Snow Trails

For the entirety of my 18 year long relationship with my husband he has wanted to take me skiing.  And every time he ever brought it up I absolutely refused. The reason for this was threefold: 1) I love to run and was terrified of breaking a leg or tearing a meniscus  2) I hate, and I mean hate being out in the cold and 3) I’m a bit claustrophobic and the idea of having my feet strapped into tight fitting boots that are then attached to skis just made me cringe.  Plus, it generally just seemed terrifying. For these reasons I gave an emphatic “No” to skiing. Every. Single. Time. But, when all my husband wanted to do for his 40th birthday was go skiing with a bunch of friends and me, what could I do but smile and with a heavy sigh say, “Okay.”  

I hate to spoil the ending right here and now, so I won’t give everything away just yet; but as you may have inferred, I did live to write about this whole endeavor despite my many oppositions (and with nothing broken or torn I might add).   So without further adieu, here are my two big take-a-ways from this experience: 

1:  I learned a helpful way to calm anxiety/ fear.   I have never been one to struggle with anxiety and in general I’m not an overly anxious person.  However, as I said a few sentences back, there have been some incidents in my life where my claustrophobic tendencies have created some problems.  Case in point: a wetsuit. Yup, a wetsuit. I really wanted to do a half-ironman triathlon, but in order to do that I was going to have to conquer my irrational fear of forever being trapped in a tight rubber suit.  Because seriously, I really wanted to do that race but wasn’t about to go without one in the cold waters of Michigan in early June. Thanks to some helpful exposure therapy techniques from a former co-worker (who is also a very good friend), I was able to successfully navigate that goal.  Looking back, I probably should have utilized some of the same exercises for the skis as I did for the wetsuit. But as they say, hindsight is 20/20.  

Outside of the ski rental building my husband patiently helped me get my boot locked into the ski.  I was feeling overwhelmed at that point. The combination of all the people flying down the slopes and the sight of the lifts had me feeling so anxious.  Pretty much the second the boot locked into place I felt like I was going to pass out. I said to him, “I don’t think I can do this.” As he was getting my other boot in the ski he said, “Sure you can.  Anybody can ski, just like anybody can run.” He spoke these words with such a calm confidence that I weirdly just believed him. I then looked at the lifts circling around and around and thought, “Ok, I don’t have to get on the lift now.  I just have to stand here with the skis on.”  And that was the approach I took for the rest of the day.  Rather than look at what was yet to (potentially) come, I decided to instead focus on the task at hand.  One thing at a time.   

It was amazing how well that tactic worked.  During the group lesson I continued to keep my focus in the moment and concentrated on carrying out the ski instructor’s directions.  If I started to worry about the lift, the people, or the big hills I would just think, “Ok, that’s not what we’re doing now.  All I have to do right now is take small sideways steps with my skis up this bunny hill.”  It may sound silly, but it got me through my fear.  I’d like to say by the end of the day I was a skiing pro, but unfortunately, that’s not quite accurate.  I did have a few good runs on the slopes though (complete with some awesome wipeouts). But I didn’t have a panic attack and I didn’t bail to go hang at the lodge.  For me, that was a raving success.  

Another tactic that kept my anxiety in check was being aware of the beauty around me and focusing on what was enjoyable.  The brilliant snow covered trees and the white slopes were truly stunning. As I said, I’m not a fan of the cold, but I do enjoy the loveliness of a fresh snowfall.  Incidentally, I was pleasantly surprised by how warm I felt all day. Being outside breathing in the crisp winter air but feeling comfortable at the same time was refreshing.  What was also enjoyable was the amazing time we were having with our friends. It truly was an unforgettable day of love and laughter. And best of all, my husband was spending his birthday exactly as he had wanted.  

I know in some way, shape, or form we all have our anxious moments.  Whether it’s wrestling with an actual anxiety disorder, being prone to worry, or getting caught up in the “what if’s” of life by thinking too far ahead, feel free to take a cue from my day on the slopes and remind yourself, “I don’t have to do [x] right now.  All I need to focus on is this present task.”  By staying in the present and focusing on one thing at a time we save ourselves from a lot of needless angst- and in the process, we are better able to turn our attention to the beauty around us.  Because whether we acknowledge it or not, it’s there. And as I found, it’s really hard to be anxious when you’re recognizing the blessings around you.   

2.  Don’t let fear keep you from trying something new.  At the end of the day I felt like I was having a bit of a “Green Eggs and Ham” moment.  You all know that book, right? I will not eat them Sam I Am, I do not like green eggs and ham!”  Yeah. We also all know how that story ends. Now, I’m not saying skiing is my new favorite activity, but I did actually enjoy it and would love the chance to go again.  The reason for this is twofold: 1) My competitive nature kicked in and I really want to improve my skills to become a better skier and 2) It was a great way to spend the day with my husband and our friends…which is reason enough to layer up and hit the slopes any time.  

In short, my only regret about the experience is that it took so many years for me to finally say, “Yes.”  The next time an adventure is waiting I won’t let my anxieties hold me back. Instead, I’ll keep in mind the possibility of being pleasantly surprised by something unexpected.  I’ll err on the side of hope and optimism rather than fear. 

Love and Mirrors

In light of tomorrow being Valentine’s Day, I thought it would only be appropriate to write about the topic of love.  Now, before you roll your eyes or close the window on your screen, you should know that this is going to be a pretty brutal post.  And for that you have Michael Jackson to thank. 

I woke up Saturday morning with the idea to write about serving one another in love- and  on my 5 minute drive home from the grocery at 8:30am the radio confirmed this was the way to go.  I mean, it was like divine intervention via the FM. I couldn’t even tell you the last time I heard the song Man in the Mirror on the radio, yet there it was blaring in my Ford Focus (don’t judge- the heated seats are amazing).  Say what you want about Michael, but that song gets me every time. Probably because I remember that music video so vividly. I was only 7 years old when it was released, but those images of starving children and other gruesome historical events still flash in my mind every time I hear that song.  I truly think as a child that was my first glimpse of the ugliness of the world. Yet the video footage is somehow counterbalanced by the positive and hopeful message that change in the world is possible, and that it starts with…me.  

That morning as I listened in my car, the lyrics “I’ve been a victim of a selfish kind of love” jumped out at me.  You know why? Not because others have been selfish in their love for me, but because that is my number one obstacle to loving others well.  I like things that are comfortable and convenient, and if I’m being super honest, things that play to my interests. That doesn’t sound very much like love, and it certainly doesn’t sound like Jesus.  

Any ideas this world had about love were pretty much flipped upside down when Jesus showed up.  He taught that the first shall be last and the last shall be first; that those who want to be great must be servant to all.  Christ was the ultimate example of sacrificial serving love; for Jesus himself, the Son of God, came to earth from all of his heavenly glory to wash the feet of sinful men and to die a grotesque death on a cross.  As Matthew 20:28 tells us, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  As Christians that is our model; we are to imitate Christ by loving as he loved. 

It’s funny the things that stick with you sometimes.  After returning home from a Toronto missions trip in 1999 one of our youth leaders very wisely created a board (which hung on the wall of our youth room) comprised of a water bottle, brown paper lunch bag, and a squeegee.  Above the board was the verse “Whatever you did for the least of these brothers of mine, you did unto me” (Matthew 25:40).  It stood as a beautiful reminder of our trip, and every time I looked at it I could picture myself and the others giving food and water to the homeless and helping the “squeegee kids” earn some extra money.  It also reminded me that when I serve others, I am ultimately serving Jesus. To this day I cannot read (or hear) that verse without thinking of that board.     

When it comes to weeks like Toronto, it’s easy to have a servant mentality because the whole point of the trip is to serve others.  I am forever thankful for those trips (perhaps more on them in a future post), for they impacted me very deeply and in some important ways, set the stage for my future.  But for me, where it gets really real is serving the people in my every day life. It’s easy to get focused on my agenda, making sure I get the things done that I want to do.  I take care of myself, but in the process forget to take care of others. It might show up in simple things- like taking my dirty dishes to the sink but not offering to take my spouse’s, or sitting on the couch for an extended period of time reading (or writing) instead of playing that game of Clue with my 8 yr old.  But it also shows up in bigger things like my attitude or filtering my whole thought process through my own lens first rather than thinking about what someone else might want or need.  

When my husband and I got married on June 19, 2004 we had a foot washing ceremony to symbolize our commitment to serving one another in love.  Before all of our family and closest friends we got on our knees- me in my wedding dress and he in his tux- to demonstrate this servant love Jesus calls us to.  I’m so grateful we did this, and although it is at times painfully convicting, it helps me to remember the way I am to love him. And trust me, over the last 15 years of marriage my husband has by far been the better model of this.  I am acutely aware that I need to continuously be in prayer for God to incline my heart to servant love- both for my spouse and for others.  

James 1:23-24 says, “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror.  For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.” It seems I’ve come full circle on this post as once again the idea of a mirror is used to call us to action.  I want to be a doer. Specifically, a doer who with humility serves others in love. I need to remember that just as I am feeding Jesus by giving a homeless man in Toronto a sandwich, so am I serving Him when I serve my husband, children, friends, co-workers, and strangers. 

As Michael said, it does start with the man in the mirror- but with a pivotal twist.  I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this kind of love is beyond my sinful capability; for it is only through the power of the Holy Spirit and Christ in me that this love is possible.  To love others well I have to stay connected to the One who is love Himself. May this be ever in the forefront of our minds as we take up the call to walk in servant love with the One who served and loved us perfectly. 

Recovery Lessons

Every once in awhile a member of one of my drug and alcohol recovery groups will ask why I’ve chosen a profession involving addicts.  They know I’m not in recovery myself, and sometimes they get curious as to what the motivation is to work with them. I often share that I’m passionate about watching people change their lives- and when it comes to true recovery, no change is more evident.  I share with them that when I first became a therapist I facilitated a group for women in recovery who had lost custody of their young children; and how that experience shaped my understanding of the ugly grasp with which an addiction can take hold of someone.  I share how over the last 13 years my clients (both in individual and group sessions) have been my greatest teachers about addiction. And I share with them how I truly enjoy them as people.   

Conversely, I’m sometimes asked questions about my job or addiction from various family, friends,  and acquaintances who have little to no contact with those walking the line of sobriety. I’m always happy to relate my experiences and to educate anyone about the process of addiction and recovery because I believe it is this knowledge that leads to greater compassion and meaningful solutions.  It is my great hope that more and more people will become familiar with the challenges faced by those striving to abstain from all mood altering substances. To that end I thought I would share a small portion of what I have learned about recovery from those who have taught me the most.  

If I could summarize all I’ve learned about a true recovery lifestyle in one word it would be ‘humility.’  I’ve had many clients who have been court ordered to services, but until someone is ready (and able) to admit they have a problem, no help will be had.  In fact, the first step of the Twelve Steps of AA/NA is admitting powerlessness over the addiction, and admitting life has become unmanageable. This step is incredibly difficult-but also incredibly freeing.  This is the step that sets the stage for turning over one’s will and acknowledging the need for something bigger than the “self” to restore sanity and life. It is this step which sets the precedence for the rest of recovery, for humility is key in every aspect along the way.  

Throughout treatment and all the following years, one has to admit they don’t “know it all,” and continuously be open to feedback from others about their faults and character defects.  To truly make it in recovery, one needs to remain open to learning, and be able to take responsibility for mistakes. And let’s not forget about being able to ask for help when it is needed; to reach out to supports when life is hard, and to be honest about what you’re feeling when you feel it.  All of this takes an insane amount of humility and hard work, and serves as a reminder that recovery is so much more than stopping the actual substance. It truly is a lifestyle and an opportunity to live deeper and richer than ever before.  

The truth is, I see the need for myself to put into practice everything ever discussed in my groups or individual sessions.  And while I absolutely acknowledge my need for a Savior (because I could never in a thousand lifetimes have a righteousness of my own that would merit standing in the presence of a holy God), I know I need to practice daily humility in admitting my faults, weaknesses, and struggles.  I need to stay open to what others have to teach me and recognize that I don’t know it all. Without a doubt I need to ask for help way more often than I currently do- and to let myself be truly known by others.  

I am so grateful for the years I’ve spent in rooms and around tables learning these hard lessons alongside my clients.  At the end of the day, my biggest takeaway from my job is a reminder that I need to continuously practice humility and stay connected in my relationships with family, friends, and most importantly, God.  I’ve learned that although I may not be in recovery from substances, I certainly have my share of stuff to work on- and in that way, we’re all in this together.   

Fullness of Life Through Freedom in Christ

Galatians 5:1: “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” 

If you’ve ever seen the movie Braveheart, the first image likely to come into your mind is  Mel Gibson’s blue painted face screaming, “FRRREEEEEEDDDOOOMMM!” as he rides into battle to bravely defend Scotland.  And if you’re a proud American, you likely proclaim that our country is great because it is free.  Our beautiful National Anthem even resounds this triumph with the concluding words, “O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”  No matter how many times I’ve heard it, those majestic lyrics are enough to bring me (or any other patriot) to tears.  

It’s amazing how much strong emotion is brought on by the word and concept of freedom.  And rightly so- for it is the inborn desire of every person to be free. We yearn for the ability to think, speak, and act without hinderance or restraint; to not be governed by a foreign entity; and to not be imprisoned or enslaved to any person or thing.  

The quest for freedom takes form in many aspects of our lives.  This is evidenced by advertisements aimed at helping us find financial freedom, or advertisements informing us how working at home allows freedom in schedule setting or travel.  We even seek freedom in our physical appearance, choosing clothing, accessories, and hairstyles that reflect who we are as a person. And when it comes to relationships (or even our appearance), we might lean into phrases like, “I’m free to be me.”  We go after freedom in every category of life because it brings relief, joy, and peace.  Some might even say freedom is the foundation for life itself.  

As much as I enjoy the freedoms of this country, or believe in the benefits of financial freedom, or value the right to self-expression and healthy relationships, the truth is, these are not the freedoms I really need.  They are the freedoms I love and enjoy…but they cannot save my soul.  

Galatians 5:1 tells us it is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  This freedom is twofold: 1)Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we are forgiven. Meaning, no longer can Satan (or anyone else for that matter) accuse us before God.  Our sins have been paid for in full, and for those who are in Christ, we can stand before God Almighty, uncondemned, covered in His grace. And 2) We are no longer slaves to sin; sin has been dethroned as our master!  Instead, we become servants to Christ. If you find this unsettling or confusing, take comfort in Romans 6:22 which says, “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.”  

It may seem paradoxical, but a life lived in service to the Savior of the world is the life of true freedom.  There is no lasting joy to be had when we are in slavery to our sin- for this is a slavery that leads to death.  There is however, infinite and eternal joy found in living obediently to Christ- for this is a servitude that leads to life.  

Indeed, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  This freedom is the entire theme of this website as well as my book, Remade: Living Free.  I humbly invite you to join with me in the pursuit of understanding the depths of this freedom given to us by the God who loves us immeasurably.    

Isaiah 55:9

I’m not really sure why, but I often think about some morbid topics in my every day life- maybe because of my profession, or the constant stream of sadness in the news, or maybe because I feel the need to prepare myself for tragedy. Whatever the reason, I was thinking of these things on a late Sunday afternoon run and praying that God would give me strength and faith to accept whatever was to come my way in the future. I was thinking in terms of some ultimate trauma like losing my spouse or a child, or even experiencing something like the Holocaust (like I said, my mind goes to some deep places sometimes). It may not sound like it, but it really was a nice run! I came home to a homemade pizza made by my daughter and we all sat cozily in the living room eating our dinner and watching a movie. At one point I heard my phone buzz rapid fire style but chose to ignore it until we finished our family time.

Turns out at the end of those message notifications was some really tragic news. The kind of news that makes you instantly deny its truth…until you realize that no, that terrible thing really did happen. Even as I’m writing this I think I’m still in a state of disbelief. While the news did not involve a personal friend or family member, the circumstance was such that it brought me to many tears and left me thinking, Ok God…..Why??? Nothing about what had happened made sense. Not one iota.

Over the last 24 hours my mind has has come to rest on the truth of Isaiah 55:9: “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” In light of yesterday’s news and the trials of the future yet to be endured, this is what I must cling to. I have to remember that I can only see in part while God sees in full. And that is so hard because I want to know God’s ultimate purpose now. I want to see how He’s going to use this for His glory now. Because it doesn’t make sense to me…and I want an explanation. Ahhhhh. But then I remember who I am and who God is and I focus my mind on the above mentioned verse. I surrender to the fact that some things I’m not meant to know.

I’m sure there were many people in the Bible who never really knew the extent of God’s plans. While the Apostle Paul could see the fruits of his labor while he lived, he had no way to know the magnitude of influence his writings would have on the Christian Church. And I’m guessing Zacchaeus and the woman caught in adultery couldn’t possible understand how their seemingly small interactions with Jesus would communicate the depths of his love for lost sinners for centuries to come. Now we know in part, but someday we will know in full (1 Corinthians 12:12). Until then, we go on in full assurance of faith that God is good, faithful, just, and most importantly, love. It is not lost on me that I was praying for strength to accept God’s will on that run. I’m in awe that during those miles God was already at work lovingly preparing my heart- which shows just how good and faithful He is. I praise God that indeed, His ways are not my ways, and His thoughts are not my thoughts.

Cows: Part II

I’m not really one for country running, but when one visits the land of Twelve Mile it’s pretty much the only option. It’s actually a nice change up from my usual routes through my flat hometown. The rolling hills make for some good training and often a deer or two can be seen standing in a field or leaping into the woods. All of this makes for a beautiful and peaceful run. But at the top of the long gravel hill on 625 N there is always a herd of cattle grazing in their lot (is that the right word…this non-country-girl is unsure of the farm lingo) I always get a kick out of the cows as they spectate this rare running scene in their countryside domain. Usually the cattle might smell a little, but nothing too extreme. (For reference, the first time I visited my husband’s childhood home I told him it smelled like the fair…that’s when he looked at me and said, “You’re such a townie.”)

On this particular run however, the smell was significantly magnified as it had been raining for the last day or so and the cow lot (barn lot maybe?) had become a muddy muddy mess. As I ran by the cows they stampeded away (rather than just standing there to watch me like they usually do) flinging mud everywhere. Those were some smelly cows covered in filth. Looking at the mud pit and taking in the odor I thought, “That is so gross, and that smell is disgusting!” Then I had another thought: “I bet that’s only a glimpse of what our sin is like to God.” Guess the cows of Cass County Indiana have prompted me toward some serious spiritual reflection these days.

For the rest of the run I pondered how foul our sin is to a holy God- and marveled that He waded into our mess. I wasn’t sure how those cows were going to get all that mud off of them, but my guess was they wouldn’t be able to make themselves clean- just like we could never have taken away the stench of our own sin. Like the cows, we were deep in the muck and mire…and far from Him. But even in our most grotesque state, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). And because of Jesus we are no longer slaves to sin or condemned in our filth. His blood has washed us clean and made us new.

As we head into a New Year awaiting all that 2020 has in store, let us hold fast to the One who not only created life itself, but who created within us new life and a clean heart.

One more thought: In the coming year you might want to be on the lookout for cows…you never know what they might teach you 

Cows: Part I

I’ve had some interesting experiences with cows lately. For some of you, dealing with livestock is a daily occurrence, but for me, a coined “townie,” it’s pretty out of the ordinary.

The first occurrence was about 3 weeks ago when I was participating in a live nativity in Twelve Mile, Indiana. It was a chilly, misty, windy night, so when my mother-in-law stationed me in the stable scene I was definitely okay with that! I was feeling pretty good about holding my statue-like pose as an angel while the stable walls protected me from the elements. Occasionally, I glanced to my right to see my husband and son posing in their positions out in the cold, open park. I felt some pity for them as well as a twinge of guilt in light of the fact that I was undoubtedly warmer than they were.

Well, guilt until the cow in the stable decided to relieve herself via a grand #2! I cannot emphasize enough my disdain for cold weather, but in that moment I would’ve happily traded places with any of the other volunteers in that park in a second! Seriously, that was one smelly incident that I wanted to get away from…and quick! But, what can you do in a moment like that but stand there and pretend to be a happy angel as the cars roll by oblivious to the stench and admiring the baby Jesus in the manger.

As I stood there in my angel like state, I began to think about the fact that Jesus really was born in a smelly barn and that cow dung was perhaps one of the first smells the Savior of the world experienced on this earth. It reminded me of a song title from the 90’s band, 4Him, This is such a Strange Way to Save the World. Indeed, it truly was. His humble birth seemed to be a foreshadowing of Matthew 20:28: “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” To think- He left heavenly glory to experience rough straw, the coldness of night, and the smells of animal excrement- all to end up on a cross to save us from our sin. God in His mighty love saw us in our wretched condition and intervened to make a way to Himself and to make us new.

Which leads me to my second experience with cows… (stay tuned)

Celebrating Emmanuel

What a wonderful day celebrating our Emmanuel ❤️

Even though I’ve heard the Christmas story more times that I can count, it never ceases to amaze me that Jesus left His Heavenly glory to live here on earth for 33 years. Thinking about the humanity of Jesus seriously blows my mind. Jesus ate food. I’ve always wondered what His favorite meal was. Jesus ran around as a toddler. What made Him laugh? What childhood games did He love to play? Jesus felt physical and emotional pain. He experienced what it is to be human.

Hebrews 4:18 tells us that we do not have a Savior who is unsympathetic to our weaknesses, because He Himself was tempted in every way. He was in it with us.

Thankful for a Savior who is God with us- a Savior who came humbly as a baby and reigns as our forever King! Merry Christmas!!!

A little excerpt:

There’s a line in the popular Christmas song “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” that I love: “Peace on Earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled.” The word “reconciled” means “to restore friendly relations; to work out differences; to be at peace with one another.” To truly be reconciled with someone means that whatever the disagreement was about doesn’t even matter anymore, because it has been settled. When Jesus became our substitute on the cross, He made a way for us to be right with God. Because of this, we have peace in our relationship with the Creator of Heaven and Earth. This reconciliation was possible because Jesus’s sacrifice ended the estrangement that had been caused by sin. Jesus became our Savior and our Friend; He reconciled us to God and therefore Himself.

Even when Jesus walked this earth, He was known as a Friend of sinners. It seemed He preferred to spend His time with the tax collectors and “sinners” rather than anyone else.

I know we in America are not huge fans of the IRS, but in Jesus’s day this dislike was next level. People despised tax collectors, because they were constantly cheating people, charging them extra, and pocketing the difference for themselves. So, the fact that Jesus hung out with these guys, and even called one to be his disciple (Matthew), was almost unthinkable.

He also allowed His feet to be anointed by a “sinful” woman (implying she had had many lovers or was a prostitute), ate in tax collectors’ homes, and welcomed with open arms those whom society deemed “less than.” This shows us who Jesus valued and who He came to have relationships with. This shows us that He came to be friends with sinners like us.

3 Days from Christmas

Something I was thinking about the other day…

I came across a familiar verse the other day: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). Interesting timing considering we’re 3 days from Christmas; the time when most people are dreaming about all the packages under the tree with their names on them. For sure, in these last few days until the 25th parents and grandparents everywhere will be scurrying about checking off lists that have undoubtedly been created months in advance by the little ones they love. Not that we adults can claim otherwise- we also have our own wish lists. Which got me thinking….

What is the real desire of my heart? Sure there’s some things I want or could use (mainly some new tupperware), and I’ve never been one to turn down running apparel, dark chocolate, or coffee. But certainly these are not the desires of my heart. For some the answer to this question may be a new home, a new job, or even living in a different location. There is nothing wrong with these of course, and trust me, I often think these are my true desires as well. But I just don’t think those are the promises of the above mentioned verse. I think the promise is much bigger (and better) than that!

When we delight ourselves in the Lord- when we love Him above all else- we know Him as our supreme gift and source of joy. Consequently, His desires become our desires as well. In case we have any doubt about what God desires for us, we need look no further than Galatians 5:22-23: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I don’t know about you, but I’d take any one of those fruits over any gift from a store. Which brings me back to my original self-reflection.

If my answer to the question about the desire of my heart begins to look like the things of this world, then I know I need to ask God to realign my heart and delight myself in His Word, His promises, and in Himself…because even though there are times the world may capture my attention for a moment, what I really desire are the things of God. May this Christmas season find us all delighting in our Heavenly Father who has given us not only His Spirit, but the Savior of the World, Jesus Christ, His Son.

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