Celebrating Mothers With All Five {Spiritual} Senses

Mother and Daughter

There are a plethora of ways to celebrate Mother’s Day but today I’m adding five to the mix that you may not have considered. And with it being only a few days away, there’s no time to lose so let’s get started.

 

{The Gift of Sight}

 

spiritual sightBeautiful items make themselves available on Mother’s Day. Restaurants with fancy folded napkins, a hillside with a readied picnic basket, and jewelry with all the right birthstones in place. But imagine giving mothers, especially those with baggage like myself, the gift of going to the Father and asking for the spiritual sight to see her as He sees her. I can assure you that mothers who have mothered from a difficult place, sometimes of our own making, want nothing more than for our child to know that despite their flaws and failures, they were loved. That we did our best even though our best often failed to measure up to hopes and dreams.

Consider writing your mother a note this Mother’s Day instead of simply signing a card. If your family is blessed to look more like a minimalist when it comes to “baggage” thank God and then share specific ways your mother has blessed you. But if you think of a hoarder when it comes to family baggage, consider praying for spiritual eyes to see beyond the hurt and disappointment, allowing God to show you your mother as He sees her. Share what you learn with her in a handwritten note. Has your mother passed? My heart hurts for you. Go ahead and write your note. If possible, visit her gravesite and read it aloud. Or go to a quiet place you know she would’ve loved instead and read it.

 

{The Gift of Taste}

 

ice cream If you’re a mother my guess is that you have a renewed sense of appreciation for your own mother. You now have insight into the sacrifice, unconditional love, and hard work that is required. In some ways, it’s like eating something new for the first time. You’re not sure what to expect — but when you taste it for yourself, you know {and appreciate it} based on experience.

Treat your mother to a new restaurant experience. As you enjoy your meal, share with her specific things you’ve learned (or one day hope to learn) about parenting. And don’t forget dessert!

 

 

{The Gift of Listening}

 

Mom and daughterWe all know there is a vast difference between hearing and listening. One is expected. The other is a gift. The art of conversation is a dying one thanks to our inability to turn off the phone with all of its well-meaning perks. When is the last time we asked a question and truly listened to the answer?

Turn your phone off regardless of how you choose to spend time with your mother this weekend. Give her the respect she deserves in her God-given role. Think of questions you can ask in advance about her dreams, how she feels God is moving in her life these days, her childhood, etc. And then listen.

 

 

 

 

{The Gift of A Sweet Aroma}

 

grandma cooking Aromas flowing from family kitchens can create lifelong memories. To this day, I wish I’d spent more time with both grandmothers in their kitchens (and so does my family). Our sense of smell is the strongest of the five for a reason. One whiff can trigger a bundle of memories.

Purchase a candle for your mother and share all the ways she adds a sweet scent to your life, and to your family’s. But don’t stop with the practical ways. If applicable, share how she is the “fragrance of Christ” to you (2 Corinthians 2:14-16). If this isn’t applicable, go ahead and purchase the candle but keep it for yourself. Use it as a trigger to remind you to pray for your mother every time you light it. Or if your mother has passed, use each lighting as a reminder to thank God for her “fragrance” in your life.

 

{The Gift of Touch}

 

Mother Daughter HugIf you ever doubt the power of touch, visit an assisted living home. The elderly are hungry for a simple touch. And so are mothers. I could write an entire post on this subject and one day I will, but for now, can I take this moment to encourage young mothers? Never miss an opportunity to hug or kiss your child, even when he or she acts uninterested. Touch is a powerful communicator of love, regardless of age.

I’m blessed to still have my mother but having lost two grandmothers to whom I was very close, I can say one thing I miss most are the front/back door hugs. You know, the kind you can’t escape if you want to enter their home. I didn’t always appreciate them as a youngster but now I would give anything to feel their warm embrace again. Hug your mother, your grandmother, and any mother figure God has blessed you with — because the gift of touch is one you never outgrow.

 

Love… One Sip At A Time // A Valentine Tea Party

Valentine Tea Party

Because love isn’t limited to one day on a calendar I decided to share a few pictures from my Valentine Tea Party earlier this week.

I began hosting tea parties in 2002, with the highlight being an annual Christmas Tea — sometimes two. One with long-time friends and another one with new friends I’d made that year. I separated the two due to space issues. Basically, there was none.

In December 2007, I hosted my last tea party. During that Christmas Tea, I received word that my sweet grandmother had been admitted to the hospital. She would die only a few days later. I grieved longer than first realized. There was no desire to host a Christmas Tea the following year…or the next, and on and on.

But this recent move toward the mountains ushered in a fresh desire to host more teas and simple gatherings. And so it begins.

The Valentine Tea earlier this week was small, intimate. I consider my writer/critique group friends first, writers second. We pray for one another, share in both victories and struggles, and support what God has called us to do by giving honest feedback,  grounded in love.

Writers Critique Group

Marcia Moston, Carol Roper, and Beth Saadati

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I hope this is true as I have more pictures than words today.

Valentine Tea Roses

Initially, I’d plucked a neatly wrapped bunch of non-Valentine flowers out of one of the grocery store floral buckets. I knew they would be pretty enough, maybe even save a few pennies. And then I spotted these trio-colored roses. I quickly put the non-Valentine bunch of flowers back (and okay, a few Yasso’s). The roses were worth it.

Valentines Day Yogurt

One favorite treat (I think) was the yogurt, vanilla-almond granola, and fruit in half-pint jars. I ordered these mini (and I do mean mini) red spoons from Target. {I just realized I forgot to tie a bow around the top. Oops!}

Valentine Tea Scrabble

A last minute idea was to add a fun element by spelling out the obvious. After all, I was surrounded by gifted wordsmiths.

I admit to feeling a bit inept in preparing for the tea. The to-do lists began weeks prior but I had to continually remind myself that perfection was not the goal of this gathering (or any, really) but rather, the celebration of friendship…and kinsmanship in spirit and in deed.

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” -C.S. Lewis

Or too many reasons to celebrate with friends. -Cathy Baker

How did you celebrate Valentine’s Day this week? Please share! 

 

Re-Gifting the Beautiful Gift of the Gospel

The Gift of the Gospel
No greater gift exists than the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the very definition of Christmas.

As mentioned in last week’s post, there seems to be a softness to one’s soul this time of year. Songs, the scent of certain foods, hymns, readings, and traditions take many of us back to simpler days. But this divinely placed soft spot also gives us unique opportunities to invite others into our story, into the story of the gospel.

I couldn’t close this Christmas mini-series without focusing on the greatest Gift ever, so here are five ways we can share the gift of knowing the one true living God (not to be confused with knowing about God). Thank You, Jesus.

5 Ways We Can Share the Gospel This Christmas

Add an extra gift to your list. Do you have those on your Christmas list who do not have a relationship with Christ? Consider purchasing a small gift that could be given in addition to a gift of their choice. This way, they might be more open to enjoying the extra gift rather than resenting it. Some ideas might be a book, bookmark, or a candle with John 8:12 written on an attached note.

Invite that person God has been laying on your heart to join you for coffee. Pray for ways to share your gospel story. It’s one story that can never be disputed! {If this person is not the same sex as you, invite your wife/husband/friend to join you. It’s just a wise thing to do.}

Give purpose to your Christmas light expeditions around local neighborhoods. This year will be the first in over twenty years that our family hasn’t driven around our local neighborhoods that we love so much. We’ve all moved to different areas but putting the kids (or grandkids!) in pj’s and riding around on holiday nights leaves lasting memories. I wish I’d thought of this particular idea I’m sharing today before our boys grew up. {We always judged the lights – how’s that for sharing the love?) Here goes: Before you go, share different ways you can pray for people you don’t know. Write them down and take them with you. Before you pull out of the driveway, pray that the Holy Spirit will make each person sensitive to His leading in praying for complete strangers on your route. Take turns praying for whatever houses you feel led to pray for. If you’re in a neighborhood and it’s safe, pull over and pray in front of the home. It doesn’t have to be a long prayer. Something as simple as “Lord, please give this family peace” is a sweet fragrance to God.

Pray before our feet hit the floor. Opportunities, especially during this season, are ripening Cookies with purposeall around us. Pray that the Holy Spirit would make you sensitive to His leading as you go through your day. Purposeful prayer is a potent weapon!

Bake cookies. But don’t stop there! Choose cookie cutters that hold a symbol of the gospel story: a star, cross, heart, cradle, etc. Be creative! Write out a corresponding verse (Google “scripture” and then a particular shape or object and see what happens!). Attach your verse and note to the cookies. Or use Psalm 34:8, “Taste and see that the LORD is good”. Deliver the cookies with a warm smile and release the results to God.

I pray that you and your family will have a
beautiful,
blessed,
grace-filled,
forgiven and Gospel-driven Christmas.

{And a Happy New Year! See you in January!}

This is Christmas: not the tinsel, not the giving and receiving, not even the carols, but the humble heart that receives anew the wondrous gift, the Christ. – Frank McKibben

You might like:
The Meaning of the Gospel – Tim Keller

Re-Gifting the Fragrance of Forgiveness

The fragrance of forgiveness

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” -Mark Twain

Fragrances during the Christmas season can evoke a mix of emotions, even unexpected ones. One whiff of vintage vinyl and I become ten years old all over again, upstairs in my grandmother’s house where we played Johnny Mathis and Bing Crosby. Or the scent of firewood freshly split for the woodburning fireplace transporting me back to a house filled with love, laughter, and impromptu family concerts in the den.

The sense of smell is a powerful sensory.

In fact, it’s the most sensitive of the whole bunch. Perhaps this is why Mark Twain’s quote catches my heart every time. Sometimes it’s my heel that tramples on another. And then there are times when I must be the one to release the fragrance of forgiveness because of the bruised and imprinted heel marks left on my own life. Just as the violet doesn’t decide as to whether or not it should forgive the heel that stepped upon it, neither do I.

 

For how could I, a forgiven soul through the fragrance of Christ, even consider withholding it from another?

 

Christmas cookiesThere seems to be a spot divinely embedded in the heart that softens at Christmas, offering unique opportunities to forgive even the smallest of offenses. People attend a Christmas Eve services, send cards, bake cookies, visit neighbors and nursing homes, etc. The list goes on!

 

Below are a few ideas on ways we can practice the art of re-gifting the fragrance of forgiveness this year:

 

  • Re-gifting the fragrance of forgiveness happens when we first forgive ourselves. Much like the gift of grace, we cannot give to others what we ourselves do not possess. If we are in Christ, we do possess forgiveness⎯but embracing it for ourselves often proves to be more difficult than offering it to others. {Or at least that’s what I’ve found to be true in my own life.} Poor choices I made years ago still quicken tears in my eyes more often that most know, but at the core of my sadness, I know that God, through Christ, has forgiven me for those past sins. It’s only because of my confidence in Christ that I can move forward in joy. And you can, too. Need a little reminder today of God’s gift of forgiveness toward you? Savor His words found in 1 John 1:9, Isaiah 43:25,26, Acts 3:19, Isaiah 1:18, etc.
  • Re-gifting the fragrance of forgiveness happens through simple, thoughtful gifts. If you know that you’ve offended or hurt someone in your circle of life, take a few moments to write a note and attach it to a plate of cookies. Leave it on their doorstep and let your written words open the door to future conversations.
  • Re-gifting the fragrance of forgiveness happens when you forgive someone else before they even ask for it. This goes beyond the realm of what’s expected but isn’t that what Jesus did at every turn? You can forgive them quietly in your heart or by extending your forgiveness through a card or letter. Not sure where to begin? Dayspring offers biblical greeting cards that will help get you started. Sometimes that’s all we need, right? If the person in need of forgiveness has passed, write a letter to him/her. Then throw it away or burn it, symbolizing the release that’s taken place within.

This Christmas, and every day, may we be the fragrance of Christ through the way we love, serve, and forgive others. When others see, hear, and rub shoulders with us, may they catch a whiff of the costliest, most extravagant fragrance of all.

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us triumphantly in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him.” 2 Corinthians 2:14

Who needs Chanel Coco Noir Eau de Parfum under the tree when the sweetest fragrance of all lies within us?

Is there a particular scent that evokes a past memory for you at Christmastime? Please share!

 

Week 1: Re-gifting the Gift of Grace

3 Ways I Love to Celebrate Lent

“Lent isn’t about forfeiting as much as it’s about formation.” -Ann Voskamp

For those of you who, like me, didn’t grow up celebrating Lent there is much to learn, and much to celebrate. Jesus Christ’s 40 days of fasting in the desert are the spiritual foundation for the season that begins on Ash Wednesday.

Thomas Merton wrote, “Lent is not just a time for squaring conscious accounts: but for realizing what we had perhaps not seen before.”

Lent officially began February 10th, but we know it’s never too late to worship, or to discover new ways to worshipping, even if we didn’t grow up celebrating the Lenten season.

Below are three resources I LOVE and have used. I hope you’ll share yours in the comment section!

{A Free 40 Day Lent Devotional Journey, Ann Voskamp}

 

I’m using Ann Voskamp’s free 40 Day Lent Devotional this year. I wish I’d started on the 10th, but I didn’t, so I will begin where I am.
Here are some quotes on Lent to consider during this season, and every day:
“The goal of fasting is inner unity. This means hearing, but not with the ear; hearing, but not with the understanding; it is hearing with the spirit, with your whole being.” Fr. Thomas Merton
“Lord, have mercy on me! … I make no effort to conceal my wounds. You are my physician, I your patient. You are merciful; I stand in need of mercy.” St. Augustine
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23
Do you have a go-to resource for the Lenten season, or what is one way you choose to prepare your heart for Easter? 

One Simple But Meaningful Gift for Singles this Valentine’s Day

by Cathy Baker @cathysbaker

I’ve been thinking a lot about Hagar lately.

Remember in Genesis 16 when she fled from Sarai? She felt abandoned and probably forgotten by God. She must have felt as if no one saw her, or cared about her, or the baby she was carrying.

This Valentine’s Day, many of you will find your love life to be much like a box of chocolates⎯satisfying, sweet, ooey-gooey on the inside…all yours to enjoy.

For others, it might instead be a day of remembering what was lost, or what could have been. It could be a day when you relate more to Hagar than you ever thought possible.

I remember reading the story of Hagar (Genesis 16) in my early 30’s as a relatively new believer. I wept when I read verse 13. It had only been a handful of years since I was a single mom struggling with similar emotions. But God {game changer} rescued me, and as a result, I could say for the first time, as did Hagar, I have now seen the One who sees me.

It’s because of those single days that my heart goes out to you who may not hear your name called when flowers are delivered to your workplace, or handed your very own box of chocolates to enjoy.

This year, while strolling {okay, stalking} the $1.00 aisle at Target, glass jars with sparkly hearts spoke to me. I didn’t exactly know what I would do with them, but that didn’t stop me from buying several.

After a little thought and prayer, I decided to make a jar filled with seven slips of paper, each with a different promise from God. Seven, because it’s the biblical number for completion. In Christ, we find our completeness⎯not in another person, our children, our homes or anything else. His promises from the Word are active and alive, able to lift the heaviest of hearts.

 

A Gift of God’s Promises

 

 

 

{This is the jar I found at Target but you can use any container.}

{At first I felt a little guilty for not handwriting the promises but then I was reminded that it’s not my hand that holds the power, but His. Click here for a printable copy of the seven promises I’m using.}

 

{I also found these tags in the $1.00 bin at Target.}
 

{On each tag, I’ll write a brief note describing why seven promises were chosen. I’ll also share how much they are loved, especially by their heavenly Father.}

And the best, most precious gift we can to give anyone is prayer. As I head to their home or to the post office to deliver the gifts, I will pray for each of them by name.

 

She [Hagar] gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” Genesis 16:13

Has God placed a Hagar in your life? We have a week to consider how we can love others, single or not, around us this Valentines Day.  

What is one of God’s promises that you would include in the above gift? Please share! 
If you missed Saturday’s post, Edie Melson: A Glimpse Into Her Quiet Time, click here to read it. Be blessed!

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