Authentic JOY! {Prepare My Heart for the Holidays}

Welcome to Day 8 (our final day!) of Prepare My Heart for the Holidays, an 8-day heart boosting prayer experience, just before the Christmas crazy. 

‘Tis the season to be jolly, but I confess that sometimes during this season joy feels far from me. Between extra obligations, my unavoidable to-do list, and physical exhaustion, I can feel anything but joyful. 

And here’s the thing. I don’t want fabricated joy; I want authentic joy. Joy that helps my heart to be merry even when my plate overflows.

What I’ve discovered is that sometimes joy is a matter of perspective. 

And it’s always a choice.

One of the ways we can cultivate authentic joy is by asking for it! We can ask to see things from God's perspective. And we can spend precious time with our God and King. In His presence is fullness of joy, so one of the things we should always ask for and pursue is God’s very real presence.

Our challenge? To allow the Lord's presence to fill our hearts with authentic joy. It's our strength! His joy helps us plow through and even better...it splashes onto those around us. Through His Spirit we can not only experience joy, but radiate His authentic joy to our families and friends. And that is a precious Christmas gift that keeps on giving.

{A Holy Pause to Pray}

Lord,

You are faithful and loving and good. You are my glory and the lifter of my head. You are the giver of every good and perfect gift, including the beautiful gift of joy. Lord, I want to experience the holidays equipped with Your authentic joy. Will you please give me divine perspective, especially in the difficult moments? Will you please help me to choose joy?

Your joy is my strength and I desperately need it. I ask for You to help me create good memories by blessing me with times of great joy with You, with my family, and with my friends. Lord, You are my strength and shield. I trust You and I am so grateful that because of Your presence, my heart is filled with joy. I want Your joy bubbling and radiating out of me. Now and throughout the season. In Jesus’s wonderful name, Amen.

You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11) (AMPC)

I hope you have enjoyed these 8 days together as much as I have. Thank you for taking time to participate! May the Lord bless you and yours with a grace-filled, peace-filled, joyful Christmas!

GIVEAWAY: On December 8. I will randomly choose 2 WINNERS who will each receive a signed copy of BOTH of my books, some super cute, unique Christmas cards courtesy of Smiling Sticks, and a few other goodies. 
TO ENTER please leave a comment and include your email (so I can notify you if you win). 
Winner will be notified via email on December 8th. So sorry, contest open to continental U.S. residents only. 


Reading this via email? CLICK HERE to visit my blog and leave a comment.






Has Anyone Seen My Peace? {Prepare My Heart for the Holidays}

Welcome to Day 7 of Prepare My Heart for the Holidays, an 8-day heart boosting prayer experience, just before the Christmas crazy. 

If there’s anything I could use LOTS more of during the holidays, it’s peace. Decking the halls, after all, comes at a price. Someone must do the actual decking (hello? that would be me), and then there is the fact that problems don’t simply vanish because the calendar flips to December. 

Trials still pop up. Family issues can flare. Situations happen. 

Do not let your hearts be troubled.

It’s enough to yank your peace right out the back door. Just because the holidays are here doesn’t mean fear and anxiety won’t disturb us.

Do not let your hearts be troubled.

But here’s a Christmas gift we don’t have to wait to open and use: His peace.

Jesus is the Prince of Peace, and if we will choose to breathe in His precious peace, and stop allowing ourselves to be agitated and disturbed (Jesus’s words!) we can walk in peace through the most unlikely, scary, and difficult situations.

Do not let your hearts be troubled.

Peace is a beautiful gift that is legally ours; Jesus bequeathed it to us! 

Our challenge? We must choose to hold on to our peace by holding tightly to Jesus, our Prince of Peace. We can be so close to Christ that nothing can rattle or steal our peace. Even when the unexpected hits during the holidays. 

In the middle of crazy situations, crazy family issues, or just plain Christmas crazy, His peace is still ours. We simply have to choose it.
  
{A Holy Pause to Pray}

Lord,

You are perfect in all of Your ways. You are the Prince of Peace! Your peace is such a precious gift to me, one that I especially need during the holidays when so many demands are placed on me. God You never leave me or forsake me, so help me remember that I can cling to Your very real, very near presence and peace all through the holidays. 

Help me to allow myself the pleasure of basking in Your peace that passes all understanding.

Please teach me by Your Spirit to continually walk in Your peace. Help me not to relinquish it over situations and circumstances, but enable me to choose peace now and throughout the season. Help me to bring Your peace to every holiday gathering, every party, every baking session, every family meal. Your Your peace and Your presence fill me and radiate from me in the best and worst of situations. May others sense this holy peace and be drawn to You because it is so real.

Lord help me not to allow my heart to be troubled. Help me not to allow myself to be agitated and disturbed or fearful. Anchor me in Your rock solid peace. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

Peace I leave with you; My own peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled. (John 14:27) (AMPC)

GIVEAWAY: On December 8. I will randomly choose 2 WINNERS who will each receive a signed copy of BOTH of my books, some super cute, unique Christmas cards courtesy of Smiling Sticks, and a few other goodies. 
TO ENTER please leave a comment and include your email (so I can notify you if you win). 
Winner will be notified via email on December 8th. So sorry, contest open to continental U.S. residents only. 



Reading this via email? CLICK HERE to visit my blog and leave a comment.




The Mirage of Perfection {Prepare My Heart for the Holidays}

Welcome to Day 6 of Prepare My Heart for the Holidays, an 8-day heart boosting prayer experience, just before the Christmas crazy. 

My hope:  Complete holiday flawlessness: cozy candles, contented hearts, Christmas music everyone agrees on, delicious, festive smells wafting from my kitchen, beaming people gathered in my home, gifts purchased far ahead of time and beautifully wrapped, and joy. Lots of joy.

Pure holiday bliss.

My reality: Pure holiday crazy: forget to even light the candles, family members  who can take or leave Christmas music, baking only once in December because frankly, I can’t find the time, family I won't see because they live in another state, unexpected sickness, and gifts yet to be purchased (the list isn't even started!).

Our challenge? Face reality with grace and peace. This year, both of our sons are deployed far, far away; A precious uncle is in the hospital; A sweet friend's husband is battling end-stage cancer.

Just because it's Christmas doesn't mean our lives are suddenly perfect. THIS is why I pray, why we pray. Because it is HERE, in the far from perfect, that Jesus meets us.

When our dreams for a perfect holiday dissolve before us like a shimmery mirage on hot pavement, we can panic or we can embrace reality while breathing in God’s grace. His grace recalibrates our hearts and helps us lean on Him while facing our not so perfect lives.

The beautiful truth is perfection isn’t necessary for us to  enjoy the holidays. We can choose to be in high spirits by allowing more of His Spirit to dwell in us all throughout the season. We can ask Him to infuse our hearts with grace. We can praise Him not because our lives are perfect, but He is.

{A Holy Pause to Pray}

Lord,

Forgive my ridiculous expectations of perfection during the holidays. I don’t want to set myself up for disappointment. You are the only perfect thing in my life! Help me to let go of my goal of the perfect Christmas season, and instead by Your grace accept my current reality, doing my part and trusting You for the rest.

Please give me grace to be cultivate gratitude, peace, joy, and Your presence, not because everything is going smoothly, but in the face of stress, sickness, and the unpleasant realities Let the richness of Your Spirit dwell in me so that my heart radiates authentic peace from Your presence to my family and all those around me. 

Thank you for filling my heart with Your grace and joy. Give me a merry heart that doesn’t demand perfection and rejoices in You always. Right now I am choosing to be in high spirits and sing praise to Your name, all holiday season long. I will choose joy. Not because my life is perfect, but because You are. In Jesus's name, Amen.

I will rejoice in You and be in high spirits; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High! (Psalm 9:2) (AMPC)


GIVEAWAY: On December 8. I will randomly choose 2 WINNERS who will each receive a signed copy of BOTH of my books, some super cute, unique Christmas cards courtesy of Smiling Sticks, and a few other goodies. 
TO ENTER please leave a comment and include your email (so I can notify you if you win). 
Winner will be notified via email on December 8th. So sorry, contest open to continental U.S. residents only. 


Reading this via email? CLICK HERE to visit my blog and leave a comment.






Letting Go of Unrealistic Expectations {Prepare My Heart for the Holidays}

Welcome to Day 5 of Prepare My Heart for the Holidays, an 8-day heart boosting prayer experience, just before the Christmas crazy. 


Ahh, the holidays. The time of year when all the extra time we need simply materializes into our schedules, every single thing goes according to plan, all our relatives are happy, with not a bicker in sight, and there is peace on earth (and in our homes).

Not.

No other time of the year places more stress on more people. Yet frequently much of the stress we experience is due to our own unrealistic expectations. We assume everything will go off without a hitch. We wrongly anticipate a golden glow around our festivities—around our lives—that simply isn’t realistic.

Somehow our holiday expectations (and perhaps one too many Hallmark Christmas movies) prevent us from enjoying what is while we’re busy yearning for if only. The only thing that we really have the power to change during the holidays is us. When we realize that everything can change dramatically by letting go of our expectations, we displace stress while making room for authentic peace and joy, and most importantly, gratitude for what we do have.

Our challenge? Let’s ask the Lord to help us recognize unrealistic expectations and then give us grace to release them. Then let’s notice and be thankful for what we do have this holiday season…eternal life, peace, and His glorious presence, for starters.

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18) (NLT)

{A Holy Pause to Pray}

Father,

I bow my heart before you, not wanting my holiday expectations to become a barrier that prevents me from enjoying my reality. I don’t want to experience untold stress because of unrealistic expectations. And I don’t want to yearn for what will never be, or assume everything will always go smoothly simply because it’s Christmas time.

So God right now I choose to let go of my expectations. I even surrender my yearnings for everyone to be happy and for the things I’d love to happen that most likely will not. Thank you for lifting every ounce of stress from my heart and shoulders and filing me with Your authentic peace and joy. 

Give me grace for the inevitable hard moments. Help me to cultivate realistic expectations and deep gratitude, trusting You in every situation. May my eyes be open to the many ways You do bless me, so my heart will overflow with gratitude. In the awesome name of Jesus, Amen.


GIVEAWAY: On December 8. I will randomly choose 2 WINNERS who will each receive a signed copy of BOTH of my books, some super cute, unique Christmas cards courtesy of Smiling Sticks, and a few other goodies. 
TO ENTER please leave a comment and include your email (so I can notify you if you win). 
Winner will be notified via email on December 8th. So sorry, contest open to continental U.S. residents only. 


Reading this via email? CLICK HERE to visit my blog and leave a comment.






Embracing Simple {Prepare My Heart for the Holidays}

Welcome to Day 4 of Prepare My Heart for the Holidays, an 8-day heart boosting prayer experience, just before the Christmas crazy. 

While I really enjoy holiday baking and creating a pretty Christmas atmosphere in my home, I’ve come to realize that killing myself for unrealistic, unattainable, and unnecessary holiday décor (or spectacular cookies) is not a necessary thing. 

In fact, all my doing, coupled with unrealistic holiday expectations, set me up for intense stress levels. And exhaustion.

So I am learning to embrace simplicity. Meaning over dazzling. Less is more.

I’m learning to do what I can and not stress about what I cannot. And I am especially learning to take time to sit at Christ’s feet during the hap-happiest time of the year. The truth is no one will notice that we didn’t exquisitely hand-decorate every single cookie. Because at the end of the day, it’s really not about the sparkle in our home, but the atmosphere of our hearts.

Our challenge? The gospel is simple. This year, let’s ask the Lord to help us not to allow unnecessarily difficult, complicated, time-consuming plans to squelch our joy. He really can help us embrace a more simple approach so we’re not overwhelmed, frustrated, and disappointed. 

Then our hearts will have the freedom and breathing room we so desperately crave.

{A Holy Pause to Pray}

Father,

You are good, and You are worthy of all my adoration and praise! Please help me to recognize and surrender my overly complicated or difficult holiday goals, plans, and expectations. Will You help me to embrace simplicity when it is wise, to gladly do what I can and not to allow myself to stress about the unimportant or unrealistic goals? Help me cultivate a peaceful, joyful, grateful atmosphere in both my heart and my home.

Though I desire pretty décor and fragrant smells in my home, I’d much rather possess an exquisite heart that honors You and blesses my family and those around me. I realize I can only do that if I relinquish the unnecessarily complicated and instead embrace simple. I so want a grateful, joyful, peaceful heart that far outshines my Christmas décor or baking. Help me to make time for You, to make room not only in my crazy schedule but in my heart of hearts. 

I pause right now and turn my heart to You. As I embrace the simplicity of the gospel, change the atmosphere of my heart and home. Thank you for helping me embrace the simple beauty of Christmas, and for making this season meaningful for me (and my family) in a deeper way. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.

There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her. (Luke 10:42) (NLT)


GIVEAWAY: On December 8. I will randomly choose 2 WINNERS who will each receive a signed copy of BOTH of my books, some super cute, unique Christmas cards courtesy of Smiling Sticks, and a few other goodies. 
TO ENTER please leave a comment and include your email (so I can notify you if you win). 
Winner will be notified via email on December 8th. So sorry, contest open to continental U.S. residents only. 

Reading this via email? CLICK HERE to visit my blog and leave a comment.