Monthly Archives: December 2015

Spoiler Alert – A look into my gift giving for this holiday season

I know….Christmas can’t be all about me, and I am working to make it something different, but I have a few things to really admit about my gift giving habits.


Note: There is NOT one single gift wrapped and under this tree yet…3 more days to catch up

  1.  I REALLY do NOT have a problem wearing a load of patience when I go out shopping for gifts.  It’s my mantra…I will drive slowly, give other people their space, will plan on parking a mile from the store, will smile at those as I pass by, and will say thank you (by name) to all the cashiers, old and new,  who don’t know all the ins and outs of the registers they are working.
  2. I know that others really enjoy the shopping and the giving and the looks on others’ faces when they see them open their gifts….they look forward with anticipation and pleasure
  3. I fully appreciate that my husband is generally a master shopper and giver…can take less than 2 days and just gets it done…and for the most part does a PERFECT job
  4. I enjoy the decorations I see and the music I hear when I am out looking for gifts BUT ……
  5. Giving gifts raises my anxiety levels….and I have a family history of heart problems, so this can’t be a good thing, right???
  6. Despite paying attention to people and spending quality time in conversation throughout the year, I really do not chose well….this has been a real embarrassment throughout the years…..just ask my husband and my father-in-law about robes and iced tea makers.  Great intentions gone VERY BAD
  7. I can walk around a store 5-6 times, have a cart or armload of products after 30-40 minutes and then spend 5 minutes to quickly put them all back, leaving the store with nothing to show (except for perhaps something I found for myself, I have to admit…please don’t shake your head in shame)

I honestly contemplated this today as I passed by a couple of stores and simple drove on, not even wanting to go in because of the crowds driving around the parking lot.  Why do I have such issues?  It makes my holiday maddening and almost unenjoyable.

I reflected on the giving of gifts and how they are ultimately a reminder of the gift God gave to us through His perfect Son.  How difficult it must have been to offer up His only Son, for us…people who are greatly undeserving. (and I think my job is hard)

I work to justify my lack of interest in the gift giving….my subconscious tells me my efforts will fail so why am I trying.  I see how so many people are either so overly generous, how can I compete; or they give a small token that ends up so sentimental and special and fits the received party perfectly. I don’t feel I have that talent.

So, all this to say a brief warning to you out there who may receive something from me…or did not because I didn’t dare to try…I do think of you often.  I work to send smiles….I look for words to encourage you….I deliver a message with written symbols instead of a glossy bow that is tied up intricately…I will sit across from you at lunch or dinner or coffee and do my best to listen to all that is going on with your life…..I know it’s not the same, but it’s MY way of GIVING

Oh, and don’t even get me started with the wrapping……

What are your gift giving habits and tips? 


Just Journaling the Journey

After years of teaching, I know there are ebbs and flows.  There are weeks where there is smooth sailing and then there comes the torrential downpour, enormous waves, and behemoth stacks of unending tasks.

To this latter time, I give thought today

For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. – II Peter 2:19

Today I am enslaved to the waves.

They have overwhelmed me.

They have discouraged me.

They have brought me to doubt my abilities in Christ.

They have depressed me.

So, Lord I pray with a humble heart

1I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
2My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.

3He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

5The LORD is your keeper;
the LORD is your shade on your right hand.
6The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

7The LORD will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8The LORD will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.

Psalm 121

May I approach today with a flexible spirit.

May I lift my eyes to the one who knows the beginning from the end.

May I trust in His protection and not my view of the storm.


In what ways can you change your view of the storms you may be facing today?

Transportation decisions….and a lesson on Discipleship

So, I felt like I was caught between the 1800s and 2015 this morning.  Unfortunately for my husband, he has had to deal with 2 car issues this week.  Unfortunately for me, one of those was a flat tire this morning.  This meant that getting to church was going to pose a challenge – I could walk like they did years ago, or I could take advantage of the technological age and stream my church service online.  I chose the latter 🙂

Glad I didn’t just give up and find something else to do around the house or continue grading papers.  I stopped to spend some time with my church in non-conventional way.  Pastor Bruce Garner has spent the last two weeks stepping away from his expository methods and has been led to discuss the topic of discipleship.  While not new to this topic, I always love how the Holy Spirit uses the preaching and teaching of Crosspoint Church  to approach topics I have learned my whole life.  There’s usually new life breathed into topics that sometimes can become repetitive.  Just wanted to spend a few moments here to review for myself…and share with anyone who may need some of these great reminders.

  • Discipling, as demonstrated by Christ and the apostle Paul, goes beyond the gospel message; it deals with life to life engagement
  • Discipleship relationships require us to get close enough to care and requires intentional interaction and leadership
  • Just hoping something sticks isn’t good enough
  • The outcome is that believers become mature in Christ

I appreciated the visuals that my pastor reminded us of, as found in Paul’s epistle to the Thessalonians.  That disciple makers are likened unto nursing mothers and admonishing fathers.  This teaches me that

  • I am required to be inconvenienced at times.  Babies don’t just get fed according to a schedule all the time.  There are times when babies need immediate attention and care.  When there’s a need, a mother looks for it to be met.  When the lives of those I seek to disciple falls apart, they should know that I am there.
  • I need to be willing to encourage others to grow in Christ. We will both grow in maturity since there is a necessity to be an example of growth as well.
  • I can reach these needs through the strength that God so graciously provides (Colossians 1:29)

The value I took away from today’s message is summed up in these two thoughts.  “Both the message and the method of Jesus are sacred….  Participating in the life of others shouldn’t just be characterized by convenience but rather by mutual commitment. “

Take this time to reflect as I once again evaluate where I am in my relationship with Christ.  He calls me to dedicate myself to “make disciples” (Matthew 28:18-20).  It’s not just a request…it’s an imperative, a command.  Where are we in commitment to this task?  It shouldn’t take as much consideration as I have given.  I should act.  It’s just that simple.

Find the whole message here. (the message should post in a day or two, but sermon 1 from last week is posted already – it’s a good start)

Seasons – Saturday’s Post for Five Minute Friday

We recognize seasons with celebration. Summer means flip flops and beach trips. Fall means Halloween is approaching with decorations and fall food. Spring is a time to plant new little seeds that we can visually and aromatically enjoy. Winter brings celebration of family and friends and the gift of Christ’s birth. While in California the visual differences between the changing seasons may not be as strikingly obvious as they are in other places, the mental changes definitely have their time. I just read the other day that Americans gain 8-10 pounds during the holidays. The inclination to bake and drink hot cocoa and gather with people around food definitely can play a toll on our healthy summer salad living.

We also go through “seasons of life,” as many refer to them. There may be days, weeks, months, or even years where life flows smoothly by. Jobs are a plenty, we enjoy our kids, we approach life with an overwhelming positive approach and take time to show gratitude. But. Then. Life. Turns. Difficult circumstances come and it’s a little more difficult to dedicate time to ministry or just see friends on a regular basis. A big project comes up at work, deterring us from making quality time for people or even to take care of ourselves.

I can easily become  grinch this time of year as I wrap up that last couple of weeks of school, working to get all my students motivated to stay the course.  Decorating and finding time to find gifts can stress me out….just look at the parking lots filled with cars (ain’t nobody got time for that).

Whatever it may be, I pray that I can remember the things that matter during this season of the year and of my life.  A husband who works hard. A daughter who strives to do well in school. A mother-in-law going through chemo. A dad overcoming heart issues. Family….they matter.  Students.  They matter. Some with deep concerns during the season they are in.  Friends. They matter.  Church. Inviting others to the hope and peace of Christ. It matters.