Invite Joy In

The first sip of coffee from a freshly brewed pot

The stillness of the morning when I am the only one awake

Walking through a just cleaned house

A shower after a sweaty run

A mug of tea, a good book and a hot bath

The first bite of a maple creamstick

The kids’ deep belly laughs

A kid on my lap with a book

Watching the kids concentrate on an activity they love

Understanding a concept for the first time

I could go on.

Why don’t we recognize joy in the everyday? Why don’t we look for it wherever we are? Why is it elusive?

Why do we think it can be bought?

How can my joy collide with someone else’s?

When I think about joy colliding I think of the story of Mary and Elizabeth in Luke. The preparer and the prepared, in one space smothered in joy. It was invited in and both women embraced it, owned it and spread it. Their hearts were already marked for joy.

Advent is a season of joy that gets lost in manufactured complacency. I want to be attacked with joy this season. I want it to tumble out of me and stumble into the people I meet. Joy doesn’t just happen though.

InviteJoy

Can you see joy every day? Will you share it?

 

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Let’s Go!

Where are you heading this advent season?

I love the story of the shepherds in the Christmas story. Here are normal everyday people going about the mundane details of their lives when all of a sudden they are hit with a message they can’t ignore.

God is here.

God is with us.

Go and see him.

They don’t debate. They don’t make arrangements to take care of the sheep in their absence. Or run home to tell their families what happened. Their response is simple

BethlehemadventThey went. They didn’t look for the best time or argue they had too many responsibilities. They were told God is here

and they went to see him.

They knew exactly where he was and how they would find him.

All they had to do was believe.

If you were told God was here, would you go?

We wait for an invitation that has already arrived. We wait for directions and others to join us. But your call from God has come, so why haven’t you gone?

This advent season prepare your heart to go. Ask for a faith that allows you to drop the cloak of disbelief.

God is with us.

Will you go?

 

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Friday Encouragement

The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,for the earth will be filled with the knowledge o

Advent is about hope. It is hope in the waiting. Hope in the joy that is to come. Hope in the peace our earth and bodies cry for.

We are a hopeful people.

Even in tragedy. Even in grief. Even in mourning. Even in the drudgery of the day to day.

We hope. We hope because we know the Lord’s love comes and covers the earth like water.

Today live in hope. In the midst of trials and waiting remember our hope comes with expectation. The certainty it is already done.

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Gratefulness starts with you

One of my favorite lines from the graphic novel, The Walking Dead, is on the back cover of all the compendiums.

“When is the last time any of us REALLY worked to get something that we wanted? How long has it been since any of us really NEEDED something that we WANTED?”

I bet you thought the Walking Dead was just about zombies. Good literature always asks a question of us and this one is a doozy for me. When was the last time I needed something I wanted? The better question is when was the last time I needed anything?

Because when I look at it like that I can’t remember the last time I needed anything. I have a house and two cars. My kids are healthy, my husband is healthy and I am healthy. Our cupboards are always full. We are never bored because we have books, games, netflix, and cable to keep our minds going. I have friends who can help in a pinch if I need it. Both my parents are still living.

I get to write as a full time job even though I haven’t been paid for a word.

So why do I still believe I need more?

I am part of a launch group reading and discussing Kristin Welch’s new book Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World: how one family learned that saying no can lead to life’s biggest yes

One chapter in and I am floored.

I don’t feel guilty or ashamed of my blessings, but my lack of gratefulness for what I do have. There are days when the kids won’t leave me alone that I wish we had a bigger house. There are days when I look in my full closet and wish I had something to wear. There are days I open the fridge and turn my nose up at leftovers spilling across the shelves because I want something different.

I’m disappointed with myself because I find complaints on my lips more often than praise. Most days I’m wandering around in the desert with the Israelites asking where the good food is when manna surrounds me.

It’s all about our heart. It always comes down to our heart. It’s not about what we do or do not have, but the words that pour off our lips from how our heart feels. And as I said, most days I complain with a full stomach, a nice outfit and in a house that keeps me warm, dry and safe.

The worst is when I hear my kids complaining and I realize they are copying me. If I want them to be grateful, maybe I should start with myself.

 

Entitlement didn’t startwith my kids. It beganwith me. I entitled thembecause I was entitled.

The next time a scold appears on your lips reminding your kids to be grateful for what they have, take a minute and remember you also have a lot to be thankful for.

Do you need anything, or do you want it?

There’s a big difference

 

 

(I did receive a free ebook as a part of the launch team. But my reviews and my thoughts are my own.)

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Before you start your Christmas shopping

 

raisinggratefulkids

 

We need a reminder today, don’t we? After reading Facebook posts of insane shopping sprees and viewing videos of shoppers gone wild, we need to remember all our kids need is love.

If you don’t find the perfect gift, your kids will be okay.

If your Christmas isn’t Instagrammed with hundreds of favorites, your kids will be okay.

If you can’t afford a present, your kids will be okay.

The best gift you can give your kids this Christmas season is love. Go forth and love your kids hard.

Because that is what they really need.

 

 

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Better than we are

The-Kingdom-of-God-is

 

Be better than you are today, because you can be. It is what you yearn for, hope for and dream for.

What is your truest dream and deepest prayer? How can you find your way home?

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Relationship not service

For the past year I’ve volunteered at a local medical center reading with kids while they wait for appointments. I like this for a lot of reasons: my kids are at school most days and I miss sharing books with them, the librarian in me loves an impromptu story time and I get to work with a population of kids who are often forgotten.

There are many days I don’t see any kids. At first I was frustrated because I was there to help! As I waited for some enthusiastic child to join me I started having conversations with the people in the waiting room.

One guy chatted me up and asked if I wanted to hear him play in his band. He whipped out his phone and pulled up a video of him in his blues band playing a mean harmonica. I spent that hour talking music with him.

Another lady asked me about my volunteering and soon it turned into a conversation about writing. She was a fellow scribe and we traded tips and tricks to pass the time.

When the Cleveland Orchestra comes to play I talk to others about the music.

Another guy told me his memories of heading down to his neighborhood library as a kid and it encouraged him to become a poet. He then read me some of his poetry.

I came to the medical facility to serve and what I found instead was relationship.

See sometimes we think our mission, our goal, is to do for people. I come to be the hands and feet and they come to receive, because I have and they do not.

It sounds so pompous doesn’t it?

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But

What I am learning is that I am not sent to serve. I am sent to be in relationship with people. If I am too busy doing I miss the part where I am fully present with another person.

The point isn’t to serve. The point is to live life fully with whoever we are with. If the only people we come in contact look like us, talk like us and think like us, it’s time to make your world a little bigger.

I still go down every week. Some days I read. Some days I talk. Some days I listen. No matter what I do I go into it with the expectation I will fully meet whoever I interact with that day.

When you strike out today, no matter what it is you are doing, be fully present. Engage with every person like that moment is the most important in the world.

It will change your heart.

It will change your life.

In that you might find a person needs more help than a moment or you may find all they need is to be heard. Whatever it is, when you open yourself in relationship to whoever you are with

The kingdom here on earth grows bigger.

Spread-your-circle-of

Go out and be with people today. Don’t do anything for them. Just be.

 

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