The Constant of Christmas Plus A Blogging Break

The holiday season can be a difficult time for many. Heartaches hurt more, burdens feel heavier, and changes can be more challenging to accept. Loneliness looms larger and disappointment runs deeper. At times, Christmas joy can be hard to find. And of course, this year we have the added challenge of the ongoing pandemic impacting our lives—and our joy—as well.

Where do you find your Christmas joy? If you search for it in people—family and friends—those can change or disappoint. If in new possessions or extravagant treats, those can be stripped away or give only short-term fulfillment. If in well-laid plans for the perfect Christmas, a winter storm or unexpected illness can topple those in an instant.

Only in the manger can we find unchanging, unfailing Christmas joy. Sure, we can and do experience holiday joy with our families and friends, with our activities and traditions, with music and feasting. But the deep abiding joy of Christmas—and of our lives—that no circumstance or human failing can touch can only be found in the constant of Christmas. Only in Jesus.

Let’s look to the manger this holiday season. Let’s let Jesus anchor our Christmas joy. For he is a rock like no other. He is the constant of Christmas.

“‘And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” Matthew 28:20 NIV

*What is most challenging about your Christmas season this year? How can you let Jesus bring you joy in the midst of it?

*Friends, I’ll be taking a blogging break until the first of the year. I pray that God will bless you with a joy-filled Christmas season and a hopeful and happy New Year. See you in 2021!

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early February. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by jeffweeseCreative Commons License

Guest RJ Thesman: The Invisible Women of Genesis Excerpt

We have only her name, but we know she was a daughter of Ishmael. Esau married her to appease his mother, Rebekah. But what were some of Esau’s mental demons, and how did Mahalath steer her husband toward hope? This is a portion of her story.

I made it my goal to help Esau succeed — to leave his past in the dust of the desert and find joy in the treasures around us.

The children we bore together soon crowded the camp, so Esau and his men moved us to the heights of Mount Seir. From there we watched the sun rise in spectacular texture, heard the bleating of our sheep  and watched our boys cavort among the rocks.

Before she died, Rebekah did relent toward Esau. “You have given me armfuls of children to gladden my heart. I am proud of you, my son.”

Still, the melancholy hung on Esau like moss clings to rocks during spring rains. Every day, I met Esau for an early morning prayer. “What are you grateful for today, my husband?” I forced him to think positive thoughts and focus on what was good in our lives.

He quickly learned how to play our game. “The sunlight in the threads of your hair, the abundant harvest of lands and animals, clear and sweet water from the stream.”

Gradually, happier and gentler thoughts replaced Esau’s nightmares. He awoke with a smile, and I often heard him whistle as he hurried off to check on the flocks.

Then came a message that threatened to change everything. Jacob was advancing, with hordes of oxen, sheep, and a great crowd of pilgrims — presumably, his family.

The old patterns recurred as harsh words spilled from my husband’s lips. “What does he want now, Mahalath? This is the brother who stole so much from me. Will he also steal my goods, take my wives and children?”

It took all my mental strength to devise cunning ways to turn Esau back to hope. “Perhaps God has sent him with a message of cheer. He wants your opinion on land in the area, so he can settle with his people. Jacob will see what a great man you are and how prosperous you have become. He will be the one who feels jealous this time. He will be sorry for the sins of the past.”

All that night, I stayed awake and prayed for Esau. I could feel his trepidation and spoke gratitudes to the Creator God. Surely the Almighty would keep my husband safe and thus secure the livelihood of us all.

The next morning, we watched as the two brothers — both mighty men — rode toward one another and then dismounted. A few seconds passed while my heart thundered. Then, a miracle. The brothers advanced toward each other and embraced. The years of emotional struggle fell away and only a bright future remained.

*If this excerpt from RJ Thesman‘s The Invisible Women of Genesis encouraged you, find the book on Amazon and be blessed by the rest of it!

 

 

 

With her 17th book, RJ Thesman digs deeply into the book of Genesis to discover the invisible women hidden in scripture. Writing coach, editor and author — Thesman is also a trained biblical counselor and a Stephen minister. She writes from the heartland of Kansas where she lives with her adult son and a spoiled cat. Other books Thesman has written for the Christmas market include The Women of Christmas and Holiday Tips for Caregivers. Connect with RJ Thesman on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and her YouTube Channel: RJ Thesman – Coaching for Writers.

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out yesterday. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Top image from Pixabay

Mother of the Bride Pep Talk: Encouragement for You

All mothers of the bride need some encouragement from time to time—and never more so than now. Some of you are helping your daughters navigate the disappointment and stresses of a postponed wedding during the current COVID-19 crisis while others of you are weathering the frustrations of delays in your wedding-planning timetable. Nothing like making a challenging job even more challenging, huh?

So Mother of the Bride, here’s an acrostic designed especially for you. Think of it if you’d like as pep talk—my gift of encouragement to you during this season of uncertainty. Hope it refreshes you today!

Mother of the Bride Pep Talk

Moments to treasure forever are unfolding all around you. Soak up each one.
Offer your daughter your continual support. She’ll always remember your love.
Thank God for adding a son to your family. What a gift and blessing!
Helpers greatly ease your stress and most are happy to help. Call on several.
Each step on your MOB journey can hold a blessing. Look for them.
Rejoice that your daughter has found the love of her life. Welcome him with open arms.

O
ther people will follow your lead. Let it be gracious and loving.
Fun is important too. Enjoy plenty with your family and friends.

Tell your husband or best friend about your current stresses. You need a listening ear.
Have a to-do list. Let it take the pressure off and help you stay organized.
Easy is good. Keep things simple wherever you can.

Believe the best about yourself and others. Nurture your positive attitude.
Remember to rest and refresh yourself. This will help you be at your best.
Imagine the wonderful celebration your hard work is helping make possible. What joy!
Daughters are one of the best gifts God gives. Celebrate and cherish yours!
Every blessing of wedding day will forever bring you joy. Start thanking God today!

Blessings to you and yours, MOB!

*You might also like to read Wisdom and Encouragement for the Mother of the Bride, Spirit and Soul Refreshment for the Mother of the Bride, and 9 Quotes to Encourage and Help You on Your Mother of the Bride Journey

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*The current issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out last week. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*Flickr photo by Artem Beliaikin, Creative Commons License

Portal of Hope: Beauty and Blessing Await

It’s not too uncommon to see rays of light shining from behind a dark cloud on overcast days, reminding us that indeed the sun is still there and will eventually break through. Such a sight offers us the extra encouragement we need to hang on until the dreary weather—or current unhappy life circumstance—passes. Those rays of light impart hope, don’t they?

The more unusual sight happens when hope pierces the clouds and forms a window, a portal to the blue skies beyond. We see not just a whisper of light but instead a crystal clear view of the beauty awaiting us. We see the azure glory behind the clouds.

And even though the window view may be small, it’s still an invitation to come and see, to look through the portal and take hope in what lies ahead—to put our trust in God and wait for his perfect timing in giving the promised blessing.

So when the skies of our lives hang low with dark clouds or when overcast days color our existence, let’s remember to look for the portal of hope. All it takes is a small window view to revive our hope for a better tomorrow. For as blue skies eventually break through the clouds, so also blessing comes to those who put their hope in the Lord.

“. . . I am the LORD; those who hope in me will not be disappointed.” Isaiah 49:23 NIV

*For what situation do you need to look for the portal of hope and trust God?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out Feb. 4th. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*My photo

Christmas Poem 2018: The Marvelous Mix of Christmas

Yes, Virginia, I did write another Christmas poem.

Some of you may be wondering how long I can keep this tradition up—and sometimes I do too. I started writing original Christmas poems for my Christmas cards way back in 1982 and have not missed a year since. It hasn’t always been easy (in fact, writing poetry is pretty challenging), but God has always been faithful each year to give me a message to share with my friends and family. And I am ever so grateful.

I’ll be taking a blogging break as we all focus on the holidays the next few weeks. I hope that you have a wonderful holiday season with your loved ones and have a chance to get refocused and recharged for the new year. I will see you back here then.

May you experience “The Marvelous Mix of Christmas” this year in every way, my friends, and may this year’s poem bless you in a special way!

    The Marvelous Mix of Christmas

Christmas is a marvelous mix
A medley of tradition and faith,
A beautiful blend of heaven and earth
A merry and holy holiday.

A marvelous mix of magic
Of music in the air,
Of snowflakes, angels, and twinkling lights
Of sweet surprises shared.

A marvelous mix of memories
From childhood through present day,
Starring friends and family dear
Ever in our hearts they’ll stay.

A marvelous mix of ministry
Of reaching out to others,
Giving and serving with good will to all,
All become sisters and brothers.

Christmas—a marvelous mix of miracles
Begun by a Babe and his star,
Still ripples down through the ages
Bringing Light and Life from afar.

“In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:4-5 NIV

*How are you experiencing the marvelous mix of Christmas this season?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early February. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by s_mestdagh, Creative Commons License