Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit;and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.
1 Corinthians 12:4-6
In January we tend to set goals, which I love. I already wrote about the best resolution, but another fantastic goal is to serve God with our time and talents. That’s a no-brainer, right?
As I wrote on my “blogiversary,” I never thought I’d be blogging at all. Yet today I took a look back at my first 99 posts, and you know what? There was some good stuff in there!
Over time, my posts have evolved from Monday/Thursday Bible study posts to a new schedule: Monday Bible study devotions with a thought-provoking “kick,” and Thursday posts that deal with either anxiety help (the Thought Shot posts) or Christian Growth (the Take the Challenge posts). All of them speak to what God’s bringing to the forefront in my life… and hopefully yours.
This is a guest post by my mother, Sharon Kelley. She shared the following as a Mentor Moment for the young mothers of her church. When I read it, I cried. It’s just too good to leave on her hard drive… so I’m sharing it with you. May you open the stable door this Christmas. —Shannon
So how are the Christmas preparations going for you so far? Are the presents bought? Are they wrapped up with a sparkly bow? Are the cookies baked? Is the tree up? Is the house decorated inside and out? Are the Christmas cards in the mailbox, including a bright and happy family letter? Is your blood pressure rising just thinking about all you have yet to do?
In my own life, my little family of three children has grown to three children, three in-law children, and nine grandchildren. That’s a lot of shopping and attending at least nine Christmas school programs, band concerts, piano recitals and a Tae Kwon Do black belt testing thrown in the mix. Bill and I also have responsibilities to help care for Bill’s 91 year old mom and my 98 year old Dad. Wowsa. It’s a lot in December.
Way back in 2011, I realized that I’d written a mammoth book about how to organize life as a Christian.
I’d followed God’s clear call to “Write the Book” by writing all about personal, home, and family organizing for Jesus—and it was too much for one book! So I took the first half of the manuscript, added a conclusion, and called it Organizing You. That was the easy part.
The hard part was cutting out the second half of my dearly loved and prayed over content. I pasted it into a Word doc and saved it as “OY2.” But in my head, it was called “OY2??” I doubted whether anyone would ever read it.
Even now, it’s hard for me to believe that I’m able to share that content (and more!) with you in Building Your House!
Can you prepare to be spontaneous? Isn’t that an oxymoron?
Absolutely not! We moms can engineer a little fun on purpose. When we do the planning ahead of time, the activity can be even more relaxed, and exciting! (And when I have a free printable chart for you, that makes it even easier!)
We live about half a block from a little neighborhood park. It’s a fine park and we go there all the time. But it’s hot- no shade at all. And, we’ve done everything there is to do there—lots of times. Last summer, when my kids asked to go to the park, I found myself starting to resist.
So I went to our local parks and rec website to look for a new park to try—and it turned out there were a ton! I wasn’t sure which to try first, or how to remember our favorites…and so, Park Hopping was born.
All of the extra holiday to-dos and events—and the feeling of panic that hits us when we realize it’s already December [fill in the date]—can push the Christmas joy right out of our hearts. We hate to admit it, but even wonderful Christian moms like us need to be intentional about keeping our hearts centered on Christ at Christmas!
So this December, clear out some of that spiritual clutter. Plan and prepare ahead as much as possible. Skip “traditions” you don’t even like. Simplify where you can and just do less…but, I also want to challenge you to do more in order to keep the joy of our Savior front and center in your heart.
Today’s moms are taking tons of pictures with their phones and digital cameras, which is fantastic—as long as we remember what our pictures are about. Years from now, we don’t want to look at our pictures and think, Where were we? or worse, How old were the kids in this picture?or worst of all, Is that my oldest or my youngest?
And then there are the intangible things we want to remember but can’t really photograph…like the way my oldest used to say “strawbabies” instead of “strawberries,” or how my preschool-aged daughter’s favorite color was brown(!), or how thankful I am for my youngest’s joyful disposition. We think we’ll always remember those kinds of things—but what if we don’t?
Any mom’s spirit can be cluttered by the feeling that she isn’t taking enough pictures. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by how quickly our kids are growing up. We don’t want to miss it—and we don’t want to forget what it’s like right now.
With a little thought and some intention, you can take more pictures and enjoy more of your memories. You can choose an everyday moment that you’d like to capture, or wait for inspiration to strike! Keep your camera handy, because you never know when a great moment will happen.
Here are a few things to be on the look out for…or do on purpose, just for the pictures. (Don’t knock it—who cares if it’s a little contrived? You’re still having fun!)
Spiritual clutter is usually a bad thing, but sometimes persistent, nagging thoughts are actually useful.
Thoughts like We haven’t gotten together with them in agesor I’d really like to get to know her bettercan remind us to reach out to the people in our lives. They could even be Holy Spirit Nudges, urging you to minister to others and deepen your relationships through hosting.
We can accomplish the Lord’s work and further the Kingdom of Heaven through the gift of our homes. Romans 12:12-13 says, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”