Good Soil




I was just so honored to speak to a group of women in Asheboro, North Carolina.  It was a fabulous weekend with an amazing group of women!!!!  Barb, Courtney, Cindy and Cindy were AMAZING hostesses of myself, my husband and all these ladies at their event!!  It’s always so much fun to fly into a new city, meet new women and fall in love with their hearts!!!  These women were PRECIOUS!!!!  Of course, I do have a soft spot for southern hospitality and the accent that they don’t think they have!!  =   )

It was a delightful time talking about how we can grow to be women that are going to change our world for Jesus!!  We think it much start off with a fabulous plan . . . . but really it starts off with dirt!!!

Matt 13

23 But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

I am praying for these women in Asheboro, that their hearts would be overflowing with good rich soil!!  These women spent the day receiving God’s Word.  They listened, read, journaled and even colored a picture or two.  From that time together I am asking God that these will be women will hear the Word of God down to the bottom of their hearts!!  And not only will they hear it, but that they will understand it!  Because of this, it will lead them to produce a crop in Asheboro 100 times what was sown!!  I am praying with them that God will produce a HEFTY HARVEST!!!!

We each have seeds that are sown into us.  These seeds are not so we will be amazing but it’s so we can live lives that point to our AMAZING GOD in the things we do for His glory!!  You and I have been given BIG THINGS to do!!!  And it’s not so much that we need to hide what we are doing, but we need to parade it around!!!!  Not for our own pride, but the Word tells us that it is TO MY FATHER’S GLORY THAT WE BEAR MUCH FRUIT!!!!!!  I want to have the best spiritual fruit I possibly can!!  I want the world to see Jesus in me!!!!  It is to my Father’s GLORY that I do the most that I can, the best that I can, the most amazing things that I can.  For HIM and FOR HIS GLORY!!!!

Today I am busy doing all the things God has put on my heart to do!!  I am working on a couple Bible Studies, a journal starter book, an online course for women’s ministry and a ton of things for our Unveiled Retreat this Spring and getting to the gym.  It is TO MY FATHER’S GLORY that I keep moving on these things!!!  To the BEST OF MY ABILITY!!!!!!

What are you doing today?  To the best of your ability?  To your Father’s glory what fruit are you bringing forth into the world!?!?!  I would love for you to drop into my facebook page and tell me what kind of fruit you are working on today!!  Tell me how I can pray for you today!!  It would be my honor!!

Gail’s Facebook Page

Starting FRESH


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Today is the start of a whole new year . . . . I LOVE IT!!!  I ALWAYS love things, times, moments that are fresh and new!  It’s like looking at a blank canvas and you have been given permission to create WHATEVER YOU WANT!!  So today I am looking at the blank canvas of this new year and I am asking God what HE would like me to create in my life for the upcoming 365 days.

F – first things FIRST . . . God gets the top spot!!  I will continue to start each morning with Him.  This means Bible reading, journaling, I have a new devotional I’m going to be reading.  Like Matt. 6:33 continues to remind me, if I seek God FIRST then everything else will fall into place!  So my year, my days, my life needs to start off with putting God FIRST!!!

R – I need to RELAX a lot more than I do!  I can get so stress out about things, but then I’m not TRUSTING God . . . . I’m not RESTING in God . . . . . I’m not RELAXING in Him and His presence.  There is a sense of peace when I am relaxing in Him.  But it’s more than that for me.  It’s keeping my life balanced as well!  Every Monday night I do “pizza movie knit nights” with my mom.  That means I am carving out time to be with my mom, hang out at her house and knit with her.  We also have dinner and watch a little TV together as well, but it’s my time to do something for her and for me.  I’m also using my Sunday as my Sabbath.  No work.  No responsibilities.  Just that day to remember I am no longer a slave, but I am FREE!!  And the realization that God role modeled this when creating the world.  If God took a Sabbath, I am going to keep doing this to be with Him, down-shift in my life and remember I am not a slave to working 7 days a week!

E – everyone’s favorite . . . . EXERCISE!  I have got to “MOVE IT, MOVE IT” so much more this year!  My gym has got to see my face more than it did last year!  I have no reason, no excuses!  Well, back surgery worked as a great excuse not to go to the gym last year, but this year my back needs me to be at the gym!  So exercise I must do!!  Two years ago I ran a 1/2 marathon . . . . . I miss that girl!!  I am sensing strongly that God misses that girl too!!  Exercise is also a place for me to relax as well.  I’m catching a theme that God is pouring on my heart . . . .

S – I need to SING a LOT MORE!!  I used to sing and listen to music all the time!  For whatever reason I haven’t been doing it as much and I miss it!  Singing transforms my attitude and takes it to better places very quickly.  I used to throw on music with whatever I was doing!  I still do that sometimes, but not nearly enough.  And not just to listen to, I need to be singing more!!  Not just radio songs, but worship songs!!  I need to make sure I am filling my head, my heart and my surroundings with songs that point to the One that I am head over heels in love with!!  This is where I connect with God in some precious ways!!  Worship is one of our greatest forms of warfare!!  We have got to get our praise on if we are going to defeat the enemy!!  Praise is where we tell God, and remind ourselves, and shout out to the enemy how HUGE and POWERFUL and UNDEFEATABLE OUR GREAT GOD IS!!!!!  Praise changes EVERYTHING!!!  Including us from the inside out!!

H – Last thing on my list for fresh new year, I need to take care of my HUSBAND a lot better!!!  He is such a servant and is always doing things for me . . . . I need to be doing some things for him!!  He is such a great example to me of how to love well, I need to take better notes and love on my man more!!  I’m not a horrible wife, but it sure is easy to get lazy and let him do all the serving because that’s what he is so good at!  This new year I need to be putting him as a higher priority, building him up better and serving him more!!  I have been truly blessed with the man that God knows is perfect for me!  He and I are not even close to being perfect people, but what God has put together let no man take apart, so I’m going to work at making sure we are thriving together and I am doing my part of living up to my wedding vows that I said so many years ago!!  I keep mine taped up next to my office desk so I can be reminded of what I promised.  And I want to be a woman of my word!!  My vows are not dependent on what my man does . . . . I can only change me . . . . so better I will become!!!!  Honoring my man, my vows and the God that continues to knit us together!!

So . . . . . how about YOU?!?!?!  What is God asking YOU to do in this coming year that is bursting with opportunities and possibilities?!?!?  I hope you will join me in the path to an amazing year, a deeper relationship with God and a happier me!!!!!  Not going for perfection . . . . going for change in this year that is FRESH and new!!!

A Whole New World


I grew up in a faith-based home, went to a faith-based school, lived a faith-based life that all seemed to wrap around the idea of a point system, a score card or even a report card.  I always felt I was earning something or getting graded on what I was doing.  Don’t get me wrong!  Hear me out!  No one ever used these words or put these parameters on my life, but somewhere along the way I found myself living a perfectionistic, fear-based, point-gathering, approval-seeking life!  The kind of life that is absolutely EXHAUSTING!  Everything I did was in the hopes of keeping the peace, making people happy, earning their love, and out of deep-seated fear that I would disappoint them and lose their approval and love.

This was a horribly exhausting way to live!

But I brought my messiness right into my relationship with Jesus!  I transferred all my human rules that I had learned, or assumed, or even came up with on my own, into my relationship with Jesus.  He was one more person I had to work to earn His love.  I had to do all the right things to make and keep Him happy.  If I did something wrong then the apple cart was tipping over and I lost God’s love!

Again, what a  horrible way to live!

But then there was GRACE!

I had a friend of mine explain grace to me in a way I have never forgotten.  I went something like this:

You are speeding down the highway and you get caught by the police.  They pull you over and write you a ticket.  That is JUSTICE.  You get what you deserve.

You are speeding down the highway and you get caught by the police.  They pull you over and they don’t write you a ticket, they only give you a warning.  That is MERCY.  You don’t get what you deserve.

You are speeding down the highway and you get caught by the police.  They pull you over and they give you a check for $20,000.  That is GRACE.  You get what you don’t deserve.

I am in a delightful season of learning about GRACE!  God’s AMAZING GRACE!  His grace gives us what we truly don’t deserve!  Once we have walked into a personal relationship with Jesus we find this unending JOY and LOVE that can’t be earned, only given to the children God loves SO MUCH!  There is NOTHING you can do to earn His love and there is NOTHING you can do that will separate you from His love once you are His child!  This my friend is the GOOD NEWS OF JESUS CHRIST!!

So where are you in your walk with God?

Have not realized a personal relationship with the Creator God of the universe can be obtained by simply acknowledging that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the solution to our problem of sin in our hearts.  Once you see that Jesus is the Son the God sent to earth, in the form of the baby in the manger to save us from an eternity apart from God, you are on your way to new found freedom!  Realize that you are a sinner, which is not too hard when we look at our sinning lives, and ask Jesus to forgive your sins and take up residence in your heart.  Jesus will come and remove your heart of sin and replace it with a new heart full of His Spirit.  God will move in and take up residence in your heart and you will start a whole new world of learning about and enjoying the love and grace of God who is CRAZY IN LOVE WITH YOU!  How could He not be?  He made you?  He loves you!  And that’s why He has a solution for the sin that separates you from Him.  You only need to accept what God is offering you.

Or are you like I was living a perfectionistic, fear-based, point-gathering, approval-seeking life?  This is not the life we were intended for!  When we live like this we miss the love and grace that God is offering us . . . . . FOR FREE!!  We need to open our eyes to the love around us and enter into it by fully participating in this love relationship with God!  For me that meant keeping a gratitude list each day of where I saw God doing things for me that said He loved me.  It could be something that made me smile in nature, or an occurrence that made my heart dance a bit, or something I read in the Bible that reminded me of the Truth of God’s love.  It was practicing noticing God.  It was giving credence to the fact that God can do anything He wants to get my attention and love on me, but am I noticing them.  I keep track of big things and little things that I know God sent that put a smile on my face and make me feel noticed and loved by the Most Holy God.  This is what making this relationship personal looks like!  What makes you smile?  What does God do to remind you He is around and loves you?

In my world I love when the time on the clock says 6:33, it reminds me of Matthew 6:33 which says to seek God first.  When I see that I feel like God is reminding me of the priority of our relationship.  It reminds me that because God adores me so much I want to return that love right back!  Scripture says that we love because God loved us FIRST – 1 John 4:19.

Another thing that always reminds me of the amazing and lavish love of God is when I see bunnies.  Yes, bunnies.  This is something that God and I have had going on for longer than I’ve been married!  I have always loved bunnies, but I began noticing they were showing up a lot in my world.  I would begin to see them in the oddest of places when I was going through some super tough seasons, and then I was noticing them showing up when I was needing reminders that I was loved.  Then I realized that my love for bunnies wasn’t a coincidence!  It was one of the many ways God was reminding me of His active presence in my world and of His lavish love that was always freely given!

His love for us is beyond our comprehension, but is something that we can grasp an idea of and would be very sad if we missed it!

I picture a beautiful dance, with women in such lovely gowns and men in such handsome tuxedos.  And Jesus comes walking over to me and extends His hand in an invitation to dance with Him.  What will my response be to His invitation to the dance of a lifetime?

What is your response to entering into this amazing love relationship with the God of the universe that is CRAZY IN LOVE WITH YOU?!?!?!?  Will you receive this lavish love (1 John 3:1) and amazing grace-filled life that comes through His Son Jesus (1 John 5:12)?

His hand is extended towards you . . . . . . the next move it yours!

What Goes Around Comes Around


A few weeks ago I shared a post about how I bought some bathtub crayons and I was leaving encouraging notes for my husband. It has been such a fun thing and I have had a blast trying to surprise him every now and then with notes of encouragement and support. It’s always fun when he discovers something new on the shower walls that I wrote to put a smile on his face!!

Well today, the table turned! I had gotten up for my 5 AM bike ride on my trainer downstairs which is a new habit I’m trying to get better at. I finished my ride, went up to the bathroom, hopped in the shower there I found a sweet note from my husband written on the shower wall! It was delightful! It was a blessing! I giggled like a little girl when I saw not only did he write me a note, but it was in all different colors! He knows my heart!

So why do I share this with you? For a couple reasons. I want to remind you that when we sow good seeds they reap good things! We may not see the fruit right away, but it takes a while for God to take what we sow, and waters it and let it grow and bear fruit!  This is not a fast process!!  Girls, we need to be consistent and patient with the good deeds that we sow into our men!  We can’t expect them to appreciate what we’re doing and change overnight, because we don’t change overnight either! But we do need to keep sowing good deeds into the soil of our men!!!!!!!!

I also want to remind you of the importance of doing good things for the men in our life! Sometimes we get angry, tired, frustrated, weary, bored, any sort of emotion, but we need to keep doing good for the men in our world!  God calls us to love one another and to start with the men in our lives is a great place to start! Don’t wait for them to make the first move! Just because we make the first move doesn’t mean were in charge or in control, it means were willing to be humble and serve from a heart of love! This is what God calls us to do over and over and over!

I also want to remind you that this can be very difficult to do! As women we give and give and give! And God is fully aware of! But girls, let us not give up and become weary in doing good!  I understand this one! Like you, I’m a busy woman! And sometimes I think I don’t have time to do cutesy things for my husband. But that just isn’t true! I have time to do whatever I think is important, and I want to make sure that Paul is important to me! I want to make sure that Paul is the most important thing to me, after God!!!!

My challenge for you today is to ask God what he would like you to do for the man in your life! Listen to his still small voice and then do it! I challenge you that no matter how big or how small it might be take up the challenge that God is putting before you!  We get that feeling in the center of her heart, we may even call it our conscience, what is the Holy Spirit. You know the feeling? The little knowledge that says this is what I want you to do for the man in your life! I want to challenge you, if at all possible, before you put your head on your pillow tonight why don’t you do one good deed for the man in your life!!!  Surprise him with whatever God puts on your heart!  Don’t just do it for your man, but do it is an act of obedience to your Lord and watch what God will do in you and through you, for your good and for His glory!!!!!

I would love to hear tell of what happens!!!  As for me, I made lunch for my husband for tomorrow and the next day! He loves it when I serve him in these little ways! It wasn’t a big deal, but it will mean a lot to him!

Obedience Has a Cost


Have you ever been in a place where God asks you to do something?  Something very specific?  Something that is a bit uncomfortable and calls you to do something you’d rather not do?

My alarm went off SUPER EARLY this morning!  Earlier than I enjoy getting up.  But the reason was because God said I needed to get up and hop on my bike and ride some miles before work.


I prefer sleeping in.  Hanging out in bed reading.  Sipping on tea in my jammies.  Laying low and enjoying downtime.

But today was the day that I needed to choose obedience!!  Sometimes it’s an easy thing to choose obedience to God.  When He speaks, WE FOLLOW!!!  But other days we find it harder than others.

What makes it easier for you to follow God?  What makes it harder for you to follow God?  Where are the places that God is asking you to move forward that are hard for you?

At the end of July I am riding on the Unveiled Bike Trip.  It’s going to be an AWESOME TRIP and I’m really excited!!!!!  I’m not in any shape to ride 30 miles a day so right now I am being called to ride my bike.  Sounds SO EASY to type that . . . . but when my alarm goes off it seems SO HARD!!!!  My goal is to bike 450 miles by Unveiled 2015.  As of today I have 10 miles ridden . . . . . and a LOT of miles to go!!!!  I need to keep riding!!!  The choice to obey is laying in my lap . . . . do I obey what God is asking me to do, or do I ignore Him?

So, tomorrow my alarm will go off and I will be back on my bike riding away!!

How about you?  What is God calling you up into?!?!?!?  I would LOVE to hear about where God is stretching YOU!!  We all walk various paths . . . . .I would love to hear your story!!!!



For those of you not familiar with the game Whack-a-mole I will try to explain it to you.  It began as an arcade game in which kids (and sometimes adults) would grab a rubber hammer and when the mole would pop out of the ground the goal was to hit the mole with the hammer, thus gaining points in the game.  The game runs for an allowed time and overtime you whacked the mole it would eventually pop back up, never to be defeated by the hammer whacking individual.

Currently I am readying through Acts and as I am watching the life of Paul I can’t help but think of this game!!  He is the mole and these people in opposition of him are trying to take him out with their own sorts of hammer, but like the mole, he keeps coming back!!!!  They keep throw him in prison and he gets out!!  They stoned him and he comes back!!  It doesn’t matter what they do to this follower of Jesus, he cannot be stopped!!!!

I had to skip over and read 2 Corinthians 11:21-28 to get the fuller picture of all that Paul had gone through!  WHAT A LIST!!  This man has SUFFERED FOR JESUS!!!!!!!!!  And nothing could stop him!!!!!!

How is it that we can be afraid of being left out for standing up for Jesus?  Or excluded because we don’t talk trash like the world?  Or not wanting to be left out when everyone else is going somewhere you know God is telling you not to go . . . . and you’re not willing to go where you know God is calling you to go?  We fear mocking and ridicule – we fear being left out and ignored – we fear not being one of the cool kids anymore – – – but what is this really costing us?!?!?!?!

I have to always ask myself this question, “In 100 years, as I sit with Jesus under a tree talking with Him about my life here on earth, what decision do I need to make that He will be pleased with at that time?”

We can’t live for today.  We can’t live for other people.  LIKE PAUL . . . . . WE LIVE FOR JESUS!!!!!!!!!!!  Our life doesn’t matter . . . . ONLY JESUS MATTERS!!!!!!!!!!

So as you are backing down from hard conversations and decisions, afraid of the consequences of the world, be like Paul, and don’t let the hammer take you out . . . . keep coming back for Jesus!!!!!

Who Wears the Pants in Your House?


My husband, Paul, and I were having a fun and teasing morning together.  It was a great Saturday spent getting tasks done as IMG_4672well as making each other laugh like no one else can!

We were out and about and decided to stop at Biggby and grab a yummy Chai Latte with soy, no whip, and cinnamon sprinkled on top (YUM).  The staff behind the counter were all pushing shots of espresso to all their customers.  When the person behind the counter asked my husband if he wanted and extra shot of espresso I interjected a quick NO!!!!!!!!!!!

My husband and I both laughed!  We knew my response was all part of our joyful banter we had been enjoying all morning, but the person behind the counter heard something different.  Once the words left my lips they responded, “Well, we know who wears the pants in that family!”

We all laughed.

Sort of.

I thought about this all day long!  For me this couldn’t have been further from what I longed for!  I don’t want to be the controlling boss in our home, but I don’t want to be the trampled over wife either.

My husband thought this was funny and nothing more.

It hit my heart harder than something funny.

As I pondered this for bit I thought a lot about the statement from the coffee shop.  I chewed on it.  Prayed about it.  Mulled it over.  Thought long and hard about it.  Then it hit me . . . . . .

As we were driving down the road I announced to my husband my conclusion:  God wears the pants in our family!!  

To this we both laughed at the humor of that statement, but there was great understanding of what I said and what I meant.

So what about you and your house?  This is not just for married people . . . . but for all people . . . . . Does God wear the pants in your family?

Isolation is the Wrong Direction


Sonshine, bright light, happiness, joy, colorful, delight . . . . . these are words that come to mind when I think about FREEDOM!!!  These are the things that I want FLOODING MY HEART!!!!!  This is where I want to live, 24/7!!!!!!!

Here is what I know to be true in my life . . . . . when life gets hard, or I’m up against a huge challenge, I want to isolate instead of running towards Jesus and Christian community!!!  I want to go home, crawl into my bed, dive under the covers and be left ALONE!!!!!  I’m still trying to come up with a Scripture to justify this action!!!!!  I have yet to find one!!!

What I do find is that we are NOT meant to do life alone!!  We are NOT meant to battle the enemy single-handedly!!!  We are NOT meant to isolate!!!!!!!!!!

DISCLAIMER . . . . yes there is solitude!!!  This is key and critical in the life of the believer!!!!  But this is totally different than isolation!!!!!  It’s the attitude of the heart that matters!!!

Isolation . . . . hiding, ignoring life, keeping people away because they annoy us, usually accompanied by a pity-party attitude, or a desire to be sad, lonely, hopeless, scared and alone.  This is a place we seem to slip into either gradually or quickly.  We had no plan to get there and no plan to get out of there either!!  When one stays here they have a tendency to get sucked in deeper to isolation and being alone . . . totally alone.  This can be a very Godless place!!

Solitude . . . . planned time away with the goal of being quiet and alone with Jesus.  The reason is for spiritual direction, leading, enjoy His presence, grow closer to Him.  It’s a spiritual discipline that has an intentional starting and stopping time.  Solitude is intention and done with purpose, design and desire.  The outcome of time away is a deeper walk with Jesus and more resolve in the life we live.

DISCLAIMER #2 . . . . . there can be a mix of the two at times, but the heart is the judge of what the heart is truly doing.

Here is my point . . . . . I can fall easily into isolation and I don’t think I’m alone in this either!!  If I am alone too long I slip into isolation mode and things don’t go well for me at all and it’s never a good thing!!!  I get sad, mopey and defeated!!!!  I can fall way too quickly into a downward spiral and getting out can be super tough!!!!

But when I PLAN times of solitude these are some of the sweetest times with Jesus I have!!!!  They are planned out and within a set time frame.  They are times with Jesus when I walk away having GAINED SO MUCH!!!!!!  They strengthen me, gird me up, cement the ground I am standing on in Jesus, sharpen my vision on Him!!!!


Here is my bottom line for today . . . . . isolation is the WRONG DIRECTION FOR OUR HEARTS TO BE GOING!!!!!!!!!!  This is never what God has for us!!!!!!!!  When we start to withdraw from the world unplanned for long periods of time these is the risk that we are not going in the direction of the Light, the Son, and JOY!!!!!!!

So the question of the day is this . . . . . . What is God saying to your heart about ISOLATION and SOLITUDE?!?!?!?!?



I LOVE words!!!!  DSC_3058

I see God use them in so many BIG WAYS and small ways . . . . but He always used words!!!  Not just HIS WORD . . . . . but lots of other words too!!!

I have used words in various Unveiled activities, and whatever the word GOD ALWAYS SHOWS UP!!!!  Women pick words, I assign words, words are picked out of a jar . . . . whatever way I have used words in activities it’s always POWERFUL!!!!

I teach Middle School and a couple years ago I was sitting with some friends at work and I challenged us all to come up with “our word for the year” that we were going to have as our focus.  I’m not sure anyone grabbed onto this activity as strongly as I did, but it CHANGED MY YEAR!!!!

Everyone else came up with very professional words that were sure to change their school year!  I was hesitant, and almost embarrassed, as I shared my word. After 24 years of teaching I have travelled a lot of ground, been through a lot of changes and challenges, and was getting slightly weary in what I was doing.  So I stepped up to the line and shared the word God put on my heart for the year . . . . . . FUN!  Yep, my teaching year was going to be focused on FUN!!!!

Not sure what this meant, but I stepped out and stepped into my year with the focus of FUN!!!  It was an AMAZING YEAR!!!!!!!  Yes, lots of great math was done!!!  In fact, some of the BEST MATH TEACHING I HAD EVER DONE!!!!!!!  And all the while I was making sure we were having FUN while we were learning!!!!!!

It was a GREAT YEAR!!!!  I had a BLAST . . . . and I hope my students did too!!!  I was a teacher CHANGED and TRANSFORMED!!!!

When it came time for a word for this school year I sensed God asking me to stick with FUN . . . . and so I have!!!  And it has been just that!!!!!

The POWER in ONE WORD!!!!!!!!!  WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So here I am at the start of 2015 and I am challenged by God to listen to His heart for my “Word of the Year” for this coming 2015.  The scary part is that when He asked me to pick a word I KNEW what the word was going to be!!  But it is SO BIG that it’s scary to me!!!!!!!!!!!!  I have been hesitant to share it with anyone . . . . but God seems to think that this blog is going to be the place to not only share my word, but my journey through 2015.  I hope you’re going to join me for the long-haul!!!!!

So . . . . . my word . . . . . BREAKTHROUGH!!!  It lingers in front of my heart like a giant marquee sign lit up at night.  This is what God is speaking over me for 2015.

Now . . . . . . WHAT ABOUT YOU?!?!?!?!?  What is YOUR WORD going to be?!?!?!?!?  If you’re brave enough, please share it with me, and let’s boldly jump into 2015 together, ready for a WILD RIDE WITH JESUS!!!!!!!!!!!  =  )  I would love for you to comment below what your word is and your thoughts about your word from Jesus!!!  Let’s hold each other up in prayer as we follow this WILD SAVIOR OF OURS WITH DEEP PASSION AND DEVOTION AND TRUST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Content at CHRISTmas?!?!?


Manger picCHRISTmas is the season that strengthens my ability to look up and down, and keeps me from looking side to side too often!!  Let me explain . . . .

This is the season where the pull from retail is SO STRONG and they work SO HARD to make me feel like I’m missing out if I don’t have what they are selling!!  There are more advertisements, flyers, mailed items, e-mailed items, Facebook posts, etc. . . . all centered on one thing . . . . . . WE NEED MORE STUFF!!!!!!!  And this particular item is what we need!!!!!  With all this coming at me it creates a certain stress in my heart!!!!!

And yet on the flip side . . . . . . .

I love to wander around Target . . . . alone . . . . with an empty shopping cart.  It’s one of my GREATEST JOYS, and yet at the same time one of my husband’s GREATEST FEARS!!  But this time of year is my favorite because all of the CHRISTmas promotions are out and all the special packaging and ???????? are out.  I love to see what’s new and cute and fun.  It doesn’t all make my shopping cart, but I do enjoy just wandering around and looking at it all.

This always starts out as a good trip, but it can soon turn sour as I see all the stuff I don’t have and yet maybe I should have it?!?!?!  But I don’t have it, and I never knew it existed, but now for some strange reason I don’t just want it, I think I NEED IT!!!!!!!!  And what started out as a fun trip around my favorite store has turned my heart into a downward spiral because not only can I not afford to buy all the stuff I’m seeing, but I really don’t want all this stuff in my house!!!!!!!!

I have been talking with Jesus a lot about CONTENTMENT these days!!!  My heart gets all jumbled up as I look at what everyone else has around me!  At the ministry opportunities others are getting!  At the piles of gifts that others are giving and getting!  At all the CHRISTmas parties and activities swirling around me!  At the perfect children in all the CHRISTmas cards!  At the beautiful decorations that are decked on everyone’s halls!  I could go on and on and on at how my heart keeps comparing my world to everyone else!!!  And what is so hard is that with each comparison I COME UP LACKING!!!  Or so it seems to me!!

Comparison . . . . this is what kills me every time!!!!  When I look at those AROUND ME . . . . side to side . . . . it’s NEVER A GOOD THING!!!!!  All this breeds in my heart is DISCONTENTMENT!!!!!!!!

God doesn’t want us to be looking side to side!!!  He longs for us to LOOK UP . . . . . TO HIM . . . . . our SWEET and PRECIOUS PRINCE OF PEACE!!!!!!!!  That baby in the manger, the one we are celebrating this season . . . . if we keep our EYES ON HIM we will find all the peace and contentment that we long for!!!!!!!!!

I find myself over and over having to stop and correct my gaze!!  I need to stop looking side to side, but to tip my head back and look up to the Lover of my Soul!!!!!  It’s AMAZING!!!  When I do that all of the stuff of the side drifts away and I am engulfed in His HOLY STARE and I can’t get my eyes off of the one that brings such a change of heart to me!!!  I have to confess my jealousy, envy and wandering eyes off of Him . . . . . but He scoops me right back up in His arms for a wonderfully warm CHRISTmas cuddle and at that point NOTHING ELSE MATTERS!!!!!!!!!!!  For in the arms of the Prince of Peace I am the most content I will ever be!!!!

So as I continue to walk through this season I will continue to allow God to strengthen my ability to keep my eyes from looking side to side, but instead keep them focused LOOKING UP to the cross or LOOKING DOWN to the baby in the manger!!!!