What is your favorite Christmas movie?

The Christmas season can be stressful.

Christmas season is filled with activities that can stress us out! The shopping, the parties at homes and work, decorating the house, the tree, the cookies, the kids, the car, and ourselves is all-consuming.

One way to decompress is to watch a Christmas movie. Holiday movies bring tears of joy, hold you in suspense, and usher in a season of hope. Miracle on 34th Street, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Grinch, Elf, Jingle All The Way, and Polar Express are all great choices, but my favorite is Christmas with the Kranks, based the the novel Skipping Christmas by John Grisham. 

I explain why in this 3 minute video. 

 

What is your favorite holiday movie? Leave a comment below and tell me why you love it!

Merry Christmas!

 

The Universal Language Of Kindness

“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – Mark Twain

The beautiful thing about kindness is that everyone can do it. Anyone … in any season of life, whether young, old, male or female, rich, poor or even sick can show kindness.

Not to be confused with generosity, (which I generally associate with giving money) kindness requires nothing more than intentional action.

Kindness is more powerful than anger, selfishness or even hate. It morphs us into women who look, sound and act more like Jesus. When we clothe ourselves in kindness as Col. 3:12 directs, we affect people in a positive and lasting way. 

Contagious and courageous.

Those who are shown kindness will surely pass it on. Like a train of Dominos, when the first one falls, the rest follow. Taking the lead to demonstrate kindness softens hearts, quiets tempers and provides space for tenderness to grow. So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you. Matthew 7:12 

In close relationships, kindness can overcome the temptation to hold grudges, get revenge and act selfishly. Random acts of kindness toward strangers can break down prejudice, overcome greed and restore faith in humanity.

“Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair, but manifestations of strength and resolution.” – Kahlil Gibran

Sometimes the kindest thing you can do is put down a suffering animal. It’s tough to help pack up your best friend to move away from you. Being a listening ear or returning a lost wallet can be time consuming. Keeping someone company till the ambulance or locksmith arrives can mess up your schedule. 

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Thankfulness Is Key To A Better Life

Want a longer life, better relationships and improved health? Be thankful! 

When my kids were little, it was important to instill the character quality of being thankful in them. They were prompted to say thank you to anyone who served them or gifted them. Their prayer time always started with a long and creative list of thank yous. As they grew, they thanked bus drivers for shuttling them, the cafeteria workers for doing the dishes and tow truck drivers for being so prompt. 

Being thankful has myriad benefits.

Being thankful rewards us with better health, cheerier dispositions and deeper, more meaningful relationships.

Thankful people enjoy a stronger sense of well-being, suffer fewer symptoms of depression and are less likely to seek revenge against others. They are more likely to have empathy for others.

We are told in Scripture, “In everything give thanks.” It is a directive straight from God, recorded by Paul. It is a divine expectation.

So how do you develop a habit of thankfulness?

1. Go without.

To gain a whole new level of appreciation and accelerate your thankfulness, go without something you take for granted!

Spend one day doing without food or electricity or hot water. Sleep on the floor a night or two. Give up sugar or coffee for a day or two. Spend a day or a week without television or radio or internet. Trust me, going without jumpstarts thankfulness.

2. Speak out thankfulness.

If you’re not ready to forego running water … spend a bit of time every day thanking God. You can speak it out or journal it, but see how many items you come up with. These are the first 25 in my journal.

  1. My salvation through Jesus’s death and resurrection.
  2. Mr. 4-Ever.
  3. The kids.
  4. My moms and dad.
  5. Holy Spirit guidance.
  6. Flannel sheets, slinky sheets and clean sheets.
  7. Heat in my house.
  8. A closet full of clothing.
  9. The color green.
  10. In house refrigerator, washer, dryer, garbage disposal.
  11. The work and ministry I do.
  12. All the safety I enjoy every day.
  13. The bills that are paid.
  14. My family of origin.
  15. The taste of raspberries.
  16. Freedom to vote.
  17. Ability to read.
  18. Coffee, tea, soda pop.
  19. Clean water – hot and cold.
  20. Medicine.
  21. First responders.
  22. Dogs and Cats and pets of all kinds.
  23. Mail service.
  24. Music.
  25. Kissing.

Thanking God reminds us of God’s faithfulness to us and the authority he holds in our lives.

3. Be thankful in all things – even if they’re hard.

Bill Bright, co-founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, wrote: “The best way to demonstrate faith is to say ‘Thank You.'”

You don’t have to be thankful FOR rotten things, but you can and should be thankful in the midst of them. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”

Find the silver lining. Look for the small bright spot in the situation. I call these lousy tradeoffs. When my kids moved out, I suffered in my empty nest, but then I realized how clean my house stayed – lousy tradeoff. In my grief after my man died, I lost all the weight I’d fought against for a decade – lousy tradeoff. When my mom was hospitalized with cancer, I got to spend lots of time with her – lousy tradeoff. All these hard seasons had a spot of hope or joy in the midst of them.

Thankfulness is character building and leads to a better emotional state, improved relationships, and clearer understanding of God’s heart.

Friend, I wish you the very best Thanksgiving. I hope your jello set sand your marshmallows don’t burn. May your turkey get done on time and be juicy and delicious. Let the people at your table encounter Christ through you. Spread thankfulness habitually!

In the comments below tell me what you do or you’re going to do to develop thankfulness.

Forget Me Not Candied Nuts

November 15th is opening day of deer hunting season here in MI.

Mr. 4-Ever loves to be out in nature. He’s a great hunter with both the bow and the gun. Traditionally, he spends the week up north with eight to ten of his buddies. They sit in trees during the day, waiting for the perfect trophy buck to wander into sight so they can hang its head on the living room wall. In the evenings, hover around huge camp fires, belly laughing at bad jokes and swapping stories about the one that got away. 

Forget Me Not

I know better than to send anything resembling a salad or even a vegetable up with him, but I always send a blue ribbon dessert to share with the fellas.

This year I sent Forget Me Not Candied Nuts. They travel well, are super easy to make, always disappear in a flash and make your house smell wonderful while they’re in the oven.

Here’s the recipe: 

Forget Me Not Candied Nuts

A pound of nuts – nuts with grooves like pecans work best.
1 egg white
1 Tablespoon of water of which 1/2 teaspoon is vanilla
1 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Whip egg white with water and vanilla till foamy.
Add nuts, stir to coat.

Mix sugar, salt and cinnamon.
Shake over nuts.
Stir till coated.

Dump on 15x8x1? pan. If you line the pan with parchment paper, you’ll thank me later. 

Bake at 300 degrees for 20 minutes.
Remove from oven, let cool about an hour.
Store in airtight container.

Taste test liberally.
Enjoy!

In the comments below, share your favorite holiday recipe.

Try Something New

 

What’s new? 

A girlfriend I’d been wanting to know better called and asked if I’d like to get together and go for a walk. Alarms went off in my head. Meet for coffee? Sure. Go out for lunch? Yes! Walk? Mmmmn, no. “Walk?” I asked suspiciously. “Sure, walk and talk,” she replied cheerfully.

This is not a good idea, I thought. I hadn’t exercised in a long time. I don’t own yoga pants or exercise clothes. The closest thing to a walking shoe I own is a pair of Reeboks that I bought for an aerobics class I never went to in 1988. 

But I really liked this woman and wanted to spend the time with her.  It’s just walking, I figured. Surely I can try something new. I can walk!

Just to clarify, I asked, “Where would we walk?” I looked hopefully out the window as we talked, willing thunderstorms to come rolling in, but alas, clear skies.

“How about we walk around Reed’s Lake?” she said. Reeds Lake is a small body of water in the center of Grand Rapids. I only knew that because one of my favorite eateries was settled on its shoreline. Maybe I could divert her inside.

Another long pause on my part. Finally, “How far around is that?” “Just 4.15 miles.” The fact that my friend knew it was exactly 4 point 15 miles should have tipped me off that her pace was going to challenging. “We’ll go slowly and if you get tired, we’ll stop,” she said reading my mind. 

“Okay, sounds fun,” I lied.

I put on a pair of grey sweatpants that were actually old pajama bottoms and a T-shirt, laced up my venerable shoes, and set off to meet my girlfriend. 

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Key to Not Feeling Left Out!

Have you ever stumbled into a situation you wished you hadn’t?  

My feelings got hurt when several friends chattered away about a party EVERYONE had gone to. The conversation turned awkward with the realization that I hadn’t been asked to the festivities my friends were reminiscing about because I was no longer a party-girl. Not included.

My smile faded when I saw the beaming faces in my Facebook newsfeed of a friend’s wedding I wasn’t invited to attend. Not invited.

Tears fell hot as I read the note that my relative died but no one thought to notify me. Not remembered.

What do you do when you get left out?

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Tomorrow Is A Procrastinator’s Favorite Word

Tomorrow is my favorite time zone.

Full of promise and opportunity. If you’re a procrastinator, tomorrow might be one of your words in not favorite time zones.

I live in an old farm house with closets the size of your refrigerator. Consequently, I only have room for in-season clothes. Off-season clothing hibernates in the basement. Last weekend, I switched out summer outfits for winter layers.

And I discovered a problem!

My winter bottoms like jeans and slacks were TIGHT! Oh well, I’ll just back up the ice cream binging a bit and I’ll be back in those clothes in no time.

But, wait. Culver’s flavor of the day is my favorite Dark Chocolate Decadence. I can’t start today, I’ll start my regime … tomorrow.

I’ll start … tomorrow.

The next day, I remember we have company coming for dinner in and it would be rude to serve them rabbit food and no dessert.

Again I said, “I’ll start … tomorrow.”

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30 Day Thankfulness Challenge

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God works in mysterious ways

No doubt, God’s ways are far above my understanding, but He is often quite OBVIOUS in His direction. For the past several weeks, nearly every book, magazine article, podcast and Bible study lesson has touched on thankfulness.

Now, I like to think of myself as a thankful person, but apparently, God is raising the barre on my quota. He’s impressed on me to start a thankfulness journal. For one minute a day (I set a timer) I write what I am thankful for.

Initially, it was a piece of cake. It doesn’t take much effort to fill one minute with home, hubby, health, kids, etc., but now on day seven, the flow is slower. You can test me in this. I’d love the company.

Thankfulness rewires your mind. 

As the flow of things to write on my list dwindled from a stream to a trickle, I realize God is using this journal to cause me to deeply reflect on my blessings. 

Honestly, girls, God is wooing me and maybe to you, too, to appreciate what I have and not take it for granted. To chuck the “What have you done for me lately” attitude as I pray for more stuff and overlook what I already have.

Follow the example of Paul

Paul says in Phil 4:6, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice.” 

What he practices a lot is thankfulness.

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful” Col 3:15

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Say Yes To Jesus!

That’s why they call it Good News

At the close of a retreat last weekend, Camilla* came to me surrounded by her posse. All weekend I had talked about transformation and invited the audience to take one step closer to Jesus. Camilla wanted to know what her next step with Jesus should be.

She said, “I’m not all that close to Jesus, what do I do?”

“That depends. Tell me more. Have you received Jesus as Savior and gone cold?” I asked.

“No,”  she said, “I haven’t ever done that.”

I paused.

“Are you ready to do that now?”

The women standing around her held their position, their encouragement, and their breath.

“Yeah, I think I am,” she said. “What do I do?”

I said, “Put your hand in the air and say, ‘I say yes to Jesus.’”

She tried. The words got stuck. Her eyes leaked. Her face reddened. Then after about three minutes of trying to choke it out, she put her hand in the air, and stammered, “I say yes to Jesus!”

We all whooped and shouted and hugged her.

The process begins with the first step.

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