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Showing posts from December, 2018

My Prayer For The New Year

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Gracious Heavenly Father,

You are my Lord, my Savior and my Friend. You have blessed me so far above all I can ask or think in the past year. Each day was filled with examples of your grace and mercy, even though I didn’t deserve them. God, You are good and true no matter what the circumstances around me have been.

I thank you, Lord, for my salvation and the opportunity to have a personal relationship with You. You have changed my life in so many ways because of this one miracle.

Thank You for bringing me through my circumstances and carrying me when I was weak and weary. Thank You for defending me when I had no fight left in me. And thank You for showing me Your love and delight at every turn. You are my joy and my light.

In the year to come, Father, I will praise You with my whole heart. Even when times are difficult and the days seem dark, help me to see You in every trial. You already know what I will go through, and I already know you will bring me through it. Strength my faith …

Words For Wednesday

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Words For Wednesday

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Our Top 10 Of 2018 Christmas Letter

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If your family is anything like ours, and I'm sure it is, you've had a busy and blessed year. God's been good in our lives, and we have so much grace and mercy to show for it.

Here's how we've chosen to share a few snapshots of our life with our friends and family this holiday season. Instead of a long letter, we chose 10 memories that were unforgettable and spotlighted them. Add in our favorite photos and you can see it's been an amazing year.

Want to make a Top 10 letter of your own? Use your word processing program or an online design program like Canva to create a one-of-a-kind layout. It's super easy, and you'll be able to send a holiday message everyone will enjoy reading.

Would You Rather - Christmas Edition!

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Looking for a last-minute Christmas game to play with your youth or another church group? Try a round or two of Would You Rather ... Christmas Edition!

Here are a few questions to get you started:

Would you rather ... talk with Elisabeth about pregnancy at her old age or with Mary about pregnancy at her young age?

Would you rather ... sing with the angels or listen with the shepherds?

Would you rather ... stay in the inn on Christmas Eve or in the stable with the animals?

Would you rather ... see the baby with the shepherds or see Him as a young child with the wise men?

Would you rather ... go back to the sheep and praise God by yourself or race into town and tell everyone you can find about the baby?

Would you rather ... follow the star or follow your GPS?

Would you rather ... give gifts or receive gifts?

Would you rather ... be the donkey that carried Mary to Bethlehem or be the donkey that carried Jesus to Jerusalem?

Would you rather ... write and send Christmas cards or send holi…

Hymns Of Christmas — Angels We Have Heard On High

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When the angels arrived at the field, they already knew the song they were going to sing. Like a professional choir that rehearses for hours before the performance, the multitude of the heavenly hosts sang words they'd been practicing for ages past.

Gloria in excelsis Deo!
Glory to God in the highest!

What better song could the angels have sung on this special birthday? Who but the angels could have understood the mystery and power behind the tiny child they put to melody?

The birth announcement for the Messiah was filled with glorifying God for this amazing blessing. He, at His highest, sent His Son to the lowest, down to us. And the shepherds He sent the angels to were considered low in their own rights. They would have been on the bottom rung of the ladder, so to speak.

The highest came down. Glory to God!
The lowest were the first to hear. Glory to God!

The most powerful lowered Himself. Glory to God!
The weakest were invited to meet the King. Glory to God!

Are you singing of…

Words For Wednesday

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Welcoming The Prince Of Peace

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Most of us have three names. Some people might have four if there was someone special their parents wanted to honor. Others have a Junior or Senior behind their names, or a number to show the lineage of their name. There are also sweet and funny nicknames that stick with us for life. And many women change one of their names when they marry the love of their life.

Names make us individuals, unique in a world of millions of people. We're not just another face in the crowd - we are special and loved.

How much more wonderful then is the name of our Lord and Savior? Even before He walked on earth, His name was revered. The many names the people of Israel would know Him by were recorded throughout Scripture, and Isaiah tells of several of the most beautiful.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and  his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

The last…

Hymns Of Christmas — Silent Night!

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When was the last time you had a truly silent night? Or afternoon? Or five minutes, for that matter?

Silence is something we often take for granted. We fear it, or we try to fill it, or we keep moving so quickly that we don't even notice it's there int he background.

But that first silent night, the one we sing about at Christmas every year, was perfect in its holiness. The calm came from the presence of the Lord with us. The brightness came from the Light who would walk among men.

The heavenly peace that descended on the night of Christ's birth was heaven-sent. Even if we turn off the television, mute the radio and get everyone around us to stop talking, it won't be the same as the quiet in our hearts that comes from God alone. That's the peace they experienced that night in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago.

Whether you have five minutes or five hours, fill your heart and your mind with the silence that comes from peace with the Lord. Allow His calm to fill you and flow…

The Eagles Have Landed

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One of the amazing things about living in Iowa is our beautiful feathered friends. All along the Des Moines River, you can find stopovers for eagles, pelicans and several other species of migrating birds.

This weekend I took a drive down a road I've never featured down before. Just a few miles from our home is a spot where the trees open up to an amazing half-mile section of river.

On the other bank were four gorgeous eagles. I pulled over, turned off the car and snapped a few photos. Then I just sat and watched them while they watched me. We'll see if they go tell their friends that they finally spotted a girl in a red car.

If you're out and about in the days to come, stop and see what surprises you'll find. Take some pictures and take some time to slow down this holiday season.

A 1960 Christmas Flashback

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Everything new and modern isn't always for the best. If we look back at Christmases past, it wasn't about buying a bunch of stuff. It wasn't about having the perfect picture to post on social media. Look at these pages from a 1960 cookbook, and I'm sure you'll see what I mean. 

Decorations were made from supplies the family already had. Ribbon, cloth, candy and a tin can lid or two were turned into some festive memories.

Imagine trimming the tree with beautiful fresh fruit instead of mass-produced decor that everyone will have. A tree covered with artificial flowers was a special, one-of-a-kind centerpiece to the holiday season.

We've gotten away from wrapped presents, turning instead to bags and gift card envelopes. Almost 60 years ago, creativity was key. Upcycling wasn't a catch-phrase: it was what you did to show how much you cared.

Parties were about fun, friends, family and lots of great food. And at Christmastime, they were planned with something gr…

Are You Taking Care Of Yourself This Christmas Season, Too?

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This time of year is notorious for its busyness. Combine the things we want to do with the things we need to do, and there's probably a full calendar in front of you.

Instead of letting this season drain us, let's use the holidays as an opportunity to take care of ourselves in the same way we're apt to care for other people.

How much spare time do you have today? It may be 10 minutes, or you might have a whole afternoon. Here are just a few suggestions for ways to practice a little self-care in our busiest days.

Ten Minutes:
* Make a cup of something warm to drink.
* Cuddle and love on your pets.
* Read a devotion and meditate on the Scripture references.

Half an hour:
* Pick out a book you've been dying to read and curl up somewhere quiet.
* Paint your nails.
* Look through your closet and put together a few fun holiday outfits for those upcoming events.

Two hours:
* Bake your favorite cookies.
* Go to the library and browse the stacks.
* Watch a classic Christmas mo…

Words For Wednesday

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Help Your Friends With Christmas Treats Portion Control

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If you had to make a random guess, how many cookies, cakes and candies do you think you eat during the Christmas season?

Are you a grazer - do you just eat your way through the holidays?

Do you just give up and eventually accept any and every yummy treat that comes your way?

If this mentality sounds familiar, you can assume there are many other people who feel the same thing. This Christmas, let's take a stand and help each other find moderation with all the goodies.

What can you do? It can be simple.

* If you're making and giving lots of sweet treats, practice portion control. Small plastic containers, especially ones with compartments like the ones pictured here, are the perfect solution.

* Instead of making full-sized loaves of bread or quick bread, make several mini loaves. More people can receive one, and you'll give smaller portions.

* Choose small gift plates rather than dinner plates. You can fill them fuller and still give fewer treats.

* Give treats out at the e…

Upcycle Your Christmas Cards Into A Garland

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When you bring out your Christmas decorations or when you do a little winter organizing, you probably come across Christmas cards from days gone by. (Or years gone by, as the case may be.) Today's DIY will give you an idea for turning the images from those cards into an adorable garland.

Start by punching out large circles from the fronts of the cards. I used a 1.5-inch circle punch. You can make the three circles all from the same card or mix and match them as you please.

Keep punching until you have 10 or 12 sets of three pretty pictures.

Use adhesive on two sides of one circle and attach the second circle on one side.

Add the third circle, so now there is a little triangle with an open side.

Cut a length of ribbon or yarn and slip it through the open part of the triangle. Use one more piece of double stick tape or more glue to close up the triangle. Continue until you've attached all of your pictures. They'll spin so you can see all three pictures on each one, and you …

Hymns Of Christmas — O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

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On this first day of Advent, we look toward celebrating the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. This anticipation, a joyful and hopeful expectation, is heightened at this time of year. In the midst of the hustle and bustle of everything the world says Christmas should be, we can instead quiet our hearts and focus on how special this season is.

When we look at the songs of the season, what better place to start than with a song of joy and anticipation. God's people have always been looking for the arrival of the Messiah, and O Come, O Come, Emmanuel speaks directly to Christ Himself, asking Him to come into both our world and our hearts.

The story of this beloved Advent hymn dates back to the 1600s and 1700s in Germany and France. It soon became a treasured song in many languages and denominations. The words and translations have changed over the years, but the theme remains the same: We are waiting for You to come save Your people.


O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
Th…

The Symbols Of Christmas

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The countdown to Christmas has already begun in many ways. Gifts are being purchased and wrapped, travel plans are being made and meals are being planned and prepped. The tree goes up, the lights go on and traditional decorations are added.

Do you know why we celebrate Christmas with the symbols we do? To start your holiday season off right, here are just a few explanations of the decorations we use.

Evergreen tree: eternal life for the believer.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that hearth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. John 5:24

Lights: Jesus is the light of the world.
Then Jesus spake again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. John 8:12

Candy cane: to resemble the shepherd's staff.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks …