They are running together; like a flock of birds. Their manes are blowing. I can see the muscles in their calves move with amazing strength, and the thunder beneath their hooves can be heard a mile away. How majestic they seem!
Until… One of them seems even more spectacular and comes to a sudden stop.
I look in amazement at the beauty set in front of me. She looks like a horse; yet she’s different.
She has a glow about her and has a horn pointing up to the glory of the Lord. She is a unicorn!
I was excited to see Queen Esther at Sight and Sound! I love the smell of the roasted almonds, seeing the rows of seats, hearing the music and seeing the stage ready for the curtains to be drawn.
Hadassah was a young Jewish girl who absolutely loved the Lord. She studied God’s word with her uncle Mordecai after both her parents died. She was beautiful, full of life, and had so much joy because she knew the Lord. Then, one day she was stolen away by the Palestinians where it would be horrific if she let them know she was a Jew. So, instead she became Esther who would eventually outshine all of the other maidens simply by being who she was. She shined differently because of the Lord our God.
I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which isChrist himself. In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
I am telling you this so no one will deceive you with well-crafted arguments.
And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.
For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So, you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority. Colossians 2:2-4,6-10
Have you ever been deceived by a false teaching? Maybe led down a path that seemed good, that appeared to be biblical? I know I have! Early in my walk with Christ, my husband and I were introduced to a teacher who spoke of healings. Christian friends whom we have much respect for and who were leaders in our church, introduced us to this teacher. We were soaking in this teaching when our first son was born. We noticed some developmental delays that soon led us to an autism diagnosis. You can imagine the emotional rollercoaster we were on, especially since the teaching we were soaking in was telling us that he was not being “healed” because we lacked faith. We just were not doing it right. We lacked faith. WE were not enough.
Girl… Life. Is. Hard. Life is messy. Life sometimes takes turns and twists and sucks the joy right out of us. How rude!
Life plainly gives us the most sour of lemons at times. Life can chew us up and spit us out and leave us feeling like we are in a million pieces with no instructions on how to pick ourselves up and put ourselves back together again. (Humpty Dumpty has no idea how good he had it to have all the king’s horses and all the king’s men to help him!)
There we are… BROKEN!
Wait a cotton-pickin’ minute…
Girl, you know I am not gonna just leave us sittin’ there all broken. Nope! That ain’t my style!
“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” – Isaiah 43:19
I understand 2020 has stretched us – but if we’re honest, hasn’t every year?
I’m not taking away from the toll that this year has taken on many. Each year brings about unchartered waters & a continued opportunity to put our trust in the Only One who can truly sustain us.
In 2020, I’ve seen miracles happen literally right before our eyes. A man who doctors said had 3 months left to live is still here, over a year later – and his cancer is SHRINKING. A baby with heart failure is alive with HIS OWN HEART beating in his chest. I’ve seen beautiful couples begin their new life as one. I’ve seen the gift of new life with precious babies born this year.
We have the choice of a clean slate every moment of every day. Not just because we’re starting out a new year. But because of our God’s faithfulness. He exchanges old for new. The Lord’s grace is sufficient every day. Every hour. Every minute. I know many people love the idea of a “new you, new year” – and I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that. But what if we viewed every day with the same drive and desire that we have at the crest of a new year?
I’m not taking away from the trials and difficulties of 2020. But I believe if we look just beyond that – beyond what we’ve endured – there is so much on the other side. The resiliency, the determination, the creativity, the compassion that have risen up in so many this year in a new way.
We can look at 2020 and see all the “bad” that it’s brought us. We can make statements when an inconvenience happens to us, stating, “It’s 2020, of course this would happen.” But dear friends, we are NOT victims.
Romans 8:37 says, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” It doesn’t say we’ll just barely get by. The verse says we are MORE than conquerors through Him.
What if we looked at 2020 with the lens of 1 Chronicles 16:12, which says, “Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced.”
I don’t know about you, but there are some things that 2020 have taught me that I don’t want to forget.
I realized I was living 100mph, and had stopped finding joy in certain things because I was too busy. Along with 100mph living, I neglected time to allow my body to rest and recover, even in the midst of ongoing health issues. I would take out my frustrations on my husband, while simultaneously trying to “people please” because I was too prideful to admit that I was overwhelmed and needed help. I have learned SO much about my body and what it looks like to treat it as a temple of the Holy Spirit. I’ve grown deeper roots in areas that I didn’t even know were shallow.
One of my favorite songs in this season is called “The Story I’ll Tell” by Naomi Raine. If you haven’t heard it, give it a listen. What an anthem of truths of who our God is and how He carries us through every season. It’s so important to declare His truths over your life – no matter what your season looks like.
One of the many attributes I love about our kind and merciful Father is that nothing surprises Him. He’s never caught off guard. He knew your situation long ago, and He made a way. It’s yours for the taking.
Let’s claim and walk in His promises as we continue into this new year.
Thank You for Your faithful hand in our lives. I am so grateful that we have never lived an unloved moment because of You. I pray for anyone reading this that You would intentionally and lovingly minister to their hearts in the way that only You can. I pray for peace and perseverance as we continue to press on. Thank you for being our strength in times of weakness. Our encouragement when we lose hope. Our praise for heaviness that You exchange, our mourning for joy and bring beauty from ashes. We’ve seen You do it before and we know You’ll do it again. We praise You for who You are and what You’re doing in each one of our lives. You don’t waste a thing. We love You, and give You all the praise and glory in all things.
In Your holy name we pray, Amen.
Katrina Sipe lives in Chambersburg, PA and married her husband Corbin on May 2, 2020. She loves to hike, kayak and be outside in nature. Coffee is her love language and she really enjoys cooking and baking gluten-free foods. She is on staff at Grand Point Church, Shippensburg and loves seeing the way the Lord is moving in the local communities.
Christmas is the season for so many wonderful traditions and fun activities. It is the best time of year to give and share gifts with others. We present gifts to friends and family like the Wise Men presented their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to Our Lord Jesus.
Each year, Christmas shoppers search for the perfect gift for each person on their Christmas list. Whether it is shopping in a store or browsing online, we know the time is ticking away as December 25 quickly draws closer.
Think back to a time when you received a special gift. What do you remember about this unique gift? Why did you like it and how did it make you feel? Do you remember who gave you the gift? Do you still have it?
Wait… Isn’t Christmas supposed to be a time of peace? A time to be calm?
“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord with all of you.” 2 Thessalonians 3:16
I was anything but filled with peace and calm during the holiday season. There were presents to buy and wrap, decorations to hang and the Christmas tree had to be perfect, cookies to be baked, and so on and so on. I almost had a nervous breakdown trying to get it all just PERFECT!
Then… it happened.
I found Hygge. (pronounced HOO-GUH) Hygge is a Danish word and there really is not a definition for it. It’s a lifestyle. Danish people are some of the happiest people on earth. I wanted to be just like them. I started minimalism that same year but when it came to Christmas, I was all over the place.
Stressing instead of finding my quiet time.
Tensions building over getting all the décor together.
Unhappiness set in.
The holiday season was stealing my joy.
HOW DARE IT!
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Colossians 4:2
So, I decided that I needed a change right there in the middle of decorating and baking! That year I had a Happy Hygge Christmas and I’ve continued it right into the new year and into every holiday and every year after.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2
How does one have a Happy Hygge Christmas? (or lifestyle all through the year)
Hygge is all about living a cozy, peaceful lifestyle.
Six ways to hygge-fy (I made that word up!) your life!
1. Ambiance Turn off the electric lights! (and the television) Use candlelight and fairy lights. Christmas tree lights make a beautiful glow all on their own. Light up that fireplace! You can’t get a better cozier ambiance than that! (Insert soft Christmas or easy listening tunes here.)
2. DIY Decor Hygge is all about bringing the outdoors in. Bundle up the family and take a walk through the woods. Gather up branches, pinecones and pine and anything else nature has to offer you along your hike. Create DIY decor. Hygge is also about spending time with your family and friends. I can’t think of a better way to spend time together than gathering free things from nature and creating and saving money while doing so!
3. Bakers Gonna Bake Bake, Bake, and Bake some more! Whether you try some new recipes or stick to the old originals like chocolate chip cookies. Baking and indulging in baked treats is a hygge must! I know what you’re thinking; but what about ALL THOSE carbs? How about trying your baking hand at some low-fat treats? Baked goods are also a great Christmas gift!
4. Warm Drinks It doesn’t matter what it is. What matters is that it makes you feel all warm and cozy on the inside and it pairs great with all those baked treats! It’s a great time to try new flavors. I found vanilla chai tea and it is a must-have flavor in my home now. Not a coffee or tea drinker? How about hot cocoa or hot cider? I love to put mulling spices and a bottle of apple wine in my crockpot and let it simmer all day. Oh my hygge-heavens!!
5. Socialize not Social Media Put down the phones and tablets. Step away from that laptop. Hygge is all about connecting with loved ones. Play board games, craft together, or even bake together. Grab your partner or a good book and wrap up in a cozy blanket and warm fuzzy socks. Don’t forget your warm drink and cuddle up near the fireplace!
6. That’s a wrap! Think about your decor. Simple, natural, minimalized. Follow this theme while wrapping your presents. Buy a roll or two of plain paper. I usually use wrapping paper that resembles a plain brown bag, white or black. Then I have an evening of decorating each gift with sprigs of pine and twine. I’ve even stenciled the receiver’s name. The possibilities are endless!
Cheers! (lifting my piping hot cup of vanilla chai tea) Here is to you finding a happy hygge Christmas, New Year and lifestyle!
Deb suggests taking a long, relaxed look at this LINK to get in the Christmas hygge mood.
Deb Ridenour has been married to her teenage sweetheart for almost 33 years. They have three children they are so very proud of and they have five grands that they are even more proud of! Deb is a doggie mom to Gunner and it is no secret that he is her favorite child (he even has a tag to prove it!)
She is proud to be a daughter of the one true King, and she says it is NOT only because that makes her a princess! Deb feels that God has truly blessed her with a passion to create and design. She has just begun a business – Sparrow and Grace Designs. She seeks to honor and glorify His name in all she does and in all she creates because she recognizes that her talents come from the Lord.
Our world seems so upside down right now. It seems that every few minutes I’m getting a prayer request. Covid, sickness, heart attacks, families in distress, you name it… I’ve been asked to pray for it in the past few weeks.
I’ve been asked, “What’s the secret to a happy, healthy, long lasting marriage?”
On a recent anniversary outing with my husband as we hiked through the woods, I was pondering this. As we effortlessly walked alternating side by side walking or walking one in front of the other the parallels started to overcome me.
Perhaps that is part of the secret – taking turns leading as well as moments of side by side interaction.