Sunday, November 25, 2012

Christmas Devotionals

Welcome to Advent!

Advent starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day, which is today, and continues through Christmas Eve.

“Advent” means "coming" or "arrival." The focus of the season is the celebration of the birth of Jesus in his First Advent, and the anticipation of his return in his Second Advent. Traditionally, Advent is marked by a spirit of anticipation, preparation and expectation.

Sounds like I’m describing the celebration of the holiday of Christmas, doesn’t it?

Anticipation. Preparation. Expectation. Sounds like we’re taking about shopping lists and wrapping, decorating and meal planning. And about wondering what might be under the tree.

But advent’s focus is different. It’s holy. It’s about celebrating the incarnation and presence of Christ. It includes an emphasis on His faithfulness to come and rescue us from sin, as well as His judgment of sin, and the hope He provides for eternal life through grace.

With a double focus on past and future, Advent also symbolizes the spiritual journey of each of us as we affirm that Christ has come, that He is present (if unseen) with us today, and that He will come again in power.

That truth should renew in us a motivation to live as grateful, responsible stewards of what God has entrusted to us in this time in between His Advents. It's meant to awaken in us a profound sense of thankfulness and charity.

One of the ways I try to remember advent is with Christmas-focused devotional readings. Here are some for you to check out – all are free.


Encouragement for Today – For women, by women. These devotions run year-round but focus on Christmas themes in the month of December.

Bible Gateway’s Christmas Devotionals – Choose from a focus on advent, joy, hymns, or the Christmas story. Or sign up for more than one. These devotions run through the Advent season only.

Christmas Devotionals from – Written by a variety of authors, pastors and leaders with a focus squarely on the Christmas season.

Billy Graham’s Advent Devotional – Download this free guide called “Arrival: Preparing to Celebrate Christ's Birth.”

Good Morning Girl’s Advent Devotional & Study - Download the free eBook which includes weekly devotions, scripture readings, suggested dally family activities, recipes and journal pages.

As the culture celebrates a year-end time of feasting and fun, the church celebrates God’s breaking into time, space and flesh. I’m aiming to celebrate both in the weeks to come.

Happy Advent!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Creative Spaces

My One Word this year is CREATE. It's November 16th so you are probably tired by now of hearing me open a post with that statement. But it's relevant ...

I came across a cool Pinterest board this week of women's creative spaces. Mostly home offices. They all look cool. Some look more"busy' that I would want in my writing space but would work for me in a crafting type space. Take a look and see what you think.

This is a pic I like from the board. I think it's the blanket that seals the deal for me. I have a thing for blankets that feel soft. For anything that feels soft - I'm very tactile. Rick calls me "Sensation Barbie" because anything I pass by that looks soft, I have to touch. In a store, or in a restaurant, wherever. I've been know to touch someone else' coat on the back of their chair as I walked by!

Check out the Pinterst board and see if gives you some ideas for your home office. It inspired me to tidy mine up!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

From Spent to Spurred On

Ever have one of those days when so much is on your plate you wake up wondering how you will get it all done? 

Yeah, I'm on my ninth day in a row like that. This is a particularly busy season for me. Everything that's on my plate is good stuff. It's all things I want on my plate. It's just that there is a lot of it all at once.

I can't see my plate for all the stuff on top- which reminds me of Thanksgiving. Which by the way, gets added to my plate next week.

I generally do OK with lots to do. But there is a point. A tipping point. I can reach critical mass, and once there, I just want to crawl in bed and sleep. For two days. And watch sappy movies on the Lifetime network.

I about hit that tipping point this morning. But I didn't have the time to go back to bed or to watch movies. So I did my best to plow ahead.  Only my best wasn't very good this morning. I couldn't muster up my usual spunk. And I had little margin for anything that presented additional problems or frustration.

My friend looked at me with concern this morning and said, "I've never seen you this way." All I could say in response was just, "I'm spent." They prayed for me.

Shorly after, I talked to another friend who prayed for me.

This afternoon I had a personal coaching call scheduled with one of my clients. What do you do when you are the coach and you feel spent? I did what I do every week before I get on that phone: I prayed and asked the Holy Spirit to do the coaching through me.

Turns out this was a breakthrough week for my client. An awesome turning point for both her and her family. I'm so proud of her! And when I hung up the phone I was nearly jumping up and down excited. Because empowering others and witnessing life change fuels me.

All my issues and to-dos paled in comparison. They'll all get done in due time.

I texted my friend and said I was feeling much better now, because I'd just gotten off a great call with one of my coaching clients. My friend texted back, "We help people. That's all it's really about."

I couldn't agree more.

Are you feeling stuck? Spent? Done?

Maybe try investing yourself in helping someone else. I'm so grateful for my opportunities to do so. 

Or try reaching out for prayer. I'm also grateful for my friends who prayed for me today. Is there something I can pray about today for you?

Friday, November 9, 2012

The President, Donuts, My One Word and God's Provision

Happy post election. Some of you, perhaps even most of you, are not happy about the post election results. But I am rejoicing because with the closing of the polls on Tuesday evening, my phone now lets me live and work in peace.

I live in North Carolina. Battleground state. State where the Republican National Convention called my house easily six times a day, seven days a week (yes even Sundays), for the last month. Mitt called my house several times. So did Ann. Seriously, I would now recognize Ann Romney's voice if she were talking behind me on the subway.

That's assuming Ann Romney would ever ride a subway. And I happened to be in the city at the same time ... sorry, I'm digressing.

Obama even sent someone to my door on Tuesday. In the rain. He did not deliver pizza or donuts though. If you want to swing some votes, you should show up with chocolate. I'm just sayin.

So here's my update for this week. I told you in this post - I'm Torn - that I was on the fence about participating in NaNoWriMo this month because I have too much to do marketing-wise (in addition to my other jobs) for my book releasing next month. I let my one word for 2012 - CREATE - guide my decision on that.

I signed up and I went to the write-in on the very first day.

A girl in the back of the room didn't have a copy of the "getting started" packet, so I invited her to come sit beside me and look off mine. Turns out, she is a student at UNCW where I teach. Turns out she wants to teach college too. Turns out she is a marketing major. Turns out she goes to my church. And she obviously loves words and writing because there she sat beside me typing her novel.

So as I was in the process of being "obedient" to my one word at NaNoWriMo, God, in His Providence, hand-delivered me the perfect marketing assistant. She can do an internship with me for academic credit at the college while helping me launch My One Word: Change Your Life With Just One Word.

So God provided for My One Word through my obedience to my one word. That's pretty cool.

Even better than chocolate donuts I'd say.

What is God calling you to do through your one word? How has God provided through your one word, or in response to prayer? Maybe it's time to ask Him for what you need.

Legal Disclaimer: Writer is not responsible for any additional calories the reader may consume after viewing this post. (Donuts courtesy of Dunkin Donuts.)

Monday, November 5, 2012

What NOT to do tomorrow

In case you've been vacationing for the last couple of months on another planet, tomorrow is election day. I don't know about you, but sometimes I find entering that voting booth a little nerve wracking. 

Here's what NOT to do in the voting booth.

This was produced by the brilliant media team at my church. They rock.
And by the way, if you are nervous about who will win the election, just remember that no matter who sits in the oval office, Jesus sits on the throne at the right hand of God.
Now get out there tomorrow and vote your conscious. Oh, and use a pencil!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Taking the Nanowrimo Plunge

Remember this post: I'm Torn

Well, I decided around 8 PM on 10/31 to sign up for and start national novel writing month the next day (yesterday). Nothing like putting a decision off until the last minute, eh? I literally decided in between door opens for trick or treaters.

NaMoWriMo, for those uninitiated, is a program whereby approximately 300,000 would-be novelists attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. I'm told about 3% of them actually complete the task.

I very likely will be one of the 97% who do not.

That's because if I showed you my to-do list for the next three weeks it would look like one of those ancient scrolls that when unrolled, extends down from the hand, onto and rolls out across the floor. It's that long. You think that is a metaphor. It's not.

But my one word for 2012 is CREATE. And I want to create a novel. So I signed up and began, putting little pressure on myself to finish 50K words. If I get to the end of November and I've only written 20,000 of the 50,000 words ... well, that's 20,000 more than I had yesterday morning. So I'll count that as gain.

What are you doing, needing to do, or wanting to do, that you think if you can't do it 100% you shouldn't bother at all? Maybe you are correct. Or maybe you should just lower your expectations.

Yesterday was day one. And I was too busying working on work all day to work on the novel. No worries, we had a local nanowrimo "write in." You go sit in a room for 2 hours with other lunatics fine people who are also trying to write a novel in 30 days. You pick each other's brains. Trade ideas about how to kill characters. And challenge each other to write 435 words in 15 minutes.

Those who hit the mark even won prizes - Starbucks gift cards or Barnes and Noble gift cards. These are soooo my kind of people.

My posts here might be a little short, or a little sporadic this month while I'm nanowrimoing. Then again they might be my most creative yet. Maybe I'll poll you guys to see what you think my characters should do.

I'm off to work on the novel. You go think about that question I posed in bold earlier.