Little Choices Matter


We all have those moments when we feel fully alive. A few days ago, I took my kids to our neighborhood park to play. It was a cold, sunny day and the chilly air invigorated us all and made me want to chase my kids around the park and slide down the slides with them.

As I pushed my three year old on the swing, I watched her face light up with laughter and her blonde curls dance in the sunlight. I caught my breath as I watched her face move forward and backward, high in the air as she shouted, “push me higher, Mommy!”

I stared deep into her eyes and saw joy there. And, to be honest, I just let my gaze hang out there for awhile…on her….nothing and no one else.

Maximizing Joy to the Glory of God


I believe that God delights in our delight of Him and His creation. He wants us to be joyful. He loves it when we glory in the moment that He has placed before us right now. Like a picture, frozen in time, He doesn’t want us to miss what’s He’s giving us as a gift today.

While I know that as far as the big picture goes, I feel great about where I am and what I am doing, I am praying this year to make my little choices count. Because I’m realizing more and more that over time little things often become big things.

Here are some of the little choices I want to make this year:

I want to sit and quietly nurse my baby without making a grocery list in my head at the same time. I want to feel the soft warmth of his cheek against my hand and revel in it.

Because it will not last.

When my eldest daughter says, “hey Mom, listen to me play my violin!” I want to stop washing the dishes or folding laundry and sit down on the couch and give her proper attention. I want to give myself permission to enjoy her and appreciate her efforts.

Because this learning phase won’t last forever.

I want to actually lay down in my three year old’s bed and read her books as long as she wants to and have absolutely no agenda about when I’ll leave.

Because before I know it, her afternoon nap will be a thing of the past.

I want to stop myself before I lose my temper over a math lesson.

Because what matters most is my relationship with my daughter,  not  just checking a task off a list.

I want to encourage my husband more and complain to him less.

Because he’s an amazing person worthy of love and respect.

I want to turn off my phone when I am with others.

Because I can answer texts and emails later and people are most important.

We glorify God when we are fully present in the moment that He has given to us and receive it as the gift that it is.

This year, we will each have our share of painful moments, challenging moments, stressful moments, beautiful moments, exciting moments, alarming moments, moments of every emotion and every kind.

Let’s let our moments change us and mold us into the image of Christ this year, remembering that all our choices today do matter and are laying a clear path for our future.


5 Tips for Cultivating Contentment at Christmastime


In a two day period at the end of November, Americans exhibit some strange, polar opposite behaviors. Yes, on Thanksgiving we bow our heads before a table full of food and give thanks to God for all of his bountiful provision for us over the past year. We acknowledge our blessings to one another and rest in a satisfaction of all that has been so graciously bestowed upon us.

And then, early the next morning on Black Friday, many of us get up and wait in line at stores all over the country for stuff – more stuff. We HAVE to get the greatest deals and are willing to push past people in order to do so. Move it or lose it, sista!

Perhaps these pictures side by side best illustrate the irony of these back to back events:


Family Praying Before Dinner ca. 2001

Black Friday:






Ok, folks. Let’s get something clear. I’m not “anti-Black Friday.” I love a good sale like anyone. If something that I had previously planned on purchasing is significantly cheaper on a certain day – Sure! I’ll buy it then! I simply think that it’s a good illustration for us as we contemplate the true purpose of the Christmas season (um, it’s not getting a bunch of stuff) and consider how we might encourage ourselves and our families to nurture a spirit of contentment during the Christmas season.

Here are 5 simple ways to cultivate a thankful, content spirit during the Christmas season:

1. Making a “Giving List” instead of a “Getting List” – Our view of Christmas and the Holiday Season is shaped while we are young. Are we encouraged to put together long and elaborate lists of things that we want for Christmas? Maybe a different idea would be to sit down and brainstorm a list of ways we want to bless others during the season.

I’ll never forget the lesson I learned from the children of India when I spent a summer there as a college student. On their birthdays, the children in the orphanage where I resided were encouraged to give a piece of candy to each child. Their beautiful brown faces flashed big smiles as they handed out the candy. You could tell it gave them great joy to have the opportunity to give to their friends on their birthdays.

2. Plan Seasonal Activities Around Making Memories, not Buying Stuff – some suggestions that our family has enjoyed are: reading an Advent Devotional every morning, going ice skating, sledding and skiing when it snows, making yummy baked goods for our neighbors, cutting down a Christmas tree together, visiting the elderly at an old folks home, and reading books that pertain to the Christmas season.

3. Try 25 Days of Random Acts of Christmas Kindness – This is a challenge we accepted last year that reaped great dividends in our family. My three girls looked forward with eager anticipation to our “act of kindness” for the day. I planned out the 25 “acts” ahead of time and included the slips of paper in each window of our Advent calendar. Here is the blog that I wrote last year about this experience that gives some examples of what you can do. I included lots of easier acts with some that required more planning and time so as not to make this activity overwhelming.

4. Buy Fewer and More Intentional Gifts – My family of origin has focused for several years on giving one or two meaningful gifts instead of several gifts. We have also given to ministries or organizations that serve the needy “in honor of” a family member as their gift and then sharing with one another why we chose to give to that specific person or people on their behalf.

5. Focus on the Greatest Gift of the Season – Yes, Jesus is the Great Gift of Christmas and He truly is “The Reason for the Season.” So let’s focus on Him and talk with our friends and family about how God becoming flesh, living and dying so that we might receive eternal life is the greatest gift of all.

What are some things you have done to make the Christmas season more meaningful for your family? I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas!


5 Simple Ways to Grow in Thankfulness


Thanksgiving is coming up and I’ve been meditating on this passage in 1 Thessalonians 5, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” As we seek to live with thankful hearts before the Lord, here are some ideas of how to get our thanks and praise on:

1) Begin and End your Day with Thanks: Thank the Lord for the gift of a new day. Thank Him for sleep, for the strength to face the opportunities and challenges of the day with grace. Thank him at the end of the day for all the ways you saw his hand at work that day.

2) Practice Giving Thanks As a Family: Take turns sharing each day with one another what you are most thankful for that day. Built into my morning devotion time with the girls is “thankful time” – we sing a little song that they love and then each person gets a turn to share what they are most thankful for. It is a great way not only to turn all of our hearts towards the Lord in gratitude, but also uncover what is most important to those you love.

3) Give Thanks for Daily Bread: Many families already say “grace” at meal times, but this simple practice shouldn’t be passed over ~ it helps us to stop briefly before digging into our food to remember and thank the one who provided it in the first place. Often when we sing our “thankful song” together, I am reminded that the God who provides for us will also sustain us in times to come and it fills me with gratefulness and hope.

4) Keeping a Gratitude Journal: Ann Voskamp’s bestselling book, “One Thousand Gifts” goes into this idea in much more detail, but the idea is simple – keep a running list of the things that you are thankful for. Ann found she began with seemingly small things that made her smile like “jam piled high on toast,” or “sleep – deep and long.” This type of documentation can help us to be aware of blessings we may have overlooked otherwise. By writing these “gifts” down, we take a picture of them in our memories and choose to focus on how they have enriched our lives.

5) Replace Grumbling with Thanksgiving: We all have “pressure points” that seem to pull the worst out of us. I saw this picture on Facebook that sums up this point entirely. The original source for this list and photo is Chelsea Lee Smith of :


What may seem like a burden to us are often great blessings in disguise – it all depends on our perspective. So – what are you thankful for today?

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