual love of Christ, writing and Holy Yoga with you.

Our prayer is that this journey is rooted in Christ, authentically beautiful, and an adventurous romance.

He is calling us higher friends--He is calling us deeper. Changing us from the inside.

Are you willing to go where He is leading you this year?

A beautifully free adventure is waiting!

laura b

 

 

 

 

Don't forget to show us how God is encouraging you to join in on experiencing the Freedom He has given by hashtagging #freedomin15. You can also tag your yoga/body-image specific posts with #experiencingfreedom and your meditation/soul-changing posts with #receivingfreedom. We can't wait to see what He does in and for you throughout the year!

 

 

Day 3: Trust In The One Who Answers

Image-1 "I don't fear; I'm confident that help will come to the one anointed by the Eternal: Heaven will respond to his plea; His mighty right hand will win the battle. Many put their trust in chariots, others in horses, but we place our trust in the name of the Eternal One, our True God. Soon our enemies will collapse and fall, never to return home; all the while we will rise and stand firm." (Psalm 20: 6-8)

In an uncertain time, in an uncertain world, we need a God that will answer. We need to know why we choose to place our trust high above the things of this earth. There are millions of distractions daily, tiny little greedy tentacles of a scaly, slimy enemy, vying for our attention. I once heard that the enemy isn't necessarily aiming to turn us 180 degrees away from God, but even just one degree. Just enough to eventually get us off track and our eyes far from Heaven. So today let's pray for our husbands to look intently towards the Lord. To have strength to turn their backs, even if just for today, from the pull of the temporary... the "chariots" and "horses" of our day. That their focus and the depth of their heart could be deeply rooted on the Eternal One. So that, even at the end of today, they will be able to stand firm amongst a sea of souls who have chosen the things that will never love them back.

Be blessed today, wives, for you are so deeply loved by your King.

Laura

Eternal One, Your beauty is matchless. There is not one thing in this entire world that compares to even a glimpse of you. How gracious and loving you are to allow me to know and love you, even in my ever present state of sin. Thank you for promising to listen to my prayers. Thank you for giving me the gift of confidence in your answering. Lord, I carry him to You, knowing that Your love for him far outweighs the love in my heart for him. I pray that You would bring contentment to his heart, allowing him the freedom and desire to turn his back on the things that draw him to this temporary world. Spirit, fill his entire being with such peace and satisfaction in You and all that You have given him that he feels no need for the idols of this place. Open his eyes to all that You are, allowing him to go forward in this day with the confidence that his God is the one true God who tenderly listens to him and fiercely moves for him. God, You are unbelievably good. Please remove the scales from both of our eyes today so that we may see a bit more of who you truly are. We love you, and so long to love you even more. Show us how, Lord Jesus. It's in Your mighty name I pray. Amen.

40 Days of Prayer...

40 days of weak knees and tear stained Bibles... this is what I am hoping for and believing in these next 40 days. God is so awesome. Not the "awesome" you may hear from the mouths of tweens but what you would read from the dusty pages of your Webster's Dictionary (or dictionary.com, either way). Awesome: causing feelings of fear and wonder: causing feelings of awe. Extremely good.

Did you catch that? Extremely good. Man, isn't He?

I can't wait for these next 40 days, and I also hope they pass slowly, that I may soak in the essence of each day. The time spent with my Dad, talking intimately and deeply about His very precious child. I know that He has quite the agenda for it, and so I will strive to leave myself at the door and proceed in the Spirit alone. Laura really has nothing of value to share. She is grumpy and selfish and generally a bit too emotional as a whole. But her God is beautiful, powerful, gentle and so wise. So let those things be what you take from this experience... His goodness and His goodness only.

The God that we kneel to on behalf of our husbands, ourselves, our children, is a mighty God. His name alone has the power to make the ocean rise and fall. So as you go before Him these next 40 days, begin so by making your heart and mind right before Him... by acknowledging that this is not a chore but a privilege. Loving that man, and being entrusted into his care and love is a privilege. Being the one who allows him to feel strong, to feel a need to protect and provide, is a unique and beautiful honor. There is so much beauty in these roles as husband and wife.

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"For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom His whole family in heaven and on earth derive it's name. I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." Eph 3:14-19

Let's  back up a bit first to verse 7 where it says, "I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God's grace given me through the working of His power." That man I love was not just born into a Christian home. God purposefully and powerfully worked. He selected him for a purpose and did so with more intention than I could ever begin to wrap my mind around. The man you love isn't yours because you both went to the same University and fell for each other, or because you made some bad decisions in your youth and tried your best to make it right. God powerfully placed you together. He is not a God of chance or lackadaisical effort. He is a God of purpose. You are his wife for a purpose.

These men, they are made in the image of God, which means they have the capacity to experience the same emotions you see God experience in the pages of His Word, as well as the emotions you yourself feel. Granted, some are experienced on a microscopic level compared to ours but they are there nevertheless. So the same difficulty you have relating to the good that you are and that you have been given because of Christ is also present in them as well. Which brings me to this passage from Paul. In order for our men to grasp just how deep the love is of the Father, the Spirit of God must be home in their hearts. I find it of no coincidence that Paul first prays for them to be strengthened, before he speaks of the Spirit dwelling in their hearts. It takes strength to open yourself up to truth. The Spirit residing in their hearts produces what the Voice translation calls "the rich soil where their lives take root."

It's such a domino affect. If we can pray them through this passage, in this order, I believe we will be thoroughly praying them into a place where they could begin to catch a glimpse of the depth of His love. So today, He has made things easy for all of us by giving us His very word to pray. With a few slight textual changes on my part, pray this over your husband and yourself. Let it soak into your soul and then let it soar. Allow this to launch your prayer into whatever you may know he needs specifically. And allow yourself the freedom to allow the Holy Spirit to determine your timeline of prayer... because it could go further than you may have allowed it on your own.

Father, out of Your honorable and glorious riches, strengthen Your son. Fill his soul with the power of Your Spirit so that through faith the Liberating King will reside in his heart. May love be the rich soil where his life takes root. May it be the bedrock where his life is founded so that together, with our family, we will have the power to understand that the love of the Liberator is infinitely long, wide, high and deep, surpassing everything anyone previously experienced. God, may Your fullness flood through his entire being. (From Ephesians 3:16-19 in The Voice. Changed for these purposes with an effort to keep the original message.)

In life we are ever surrounded (usually just from ourselves) by the "should" and "shouldn't" but tonight let yourself soak in the good that you are doing as a wife. Your Father is so very proud of you. Even today, in this very moment with the very emotions you're feeling and the sins you're battling. So rest in His gleaming pride for his daughter, while you spend some time praying for the man you both love so dearly.

Laura

Side note: if you are familiar with the yoga posture "Child's Pose" might I recommend a prayer posture for you? Find a quiet space and bring yourself down into child's pose, with your bible placed in front of you. As you stretch your arms out before you, allow your forehead to rest on the Word and your hands to face heaven. With each breath let your body sink deeper as your heart opens wider. And if you're anything like me, you will soon have a very tear stained Word of God beneath you.

Merry Christmas From The Ferguson's

Well this year is the first year of our 4 together that I have not been able to get out a Christmas card and letter. It's safe to say I'm more bummed about this than anyone else. Whether or not people enjoy receiving them, I sure do enjoy sending them. The best part is the Christmas letter; it's such a blessing sitting down and recapping the year we have had. I think I should try this exercise more often... Not just at the regularly scheduled card-sending season. So without further a do....

 

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So, family and friends (and readers, too), it's been quite an unexpected year. We entered into 2013 on the joyous wave of parenthood and a clean-eating health kick, ready to take on our world guns a blazin'. The health kick lasted all of a few hours (we ordered Papa John's by 4pm) and the realities of Parenthood came gradually and thoroughly. We learned that it is the following: challenging, heart-warming, tiring, so very fulfilling and one of the most wonderful parts of joining our lives together as one.

This little buggy...

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...became this little buggy. (Who moves so fast you can barely snap a clear picture of him.)

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We learned how invaluable loving friends are who will babysit for you so you can go on a date... to a movie where you can just sit in the dark and hold hands and not think or chase or clean up or wipe off.

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We saw animals at the zoo...

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We packed up our home,

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and he packed up his gear.

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We said, "See you soon" and gave our kisses and hugs. (And I wouldn't let go.)

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We drove out of Fort Hood one last time,

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and he said, "hello" to his rather scenic temporary home.

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We've been missing one another a lot,

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so we've been counting down the days till he's out a lot more frequently...

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M was the star of the show this Halloween and loved every minute of it.

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T has had the opportunity to make the most of his time over there and enjoy some leisurely activities, (very competitively too, which is not surprising)

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as well as taking some college courses... and doing whatever else he can to make the passing time a little less painstaking.

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I've been doing some running,

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a fair amount of lettering,

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and a lot of learning.

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M has been learning something new every day, which recently consists of hours upon hours of walking and falling and walking and falling and crying. Lily, to be honest, is just lucky to still be with us...

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We really miss our man so very much. Malachi has his meltdowns and I have mine... but that's to be expected and is completely normal, right?

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We truly are so thankful, even in our weakest moments, for the grace that He shows us constantly. It is truly endless. When we are desperate for the normalcy and emotional security of being together He is there to provide the comfort in the tears and the strength to wipe them away. He has saved us every day thus far and will continue to save us from ourselves, our circumstances and our sins. To Christ be the glory, forever and ever.

We couldn't have been more blessed by the people in our lives this year. Time and time again they were a testament to His love and provision. We are thankful for you. It feels a little silly to wish away this season but in our heart of hearts we can't wait for it to pass... Half of 2014 will be spent together, so we can't wait to get the ball rolling and get on into the New Year. New year, new possibilities, new plans we don't know anything about. How exciting! 

We are praying for your celebration today. May it be filled with peace. Life is real and hard and unexpected and all of those things don't stop just for presents and family gatherings. So for your hearts as well as our own we are praying for peace. His peace. It transcends all understanding.

 

From Egypt and Minnesota, we wish you a very blessed Christmas, and hope you will join us in giddily welcoming the New Year.

 

Thomas, Laura, Malachi, Theodore and Lily

 

 

The weight of the world on my shoulders

It's been awhile since we've been together, and there are many reasons why... but to sum it all up I will just say that life has happened, as it always does. Sickness has happened. Fellowship has happened. Weariness has happened. It's all been here these days, but I'm still here and my mind still keeps ticking with the lessons and ponderings of this place. Christmas is in a week. One week. I don't recall a Christmas before where I have felt as weary and burdened and tired as I do at this moment. Much of this could be due to some circumstantial elements. I'm just ending a wonderful long weekend with my best friend whom I have not seen in three years. So being filled up and encouraged and embraced by my Lord through fellowship with her was an incredible blessing that I did not want to end. This leads me into the other element I'm up against that I just don't really want to think about. He's not here. Oh how I want him to be. Any other year, if you presented me with Christmas money or asked for my gift list, I would have a few things in mind that I'd want for myself. But this year, truly, all I want more than anything is to hold his hand while we watch our sweet boy open his presents... to sing Bing Crosby or Frank Sinatra while decorating our little tree... to watch him taste test his favorite Christmas cookies. But, alas, I know this is not a possibility. So the second thing on my Christmas list would be peace. Peace when I want to be sad that I can't cup his face in my hands and tell him I love him, or that I can't get frustrated at him for eating all of the cookies before Christmas has even come. Peace when I want to be angry watching all those around me hustle and bustle over gifts and money and things. Peace when I want to bury myself in a mountain of blankets and sleep my way through the next two weeks. Oh Lord, if I can't have my first wish then please give me my second. I'm learning to say "no". And also to make time for the things I need to say "yes" to, such as time for my soul to meet with my Savior. This morning, as I sat here with tears, wishing so bad for so many things, I turned to see a verse taped to my side table.

"If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." -Matthew 21:22

Despite my circumstances, despite those around me, I choose to believe that my God is big enough to supply me with the peace I need to say "No" when I need to, to accept the times when I must say "yes" and to remember that He is beside me to carry the weight of the world for me.

"Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and 'you will find rest for your souls.' For my yoke is easy and My burden is light." - Matthew 11:28-29

The world around us is a very heavy load to carry most days, but I believe it is even more so in December. There is so much expected of us: Elf's, presents, sales, perfect Pinterest parties, baked goods, Christmas cards... the list is truly a long one. And every year there are those who take the time to call us to action, to encourage us to embrace the real meaning of Christmas. I am thankful for those people. Because we need them, year after year, to elbow their way through newspaper ads and tv commercials, Christmas music and viral videos of virtual Christmas cards, to remind us what we are here for, why we come together to celebrate the last month of the year. A year of successes and failures, triumphs and tribulations has come to an end and we cannot go back and redo any of it. But what we can come back to is the Savior Jesus, who knowingly accepted His position as Savior of the world, and came down to become a lowly and fleshly human so that we could be saved from year after year of mistakes. He accepted, lived with, and loved the fleshly and sinful humans that were with him while He was here so much that He sacrificed Himself for them. He also accepted and loved the fleshly humans that were to come, for thousands and thousands of years, and sacrificed Himself for them too. Take a second to ponder how many sins, how many mistakes, that one sacrifice paid for...

Sacrifice: an act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy.

Holy Spirit, when we shop, bake, cook and wrap, gently remind us of the reality of this sacrifice. That He was born knowing He would be given up for the sake of something worthy in Your sight. The Son of the creator of the universe, the Prince, given up for me? How can I even begin to fathom this truth. Gently walk us through this reality, and be patient in the moments when we don't quite grasp it's magnitude. Give us eyes to see a little less value in the twinkle lights and the indulgent desserts and a little more value in the people around us whom You love just as much. You died for them just as you did for us. In remembering You let us remember to show a little kindness, because really, that is a gift that is carried with the soul much longer than anything that could be wrapped in pretty paper. May we be pleasing in Your sight this Christmas, and may You show Yourself clearly, Father, through the thick haze of the world around us. We do not deserve the peace You are able to provide, and are so grateful that You offer it to anyone who asks. Thank You, Emmanuel, for Your goodness.

I pray that whether you are joyfully anticipating the week to come or are wishing you could become a big brown bear, get your fill of cookies and sleep the days away (just as I do) that He could and would become your focus. There's hope for this, we still have a week left.

Nativity