Sunday, November 29, 2015


I hate to bring up a touchy subject, but in case you didn't know it, this is the year when Christmas comes less than a month after Thanksgiving.  Even still, I am a firm believer in the simple premise that the Christmas season CANNOT BEGIN UNTIL AFTER THANKSGIVING!!!  No decorations, no carols, no shopping--nothing, nada, never! So why is that Christmas tree standing there all proud and lit up behind my guests at Thanksgiving dinner?
It started a couple of years ago when Joe set up the tree only to discover that the top half of the lights no longer worked.  Just as he finished cutting the old ones off and restringing the top, the right half of the center section went out... and so it went until my poor husband who never gets riled was ready to pull his hair out.   Besides the fact that he doesn't have much hair to spare, this was not a pretty way to begin the Christmas season.  

Since we usually try to decorate the day after Thanksgiving, Joe let me know this year that he would be putting up the tree to check on the lights Thursday morning.  What could I say?

Things did go a bit better--he only had to run to the drugstore once for an extra string and that tree could light up a city block now!

I love sitting by the tree in the quiet and have to admit it's so nice to have all that decorating done.  It's a good reminder that a little preparation ahead of time is never a bad idea.

Speaking of preparation, today is the first Sunday of Advent, an ancient tradition of the church meant to ensure that our hearts are ready for the celebration of Christ's birth.  

Advent is a word of expectation, of hope, of a promise unprecedented in the history of humankind.  It simply means coming and calls us to remember that we celebrate Christmas, not only because Christ came, but because one day He will come again in glory.  

My prayer is that this mystery will captivate my heart as I move through this season.  I know that I must be intentional in this, that I must plan ahead-- I really can't afford to wait until the crazy chaos of the season hijacks my heart.  So, like Joe and the Christmas lights, I am taking the time to focus now so that in my moments and hours, in my heart and in my home, I am ever aware of the profound reality that Christ came...and will come again.

If you'd like to do the same, here are few things that might help get you started:

ADORE: this new Christmas album by Chris Tomlin is a wonderful worship experience.  Click here to listen on youtube. 

ADVENT READINGS: Click here for a  set of Scripture readings for every day this month.

ADVENT WREATH: Click here for everything you need to know about how to make one, what it means and how to use it.

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS DEVOTIONALS: I will be posting my devotionals right here beginning December 14th.

Have a blessed Advent!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Gratitude: A Quiz, A Printable and a Practice Video

With Thanksgiving a little over a week away, I wanted to offer a few things to assist you in celebrating this wonderful holiday and in practicing gratitude throughout the year.


Take the gratitude quiz below yourself, or make it a fun Thanksgiving meal game.  The answers and explanations are at the end of the blog, and they may surprise you! (no peeking)!


We are hosting family and a few friends for Thanksgiving this year--the total is 21 and counting--so I put together a gratitude printable to use for napkin rings that people can take home and put on their refrigerators if they want.  There is a large size in case you want to frame it, or a page of small ones here.


Most of us are truly grateful, but often fail to express gratitude or experience the amazing benefits that come from a focus on being thankful.  This short video teaches a quick and easy way for you to practice gratitude more intentionally.  In the process you will alter your brain's neural pathways for optimum emotional, physical and spiritual benefits.


I can't leave out the turkey recipe I have used for the past ten years, the one that never fails to produce a beautiful, golden, moist, delectable turkey and one that everyone raves about.  It is very easy, but you do have to plan ahead and buy the turkey several days out in order to thaw it.  This year I am going to use the same recipe, but cook it on the smoker!  Check it out here

Have  blessed Thanksgiving everyone--I am so thankful for you!!!


1. False: scientific studies show that people who tend to compare their situations to others do not reap positive benefits, even if they express gratitude.  Instead, those who were simply grateful for what they had, without comparison, experienced positive changes in behavior, emotions and attitudes.
2. False: Studies have shown that even writing in a gratitude journal once per week alters the neural pathways in our brains.
3. True.
4. True
5. False.  Studies show that grateful people are less materialistic than ungrateful people.
6. True.
7. False.  Gratitude can actually be an unhealthy motivation for obedience.  John Piper helps us understand why—see the article at
8. False.  Studies show that gratitude for inanimate things like material possessions etc. does not produce the same positive benefits that gratitude related to people and our connections do.
9. True.  See Ephesians 5:14
10. True and false.  Giving thanks produces positive changes in our brains including all the other benefits above, regardless of how we direct our gratitude.  But according to Romans 1:21, people who don’t honor God as the giver in their gratitude become futile in their thinking, having foolish hearts that lead to all kinds of sinful behavior.  Giving thanks to “the universe,” or our own bodies (thank you legs for carrying me through the day) or inanimate objects (thank you chicken for giving your life for my dinner), does not honor God as the one who reigns over all and is thus the true giver of every grace we ever experience.

The Grateful Brain; the Neuroscience of Giving Thanks, by Alex Korb, Psychology Today, November 2012, accessed at:

Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life by Robert Emmons & Michael McCullough, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology Copyright 2003 by the American Psychological Association, Inc. 2003, Vol. 84, No. 2, 377–389 accessed at

Is Gratitude an Alternative to Materialism? by Emily L. Polak, Michael E. McCullough, 2006, Journal of Happiness Studies, accessed at