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5 Ways to Prepare Our Soul for December and a Christmas Gift for You!

 

I know, I know. Here I am mentioning Christmas and we’ve not even carved a turkey yet.

But there’s a good reason, maybe two. In last week’s Tiny House Tuesday, I shared how this would likely be the final 2019 post due to dad’s recent surgery. {Thank you for your prayers. He continues to recover well.}

Also, despite the desire to create “Silent Night” December days, the real soundtrack that plays for many of us sounds more like the song Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer. But it’s not the reindeer that runs us slap over. It’s the shopping, the list of to-do’s, the baking⏤the parties that extroverts enjoy and introverts survive.

So let’s decide now⏤before the traveling, the turkey, and the rush to buy maximum-strength Tums⏤to prepare our soul for the celebration of Christ with holy intent, refusing to allow circumstances to decide for us:

 

Preparing My Soul Through Prayer

Before animals go into hibernation, they prepare a safe place to lessen the chances of being ambushed by other animals. Many of us shift into a whole other gear during the holiday season. It’s almost as if November and December deserve a separate calendar. Starbucks Chestnut Praline holiday drinks pack on the pounds, while the checking account quickly disintegrates beneath the weight of the Amazon delivery truck. In our “hibernated” state, we can become easy prey, leaving us vulnerable for a cultural ambush.

But prayer protects our holy intentions to stay focused on Christ by purposefully shifting our gaze heavenward, gaining clarity we do not naturally possess.

“Remember, our prayers do not need to be long. Sometimes a word or two will suffice.”    — David Jeremiah

 

Preparing My Soul Through the Celebration of Advent

The word Advent comes from a Latin word that means “coming.” It’s a 4-week celebration that captures our longing to celebrate the first arrival of Jesus, as well as the Second. Advent can be celebrated in several ways⏤calendars, Advent displays with 25 drawers or pockets to fill, devotionals, etc.

This year, I’m reading Walter Wangerin’s Preparing for Jesus: Meditations on the Coming of Christ, Advent, Christmas, and the Kingdom. (The Kindle version is 2.99). Up until now, I celebrated Advent quietly and privately. But this year, through my church, small group, and my children, I learned the beauty of biblical community. I still have a lot of room for growth, but more on that in 2020.

For now, I hope you will join me on Instagram beginning December 1st as I plan to celebrate Advent through scripture, prayers, prompts, and poetry each day leading up to Christmas. It’s one way we can pause to celebrate our glorious Christ together. {Each day will also include a *tiny* snapshot of Christmas at the Tiny House on the Hill.}

“God is coming! God is coming! All the elements we swim in, this existence, echoes ahead the advent. God is coming! Can’t you feel it?”  — Walter Wangerin

 

Preparing My Soul By Planning Wisely

Before Thanksgiving (ideally), set aside a few minutes to gather your people and pull out the calendar. Decide what you’ll say yes to and what you’ll decline⏤guilt-free. You may not know which parties or events you’ll be invited to in December, but you can determine the number of events you want to occupy your family calendar. Jot down a few traditions you enjoy as a family and refuse to budge for they are the builder of memories that will last a lifetime.

“The heart of a man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

 

Preparing My Soul in Song

Our turntable rarely stops spinning during the Christmas season. I play Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Johnny Mathis because it reminds me of cooking in the kitchen with my grandmother while her stereo spun these crooners in the background.

But nothing stirs this soul like Michael Card’s The Promise and Andrew Peterson’s Behold the Lamb. One can’t help but sing when Word-immersed lyrics grab hold of both heart and mind.

“The Savior has rescued us that we might sing the song of the redeemed. May we sing it well. May we sing it constantly. May we sing it passionately. May we sing it for his glory and the advancing of his gospel until the time comes when our songs will never end.”  — Bob Kauflin

 

Preparing My Soul in the Pause

When we choose to pause, to slow down and consider our days, we’re able to see unique opportunities to celebrate and share the love of Christ during this particular season. To help in this effort, subscribers (or as I like to say, “our *tiny* community), will receive an easy-to-print download called KEEPING CHRISTMAS.

Here are four possibilities for using this resource:

(1)  Read the daily entry that includes a scripture verse and the simple but meaningful way to make Christ known that day.

(2)  Read the few words of scripture beside each Sunday and meditate on them throughout the week.

(3) Do both!

(4)  Print all three pages and cut each day into daily slips, using them as inserts for your Advent calendar.

 

If you’re not yet a part of the community, come on in and take a seat. We hope you’ll make yourself right at home in the Tiny House on the Hill.

In addition to KEEPING CHRISTMAS, you’ll also receive a PRIVATE VIDEO CHRISTMAS TOUR  of the Tiny House on the Hill!

Hop over to the sidebar and you’ll find a space at the top eagerly awaiting your email address. You can unsubscribe at any time. If you’re already part of the community {thank you!}, watch for your link in today’s Monthly Letter.

Now that the tiny studio build is coming to completion, watch for exciting opportunities coming our way in 2020! But for now, I hope you’ll follow me on Instagram and join in the Advent celebration beginning Sunday, December 1st.

 

“Awake, my soul!” Psalm 57:8

I pray this Thanksgiving and Christmas season will offer sweet opportunities to bless others, glorify God, and hold our families a little tighter than normal.

 

5 Ways to Settle the Soul Before December Begins + A Free E-book Reminder!

Settle the Soul Now

I want it to be different than the year before⏤you know, the way I go about celebrating the Christmas season.

Every December begins the mad dash to buy gifts, decorate rooms, pick out a fresh Christmas tree, make never-ending grocery lists, mail invitations, start new traditions and bake favorite foods.

And yet, one thing I’ve learned this year is that if I don’t take a few minutes each day to move me closer to necessary changes, nothing happens⏤nothing changes.

“If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.” – Albert Einstein

So, before the hoopla of the season hijacks the days of our December, let us consider small but specific ways to settle the soul and savor the beauty of our Savior.

 

Every Day in December

Step outside for five minutes.

 

Depending on our season in life, this may mean stepping out while little ones nap or watch a favorite Christmas movie. It may require a bundling process but we can do this. Inhale and take in all God has for you. Thank Him. May we see⏤really see⏤our surroundings and remember the humble beginning of our Savior.

Look for Christ and you will find Him. And with Him, everything else. – C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

 

Read and meditate.

 

If possible, read from your hard copy instead of the phone. Intentionally slow down to ponder God-breathed words as you listen to crisp vellum-thin pages turn one by one. Click here to access Daily December Scripture Readings if structure is your friend (we’re BFF’s, by the way!) Obviously, longer reads are ideal but if given the choice to glaze over a chapter or indulge in a hand-full of verses, I’ll choose the latter any day, especially in December.

When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. -Matthew 2:10

 

Savor a favorite cup of coffee or tea.

 

What does this have to do with settling the soul? On the mornings I choose the sip over the gulp, my day begins on a calmer note. Couple that time with reading scripture, and it becomes both calming and enlightening, for nothing is sweeter than conversing with my heavenly Father over a hot cup of brew. Sometimes I even pull up a nearby chair to remind myself that yes, His presence is that real.

If we could condense all the truths of Christmas into only three words, these would be the words: “God with us.” -John F. MacArthur

 

Play Christ-centered Christmas music.

 

I’m a huge Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, and Johnny Mathis fan. Tears hit the brim line when I hear these artists at Christmas. Immediately, I’m transported back to my grandmother’s house where her stereo console turned all their albums upstairs while she crafted homemade fudge in the kitchen. Nowadays, we play a variety of music during the Christmas season but mostly our music consists of a few favorites. My absolute favorite artist is Michael Card. I’ve played several of his songs from The Promise in my bible studies throughout the years. A few other favorites are: Behold the Lamb by Andrew Peterson, City on a Hill: It’s Christmas Time by various artists and Windham Hill’s Christmas Solitude, which is instrumental. Its quiet notes quiets the heart. And a quiet heart is a receptive one.

O come, let us adore Him. (Based on Luke 2:15-16)

 

Light a Candle.

 

Before bedtime, light a Christmas candle. Marvel at its glow. Reflect on the warmth and the beauty discovered in the flickering light. Inhale and enjoy its fragrance. Close out your day by quietly worshipping the Light of the World who was born on a bed of straw that we might one day walk streets of gold.

I have come into the world as light so that no one who believes me need remain in the dark. – John 12:46

 

Is there one thing you would plan to change as you move through the days of December? If so, please share!

 

Settle My Soul

 

 

Christmas PausesSubscribers! Watch for your gift scheduled to arrive in your inbox tonight. This e-book offers Christ-centered celebration tips for each day in December leading up to Christmas Eve.

 

 

 

 

Not a subscriber yet? No problem! Add your email in the sidebar. You can unsubscribe anytime. 

You Are Called to Create

by Cathy Baker

A favorite childhood memory took place out back behind my grandmother’s house. There, on her scuffed red cement steps I concocted masterpieces in the form of mud pies. People came from miles around just to taste a morsel. Or at least that’s the world my only-child mind created. 

“From the old lady who fills a page with doodling as she talks on the phone, to the man who welds dinosaurs in the middle of the desert out of wrecked car parts, all around us are examples of this mysterious, powerful urge to create, to be creative, to live out or somehow respond to the beauty of our creative Father. We are driven to create at this deep wordless level of the soul because we are all fashioned in the image of God who is an Artist.” – Michael Card, Scribbling in the Sand

“God is an artist and he is beautiful. He has woven his image into the fabric of our lives, which explains our drive to create things which are beyond us and which we don’t always understand.” – Michael Card

Try this: Consider the sanctuary of your church and other church sanctuaries where you have worshiped. Which space best expressed the beauty of the Lord and drew your heart toward him, and why? You may want to sketch the spaces to remind yourself of how they looked and the elements they contained. 

Now suppose you have the job of designing a church sanctuary. How would you make it reflect the beauty of the Creator. Sketch out some plans. Don’t worry about the quality of your artwork. –Michael Card, Scribbling in the Sand Study Guide

How did your creative spark play out when you were a child? 

Feed Your Creativity! Collage Your Creative Dream

by Cathy Baker

If you’re a perfectionist like me, you’ll especially benefit from this Artist Date with your creative self. There’s no right way to do this so relax and have fun!

You’ll need:

  • Poster board (I purchased the 1/4″ thicker type)
  • Magazines (my favorite part)
  • Scissors
  • Two-sided tape or glue stick

And now for the fun part:

“Collage your creative dream. This exercise is a potent form of prayer. Working with a dozen or so magazines, tear out images that speak of your dream. Paste these images on a sheet of poster board. Add a photo of yourself. Place the photo centrally, surrounded by images of your creative dream. This is a visual prayer. It is very powerful, as it bypasses our rational mind and its resistance. Seeing is believing!” -Julia Cameron, The Miracle of the Artist’s Date.

This is a visual reminder of your dreams, goals, and priorities. A few years ago, Carolyn Knefley, of Christian Communicators, taught me how to create my own storyboard:

 

It’s your story, your dream. Create what you sense God is calling you to do, and perhaps most importantly, who He is calling you to be. In addition to images, I included scripture references as well as biblical reminders. If you look closely, you’ll see the image of a man scattering seeds in the center of my board. This image stands to remind me that my responsibility is to live in response to the Gospel of Christ, allowing it to penetrate everything I do and say, and write.

Where the seeds take root and flourish is of God’s choosing. It’s all Him, not me. It’s, for this reason, it remains center stage.

What do you see taking center stage on your storyboard?

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 1 Corinthians 3:6 ESV

Related Link:
A Storyboard for Inspiration (my post on the above board.)

Creativity: How To Respond?



by Cathy Baker 

In need of a mid-week pick-me-up? Michael Card to the rescue! Few people sooth my soul like Michael Card. We’ve all heard of Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer. Michael is the Soul Whisperer. God’s Spirit uses his words, both in word and song, to bring about indescribable stillness to our deepest parts, inviting the Holy Spirit to weave His way where He will. So, with that, enjoy today’s excerpt from Michael’s Scribbling in the Sand, along with a creativity exercise shared in the study guide

Creativity is not about me. It is not about you. It is not us somehow acting like little gods, creating our own in the same way God creates. The most we can hope for is to respond appropriately and creatively to who God is and what he means. – Michael Card

Creativity is a response. – Michael Card
Courtesy of Pixabay

Try this: On a clear night, go out and gaze at the night sky while you repeat Psalm 8:1 silently or aloud. If you wish, commit the entire psalm to memory and speak it aloud as you look at the heavens. Let God’s works turn your thoughts to him and to your place in his creation. Go inside and write your thoughts, perhaps in the form of a psalm. If you cannot see the night sky very well where you live, gaze at the daytime sky—in any weather. Say the words of Psalm 8:1 and make notes of your feelings and thoughts as above. – Michael Card, with Dale and Sandy Larson, Scribbling in the Sand Study Guide.

Your Turn: When you gaze at the sky what leaves you in awe of God’s wonder the most?

  

LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory 
in the heavens.
Psalm 8:1 
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