gifts

The Jesus Thing

Now that we’ve entered December, the Christmas festivities are in full swing.  There are parties to attend, cookies to bake, packages to wrap, trees to decorate, concerts to enjoy, potlucks to cook for, school programs to assist with, . . . .  and it seems to me that the list is endless.  The truth be told, when I hear the word, “Christmas” it makes me tired before anything starts, maybe like Pavlov’s dogs who salivated when they heard a bell chime.   To make it more challenging for me, I have lots of friends and family members who love the Christmas festivities and countdown the days until the frolicking can commence.  I watch my friends and family with curiosity, perplexed and awed by their ease and grace to enjoy this season.

From their point of view, sometimes they think I’m like the Christmas Grinch, as it may seem like I’d prefer to find a quiet cave and disappear from the noise, obligations, hubbub and seasonal delicious treats.  And it’s not that I don’t like the yummy food, beautiful music or serene snow that can christen this season.

My deal is that it’s easy for Jesus’ birth to get swallowed up in the season’s bustle, hustle, duties, celebrations, cookies, wrapping paper, gifts, decorations, glitz and glam.  So I find it challenging to stay focused on Jesus in the midst of this hectic season.  In the past, I’ve tried to keep this season less hectic so I could focus on Jesus better.  That’s been a really constructive tactic to help me keep Jesus in the Christmas crosshairs.

For whatever reason, this year seems different.  I was looking at my December calendar to find some empty space for lunch with a friend and I was disheartened to see almost every day booked.  How did I let this month get away from me and it’s just the beginning of the month?  Where did Jesus go for me in this month?  Maybe I should call this month my Jesus Month instead of Christmas, as a purposeful reminder for my focus.

And maybe it would be helpful to think about Mary, Jesus’ mother, this month as we celebrate Jesus’ birth.  She was obviously the key player for Jesus’ birth, after she was overshadowed by Holy Spirit, nine months earlier.  So when I think about Mary giving birth to Jesus in this month, I’m reminded about what it was like for me in the last month of pregnancy with my three kids.  I was tired and trying to keep my focus on the finish line of giving each of my babies a healthy and safe delivery / introduction to their separate existence.

I suspect that Mary, being away from her family to register in Bethlehem with Joseph her husband, maybe she was a little jittery or possibly overwhelmed with the unknown (child birth) looming in her immediate future.  Or maybe Holy Spirit helped her all the way through her pregnancy, so that she didn’t deliver Jesus in a completely frazzled and unraveled experience.

So when I think about Holy Spirit helping Mary through her pregnancy to deliver the only begotten Son of God, it encourages me to focus on Holy Spirit to help me through this season to stay focused on Jesus.

This is my prayer for you, as you finish this blog.  May Holy Spirit overshadow you throughout this season so that Jesus’ birth is fresh in your heart and outlook, not just on Christmas day, but for each day that leads to December 25th.  Let’s remember that Christmas is the Jesus thing 🙂

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Posted by sarahbowling in busy, Christmas, cooking, enemies to intimacy, family, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, seeing Jesus, spiritual, thought life, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

Fruit, Gifts or Fruitcake?

I’m trying my hand at making fruitcake, since were on the cusp of the holiday season. Most people don’t like fruit cake, but my husband says that’s because they haven’t had “good fruitcake”. So we’ll see how this goes.

In the meantime, take a quick minute to watch this short clip about fruits & gifts – maybe something helpful for the holidays 🙂

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Posted by Sarah in busy, family, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, seeing Jesus, spiritual, thought life, travel, values, watch, YouTube, 0 comments

Loving Well

I love my family, full stop. Sometimes it’s easier to love than others, but my love for each member of my family is embedded deep in my heart. Regardless of my deep feelings & commitment of love, it’s important that I express this love to each individual & that requires me to pay attention really well. Expressing the love that’s in our hearts is an essential ingredient for remaining connected but how I express this love has to be meaningful to the person receiving my loving expression. So for example, one of my family members really like to hold hands, hug & cuddle. So for this person, I need to remember that love in their perspective is most meaningful by touch. I have another family member who likes to have time & a listening ear, not holding hands as much. So with this member, I endeavor to keep some dates on the calendar to have some one-to-one time.

The premise for loving well is grounded in the 5 love languages: touch, gifts, service, time & affirmation. Let’s learn what is a meaningful expression of love to the people we love so that we can love them in ways that nurture our connection with them! Let’s remember to love well!

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Posted by Sarah in enemies to intimacy, family, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, saving moses, spiritual, values, watch, 0 comments

Bumble & Fumble

My daughter really likes fashion & style, me not so much. Truth be known, if my clothes match on any given day it’s evidence of divine intervention. But for my daughter, matching & style are as easy for her as breathing – almost mindless. This leads me to appreciate that what is easy for her seems almost impossible for me. And this is every bit as true for you as well because I have no doubt that you are agile & gifted in stuff that is totally baffling to me. 
So rather than berating someone for an inability, let’s find & celebrate their strengths. Bumbling & fumbling is just evidence that God has gifted us in ways beautifully distinct & creatively unique. Thanks to a great friend who helped me see this today 🙂

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Posted by Sarah in busy, enemies to intimacy, family, Genuine love, grow, Holy Spirit, Jesus Chix, listen, living, nightcare, prayer, relationships, saving moses, spiritual, values, watch, 0 comments

Thanks Dad!

  

My dad died a few years ago & almost everyday I continue to enjoy his generosity because he gave me his car when he was no longer able to drive. This car is generally reliable & super safe so I’m thinking that my daughter might acquire it when she’s able to drive. My dads generosity has kept me going & moving forward for much of my life. 
This has made me think about my Heavenly Father, who helps me everyday to make progress & move forward, in all kinds of ways. My Heavenly Father helps me: 

  • when I get scared, want to hunker down & stop moving
  • to move forward with wisdom & not just reaction
  • with decisions that lead to progress rather than stagnation
  • in taking steps of all sizes, reminding me that you can’t steer a parked car

How would your Heavenly Father help you today to move forward, go someplace & make progress?  

Consider that the Holy Spirit, our Heavenly Help, helps us know that we are children of or Heavenly Father – Rom 8:16 🙂

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Posted by Sarah in busy, enemies to intimacy, family, Genuine love, grow, Holy Spirit, Jesus Chix, listen, living, nightcare, prayer, relationships, saving moses, spiritual, travel, values, watch, 3 comments

gifts

During Christmas, it seems like we are frequently aware of the whole gift thing & sometimes that can be kind of tricky.  Here are some ideas for gifts that could be really useful:

  • encouragement:  Christmas is a great time to put into words (even on a card) how important someone is to you, to let someone know how wonderful they are or what you admire / respect about them
  • hugs:  some people really appreciate a genuine hug during Christmas without getting sketchy 🙂
  • time:  I took one of my kids skiing yesterday & we totally enjoyed lots of time together, without phones, email, FB, etc – just being together
  • extra effort:  doing something nice for someone (bring them a cup of coffee, offer to clean their garage, run errands, etc) can be super meaningful – even creating coupons for work can be a nice gift
  • gift:  gifts don’t have to be expensive to be meaningful

The ideas listed above are from Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages book – a super helpful way to express love in ways that are meaningful to the person receiving the gift & not just the person giving the gift 🙂

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Posted by sarahbowling in busy, Christmas, enemies to intimacy, family, Genuine love, grow, Holy Spirit, listen, living, relationships, seeing Jesus, spiritual, values, 0 comments

receiving with gratitude

All of us like to receive gifts that we want.  For example, recently, my husband bought me a kindle & for me its the perfect gift because I really like to read & when I travel, my books can get excessively heavy.  He bought me the kindle just out of the blue & I’m SUPER happy because its fantastic!  Sometimes, however, we get some gifts that aren’t so whippy, or even gifts that we don’t want.

I find that this is true with God as well.  We are particularly happy with God when He gives us what we want, but when He gives us something that we don’t necessary want, we can be ungrateful.  We often tend to overlook the gifts that He gives us that we don’t want, but He knows that we need.  God gives us what we need, when we need it & I’m becoming increasingly convinced of this truth.  He gives us time, wisdom, energy, resources, favor, etc.  We may ask for  money and He may possibly give us wisdom on how to lower our expenses.  We may ask for a certain achievement or promotion and He may give us an inner contentment that we are beloved in His sight.  We may ask for friendship and He may possibly give us the opportunity to be a friend to a needy person & experience His love to us as He loves through us.  We may ask for more time and He may give us a way to more efficiently use the time that we have.  We may ask for many things, but let’s be certain to give God ample space to answer our requests in His perfect wisdom 🙂

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Posted by sarahbowling in family, Holy Spirit, living, prayer, spiritual, 1 comment

a gift you can give that doesn’t cost money

Christmas can sometimes be an expensive holiday, depending on how you celebrate it.  Given the economy this year, along with the employment situation for many of my friends, I thought I’d suggest a gift that doesn’t require money but is thoroughly invaluable to not only the receiver but also to you the person giving the gift.  Interested to know what you can give that’s expensive but doesn’t cost money? 

Forgiveness

See, here’s the deal:  we all have people in our lives that need our forgiveness.  Whether its the jerk that cut you off when you’re driving or the very hurtful remark someone said to you at work.  Or maybe you’ve been hurt by something your mate said to or about you without thinking of the sting it has left in you.  Maybe someone did something to you in your childhood that still affects you to this day.  The truth is, no one has to look hard for opportunities to forgive – our life is full of such opportunitites every day. 

So this Christmas, let’s give others the gift of forgiveness – to let go. 

  • Forgiveness is given when we don’t remind the person of their shortcoming. 
  • Forgiveness is given when we speak kind words without sarcasm (or do our best to be pleasant)
  • Forgiveness is given when we want what is in the offenders best interest (and not the getting even approach)
  • Forgiveness is given when we don’t have to always make the offender know that we’re forgiving them

I think that many of us don’t do the forgiveness because it takes alot of work & its much less work to not forgive, especially at the beginning of an offense.  But i’ve found that the longer i hold onto an offense, the harder it is to let it go & the more drained i become from maintaining the offense. 

So be generous this season without spending alot of money 🙂

Give the gift of forgiveness & go into the new year with greater freedom and liteness of being 🙂

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Posted by sarahbowling in living, spiritual, 2 comments

gifts continued

presentsLast night at church, I spoke about generosity.  I think this is an interesting topic, given the current economic climate in the US.  I’ll cut to the core quick here:  I think that particularly in this season, it would be extremely appropriate for us to consider the different ways that we can give to Jesus, besides monetarily.  I think we can give Him our service, keeping in mind what He talked about in Matt 25:40, when He was discussing visiting the sick, clothing the naked, feeding the hungry & thirsty, receiving the stranger & visiting those in prison.  In the context of the parable Jesus is sharing related to all of these needs, Jesus explains that when we care even for the least person, that we’re caring for Him.

We can also give more of our self to Jesus – like the sinful woman who washed & dried Jesus’ feet w her tears & hair, and anointed Jesus head w expensive oil.  Jesus explained the heart of her generosity when He said, “He who has been forgiven much, loves much.  But he who has been forgiven little, loves little.”  Let’s love Jesus alot.

p.s. can i just say that i’m UBER-EXCITED bc i get to go snowboarding tomorrow w some cool peeps.  yahoooooooooo!

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Posted by sarahbowling in living, 1 comment

Christmas series – gifts

Gifts are a really big deal at Christmas – especially for people who feel love by receiving gifts (you can actually feel MORE love by giving than receiving, but that’s a different blog).  Anyways, here’s an interesting thought – what are the various “gifts” people gave to Jesus?  Here’s an example:  Simon gave Jesus a gift of service by carrying His cross to Golgotha for Jesus.  What are some other gifts people gave / brought to Jesus?

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Posted by sarahbowling in Christmas, 2 comments