turn all the way

It’s February and it’s the month of love and it’s the longest-shortest month of the year and I want to write about love but I realize maybe I don’t know anything about love and what can I learn in only a few long-short weeks?

Really, what is love? really… love is….

and I think 1 Corinthians 13.

But I don’t know what it’s talking about and I can’t recite the verses and I may just be the opposite of love and I can’t take it so I don’t look . I don’t read . I don’t memorize . I don’t recite . How in the world – the months – these weeks – for this special day can I  live out these scriptures?

I must turn.

I must turn all the way.

I’ve gotta turn all the way away from my sin all the way to the Savior and re.pent.

Repent… repentance isn’t only turning away from sin but it’s turning to the Savior.

I’ve gotta remember…

I’ve got to remember He preached “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Remember He called “Follow me…”

Remember the disciples immediately left their nets, their boats, their work, their father, and followed him (These grown men left everything).

Remember He commands “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness…”

Remember He answers “The greatest command is this: love God with all of who you are and love your neighbors as yourself….”

Remember He gives Himself so that they and you and me could have everything.

This is the way . the truth . the life . of love.

Jesus loves you and me this I know.

He loves you and me so much in this way that He gives His life so that you and me sinners dead can have life abundant and eternal.

Maybe that’s when I can know love…. when I seek first the Kingdom of God and I follow Him,  I turn all the way to Him, maybe then the Way the Truth and the Life leads me into His love?

Maybe this is when I love Him with my all and I am able to love others the way I love myself…

Maybe love is wiping off shelves and wiping away tears and putting everything back in its place. Maybe love is hot coffee and sweet chocolate and strong words and sweet compassion. Maybe love is looking into his eyes; hugging her neck; choosing to turn all the way so that you can hold that person’s hand and help them into the kingdom of Heaven with you, into abundant and eternal life together.

Love is this. Love is not pink and purple construction paper and red and white candies. I might like those things but they are not love.

Love is this. Love is not pretty and polite and polished and put together but ugly and painful and messy and unraveled and falling to pieces, and being made whole again by Love Himself.

Love is this. Love is not sitting on a throne beside Him but coming under the Cross with Him. Love is the death burial and resurrection of Christ for you and Love is taking up your Cross and following Him.

Love is not a set aside day for a dinner date but all personal preferences set aside so that my minutes, days, weeks, months, years and life prefer someone else besides me, so that my life turns you and her and every person I hug all the way around to Jesus.

Jesus loves you this I know

and Jesus is love this I know

for the Bible tells me so.

When we are little and sinful and silly and weak

He is lovely and Sovereign and Good and strong

and Jesus is Love.

And maybe this year I will lean in a little more and turn all the way around to Love and hug your neck in a way that turns you all the way around in love to Him… and maybe we will be transformed by Love that casts out fear and cares for all of our burdens and why not now?

Come, Let Us Adore Him

This year, I again had the privilege to deliver the Christmas devotion at my church’s women’s ministry brunch.

I want to share with you the devotion, which I had planned all along to do, but also, much to my happy surprise, it was recorded, so there is also a link to the recording included in this post.

First, I’ll share with you a few photographs that Rebecca Keller, of Rebecca Keller Photography, took so that we could remember this special event. I love the way she captured the beautiful decor, which we kept simple, because we wanted the people to be the highlight of the event; I appreciate the photo of everyone together, eating, talking, enjoying, and I am glad you get to see a view of the pretty women I got to see as I shared with them Jesus, and all that He had me share with them.

© 2014 Rebecca Keller Photography
simple & beautiful
© 2014 Rebecca Keller Photography
I remember seeing Rebecca out of the corner of my eye; this was towards the beginning of the devotion.

 

For you to listen (When the page opens, look towards the bottom left hand side and click “play”) :: http://www.capitalcommunitychurch.com/sermon/womens-christmas-brunch

 

 

For you to read ::

I am so glad each one of you precious women are here. My name is Rachel, and my husband, Tyler, and I have been members of Capital Community for four years this coming January. This is our family’s church – we have brought our two baby boys into this church family, dedicated them here, and are raising them alongside of our friends. We are humbly privileged to be apart of the Capital faith family.

Let’s start with prayer this morning – Jesus, thank you so much that this season of celebration is truly all about you. It’s your birthday and that is why we celebrate. Lord, let it be so — in our hearts, in our homes, in the world. I pray we will celebrate and invite others to celebrate with us. Jesus, thank you thank you thank you. We love you, Amen.

Thanksgiving, Christmas & New Years – Happy Holidays! What a special season of celebration.

To think back over just the last few weeks – though I know for me it seems like Thanksgiving was more than a couple of weekends ago – I think it’s so neat how the Lord has ordained that the end of the year close with a season of celebration. We begin the season with Thanksgiving. A national holiday, all across the states everyone remembers the goodness of the Lord to the Pilgrims, and we as believers know to thank Him for who is He and all that He has done in our lives. And y’all, we get to do all of this thanking over a really delicious meal and a restful afternoon and weekends, all with the people who we love! What a great idea; what a wonderful holiday!

And through this fabulous holiday of Thanksgiving, the Lord readies our hearts for the miracle of Christmas.

And we enter into the month of December, preparing our hearts and homes for His birth. We fully engage in the celebration –  Our calendars are marked with events, our homes are decorated and lit, our refrigerators are full of special food, and our closets and underneath our beds are packed with hidden gifts. Nothing goes untouched; every part of us and all of those around us, everything we enjoy, are invited into the celebration. Through family devotions and Sunday sermons, in our quiet times and as we listen to Christmas carols, we reflect on who Jesus is and how amazing it is that the Lord of the Universe would send a baby as the Savior of the world. We celebrate by getting together at special parties, dinners, services, and performances. We celebrate by giving gifts to those we love, to those in need, to those who serve us in all kinds of ways. Truly, we celebrate Christmas the entire month.

We can give with thankful hearts because we’ve been given much – all we have needed, His faithful hand has provided.

We can reflect on Jesus as we remember who He is and all that He has done for us.

And then the year closes and in His grace we enter into the next, and we resolve well that we will live in Christ.

What a supernatural pattern the Lord has established in this season of celebration – rejoicing, remembering, reflecting, and resolving.

This Saturday morning we are together at this beautiful brunch with yummy food and our friends, time set apart just for us, and we are celebrating.

So, let’s engage this morning as a time to reflect on the Lord and to adore Him.

Come, Let us adore Him.

In Isaiah, the Scripture reads,

“For unto us, unto us!, a child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder,  and He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. Of the increase, or expansion, of His government and of peace there will be no end,…from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord and of hosts will do this.” (Isaiah 9:6-7, ESV)

He is the child born.

He is the Son given.

He is the King.

He is the Wonderful Counselor.

He is the Mighty God.

He is the Everlasting Father.

He is the Prince of Peace.

He is eternal.

He is the promise kept.

He is the “gift of divine grace for sinners” *

He is your gift, exactly all and everything you need.

And He is your gracious Savior, which praise the Lord, because you and me, we are those sinners, in desperate need for a Savior. And He keeps on saving – wherever you need saving today, He is your Savior.

So ladies, instead of letting our to do lists and our full calendars overwhelm us or instead of succumbing to impatient complaining or jaded apathy, instead of attempting to control each event and every reaction, let’s just come. Let’s reflect on the character of Jesus. And let’s adore Him, together.

Let this season of celebration be one of reflecting on Jesus. Let it also be a time of healing, of reconciliation, of mending and of loving. Let’s let the Lord make us whole, not fragmented any longer, but whole in Christ, engaging all that He is, using all that He has given us to know Him, and then to make Him known.

Let’s look full into His wonderful face. Let us – each a woman of Capital –  and then whoever we are, the woman of our home, little women in our home, and most importantly as a woman of the Lord – be conduits for the celebration of Jesus’ birthday. Let’s let all of the gift giving and getting together, all of the parties planned and special outfits only aid in the magnificent celebration of Jesus’ birthday!

And, let’s be real, girls, because it happens to all of us in different ways, anytime that the pressure of the season threatens to cripple us, or anytime that personal suffering bubbles hot to the surface of our expression, let us look long into the face of Jesus. Let Christ be our Comfort and our Joy. Let Christ rejoice our weary hearts.

And the other times, when we are full of excitement and peaked with happiness, let our smile express His face to others. Let’s sing, Joy to the World, the Lord has come!

Let’s allow the Lord to save us, to make us whole, to re-create us into conduits of His grace, to free us to celebrate and enjoy His birthday. Let’s look long and hard into Jesus’ face so that when others look at us, they see Him. Let us come together, precious women, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.

Y’all, i just think this is the neatest, wildest thing, so let’s just take a quick second here at this thought – it’s true, that as shops dress windows and retailers slam full the racks and shelves with gifts to give, when grocery stores stock all of our favorite yummies, and when everywhere you turn there is decorated trees, singing lights, glitter, garland, and glue… the world is celebrating Jesus’ birthday.… when the world comes together to celebrates Christmas, the world is expanding His kingdom; each person is celebrating the birth and the reign of Jesus Christ… whether they realize it or know it, the world is participating.

Have you thought about it this way before?

Because we realize it, because we know who and what we are celebrating – the birth and the reign and the expansion of His kingdom – let’s adore Him. Let’s celebrate with the best of them; let’s use all that we have and let’s invite everyone we know to be apart of this magnificent, eternal celebration.

Let’s join Christ in expanding HIs kingdom by sharing the good news – that a Savior has come, who is Christ the Lord. The world, people’s hearts, are open like no other time during the year to this message… personal suffering and public celebration swirl together as Christmas overtakes our days. And we have an open door to share with them our Savior who is born, Christ the Lord.

This Christmas, open your hearts to the Lord, adore Him. Open your homes to others, share Him. Open your arms and be enveloped by Jesus; open your arms and envelope your family, your friends, your neighbors, all of those around you who need His love, His salvation.

And let this adoration and celebration wrapped and opened in Christ lead you to resolve well as you by His grace enter into the New Year. Resolve in Christ to continue to celebrate; to continue to give and to share and to show Christ the Savior whose Kingdom is ever-expanding has come, has saved, and is worthy of all adoration and praise.

And then next Christmas, when we get together again to adore, to celebrate, to share special time together, let’s bring others with us, who have joined in the celebration in the real way for the first time, and we be together, declaring, worshipping and adoring, Christ is the Lord.

Come, let us adore Him.

(*ESV study notes)

Let us too, women who read together, come and adore Him, who is Christ the Lord. Amen and Amen.

Love Came Down

written a couple of years ago for the devotion I gave at my church’s women’s ministry Christmas party, I share this with you today…

Christmas is truly the most wonderful time of the year! Jesus’ birthday is worth celebrating all month – all year – for our entire lifetime, and on into all of eternity! We celebrate Christ. We celebrate our family, our friends, our dreams come true throughout the past year. We celebrate that our hope rests in Christ, that Christ is our family, He is our friend, He is our dream come true. Christmas is the holiday where we celebrate the immaterial becoming material. John 1 declares, “The Word became flesh,” and aren’t we so humbly grateful!? He dwelt among us; He sympathizes with us. The real magic of Christmas lies in the great reality that this holiday is when we celebrate that IN Christ, the spiritual and material MEET.

This is the joy of the season, this is the good news, this is the laughter and the paradox and the earth-shaking magic of Christmas. The infinite Word became a physical baby. We celebrate the immaterial becoming material as we decorate our trees, as we hang garland. We celebrate the greatest Gift as we give gifts to each other. We celebrate that He is our favorite as we share our favorites with each other. We celebrate that He is our family and our friend as we share meals and mugs of hot chocolate with friends and family. We celebrate because He is worthy of our celebration. He is our Christ. He is our celebration. He is our holiday. He is the Savior of the World!

You know, I was thinking, as I asked the Lord what He wanted to share with you at this special Christmas party, what is it that brings these women together? I mean, we are each so different in so many ways. Some of us are tall; some of us are short. There are older women here and there are younger women here. There are women with boisterous personalities and women with quiet dispositions. There are women gathered here that are interested in cooking, and women that are interested in going out for dinner (and probably all of us enjoy a little of both!). There are women here who have a love for fashion; there are women here who have a love for the outdoors. We are showing our individuality tonight as each one of us brought a different gift to exchange. I think it unlikely, and truly remarkable, if any one of us brought something that someone else brought too. Truly, we are all individuals unique from each other.

The unity of the Spirit and His special bond of peace and our Savior IS our common ground. We are equal at the Cross. If you are a believer, then you are a child of the Father of lights. And all of us who are believers are His children. We each have been made and have been redeemed to the glory of God the Father. And His glory is what brings us together.

His glory is what unites our hearts and enlivens our conversation. His glory is what ignites and sweetens our friendships. His glory is what ultimately crossed the bridge and closed the gap between heaven and earth. Christ is the Bridge. Christ offers us His loving salvation, closing the divide between God and humanity. Christ pours His love into our hearts, bringing close together everyone who believes. The glory of God, the sweet love of Jesus, the unity of the Spirit is who brings each one of us together with each other tonight.

We each admit that in no way does anything else or anyone else save. We confess that Christ is the only and the best Savior. We believe in our hearts and proclaim with our lives that Jesus Christ is Lord – Our personalities are not lord; our dispositions and our interests are not lord, but Christ is our Lord. And under the banner of Christ, we are sweet sisters.

I pray that tonight the Lord will root us and ground us in a special way in the love of the Lord. I pray that we will know, because we have believed, because we have tasted and seen, the love of our Savior. I pray this to Him who is able to do more than we could ever ask or imagine or think or hope.

Colossians three verse fourteen reads, “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” As we dress ourselves this Christmas in fancy dresses and red polished fingernails, as we engage with family and friends and neighbors and the post office workers, let’s put on love. Let’s allow Christ to bind everything together in perfect harmony. Let’s open ourselves up so that the Lord can pour in and shine forth His glory in our lives.

Maybe you are wondering, “How I am supposed to practically ‘let the glory of the Lord shine’ in my life? How should this really look in my own day to day?”

Girls, how are we to put on love if we do not simply let Christ dress us in His love?

So, let’s sit back. Perhaps you like to close your eyes and rest, perhaps you would like to sip your hot drink or snack on a cookie – just relax, girl, and soak in His sweet love for each one of us, for me, for you. Let’s sit back and listen as I read over you and to you Scripture that tells us who He is and who we are in Him.

Let’s begin in one of my personal favorites, Colossians.

Paul tells us of Christ in Colossians :

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the Head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

And then, in John, Scripture reads :

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

To the church of Ephesus, Paul declares – and the Holy Spirit declares to us today:

That you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—AND AS IF THIS WERE NOT ENOUGH – and [He] raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Oh how He loves us, girls! We were completely worse off than we ever could imagine AND His love is greater and better and fuller and wider and deeper and higher and more wonderful than we could ever dared to hope!

“For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”

He calls us His children!

And when our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts.

And whenever your heart condemns you, God is greater than your heart!

Let’s turn our ears and our hearts to hear the song of love that the Lord sings over us:

The LORD your God is in your midst,

a mighty one who will save;

he will rejoice over you with gladness;

he will quiet you by his love;

he will exult over you with loud singing.

Sweet sisters, let’s rejoice in Lord! :

At this truth, I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,

Let’s respond to His love, like Mary, mother of Jesus, did after she received the message from the angel announcing the soon coming of the Son of God:

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.”

This is the truth, this is the Good News for our hearts:

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Jesus is our Savior. He is our Love. Let’s live this simple song in our day to day “Jesus loves me, this I know.” This is the reality, women, that Jesus loves us – not that we love Him. Romans tells us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. John 3 tells us that He loved us so much in this way that He died on the cross for us.

He has taken on the wrath of God against our sin. Our iniquity, our shame, our sin was laid on the Savior of the World, on Christ, on God who became flesh.

And in Him we live, love, move, and have our being.

In Him, we put on Love.

In Him, we dress in Righteousness.

In Him, we are united.

In Him, we celebrate.

In Him, we wish each other a Merry Christmas!

Lord, we pray that you will suspend our disbelief. We pray that like little children on Christmas morning excited and glowing over their new gifts, that we will be excited and glowing and bubbling over with happiness at the magic of Christmas, over the gift of Christ. We pray that we will take in and know, we will believe and respond in and to your Love for us. We pray that we will rejoice in Your love. We are just falling in love with You as we ponder that while we were children of wrath, while we were still sinners, while we were in the grave, You died FOR us, in our place; you took on the wrath; you made us children of your precious Father; you gave us New Life, your Life, you are Life.

Let us sensibly respond to the fact that You love us by loving You back. Thank you for your intervening love, for your restraining love, for your lavish love, for your saving love, for your amazing love. And we are falling in love with you, Father. We are putting on your love. We are letting you dress us in your Love. We are realizing that we are more loved than we ever dared hope. And as we awaken to You, Lord, we celebrate You, Son of God and Son of Man, Savior of the World, truly our Holiday, truly our Christmas. – Amen.

Worth Celebrating

The board, with chalk lettering done by our close friend, Christin (check her out at Southern Sugar Bakery), welcomed everyone to our party!
The board, with chalk lettering done by our close friend, Christin (check her out at Southern Sugar Bakery), welcomed everyone to our party! {photo – always autumn studios}

Happy Birthday, Leland! — With gratitude we remember, and with great anticipation we look forward to all of the days to come.

I must say, this is the foremost reason we LOVE to celebrate birthdays – we celebrate the Lord, who is Life, who is the Giver and Sustainer, the Savior and Sanctifier, the Healer and Lover of life.

And along with that, life can get crazy sometimes. And be mundane on other days. Raising children is about the hardest thing. SoI think it’s vitally important – to give and to get a glimpse of heaven and all that the Lord has for us in abundant life here and eternal life on the other side of the sun – to set aside days, to plan and to execute a CELEBRATION, a special day, a party. I think the Bible shows us this way, I think Jesus exemplifies it at the wedding reception where He turns water into wine, that we need to enjoy, to celebrate, to party.

When we celebrated Leland’s birthday with our family and friends a couple of Sundays ago, we celebrated each day the Lord has preserved his life; the reality that the Lord has grown Leland in wisdom and stature and favor with God and man (which is also our prayer for him as we enter the third year of his life).
We celebrated the hope that we have in Christ that Leland will be saved, that he will live to the glory of the Lord, and that he will enjoy many days this side of heaven, and all eternity on the other side.

God uses simple bread and wine to show us Christ’s precious body broken and blood spilled; God tells us to look at the flowers to display the way in which He will provide for us. Again and again in Scripture, we are shown BIG realities in bite-sized portions.

Which is why I think a simple party with family and friends is the perfect way to celebrate life so grand.

Inspiration for the theme of our party was simple – Leland loves his moo-cow. So, naturally, I decided we would have a farm party.

I started with the invitations and the place.

I found this invitation through Pinterest on Etsy - It was simple to order it and I loved working with the lady (I hope to order Christmas cards through her). I had them printed on 100 lb cardstock at a local copy place. It is definitely a  less expensive way to get great looking invitations.
I found this invitation through Pinterest on Etsy – It was simple to order it and I loved working with the lady (I hope to order Christmas cards through her). I had them printed on 100 lb cardstock at a local copy place. It is definitely a less expensive way to get great looking invitations.

Leland is 100% boy and loves to be outside. So, with the farm-theme in mind and the fact that anything at a park is better, we chose to do our party at a property complete with a playground, big open green grass and blue sky, a picnic pavilion, and a horse pasture.

The Pavilion {photo - always autumn studios}
The Pavilion {photo – always autumn studios} :: When I start a guest list, it doesn’t take long to come up with a great group of people. Our big family plus friends and babies makes for a fun gathering!

With a date and place decided, I mailed invitations to family and friends.

Then, I started to think about food and fun. Let me say this :: At this point in party planning, I get all of the girls in my family involved. I cannot – nor do I like! – to do anything by myself. DIY = waaaaaay overrated. But everyone doing it together? = that’s my kind of fun. Plus, I’m great with seeing the big picture, but not so wonderful with implementing every little tee-niny detail.

Wanting to do easy-to-grab snacks, I looked to Pinterest for inspiration (click here and you can see my inspiration board).

Here’s what I – well, we – came up with. {photos – always autumn studios}

Pigs in a Blanket :: we decided to use galvanized trays and buckets in keeping with our farm theme to serve the food
Pigs in a Blanket :: we decided to use galvanized trays and buckets in keeping with our farm theme to serve the food and we covered the tables in red & white gingham table cloths
When I asked Tyler’s grandmother to make a birthday cake, all I said is, ” think I would like it to be white.” Well, Grandmom OUTDID herself! She searched all over for the farmer figurines, drew and cut out the red tractors with inspiration from the invitation, and even wrote “Happy Birthday Leland” on the top. Plus, it tasted good! 😉
Cow Krispies :: My sister made these delicious treats, which were quickly devoured // I asked the etsy shop owner if she would make food labels that coordinated with the invitation – didn’t she do a great job!? I just loved working with her and the graphic designs that she produced.
I think these little party plates are just so fun!
I think these little party plates are just so fun!
The Watering Hole
The Watering Hole :: We served simple Country Time lemonade and water. I brought gallons of water and daddy mixed the lemonade in the serving pitcher. Below the table sat a cooler with water bottles on ice.

We also served…

Scarecrow Crunch trail mix

Pretzel rods or “lumber”

Haystacks

Oreos, better known as “tractor wheels”

*

Now for the fun. Since a playground, plenty of wide open space and green grass, plus a horse pasture right next door with friendly ponies coming up to the fence wasn’t enough, I mentioned to Stephen, my brother in law, “Wouldn’t it be neat if we could do tractor rides at Leland’s party?”

And the next thing I knew… we had a tractor for tractor rides!! (Thank you Stephen for saying “why not!?”, Jim for asking Bob, and Bob for having a tractor!!)

A vintage Farmall tractor, the children were pulled along on a trailer bed
A vintage Farmall tractor, the children were pulled along on a trailer bed
The children loved just looking at it and comparing their height with the height of the big tires.
The children loved just looking at it and comparing their height with the height of the big tires.

a farmall tractor

The experience was complete with tickets, also made by the sweet lady at papernoted.
The experience was complete with tickets, also made by the sweet lady at papernoted.
tractor ride
Tractor Rides!! :: Poppop (Tyler’s dad) driving the tractor
we have a philosophy -- the more the merrier! -- so we piled on as many as we could to sit and ride and enjoy together the tractor ride!
we have a philosophy — the more the merrier! — so we piled on as many as we could to sit and ride and enjoy together the tractor ride!

And if all of that fun wasn’t enough, we had a piñata, too! It’s cute because Leland was watching Curious George one day, which is his fav, and the little children were having a birthday party. Leland was cracking up laughing at the kids hitting at the piñata. When I asked him if he would like a piñata at his birthday party, which I hadn’t really mentioned anything to him about it otherwise, he said with great enthusiasm, YES! So, we did 🙂

Gotta Love Amazon :: This little fella came to my doorstep, and then we filled him with confetti and candy. The children loved it and the sweet treats served as our party favor :)
Gotta Love Amazon :: This little fella came to my doorstep, and then we filled him with confetti and candy. The children loved it and the sweet treats served as our party favor 🙂 (link to amazon)

We also enjoyed …

big bubbles with big bubble wands

swinging, sliding, and the sandbox

tossing bath and forth a football and frisbees

seeing the horses

I really hoped that the horsies would come say hey to the children, and the friendly guys didn't dissapoint!
I really hoped that the horsies would come say hey to the children, and the friendly guys didn’t dissapoint!
Leland, climbing the fence to visit the horses
Leland, climbing the fence to visit the horses

*

Decor helps us to taste and see that the Lord is good, y’all, so we didn’t forget about that!

table decor
the table decor came together with much heartful help from the ladies in my family
IMG_8770
happy birthday!!
we even had a mini tractor!
we even had a mini tractor!
Centerpiece
southern cotton in a mason jar on picnic check tablecloths
table decor
i really wanted farm – not autumn – and i think we accomplished it

There are a couple of other detail-ish things that we did for the party…

outhouse
it [almost] seems better to use a port-a-potty when you have a cute sign on the door 😉
IMG_0501
with kids you never know what you’ll need, so i packed full a tin of supplies and let everyone have at it

Whether you celebrate with a big ole party like we had, or a cupcake and a candle, it’s important to celebrate. It’s good for our souls; the Lord made us for celebrations. That’s why we like them so much! And we certainly have reason to celebrate – Christ. in us. the hope of glory.

the birthday boy!
the birthday boy!! happy Birthday, my Leland-love

lavished love

praise the Lord – today, I listened to my little man and, by His great love which He has lavished on me, I responded in love.

….

Leland and I were driving home from bible study, when he announced, cake pop – cake pop!

We were driving past Starbucks, the yummy place with milk and cake pops.

I asked Leland, baby, would you like a cake pop?… and with an excited yes! from the back seat, I turned around, and we drove through the line at Starbucks, commencing Leland’s two year old birthday celebration.

Surely, this is a simple way to celebrate. And something I could have distracted him from, dismissed altogether, or indulged after he (may have) whined.

But I love that the Lord reminded me in my heart of His lavish love with which He loves me! — and I thought, I can do this good for my son. I can show him that I love him with a simple yummy, a cake pop. In the same way that the precious Lord uses simple means to show me His great love, I can show Leland my love for him by driving through the Starbucks line and requesting, two cake pops, please!

What momentous memories we can make with our loves when we remember the Lord’s sweet love for us, when we respond out of the overflow of His love, when we say yes, yes, yes, yes, my child, I love you and yes, I will do you good.

celebrate!
our delicious delights

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the Giver of all good gifts

Christmas was a happy season of celebration for us – we enjoyed celebrating Jesus’ birthday, who is worth our celebration all month, all year, all of our life, and forever and ever! Tyler and I talked a lot about the fact that we want our Christmas to be about celebrating Jesus, that we want to be apart of whatever helps to celebrate Him, and that if it does not help to celebrate, then maybe we won’t participate. We want to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. And we think we can tangibly do that through celebrating Christmas. It will be fun to see how the Lord shows us how to celebrate Himself throughout the coming years with each other, with our family, and with our friends and neighbors.

We gave and received so many wonderful presents – this is one wonderful way to celebrate Jesus, who is our Gift, and who is the Giver of all good gifts – and this is one of the presents that we gave our family this year…

We announced with a framed photograph to our family that we are expecting a second joy August 19th!
We announced with a framed photograph to our family that we are expecting a second joy August 19th!

I have so much that the Lord has taught me to share with you! For now, I am about ten and a half weeks pregnant, not sick like I was with our first little love, and excited to be apart of this glorious work of the Lord. I think it truly amazing that any woman could get pregnant, carry to full term a baby, and keep the child alive, by the grace of God, for any length of time. Can you believe some people live until well over one hundred years old!? It’s truly and always and only the sweet precious grace of our Lord, who gives rain to the righteous and the unrighteous. And we again praise God from whom all blessings flow.

With this sweet announcement we said Merry Christmas and we are saying Happy New Year to all of our family, friends, all of the precious people in our lives. And I look forward to sharing so much more with you in the coming posts.

Celebrate the Christ!

The Magnificent Baby Jesus Savior - Let's Celebrate!
The Magnificent Baby Jesus Savior – Let’s Celebrate!

Here we are, thirteen days into December – the most wonderful time of the year! Truly, Jesus’ birthday is worth celebrating all month – all year – our entire life time – and into eternity! Doesn’t He just thrill you!?

And I love how the precious Lord Jesus gives us simply tangibles to show us His magnificent glory! Think of it – in the Old Testament He showed the Israelites His timely provision with the daily manna. When the Lord washed the disciples’ feet, He displayed to them loving servanthood at its finest. God uses bread and wine to portray Christ’s body broken and His blood spilled out for us

And I love at Christmas time the evergreen trees that remind me that we have a Living Hope in Christ. I love hanging garland, twinkling lights, mugs of hot chocolate, and all of the rest that show us the Love of Christ.

I really have enjoyed accessing everyone’s creativity and applying it in my own home through Pinterest.

Here are a few of my favorites from Pinterest – and here’s a link to my Celebrate : Christmas, Jesus’ Birthday board.

I love what the Driscoll family 'does with Santa' and one day, this is how we want to enjoy the fun holiday and Santa with our children!
I love what the Driscoll family ‘does with Santa’ and one day, this is how we want to enjoy the fun holiday and Santa with our children!
jingle bell wreath
When I saw this wreath, I thought – perfect! I already have the bell wreath. Now, all I need to do is add ribbon and hang it somewhere wonderful.
Christmas Packaging
What fun labels! I will simply have these printed at a copy store, cut them out for gifts, and attach. So cute!
Christmas Cross Wreath
The living greens remind us why Jesus came to earth – to give His life for us. Praise the Lord! Here’s a link to a great post on these wreaths. She explains it so well why I love these wreaths.
bucket of greens
This little copy-cat project was about the easiest decorating I did this Christmas. I already have a blue ceramic square shaped planter on my front porch. It was empty and just waiting for something to fill it. I went to the closest Christmas tree lot near by and grabbed only one FREE branch. I cut off the mini-branches, clustered them in the pot, and voila! finished and beautiful 🙂