Adventures in Advent

With the arrival of Advent comes the retelling of the Christmas story.

I have heard it many times…
in song, through drama, or by a reader at church. I have read the story to myself, and to my children.

This year, I am doing something different.

I have never read the whole story in the Message version before.
The NIV, ESV, NASB, KJV versions? Yes. So this Christmas, I am going to revisit a familiar historical based story- how Jesus came to us as a baby- as seen through the Message.

You see, I have always thought of the Word as the living Message, so I am quite excited to see what will unfold through changing my expectation of the familiar.

Keeping myself on my toes so to speak.

Not only will it be a less familiar translation, I am going to look through each of the Gospels one day a week for each of the topics I felt to cover this Advent.

Matthew- the tax collector
Mark- the writer
Luke- the doctor
John- the fisherman

Four men whose encounter with Jesus changed them each forever.

Pull up a cozy chair, your bible, and let’s let the Christmas Message speak to our hearts anew this Advent…

As I was in worship this past Sunday, the following headlines came to mind:

Preparing the Way.
Trusting a Teen.
Depending on a Doubter.
Making Space.
Following His lead.
Accepting the Gift.

I have decided to take look at how each writer recorded their viewpoint based on how they heard the Christmas Story.

Let’s reawaken the desire to share this part of His story, the Greatest Gift God has every given us.

For with the arrival of eternal God into our finite time line,  this event rippled across the universe & the heavens, forever changing the world it encountered.

Advent is the story reminding us of God’s primary Message from creation’s foundation to the end of revelation:
God is with us,
the Message of Christmas!



I just had a God-feeling. I try to pay attention to those.


Hearing His voice doesn’t always look like one would expect.

Take Moses for example.

Moses, the one who saw God’s face, and was visibly changed so all the Israelites knew it was him?
His father in law Jethro had to tell him to slow down and share the work load. You would think Moses might have heard that directly… but like us, maybe Moses was too wrapped up in his work to hear it.

Take Paul.

Well raised, gifted with education and position, Jesus had to get his attention by blinding him before Paul could hear His voice.

Take Joseph.

God spoke to Him through an angel in a dream, telling him his wife was expecting the Messiah, and then a second dream warning Joseph to take his family and make a run for it into Egypt.

A donkey speaking to Balaam.

A hurting woman drawing water from a well.

Coins in a fish, enough to pay Peter’s taxes.

Three rooster calls worth of denials, but I will build My church on you, Peter.

There have been many times where I have been surprised by the source God uses to speak to me.

A timely bible verse as I read the Word.
A song coming on the radio that exactly addresses a concern or is an answer to prayer.
A letter in the mail, email in my inbox and tweet of encouragement.

But sometimes it is a bible verse that comes to mind in the heat of the moment, when Holy Spirit speaks to us.

Jesus did so when the enemy tempted Him in the desert. He responded to each of the three temptations with the Word- even though He was fully God & fully man all in one.

If Jesus relied on His relationship with the Father & Holy Spirit for the right direction, help to stay the path ahead, words of knowledge & the words to speak, we can too.

Listen for His voice. As you ask Him to speak to you, don’t be surprised by the three results:

1. God will speak to you. He answers all who call our to Him, and ask for wisdom.

2. God’s reply may not look or sound like how you think His answer will come. Keep your eyes and ears open.

3. The counterfeit will try to sneak in past your defenses. If it doesn’t agree with the Word, it isn’t from Him. Meaning if you get a sense of doubt for any reason, wait and ask God to reveal whether it’s from him or not. One good indicator is its fruit. Like the snake in the garden, be wary of what sounds to good to be true if you have no sense of God in it.

Tuning in to God is a process. The dial may slip from time to time as you seek the right frequency, but as He is constant, you will be able to hear Him as He speaks to you. when you hear or sense a prompting, don’t be fearful. Be open for His answers to come, but cautious in confirming it by lining it up against the truth we do have, the Word, and Holy Spirit.

The 3 ways rest can keep us safe

Did you know that not getting enough rest is bad for you beyond how it affects your body?

There are three key reasons why rest is one of the components to our overall well-being, besides the benefits physically.

1. Rest denies the enemy from affecting our soul.

It appears that rest is one of our main defenses against the enemy.
Resting in God allows Him to be our defender, as outlined in:
Psalm 91

While we rest in Him, He battles for us, and will win:

God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.

Romans 16:20 NIV/ESV

Our souls are protected when we rest in God.

2. Rest restricts the emotional attack against us.
When we keep ourselves from becoming anxious, and give things over to God when we are upset or concerned, we align our hearts up with the rest we have in our soul & body.

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.

Matthew 11:28-30

Maintaining our emotional rest not only shields us from the enemy’s attempts to send fiery darts to harm us, it allows us to walk in the rhythms of His grace. Our faith & trust in Him becomes our shield.

3. Rest restrains the mind from speculation.
When we keep our focus on God, and through His Word, worship & time in His Presence, we get to closely know the God we love, we are building a solid foundation of fact in our minds. Knowing His lavish love for us and memorizing His Word are how our mind can find rest through the storms and from the distracted thoughts the enemy likes to subtly shoot our way… “God couldn’t forgive you for that!” “nobody will love you when they hear what you did” etc.
Knowing His Word & resting in the truth contained there is protection for our minds, the helmet of salvation.

Final Thoughts:
God our Warrior battles for us.
Placing our faith & trust in Him helps shield our emotions.
Spending time with Him, our Truth, protects our minds from attack.

Resting in Him, when added to taking care of our bodies by getting enough physical rest, is our strongest defense against the enemy’s schemes.

But more than that, as we get to know God more & more, and draw closer to Him no matter the season we are in, He offers rest that encompasses our whole being as we seek Him every step of every day.

We were never designed to find rest on our own, but through God, who is both the rest we seek & holding out the rest we need for every part of us in His loving hands.

I am not missing out on that offer of all encompassing rest!

*All quotes in black bold font are from: Graham Cooke, The Practice of Rest

What three things to do when I need rest?

I am not the Energizer bunny.
But I still try to keep going and going.

My batteries wear out, and need recharging.

Sometimes way earlier than I am aware of, and sometimes the energy completely drains until I collapse.

I am learning to listen to God daily about my day, so it doesn’t fill up just with what I want to do in it, but how He wants me to spend my time.

There are three things on the checklist I now follow to make sure I am getting enough rest.

1.Get honest.

If I am pooped, trying to ignore the early warning signs leads to more serious time off coming down the line. I am no use if I am completely out of commission, so acknowledging if I am getting weary is step one.

Tell people no when I have enough or too much on my plate as it is. I struggle with this one too as I don’t like to say no to work when part of my job is freelance, but my yes needs to be reserved for the best decisions, not all of them.

2. Get enough sleep.

This has become a hard one for me, as my husband’s snoring had become an issue, and driving my daughter to catch the first train on weekday mornings are leaving me more weary than usual as I struggle to find a new normal routine for getting things done and a healthy sleep pattern.  I now have to be in bed earlier than I want, so if it can wait until tomorrow, it may have to if I need sleep.  If I am off and feel tired during the day, I feel no guilt now in taking a nap.

3. Get enough rest.

This refers to my spirit. Taking time to read the Word, worship, walk & listen for His voice, wait & seek His Presence…this brings peace and quiet to me within, which is where I need it most. This is the part of me that needs rest the most. The part that depends on God 100%.

You can always bring peace with you when He lives in you, but you can’t always find it if you look to the world to provide it.

These three things help me find true rest for my soul, and re-energize my hope.

When I filter my day through them, I find I get more accomplished in a week than plugging away in exhaustion and survival mode.

What tips do you have to add more rest to your day?


merry go round

Sometimes life seems to spin around and around, like a merry-go-round.

Don’t know about you, but i know that after a day of answering phones, computing, meetings, paperwork & billing….my brain is crying out for a breather, not more.

Yet dinner needs to be made, the kitchen tidied after dinner was made, lunches prepped, laundry on or dried or put away, connect with the family, grocery or errand shopping, not to mention exercise, time with friends or extended family, taxes, bill paying, house cleaning…. and my day doesn’t likely look too different from yours, does it?

What gets you through, besides learning to say no, delegating, prioritizing and/or eating well?

For me, its spending time with God by:

Reading the Word- the days when i make the time to make God the priority go soooo much smoother than the days when i skip this step to save time! Somehow time moves in  a heavenly rhythm that defies linear understanding!

Worshipping- whether along with a cd, my guitar or the band at church, or out on a walk loving His handiwork all around me, this is another soother of my soul that helps me stay grounded.

Listening- keeping an ear tuned to what God may be whispering to me is important. An interruption may be a coworker’s plea for help, or a God incident to show grace towards someone in need. Following His prompting has led to a more peaceful atmosphere at work, whatever location I am at!

Writing-documenting what God is teaching and showing me helps me interact with the knowledge, awakening my brain to integrate any needed changes, reprogram what is to go and setting my focus on what is ahead, leaving that which needs to be left behind in the past. My blog is a part of this process.

Being grateful- saying thanks to God for all that is going well or I am grateful for each day keeps the negative things which may pop up into a proper perspective: part of my story, but not all of it.

And last but not least…..

Resting-taking the time to just BE and not DO much of anything besides breathing and relaxing. God’s word is full of reminders to do so… Psalm 62 is one of my favorites to help me relax and unwind and remember it is good to just BE.  By not doing on a regular basis, I am able to DO more when I am to be working. Again, a heavenly time shift that doesn’t seem to make sense, but when I put it to the test, every time proves to be true.

I’ve learned to say no to merry-go-rounds.

I prefer the swings.

Yes, it may get monotonous or end up going a little too high, but God is there to catch me when I need to jump off and take a break.

Time to BE for a bit before off to bed to recharge!