Christmas Gift Guide for the Christian Woman

Christmas Gift Guide for the Christian Woman

It's the time of year again... Gift-giving season. 

I don't know about you, but trying to come up with thoughtful, personalized gifts is hard. This year I decided to take notes throughout the year so I wouldn't have to stress last minute, and I figured maybe you could use it too.

Without further ado, here is the list:

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Hey Mom- You’re Doing Great (Even if you don’t think so)

Hey Mom- You’re Doing Great (Even if you don’t think so)

Hey, Mom!

Yes, you. 

The one with the kids. The one with the backpack, purse, and grocery bag all in tow!

I’m talking to you.

You are rockin’ this parenting thing. You really look like you got it all figured out. You are taking home the prize today!

The way you wipe noses while taking that phone call.

How you stir supper at the stove with one hand while consoling the little one on your hip

And you always arrive just in time for the scheduled parent-teacher conferences

That birthday party? Boy, you are a master planner!

You drive that minivan like a BOSS… you get everyone buckled in record time.

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Making Sense of the Ups and Downs of Life

Making Sense of the Ups and Downs of Life

Do you know my friend's Joy and Sadness? Allow me to introduce them. They’re pretty famous. Their resume is quite impressive.

They are lead roles in Disney Pixar’s Inside Out.

Rob Base features them in the chorus of his famous hip-hop song “Joy and Pain.” 

Dr. Seuss references them in his quote “Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.”

And most importantly, the Bible verifies them as significant times in life in Ecclesiastes 3:4—a time to cry and a time to laugh; a time to grieve and a time to dance.  

What do you notice about Joy and Sadness in these scenarios? Do you see a pattern? I notice that they’re together, appearing side by side. 

So I’ve come to think of them as the greatest underrated dynamic duo of all time!

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Finding Your Worth in God- Not This World

Finding Your Worth in God- Not This World

What do you see when you look in the mirror?

You may immediately see brown hair and green eyes, freckles and a chickenpox scar. You might see ears that stick out just a little too much for your liking. Maybe you see fine lines and wrinkles that tell your age. 

Do you see kindness? Do you see love? Do patience and acceptance stare back at you? Are you looking at forgiveness and grace? Is there the reflection of joy and contentment?

Are you accompanied by anger and resentment? Is hatred present? Is bitterness there?

It’s quite possible you see all of this. On any given day. Depending on your mood. Depending on your circumstance.

But what do you think God sees?

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Created in God’s Image- but what does that mean?

Created in God’s Image- but what does that mean?

What do you see when you look in the mirror?

You may immediately see brown hair and green eyes, freckles and a chickenpox scar. You might see ears that stick out just a little too much for your liking. Maybe you see fine lines and wrinkles that tell your age. 

Do you see kindness? Do you see love? Do patience and acceptance stare back at you? Are you looking at forgiveness and grace? Is there the reflection of joy and contentment?

Are you accompanied by anger and resentment? Is hatred present? Is bitterness there?

It’s quite possible you see all of this. On any given day. Depending on your mood. Depending on your circumstance.

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Overcoming Domestic Violence: Finding Victory

Overcoming Domestic Violence: Finding Victory

When we were together for part 2 of this series, I left you with this final thought: For you are a victor, not a victim. And it's time to get your life back. Here's how.  

Things You Can Do As You're Transitioning Into Victory 

Accept the help of family and friends 

You cannot do this on your own, so stop trying to (1 Corinthians 12:25-26).

Be aware that the enemy will try to isolate you. Don't let him (1 Peter 5:8).

If church members offer to feed you and your family, let them (Matthew 25:35-45).

When your friends offer to come by for a visit, welcome them (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).

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8 Ways to Get Involved in a New Church

8 Ways to Get Involved in a New Church

You know that feeling you get when you walk into the room for the first time, and you don’t know anyone.  I’m talking, one hundred percent, flying solo, a sea of faces,  not one is familiar, and your stomach feels like it’s about to fall out of your body. 

I don’t care whether you are an extrovert, introvert, or ambivert (a combo of both), outgoing or shy, almost everybody will have some feelings of anxiety or even panic. 

If you have found yourself in a new church (new community, new school, new anything), you are familiar with this feeling.  When faced with this pit in your stomach, what did you do? Did you run out of the room, never to return, or did you push through those uncomfortable feelings?  

The thought of starting at a new church can be a daunting task.  Change can be hard.  Change can also be a beautiful thing.  What wonderful opportunities and connections are waiting for you? What does God have in store?

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Domestic Violence Part 2: What You Can Do

Domestic Violence Part 2: What You Can Do

You realize what he's doing is wrong. 

You know this happens to other women.

You acknowledge that it's getting worse, not better.

So what are you going to do about it?

stand there while he pushes you or threatens to hit you again

believe the lies he speaks over you

allow him to defile your body, your mind, your spirit

No way. Not today. Not ever again. 

You see, my beautiful friend, there are some conditions you need to understand and accept about your situation.

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Divine Appointments- How God uses interruptions to change our lives

Divine Appointments- How God uses interruptions to change our lives

What if interruptions in our lives are divine appointments rather than devilish schemes? 

Originally, I wasn’t planning to go on the cruise.

Friends were all going to celebrate accomplishments in their business, but I felt like I needed to spend time at home getting my ducks in a row.  About two weeks before the cruise, two women had to cancel, which left two non-refundable spots available. 

It’s a sign!  

A friend and I decided to jump onboard (pun intended) and got tickets to Florida to set sail with the rest of our friends.  

We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9

My preference would have been to fly down the day before, since flight delays could mean missing the cruise’s departure; however, the cheapest tickets available put us in town with JUST enough time to set sail!  Two flights, checked baggage arrival, and the shuttle ride to the ship had to coordinate smoothly to make this happen.  My mom was busy at home praying that everything would be on schedule and that I would make the call time.

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Domestic Violence: You Aren't Alone

Domestic Violence: You Aren't Alone

What is black and blue and red all over? 

No. It's not the local tabloid. It's domestic violence, and it's happening in a home near you.

Maybe it's your home.

If it is, you're not alone.

And it's not your fault.

No matter what he says or how he makes you feel. It's not your fault.

Perhaps you're questioning if this is happening to you now.

As you ponder the words domestic violence, you think of those NBC Dateline segments and conclude your boyfriend isn't that bad. You think of Jennifer Lopez in Enough and decide your husband isn't that dangerous.

But is he?

 

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Can Heartbreak Lead to a Life-Changing Love?

Can Heartbreak  Lead to a Life-Changing Love?

If you had to choose a silver-screen love story, which would be your favorite?

·       the fiercely assertive Scarlet and Rhett in Gone with the Wind

·       the adventures of summer vacation with Baby and Johnny in Dirty Dancing

·       Dorothy and Jerry with their “You complete me” and “You had me at hello” from Jerry Maguire

·       the passionately committed Noah and Allie in The Notebook

If you’re like me, you grew up admiring these great loves and fantasized about your own, convinced you’d find the one, have a fairy tale wedding, and live happily ever after. Just like in the movies. Right? Of course!

Well, if you’re like me, you know it didn’t quite go that way. You probably chose poorly between an Ashley and a Rhett. You realized your summer fling should have been just that—a summer romance, not a life-time commitment. And those one-liners were momentary promises never meant to be kept.   

I fell in love for the first time at 14. No I didn’t. I had my first crush at 14. He was the hottest thing in junior high, and I was stoked to call him my boyfriend. His name was Raymond. Our young love lasted through the spring of our freshman year then he moved. Boy, was I heartbroken. Not really. I found a new crush my sophomore year.

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How to Feel Comfortable While Shopping For A New Church

How to Feel Comfortable While Shopping For A New Church

Have you ever been “church shopping?”

Chances are if you have moved and tried looking for a new church, you have gone shopping for a church. For many, finding a new church home becomes a daunting and intimidating journey.

You would think that as an Army brat, growing up moving every two years and always meeting new people, I would be the best greeter at my church.  If you have checked out the Tribe’s bio page, Abby even titled me as “connector,” yet one area I feel I fail at time and time again is greeting and introducing myself to new people at our church.

After moving to Virginia, I started attending church with my husband where his family have been members for over 70 years.  I enjoyed the pastor’s sermons and made myself at home.  It felt like a good fit and one that didn’t take much effort.  I am forever grateful for this since I sort of “married into it,” which was definitely divine intervention!

For a girl who didn’t grow up around family, it was exciting to feel I like I knew everyone at our church.  Of course, I really didn’t know everyone, but it felt like I did and that allowed me to coast through the next 6 years without having to introduce myself to too many people.  As the years went on, I eased into my new role of being a “long time member” and started assuming I either knew everyone or they knew me, or at least we recognized each other enough to give a warm smile!

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How Sweet the Rescue of the Lord: when you need all the help you can get

How Sweet the Rescue of the Lord: when you need all the help you can get

Your way. How’s that working for you?

Has your situation changed?

You’ve tried everything, right?

  • Spilled your guts on Facebook, looking for sympathy, a like, or a thumbs up.
  • Marched into Books-A-Million and purchased the latest number-one selling self-help book.
  •  Drank yourself into a stupor to escape your current reality.
  •  Popped a pill or two just to feel momentary happiness or relief from the crazy.
  •  Hid in your house and slept on the couch to avoid the day.
  •  Resorted to casual sexual encounters, mistaking them for love or validation.
  •  Rejected those closest to you, convinced they wouldn’t understand. 
  • Decided to be part of the crowd so you’d belong.

Didn’t work, did it?

I know. It’s okay. None of these worked for me either.

For years I stumbled through life doing things my way. I made lists. I checked the calendar. I talked it out. I rationalized. I theorized. I read books. I weighed options. I considered pros and cons. I basically relied on me. I’m smart. Surely I’m capable.

While I in no way discredit the value of these actions, I readily admit there was one thing missing.

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The Battle of Negative Self-Talk: how I wore my swimsuit in public and enjoyed it

The Battle of Negative Self-Talk: how I wore my swimsuit in public and enjoyed it

Summer is almost over.

Can you believe it? 

How many of you read the blog posts in the beginning of the summer about embracing your body, putting your swimsuit on, and enjoying life (like this one)? 

Like many of my friends, I read those and thought “YES. THIS.”   I truly appreciate these women encouraging other women to put on our swimsuits and not let our insecurities get in the way of living life!  I know it helped remind me that making memories and getting in the picture matters more than how I look!

So, if that was you too, how is it going for you? 

If you are anything like me, you WANT to embrace your body and set a good example for your kids, regardless of what shape you are in, but the Struggle. Is. Real. 

Does reading an encouraging blog post result in discarding those old negative tapes playing in your head so that you are now suddenly feeling confident to DO all of those things without insecurities stopping you?  For some of you, yes, and that rocks!  A simple mind shift and you are ready to roll.  

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When the Doctor Says Down Syndrome

When the Doctor Says Down Syndrome

About 8 years ago my husband and I were in Walmart, and we passed a young couple with the cutest little girl in their cart. Her blonde pigtails bobbed as she looked up at me with her blue, almond shaped eyes. I could tell as soon as she looked at me that she had Down syndrome. 

The first thoughts that went through my head were, “Oh my goodness, she is so cute,” and then my mind went to, “I hope we don’t ever have a kid with Down syndrome."

My son, Jackson, was born probably 2 years after I saw that little girl. 

He was 3 months old when we found out he had Down syndrome, and it changed our world. (You can read a little bit more about that here.) 

I don’t think I would be making assumptions if I said that people have probably had the same thoughts I had 8 years ago when they see us with Jackson. 

I've seen people look at us with pity. 

I’ve seen people look at us as the wheels were turning in their heads, probably trying to figure out what I did wrong while I was pregnant that we had a child born with special needs. Wondering what sins we committed to be given a disabled child. 

I am sure that people asked themselves something similar to what Jesus’ disciples asked him, "who sinned, this child or his parents, that he was born with Down syndrome?”

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How to Resist Temptation

How to Resist Temptation

Temptation: The Beautiful Fraud

When I was young and heard stories of the devil, I saw him as depicted in all the childhood books. He was hideously ugly and donned a red suit with horns and a pitchfork. 

It wasn’t until I was older that I realized that the devil comes in the prettiest packages that appeal to all of our earthly desires.

Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight? 

I have. And it was captivating. The moment was unexpected, unforgettable. He took my hand and pulled me in. Our bodies kept time with the music—swaying, turning, spinning. The room lit just enough to follow with my eyes the structure of his face and the contour of his frame. The smell of sweet seduction surrounded us.  His whispers enticing me, appealing to every sensation. Promises of gratification and fulfillment, alluring and blinding.  We danced. I thought the song would never end.  

Do you know this man I speak of? Have you met him?  Maybe you are with him now.

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Why Does God Allow Pain?

Why Does God Allow Pain?

"But the day of my trial would come,
Like an earthquake to my beliefs.
And the doubts I could not outrun,
Brought me to my knees.

And I thought I was done,
And I almost gave up.
When my whole world was crashing down.
Now I can't shake this truth,
After all I've been through somehow,
Lord, I believe in You more now"
- More Now, Carrollton

We have all been through something that has made us feel that way. We have all experienced something in life that has shaken our faith completely and made us fall to our knees asking why. 

When I was probably 4 months pregnant, I remember standing in the shower and being overwhelmed with the need to pray for my son to not have Down syndrome. It just hit me out of the blue. “God, please. Please don’t let this baby have Down syndrome.” 

Then I remember I felt like that sounded pretty rude, so I quickly followed it up with, “Not that there’s anything wrong with people who have Down syndrome, they’re wonderful people, but just….please don’t let my baby have Down syndrome.” I didn’t pray for my baby to not have Spina Bifida, Cerebral Palsy, or any other kind of genetic disorder. Down syndrome was the only thing that even crossed my mind. I’m a worrier, so I just brushed it off as me dwelling and tried to go along my merry way.

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