Having Hope While Your Grieving

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Having hope can change any situation. It paints what appears painful in a new light. Having hope is a practice. Its reminding yourself of the positive outcomes that have happened before and putting in faith in God for another positive outcome. It’s persevering through a uncomfortable or painful circumstance. It carries tenacity, endurance an attitude of not giving up.

When the thing you hoped for doesn’t happen. How do you continue to hope again? Loss is a powerful feeling. Mary Shannon Hoffpauir says in her study, Loose Control that we feel the pain of loss more intensely than the joy of victory. Jesus says very clearly in Matthew Chapter 5:4 that “Blessed are those who morn, for they will be comforted.”

The New Amplified Version explains that the focus of the verse is on sin, it reads “Blessed (forgiven, refreshed by God’s grace) are those who morn (over their sins and repent)” But I struggle with this translation. I believe it is for all kinds of morning. We can comfort each other in our losses even when we do not understand them. A good example of this is in 1 Samuel 23:15-18 David was hiding from Saul, who was out to kill him, in the wilderness of Ziph at Horesh when his friend Johnathan, Saul’s own son, went out to the woods and found David. Once he found David in the wilderness he offered him words of encouragement. Verse 17″Do not be afraid, the hand of my father Saul will not find you. You will be king over Israel and I will be second in command to you, my father Saul knows this too.”

Another example that comes to mind is that of Job’s friends in Chapter 2:13 They came and sat with their friend for seven days and seven nights. That alone was a comfort for Job. His friends kind of messed things up when they did finally open their mouths but I believe they were trying to help and show comfort in the beginning. Sometimes just being their for someone is a comfort.

Grieving any kind of loss takes a long time. When I injured my back in 2017 I went through a long period of grief, and I truly didn’t know why. I didn’t understand why I felt so sad and broken when every day I was healing. My therapist pointed out that I was grieving the person who I used to be. The person who wasn’t in continuous pain, who could drive for hours on the expressway. Who could pick up and carry her 4 year-old. I wasn’t her anymore and the things that came with that were hard. I still have days when I miss her.

Loosing someone you love takes a long time to heal from. I feel like since Covid has happened were are in a time of grief. It’s crazy how many people I know who are not here that were here a year ago. Some from the virus some just from life. God has been taking many people home. It says in Ecclesiastes 3:4 A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” Perhaps God is using this time to draw those of us that are still here closer to him.

God not only offers us comfort in our losses but he restores our hope. In Romans 8:28 it reads, “And we know that for those who love God all things that work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Even our losses in all their pain are being used to work together for our good. Another verse that echo’s this idea is Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

God is always there, even when we don’t feel him. He can always restore our hope.
David says in Psalm 42:5 a Psalm he penned when he first escaped from Saul, “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become restless and disturbed within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall again praise Him.” David says this twice in the 42nd Psalm. We as Christians have the luxury of God as our hope, even when we are filled with loss and grief.

If you are grieving I hope this brought you some comfort today. I would also like to pray with you. You are welcome to post any prayer requests in the comments.

Fighting Worry and Finding Peace

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Worry is something I have struggled with my whole life. As a child I was misdiagnosed with ADD. I constantly worried that I was bad, not good enough, not still enough, not right enough and not smart enough. This worry manifested into anxiety which kept me from being able to sit still, concentrate in school and reinforced the idea that, this child must really have ADD. It wasn’t until college when my French professor took me aside and recognized that I couldn’t spell my French vocabulary correctly that I was tested for dyslexia. Come to find out anxiety and a learning disability was what I really struggled with all those years in school. No wonder medication never helped. But damage was already done and I was a habitual worrier about everything.

When you spend so much time in a thought process it is hard to change it. I am thankful that through God’s grace my thought patterns are changing and my response to worry has changed with it. In Mark E. Moore’s book Core 52 He states, “Neuro-scientific research has given us the fascinating insight that protein branches hold our thoughts. In a real sense, thoughts create real estate in our brains. The more we dwell on a thought, the larger the constellation of proteins become.”

When we worry we are meditating negatively on an outcome. That constellation of proteins are getting bigger and bigger the more we worry about that outcome. I had some big constellations of proteins in my head, especially once I had children. When they were babies, before I’d go to sleep worse case scenario’s would roll though my head. I worried about them not waking up, being kidnapped all kinds of horrible things. I worried so much about them I didn’t enjoy being a parent until they were older and I started learning how to fight back against worry. You can fight back.

Moore explains that “worry stems from poor mental habits. It’s unnecessary, unproductive and unrealistic.” Joyce Meyers often compares worry to rocking in a rocking chair. Your moving but your not going anywhere. The good news is that the new testament spends a great amount of time encouraging us not to worry. Matthew Chapter 6 starting on verse 25 is an account of Jesus’s direction on worry.

“Therefore I tell you, stop being worried or anxious ( perpetually uneasy, distracted) about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, as to what you will wear, Is life not more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, they are neither sow (seed) nor reap (the harvest) nor gather (the crops) into barns, and yet your heavenly Father keeps feeding them. Are you not worth much more than they?”

God provides. I play keyboard on our church’s worship team and I have just started and I don’t have a lot of shoes or clothes that are appropriate. I was planning on going to the mall to get something I could wear to play this weekend. Which causes worry in itself because the mall is a public, busy place and I don’t want to catch Covid. I found out the Sunday before I was playing that it was “wear your jersey to church day” because it was Super Bowl Sunday. My husband had a colts Payton Manning jersey. I didn’t need to buy one. But I still felt a little silly wearing it because it was so old. So on Wednesday night I mentioned that I would be wearing an old school jersey. Well Sunday came and one of the singers generously wore her Manning jersey too and Payton was inducted into the Hall of Fame the night before. Suddenly It wasn’t so silly for me to be wearing an old jersey. God provided everything I needed. I didn’t need to worry about clothes at all.

The solution to worry according to Moore? Faith. Faith cancels out worry. Having faith that God is ultimately in control, loves you more than the birds and the flowers and will keep His promises is what fights worry. The outcome is peace. What a wonderful thing to replace that worry with, peace.

Instead of focusing on worry the Bible encourages us to focus on the good. Praise God, be thankful and gracious to Him. Philippians 4:6-9 says, “Finally brothers whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

We are told to instead of focusing on the negative thoughts that we are fed daily by Satan to focus on truth, honor, justice, pureness, loveliness and things that are worthy of praise. I love to hike, I love nature. When I get to go to a park or hike a trail I am surrounded by loveliness, and beauty and my attitude changes to one of joy. That’s just from changing my environment. Mark warns, “We can’t just rid ourselves a thought. That leaves a vacuum in its place, and the negativity gets sucked right back in. We must replace negative thoughts with God’s truths.” Meyers encourages us to say scripture out loud to combat these negative thoughts. For example instead of worrying about my clothes I could have said, “Jesus said not to worry about clothes, God loves me more than the birds and the flowers he will provide for me.” Worship music, listening to podcasts and sermons also help redirect our thoughts away from worry.

Don’t forget the opposite of worry is a peace of mind. Isn’t it wonderful that Jesus gave us peace. Peace despite the trouble we face. John 14:27 Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you, my perfect peace I give to you, not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. (Let my perfect peace calm you in every circumstance and give you courage and strength for every challenge.”AMP

The importance of Rest

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I have always, always struggled with rest. I just don’t sit still. If I’m not careful I can pile so much on my plate that it topples over and I crash with an illness, or a migraine or other awful things. As I recovered from my back surgery in 2017 God certainly slowed me down and taught me the importance of not over doing it but sometimes, I still do. Folks we do do not have super powers as much as we think we might. Our bodies and our minds and our spirits require rest. Even God who doesn’t require rest, rested after creation. Jesus repeatedly went up into the mountains to pray and rest. Part of taking care of yourself and managing your anxiety and depression is allowing yourself ample rest.

However, those of us who suffer from anxiety, depression, bi-polar disorder, and ADHD are much more likely to experience sleep disorders according to Harvard Mental Health Letter March 18, 2019. The article even goes on to say that sleep disorders, like insomnia can contribute to the illness and are not just a symptom. Lack of sleep can contribute to anxiety according to The Calm Clinic’s post on October 10, 2020 by Micah Abraham BSc. Lack of sleep reduces the stress coping ability. The article states that lack of sleep brings on physical stress on your muscles and brain stress affecting cognitive thinking.

I myself have struggled with sleep and didn’t even realize that was it until I started researching for this blog. I am a very light sleeper and wake up multiple times at night. I am on a medication that helps me sleep so I often fall back asleep but before this medication I would be up for hours. My middle daughter struggles with sleep we have tried many different methods to help her but it’s hit or miss most nights. I am also tired throughout the day and if I over do it and not rest I will sleep in or take naps for several days before I get back to normal.

So in conjunction with talking with your therapist about your sleep patterns there are suggestions that SleepFoundation.org has for restful sleep. I would add things like yoga and essential oils have also helped me relax and get ready for bed. They suggest:

  1. Establish a relaxing bedtime routine
  2. Keep a consistent sleep schedule
  3. Use your bed for only sleep and sex
  4. Make your bedroom quiet and relaxing
  5. Limit exposure to bright light in the evening.

So we’ve talked about the importance of daily rest, but what about weekly rest? Do we still need to have a Sabbath day? And what would that look like? Mark E. Moore in his book Core 52 explains in chapter 28 that ” Creations greatest productivity is within a cycle that includes rest…Our minds, emotions and bodies need time to marinate, clear the clutter, dream and reorganize. Without rest our work is impeded because our creativity is stifled.”

Implementing a day of rest in our week can make us more productive and creative. We won’t feel such burn out and we will be able to enjoy our lives!

This is my new challenge. Something I need to be doing is implementing a day of rest in my week. It used to be Monday but I will admit it has not been every Monday, just the Mondays I felt tired. I took yesterday as a Sabbath day and it was needed. I rested, I did minimal cleaning and my quiet time. I did make dinner but It felt good to sleep in and rest. It allowed me to recharge and has made today a much easier day. I challenge you if you don’t have a Sabbath day in your week to have one. Try it for a month and see if it makes a difference in your mood, productivity and well being.

Goals for a New Year, Add Some Exercise

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I started this year off with a few changes. I wanted to get physically healthier. So I am fasting sugar and pop for 21 days, almost there, and have tried to do at least 20 minutes of yoga everyday. Christians can do yoga? Yes we can. It’s a little different we focus on God instead of just meditating. I don’t hum. Yoga is a wonderful way to exercise if you struggle with anxiety and depression.

Exercise of any kind releases endorphins and those are needed for you to feel good. Yoga teaches you how to control your breath which helps with anxious thoughts. Due to my back, knee and foot problems other exercises are harder for me to do. I am still at beginner speed but I can do most yoga without injuring myself. Currently I practice yoga by watching You Tube videos from the channel Christians Do Yoga there website is http://christiansdoyoga.com.

This channel has great videos for beginners up to advance. Since I have been doing yoga everyday I feel calmer, I’m in a better overall mood and I can move my body easier.

In these videos the instructor gives us a Bible verse to focus on and then moves you through a yoga flow with prayer at the end. She even has a 10 days of Holy Yoga practice where the instructor says, “It’s not about the yoga but your daily time with God.”

It’s something I’ve started to look forward too. You might say you don’t have time to exercise but I’m sure you have 20 minutes. The nice thing about yoga is you can do it day or night. It energizes you or can help you sleep better. Some churches and YMCA’s offer yoga classes. Ours did until covid happened. I am excited for it to start again.

What kind of goals have you made for yourselves this coming year? I would love to hear about them in the comments.

Welcome 2021 Be Thankful for a New Year

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Newness is a concept the Bible is full of, newness of self, of life and of time. We are stepping into a new year, which is already shown us this week is full of new challenges, new leadership and new struggles. But we don’t have to focus on the negative. We can focus on the positive of the gift God has given us all in a new year. Lamentations 3:19 -23 reminds us that his mercies are new every morning. Everyday we get a fresh start to begin again.

“Remember (O Lord) my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and the gall (bitterness). My soul continually remembers them and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, therefore I have hope. It is because of the Lord’s lovingkindness that we are not consumed, Because of his tender compassions never fail. They are new every morning, Great and beyond measure is your faithfullness.”

Lets unpack these verses for a minute. The writer of Lamentations, Jeremiah, says he is afflicted with wormwood and gall, bitterness. I know when I struggle with depression and hardship it is so tempting to become bitter. To dwell in the past and let my heart become hard. Jeremiah admits that “his soul remembers them. Just like us these thoughts are swirling around in his mind. But Jeremiah also says he bows his soul down with him. He surrenders his bitterness to the Lord and the Lord gives him hope. He states that because of the Lord’s loving kindness He is not consumed by his thoughts. He does not become hopeless.

I know for many of us, on both sides of the political gambit it’s easy to look around at last week and become hopeless. My heart has grieved heavily for the state of our country this past week. But I can lay that down, let go of the extra anxiety and lay it at Jesus’s feet in prayer and start each day afresh. My mind does not need to dwell on it or the other struggles I may have the past day. I have hope that this next day will be better. That I can begin again and make the best out of it. I can have hope and be thankful for the gift a new day is.

Below is a song I wrote on April 28, 2020 about God’s mercies. I hope you enjoy. You can hear the song here https://youtu.be/BX4eh5faubk.

Your Mercies are new every morning

Let your mercy fall on me

So much pain and fear surround me

Keep me hidden in your wings

Humbled in your presence

 I want to stay with you

So let your Mercy fall on me,

Fall on me

Your Mercies are new every morning

Pour your mercy on me

Your mercies are new every morning

Pour your mercy on me

Your rest is there in the evening

Let your rest abide in me

But Worldly things pull at every side

Let your rest abide in me

Like a child I want your hand Lord

Like a sheep I want a guide

So let your mercy fall on me, Lord

Like rain, Let your mercy fall on me

Your Mercies are new every morning

Pour your mercy on me

Your Mercies are new every morning

Pour your mercy on me

Weapons for Daily Battle: Worship

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“I’m no longer a slave of fear, I am a child of God..”  The first time I heard that song I was at a Karitos Worship and Arts Mini Conference which took place in Indianapolis. It was one of the songs we were singing during worship and we were singing and dancing. During the interlude one of the members of the praise band on stage said he felt that God wanted to bring healing and asked us to start praying for healing. At the time my daughter was with me and had a sprained ankle. I naturally started praying for her But God had other plans. A few moments later the speaker said He felt someone was going to be healed from Bi Polar. I stopped dead, in shock. I though certainly there is someone else in here suffering from that he’s talking about, but no He was talking about me. I had been diagnosed BI-polar II and was on three different medications for it and still struggled. That was in 2015. Within weeks of the conference I noticed I wasn’t having highs and lows anymore. I still struggled with anxiety but it wasn’t as extreme and panic attacks lessened. Now I’m on one medication at its lowest dose. I don’t have extreme highs and lows and  I’ve learned how to manage my anxiety. I believe he healed me that day. I didn’t deserve it. I certainly didn’t ask for it, I thought “this is my life now,” But he healed me because of his grace and mercy.

God created us to worship Him. When we worship him, whether it be by singing worship music, saying praises to him, or even serving Him he will come to meet with us. Ever heard of someone saying “God showed up” that’s what I’m talking about. Worship is a powerful weapon against depression and anxiety. It causes you to take your eyes off your problems and focus on  the God who created everything, who is in control. It gives you a sense of peace and assurance despite your current circumstance. It renews hope.

Worshiping God on a regular basis also changed your mindset and your heart. It aids in the transformation that God promises in Romans 12:2′ Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Mark E. Moore in his book Core 52 cites Music and Service, two forms of worship, as one of the four things God gives us to use against cultural influence or the “world”.  He says this about music. ” Music bypasses the gatekeeper of the soul. Worship music exhalts God, and we get caught in the upward draft. It lifts us to places we want to be. The heavier your past baggage, the more helium of worship you’ll need to raise you where you want to be. “p288.

That updraft brings us closer to God and closer to what His will is for us and each other. And our mindsets change, we become less selfish, more aware of those around us who need us. More likely to serve which in itself is a form of worship.  I can tell you many wonderful stories of healing, repentance and just love that has come out of worship experiences I’ve had. But even if those things aren’t happening in your life worship should still take place. We serve an amazing God and he can transform us if we bring ourselves close to Him. Worship is just another avenue to do that. 

Weapons for Daily Battle: Love

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Happy Christmas Eve to everyone. It has been a difficult week to write with everyone home from school and Christmas to get ready for. However I couldn’t leave out one of the most powerful weapons we have in doing battle with fear, anxiety and depression and that is the weapon of Love. An act of love, no matter how small can bring peace, calm fears, sooth depression and stop anxiety in its tracks. ” There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.” 1 John 4:18. and we my friends have been filled with God’s perfect love for the sole purpose to share it.

I believe we all have a purpose. Every single one of us was put on this earth with a purpose to fulfill. As Christians we are told what one of our purposes is its to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength…and Love your neighbor as yourself…” Mark 12:30-31. That commandment is our purpose and when we choose to act in that love when we are fearful, depressed or anxious it takes the focus off of ourselves and onto God and other people which is where it should be. Its not easy to love someone when your suffering. The love that God calls us to is not an easy love that we do because we feel like it. It’s hard, sometimes scary but always good in the end.

It’s also not easy to accept love when your suffering. But God does not want us to shut ourselves off or down. He wants us to communicate and have community. He wants us to accept help, and love when its given to us, even if its not done the “right way or the way we would have done it.” By receiving love from others and from God himself we are able to give it to others more abundantly. I just watched the 2019 film Klaus for the first time this week. One of the themes of the movie is that one good, selfless act spurs others on to doing good. That how love works. You share it to someone and they feel loved they can share it to someone else.

God loves us, Jesus loves us, more than we can imagine and that love is never-changing. We were called to be lights in the world and to share that love with others. Whatever your purpose, whatever God calls you to do, know that loving other people will be at the center of it.

I hope you have a good Christmas. Ours looks very different from what were used too but that’s ok. I challenge you to show love to others even more so this year than in the past. So many people are suffering and need to feel God’s kind of love.

Weapons for Daily Battle: Joy

Stephanie Bowman

I have a friend who has found the secret of joy. She has not lived an easy life. She has overcome alcoholism, a debilitating spinal cord injury and the loss of her mother. But none of those things define her. What defines her is the three little words she puts at the end of every Facebook post I see. “I choose Joy.”

Webster defines the word joy as the ” emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires. The state of happiness or felicity.” But Biblical Joy is more than just a state or feeling its an attitude, one you have to decide to choose daily.

Tim Macke of the Bible Project explains it this way in their video Chara: Joy. (You can view the video herehttps://youtu.be/qvOhQTuD2e0.) ” Joy is an attitude God’s people adopt not because of happy circumstances but because of their hope in God’s love and promise.”

When my friend, Stephanie Bowman, decided to start choosing joy she was not in a happy circumstance. She was grieving the loss of her mother. After spending a few weeks in a deep depression she realized She needed to make changes and could choose joy from within herself. “I can’t change depression but can change how I address it and change my attitude,” Bowman said.

This attitude of joy can be seen as a theme in both the new and old testament. When the Israelites escaped the Egyptians after the red sea was parted they found themselves in the desert and the first thing they did was sing for joy. Even though they were in the desert and the promise land was far away they still celebrated.

Isaiah writes about the coming of the Lord with joy. “So the redeemed of the Lord will return and come with joyful shouting to Zion and everlasting joy will be on their heads. They will obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing will flee away,” Isaiah 51:11 AMP

Jesus spoke of having joy when you are insulted and persecuted in Matthew 5:12-13 “Blessed ( morally courageous and spiritually alive with life-joy in God’s goodness) are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil things against you because of (your association with) me. Be glad and exceedingly joyful, for your reward in heaven is great (absolutely inexhaustible) for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

James said “Consider it nothing but joy, my brothers and sisters whenever you fall into various trials.” James 1:2

Paul spoke tons about being joyful and content. Philippians 3:1 :Finally my fellow believers continue to rejoice and delight in the Lord.”

Mackie puts it this way, “The joy of Gods people is not determined by their struggles but by their future destiny.” We can be joyful because we know the end game. We know who is going to win in the end and that were on the winning team. We can rejoice that in the end our affliction will be healed, our emptiness will be made whole, justice will be served and Jesus will return.

Do we still struggle with our circumstances? Of course. Bowman said it wonderfully, “I can be mad, sad and have all those feelings but in the end I accept things and have a positive attitude.” Bowman and I agree that this is a hard thing to do when your in the blows of depression. Bowman has struggled with depression her whole life. She said she still struggles with it ” Everyday but I just can’t let it define who I am. And when your in the depths of depression it sounds hokey, But some of it can be controlled by you.”

Choosing joy is a weapon that sets us above our circumstances. Bowman has used much of the memory of her mother to help her get through dark days. She said her mom always called her, “her little Joybell.” and even had a tattoo made of her mother’s handwriting with a bell labeled joy below it. She also has adopted her mother’s two favorite verses to be her own. Psalms 118:24 “This is the day the Lord has made, Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” and Psalms 19:14 “Let the words of my mouth and the mediation of my heart be acceptable and pleasing in your sight, O Lord my rock and my Redeemer.”

“I choose to let my thoughts and my actions be positive to glorify God.” Bowman said.

   When asked what she would say to someone who struggles with depression Bowman said,” Don’t give up. There’s so much out there about suicide but it’s a permanent solution to a temporary problem. You wont’ stay in that valley forever.” She also said, ” Reach out. Things are not always as perfect as on social media.”

Having a friend like her is such a good reminder to me that I can also choose joy whatever circumstance I find myself in. I hope this encourages you to choose joy too.

Christmas Fine Motor Activity Advent Holiday Ladder

We are currently in quarenteen, awaiting results from tests and my sweet boy needed something to do. He is super smart but struggles with fine motor skills and writing, so together we came up with this fun craft that really works those pincher fingers. We had spent the morning reading “The Polar Express” and discussing the book so our first attempt at this Christmas ladder reflected that. We had so much fun we made a second ladder about Advent. Here are the steps to make your own Christmas Ladder.

The supplies you need are construction paper, ribbon, a hole puncher, paint, q-tips, marker, scissors and pencil. You may also want paper towels to cover the table and a paper plate to put the paint on.

First you will take your construction paper and fold it in thirds. Then cut the paper on the fold. Write your words in black marker on the center of each third. like so.

Next have your child pick out what color of paint they would like to use and put a little bit of it on the paper plate. Have your child dab the tip of a Q-tip in the paint. This is there “paint brush.” Have them make dots around all the letters of your words. Then let them dry. We played a game of checkers while we waited for ours to dry. Well we tried, my son is very competitive and likes to make up new rules while he’s playing games so we didn’t actually finish the game. Thankfully the paint dries fast and we were able to move on to the next step. Using the hole punch. My son truly enjoyed this step.

Using the pencil put little dots on the top and bottom of each card except the last one of where you want the hole punch to go. This will help your child line up the hole punch when using it. On the last card only put dots on the top of the card, not the bottom. With adult supervision have your child put a hole punch over where you made your pencil mark. All your cards should have four holes, two on top and two on the bottom except for your last one which will have 2 holes only on top.

Next lay your cards on the table in order. Taking the ribbon loosely measure how much ribbon you will need to go through all the holes leaving a little extra at the top. Cut the ribbon with the tip at an angle. This will help little hands get the ribbon through the holes. Next tie a knot in the upper left hole on the last card. Then have your child take the other side of the ribbon and feed it into the hole of the bottom left hole of the second to the last card from the back to the front. Have the ribbon then go out the top left hole of the second to last card. Attach all the cards together in this fashion on the left side of the ladder until you get to the top card.

When you get to the top card help your child make a little slack going across the top of the card with the ribbon. Starting on the front of the right top hole on the top card feed the ribbon through the top right hole and out the bottom right hole. Continue the pattern till you get to the bottom card. When you get to the bottom card tie a knot in the right top hole. Straighten your cards so their spaced evenly and hang up and display. We put ours by our advent calendar.




Weapons for Daily Battle: Peace

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It amazes me how God orchestrates my life. I had no intention on writing about Advent but it falls beautifully with this series. If your doing an advent study you’ll find this week is about peace. I will tell you this week, my peace is being tested. I like many others in this world will go for a test tonight to see if I have been exposed to the Covid virus. I was around someone last week who tested positive and although I have no symptoms I am getting tested. I will tell you not knowing the outcome of all of this has my peace in battle. Fear and anxiety and worry are all huge factors that I am battling with and one of my current prayers is that of peace. Peace in my house and peace in me.

The Biblical definition of peace is different from the worlds definition of peace, much like that of hope. The Hebrew word of peace is Shalom and it is defined as complete or whole. “Shalom refers to something that is complex or has many pieces that’s in a state of completeness.” according to Tim Mackie in the Bible Project’s video Shalom-Peace. You can view the video here https://youtu.be/oLYORLZOaZE .

“The core idea is that life is complex and full of moving parts and relationships and situations and whenever one of these things is out of alignment or missing your Shalom breaks down and life is no longer whole and needs to be restored.” Mackie explains.

I will be honest worry, fear, anxiety often break down my Shalom. So how can you have peace in difficult circumstances?

Paul talks about having this kind of peace in Philippians 4:7. “And the peace of God ( that peace which reassures the heart, that peace) which transcends all understanding, (that peace which) stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (is yours.) ” AMP

God’s peace transcends over our hearts and our minds. I have experienced this peace before very clearly when our cat died 5 years ago. We came home to find her blind and covered in her own urine. She had a stroke while we were at work. She was crying and confused. My husband and kids panicked but I didn’t feel panic. I felt grief but I wasn’t paralyzed by it I was able to take the necessary steps to get her to the emergency vet. I was ok making the decision to put her to sleep as well as all the other decisions that entails. It wasn’t an easy day, it was a hard day but I felt peace as I walked through it.

Jesus said right before he ascended to heaven “Peace I leave with you, My (perfect) peace I give to you, not as the world gives do I give you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. “Let my perfect peace calm you in every circumstance and give you courage and strength for every challenge.” Goodness do I need to hear that today. His peace gives us strength and courage for whatever we are facing.

Joyce Meyers often quotes this verse and then states that We already have peace. Jesus gave it to us there and it is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit that were given to us as seeds when we accepted Christ into our hearts. She explains the problem is we don’t utilize this peace and her point makes sense. If Shalom is defined as completeness and we are complete in Christ we have peace.

In Advent we celebrate the peace that Christ brings and that wholeness in Him is just that. So when we are in a battle. As I find myself today, we must remind ourselves that we already have peace and stand on it. Exercising our peace will increase our faith and trust in Jesus. It’s a knowing that God is in control of our circumstances that will foster peace in us.