Thursday, December 22, 2016

Thoughts For My Girls - Angie Tingle

The Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack was playing in the background as the menagerie of Christmas decorations was being marched down the stairs by the children.  Each child had to make a couple of trips to the attic in order to bring it all out.  As boxes opened, memories and stories and traditions seemed to be opened, too.  A fire was going in the wood burner, hot cocoa was being prepared, and the stage was set for the traditional decorating of our tree and our home.

After 17 years of marriage and 16 years with children, we had collected many, many tree decorations and “pretties” to sit around.  The decorations had become a nuisance to try to maneuver around for a month in our home.  So, this year I decided we would scale down and have only a few of our decorations out.  And so, according to eight year old Abbie, there was one hitch in her celebration:  Mama. 

As everyone else was in agreement and was going about their chosen decorating jobs, Abbie found the bag that she had packed the year before.  It was filled with an accumulation of ornaments and lights for a mini-tree. 

In the early years of our marriage, I had been given several tiny ornaments.  They looked best on a tiny tree, set it in a pot with gravel from the driveway to steady it, and placed in my kitchen by the sink or on the counter somewhere.  About 3 years ago, Abbie appointed herself as the tiny tree finder and decorator.  By last year, instead of being 12”, it had become about 3’ tall with lights and a velvet clad, ceramic angel ornament on top.  The simplicity of a mini tree had been lost and “bigger and better” had taken over. 

Abbie, already displeased with the idea of scaling down, placed herself on the floor near an electric socket to check her lights.  All was scattered in front of her: ornaments, tree topper, some tinsel, a 12” tree, a pot, and a string of 100 lights.  After wrapping the tiny tree with as much of the strand of lights as she could (with the rest trailing toward the socket), hanging all the small ornaments, and putting the ceramic angel on top, the tree looked gagged and bound. 

She blurted out, “Mama, I told you we needed a bigger tree!”  With an inhale of breath, more was coming!  

She slumped, knitted her eyebrows, and finished, “Why didn’t you let me get a bigger one?!  This just looks awful!  You wouldn’t listen to me and get the bigger one!” Her frustrated exhale of breath was sent my way on the vehicle of her dissatisfied, blaming glance.

As I walked over, her eyes never left my face.  Their blaming expression began filling with tears and she snapped again, “I told you we needed to choose the bigger tree!” It seemed as if her joy for the holiday would be based on the satisfaction she would gain (or not) in the decorating of her tiny tree.  It was my turn to take a deep breath and whisper a prayer to my Father for the right words to redirect her focus.

Cautiously I replied, “No, Honey.  This is the right size.”
“No, it isn’t, Mama! Everything doesn’t fit!  It’s awful!!” she cried.

“You are right.  Everything doesn’t fit.  We will not get a bigger tree, though.  This is just the right size.”  I sat on the other side of the tree and began removing the lights.

Abbie was not willing to let go so easily.  “Mama, we could buy a smaller set of lights.  You know, the battery operated kind!”  Her little mind was still trying to figure a way to put as much on the tree as possible because her thoughts were telling her: more is always better.

“Yes, we could, but we won’t.” was my reply as I kept unburdening the little tree. 

Abbie’s face drooped.  “Mama, please don’t take everything off.  You will ruin what I’ve done!” 

I didn’t answer.  My hands were working carefully and quickly to restore the tree to a more natural state as I began teaching Abbie about the burden of carrying or having too much. 

The tree returned to an upright position in its pot, again.

Abbie sat quietly and watched while the tree was turned and viewed from all directions, each ornament being placed in a carefully chosen spot.  As she watched and listened, her countenance began to change.  The tiny tree was just right for what it was meant to carry.

“Do you like the tree now?” I asked.  She just nodded her approval.  “Would you make a star for the top?  You are so good at making things.  Cut it out of something, anything you like . . . but keep it simple to fit the tree.”

A little while later, a foil covered star cut from card stock topped the tree.  It was beautiful.  Abbie had to even show me how she rigged the back of the star to make it fit!  Joy had returned to her heart. 

This episode with Abbie reminded me: a simple focus requires self-discipline.  It is so easy to be swept away by the presents that must be bought, wrapped and presented; homes that must be decorated; jolly attitudes that must be displayed; parties that must be planned or attended; the annual Christmas letter that must be written, addressed, and sent; and the unspoken other expectations that must be met . . . and the real reason for the celebration is forgotten.

By the way, who is dictating the must be’s?  Who is our audience for whom we perform and what is the focus? Celebrations are important because they cause us to remember.  But, to what extent should we go for a celebration and is the purpose for it still in view?

I ask myself these questions because when the weeks of preparation and celebration for Christmas are over, the sun will lay its head to rest and all festivities will come to a close.  At that time, there will be a moment, a stillness speaking of Truth.  I hunger to tarry in that moment, that place where “bigger and better” doesn’t fit because I know the fullness of that moment arrives when my heart humbly turns toward the Father in thankfulness for the coming of His son, my Messiah.

Celebrate well by keeping a simple focus.
And remember,
the most precious celebration
is the private one
between you and the Father.

Love always,

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Free Gift

Family Fun Icebreaker: What is a special gift that you received?

Question:Why Is Jesus Sent to You?

Today’s Big Idea: Jesus Is the Redeemer
Jesus is a special gift for you. God sent Jesus to redeem you by being a sacrifice to take away your sins and give you peace with God, the Father. Read 1 John 4:9–10. Scripture shares that God loves you! And He loves you so much that He sent His one and only Son into the world so that you personally could have eternal life. When you believe in Jesus and trust Him as Lord of your life, you receive other promises, such as help from God’s Holy Spirit (John 14:26) and the promise of a better, more satisfying (purposeful) life while you live on earth (John 10:10). In return, you allow Jesus to be Lord of your life. When you confess your sin and repent, you are choosing to stop continuously rebelling against God and instead to continuously be obedient to Jesus. Allowing Jesus to be Lord of your life means you choose obedience to Jesus. And then in return, Jesus helps you be obedient—by giving another gift, the gift of His Holy Spirit.

Talk with God: Read the scriptures aloud.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 NLT

For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time. 1 Timothy 2:5–6 NLT

Walk with God: Read aloud and discuss.

Jesus can pay for your sins, but you must confess your sin, repent and decide to believe in Jesus, this decision will lead to a friendship with God.

Discuss with your family:
Have you received the free gift that God has offered to you? If not, would you like to receive His free gift now? Pray, “Lord, please forgive me. I confess to You that I am a sinner, and I am sorry for my wrong behavior. I believe that trusting Jesus, whom You raised from the dead, as my Lord and Savior will save me. I confess that I want Jesus Christ to be Lord of my life, and I would like to receive your gift of the Holy Spirit. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray, Amen.” If you have already prayed this prayer, how has your life changed since then?

Prayer suggestion: Pray for God to help you trust in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.

I will be praying for you!

Stacy A. Davis, Author
Exerpt from Come One, Come All, a Sky Ranch Family Devotional
© 2016 Stacy A. Davis, Inc. All rights reserved.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Jesus was 100% Man

Jesus Was 100% Man
Family Fun Icebreaker: Do you cry at commercials on TV?
Question: Who Is Jesus?
Today’s Big Idea: Jesus Is 100% Man
Admit it, sometimes the commercials get you and there are a few tears! We are emotional and once the tears start, it can be hard to stop them. Or maybe you find yourself laughing out loud at one. We relate to emotions. Jesus grew into a regular guy who had real emotions. Scripture shares that God sent Jesus from heaven to earth in order for Jesus to carry out and follow the plan that God set up. Read John 6:38–40. This passage explains God’s plan for Jesus. While on earth, Jesus operated as an ordinary person who put aside all of His godly abilities and behaved as a normal relatable man. Why would Jesus do that? He didn’t have to, but He put aside His divine nature to relate to you and me.

Talk with God:
 Read the scriptures aloud.

(About Jesus) There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care.
 Isaiah 53:2–3 NLT

Walk with God: Read aloud and discuss.
Jesus wept in John 11:35. This shows He had real emotions and feelings like you do. He lived a regular life during this part of His life on earth so that He could relate to you.
Discuss with your family:
How does knowing that Jesus was a regular guy help you relate to Him more?

Prayer suggestion:
 Pray for God, the Father, to show you how you can have a real relationship with Jesus.

I will be praying for you!

Stacy A. Davis, Author
Exerpt from Come One, Come All, a Sky Ranch Family Devotional
© 2016 Stacy A. Davis, Inc. All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Christ in Christmas by Lisa Clark



We have to be intentional to keep CHRIST in CHRISTmas or the worldly stuff finds it’s way into our homes. Here are some thoughts to remember WHOSE birthday it is we’re celebrating!
  •  3 gifts – Jesus received 3 gifts for His birth…so maybe 3 is enough for our kiddos, too? (Matthew 2:1-12)

  • An empty seat at the table – Leaving a chair for Jesus at the Christmas table is a reminder to all that it’s His party!

  • Happy Birthday, Jesus! – Bake a cake and celebrate!!

  • Advent – Daily, intentional and all month long! There are all kinds of Advent studies, devotionals and apps to join in! 

  • Serve – Jesus, the Lamb of God. His life was about laying His life down. What better way to celebrate His coming to earth than to serve each other, neighbors, and those God puts in our path?

  • The Christmas Story – Read it before any gifts are opened to remind all gathered ‘round that He is the Reason for the Season! (Luke 2:1-20)

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Jesus As A Boy

Jesus As A Boy
Family Fun Icebreaker: Does listening to someone wise make you wiser? How?
Topic 1 Question: Who Is Jesus?
Today’s Big Idea: Jesus as a Boy
Just like you listen to others and become wiser, as Jesus grew into a boy, He learned wisdom from others and grew in wisdom. As God continues His plan to help mankind, He knew that Jesus would also relate to humanity by growing up as a boy on earth. Growing from a baby into an adult can be a challenging journey. By sharing a similar journey that others in mankind go through, God knew that some would relate better to Jesus. To learn more about Jesus as a boy, read Luke 2:40–52. Scripture shares more about Jesus’ years as an adult, but we do know enough about His years as a boy to learn that He had to figure out how to improve His relationship with people and God—Jesus grew! Jesus didn’t have it all figured out as a baby; He had to grow in relationships like you do. Hopefully, that will be an encouragement to you to continue to learn and improve in your relationships with others.

Talk with God: Read the scriptures aloud.

Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people. Luke 2:52 NLT

Walk with God: Read aloud and discuss.
In Luke 2, Jesus was missing for three days and He did not tell His parents where He was. His parents were frantic and searching for Him. Jesus didn’t intentionally do anything wrong to His parents, but He was accused of intentionally treating them wrongly. He thought that they knew where He was, but it was a misunderstanding.

Discuss with your family:
Jesus had misunderstandings with his parents as you probably do. He understands how it feels to be misunderstood. The next time you have a misunderstanding with someone, would you turn to Jesus for advice? Why or why not?

Prayer suggestion: Pray for God to help you grow in your relationships.

I will be praying for you!

Stacy A. Davis, Author
Exerpt from Come One, Come All, a Sky Ranch Family Devotional
© 2016 Stacy A. Davis, Inc. All rights reserved.