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  • Writer's pictureLinda Thomson

Holiday Greetings & Gatherings

Holiday Greetings and Gatherings! I think we’re long overdue for a visit, please find a cozy spot to sit so we can take a moment and catch up, there’s lots to share and a drawing-winner too!

I want to fill you in on the move my husband and I made after living in the same house with our three children for 26 years! Now those “children” are quite grownup, married and establishing their own homes. I won't be giving you tips on moving and such (there are so many places you can find out all those helpful things!) but I wanted to share with you how the Lord guided us step by step, giving us confidence in the new direction we were taking. It's a move we started praying about several years ago and as we waited it was comforting to see Him lead us. He continued to reassure us over the months prior to our move and in particular with this devotion I want to share with you. It provided encouragement for us just a few days before we locked the door behind us and drove away. It is by one of my favorite Christian women, Elisabeth Elliott, who was asked to step down from her daily radio broadcast.

She shares, “I asked the Lord what He wanted me to do next. No blueprint of the future was offered, but the following poem (alas, I have not been able to locate the author) has wonderfully calmed and fortified me. I am simply to trust, taking one day at a time from my Heavenly Father's quieting word: "As thou goest step by step, I will open up the way before thee." Proverbs 4:12, Hebrew translation.

Child of love, fear not the unknown morrow,

Dread not the new demand life makes of thee;

Thy ignorance doth hold no cause for sorrow

Since what thou knowest not is known to Me.

Thou canst not see today the hidden meaning

Of My command, but thou the light shalt gain;

Walk on in faith, upon My promise leaning,

And as thou goest all shall be made plain.

One step thou seest-then go forward boldly,

One step is far enough for faith to see;

Take that, and thy next duty shall be told thee,

For step by step thy Lord is leading thee.

Stand not in fear, thy adversaries counting,

Dare every peril, save to disobey;

Thou shalt march on, all obstacles surmounting,

For I, the Strong, will open the way.

Wherefore go gladly to the task assigned thee,

Having My promise, needing nothing more

Than just to know, where'er the future find thee,

In all thy journeyings, I go before."

Do you need a quieting word today? Are any of you in the season of asking the Lord what He wants you to do next? I know many of us need calming and fortifying. I’m praying this poem speaks to you as it did me.

Fixed and Focused

Something I do monthly and want to encourage you to do is to select a Bible verse to keep me fixed and focused on the Lord and His promises. With all the boxes and chaos and uncertainties of the last couple of months (blessing and sweet surprises too) I’d like to share this month’s verse with you, Philippians 4:6 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” I encourage you to rest in His capable and trustworthy hands in whatever is “moving” you today or has shaken your normally sound foundation. I would also like to recommend a great book, Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World by Max Lucado.

Sanity Saver Tip for Christmas

As the holidays quickly approach I want to give you some Sanity Saver Tips for Christmas! I have a crazy exciting plan I started a couple years ago as I was desperate for time to invest in family and friends and time to help others without “worrying” about what needed to get done on my list for the day. More than that I knew I was missing opportunities the Lord had given me. I was disappointed in rushed conversations and I noticed my attitude in the parking lot and the lines at the stores. If you’re like me I know you want to have time to build your homes, care for them, and protect the hearts in your homes instead of what can often happen when we are torn in different directions by our own good intentions and others who place demands on us, others who have no boundaries of their own.

My crazy exciting plan is that I intentionally and purposefully finish my Christmas shopping, wrapping, mailing all of that and mailing out our cards too by December 1st!! There, I said it! Do you want to join me? Let me tell you a little bit about the back drop of this decision. A few years ago I was walking through a department store towards the 3rd week in December when I realized I was being robbed! Robbed of the very thing I cherished most, my peace! Not only that without even a pause I had handed over my joy to another crook, over-commitment! And to top it off amongst my own good plans the last looter was of my own making, my lack of priorities! Something had to change.

In I Corinthians 14:33 we learn “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace…” With that verse tucked in my heart I began to ask Him to direct my priorities. Out of that prayer came this December 1 commitment! That’s when this plan started to develop and each year I see the good fruit of that decision. Now don’t get me wrong on December 1 I don’t plop down on my sofa and drink hot cocoa all month, last minute things come up, somethings get overlooked (it happens) but now I have margin in my schedule to do the things the Lord brings into my day. And this is when it gets really exciting as each morning in my devotions, my prayer is to be available for His work. That I would have eyes to see and ears to hear the work He has for me. You will be delighted to see what develops as you place your day into His very capable hands! I look forward to the joyous surprises He has in store for YOU! Please share with all of us in a comment the exciting things that come your way!!

Now immediately you know to accomplish this you’re probably going to have to cut that list of yours in half, which might be necessary. But really my point is once you set a goal like this it gives you clarity to what must be done next. So let’s get started. As you set this in motion, planning for it and preparing for this deadline, commit it to prayer and remember what Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” As you seek Him He promises to direct you.

As you have pause in your day doors for ministry will open. There will be hands to be held, hugs to be given, prayers to be prayed, time to talk and tears to share. A young momma might need you or an older friend who would like to just sit over coffee finishing her thoughts being grateful for your patience and company. Opportunities will come to share the true meaning of Christ's birth and the wonderful peace and hope a relationship with the Lord brings, but my dear friends that isn't done with a quick text, email or a photo posted, it’s not about i-time it’s about eye-time. It takes time connecting, laying a foundation, caring for people and you know all of these are gifts from the heart of a woman who has margin in her day and wants to share His love. When we have margin in our life there’s room to watch God’s plan unfold.

Last year how could we know a few days before Christmas that my sister-in-law would slip on ice and hit her head, hard. She had internal bleeding and we rushed to the hospital as soon as we found out. Now we would have done that no matter how long our list for the day was and so would all of you. But as I look back on it I saw how the Lord was orchestrating our time. Time spent just being there for my brother as he waited... arriving at the hospital just in time to pray with my sister-in-law before she went in for some tests. Time...

So if you've not even started planning for Christmas like myself (I mean really, I'm still unpacking boxes!) This will take some thought and clarity. And let me assure you that each year it will get easier. But before we shift into high gear let’s begin with a PAUSE! Remember what Psalm 46:10 tells us, “Be still and know that I am God.” So let’s first PAUSE! Here’s what I mean:

P – Pause, stop and spend time with the Savior of the season.

A – Abandon your schedule for His.

U- Understand His deep and unfailing love for YOU!

S – Sing! Worship Him, “For unto us a Savior is born.”

E – Enjoy!

Now let’s get to it! Here's 4 TIPS on getting there:

1. Our quiet time with the Lord is more important than ever. Make it a priority first as it affects all that we do and are as woman of God. We need His strength to shine for Him during this season of celebrating His birth.

2. Get a binder to gather everything in one place, I have a red one (makes it easy to find the next year!) and just having your notes and scribbles all in one place will help. Some of you may prefer an online task manager, whatever works best for you there are many to select from. My daughter-in-law uses the best gift exchange organizer for our family, it’s called Draw Names. It is the simplest Secret Santa Generator online. It’s fast, fun and free! No one will draw their own name, it remembers who you had so next year you don’t draw the same name again. We have loved it! 3. Jot down the non-negotiables, but consider with each of those commitments you may not need to stay the entire time. For example the office Christmas Party that you’re expected to go to, drop by with a stunning appetizer you picked up before hand at the market, no need to make it yourself, visit and then leave, guard your time. Remember to bring a simple hostess thank you gift, as you leave a little early you will be remembered for your kindness. Also it might not be the year to send out that family photo card or be in charge of the school play or class party... Teach your children to have wise boundaries as well it will be one of the best life tools you’ll give them. As the month progresses you will see the wisdom in your choices.

4. The one thing that has, in the past, derailed some of my good plans and challenged my schedule has been getting my Christmas gifts out that need mailing. This always ends up taking longer than planned. Of course these days we have Amazon Prime and gift cards that can be emailed directly to the recipient but each year there will always be people that we mail their gifts to them. As I wrap and prepare to get these gifts off it is one of my favorite things to do but then there’s the post office… the lines… the people… the babies crying… it makes me want to cry! Not only that if we delay this errand this now is going to cost bundles to get these gifts to their destination on time. Well, I have a solution for this that will save you time and money! Do you know one of the calmest days at the post office is the day before Thanksgiving? We all know why because everyone is getting that ole turkey ready!! (Now I am super blessed as my husband takes over on Thanksgiving Day and makes the entire meal!! But even that I plan ahead for, so everything is ready for him to jump in).

If it needs mailing and it's Christmas related that's when I mail all my gifts out, the day before Thanksgiving! That takes some planning but the rewards of calm and quiet later is worth it! Also, most all of my packages go out in mailing bubble pouches not boxes, once you try this you'll be hooked, it's so much easier. I stock up on different sizes and then it’s easy to get them packed. I've wasted so much time in the past looking for the right size box and mailing tape to seal it. And we all know how much it costs to overnight something when you’ve waited too long to send out those gifts that need mailing. Getting them out early saves in so many ways. Make sure to mark them “Don’t Open Until Christmas”.

In "A Home To Keep," I want to show you a cute Autumn banner you can make with flashcards, it's as easy as can be. I'll also show you one of my favorite gifts to give when you want to let someone know you’re thinking of them, you'll love how simple it is. It’s a gift that you can do for Christmas as well.

Well here we go for our drawing-winner! Every one of you that left a comment on my website or came to my official Website Launch Party got your name written on a cute little golden spoon and it was put in the draw for our “Spoon Full of Sugar” Give-away… they are clicking together as I smooch them around… and… here… comes… one! The winner is YOU, dear CATHERINE C.! CONGRATULATIONS AND ENJOY, CATHERINE!! Leave your comments and be sure to tell me your favorite way to save time during the holidays and some of your favorite family traditions to be entered to win my next “Spoon Full of Sugar” Giveaway, for starters it will include a wonderful Christmas Devotion and Peppermint Coffee with chocolate and peppermint dust sprinkles!!!

XOXOXO Lovingly Linda

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