Just Jesus

I love Christmas. I love the displays, the music, the food and the lights, but this was overwhelming. Despite the fact that it was night, I needed my sunglasses. The light emanating from the Christmas display of a neighboring house was overwhelming. Think air-traffic control tower…light house…l.e.d. headlights straight to the retinas. I’m sure this display can be seen from outer space.

In addition to the garishly flashing lights, I counted 25 plus Christmas inflatables ranging from a snowman sporting camo and a rifle to a shark with a Santa hat. To escape the multi-sensory overload, I shifted my eyes from the display to the house across the street. And what did I see?

Just Jesus

A simple manger scene graced the velvety lawn of the house across the street. silent. holy. calm. In the inky darkness, a simple cut-out of the Holy Family illuminated by a single soft light emphasized the beauty of the Gospel. Shadows whispering the simplicity of God’s plan.  Just Jesus.

Simply show them Jesus.

This simple display speaks a lesson directly from heaven straight to the heart. This is just what our lives should be, what our lives should do–leave behind the noise and blinding distractions of the world and simply point to Jesus.

He is all we need.

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.” 

Col. 1 :15-18

Just Jesus, each day, every hour, every minute. He is all we need. Merry Christmas.

Please leave me a comment below about how your heart is doing this Christmas. I’d love to hear from you!

By Mary Kane

All rights reserved. Copyright 2020

Resources:

Get to Know Jesus by Joyce Meyer

4 Steps to Become a Christ Follower




Re-Adventing Advent: Let Go of the Familiar & Find the Divine

Advent

How can you go about “re-adventing” Advent and Christmas in the midst of the unfamiliar, the challenges of 2020? What does this look like for you and your family? If you’re feeling discouraged about your holiday celebrations, hold on. In this video and PDF, we have some suggestions.



That’s the topic we shared with a group of MOPS moms in St. Louis. We were honored to be invited to speak with them for an Advent event. Due to Covid, we recorded a video instead of speaking in person. We thought it might be helpful for others too.

Mary and Joseph in Isolation

In this Re-adventing Advent video, we discuss how Mary and Joseph responded to their unusual situation that first Christmas. Life changed in an instant for both of them. They had to deal with challenging circumstances and outright danger as they were isolated from family and friends and all that was familiar.

We also are having to give up much of the cherished and familiar in our lives this year. Let’s discover what we can learn from their example as we journey through an Advent and Christmas that looks different this holiday season. How can we make it special?

We hope you’ll join us by listening to the video. We’ve also listed some ideas in our Re-Adventing Advent PDF (available at the bottom of this post) that you can download and use through the season.

Ultimately, our prayer for you is that in Re-Adventing Advent 2020, as you have to let go of the familiar, you will find the Divine.

Thank you for journeying with us. If you would like more resources on Advent, you can check out our book Advent-urous, Seeking Jesus This Season and join our Advent Facebook group. We’d love to hear your comments on how you are re-adventing Advent this year. Questions? Contact us here.




Advent: How To Celebrate the Season

Advent

Advent is just around the corner (it starts on November 29), and what better way is there to get our minds off of ourselves (or Covid or politics or …)  than by cozying in with God as we prepare for the arrival of Jesus as Messiah?



Journey with Us

We would like to invite you to journey with us through Advent. This has been a challenging year, and I think all of us could use some time to seek God and prepare our hearts for the holiday season. Mary and I will be leading a group of fellow adventurers on our Advent-urous: Seeking Jesus this Season Facebook group. Simply click on the link to check out the group and join. We’d love to have you. 

We will be using our Advent-urous Kindle devotional book that is available on Amazon. (It happens to be free if you’re a member of Kindle Unlimited.) This is a light time requirement. We have one reading/theme per week (5 weeks total) with suggested activities to explore the theme as little or as much as you’d like over the next seven days.

Activities

Many of our activities are simple and don’t require lots of preparation or resources.

  • For example, for the first Sunday, one of our activities is to try a new prayer posture.
  • Another is to pray by candlelight.
  • There are a few others that take a bit more preparation, but we tried to do a nice mix between the two.
  • If you wish, you can then share your thoughts and activities on our Facebook group page as you journey through the week.
  • For 2020, we’ve updated the book with a poem and a Christmas Eve Liturgy read aloud that you can add to your Christmas celebration with your family and friends if you’d like.

We hope to see you in our Advent-urous Facebook group. Just let us know in the comment section if you have any questions.

Advent Podcast

We wanted to share another resource with you. Several years ago, we recorded an Advent podcast. We hope it also helps prepare you for the season as we delve more deeply into the Christmas story.

Happy Advent!

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How to Live in Christmas Present

Christmas present

As I try to live in Christmas present, memories of Christmases past shimmer in my mind. 

  • My sisters and I sneaking out of bed and tiptoeing down creaky stairs, anxious for our first glimpse of the Christmas tree.
  • Baking and frosting Christmas cookies.
  • Waiting my turn to open the next door on the Avent calendar.
  • The scent of incense wafting in the air at Christmas Eve mass.
  • Visiting Grandma and Grandpa and Uncles Dave and Bill on Christmas afternoon.
  • Holiday singalongs with my huge extended family. Laughter and love float around the room, like angels’ wings.
  • Grandma and Grandpa Herrmann singing Silent Night in German.
  • The Hallelujah chorus ringing through the auditorium and echoing in my heart.
  • My husband noisily putting together a bunk bed on Christmas Eve.
  • My own little children excitedly bounding up the stairs on Christmas morning, a bundle of laughter and energy.



The older I get, the more I reflect on those times, those people who are no longer with us, or, like my children, who have grown up to establish their own families and traditions. Intertwined in the memories is a sadness for what has changed. 

I Miss …

I miss my mom, my aunts and uncles, my grandparents who are no longer with us. I miss those shared celebrations of laughter and love. I miss my children as little ones, carefully holding our candles together in the Christmas Eve service. I miss seeing them race up the stairs on Christmas morning. 

These are precious memories, part of the fabric of who I am. 

Yet, It’s Time To Move On

But I realize God doesn’t intend for me to dwell in my Christmases past (or my life past) because if I do that, I will miss my Christmas present, the present life that is waiting to be discovered and lived now — and shared with the next generation. 

This quote by Joyce Meyer puts it in perspective for me:

We often spend our mental time in the past or in the future, instead of living in the moment we have now. When we don’t truly give ourselves to what we are doing at the moment, we become prone to anxiety. If we live in the now, we will find the Lord there with us.

Joyce Meyer Battlefield of the Mind Bible, p. 814

If I’m honest, I was spending too much time wishing that this Christmas present, this season of life looked more like some past ones. But that cannot be. It should not be. God has given us this Christmas present, this life present and has promised us His presence now. After all, He is called the Great I AM. Not the great I was.

We are to rejoice in Him for who He is, for the amazing gift of heaven intersecting earth through Jesus’ miraculous birth — to be celebrated in our current season of life.  If we just let Him, He will make every season of our lives purposeful and filled with His presence. It is the miracle of Emmanuel, God With Us.

How Can You Focus on Christmas Present?

  • Change your mindset. Make a list of everything you are thankful for right now. Even in the midst of a pandemic, we all have things to celebrate.
  • Help someone else. Look around. Can you bake a treat for someone struggling? Send a surprise gift in the mail? Share a blessing of money?
  • Make a few of your Christmas presents this year. Here are a few ideas in this Natural Christmas post.
  • Do a Christmas devotional. We have one going on right now if you’d like to join us
  • Even if you can’t get together with all your family as usual, make a plan for what you can do.
  • Zoom call or FaceTime those you can’t be present with.

With a little time and intention, this year can be the best yet. What do you think? How can you live in Christmas present? Please share any ideas you have in the comments. You can also contact us. Merry Christmas!

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Advent Devotional

Advent devotional

What Advent Is All About

Advent is about waiting – waiting for the birth of Jesus. It’s the magical time when heaven intersects earth through the lives of ordinary people who are part of God’s extraordinary plan to redeem the world.



Mary and I have been feeling the nudge to make time and space in our lives to prepare for Christmas by celebrating the Advent season. We’d like you to be part of it, too, by joining us on this Advent “journey.”

Advent Group

We’re introducing our Advent devotional called Advent-urous, Seeking Jesus in the Season. We’ve started the Advent-urous Facebook group and have released the above devotional ebooklet on Amazon Kindle. We’re excited about this opportunity to prepare our hearts for Christmas. Here’s what you can expect from our Kindle devotional:

  • Weekly scripture reading.
  • Five devotional readings, one for each the four Sundays of Advent, plus an extra one.
  • Theme of the week.
  • Weekly prayers.
  • Weekly activities to apply the theme to your life.
  • Optional participation in the Advent-urous Facebook group. In this group, we are encouraging people to post their thoughts and insights about the devotional reading for the week, their Advent prayers, and the activities they did to apply the theme to their life. You can post as many times in a week as you would like.

Advent Is a Season of Hope

As we said, this year we want to be intentional about celebrating Advent with meaning. No matter what your life’s situation is right now, there’s hope. Let’s find it together.

The devotional begins on the first day of Advent, which for 2019 is Sunday, December 1. At any time during the week, you may post in the Facebook group about your experience. As God gives you more insight, or you try multiple activities throughout the week, feel free to post as often as you feel led. We’d also love to hear any new Advent ideas you have on how to apply the theme too.

Join Now

To get started right now, you just have to do two things.

We look forward to experiencing this Advent season with you!

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Discover 5 New Ways to Celebrate a Natural Christmas

 

The older I get, the more I appreciate the simple things in life.

Celebrating Christmas often puts us into a frenzy as we try to create the perfect holiday for ourselves, our family, and friends. In this post, I’ve curated some natural holiday ideas that I love because of their focus on nature and simplicity and/or the true meaning of Christmas. Try one or try them all, but I pray that you will have the time to experience the love and blessings of God this Christmas season.

A Natural Christmas

  1. 5 Ways to Make Your  Home Smell Good for the Holidays. This amazing post from the Herbal Academy is full of wonderful ideas. Many of them would make a fun activity to do with children. I can’t wait to try #5, the Holiday Spice Potpourri. The spices in this blend are some of my favorites, and besides that, it’s a visual treat for the eyes too.
  2. Old-Fashioned Popcorn Balls from Mother Earth Living. Remember the popcorn balls we used to make and eat as children? Here’s a recipe to enjoy. Even though they purposed this for Halloween, I always associate popcorn balls as a special treat of Christmas.
  3. 55 Last Minute Herbal DIY Gifts.This post by Joybilee Farm has an incredible assortment of herbal gift ideas that you can make. Inspiration is just oozing here. From beverages and food to oils, candles, and beauty products, your biggest challenge will be deciding what to make.
  4. The Twelve Herbs of Christmas. I like this post because it lists 12 different herbs historically associated with Christmas and explains their meaning in the Christmas story. For example, did you know that tradition has it that Joseph cut branches from a thyme bush to make bedding for Mary and baby Jesus? Also along those lines is a post of mine on Essential Oils in the Bible and how to use them today. It includes a recipe for creating a frankincense and myrrh skin blend, which would make a lovely gift for someone or to keep for yourself.
  5. Natural Nativity. Finally, I’ve included my natural, rustic nativities. Each fall, I make these miniature nativity scenes from tree bark from Hickory & Oak Sawmill and Lumber Company (my brother-in-law’s sawmill) and from beeswax. I sell them at Christmas in my Etsy shop if you would like to add one to your home.

What is a favorite way you celebrate a natural Christmas? I’d love to hear about a tradition you have or a new idea you want to try this year.

Merry Christmas!