Making My Home A Haven is important to me. Sharing homemaking skills. Recipes and food. Bible Studies. This is a treasure chest of goodies. So take a seat. Have a glass of tea and enjoy. You will learn all about who I am.
But the thing is, it’s really hard to focus on Joy, when you’re living in chaos! And our days have been chaos for the last 6-12 months. Having a set of twins, 2 sibling’s weddings, Thanksgiving, my husband’s birthday, Christmas, my older twins 3rd birthday, and my birthday all within six months is the perfect recipe for a chaotic Fall.
“Good things come in small packages,” as the saying goes. And sometimes the smallest things can bring great joy!
Finding a little package, beautifully wrapped, under the tree with your name on it certainly brings with it a sense of excitement and anticipation: What wonderful thing is inside?
So often our blessings come like this–full of expectation…ready to be celebrated.
But not all gifts make a grand entrance into our life. And that leads me to wonder how many I’ve missed. How many blessings have I been given that I simply haven’t noticed, much less appreciated or celebrated?
In the flurry and hurry of this Christmas season, it’s easy to lose sight of the sweet joys that fill our lives every day.
I don’t need to replay here all the ways we can get distracted. We know them all too well. Yet in the midst of so much craziness that grabs our attention, there is a way to capture the joy. And our example comes from one new mother who had just experienced some unusual craziness of her own.
Mary certainly had much to be distracted by. Life had not at all gone as she had planned in the last nine months. And this particular night could not have been more different than how she must have imagined it. Who wants to give birth far away from family in a dirty old stable after traveling for days with a man she had only begun to know? She had to be frightened…in agony from labor…completely exhausted from the journey.
So much happened that night in a flurry of activity. But when at last she held her tiny baby in her arms, relief and joy must have washed over her.
And then the shepherds came.
She hadn’t heard or seen what the shepherds witnessed–an angel proclaiming the Messiah had been born that night and the glorious praise of the heavenly host. But when she heard what the shepherds had to say, “she treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). At that moment, Gabriel’s words to her must have come flooding back (Luke 1:26-38). And what joy must have filled her soul!
Don’t get me wrong. I realize all of this was in no way a “little thing.” This tiny baby was anything but small! He was the Savior of the world! But He was indeed a “good thing” in a little package. And nothing can compare with His gift of love and life! A gift of “great joy,” as the angel declared (Luke 2:10).
I think it is interesting that Mary did all the hard, agonizing work of delivering the Messiah into the world, and yet God chose the shepherds to see and hear the glorious announcement of His birth. She could have missed the wonder of it all if she had focused on her pain, the undesirable location, or that she didn’t get to experience the glory of the angels’ song. Instead, she listened intently to what the shepherds said and treasured all these things in her heart. She must have been filled with joy.
For joy comes when we treasure God’s blessings in our hearts.
And this is what we can learn from Mary.
I don’t want to miss a single blessing! Not this Christmas season. Not in each day. And not in my marriage.
I must learn to look beyond the distractions. I must look for the small packages of blessings that surround me each day. Not the ones wrapped up for all to see under the tree. But the kindness of a sweet word or gentle touch. The gracious patience of my husband when I get a little stressed. The sun beaming down with glorious light. Even the bright red of a cardinal against a background of gray.
Small blessings fill our days to overflowing with joy. Do we take time to notice them?
Oh, my friends, I pray that God would open the eyes of our hearts to see the blessings around us. Let’s not miss even one. May we treasure them up and capture the joy in the little things!
A Christ Centered home is marked by love, not perfection.
“As you have heard from the beginning, His command is that you walk in love.” 2 John 6
Where there are stark, cold rules and expectations there is no room for grace. Nothing says love and acceptance as much as allowing for mistakes and freely forgiving when they happen. So when Billy tips over that antique vase, love bites its tongue and remembers that harmful words are like a scorching fire. (Proverbs 16:27)
However, should Billy lie about his accident, love also knows stern discipline awaits him who knows to do what is right. (Proverbs 15:10) In a Christ centered home that might look like a good talking-to about the necessity of truthfulness and keeping our hearts pure before the Lord. Then at his repentance, grace says, “I forgive you. I love you. Let’s move on from this together.”
Love isn’t expressed by just a few spoken words. It’s shown by actions that genuinely prove others are accepted in this place, insecurities, imperfections and mistakes in tact.
A Christ centered home is marked by joy.
Practical Everyday Ways to Build a Christ Centered Home
Personal and family devotions.
Pray often. Pray big.
Communicate. Ask specific questions.
Smile a lot.
Unplug every day.
Make eye contact.
Over-use please, thank you, I’m sorry, I love you.
Make God’s word/name evident in all the rooms of your home and change it up with the seasons.
[Editor’s Note: A Very Diva Christmas is here! This is a guest post by Alisha Ritchie, who we are welcoming back to kick off the series! As you recall, (or not if you are new…welcome!) this is the 3rd annual Christmas series at Devotional Diva. All of the posts will be focused on the Christmas story, specifically Luke 1 or 2. This guest post devotional series will span three weeks, and I truly hope it can inspire you this Christmas season. I am so thrilled with all of the submissions and writers that helped me put this together. Thank you! Also, all of the photos that will be featured in this series were taken at local Italian Christmas lights displays! Merry Christmas, everyone. Enjoy.]
“And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.’”
Luke 1:46-47 ESV
I stood in the bathroom, perched over the sink countertop, intently staring at the little white applicator. My pulse quickened and my palms grew sweaty as I waited for the answer I’d been agonizing over for the past few days.
Could I possibly be pregnant? Was this really happening?
Did the nausea I’d been experiencing have meaning to it? Now, all my questions lingered in this moment, as my fate hung on the appearance of two little pink lines.
I stood there for three minutes, my mind buzzing with all the possibilities of what this pregnancy could mean, and they suddenly appeared on the applicator.
Two pink lines. Two pink lines that would change my world and heart forever.
I was pregnant! A baby! My husband and I were going to have a baby! We had officially started our little family and I was overcome by hormones and emotions.
Tears of joy streamed down my face as I gave thanks to God for the blessing I beheld inside me. Even now, fifteen years later, it’s hard to fully describe the happiness I felt that morning. All I knew is that good things were about to happen and I was glad that God was with me on the journey.
I soon began thinking of how to tell my husband and family members the good news of our upcoming bundle of joy. I really didn’t know if I could contain my excitement until after my pregnancy had been confirmed by the doctor. I had wonderful news and I just had to share it with those I loved most.
No doubt, so many years ago, a young girl named Mary had some of those same emotions I felt. The virgin had learned of her miraculous pregnancy through the incredible visit of an angel. I cannot begin to even fathom the wonder, awe, and pure joy that she felt upon receiving that news. And of course, she wanted to share it with her family.
She traveled to Judea to visit her cousin and was greeted with a warm response, as Elizabeth already knew she was carrying the child of the Lord. Mary didn’t respond to Elizabeth with panic or anxious questions of why was this happening to me? Or how can this even be possible? She responded in complete submission with joy and praise to God for what He was doing in her. Surely Mary’s delight caused her to speak those words to Elizabeth saying,
“Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior (Luke 1:46-47 NIV).”
The mother-to-be rejoiced, exulting God for not only the child in her womb but also for what He meant to the world. He would be a Savior for all of mankind, One who would bring joy in the days to come and for all of eternity.
As we prepare our hearts for the Christmas season, let’s not forget the true joy that Jesus brings to each of us. Soon you will decorate trees and hang lights. You will shop till you drop and spend late nights wrapping gifts. You will attend holiday parties and eat lots of yummy goodies. But in all the splendor and busyness of Christmas, don’t let your joy, immense jubilation and delight, be dulled this year. Remember Mary’s response thousands of years ago. Praise God for the Joy God gave us so many Christmases ago, that still lives in our hearts today.
Is there someone in your life who needs to hear about the hope that Jesus Christ brings into your life? Be inspired to share the best gift you can give them this season, an opportunity for a personal relationship with God.
“Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of Your Son and Mary’s willingness to be a part of Your plan. Help me remember to praise You, igniting joy within my soul this season, shining brightly so that others may be pointed to You. Guide me in honoring You in all I say and do, on Christmas and always. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”