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

A Message for Friends

How long has it been since we’ve told our friends how much they mean to us? Since we’ve told them how much they enrich our lives?

Why not tell them today? Below is a message from my heart to the hearts of those who have touched my life with friendship in a variety of ways.

If you feel the same way about your friends, why not forward this post to them and tell them this is how you feel about them too? I’m sure it will mean the world to them.

May the following bless you all!

Friend,

Spending time with you
Refreshes and refuels me,
Joining you in laughter
Helps heal whatever’s hurting.
When facing challenges together
I’m inspired to hidden strength,
My life is better because of you
For you, my friend, make a difference.

“Your love has given me great joy and encouragement . . .” Philemon 1:7 NIV

*How can you be a friend who makes a difference?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out today. 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.

*Flickr photo by ainavidal, Creative Commons License

Fun Pre-Ceremony Idea for the Bride and Groom

Mother of the Bride, one of the many fun parts of your job as MOB is to pass along good wedding-planning ideas to your daughter, but it carries an extra thrill when it’s a fun idea especially for her and her groom. And today’s idea—which I saw on the Martha Stewart Weddings website—is sure to be a hit with both of them.

If your happy couple has opted to not see each other on wedding day until the ceremony (or first look photos), suggest they have fun texting teaser photos to each other in the hours leading up to their first in-person moments together. This will be a playful way for them to feel more connected, build anticipation, or to simply ease whatever nerves they may be experiencing. It will also add to all the special memories of their big day.

So go ahead, MOB—add to your daughter’s and future son-in-law’s joy by passing along this super fun pre-ceremony idea. They will be so glad you did!

*You might also like to read Coordinate Colorful Bride’s Shoes with Groom’s Socks , Custom Sneakers for the Bride (and Groom!), Wedding Reception Game for the Bride and Groom, Wedding Photo Idea: The Corner Shot, and Fun Gift Idea From Bride to Groom: Snazzy Socks!

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

*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.)

*Flickr photo by goingslo, Creative Commons License

7 Sentence-Prayers Inviting God’s Power—For Living a Life of Joy

December is already a month of great joy as we celebrate Christmas, but I’d like to further focus on joy in this month’s installment of my blog series which features sentence prayers that invite God’s power into our lives.

I pray that these brief prayers will not only increase the joy you’ll already be experiencing this month, but that they will make a difference in your life every month as you make them your own. May these prayers be a special blessing to you, my friends!

7 Sentence-Prayers Inviting God’s Power—For Living a Life of Joy

  1. Father, since you are my ultimate and unfailing source of joy, help me be faithful  to praise you and daily spend time with you, knowing that these things will bless not only you but will also give rise to joy in my heart. (Psalm 71:23; Habakkuk 3:18; Acts 2:28)
  2. Lord, fill me with your Holy Spirit each and every day and bless my life with the fruit of joy that will be a natural by-product of the Holy Spirit’s filling. (Acts 13:52; Galatians 5:22)
  3. Lord, help me to be a blessing to you and a blessing to others today, and as I find opportunity to do that, joy is certain to bubble up in my life as well. (Psalm 147:11; Acts 20:35)
  4. Father, cause me each day to hunger and thirst for your Holy Word, and may my reading and study of it bless me with a deep and abiding joy. (Psalm 119:16; Jeremiah 15:16)
  5. Lord, inspire and strengthen me to daily choose joy, keeping my eyes on you instead of the circumstances surrounding me. (Psalm 118:24 KJV; Habakkuk 3:17-18; Philippians 4:4)
  6. Lord, help me each day to be more mindful of things both large and small that give me joy and help me remember to thank you for them. (James 1:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:18)
  7. Father, give me wisdom to daily do something that gives me joy, something that will keep my spirit refreshed and my energy recharged. (Ecclesiastes 5:19 and 8:15; 1 Timothy 6:17)

As our lives always shine with the joy of the Lord, may others be drawn to him!

“Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’” Psalm 126:2 NIV

*Which of the prayers do you most need to incorporate into your life right now?

*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.

*Flicker photo by Pamela P. Stroud, Creative Commons License