Thanks be to God…My unending gratitude to Jesus…#Christmas Marriage Gratitude Dare

Merry Christmas, Darling!

And you know I would have written sooner, but I’ve been down with a terrible cold and then tried to play catch up with all the Christmas preparations. But I never stopped talking to you in my heart, Jesus, and you know I am so very grateful for you, the relationship we share and for everything you’ve ever done for me and those I love. You are my One of a kind forever Love…

At the beginning of December, I challenged all of us to complete the Christmas Marriage Gratitude Dare for our spouse. A daily listing of our thankfulness each day in December to be presented to our mate on Christmas morning in whatever creative way you chose.

Michael and I loved our gratitude gift to each other so much that he suggested we keep it up, every week, all through the year, as a way to grow in gratitude. And this is itself a gift to God that makes his heart smile.

In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

So how did you do? And how did your homemade gift from the heart impact your husband? Or wife? I’d love to know so please leave me a comment!

While under the weather the week before Christmas I managed to complete my list for my Michael, but didn’t have the energy to sit at the computer and compose this post to my Jesus. So, while it’s still the Twelve Days of Christmas, here are a few of the countless things I sincerely thank you for — My Father, my Lord Jesus, my Precious Spirit…

  1. You really love me. All the time, no matter what, like no one ever has. And all those years I went searching for love in futile, foolish ways and yet you were always here, tending the home fires, waiting for me.
  2. Forgiveness and you giving me a fresh start, more than once. 
  3. Patience when I forget and choose sin, or have repeated mistakes and gone my own way.
  4. Grace and more grace, abundant grace, always grace.
  5. You are truth.
  6. And always trustworthy.
  7. You are my hiding place.
  8. My strong tower, my refuge.
  9. My ever present help in times of trouble.
  10. You are my BFF and the lover of my soul.
  11. You keep company with me and are always courting me.
  12. You are protection and provision.
  13. You are healing and the Great Physician.
  14. I can always count on you being there for me, holding me, your presence a constant comfort.
  15. While people and things change, you are steady, solid, never shifting, my Rock.
  16. You never leave me, not physically, not emotionally, not nothing. Ever!
  17. You have made me your own, my name tattooed on the palm of your hand.
  18. You love me and will forever, with a love that is older than the stars and reaches further than our ever expanding universe.
  19. You have redeemed me, summoned me by name.
  20. I am precious and honored in your sight. 
  21. I am yours.
  22. And you are mine.
  23. And because I have you I have real life, now and always.
  24. Without fear.
  25. But with peace.
  26. And I love you, my Prince of Peace.

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

 

 

Simply Christmas…

A tiny baby. A silent night. A cold, dark cave.

 

Simple.

A new mother wrapping her infant in swaddling clothes and putting him down on clean hay in a feeding trough. She and her husband, barely more than children themselves, gazing in amazement at the miracle that had unfolded into their specific lives by God’s decree. Their baby boy who became a sinless man — the greatest gift EVER!

Profound.

For God Himself came down to live among us. To love us up close. To teach us the way, leading to a beautiful life both here and in eternity.

So hark the herald angels sing, glory to the newborn King. May there be peace in your world as you contemplate Jesus, receive Jesus, follow Jesus.

Amidst the crush of Christmas as many have come to celebrate it — the madness of the mall, excessive spending, church pageants, cocktail parties, caroling, cantatas, cookie swaps, card writing and all the other trappings and traditions that are not in and of themselves bad, but can demand more than they are worth creating pressure-cooker stress — stop for a minute and ask yourself why? 

Why are you doing what you are doing this December?

Then still your frantic heart and reach for the gift that keeps on giving. Read the Christmas storyRead all four gospels like it was the first time. Discover who Jesus really is, how He lived, how we are to live as His followers. Let Him gift you with a revelation of Himself in a new way this Christmas, speaking specifically into your life.

And in opening this precious gift with the eyes and heart of a child, see for the first time what He has longed for you to see all along…

And there’s still time for you and/or your spouse to take the #ChristmasMarriageGratitudeDare. Simple. No expense. Yet a huge return in your spouse’s heart and in your marriage for your invest of time and love. Just. Do. It! 

Musings on the true meaning of Christmas…Plus, are you taking the #ChristmasMarriageGratitudeDare?

Love Angel

Quietly this morning, after prayer and reading in Romans, I recorded blessings in a gratitude journal I began about five years ago.

TREE 2016

A baby Christmas tree for the Baby Jesus.

Cookies

Honey Shortbread cookies sampled while watching Prancer. {A new gluten free tradition for just the two of us.}

Baby Dino

Expectations of a bundle of joy coming in spring. 

North Pole

Delight in watching Michael’s enchantment when he returned home after a few hours to find a Christmas elf had transformed our loft into a tiny bit of the North Pole.

And I couldn’t help but say thank you to Father for how much better I feel now than in past Decembers when I’ve slipped into moaning and groaning about the things I dislike about the season.

Cold. Snow. Dark. Muscles aching more in winter. Being stuck indoors rather than outside. Overwhelming commercialism of this simple, holy season.

And always eating way too much dark chocolate to boost serotonin.

So I asked Him what renders my change of heart ushering in so much more carefree joy.

breaths

Several things — beginning with that moment in June that literally took my breath away. And over the ensuing months, pondering this second chance, probing the dimly lit back corridors of my mind where expectations and resentments haunt if dwelled upon negatively. Plus, choosing to be grateful and find the blessings in everything. And especially the great glad tidings in my family including graduations, a son dating a lovely girl and recently accepted to my alma mater, a son getting engaged and setting the date, and a son and his wife announcing the impending arrival of my first grandbaby!

God showed me my October birthday and how in three short years another decade will turn, urging me to listen more closely than ever to ensure I am where, and doing what, He desires in my small, yet meaningful life. And reminding me that joy is found in Him in the moment at hand, not in some future, far away land or some long ago longing over what’s been lost.

Wouldn’t you agree that it is in the present moment of our lives, fully embraced, that we unwrap the gift?

How we choose to receive or use our moment by moment gifts determines the course of our days, years and decades. For we are not robots and God is not some distant being pushing buttons to make us do this or not do that. He is a good parent who wants us to grow up and be strong so that we fulfill His call on our lives, share with others the blessing that is found in relationship with God through Jesus, and build healthy marriages and loving families — the bedrock of any thriving society.

Freely we choose, rightly or wrongly, reaping appropriate consequences. And God gives us time and space so we can figure things out ourselves if only we stop long enough to exhale, think deeply, and reach for Him through daily practices that build our character, working out our sanctification and transforming our human nature into something divine.

Baby Jesus

As we position ourselves in the Divine, we are capable of responding spontaneously in any given good or bad moment with the heart of God. Not the bits and pieces of our broken, sinful selves. Walking side by side with Him we are gifted with abundant life and freedom through that precious babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, not only at Christmas but every day that we would open and say yes.

GIFT

And speaking of abundant life and counting blessings, are you taking the #ChristmasMarriageGratitudeDare? It’s a sure way to bless your hubby or wife and grow yourself through a practice of obedient thankfulness.

Because Christmas doesn’t come from a store, but a manger, and in giving our hearts gratefully the way God gave His son.

And when we do, we lose our inner grinch and grow our heart and marriage in love three sizes that day…

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And if you’re having a hard time with Christmas or your marriage is struggling, click on my image and contact me today for a FREE 20 minute mentoring for women session.

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Make your marriage a gift! Take the #ChristmasMarriageGratitudeDare…

GIFT

My beloved is mine and I am his…Song of Solomon 2:16

Days go by. Seasons change. And soon we find ourselves at Christmas once again, gift list in hand and wrapping paper and ribbons at the ready. Yet I’ve heard people say Christmas is routine. Or even a humbug. Seems they’ve grown weary and perhaps can’t see the star that shines in their darkness.

And in marriage days go by, seasons change and wedding anniversaries roll round again. With the passing of time, though, is our marriage becoming more precious? Or have visions of returning the gift of our spouse danced in our heads?!

Heaven forbid. Because even in those moments when marriage seems boring, cold, or currently hard, it is still a gift from above to assuage the utter loneliness of man and woman.JESUS

Marriage is a gift from God for as long as we both shall live

No matter how long we’ve walked side by side with our spouse if we choose to view marriage with the eyes of a child at Christmas we’ll be full of eager expectation, bubbling with joy, brimming gratitude and running over with hope that makes our heart happy and our marriage stronger. And like our relationship with God through Jesus, marriage is a gift that we constantly unwrap, discovering anew its hidden or long-forgotten treasures. Yet in marriage we must be mindful that it is fragile and needs to be handled with care.

And because it is better to give than to receive, as we give ourselves in marriage — which can mean repenting of pride, selfishness, greed, laziness, lust and other Grinch-like qualities — and put our partner first, we transform the perception of our union, becoming more appreciative for all the good and the not-so-good moments that comprise a marriage for a lifetime.

Saying thank you daily to our spouse — a dusty, frail human like us — and to Father, the author of this magical blessing unlike any other even — can increase the happiness quotient of our marriage.

And ease those times of overcoming obstacles in marriage — whether health, financial or two sinful natures vying with each other for control — yielding more tenderness, love and beauty.DARE

So here’s the dare

We all want peace and joy, hope and love and all things Christmas-y in our marriages not just during Advent and the Twelve Days, but for all the days of our life as man and wife.

So no matter how you’re feeling in this moment, or how busy you are with preparations for the holiday {and surely that includes time with Father preparing your heart} I now dare you to choose to nurture the gift of your marriage by recording your gratitude for your mate for at least the next 24 days.

Keep a running gratitude list of all the wonderful things that makes your husband or wife incredibly unique. Include all the big and little things he or she does for you and your family. Silly things. Serious things. Whatever comes to mind. Make your list and check it twice through prayer that will open your heart to appreciate your spouse more than ever.

Write your gratitudes on snippets of paper — day by day till Christmas. Make it fancy or plain, red or green. Be creative or not.

Just make sure to fill those snippets with words from your heart, truthful and real. Pour out your gratitude like never before.

Slip them silently into your spouse’s stocking when he or she isn’t looking. Remind them no peeking allowed!

Gifting your spouse in this simple, profound way will impact their heart long after the last decoration is packed away, helping make your union stronger and sweeter.

Head over now to Sheila Kimball Facebook page and let me know you’re in! by leaving a comment or visit Twitter and use the hashtag #ChristmasMarriageGratitudeDare.

Please let’s share this post! because what spouse doesn’t want to know how much they are appreciated and loved! And our world needs more gratitude and love at Christmas and everyday!

Seal it with a kiss

As you give of yourself this way, offering your gratitudes humbly, take joy on Christmas morning gazing into the eyes of the child of God who is your better half, both of you blessed by the beloved gift that is marriage.

And don’t forget to kiss under the mistletoe…

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Exquisite ache…reflecting with gratitude, anticipating with joy

RT Trees

With Thanksgiving past and my heart flooded with gratitude for all our sweet and special blessings, as Christmas draws closer day by day, an expectant hopefulness rises within me bringing a desire to reflect deeper still.

On life, love and all things God.

And with the season of darkness and bitter cold descended at least in New York, I feel the urgent pull to be warmed by His embrace. Aligning my heart in sync with the heavenly heartbeat.

Breathing. Waiting. Opening.

RT Stairs

For there are certain somethings that touch me with the deepest ache.

Sunset. A full moon. Late afternoon sun sliding into a room like golden honey. Twinkly lights flashing like pinpoint stars. Melodies calling to the soul from somewhere long ago and faraway. And always, always the wanting for more time to spend with those I most love.

Brian Crain’s Summer in Italy transports me in this way and I invite you to listen.

Yet the ache is not sad, bittersweet perhaps, more a yearning so exquisite that I can barely breathe. 

A divine heart-call in whispers often unheard. And in the longing for what seems just beyond my grasp, behind the veil, comes again the realization that all my longings end in His heart of Love. 

For is there not unique and redeeming beauty in our ache when it urges us closer to God?

Drawing us with an intimate promise of all that was ever meant to be. And after years of wandering and wondering, attempting to assuage the ache to belong, to know and be known, to love and be loved as never before, comes the discovery both ancient and newly-born.

There.

Is.

Only.

One.

Him who obliterates darkness, fills the void, expands the heart, pours the grace. Holiness healing the deepest hurts and worst habits. And on those silent nights as we look up, when divinely-implanted loneliness is most acutely felt, our hearts will crescendo in hallelujahs for darkness brightens with the Morning Star.

RT Light

During the next few weeks as life speeds up, crowding out quiet contentment, make room at the inn of your heart to welcome Him simply. No frills or fuss, no pretense or striving. Come as you are and just be with Him in all the fullness of each present moment. Then linger with longing and fill even more.

Him the gift to us and us through Him becoming the gift He intends.

May Christmas come softly this year, helping us hear as He beckons us to rise from the ash heap of mortal existence to kiss His face, pursuing Him with passion the way He pursues us.

Our ache leading us home at Christmas. And then we will know. For certain sure.

We are His. We belong. We are loved. And the tattered remnants of our orphan hearts will tear away like discarded gift wrap as we emerge more fully grown.

At once and still becoming, a true-er daughter or son of the best dad ever…

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