I spent most of this past weekend getting my house decorated for Christmas.I really enjoy it, but if I am being honest it can also be frustrating.My son was helping me put lights on the Christmas tree.We had plugged them in to test them and they were all working.I kid you not,we wrap the tree in lights, we plug the tree in and the top half is not lit, so we unplug, check the bulbs, plug everything back in and nope the top is not lighting up.Now, luckily I had a box set aside for just this issue ( obviously, not my first try at decorating a tree) and after another 20 minutes of detangling and re stringing, it lit up perfectly. So I gathered up the long string of burnt out lights and ceremoniously threw them in the trash– Whew – but annoying right?
Well, earlier that morning I was also talking to a friend who said ,”Tis’ the season to be merry and blessed or at my house today it is merry and stressed.” She started telling me the long list of what she needed to do and accomplish in the next few weeks so that Christmas would be perfect.The expectations were high and unrealistic. It made me reflect on how I can do the same thing – see if I am honest that is my natural bent – hustle bustle, fighting perfectionism. BUTWe decided we wanted this year to be different. We know that although it should be a season of peace, this month can often make us feel more tangled up inside than those messy strings of Christmas lights. right?
So we talked it out and decided we were putting too much emphasis on accomplishing the tasks than enjoying the season.
See some people will dread the hustle and bustle that this time of year often brings and for many the holiday season comes with irritability, loneliness or depression. Then I think others love the Christmas season but too often worry, busyness, and unmet expectations take their toll.
In either case, as Christians who are celebrating this holy season, we have a decision to make.We get to choose to get bogged down with the stress or bow down in worship.
Scripture gives us a beautiful picture of praise in Luke Chapter 2 vs, 13-14.It tells us that when Jesus was born, an angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds sharing the good news…
Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others – the armies of heaven – all praising God and saying Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.See the angels got it right when they joined the shepherds in praising God.
When we choose God this Christmas we focus on having a grateful heart.We can then be better at showing the world love because a grateful heart leaves little room for aggravation at those long lines in stores or the tangled lights or worrying about finding the perfect presents or creating the perfectly decorated Christmas cookies.A heart of worship turns our hearts to giving thanks.
There will lots of choices to make this month – what giftsto buy, where to give and serve others and how many events will you put on your calendar and actually attend.But the most important choice is choosing to be thankful for the gift of Christmas, Jesus.For the gift of love, for his peace.
When our hearts are at peace, our holidays can be too.
“ You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you”
I boarded an airplane heading into Florida as hurricane Dorian was set to possibly collide with the state. The man helping me with my luggage asked where I was going and when I responded Orlando he gave me an odd smile and said “ Your brave.” I was joined by three of our MOPS staff and together we set off for MOMcon!
For those of you who don’t know what MOMcon is … it is an incredible conference for moms and MOPS leaders and it is like nothing else you have ever experienced. Nearly 3,000 women gather to be inspired by incredible speakers, worship, laugh, be entertained and hang out with other moms from around the world. Needless to say, a lot was riding on us being able to do this despite the weather and travel advisory.
By the evening of the first day , more staff joined us. We made a quick visit to the local Walmart for supplies and then we waited. The weather updates looked grim and the airport closed. We began to meet and to look at our options. We prayed and waited and then prayed and waited some more. My emotions were up and down and I wavered at times in what I thought was the best decision. I felt a huge burden knowing so many moms were heading our way and I wanted to make sure they were safe. Our decision making team was prayerful and thoughtful and ultimately the decision was made to go. Honestly we weren’t sure how many people were going to make it.
I am happy to say MOMcon was a huge success and over 92% of those registered were able to make it. The atmosphere was electric and everyone was thankful and grace filled.
I am home and processing what a crazy week I just spent in Florida. My reflections…
You can’t calm the storm so stop trying. How often do I try and control circumstances that are far beyond my control.
I chose Proverbs 3:5,6 for my life verse for a reason. “ Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path” So often I want to lean on my own understanding.
A shared experience during a stressful time is really an amazing bonding experience for all involved – ask anyone who just attended this MOMcon.
The women involved in the MOPS organization are amazing – yes, I knew this, but spending time again with our leaders and meeting so many moms from around the world was truly such a gift and inspiration for the work we do everyday at the office.
God is doing amazing things around the globe through the MOPS ministry and I am beyond grateful to be a part of it.
I would love to hear what you learned during this MOMcon as well and how you can apply it in your life moving forward.
We will move forward and continue with our schedules and planning has already begun for next year in Denver. I just needed to push pause and thank God and all of YOU for showing up and making this one of the most amazing MOMcon experiences I have ever been a part of.
Keep doing great things in the world – share the love of Jesus and help moms thrive!!
I love to feel sunshine on my face and living in Colorado I get to experience that a lot as we like to boast that we have 300 days of sunshine a year. Blue skies create a sunny disposition so they say. As our summer days feel longer and the sun shines until late in the night, I settle into my summer rhythm of walks after work, watering the garden, watching baseball and talks with my husband sitting on the back porch staring at the magnificent sunsets chatting about life and many nights eating a popsicle. There is something about summertime that brings out my ten year old self. The rhythm of life seems to change with the arrival of fresh cut grass and ice cold lemonade.
A few summer ago, I participated in a Bible study that focused on the Psalms. Right away Psalm 1: 3 caught my attention –
“ That person is like a tree, planted by streams of water, which yields it fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – whatever they do prospers.” NIV
That particular summer arrived after an intense time of ministry and quite frankly a time where I felt unlike the tree above, my leaves were withered. I was worn out, my joy was gone. This passage caught my attention because it promises that this tree gives its fruit in season, while its leaves do not wither. My expectations of myself, and the expectations I often see those around me putting on themselves, are that we are to be productive and fruitful all the time. Our rhythm to include rest has disappeared.
No wonder we feel tired.
We were created for rhythms. All of God’s created world was created with rhythms. God created night and day. God created and then God rested. The leaves fall in autumn and return with buds of promise in the spring – rhythm.
Modern life gives few reminders, but we humans used to go to sleep and get up with the sun. Life followed the rhythms of the agricultural seasons. There was a time to plant and a time to harvest. With the arrival of the summer fruits in the produce aisle and farmers market, I am reminded that fruit grows in seasons, not constantly or instantaneously.
Life today can be a constant barrage of noise and information that is accessible at our fingertips. We can be plugged in all the time, and we are expected to be fruitful year-round. The arrival of summer reminds me we can change that rhythm.
My challenge to myself and to you is to find our rhythm of summer. Find ways to slow down. Extra time with our families, extra time outside and maybe a little extra ice cream too. Rhythm is a simple concept, let’s find ours and let’s not over complicate it…
When I was born I was given the name Sherri Loma Root.This name was just great until I was in about 5th grade and the middle name of Loma sounded too weird.I remember a substitute teacher who was taking role call one morning and she was asking everyone what the middle initial represented in their name and when it came to my turn, without hesitation, I lied and said -Lynn.Sherri Lynn just sounded great to me. I wouldn’t have to reveal my true name which to my 5th grade self sounded so embarrassing.
I remained Sherri Lynn in public when need be, but of course to my grandma who was named Loma, I certainly didn’t reveal my secret. I loved her so much and didn’t ever want to hurt her feelings or let her know I thought the name we shared was weird.I don’t think I really ever talked about my full name again until one day in 9th grade.Enter another substitute teacher and role call.Much to my horror she announces to the entire home room class, “ Oh – Sherri Loma – what a unique and beautiful name.”YEP !I was ousted by the substitute with immediate claims by my friends, “ I thought your name was Sherri Lynn!” I quickly began to pretend I was studying for my vocabulary test and refused to make eye contact with anyone.I was hoping it would just blow over but remember this is 9th grade and no such luck.I enter the cafeteria that day to the chanting of LOMA, LOMA, LOMA!I decided I would embrace my name that day and I told everyone I was named after my grandma who I was super close to and the reaction was – cool! I appreciated the low level response.
I told my grandma this story and she had a good laugh.She said, “ Well, at least it is your middle name, I have had to try and spell it and explain it my whole life.” Then we both had a good laugh.My grandma shared with me that day that she was the baby of 13 children and when her mom was pregnant with her she traveled to California to visit her daughter who was an artist.Her daughter lived in California. Point Loma to be exact and her mom fell in love with the beauty of the ocean view from the cliffs.She vowed that if she had a little girl, she would name her Loma and she did.
I recently had the opportunity to travel to San Diego and one of the sweet ladies I work with took me to her alma mater – Point Loma University.The view was spectacular! I was really wishing I could have called my grandma that day to tell her I finally saw the beautiful place that inspired our name.My grandma has been gone for a long time now and as I have gotten older I realize we share more than our name sake.She also passed along her love for gardening, music, and baking and the ability to appreciate beauty in our surroundings.I love my middle name and I am thankful for the love of my sweet grandma.As I stood at the cliffs I sent up a silent prayer, thanking God for the presence of my grandma in my life and for the beauty He creates that inspires us in so many ways, even in naming our babies.
Do you know the story of your name?Would love to hear from you.
Carrot Cake is one of my favorite desserts. It is so easy to make and always looks great and tastes delicious. To make life easy, I dump all the ingredients into my Kitchen Aid and turn it on. I also use baby food carrots for the pureed carrot part. You can also substitute pecans for walnuts.
This recipe was first given to me about 30 years ago by my friend Kaye. She would always use fresh edible flowers to decorate the top.
Mix all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl ( I dump it all in and turn on the KitchenAid )
3 C.All Purpose Flour
3 C. Sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. baking soda
1Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/2 C. corn oil
4 large eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. chopped walnuts
1 1/2 c. shredded coconut
4 jars of baby food carrots ( app. 1 1/3 c. pureed carrots)
3/4 c. drained crushed pineapple
Bake in a 350 degree oven for approximately 35-40 minutes
Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
6 Tablespoons of sweet unsalted butter at room temperature