The Good, the Bad and the Stretching.

“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.

ONLY GOD.

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.

Father God,

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

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.

The Greatest Gift Giver

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?

Continue reading “The Greatest Gift Giver”

Happy Hygge Christmas!




December.

HURRY!  HUSTLE!  Let’s go!!  Tension! Stress!

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 Ridenour

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.

Finding Cheer in a Covid Year!

I think we can all identify with the need to have a little cheer this year. 

How can we be cheerful despite our circumstances? It’s easy to dwell on the negatives. They are all around us and blasted on the media constantly.

I think the answer is to focus on what we can do, not on what we can’t do or on what we can’t control. 

We can….

Continue reading “Finding Cheer in a Covid Year!”

Matters of the Heart

“Just follow your heart.”

SAY WHAT?

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9 ESV

I don’t know about you, but my heart could lead me to do some not so nice things if I allow it.

And the statement, “Just Follow Your Heart.” ?

Let me just say, “Not a good idea!”

If everyone followed their hearts, can you imagine what the future would look like? It would be a very dark place, to say the least.

Continue reading “Matters of the Heart”

5 Ways to Make Your Marriage Last

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.

Continue reading “5 Ways to Make Your Marriage Last”

Wait for it. . .

Wait.

A word we would rather not hear in our fast-paced, over-scheduled lives. In our internet-driven world, we have instant access to constant news and information. With the touch of a button or the tap of an app, our wait time has decreased to seconds.

What comes to mind when you hear the word “wait?” Does the word “wait” give you a good feeling or make you uneasy? Do you become excited anticipating a positive experience, or do you feel dread due to the fear of what might or might not happen?

Right now, we are all living through an exceptionally long season of waiting. Waiting for this virus to disappear. Waiting for our next event to be canceled. Waiting for our plans to work out. Waiting to see what will happen next. Waiting for the election season to be over. Waiting for positive change, peace, and unity in our country. Waiting for things to go back to “normal”, whatever that means. 

Continue reading “Wait for it. . .”

Finding God in the chaos

Being a stay-at-home mother is to constantly be in demand. 

Depending on which stage you are currently in, quiet time can be elusive.  It is easy to be overwhelmed, which can become yet another source of “mom guilt”.  You wanted these kids, so why do you need a break from them??

They always need something. They lost the remote (again). They spilled something on your freshly mopped floor. Just when you sit down someone needs their bottom wiped. 

This is motherhood.

And it is chaotic. 

We are in challenging times.  We exist in our own bubble, most of us with limited or no support – and now with the pandemic, it has become worse.  We are more connected virtually, yet more isolated than ever.  We escape to social media only to see everyone else’s highlight reel – the seemingly perfect families, first days of school and moms that do it all.  It makes us feel more inferior. 

Time with God is no different. 

Continue reading “Finding God in the chaos”