A Gospel Christmas

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! It is time to put away the turkey, and pumpkins and to begin thinking about Christmas.

Today I am pleased to invite Jennifer Moye to guest post on the blog! I met Jennifer at She Speaks 2016, and love her heart for Jesus, and her family.  Jennifer is going to share her journey of connecting Santa and his elf to the story of our Savior. I am excited to share this resource with you just in time to prepare our hearts for the Christmas season.

Welcome, Jennifer!

A Gospel Christmas

By Jennifer Moye

Around this same time a couple years ago, our boys were sitting in the living room floor creating their Christmas lists to send to Santa. The lists consisted mostly of cut out pictures from the Toys-r-Us catalog pasted sloppily with glue sticks on poster paper. They jumped up and down with excitement with every page turn as they found a new must-have toy. In all the fun of that day, I noticed that our oldest boy had only 3 things listed on his paper. An IPad, a phone like mommy’s, and crutches.

Crutches?

Yep, that’s right. Those were his must-haves of that Christmas.

As Christmas morning rolled around, the boys ran downstairs with all the excitement that kids should have on Christmas day. They ripped open packages and slung presents around, eagerly ready to move to the next item.

The younger two boys seemed quite content with their loot for the day. But the oldest sat on the floor with his arms crossed and a sour look on his face. In his lap set a box for a brand new iPad mini still in the wrapper.

Let me just pause right here. I do not even have an iPad. Just sayin’.

When asked what was wrong, he proceeded to through a fit about how he didn’t get a phone like mommy’s or any crutches. He was furious!

I could not believe how ungrateful he was being. Didn’t he realize how awesome the gifts he had received were? How did we get to the point of demanding what we should receive and then being mad if we didn’t get it exactly as expected? Didn’t he understand he couldn’t have everything? Didn’t he know that Christmas is about more than receiving everything on your wish list?

As I sat there in the floor with my wonderful little boys, I instantly felt like a failure.

Clearly I had missed the mark in explaining to him what Christmas is all about. Why else would he act so ungrateful?

Now before you say it, I know . . . he is 5 years old. And kids are kids. I get that. But it just didn’t sit right in my soul. We had talked about the reason we celebrate Christmas. We read the Bible stories. We went to the Christmas play at church. We even gave gifts from the angel trees and donated spare change to the guy outside Walmart. We had talked about this.

I wanted my children to understand at their very core, that Christmas simply wasn’t about them. It was about Jesus. I wanted them to realize that our gifts should be a reflection of the gifts God gave to us in His Son Jesus. I wanted them to have the fun and excitement that Santa, and the Elf on the Shelf, and Christmas parties at school bring – but they needed to know in their hearts that all of it was because of the birth of our King. Even though they knew these things in their heads, I don’t think they really felt it in their innermost being. And that really bothered me.

The following year was a big year for us as we decided to homeschool, made another move, and various other life changes. One scripture passage remained in my mind throughout that time.

Deuteronomy 6: 5-9 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

As the holiday season approached I knew we needed to do something different this year. We needed something that would create an impression of the hearts of our boys and our family. It needed to be in our home, on our doorframes and at our gates. It needed to be intentional and purposeful.

I had no idea that the months to follow would lead me to writing a book and sharing with others the things God was revealing to me and convicting me of in my own life. This month marks the launch of the book A Gospel Christmas and it is straight from my heart to yours.

A Gospel Christmas, is our journey through the month of December 2016. We found a way to connect Santa and his naughty little elf to our greatest gift of all. It is personal and transparent. It is messy at times and most importantly it is real. It is our story of how God lead us to Himself and made a huge impression not just on the hearts of our children, but on my heart as well.  Through the 25 days in December we walked through the life of Jesus in a very practical, easy, and kid friendly way.  We read scripture together, we did crafts, we talked, we gave to others, we cried, and we laughed. It was the most beautiful thing to see the gospel of Jesus come alive in our children’s’ hearts. To see their eyes light up with excitement and their minds begin to understand who Jesus is to them is something that a parent couldn’t be more proud of.

As the Christmas season is approaching us quicker than we all can handle, I would like to challenge you to pray over how your family will celebrate the birth of our King this year. Do your children truly understand what this season is about? Is your family focused on Jesus this year, or distracted by parties, the latest gadgets, and hosting friends? Are you searching for a way to connect all the fun of the holiday with the true meaning of Christmas?

I would love to hear your thoughts and I would love to be on this journey with you! Head on over to my website and receive the first two chapters of A Gospel Christmas for FREE! You will also be included in our Christmas newsletter which provides tons of ideas and inspirations on different ways to connect your family to Jesus throughout the season. And because you are one of the first to know about A Gospel Christmas, I will also send you some insider tips on how to incorporate Santa, the Elf, school parties and more with our Savior’s birth!

A Gospel Christmas is available in digital copy and paperback just about everywhere! It can be ordered online or ordered through your local bookstore. Bulk orders are available for churches or other organizations as well. I would be truly honored for you to share this book and post with those you love. What better gift to give at Christmas than one that could lead someone to Jesus? You never know who’s life can be touched by a simple share.

“My word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11

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BONUS!!! Just because you guys are awesome and you are supporting my friend by reading her awesome blog I want to give you a chance to win a signed copy of A Gospel Christmas for FREE! Enter our giveaway below and you will be in the running for one of several prizes that will be picked to celebrate the launch of this great book!

 

 

Go to A Gospel Christmas-giveaway to enter.

Jennifer is wife to an Airman and mom to three rambunctious little boys. With excitement on a daily basis and grace around every corner, she believes we are meant to live this life in community with others and with the mercy to mess up and try again….and again.  Being a mom is hard, but it is also a divine calling we can have in this life. Her ministry to women is relevant and heartfelt with her core passion being that we learn to glorify our God in our parenting, our marriage, and in our everyday lives.

Join Jennifer’s community online at:           image6

www.jennifermoye.com

www.facebook.com/jennifermoye

www.twitter.com/jenmoyewrites

www.pinterest.com/jenmoyewrites

 

Thanksgiving Preparations!

Today I want to share some of our Thanksgiving preparations! I want to start out by saying thank you to all of my blog readers! I am so encouraged by you all, and I thank God for each of you!  I pray that you will enjoy a bountiful feast with your loved ones, and that your heart is filled with praise to Jesus our King!

Our dining room table is set for a thanksgiving lunch celebration with our immediate family, along with one lovely addition. Jacob’s girlfriend Jane will be joining us this year!

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While out shopping this year I found these amazing chargers, and cute little leaf shaped bowls to add to our table this year! I paired that with dishes we already own, and vintage classes from Peter’s childhood. I just love the way the place settings turned out. So fun!

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This year we are mixing things up a bit, and instead of having TURKEY OR HAM, we are having PHEASANT AND DUCK! Along with a wild rice stuffing, 5 cheese macaroni, whiskey Glazed carrots, a healthy version of green bean casserole, crusty bread with onion jam, along with pumpkin muffins, and buttermilk pie for dessert. Yum! I am so excited.

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Peter grated a mound of cheese for me, and I made a Béchamel sauce, and viola. A hearty 5-Cheese Macaroni make ahead side dish, that I topped with Panko bread crumbs, and popped in the refrigerator for the big day!

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Peter’s brother and his family will be joining us in the afternoon on Thanksgiving day. We will enjoy a more relaxed setting with the kids. Leaving lots of room for the adults to talk, and the kids to play.

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A few years ago I started doing crafts with the kids, and it has become a holiday tradition. This year we are painting wooden Christmas ornaments.

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I also picked up these fun coloring, bingo, tic-tac-toe pages to keep the littles busy.

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As we prepare our homes, our tables, and our food, let’s not forget to prepare our hearts. We have so much to be thankful for, and in the midst of our busyness, let us keep our eyes fixed on the giver of all good gifts.

 

Psalm 100 – A Psalm for giving thanks.

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!

Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!

For the LORD is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

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Have a Blessed Thanksgiving! Be sure to follow my blog for a chance to win the Listen, Love, Repeat! bundle. Stay tuned for more holiday inspiration and giveaways from now until the end of the year!

How are you preparing for the holidays? What traditions are you planning to incorporate? Are you doing anything new this year? I would love to hear from you!  Leave me a comment  and let me know what you have planned.

 

Love not Fear for the Holidays

This weekend a glitter bomb exploded in my home as we began pulling boxes out of the attic in preparation for the holiday season and in anticipation to celebrate the birth of Christ. Simultaneously, on the streets of America another bomb exploded throughout cities across the country. Streets filled with people young and old raging against a Trump presidency. Angry mobs filled with hate and a palpable spirit of fear.

We are witnessing a huge clash of worldviews right before our very eyes.

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For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.- 2 Timothy 1:6-7 ESV

As Christians, we are not to have a spirit of fear, but a Spirit of power, and of love and self-control. Instead we are to fan the flames of our spiritual gifts. How should we respond to the lost and hurting people in our country? How can we use our time, money, and talents to make a difference?

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 1 John 4:18 ESV

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Love casts out fear, and it is only the love of Jesus Christ that can bind up the wounds of the brokenhearted, that can save the lost, and calm the fears. Last week, I told you about Karen Ehman’s new book and Bible Study Listen, Love, Repeat!  And as I prepare my home for the holidays, I am also preparing my heart. I am praying about how I can use my gifts and talents to love people. I am praying about who I can be a light to, and how I can be the hands and feet of Jesus.

As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, I am overwhelmed by all that I have to thankful for.  I am abundantly blessed with the love of the Savior, my husband, children, family, and friends. As Americans we have so much to be thankful for.

However, the holiday season can be a very complicated, if we gather with family who may is different from us. Those who have different morals, values, worldview or political views can be especially challenging. For other people even the thought of gathering with family during the holidays evokes stress, and for some this may be a season of aloneness or intense grief.

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My plan is to pray and ask the Lord what he would have me and my family do this holiday season, and then do what he leads me to do. Showing love to others will look differently to each of us. For some it may be as simple as smiling more often. Slowing down to be more present, or thinking of others more often than thinking of ourselves.

What are some ways that we can reach out in love and bless others?

I would love to hear from you!

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If you would like more practical tips on how you can love others well this holiday season, be sure to follow my blog. I am excited to share one copy of Karen Ehman’s book, Listen, Love, Repeat: Other-Centered Living in a Self-Centered World along with a study guide and DVD! To be eligible to win, simply follow MistyPhillip.com, anytime between now and December 1, 2016!

Listen, Love, Repeat!

As the dust settles after a very contentious political season, one thing that is for sure is that our nation is divided. In the midst of this division, how should Christians respond? The answer: Listen, Love and Repeat!

I just finished reading Listen, Love, Repeat: Other-Centered Living in a Self-Centered World by Karen Ehman. Wow! What a timely and relevant message for us to consider and apply in our lives today. I was first introduced to Karen Ehman this past spring when I attended the She Speaks Proverbs 31 Women’s Conference and joined the COMPEL writer’s training program. When the opportunity arose to review Karen’s new book and Bible study I was thrilled to do so!

In Listen, Love, Repeat: Other-Centered Living in a Self-Centered World, Karen encourages us to be mindful, and look beyond ourselves and listen for ways we can can bless others. This book is based off of the principle, Love God, and Love people. In Matthew, we see the Sadducees ask Jesus questions to try to trap him theologically. When Jesus silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees continued to engage in ongoing debate with Jesus.

 

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 22:36-40 ESV

This command comes from Deuteronomy 6:5,”You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”  Love God, and love others. In these two commandments we have the sum of the law. Devote yourself to God by loving Him, and then show grace, love, and kindness to others.

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Karen has identified a major problem that affects society today. This problem will likely  plague the next generation, if something doesn’t change. In the crazy fast-paced selfie culture we live in, how can we love God and love others well? Karen shares both biblical stories and personal examples, along with practical wisdom on how to love others well.  Karen shares memory verses for making a difference, recipes for reaching out, quips and quotes, and much more.

I am excited to share one copy of Karen’s book, Listen, Love, Repeat: Other-Centered Living in a Self-Centered World along with a study guide and DVD! To be eligible to win, simply follow MistyPhillip.com, anytime between now and December 1, 2016! To follow MistyPhillip.com enter your email address into the text box on the side bar of my website.

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Listen, Love, Repeat: Other-Centered Living in a Self-Centered World (Zondervan, November 15, 2016) is Karen Ehman’s ninth book and has a Bible study with DVD with it. Karen is an encourager to women and her life work is to help women live their priorities and to love their lives.

 

Karen is a Proverbs 31 Ministries Speaker and New York Times bestselling author. She is also the Speaker Track Director of the She Speaks Conference and a teaching staff member of Proverb 31’s writers training program COMPEL.

In Listen, Love, Repeat: Other-Centered Living in a Self-Centered World Karen talks about listening for heart drops – a heart drop is when a person, either directly or in a cryptic way, gives you a peek into his or her heart – and what to do when we hear them. When we take notice of those who are in our presence we are able to mimic what some refer to as the same ministry Jesus has. Karen says, “Jesus’ real ministry was the person he found standing in front of Him” and asks, “Who is that for you today?”

 

Importance of the Family Table

Today on the blog, I am talking about the importance of the family table, and sharing a few pictures from our Thanksgiving table 2013. Earlier this week, we heard from Michelle S Laurek on practical ways to love our neighbors, and  I told you about her new book, An Invitation To The Table: Embracing the Gift of Hospitality. If you missed that post, be sure to check it out here Love Your Neighbor!

I love this description of An Invitation To The Table: Embracing the Gift of Hospitality from  Amazon.

Jesus spent a chunk of his ministry eating and drinking with the “”sinners and tax collectors”” of the world. If we strive to be more like Jesus, shouldn’t we do more of what he did?

Hospitality involves more than the domesticated event we have grown accustomed to practicing. It is an embodiment of all the Christian life stands for: a gesture of love, opening up our hearts and lives, and sacrificing luxury and security for the chance to display Gods glory. To receive hospitality from others is an invitation to receive Gods transformative power to work in their lives.

Wow! Have you ever considered your family table a place of ministry? We have a huge farm table that we purchased several years ago to accommodate our growing family.  The wooden sun-bleached benches on either side of our 10 foot table are flanked by several mix-and-match black chairs with rush seats. It is reminiscent of farmhouse meets french flair, and it is located in our beautiful sunroom. The sunroom is one of my favorite rooms in our house because it has 12 huge windows that look out into our back yard, and we have a gorgeous view of the sun rise.


The importance of the family table, and the top 3 reasons I love mine! And you should love yours too!

Fist, there is something special about choosing the perfect table linen, arranging your favorite dishes, and adding a seasonal centerpiece. I love to prepare a feast for friends and family. I am going to let you in on a little secret though, I have a dish problem. I love my dishes and love any excuse to use all of the dishes that I have collected over the years.

The table is another great place in our home to spruce up with the changing of the seasons. I love to search Pinterest for new and creative ideas for my tablescapes. I also love repurposing old things and using them in new or unexpected ways.

For the 2013 Thanksgiving table, I used an old wine box, that Peter brought home twenty years ago when he worked at a hotel. I darkened the box up with a little leftover stain that I had from another project. Nestled in the box is a fairytale pumpkin, some pine bundles from our trees, Mason jars with tea lights, surrounded by pinecone candle holders with cream tapers.

Depending on the formality of the holiday or occasion, I may use chargers or place cards. When my children were young, and I wanted to make our holiday tables special, I would include them in helping me make place cards. For the 2013 Thanksgiving table, I purchased these vintage goblets at an antique store for just a few dollars. This was a fun way to serve our beverages, and I didn’t have to worry about them breaking.

Second, conversations at the family table tie heartstrings to our children, family members, and friends. This is an important time of connection and communion. At the table, you can linger, talk about your day, and impart your values to your children. There is time to reflect on issues that arise in our culture, morality, religion, politics, and books. Gathered around the table is also a great place to share stories from the past, or tales of family members that have gone on to be with the Lord. This is something that Peter’s mom Gigi instilled in me early in our marriage. We spent many hours in lively conversation as a family around the table. The Thanksgiving 2013 table pictured is very special to me because this was the last meal we shared together as a family with Gigi. She was an amazing woman, who was an incredible influence on my life. Read more about this at 5 Things Gigi Taught Me.

Holiday tip when entertaining for the holidays and small children are sharing the table with us, I always put a fancy tablecloth on the table, but then cover it with clear plastic. This way the table still looks beautiful, but it is protected from the inevitable spills that are bound to happen.

Third, in this fast-paced microwave society that we live in when families are going in different directions all the time, and we eat at the drive through or on the run. To have time to sit down and eat a home-cooked meal on real plates, not paper ones, and have time to connect at the table, and enjoy a meal is priceless!

Whether you are gathered at the table for a holiday or sharing coffee with a neighbor or friend, know that your table can be a place of ministry.  “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” – 1  Corinthians 10:31.