Christian Living

Peace Is Here

I find it ironic that Christmas is simultaneously one of the busiest seasons of the year and the time when we celebrate peace. I’m not sure if we can celebrate peace when we’re running from one thing to the next.

Merriam-Webster defines peace as 1) “freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions” and 2) “harmony in personal relations.” A lack of hostility between governments or freedom from civil disturbance are other definitions in their list. Those first two though–those are the ones we’re all looking for.

Can you imagine what that’s like? Take a minute and imagine you were sprinkled with fairy dust and from this moment forward you don’t have fear or anxiety or stress. Imagine what your life would be like. You have harmony in your relationships. What would change? What would be the same?

Peace in the middle of a world gone crazy is a gift beyond measure. On our podcast, we often talk about how stress shuts off our reasoning brain and creative problem solving selves. Stress begets stress–the more stressed you are, the less well your circumstances go and then more stressed you get.

It’s easy to think that peace will come when we get our circumstances right. If we just had more time, less things on our to-do lists, fewer activities on our schedule, it would translate into less stress, right? I know I lived in that place for a long time. I was so convinced that peace would follow if I could just get ahead. I worked harder and harder, trying to attain peace. Like a donkey chasing a carrot, I really thought I could get peace if I worked more.

However, that’s not how peace comes. At Christmas, we celebrate the fact the Jesus, the Prince of Peace (Is. 9:6-7), came down to earth and became a human man so that He could bring peace between us and God. His blood is what allows us to move from being God’s enemy to His beloved child. Peace came because God injected peace into a broken world.

In Gal. 5:22-23, Paul talks about the fruit of the Spirit and peace is in that list. In other words, peace is impossible apart from the Holy Spirit. We can run on our hamster wheels until the cows come home but we’re never going to get anywhere.

I also love Col. 3:15 which says, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.” We see there and in Is. 9:6-7 that peace is connected to submission to God’s rule. This is why we’re passionate about reminding people (including ourselves) that we need to align with the way God’s designed us to live. There is so much peace in just doing what God calls us to do when He tells us to do it. My life used to be full of chaos. Chaos in my relationships. Chaos in my living space. Chaos in my schedule. Stress was my middle name for a long time ūüôā But as I’ve learned the CSC’s (being calm, surrendered, centered, connected, and complete), I’ve been able to align with God’s design, to surrender and be filled with the Holy Spirit. Obviously, I need reminded daily that that’s the road to success (and that’s a huge part of why we do our podcast!), but there is so much more peace in my life than there used to be.

So as we’re celebrating holidays, rather than getting swept away into the busy-ness, let’s hang onto God’s rule. Peace is possible even in the middle of crazy circumstances. We don’t have to wait to find it–peace is now.

Blog_ Peace Is Here

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Christian Living

Why you’re a miracle

It was my birthday this week. I like my birthday about as much as I like Christmas, which, for those of you who have started reading since January, is down into the negative numbers. For the vast majority of my life, it has been a reminder of all the ways I’m not good enough. And since it tends to ramp up my PTSD, I end up being sleep-deprived and panic-attacked while I’m trying to remind myself what’s true and what’s a lie.

But you know what? The odds of any one of us existing are astronomical. There’s a pretty awesome info graphic based on Dr. Ali Binazir’s calculations I would like to show you. Note: Obviously, you can quibble over his calculations but the principle is the same.

https://i2.wp.com/i.imgur.com/Dub8k.png

If that’s not enough to blow your mind, you can also consider the fact that each cell was lovingly orchestrated by God. Psalm 139:13-15 says, “For you created my inmost being;¬†you knit me together in my mother‚Äôs womb.¬†I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,¬†I know that full well.¬†My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.”

Chuck Missler talks about how God is the force signaling to our wee bodies when it’s time to start working on hands and feet, when it’s time to make the liver and the heart. The way babies develop in utero is fearful and wonderful! It doesn’t make sense but they go from one cell to a whole baby. It’s a miracle.

I keep a quote by Mel Robbins in my planner: “There will always be someone who can’t see your worth–don’t let it be you.” It’s hard when the people who matter to us can’t see our worth. And I think birthdays can be a big reminder of that to a lot of people, especially if anyone in your family holds that view. It’s like a once a year day to come along and poke a sore spot.

If your birthday is such a day for you, I’d like to tell you right now: you are a miracle. You are amazing. The odds against you existing as yourself right now are so slim that it is God’s hand that’s lovingly formed you, God’s hand that’s kept your parents together long enough to conceive you. And even if one (or both) of them can’t see your worth, it doesn’t matter. Yes, it sucks. Yes, it’s hard and painful. But it doesn’t change who you are. It doesn’t change that you are God’s miracle, created exactly the way He wanted you to be in this post-Fall world.

You are a miracle. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Christian Living

Good Gifts

Christmas is this week. As you all know, I’m not really a fan. *Gasp.* I know, I know–it’s sacrilegious to not love Christmas. I’m working on it.

There are a lot of really awesome things about Christmas but somehow, they get lost in the stress of the season (at least for me). I’m incredibly thankful for my family, and I actually really love spending time with my husband and my kids. We love and like each other.

One of the big stressors though for me is gift-giving. I’m not even sure why. I think it has to do with this idea that you have to buy a gift that makes the other person happy–that’s a lot of pressure. It’s hard to find something someone is guaranteed to love, something that’s perfect for that person. I realize we all say that it’s the thought that counts but too many times I’ve watched someone open a gift and try to hide their disappointment. This year, as I’ve been doing tapping (EFT) on the subject of Christmas, I realized anew that it really is the love behind the gift that is important–regardless of how people react. I buy gifts because I care about people.

Anyway, something else I’ve been tapping through is my view of money. As you know, I like to view myself as God’s trust fund child. That means God takes care of our money needs when they come up. I’ve been realizing that too often we view money as the thing that makes us happy instead of focusing on the love behind it. How would that change your view of money if you saw it as an expression of God’s love and provision instead of a thing to be acquired in its own right? I know it’s definitely been changing how I think about money.

I’ve been reading several entrepreneurial books lately and it’s so interesting to me that when you study different “rich person” ways of thinking (e.g., Rich Dad, Poor Dad or some of Dave Ramsey’s stuff) are more in line with how the Bible talks about money. For example, thinking that money is just a thing instead of a measure of how well you’re doing in life. Or valuing time more than money. Or treating money as a measure of what’s going on in your heart rather than valuable in itself.

I love in James where it says that God gives good gifts. In her study on James, Beth Moore talks about how those good gifts are perfect for us. God’s gifts are individualized to us–not because He’s winning our affections or because He’s trying to make us value the gift itself, but because He loves us.

So this week, as we’re¬†opening gifts and/or trying to balance our end of year finances, let’s be reminded that God’s gifts are expressions of His love rather than valuing the gifts over the Giver.

 

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Merry Christmas to the Grinches

Christmas is “the most wonderful time of the year,” right? Not for some people. I myself am what some would term a “grinch” around this time of year. Not because I hate Christmas–although I’m not a fan of how it’s shoved down your throat everywhere you go: “You must love Christmas! You must love Christmas!” (as Lois puts it in “Seasons Greedings”)

The sad reality is that Christmas is just a hard time of year for some people. Maybe you lost someone or are estranged from your family. Maybe you miss your kids. Maybe you “had a bad experience” around this time of year. Christmas tends to bring up lots of memories–some that are really good and some that are really bad. It’s just an intense time of year, and people who hate Christmas have good reasons to do so.

My holiday season starts the week of Thanksgiving and runs through New Year’s. I typically have panic attacks and nightmares that run through the entire thing. Christmas day I have multiple panic attacks. I can’t open presents without hyperventilating (thank the good Lord I have a husband and kids who can open them for me!). I have been thrilled this year because I’ve only had two panic attacks so far the whole holiday season and two nights of nightmares–huge, huge, huge progress!

Point is: I don’t like it for a reason. And, in my experience, everyone else who’s a so-called “grinch” is the same way.

But Christmas isn’t about all the trappings–as the who’s say. It actually isn’t even about the “spirit of giving” or about “love”–at least not love in the abstract. It’s a holiday where we celebrate Jesus’ birth because of what He came to do for us. As Jesus says when He quotes Isaiah 61: 1-3, “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, ¬†and provide for those who grieve in Zion– to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” Jesus falls short of talking about the day of vengeance of our God, because that day hasn’t arrived yet, however, the rest is applicable in the now (and the not yet).

So the reality is that Christmas isn’t for the healthy or the happy. “It’s not the healthy who need a doctor” ((Mark 2:17). Christmas is for the brokenhearted. Christmas is for the captives, for the prisoners. Christmas is for those who mourn and grieve. Christmas is for those who feel like their life is comprised of ashes or mourning or despair, or all three. Christmas is about Jesus coming down and becoming a baby to transform suffering from the inside out.

If today is one of those days you suffer through because you really can’t avoid it, Christmas is for you.

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Christmas Musings

I’ve been thinking that I ought to write some sort of Christmas post–if for no other reason than to get my heart refocused. Unfortunately, I feel more Scrooge-like than normal this year . . . health challenges, family issues, and loss have left me feeling more like crawling into a small cave to hibernate for a few months rather than celebrate. Plus, realistically can anyone really focus on “the true meaning of Christmas” amidst the commerciality of the season? How can you “be still” when there’s a to-do list about a mile long and more time commitments than normal?

Fortunately (for me) my husband got a traffic ticket on his way home from work two days ago (yes, he gave me permission to share). He got home and I tried to console him. Two hours later the cop called and told him to rip up the ticket and “Merry Christmas.” I’ve never heard of that happening. I’ve gotten off with my share of warnings (got pulled over the day before AND the day after my wedding). But never¬†legitimately¬†received a ticket and then had the officer cancel it later on.

It got me meditating on God’s grace. I admit my knee-jerk reaction is to focus on the grace of God displayed in Jesus’ death around Easter and to focus on surviving the holidays around Christmas. However, yesterday I found myself lost in wonder at God’s grace displayed in Jesus’ life. The grace of God embodied in human form . . . getting cold and dirty and tired and helpless as a babe for the first time. God’s grace displayed in Jesus’ perfectly fulfilling the Law.

I’ve been re-editing a section [of my book] on guilt and shame the past couple days. I’m awed that Jesus proved Himself a perfect sacrifice, but also that He performed righteous deeds so that I might have His righteous record. It’s so amazing seeing His lavish grace displayed in Jesus’ 33 years of righteous deeds in the face of Adam’s one act of rebellion that began the Fall.

I really like the idea of my year revolving around God’s grace embodied in Jesus’ birth (probably in September) and His death (Passover). Hopefully, this year I can hang onto this small glimpse of grace even in the midst of all the hubbub.

How do you stay focused on Christ in the midst of commercial Christmas?