I love so many things about the month of December.
The memories, the gatherings, the excitement for what’s coming. Twinkle lights everywhere after dark. Remembering the story of Jesus’ birth with the angels and shepherds and a star leading souls toward a newborn King—the one who changed everything.
One of my favorite things is looking back to remember. Another favorite is looking forward. It’s the in-between that trips me up. Do you know what I mean?
I’m at that point in December—like every other year—where I feel buried by the schedule and all the many to-do’s. It’s like I have to keep running, running, running–to make this pick-up time and that deadline and those purchases and these events. None of it is too much, on its own. But add it all together, and I’m one frazzled Mom.
Today, however, I read a passage that transformed my frantic feelings, and I wondered if you need this too. Do you need to press pause on all the things, in the middle of December, in order to behold the glory of God?
I know a place where we can always go–not to hide from our lives but to find refuge instead.
I hope you’ll come with me. Let’s dig into the Word of God, and let Him do His beautiful thing in our hearts. Right now. Today.
I hope you’ll spend some time reading these scriptures, and read the passages around them as well. I like to copy the words by hand, sometimes on a colored card or along the edges of my day planner…yes, I still use paper planners. ? You may want to read them repeatedly, even memorize them. Any time you spend focusing on the Lord will be a gift to you.
5 Places to Pause When Life Feels Frantic
There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God. 1 Samuel 2:2 (NIV)
Who among the gods is like you, Lord? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders? Exodus 15:11
For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God? 2 Samuel 22:32
I love you, Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:1-2
I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me, so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting people may know there is none besides me. I am the Lord, and there is no other. Isaiah 45:5-6
Angela Parlin is a wife and mom to 3 rowdy boys and 1 sweet girl. In addition to spending time with friends and family, she loves to read and write, spend days at the beach, watch romantic comedies, and organize closets. But most of all, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to the beauty of life in Christ, even when that life collaborates with chaos. Join her at www.angelaparlin.com, So Much Beauty In All This Chaos.
My dad and his older brother have a favorite tale they expose about their youth. Their younger brother was a studious boy. He would finish his homework and then go to bed before the sun went down, in an effort to be well rested for school the next day. After he’d been sound asleep for about an hour, my dad and his brother would wake their younger brother for school. The poor boy would get up, dress, and scramble upstairs for breakfast. Their mother would be the first to alert the poor dupe of the prank.
Recently, alone in a hotel, I was so duped. I fell asleep at 8:45 in the evening. We have seven children, and I had been hectic away from home at speaking engagements. I was exhausted. When I woke I barely recognized my surroundings. I got up, made a pot of coffee, pulled on my cozy robe and opened the light blocking drapes. I was pleased to see the sun wasn’t up yet. As I opened my computer, I smiled to myself; I would have an entire day to work alone in the hotel and I was eager to get started.
That is when I saw the time.
It was only 12:15 am. I had been asleep less than four hours.
Granted four hours of uninterrupted sleep at home is nothing short of a miracle. Between the teens texting to ask me if I am awake, the toddlers requiring comfort after a nightmare, and the baby demanding a bottle – I rarely get unremitting sleep.
I turned off the coffee pot, closed the drapes, and climbed back into the crispy, hotel grade, Egyptian cotton sheets.
It was both a relief… and a burden.
I lie there giggling to myself. And then, I worried about my husband, home alone with our brood. He was probably exhausted too. I felt dejected I wasn’t there to help him.
Unable to fall back to sleep, I got up and worked until 5, fell asleep on my keyboard and was startled awake at 7:20 when the neighbor in the adjoining room started his shower.
I felt all the pangs of a protracted night and my keyboard was firmly imprinted on my left cheek.
I drug my weary body to the shower and stretched the kinks out of my neck and back. Steam chased me from the bathroom and I poured a cup of stale coffee into a sorry little Styrofoam cup and added powdered cream. I stared out of the window at the foreign town, straining to spy a Starbucks on the horizon.
As bitter java assaulted my tongue, I bemoaned the day before me.
The sun poured out the freshness of a new morning, yet I felt less than fresh. Scripture floated into my mind, “Come to me all you who are weary, I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
Yet, in spite of the rest, He offers me, I sleep on my keyboard and then bathe in culpability when I put my feet up to take a break.
I associate rest with something shameful rather than a blessing.
Curious, the Maker of Heaven and Earth produced this body for survival in an unconscious state. Eyes closed, breath steady, mind in a playground of non-sense, unprovoked folly, escapism, and suppressed considerations. Occasionally, darkness creeps in and a chase ensues or great terrors play out, still, He fashioned me for slumber.
Society demands I work harder, invest more and rest less. He waits for me. The blessing of rest in His gentle hand, and instead of wrapping up in His majestic creation of slumber, mind, and body – I analyze, supervise, and contrive.
I am weary. And I am most weary of the weariness. Self-induced standards of being most effective, crowning production, and the bragging rites of minimal repose.
If He were here now, if I stood before my Lord and He presented me with a lovely package; a medium sized box wrapped in shiny paper, an enormous bow, glitter, and streamers, would I decline the offering?
Would I boastfully retort, “I don’t need that from you.”
Oh, my stars! The mere thought slays me. Yet, I refuse Him… often.
But not today. Today, I closed the heavy swathes of my room. With lotioned flesh and a soaking wet head, I slipped back into the pajamas I had tossed aside before my shower. I hung the “DO NOT DISTURB” sign on the outside doorknob. A mischievous smile crept across my face. I poured another cup of coffee and snickered when I uncovered two tiny cups of liquid creamer underneath the packets of dehydrated Coffee-mate powder. How had I missed those?
A gift of rest. I might write. I might watch the I Love Lucy marathon on channel 18. I might nap. A package of crackers and bottled water sit on my nightstand. Today, I accept the gift of rest. This is a rare occasion, still, I wonder, how many days I neglected the gift? A load of laundry dominates the opportunity to cuddle on the couch with my babies. Running to the grocery store in lieu of a lunch date with my husband, or staying up another hour to catch up on that which will never actually ever be fully settled.
Coffee with a friend; bubble baths or just a moment alone on the closet floor begging His help maneuvering homework and dinner – so that I might sleep just an hour before the baby wakes.
A good Father, Creator of the gift of rest. And more than this rare occasion where I celebrate loneliness, I know I will need the rest He offers in times of worry, heartache, and grief. What will I say then? Lord, I pray I remember you stand in wait with the majesty of rest. Rest only you can bring me.
Thank you for that, my Lord. Thank you.
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Jami Amerine is a wife, and mother to anywhere from 6-8 children. Jami and her husband Justin are active foster parents and advocates for foster care and adoption. Jami’s Sacred Ground Sticky Floors is fun, inspirational, and filled with utter lunacy with a dash of hope. Jami holds a degree in Family and Consumer Sciences (yes Home Ec.) and can cook you just about anything, but don’t ask her to sew. She also holds a Masters Degree in Education, Counseling, and Human Development. Her blog includes topics on marriage, children, babies, toddlers, learning disabilities, tweens, teens, college kids, adoption, foster care, Jesus, homeschooling, unschooling, dieting, not dieting, dieting again, chronic illness, stupid people, food allergies, and all things real life. You can find her blog at Sacred Ground Sticky Floors, follow her onFacebook or Twitter.
God abandoned me in my time of need. He left his daughter in the desert of nothingness. The blessing-keeper forgot his role. The one who was supposed to come through, didn’t.
I am not afraid to admit for a moment, I whined like this – like a baby.
I didn’t get what I wanted.
Waaa!!!! I cried, until I found my daddy and found consolation in his arms. As he held me in love, I could start to grab hold of the truth: not getting could be God’s bigger gift. It highlights the barriers blocking contentment.
It was a lightbulb, sight-in-the-darkness, there-is-power-in-the-pain kind of moment.
Surely, when we “get” – all is good. We are happy, joy-filled and thankful, but, what happens when we don’t get the good gifts we expect?
Here, we start to see what our heart is really after.
Our spiritual thought life surfaces.
We can take notice of our sprint (or crawl) time to prayer.
Do we throw a temper tantrum
or do we temper our hearts in the truth of God?
The desire, idols and pursuits of our heart shine in this place. We can see them for what they are.
What do you see when God doesn’t give to you?
Our tantrums highlight the great heart work will complete.
He sees our pain and it certainly doesn’t pains him too.
But, he allows it because he is working something even more magnificent, more fantastic and more glory-filled than our initial want.
Many times, he doesn’t settle for the immediate gift, because he is working an entire heart makeover.
“Not getting” teaches us how to put this (often seemingly impossible) verse into action:
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. (Phil. 4:12)
God’s best gift is learning how to keep our dedication
as steady as an arrow
and our feelings as sure as a bullet,
despite the size of the enemy coming against.
Then we can find true joy and peace.
This gift lasts forever.
It doesn’t rust and end up in the attic months later.
When we find God, we find stability. Not stability due to a circumstantial blessing, hope, dream or wish, but steady footing in the knowledge he is bringing us to a better place.
I pray, today, that I can see all that I don’t get as an indicator of all that I already have. I pray that I will take notice of my heart condition to see how it may need a course-redirect. I ask God not to always give me what I want in order that I can receive the better gift, which is him. The power is not in the getting, but in the beholding.
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“Hey when ya get a chance today, find one of those big empty boxes in the garage and have the kids start getting stuff to give away.”
A text from my hubby on his way to work one morning just before Christmas last year. How sweet. How noble. What a great Dad. None of those, however, crossed my mind. Instead, I kinda went, “Ugggggghhhhhh.”
Doesn’t he know we all still have the flu? Doesn’t he know I have disinfecting to do? Doesn’t he know the kids all have attitudes?
But in the spirit of Christmas I turned off the television, grabbed a box, and sat our little army all in a row.
“It’s time to clean out the toy box.”
They know the drill. We do it bi-annually. Once before birthdays. Once before Christmas. Clear out the clutter before we add more. I know what stays and what goes before we begin. Toys on top we play with on a regular basis. Those stay. Toys on the bottom – those are the forgotten, broken or replaced toys the kids are willing to part with.
Except for last year ….
Micah Sean, my rough and tough 3rd born with a hard head and a soft heart, sat on the rug with his little legs crossed. One of the first toys out of the box – Dad the Moose. Micah named him. Micah loves his Daddy and loves his moose, so it seemed appropriate.
Dad the Moose sleeps tucked under Micah’s arm. Dad the Moose travels with us wherever we go. Dad the Moose is Micah’s buddy, maybe even his best buddy.
So when I pulled the moose out of the box and said, “Give or keep,” I already knew the answer. “Keep!” Micah yelped and squeezed Dad the Moose close. We continued with several more “keeps.” Then,
“Wait,” Micah said with urgency. “I want to give Dad the Moose.”
And he tossed him into the box. I looked at Micah. Did he really mean it? Does he know what he’s doing? He’ll miss that moose! A few minutes later Micah changed his mind and dug the moose back out of the box. Three times this happened. Moose in. Moose out. Moose in. Moose out.
I watched this little boy struggle. Something inside him said give. Give away your moose. But something inside him also ached. Dad the Moose belonged to Micah. He chose that moose. He named him. He loved him.
And then he did it. Once and for all, he gave his moose away.
“Mom, someone else can have Dad the Moose.”
Elijah, our resident animal lover and stuffed animal collector, warned, “Micah, another boy or girl may not call him Dad.”
For fear of Micah’s tender heart breaking any more than it already had I jumped in … “But that’s okay. Because when we give, we also trust, that whoever gets our gift will love it as much as we did.”
I put my hand on Micah’s little leg and through tears I praised him for his selfless act. I told him about the boys and girls who won’t have much on Christmas and how happy they will be to receive this special gift.
Then I watched … as one gift of love spilled over.
“Okay, Mom, I’ll give Louie.”
Louie, Elijah’s stuffed owl. Just a few weeks earlier, Elijah walked all over the store, carefully considering every option before he picked Louie. He chose him. He named him. He loved him.
“I’ll give away pythor too, Mom.” And here came Jonah with his prize python. Jonah didn’t even like his siblings to play with this stuffed animal. Pythor morphed into a jump rope or super hero sling. His scales were blue, Jonah’s favorite color. Jonah chose him. He named him. He loved him.
But Louie and Pythor joined Dad the Moose in the box.
All of a sudden this box seemed so cold. How could these gifts given from such a tender place land in a torn, dirty, plain, brown box? They mean too much. They don’t belong here …….
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 (KJV)
For God so loved the world, he gave. He gave his Son.
He chose Him. He named Him. He loved Him.
Did He really mean it? Does He know what He’s doing?
God knew some would not call him by his Name. Some would not call him Savior. King. Emmanuel. But still, God gave.
He means too much. He doesn’t belong here. How could His gift land in such a torn, dirty, plain world?
But Jesus did.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 (ESV)
Our box filled up pretty quick after that.
Turns out once you give away what you hold dear, everything else is easy to release.
“And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:8 (ESV)
God gave it all, because He loves you and me. May that truth grace your heart in a new way today. And by His grace, may this greatest gift of love ever conceived spill out of your life into the hearts that surround you.
I left my job as a television news reporter to join my husband, Luke, on our adventure in the National Football League. 10 years, 12 moves, 6 kids, 5 teams, and 4 states later, it’s safe to say the road has been anything but predictable. Our dreams today don’t look quite like they did ten years ago, but I’ve learned along the way dreams do come true … even if you’re not a Disney World. I blog about a football wife’s life at www.katymccown.com, and I’d love for you to visit me!