10 Ideas for Simplifying Christmas

Jesus is God's Best Gift at Christmas and Ten Ways to Simplify Christmas

We’re now in the countdown days to Christmas and many of you might be in panic mode. I remember those days well. I even remember crying to my husband that I just couldn’t do it as our family continued to grow with our four children’s marriages and grandchildren. I needed his help, but he had a bewildered, “I don’t know what to do?” look in his eyes.

I wanted to enjoy Christmas. I was excited about having a large family and grandchildren. When Dave and I married, I went from having one child to four. That was manageable. When the four got married, we doubled. Still doable. Then the precious grandkids started coming and coming and coming, and I was still trying to do all the things I did when we were a small family!

Added to the mix was leading Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry, my career, attending seminary for the first few years of our marriage, and writing deadlines!

I was trying too hard to make everything perfect. I was assuming all the responsibility and thinking I could do everything with a family of 21 that I did with a family of two!

As much as I tried to keep my focus on Jesus, the Reason for the Season, I was focusing on:

  • trying to keep the same number of gifts for all the grandkids,
  • getting everyone the perfect gifts,
  • decorating the entire house,
  • sending everyone I knew a Christmas card,
  • making amazing Christmas goodies,
  • hosting Christmas parties,
  • trying new recipes,
  • pulling out all the best dishes . . .

You get the picture because you’ve been there . . . maybe you’re there now.

We also had an annual birthday parties for Jesus, and one year 300 people attended in our 1800 square foot home! I tried parceling out some of the work, but you know how that goes when it’s at your house. I loved it. Everyone loved it and still talks about them. But every year I tried to add a new element to the party and come up with even better party favors and different food than I had the year before.

Looking back, I was competing with myself. Could I top the last party? Could we give the grandkids the best gifts? I worried that we weren’t giving them as many pricey gifts as the other grandparents?!

Then it all came to a screeching halt the year I was diagnosed with breast cancer and started radiation December 17, 2002, two days before our 10th wedding anniversary. Oh yes, did I forget to mention I also planned our wedding on December 19! It seemed like a great idea the first few years, but then adding in an anniversary getaway or celebration in the middle of Christmas preparations added another activity to my already overbooked schedule.

The unexpected breast cancer diagnosis coincided with a kitchen and living room remodel and all the family “coming home for Christmas.” No kitchen counters or sink because they cut the counter tops wrong. The dishwasher was still in its box in the middle of the kitchen! The new hardwood floors were in, but I had no energy to figure out how to protect them with our traditional live Christmas tree. That year changed everything and actually brought sanity to our Christmas.

Here are some changes I made that “radiation Christmas” that might help you too. Don’t think you have to do all of them, but maybe pick a few that give you more time with Jesus and reduces Christmas stress.

  1. We used decorative paper plates, plastic silverware, and paper cups. Everyone loved how easy cleanup was after a meal. (We put a tablecloth over the dishwasher box and the kids joked that I had always wanted an island in the kitchen.)
  2. We set up a small manger scene instead of putting up a Christmas tree. After that year, we switched to a beautiful artificial Christmas tree, but also added a manger scene to emphasize the real meaning of Christmas. The grandkids decorated the tree. To this day, I let the grandkids decorate the Christmas tree. They do a great job!
  3. First grandchildren usually get many presents. You’re so excited to have a grandchild. As more came, we decided on three presents each like the three Wisemen. But as we hit eleven . . . we had to scale down to one nice present each.
  4. Instead of doing the full birthday party for Jesus, which I wrote about last week and in a blog last year, I ordered online children’s costumes for the Christmas story and had the grandchildren play out the manger scene while I read it from a Children’s Bible. Here’s a YOUTube of a live enactment. Then we kept the Birthday Bag for Jesus under the tree and maintained the tradition of having guests fill out a card with a gift they would give Jesus. On Christmas we have a birthday cake and sing Happy Birthday to Jesus.
  5. 5. Scale down your Christmas card list or send by email. I love getting Christmas cards, but noticed we received so many with just a signature, nice but not personal. So I had been writing a poem every year for our Christmas card, but our list seemed to double every year.

  6. When we have a dinner party, it’s potluck. When we first moved to Idaho, we had a small dinner for our “neighbors” in the mountains. Then as we met more people, we started inviting neighbors and friends. Soon, I was back to having large groups that didn’t fit into our house! It’s hard to curtail a sanguine. So now we’re back to small, intimate groups.
  7. I mentioned in the blog post Love Your Body: How to Survive Holiday Eating, that I curtailed the baking frenzy. I make something when we’re invited to a party, but now that we’re empty nesters, we don’t need all the goodies sitting around to tempt us.
  8. I still love to decorate the house and have lights. But I don’t feel like I have to bring out every box, every Christmas, and have something in every crook and cranny of our house. Even still, I always get the comments that our house looks Christmassy, warm, and cozy.
  9. Since we now live an hour from town and shopping, we order many gifts online. I say “we” because I include hubby in the shopping. We also wrap presents together, after all, they are for “our” family, and he’s actually a better wrapper than I am. We put something on TV and sit in front of the fireplace by the Christmas tree. Two are definitely better than one!
  10. Start everyday reading a part of the Christmas story or a Christmas devotional. It helps you focus all the day’s activities around the ONLY reason we celebrate Christmas. It reminds us that Jesus doesn’t want us stressed or in a frenzy. He came into the world for one reason, to offer those who believe in Him eternal life, not to add a burden to our life but to lighten our load: “Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

I’d love to hear how you lighten your burdens and simplify Christmas. Please share with us.

I’ll close with a timeless poem I wrote in 2004. You may have read it in previous years, but sit down with a cup of coffee or tea and read it again.

Time To Sit With You”

CHRISTMAS POEM 2004

Lord, so many things to do,             

No time to sit with you.

There’s presents to buy,

And I must bake a pie!

 

 But isn’t it all about Me?

What’s closed your eyes to see.

The purpose of Christmas day,

Isn’t how much you pay?

 

Lord, each year we hear that said,

Yet, still it comes with dread.

Anticipating all to do,

No time to sit with You!

 

This is MY day.

Don’t I have a say

In how you spend your time?

Remember, you are chosen…Mine!

 

But Lord, relatives will soon be here,

And the lawn Santa still needs reindeer!

There is so much to do,

Still no time to sit with You.

 

Relax and enjoy Me this season,

Let your activities have a reason.

This is My Birthday celebration,

And all I want is your attention.

 

Oh, Lord, we’ll make it all about You.

Do You think we should have fondue?

We’ll read the Christmas Story,

And give You all the glory.

 

Sit down and read My Word.

Your craziness is absurd.

Come spend some time with me,

Forget the Christmas tree.

 

Oh, Lord the cookies are all baked,

I have such a headache.

I know I need to pray,

But I’ve had such a day!

 

Lives are waiting to be saved.

Did you hear Me when you prayed?

It is certainly no wonder

Your world is all asunder.

 

No, God, I didn’t hear a word,

I was busy stuffing the bird.

I want to just slow down,

But I feel I’m losing ground.

 

You’ve made it all about you,

And all your parties too.

My message to the lost,

Overshadowed by homemade cranberry sauce.

 

Lord, that’s not true,

You know I do love You.

It’s just I feel a call,

To make this the best Christmas of all!

 

You’re wasting your time.

Do you think you could top Mine?

I had a virgin birth,

As my entrance to earth.

 

Oh, Lord, I’m beginning to see,

How You want to use me.

Telling Your story to all who will listen,

Is the true Christmas mission.

 

Spending time with Me,

Is the only way to flee

The world’s strangling control

On your time and very soul.

 

Oh, Lord, Your music softly plays,

As the candle glow displays,

The beauty of time spent

With our Gift heaven sent.

 

You’ll go against the flow

Taking time to help a lost soul.

But when the day has come to end,

You’ll have the joy of a new friend.

 

Oh, Lord, forgive me please.

Help me put down my car keys.

It really is so true,

There’s ALWAYS time to sit with You.

Our prayer for our friends and family is that you focus your life on only those things that will have Kingdom value. It’s the only legacy worth leaving. Merry Christmas, Janet & Dave

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My Thanksgiving Prayer from Philippians

Count your blessings this Thanksgiving and Pray like Paul did in Philippians 1

Many of you read my blog regularly, though we’ve never met, and others I know quite well or we’ve had the opportunity to meet and fellowship together. But I want you to know that when I write this Monday Morning Blog,  my monthly newsletter, or any of my books, you are on my mind. I’m wondering what you’re thinking about world events and how I can encourage you with the Word of God.

Often you tell me that a particular blog or book was just what you needed at the time, and we both know that it was God using me as His messenger. To God be the glory!

As I read Paul’s letter to the Philippians, I noticed that Chapter 1:3-11, 27-28 in the NIV translation has the heading: Thanksgiving and Prayer. I thought how appropriate to personalize this passage as my Thanksgiving prayer for all of you.

Adapted from Paul’s letter to the Philippians Chapter 1

Thanksgiving Prayer (Adapted from Philippians 1:3-11)

I thank my God every time I remember my family, friends, peeps, church family, readers, blog/newsletter followers, brothers and sisters in Christ, fellow authors and speakers . . . . In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy for those who partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in and through you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart whether I am chained to the computer writing the next book, blog, or newsletter . . .  or defending and confirming the gospel and mentoring . . . all of you share in God’s grace and ministry with me spiritually, and sometimes physically, through prayer, communication, and social networking. God can testify how I think of all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best for you and those you love and cherish, and you will remain pure and blameless for the day of Christ. That you will lead, guide, encourage, parent, serve, and mentor others and be filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

Living a Life Worthy of the Gospel (Adapted from Philippians 1:27-28)

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I know you, or never meet you but only hear about your great work, I will know that we stand firm in one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose us. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that we will be saved—and that by God.

From Janet

This Thanksgiving, and every day, go and represent Christ to a depraved and fallen world, so that because of your witness and sharing the Good News of Jesus, more will be saved than lost (“destroyed”) when Christ returns.

I thank God in remembrance of each of you.

About His Work with you,

Janet

You can sign up for my monthly online newsletter or weekly blog on my website.

For more on what I’m grateful for this year read the November 2017 issue of About His Work Ministries Newsletter

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*Picture from clipart.org.

Mentoring Can Change the World: Starting with Our Children

Last week, my eleven-year-old granddaughter and her friend were here to participate in a kids’ Drama Camp at our local outdoor theater. Both girls are baptized Christian tweens, at a perfect age for mentoring as they enter into middle school this year. We’ve been doing my Bible study Face-to-Face with Mary and Martha: Sisters in Christ together via SKYPE, or in person, for quite a while. We’ve had lots of discussions where I help them use Scripture from their Bibles to apply to their young lives. They have so many questions and are at a crossroads between not little girls, but not grown ups either. As tweens, they’re soon going to have more freedoms to make decisions—but not the wisdom that comes with maturity.

Every parent has heard the excuse, “But everyone else is doing it.” I remember my parents saying something like, “If everyone jumped off a cliff would you too?” Sadly, today many kids and adults are jumping off the moral and spiritual cliff to fit in with the culture, or they’re afraid to express beliefs that differ from the worldview.

Even children are bullied for supporting America’s president when their accosters usually don’t even understand why they’re reacting so violently. Where do these young bullies learn this reaction? Television, the internet . . . perhaps parents, grandparents, or even teachers?

I watched an interview of high school kids encouraged by their teachers to ditch school and participate in a protest march. Those kids had no clue why they were marching or what they were protesting?! They weren’t trying to change the world; they were being changed by a worldview they didn’t really understand.

We may want to pull the covers over our head and ignore the unrest in the world. But the parting words Jesus gave to His disciples regarding Christians’ place in the world, the Great Commission, reminds us there’s work to do, starting with our children.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

However, the last page in the Bible also foretells that the world will always have good and evil.

Let the one who does wrong continue to do wrong; let the vile person continue to be vile; let the one who does right continue to do right; and let the holy person continue to be holy.” Revelations 22:11

We all want our children and grandchildren knowing and doing what is right and holy, even when their peers encourage them to do wrong and vile acts! Parents and grandparents are the ones responsible for teaching and instilling these virtues. We cannot rely on the schools, and sometimes not even our churches.

The important thing is to help them not grow weary or discouraged doing good. Some things have helped me be a world change agent, while not letting the world change me. Maybe these will help you too in guiding and mentoring your children or young mentees.

Use the Word of God and Help Your Children Learn Scripture from Their Own Bible

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Hebrews 4:12 NLT

Teach them to paraphrase if they need to, but God’s Word applies to every area of life in every century (Heb. 13:8). Jesus used Scripture when tempted by Satan in the desert and taught the disciples to pray “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matt. 6:13). Help them memorize Scriptures to resist temptation. My granddaughter’s friend said her Dad is teaching her Psalm 23 for when she’s afraid.

Stay Civil and Polite But Stay Firm in Your Convictions

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 1 Peter 3:15-16

Satan is the ruler of this world, so those caught up in the world’s cults, atheism, alternate belief systems or lifestyles, feel compelled to challenge us for our faith in Christ, and they have devised a myriad of unkind words to call us. The hurt runs deep when it’s aimed at our Lord and Savior. So our first impulse is to engage in a debate. If you’ve ever tried arguing or reasoning with someone blinded by the world’s belief system, you know it’s usually futile. I mentor my granddaughter that her best answer is “This is what I believe because the Bible (or God or Jesus) tells me so.”

Other times, believers fall into the same trap the serpent used with Eve when someone asks them, “Did God really say…?” Simply say, “Yes He did, and I’ll find the Scripture for you.” Jesus didn’t come to sanctify the world’s ways, He came to save the world from its ways.

The World is In Darkness So Let Your Light Shine

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. John 3:18-20

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16

The world loves darkness. Yet into this dark world came Jesus, the Light of the world, and He has hidden His light in each believer’s heart. Our light must shine brightly, no flickering. When we enter a room, a social media conversation, a family or friendly gathering, work, play, school, as parents, grandparents, employers, employees, kids . . . wherever life takes us . . . our light shines, even if we’re the only light for Jesus. “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine!”

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” John 15:18-19

We are living in a lost world that is loudly anti-God and anti-Christian and influencing the next generation. We can’t be quiet. Our job as Christians is to be world-changers for Christ. We must worry more about what God thinks about us than what the world thinks. Our job is to put God back in the public square and reach the world with the love of Christ. It may be hard for kids to get this point, but they do need to know that there will be people who won’t like you for not agreeing to do the wrong thing. They may try to bully, dare, entice, make you feel bad, but that’s just because you doing the right thing convicts them for doing the wrong thing.

Don’t Give Up!

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. John 17:15-21

We’ll never have a perfect world until Jesus returns, but as long as we have breath, we’re saved to make a difference in the world. Start your children young believing this means them too! Maybe it’s their friends, sports coaches, unsaved relatives…teach them to pray. Here’s a prayer to start with:

Dear Lord, though the world does not know you, I___________ know you, and I pray that you will let the world know that you have sent me as your servant. Help me make you known to a lost world and I will continue to make you known where you put me so that the love you have for me may be in them also. Thank you for sending your Son Jesus to live in my heart. Amen. John 17:25-26 personalized and paraphrased as a prayer.

Just a reminder that my new release Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness has helps, tips, encouragement from Scripture for mentors and mentees from tweens to twilight seasons. It’s available for sale now. If you would like to participate in the Prayer and Launch Team to help spread the message of this book from coast to coast, woman to woman, contact Janet ASAP.

Look for in Christian Bookstore and on

Amazon or Kindle

Or

Signed by the Author

Author Bio

Janet Thompson is an international speaker, freelance editor, and award-winning author of 19 books. Her latest release is Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness. (September 12, 2017)

She is also the author of Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten; The Team That Jesus Built; Dear God, Why Can’t I Have a Baby?; Dear God They Say It’s Cancer; Dear God, He’s Home!; Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter; Face-to-Face Bible study Series; and Woman to Woman Mentoring: How to Start, Grow, & Maintain a Mentoring Ministry Resources.

She is the founder of Woman to Woman Mentoring and About His Work Ministries.

Visit Janet and sign up for her Monday Morning blog and online newsletter at womantowomanmentoring.com

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Why I Have Hope for Katy Perry

My book Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter: Hope, Help & Encouragement for Hurting Parents, is about a prodigal, aka me, raising a prodigal. As I’ve read about Katy Perry’s recent public confessions of why she turned away from her childhood Christian faith, I saw a certain parallel to my life. No, I never became a multimillion dollar, outrageously popular pop star, but I did turn my back on my Christian faith after my divorce and became a very successful businesswoman living a worldly life while raising my prodigal.

Katy’s father is a pastor and her childhood home was faith-filled. In her public therapy session aired on Viceland, she went by her birth name Katheryn Hudson. Faithwire wrote an article from this session, Why Kathy Perry’s Rejection of Her Childhood Faith Should Concern Every Bible-Believing Christian. They quoted Hudson as saying, “I grew up with a lot of born-again Christian beliefs around me, and so I had people around me — like-minded people — and I would say it was a bit of a bubble,” Hudson explained. “I was a very curious person, and the curiosity — sometimes it wasn’t allowed because you had to have faith.”

The article goes on to say that Hudson explained she was “curious about what was going on in the rest of the world, and how they lived, and what they saw as they were living . . . I felt like I was missing out.” She decided to explore her singing career further to “pop [her] own bubble, to get out of [her] own situation.”

“I guess I was just trying to get out of one way of thinking. It was like ‘do as I say, no ifs, ands, or buts. It was based on my religious upbringing… I have so many questions. I ask all the questions in the world, and all the questions in the world have gotten me to where I am at now.” [To read the whole article]

There is so much in that last statement about finding answers in the world, which made her rich and famous, but spiritually bankrupt denouncing her faith and  singing songs with provocative, shocking lyrics and movements that many young girls listen to and imitate.

Why did she turn to the world for answers? Because she couldn’t find answers to her questions in the church. She was raised around born-again Christians, but never actually says she was born-again.

In Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, I challenge the church with that same thought: “If we don’t teach our children to follow Christ, the world will teach them not to. Not encumber them with rules easily broken, but guide them toward a relationship they wouldn’t forfeit or jeopardize for anything.” I ask the question: “How many are making sure their children and grandchildren understand, accept, and embrace the Christian lifestyle? How many know, for certain, their children have a personal relationship with Jesus?”

Again I warn in Forsaken God?: “The church failed to reach out to the next generation with a message relevant to the world they live in today, but the secular world was ready and waiting for them. . . .Today, even children from Bible-believing homes may not have the tools or fortitude to equip them to face a liberal world drifting away from the God of the Bible.”

I stress exactly what Katy Perry said she couldn’t get from the Christian “bubble.”

They need mentors and parents to have the tough, honest discussion about abortion, sexuality, sexual exploitation, marriage, same-sex attraction, transgenderism, radical Islam, cults, drugs, alcohol, suicide . . . whatever they’re facing in their world.

My “Katy Perry” Story

When I left my good-girl Christian lifestyle, even though I was a born-again Christian since age eleven, I felt just like Katy that I was missing something “out in the world.” Satan makes sin seem fun and enticing. And there were plenty of people ready to teach me the “world’s ways.” I was naïve enough not to understand how quickly I was being sucked into that lifestyle.

I wasn’t raised in a Christian home like Katy was, but I did have a very devout grandmother who planted the seeds of faith in me. My mother would drop me off at church, but I was on my own. I loved everything about church and did find mentors and “spiritual mothers” to answer my questions until I went away to college and there was no one guiding me not to marry an unbeliever or pray with me about my choices.

What Brought Me Back to the Lord?

After seventeen years of backsliding, I was invited to a Harvest Crusade where Pastor Greg Laurie asked the crowd if they were ready to die that night? The Lord had gradually been bringing me back to Him through attending Pastor Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, and I knew the answer to Pastor Laurie’s question was, no. I rededicated my life to the Lord that night and God has been using me About His Work ever since.

I think Katy Perry, Katherine Hudson’s, public “therapy” session is her cry for help. I know she feels God on her shoulder calling her back with every provocative move, word, and action she uses to try to separate from Him.

What Can We Do?

Katy Perry’s mother, a minister’s wife, author, and a mentor to many Christian women, has some advice that she shared in an interview by J. Lee Grady, Charisma News, “How Katy Perry’s Mother Praises God Through the Pain.” Grady asks: How does a Christian mother handle it when she sees her daughter drifting so far from the values she taught her?

“The devil definitely tries to steal my joy,” Mary told me. “I sometimes have to fight depression.” A few years ago, Mary anchored her soul to Psalm 113:9, which says, “He gives the barren woman a dwelling, making her the joyful mother of children. Praise the Lord!”

“That verse inspired her to write her 2015 book, Joyful Parent, Happy Home. Mary believes if you want your children to live for God, “You have to get happy and stay in the ‘God zone.’ Mary’s close friends also support her unconditionally. And she asks new friends to agree with her in prayer for a miracle turnaround for her daughter . . . Mary believes parents of prodigals must focus on others rather than wallowing in their own pain. For the past 11 years she has poured her life into women who attend her Arise conferences.” The full interview is at CharismaNews.

Mary also mentioned something important that I share in Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter: show unconditional love to your prodigal, and as much as it is up to you, keep the lines of communication open.

Praise God, both my daughter and I enjoy a wonderful relationship with God and each other. I now have precious grandchildren to help pour into spiritually. I want to make sure I’m not just telling them what to believe, but helping them come to their own conclusions. To feel free to ask us questions and to help them solve their faith problems without giving them the answers we think they should arrive at. To help them develop problem-solving techniques and know where and how to go to the Bible when they question something happening in the world.

When they ask if I know that Katy Perry “used to be a Christian,” we talk about the fact that if she did give her heart to Jesus as a child, she still is a Christian, but she’s not living like one, so let’s pray for her.

The 6/26/17 issue of Time Magazine, quoted Katy’s apology for “criticized acts of cultural appropriation”: “I didn’t know that I did it wrong until I heard people saying I did it wrong. And sometimes that’s what it takes.” Let’s pray Katy hears from God that she’s been doing wrong and apologizes to Him. Someday, Katy could have an amazing testimony and God will use it for good. Pray it’s soon before she influences more young girls and women for the world.

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6

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PS I just realized this is the end of June already and should be Love Your Body Monday, but this post was on my heart so I’ll post a Love Your Body blog for the 4th of July week!

Are You The Woman Today You Want Your Daughter to Become?

If you’ve followed me for awhile, you know I’ve been writing, editing, and proofing a new book, Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness. Last week, I turned in my final proof edit to the publishers, Leafwood Publisher, as I anticipate it’s September 12, 2017 release. Then I learned the exciting news that this book is now on Amazon ready for preorders! You can order now, and as soon as it’s in stock at Amazon, you’ll receive your pre-release copies. The more preorders, the more they bring in stock. Will you help me get this book into the hands of mentors and mentees, those wanting to know how to be a mentor or mentee, and Women’s Ministry Directors to guide women in all seasons of their life.

This book will guide and equip women from tweens to twilight seasons in how to biblically mentor or be a mentee! I think it’s the first book of it’s kind written for both M&M’S! One endorser has already said every Women’s Ministry Director needs this book in her library. As the summer goes on, I’ll share more tidbits about this book for all women.  So drum roll please . . . I’m unveiling the cover!

The Mothering Season

When I speak to women about mentoring, I tell them that their first mentoring responsibility is to their daughters if they have daughters or nieces. They’re the role model for these young girls and they’re mentoring to them what it looks like to be a woman today: either a woman of the world or a woman of the Word. And then, I ask the question: Are you the woman today you want your daughters to become because they’re watching you, and as much as they don’t want to be like you, they will probably become just like you at sometime in their life.

In Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter, I share how during my backsliding years, my daughter wanted to be just like me. I realized some of the poor choices she was making were a reflection of the poor choices she was watching me make.

That was a huge revelation to me that I needed to make some changes in my life. When I did rededicate my life to the Lord and start living a godly life, she didn’t want any part of it. She liked the way we were living more by the world’s standards than by God’s ways. And that’s the story I talk about in Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter. I went down on my knees and prayed Scripture for her daily for six years; all the time showing and role modeling for her the blessings of being a rededicated woman of faith.

I’m happy to say our story took a happy turn and Kim did eventually give her heart to Jesus, and she has done a much better job than I did raising her three children in a Christian household. She’s mentored them in character qualities that her two daughters and son are obviously noticing. For a school project, 3rd grader Sienna was to write why her mom should be in People Magazine. I must admit, I was troubled by this teacher’s choice of a magazine that 3rd graders had no business knowing about or writing an article for, so I was relieved when Sienna said she had no idea what People Magazine was, anyway!

But what did impress me were the character qualities Sienna wrote that she saw in her mom. My daughter is a fitness instructor with a fabulous figure, she’s gorgeous, dresses stylishly, and always looks beautiful. So when Sienna decided to write about why her mom should be on the cover of People Magazine, she easily could have talked about these superficial, outward qualities, but at eight-years old this is what she wrote, exactly how she wrote it, no edits from Grammie:

My mom should be on the cover of the People magazine. My mom’s name is Kim Mancini. My mom is medium height, has brown hair, and her eyes are brown. There are so many reasons why my mom should be on the cover of the People Magazine.

One of the amazing things about my mom is that she is trustworthy. My mom trusts me all the time. My mom does not lie. My mom is trustworthy with my whole family. Now you know why my mom is trustworthy.

My mom is the most honest person in the world. She is honest with me. She once said, “Do not be scared that’s not real.” My mom is honest with my grandparents. There is no doubt, my mom should be on the People Magazine because she is so honest.

My mom is so helpful. My mom helps me when I am hurt. My mom helps me with my homework. She helps me get ready for school. My mom should win an award for being the best mom ever. My mom is the best mom in the world.

By Sienna

“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

Sienna’s mom, is trustworthy, honest, and helpful. Later she wished she had included hardworking. Isn’t that what every mom wants all her children, not just her daughters, to say about her?! Good job Kim.

What would your kids write why you should be on the cover of People Magazine?

The Mancini family. Sienna is next to her brother

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Messy Journey, Offering the Prodigal a Way Home by Lori Wildenberg

I always teach that mentoring the next generation starts with our own family. But what do you do when your children or grandchildren are walking with the world instead of with God? As many of you know, parenting prodigals is dear to my heart and prompted me to share our family’s journey in Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter: Hope Help & Encouragement for Hurting Parents.

Today, my author friend, and licensed parent and family educator Lori Wildenberg offers practical grace- and truth-filled ways of navigating your relationship with a detoured child whether they are rejecting faith, dabbling in sin, or wholeheartedly embracing sinful behavior.

Lori knows the heartache of having a rebel child. Her new release Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home is for parents walking the difficult road with a wayward child. Be inspired to drink the deep waters of peace as you draw closer to the Father of all prodigals. There is hope. After all, their struggle isn’t really with you, it’s with God.

 

MESSY LIFE by Lori Wildenberg

“When her parents discovered she was pregnant, they kicked her out.”

This single mom has defied the odds. She is raising her child, going to college, and working to support the two of them.

Not easy.

I don’t know the details of this woman’s story. I have no clue as to the relationship she had or has with her parents. I don’t know all the times of trouble that led up to this separation.

But…

I do know a number of families in a similar situation who chose to do life differently. They chose to support their unwed pregnant daughter and help her in her time of need. Three of the girls kept their babies. All three are now married (not to the baby daddy), another girl miscarried (now married with kids), and a fifth made an open adoption plan.

During the most difficult time in their life, each young mom knew her parents were there for her. Each woman in the middle of the mess knew she could count on her parents to help stabilize the shaky ground. All girls are now thriving.

As daughter’s of Eve and sons of Adam, we make decisions that are not in our best interest, ones that are not God’s best for us.

Humans have a wandering propensity.

Some young people stray due to an unwed pregnancy, sexual sin, porn, substance abuse, or a rejection of faith. When we have a prodigal, sometimes we are to let ’em go (see Luke 15) and other times we are to chase after our lost sheep (see Luke 15).

Either way, we need to keep the bridge built so our prodigal is able to return.

I have a child who, for a season, stepped away from the family. It was the most painful thing I have ever endured. There were times I chased her down like the shepherd and other times I waited like the dad.

I cried. I prayed.

I was a mess. I was weak.

God was strong.

Praise God, He brought her back to us.

I am thankful I kept the drawbridge down so she could cross it.

If your young person has taken a detour from the way in which he should go, keep the bridge open.

Don’t destroy it, build it.

During a messy life, lay down the planks of unconditional love: grace, humility, mercy, forgiveness, honesty, and truth.

Build the bridge and yes…they will come.

Back.

“Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.”
Luke 15:6b (NIV)

Where is God calling you to build or rebuild a relational bridge?

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Lori Wildenberg is passionate about helping families build connections that last a life time. She is a licensed parent-family educator and co-founder of 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting. She has written 4 parenting books with Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home published by New Hope as her most recent. She is a parent consultant, national speaker, and lead Mentor Mom over at the Moms Together Facebook Community Page. Lori is a contributor to a number of on-line magazines. Every Monday you can find her blogging about faith and family. Mostly, Lori is wife to Tom and mom of four. The Wildenberg’s home is nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. A perfect day in Lori’s world is a hike with her hubby, four kids plus a daughter-in-love, and Murphy the family labradoodle.

Find Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home at Amazon.

Additional Books:
Raising Little Kids with Big Love (for parents of toddlers- 9)
Raising Big Kids with Supernatural Love (for parents of tweens-young adults)

www.loriwildenberg.blogspot.com

www.loriwildenberg.com

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www.facebook.com/1Corinthians13Parenting

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Three Things I’ve Learned in 24 Years of Marriage!

wedding-picture

Yes, as you read today’s Monday Morning Blog, December 19, 2016, hubby and I are celebrating our 24th wedding anniversary! Several of you have mentioned you enjoy learning a little about my life lessons in these Monday mornings blogs, so as I pondered what to share with you so close to Christmas, I thought what better words of wisdom than what God has taught me about loss, life, and love in our marriage. I hope you’ll keep reading, even if you’re not married, because the principles God has taught me can apply to any relationship.

Loss of Expectations

Our wedding, just six days before Christmas, was a second marriage for both of us. Dave had three children and I had one daughter. I was single for seventeen years and Dave only a few years. The kids ranged in age from fifteen to nineteen, so I didn’t anticipate any problems in everyone living happily ever after.

Well, if you’ve blended a family or been around one, you’re probably laughing hysterically about now. Blending didn’t come without its challenges, and we all brought baggage and different ways of doing things from our original families. I learned right away that I was going to have to lower, and in many cases lose, my expectations: we would never be a nuclear family. Christmas or holidays or special occasions would always be a compromise of negotiating between two families, which would only become more complicated as the kids married and added extended families with their own traditions.

I couldn’t control who would be with us on what day or at what time . . . or even at all. There has only been one time since all our grandchildren were born that all four children, their spouses, and the eleven grandchildren were together, and that was at Thanksgiving six years ago at our son’s house—it wasn’t even at our home. For Dave’s 70th birthday last year, I had a dream . . . still hadn’t let go of all those expectations . . . of the whole family celebrating together for a reunion at our home in Idaho, where some had yet to visit. But one family couldn’t join us.

Dave and I have learned to pray about each event, and then enjoy who comes and not worry over who doesn’t. That hasn’t been an easy lesson for me to learn, but it has been necessary to maintain sanity and family relations. It relieves stress, worry, and disappointment when I let go of my expectations and let God fulfill His.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

What Divorced Christians Want You To Know

Life Is Ever Evolving

When we were first married, Dave had a wonderful job with great benefits. I was so happy that I would have some relief from the pressures of supporting a family after seventeen years of being a single mom. So after three years, we decided when the last child left home, I could quit my job and go into full-time lay ministry starting the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry at Saddleback Church. If you’re not familiar with the term “lay ministry,” it means no pay. I was never on staff at Saddleback. Three months after I quit my job, Dave was laid off from his corporate career and that was the end of a corporate job with benefits and great income . . . forever!

Read more of that story at About His Work Ministries.

Dave eventually found various labor-intensive jobs, until the last one resulted in him having to have reconstructive foot surgery and medically retire, which is how we ended up moving to Idaho. I tell that story, along with his multiple layoffs, in Dear God, He’s Home!: A Woman’s Guide to Her Stay-At-Home Man.

Right before Dave’s second layoff, I had my first battle with Breast Cancer and started radiation two days before our 10th wedding anniversary. Little did we know then that I would go on to have breast cancer two more times, and 6 ft. 4 in. Dave would take a job that had him in a uniform crawling on his belly under houses and in attics. But through it all, God has kept me About His Work, and used us in a mighty way. Dave supports me as I write and speak for the Lord. Dave is my helpmate with his techie abilities, helping with the website, and for those of you who receive our newsletter, I write the articles but he puts it together.

Dave now travels with me when I speak, and the women really appreciate how we work as a team with him “manning” the book table. I used to pray that God would send me an assistant . . . I just never expected it to be Dave. Our personalities and gifts are polar opposite, but God has taught us, as life has evolved over these twenty-four years, how to combine our differences into a united effort working together for the Lord. What Satan tries to pull apart and use to separate us, we’ve learned to identify and let God make us stronger and better together.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

Love Jesus First

pastor-pete-marrying-us

If you’ve read Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter or Dear God, He’s Home! I talk about a Marriage Builders course taught at the time by Pastor Pete McKenzie who married us [picture above]. On a whiteboard, Pastor Pete would draw a triangle with God at the pinnacle, a stick figure man in one lower triangle corner, and a stick figure woman in the opposite corner. Then he would draw an arrow across the bottom of the triangle explaining that when we have our eyes on each other, we’re the farthest apart. Next he would draw arrows up each side of the triangle, explaining that as we each move closer to God, we move closer together.

triangle-charm

On one of our early anniversaries, Dave had a charm made for me (picture above) symbolizing that triangle with the pearl of God at the top and our birthstones on each corner. Yes, my birthstone is a diamond! As long as Dave and I remember to keep Jesus first in our lives, everything runs smoothly in our marriage, no matter how our expectations are dashed, or how our life is evolving for good or bad. But if we take our eyes off Jesus, even for a moment, chaos can reign in our home.

All relationships have challenges, and so often those magnify at Christmas and holidays. I hope the three lessons I’ve learned in my marriage, will help you maintain peace, joy, and Jesus’s love no matter what your circumstances or challenges this year or in the New Year. They’re definitely not the only three lessons I’ve learned, but they’re definitely at the foundation of all the others.

“Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.” Ephesians 6:24

Merry Holy and Blessed Christmas to all my dear friends and family.

wedding-on-boat

 

Who Will Care for the Widows and Fatherless this Christmas?

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” James 1:27 NLT

Each week I wonder what God will have me share with you in the Monday Morning Blog, and then God shows up. This week it was clear from several sources, even the Book of Job, that God wanted me to address the topic of widows and the fatherless at Christmas.

God has a focus throughout the Bible of making sure His people care for the widows and orphans. Sometimes at Christmas, we become so wrapped up (pun intended) with our own hustle and bustle that we can neglect those who most need the gift of Christmas love. And I don’t just mean the Salvation Army bucket, although supporting them is important too.

While widows and their families need help every day, the holidays magnify their need. Some churches do an outstanding job of caring for these families, and others . . . have forgotten God’s charge to the church.

The definition of being a widow means a woman has lost her husband, and if she is a younger widow, she may have children who have lost their father. The children aren’t orphans, but their mother is emotionally, perhaps physically and spiritually, in such pain and anguish that her children may feel like orphans. The mother they once knew will never be the same again. Maybe friends or relatives try to fill the “Mom void” while she’s going through the sudden, unexpected, and unwanted process of making arrangements to bury her husband . . . their dad . . . while she’s still in a state of shock and unimaginable grief and trauma, but no one will ever replace the parents they had before dad was taken from them.

The First Christmas Without Him

Christmas is fast approaching and Mom wants her children, maybe too young to understand—maybe old enough to go through their own tragic heartbreak—still to have a good Christmas. But she can’t stop crying and wailing and the doctor has given her something to help her sleep and relax until she can grasp the magnitude of this nightmare that isn’t going away.

So friends and family pitch in and set up the Christmas tree, which is heavy laden with presents that first Christmas without him. But nothing fills the emptiness that permeates their home. The presents don’t fill the empty chair at the breakfast table Christmas morning, or the presents he’s not opening, or the prayer he’s not saying before meals, or the toys he’s not putting together, or the presents he didn’t give her, or his stocking that hangs empty on the mantel, and the fire he’s not stoking.

10 Practical Ways to Care for Widows and Fatherless Children this Christmas

  1. Take her children’s Christmas lists, clothes sizes, and do her Christmas shopping, then wrap all her presents. Assure her that only her children need gifts this year. No one else expects or needs anything from her.
  2. If she’s bought presents, wrap them for her.
  3. If she’s already bought presents for her deceased husband, offer to return them for her.
  4. If she’s not going to be with family Christmas Eve or morning, pack up your family and bring your Christmas to her house. Then if she needs to go in her bedroom and cry, her children won’t be opening their presents or crying alone.
  5. Don’t just drop meals off, stay and have the meal with her and the kids.
  6. During Christmas vacation, take her kids on play dates so she can have time alone to cry without fear of upsetting the kids.
  7. Know when her extended family is leaving and line up people from church to stop by and bring meals, pray, comfort her, and see how she and the kids are doing.
  8. Don’t forget older widows. Don’t think that because her husband was elderly that the pain is any less. She loved her husband for many years and they had blended into one heartbeat. Watch for signs of her declining or possibly losing a will to live.
  9. If you don’t have one already, start a support group in your church for widows and one for children who have lost their father. This isn’t just a holiday need, it’s a daily need.
  10. It may be difficult for her to see all the “couples” at church. Invite her to sit with your family during Christmas programs and every Sunday. If you notice she’s not coming to church, pick up the kids, bring them to church, and ask the pastor to stop and visit her. She may be mad at God. Don’t let her stay mad. Shower her with God’s love, and help her understand that God is crying over the loss of her husband too.

Her Husband Will Never Be Home for Christmas or Anytime Again!

Don’t forget about the widow, or the widow and her children, after the first Christmas. Every Christmas will be hard. She’ll always have to lug the Christmas tree home, set it up by herself, try and get the outside lights up for the kids, and make Christmas merry even though her heart is aching. His chair will still be empty, and his side of the bed will still be cold. He was the spiritual leader of the home, and now she’ll have to fill that role as both mother and father to their children.

Don’t expect a widow of any age to “get better” soon. Time will lessen the acute pain, but she’ll always have a aching hole in her heart, so don’t forget her after a month. Remember, she’s still a widow and her children are still fatherless, and she will need help with all the things her husband used to do around the house and her children will need godly male role models in their lives.

The widow will always need the love, support, help, kindness, and prayers of her family, friends, and church family not just at Christmas, but year round.

How do I know what a widow or fatherless child would need? Because my mother was that 32 year-old widow, I was the 10 year-old little girl, and my sister was four when my father, a California Highway Patrolman, was shot with his own gun and murdered one night while on duty on October 8. We went through his first birthday a week later, October 17, and I still remember going with my mother to Penny’s to return the leather jacket she had bought for his birthday. The next month came the first Thanksgiving . . . then the first Christmas without him.

These past few months in the news, we’ve watched policemen gunned down in their cars and each one of those men represented a mother or widow and children who will have that “first Christmas without him.” Or if you live near a military base, there are doubtless widows and fatherless children in your community. Pray for them, and if you live near any of them or go to their churches . . . do something for those families in the name of the Lord. That would be the best gift Jesus would have you give this Christmas. It was the best gift people gave to us.

Sing to God, sing in praise of his name,
extol him who rides on the clouds;
rejoice before him—his name is the Lord.

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.

God sets the lonely in families . . . . Psalm 68:4-6

camp-picture-with-arrow2

I know this was a sobering post to start the Christmas season, but you all know a widow, a fatherless child, a single mom, a shut-in who needs to see the love of Jesus lived out tangibly. I became a Christian because a year after my father’s death, someone at the camp in the picture above asked me:

“We know you’ve lost your earthly father, but would you like to know a heavenly Father who will never leave or forsake you?” I said, “Oh, Yes,” and my life has never been the same.

You could give that gift to some fatherless child this Christmas too.

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Can you read the name of the photographer’s sign in front of me in the picture?

How to Celebrate a Peaceful Post-Election Thanksgiving

happy_thanksgiving

During our small group prayer request time, a reoccurring request went something like this: Please help us be a light on Thanksgiving with the eclectic group of people attending with differing political and faith beliefs.

Whether it was all family, all friends, invited guests . . . or a combination . . . most were apprehensive how the day would turn out.

In the fragile aftermath of a volatile election, I imagine many of you are having similar concerns and conversations. I remember my mom cautioning that if you want to keep the peace, don’t talk about religion or politics, As a kid, I never understood her warning. Believers are supposed to tell everyone about Jesus. How could we not talk about our Savior, since our identity is in Christ? And isn’t everyone entitled to his or her own political opinion?

Then I grew up and learned that Jesus and politics are indeed quite controversial, but I still don’t think that means we shouldn’t talk boldly about them . . . we just need to be respectful. My first priority in life is being a born-again Christian and all other roles follow after. But as I wrote in Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten: “Bold doesn’t mean obnoxious. It simply means not being afraid to speak the truth in love, even in the face of adversity: ‘Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold’ (2 Cor. 3:12).” For example, if someone asks what I write, I answer, “Christian nonfiction.” Or I’ll say, “I’m a Christian author and speaker.”

For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. Philippians 1:20 NLT

So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison for him. With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News. 2 Timothy 1:8 NLT

Is Thanksgiving a Religious Holiday?

That could be an awkward question in some circles.

I was with a group of people when I mentioned how I hoped people would set their differences aside on Thanksgiving Day, and one person said, “It’s just a time for eating a lot of food, watching football, and shopping online anyway.”

Me: “I’m pretty sure the first pilgrims who celebrated Thanksgiving didn’t have TV or Amazon.

Another responded: “Well at least Thanksgiving isn’t a religious holiday.”

I asked: “Who then are we thanking?”

Complete silence.

Of course, the answer is: God.

Abraham Lincoln made it an official national holiday “as a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe.”

The English colonists we call Pilgrims celebrated days of thanksgiving as part of their religion. But these were days of prayer, not days of feasting.

We read in Genesis that God spoke everything into being, and yet, many will be sharing turkey and dressing with people who don’t believe in, or discount, the existence of God. They don’t know where they’re going when they die, or where everything we enjoy on earth came from . . . and maybe they don’t even care. They’ll walk out of the room during prayer before the meal, and may try and start an argument over the election. Maybe after a few drinks, their conversation will turn ugly, even though innocent young eyes are watching and ears are listening to how “adults” interact.

As I prayed and talked to the Lord, here’s a list I hope will help any who might be apprehensive this Thanksgiving. I’d love to hear your ideas too.

Don’t worry about what to say—“Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.” Mark 13:11 (Jesus was instructing his disciples, but I think it could apply to us too if we felt our faith was being tested or put on trial.)

Speak kind words— “Kind words are like honey— sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” Pr. 16:24 NLT

For your part, maintain peace—“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18

Don’t ask or answer antagonistic questions, walk away or change the subject“Interfering in someone else’s argument is as foolish as yanking a dog’s ears.” Pr. 26:17 NLT

Play with any children present“We will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about his power and his mighty wonders.” Ps 78:4 NLT

Don’t drink“Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Ephesians 5:18 NLT

Smile, Smile, Smile“Fix my eyes on God— soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God.” Psalm 42:5 The Message

Listen“Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others.” Pr. 12:15 NLT

Take a deep breath and think before you speak—“There  is more hope for a fool than for someone who speaks without thinking.” Pr. 29:20 NLT

Less is more—“The more words you speak, the less they mean. So what good are they?” Ecc. 6:11 NLTThere’s “A time to be quiet and a time to speak.” Ecc. 3:7 NLT

Say mind prayers continuously.—Pray continually” 1 Thess. 5:17

Have a secret sign or word between you and someone else that signals: Let’s change the subject or move into the other room.—“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor.” Ecc. 4:9

Put on the Armor of GodPut on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Eph. 10:6:18

If you’re Hosting—Pray and thank God for each guest. Ask to be a blessing and to share joy. Pray over your home and each chair at the table. Pray before the meal as you normally would, your guests know they’re coming to a Christian home.—“Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” 1 Peter 4:9

If you’re a Guest—As you walk up to the home, pray you’ll be a blessing and that God will stir up the fruit of the spirit in your heart. If you’re hosts don’t pray before the meal, bow your head and pray over your food as you normally would. — “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Gal. 5:22-23

Thanksgiving is a day for harmony and focusing on God and giving Him thanks and praise in whatever way He leads. Fiction writers have a saying: “Show don’t tell.” Which simply means, you don’t always have to speak Jesus with your words, you can show Jesus with your actions, and people will want what you have!

Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalm 100:4 NLT

Past Thanksgiving Blogs

Here are several past Thanksgiving blogs you might enjoy. I do give thanks for each of you who have followed me on my Monday Morning Blogs, and I pray you have a joyful, peaceful, and God-filled Thanksgiving Day.

Acquiring Overshadows Thanksgiving

What Are You Most Thankful For?

Love Your Body During the Holidays

Thanksgiving Tablecloth Idea

In Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten I share how to use your tablecloth as a “praise-cloth” to preserve memories for generations to come. Here is an excerpt from the book. I hope it gives you some ideas. I’ll be taking our tablecloth with us this Thanksgiving, and here is a picture of ours. We’re now writing down the sides.

thanksgiving-tablecloth-full

When my breast cancer journey started [2002], I became keenly aware of making memories with my family. At times like that, you think seriously about your mortality and the legacy you want to leave with your loved ones. You appreciate each new day of life. The sun rising every morning is an act of God to celebrate.

            Holidays like Thanksgiving have new meaning. Typically, Thanksgiving is a celebration where family and friends gather for a feast, and everyone says what they’re thankful for in the past year. But after finishing the dishes and putting away the leftovers, how many really remember what everyone said?

The Thanksgiving following my first breast cancer surgery, I had an idea of a Thankful Tablecloth. I purchased a Thanksgiving themed tablecloth with plenty of white space and a box of wash-resistant colored markers. After Thanksgiving dinner, I brought out the markers and asked everyone—kids included—to find a spot on the tablecloth to write what they were thankful for that year, sign, and date it. We traced handprints for the tiny ones with their name and age.

Today, we have years of thankful messages to read every Thanksgiving and remember the many acts of God’s goodness to us and the people who joined us at the celebration table each year. If we go to someone’s house for Thanksgiving dinner, I ask if I can bring our Thankful Tablecloth and markers.

            When I go to be with the Lord, I pray my family will continue bringing out the Thanksgiving Tablecloth as a reminder through the generations of how good God has been to our family and friends. [Excerpt from Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten]

 

thanksgiving-tablecloth-message

And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Colossians 3:15 NLT

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What Do We Tell Our Churches about a Trump Presidency?

greatest-republican-turnout

If you’ve followed my blogs, you know I’ve been stumping for Trump, not because I think he’s the savior of America—no that’s Jesus—but because President-elect Trump represented the only platform that would lead our country back to God. Trump has his faults, like all of us (John 8:7), and the media, celebrities, elitists, Democrats, and even the establishment Republican Party, have relentlessly attacked him and his family. But President-elect Donald Trump stayed the course to victory . . . conservatives won this battle in the cultural war.

The “deplorables” outvoted the celebrities and the elitists. The liberal progressives didn’t think they needed you and me—everyday Americans, “little people,” and whatever else they called us because we weren’t going to matter anyway when they ruled over us. They thought we were dispensable.

How Did the Media get it So Wrong?

The night before the election, my husband and I rented the documentary Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party—a cross between sci/fi, horror, and tragedy—except it’s not fiction, it’s a true story. Even if you saw it at the theater, I implore you to rent it and listen to the extra interview with Jonah Goldberg to learn the significance of how God intervened on November 8th to protect us from the clutches of Democratic progressive liberalism. And Carol Swain, a black born-again Princeton and Vanderbilt professor with five degrees and former Democrat who explains how she, “came out of the darkness into the light,” and switched from the Democratic to Republican party when her research proved it was the Democrats who fought to keep slavery, founded the KKK, started Planned Parenthood to exterminate blacks, and now have them enslaved again.

At first my husband didn’t want to watch Hillary’s America, but Dinesh D’Souza did an excellent job of portraying the roots and plans of Clinton to not just preside over America, but literally to own America, a goal she set out with her mentor Saul Alinsky in college.  My husband and I were back on our knees, where we had been fervently crying out to God for months in our private prayer time, in our church, our small group, with our friends…in our prayer closets. We prayed for Trump and Pence to win because, as you’ve heard me say repeatedly, they represented the conservative platform that would give us a chance to put God back into the public square. This was so much more than a political battle—this was a spiritual battle raging in the heavenlies—and continues to rage in heavenlies and now in the streets.

And that my friends is what the media missed. They didn’t poll us in our prayer closets . . . but God heard and tallied every prayer. There is power in prayer. There is power in the name of Jesus. There is power when two or more gather and pray in the name of Jesus. If you doubted that in the slightest, God made it clear on November 8, 2016.

I laughed as the media scratched their heads in shock and tried to come up with every possible scenario of why and how they were so wrong.

They kept saying we missed the “silent Trump vote.” That had to be it. Perhaps that was part of it.

You Cannot be Silent Any Longer!

i-voted-trump

In the last few weeks prior to the election, more people on social media were willing to stand up for Trump, but prayer groups were “closed groups.” Few were brave enough to admit they were voting for Trump. Even Clinton in her concession speech told her followers to come out from behind their closed social media groups . . . and that was good advice for us too. Christians notoriously don’t like conflict. Who does? But our role model, Jesus Christ, never shrunk away from conflict when it was a case of right versus wrong or exposing sin or evil doers. Paul never avoided speaking the truth. John, Peter, James and the disciples went into all the world by foot and by sea to spread the Gospel.

We proved on November 8th that we are the majority, but we can no longer be the “silent majority”! We came out in force, but now is not the time to retreat behind our church doors, back into our homes, and safety of our comfort zones.

God gave Republicans the House, the Senate, the Presidency, and the Vice Presidency, and we’re going to have some conservative Supreme Court judges. This is a window in time, in history for a revival, but we can’t expect Trump and Pence to do all the work. We need to support them on the ground and we need to let them know the issues that are important to us.

Do not let fear rule you.

Do not let the Clinton followers intimidate you. They lost, you won.

That doesn’t mean you gloat, but it does mean you celebrate victory and give God ALL the glory. Let the world know where that victory came from. Be bold for Christ!

Now is not the time to be politically correct or “safe.” President-elect Donald J. Trump needs our prayers for protection, for picking a cabinet, for wisdom, and for success.

What to Tell Our Children

I’m baffled by the rhetoric of “What am I to tell my children about Trump winning the election?” You tell them God blessed America with a miracle and gave us another chance to get it right this time!

Tell them…

We can have righteous judges who will honor the constitution and not try to rule our lives and make laws outside their jurisdiction.

We can try to reverse a law that allows babies to be killed in their mommy’s tummies, even right up until the day of delivery.

We can have affordable healthcare.

We have a chance to try and take marriage back to the way God created it to be between a man and a woman only and to protect businesses who do not wish to participate in gay marriages.

We won’t have laws forced on us that men can go to the bathroom with our daughters or change clothes in their locker and dressing rooms.

We can put God back in the public square and maybe even back in the schools where He has always belonged.

We will have laws enforced and borders in place to stop people who want to do us harm, from coming illegally into our country.

God’s people spoke and were heard, and you my child and grandchild will have religious freedoms reinstated and protected like our founding fathers fought for and so many gave their lives for.

What Does the Church Do Now?

The Benham Brothers made a short video the day after the election, and it’s exactly what I was thinking. Please listen, it’s short and to the point. I’ve always said this was a spiritual and moral battle more than a political battle, and praise God we were victorious in this battle, but the battle is far from over.

So we don’t retreat and go back to business as usual, we armor up in the armor of God (Eph. 6:10-18). Pray to support President-elect Donald J. Trump and VP Mike Pence, however God leads you and your church. My husband and I pray an Armor of God prayer from Dr. Charles Stanley* every morning that I encourage you to also pray and share, because it’s “Battle On.”

When you face opposition, and you will, as you see the progressives are not going to retreat quietly, then use the only thing Jesus used, the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.

Notice in Matthew 4:1-11, Jesus didn’t get into long dissertations with Satan, he used Scripture. As the vulgarities and vileness spewed on my social media prior to the election, I started doing exactly that, and you know what…Satan retreated. Yes, I say Satan, because do your research, the heart of the progressive liberal agenda is progressively away from God as the foundation of the country—there’s only one force that would be at the heart of that movement and that’s Satan. Many cursing me were “proud progressive atheists.”

Now we have the hard work of not just making America great again, but reminding our fellow Americans that it will never be great until all remember that our country is founded on biblical principles. If we want God to bless America, we must remember “In God we Trust.” God divinely answered our prayers in this election and gave us another chance . . . let’s get to work to honor Him and give Him all the glory for the things He has done. That’s what I’m telling my grandchildren!

I Wrote My Last Book for Such a Time as This

Many have thanked me for standing in the gap and publically taking a stand for the outcome we saw on Election Day, but it needs to be all of us together. For everyone who turned that map red, we need to support our vote and support President Trump.

Who Will Stand in the Gap

Post-Election Prayer

We the people made our voices heard . . . but still the “world” isn’t listening. We need to speak louder. More than just a quiet X on a ballot. If you want our country to move away from the elitist atheistic “progressive” attitude, you must be an involved citizen. I’ve said this so many times, if I was speaking, I’d be hoarse!

I have been championing great authors and their books during this election, I would now ask my Christian brothers and sisters to read and put into action the book the Lord had me write for this very moment when we have seen victory. I’m not trying to sell books, I’m trying to move a sleeping giant into revival. To help the body of Christ now rise up and turn our culture back to God. There are study questions at the end of each short chapter, and reflection questions within the chapter. It’s a book for both men and women. We’re getting requests now for large groups to do Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten because now is the hour to claim America back for God. Won’t you join me?

“Trump gave nervous evangelicals a gift that many of them lacked—the gift of boldness.”–Lance Wallnau, God’s Chaos Candidate .

Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten is also available signed on our website. *The link to the Dr. Charles Stanley’s Prayer is at the end of the Excerpt from Forsaken God?.

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