Focusing on the Holiday Grounded in Gratitude

My favorite Hallmark Christmas Movie

by Cathy Baker

I’m perfectly content siding with the those who are not prepared for Hallmark Christmas movies beginning in October or brushing up against fake-o tree limbs in the aisles of favorite stores while fumbling for the candy corn. No, not yet!

I mean, what happened to the celebration of Thanksgiving? 

Could it be that merchandisers don’t begin displaying turkey platters two months in advance because of money, or lack thereof? Let’s face it, tons of turkeys will give their gobble-laden necks to fill our feastly tables, but other than food, what else do people purchase for this particular holiday? Exactly.

Growing up, I was blessed to experience Thanksgivings reminiscent of Rockwell renderings. As an only child, I relished the warmth of a big family as grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins surrounded the holiday table. The sound of familiar laughter, the telling of fondly remembered stories, and the faces of my family surface every Thanksgiving. We could’ve made our own Hallmark movie. 

This year, with our family going in all different directions, I’ll be serving food on Thanksgiving to our community through a ministry Summit Upstate sponsors, Feast for All. If you’re available and would like to serve in some capacity, please email me (click the “e” button on the sidebar.)

So, while I plan to enjoy Hallmark Christmas movies come December, this month I will intentionally focus on the holiday grounded in gratitude. 

How about you? 

Giving thanks always for all things to God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ…Ephesians 5:20

Staying in Step with the Spirit Via Spontaneous Service

by Cathy Baker

{ Day 17 }

Rain fell heavy as greeters said their goodbyes to fellow church goers. 

For a few moments, no one stood by the door to offer their farewells. In that small window of time, a young family gathered nearby, readying their three little ones for the weather.

Suddenly, a man rushed past me, grabbed his umbrella, and proceeded to help this young family to their car. He’d never met them, nor did he need to. He simply saw an opportunity to help and hopped into action. 

Oh, the beauty of impromptu service. Although not officially on the greeting team that morning, he was, in fact, part of a much larger influential team: the Church. He could’ve easily reasoned that others were there to specifically help in that area and turned away.

Gwen Stefani’s Glitz Team Shirts

If you watch The Voice (how’s that for a segue?) you know Gwen Stefani presented her team members with a Team Gwen glitzy t-shirt. No doubt it will someday snag a sweet price on Ebay.

Hey Church! We may not wear a glitzy Team Jesus on our shirts, but do we really need one? 

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

Staying in Step with the Spirit: When we see others in action for Christ, we can’t help but be touched, knowing the One spurring them on will receive much glory. 

Heavenly Father, kindle our hearts afire so that we might shine brightly for Your fame and glory. 

#Write31Days past posts:

{ Day 1 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via Our Senses
{ Day 2 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via Less Clutter 
{ Day 3 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via Healthy Relationships 
{ Day 4 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via God’s Creation
{ Sunday }
{ Day 6 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via Specific Prayer 
{ Day 7 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs
{ Day 8 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via A Soul Search (with guest Ginger Harrington)
{ Day 9 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via Vulnerability 
{ Day 10 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via God’s Creation, Wk. 2
{ Day 11 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via A Moonlit Sunroof
{ Sunday }
{ Day 13 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via A Wild Goose Chase

Simple Ways to Share Christ this Christmas

This past week, while finishing up some last minute shopping, I was struck by how relieved surprised pedestrians seemed when I came to a complete stop for them AND smiled in the process. Such a simple gesture. Why wouldn’t I always do that? Sigh! 

The pedestrians expression immediately reminded of a post I did back in 2011, which goes right along with this series. Thank you for allowing me to share it with you once more:

I’m a bonafide multi-tasker.

Who else could belt out Joy to the World while nearly mowing down a couple exiting the local Bi-lo?

The expression on their faces coincided with a gentle shoulder tap from the One who didn’t become flesh to hear me sing about Him—but rather for Him—by remaining in tune with the Spirit.

Since that fateful night in the Bi-lo parking lot, I’ve been reminded just how powerful the practical can be when I am:

  • Igniting
    my prayer life before the engine, asking God to reveal divine
    opportunities in living out His joy, mercy, and love to those driving
    too slowly, the rude and weary waitress, or the woman who plops down 20
    items in a 10 item lane.
  • Stopping
    for pedestrians at the malls, Target, Walmart and alike. (No doubt the
    couple wished I’d been enlightened on this one a bit sooner.) Better
    yet, stop and smile as you wave
    them on, assuring them they’re not an intrusion on your day, but a
    divine appointment. It’s also the perfect opportunity to pray for them
    as they make their way ever-so-slowly by your car.
  • Going
    the extra mile for Salvation Army bucket volunteers by picking up a
    bottled water for them in addition to your donation. If it’s nippy
    outside, consider delivering a hot cocoa from a nearby place, thanking
    them for their willingness to volunteer for the benefit of others.
  • Smiling. Sharing a warm hello. We never know who needs it the most, but God does (the beauty of God’s providential prompts!)

matters not if any of the above actions are reciprocated. What matters
is that we take every opportunity to impart God’s joy instead of simply
singing about it. 

How about you? Is there a simple way you’ve found to share the love of Christ with others during this holiday season? 

Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Colossians 4:5

The Tilting of a Tea Pot for God’s Glory

Who would’ve known how a Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn to Say Please Tea Set could be used to convict, encourage, and glorify God?  

It all began while shopping for Piper’s birthday this week. I spotted a sale on Fisher-Price play sets and took full advantage by purchasing an On-The-Go Nativity Set for her birthday and a Laugh and Learn to Say Please Tea Set for Christmas.

When I arrived home that day, I left the tea set sitting in the front floor board. Had I known that every tilting of the pink tea pot produced the sound of pouring water I would’ve kicked my procrastination to the proverbial curb. The first “pour” brought a smile to my face as I thought of Piper, but the continuous (and I do mean continuous!) pouring prompted a whole new meaning. 

At one time
we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and
hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
This is a trustworthy saying.
And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted
in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.
-Titus 3:4-8

With every “pour”, my Savior came to mind — proving especially helpful when I became frustrated with the guy in front of me refusing to take advantage of a left turn signal, as well as the time my mind began wandering in a not-so-Christ-like-direction.

Fast forward to this morning when I spotted a Salvation Army volunteer bundled up in a heavy coat, swinging her bell in front of the local Belk. The Lord reminded me of the nearby Starbucks and how a cup of hot cocoa with whip cream could minister to most anyone—and of course, He was right. 

I pulled up to the curb, hopped out, and handed the bundled volunteer hot cocoa. The wrinkles on her face glistened with delight as she proclaimed how she’d just told the Lord she could use something warm to drink. We gave God glory for His provision and wished each other a blessed holiday season while I climbed back in the CRV.

As I pulled away, the tea pot tilted and the water “poured”, immersing my heart in gratitude for a plastic pink tea pot and the magnificent ways God uses the simplest of things to bring Him glory. 

Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received
from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this
that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. – Acts 2:33

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