Long Walk Part Of The Gift

In between our weekly Advent devotions on Mondays, I thought I would share a few blog posts from last year and the year before. I hope you are blessed and challenged by this sweet story. – Laura xo

 

An African boy listened carefully as his missionary teacher explained why Christians give presents to each other on Christmas day. “The gift is an expression of our joy over the birth of Jesus and our love for each other,” she said.

When Christmas day came, the boy brought to the teacher a seashell of lustrous beauty. “Where did you ever find such a beautiful shell?” the teacher asked as she held  the gift up to the light.The young boy told her that there was only one spot where such extraordinary shells could be found. When he named the place, a certain bay several miles away, the teacher was left speechless.

 “Why…why, it’s gorgeous…wonderful, but you shouldn’t have gone all that way to get a gift for me.”

His eyes brightening, the boy answered, “Long walk part of gift. **

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I love this story.

It perfectly illustrates that going the extra mile is the most precious gift of all.

I don’t know about you, but my heart has been extra tender this Advent. When that happens, at any time of the year, it usually means God is urging me to grow in a particular area of my life.

Does that ever happen to you? He turns up the heat, stirs the emotions and pushes us to grow. It’s possible to ignore, especially during this busy time of year, but I have learned to lean in and listen when God is speaking – most of the time, anyway. 🙂

Our son Grant moved to Chicago in December a few years back – just in time for a polar vortex, sub-freezing temperatures and a ton of snow. He wasn’t really prepared for such weather, and his commute to work was a three-block walk from his new apartment. Needless to say, our Christmas gifts for him that year included all manner of outerwear.

I was so concerned about him that it almost became an obsession to find the just the right things that would keep him warm in such extreme cold.

I was a mom on a mission!

I scoured the LL Bean Catalog, Cabela’s and other stores to find sub-zero clothing for the brutal Chicago weather. That stuff is expensive!

I shopped sales, used coupons and was able to get him taken care of without breaking the bank. It took some extra time and effort, but what a relief to know my boy had good quality gear to keep him warm.

Grant, moving to Chicago in 2013. Boo hoo.
Grant, moving to Chicago in 2013. Boo hoo.

And so, as the Lord has been working on me this Advent, He brought the memory of Grant’s first winter in Chicago to mind.

And then, almost immediately, came the challenge: Every year I donate items such as hats, gloves, scarves and blankets to the homeless. Have I ever taken so much time and care to find the same quality gifts for them?

Have I been as concerned about one who actually lives on the street as I was for a very well-cared for son who walks three blocks from one warm place to another?

Have I scoured the catalogs, used coupons and shopped sales in order to find the best gifts that I can afford? 

Has it ever become an obsession and a mission to find things that will really keep a person warm?

Do I give away the same quality of gifts as I give to my own family? 

If I am being honest, my answer would be sometimes – but not nearly enough. And this Advent, He is impressing on me to do more. Not necessarily to spend more, but to make more of an effort and to treat those who are in need as well as I treat my own family. In other words – to make the long walk part of the gift.

And here’s the thing – the recipient may never know about the long walk, but it doesn’t matter and it’s not the point. As the missionary teacher told the little boy, “The gift is an expression of our joy over the birth of Jesus and our love for each other.”

So, if we are joyful over the birth of Jesus and truly love people, the long walk will become the most precious gift of all.

‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’ Matthew 25:40

Merry Christmas! 

laura

 

 

PS. If you look under the freebies tab, you will find a free pretty printable of our family recipe for Christmas Wassail. It has been served in our home on Christmas Eve for 35 years. Enjoy! AND..if you missed this week’s Advent devotion, click here. It’s not too late to join in!

 

** The story is attributed to Norman Vincent Peale

A Beautiful ADVENTure: Elizabeth

Merry Christmas, Girlfriends!

Well, just as promised, I am sharing the first of four Advent devotions based on my Christmas message, A Beautiful ADVENTure: Saying Yes to God.

As I mentioned last week, I hope these weekly devotions will become interactive and you will leave a comment letting us know your thoughts and personal insights from God’s Word.

I love to hear from you and so to sweeten this a little, each one of you who leaves a comment, will receive a free gift!

I will send you a printable set of eight beautiful scripture encouragement cards for you to pass on to someone else. They were created just for me and are designed for Christmas.

Each card tells a woman who she is in God’s eyes (forgiven, loved, free, chosen, daughter, beautiful, mine and blessed) with a scripture to match. Print them off and give them away over the holiday to friends who need a little cheer. Or…

Tuck them inside your Christmas cards, leave one anonymously on a co-worker’s desk and if you lead a Bible study, print off sets to give as gifts to all your ladies! There are endless ideas and ways we can give scripture away!

Who doesn’t need to be reminded who they are and WHOSE they are – especially at Christmas?

My hope is that this series of devotions will bless you over the next four weeks. Take a little time for YOU as you take such good care to make Christmas special for your friends and family.

Many Blessings,

A Beautiful ADVENTure: Saying Yes To God

Hi There Girlfriends,

Can you believe it? The countdown to Christmas begins this coming week with the first Sunday of Advent!  I hope you will join me over the next four weeks for a series of video devotions titled, A Beautiful ADVENTure: Saying Yes to God.

I don’t know about you, but as Christmas begins to draw near and the year comes to a close, I can start thinking about my prayers that remain unanswered. You know – the answers I have been waiting on for a very, very long time. And as I reflect back on last Christmas, there are longings in my heart that remain just that – longings. It’s so hard to wait and yet, that’s exactly what He asks me to do.

Thankfully, within His word, our sweet God gives us stories of women who have gone before us – and if we listen to their lives, we can learn something truly valuable.

Don’t you just love that He never leaves us to figure it out on our own?

Over the next few weeks, three women from the pages of Scripture will show us how to wait well. In each of their examples, we will see how saying yes to God and His timetable, placed them in the perfect position for a beautiful adventure!

I hope you will join me starting this Monday, December 4th!

Many Blessings,

 

 

 

 

One Wise Woman

As I mentioned in my previous video, Pat and I just returned from our third annual October beach trip. This post was written two years ago after we came home from the first. I am re-posting it now because our 34th anniversary is approaching and I’m feeling as I always do – very, very grateful.

The words of many wise women have been spoken to me over the years, but this one changed my life forever. Her words brought an amazing blessing – and I almost missed it. – Laura

 

 

Our plan was to not have a plan. We both simply wanted to sit, relax, chat and look at the waves for four glorious days. So, a week or so ago, Pat and I went away for a much needed rest at the beach. We rented a beautiful condo right on the ocean. What a view!

It was a great trip – we walked along the sand, watched the waves for hours, had long conversations, and took a little trip down memory lane. The condo was in Bethany Beach – but memory lane was a little ways up the coastal highway in a sweet seaside town called Rehoboth.

When I was a little girl, my grandparents lived on a farm on Maryland’s Eastern Shore not too far from there – a visit to their place in the summer always meant a day trip to the beach. My parents would rent a cottage for two weeks every summer while I was growing up and Pat & I continued the summer tradition when our boys came along.

I have so many wonderful memories of Rehoboth Beach – they span from the earliest memories of my childhood up until when my boys were teenagers. So…it was fun to walk all over the little town and the boardwalk – remembering this and remembering that. We spent the day conjuring up old family vacation stories and recalling the early years of marriage and family. As we walked along Baltimore Avenue, I stopped Pat in front of a cute little restaurant and asked him,

“Do you know what happened here?”

 He told me he had no idea.

One summer, after Pat and I had been dating for a few months, I invited him to join me on my annual family vacation at the beach. We were both looking forward to spending time with each other and also with my parents & grandmother.

I could feel myself falling in love with him. It kind of scared me. Before Pat and I started going out, my history with boyfriends was pretty dismal — most were very unkind and untrustworthy —  it was strange to date someone who was so completely different. It’s sad to admit that ‘kind’ and ‘caring’ seemed strange to me but, to be honest, it did.

We arrived at the beach cottage and settled in with the family. All was well for the first day or so – and then something really weird happened. It came right out of the blue and was completely unprovoked.

I wanted him to go home.

I mean, I really wanted him to go home.

Yep – the poor boy had practically just unpacked his bags and now I wanted him to leave.

I don’t know what had come over me, but I was in a complete panic. I’ll spare you the details – but it was like some strange mood took me over and I did not want him there anymore. I wasn’t even remotely nice about it.

I told him our relationship was all wrong. We were not a good match. He needed a quiet, more reserved girlfriend and I needed…well, I didn’t know what I needed – but I was sure I didn’t need him!

The next day a very dejected and confused Pat left the beach and went home. My family stood there with their jaws on the floor. They were mortified and could not believe my behavior. It was completely unlike me to do such a thing and I had no good explanation.

I went to my room and flopped on my bed.

My grandmother knocked on the door and invited me to lunch.

We ended up going to this cute little restaurant on Baltimore Avenue in Rehoboth – just the two of us. It was in that little place, over lunch, that I had one of the most important conversations of my life.

Before our food even arrived, my grandma lovingly but oh-so-directly called me out on my behavior toward Pat. She explained to me what she thought was going on and urged me to not fear falling in love with him. She felt I sent him away because of ‘cold feet’ and, in hindsight, she was right.

Over our salads, I was reminded — in detail — of the previous boys I had brought home and how unkind they were to me. She told me that in Pat she saw a kind, faithful, trustworthy, Christian young man who could love me the way I needed to be loved. She strongly encouraged me to pray, think and consider what and who I may be sending away.

And then, over dessert and coffee, my sweet widowed grandmother winked her eye and said to me,

“Laura Anne, if you don’t marry him, I will!”

Oh, we laughed over that one for years!

Her honest words – direct and true – snapped me out of my fears and pushed me toward my destiny.

Just a little over a year after that lunch and conversation, Pat and I were married – and, just as grandma predicted, he has been kind, faithful, trustworthy and has loved me the way I needed to be loved for 32 years.

My wise grandmother knew the truth about Pat before I did.

I am sure that every time I introduced her to one of the previous, unsuitable boyfriends she got on her knees and prayed for my future husband – and when he showed up, she knew it!

It just took me a little while to know it, too.

Did you know that Scripture recounts many instances of wise, truth-telling women?

2 Samuel 20:16-22 tells a brief story about someone known only as “one wise woman.”  Her city faced a life or death situation. It was a matter of survival. One commentator writes;

“This one wise woman gathered information, held off an army with diplomacy, called a meeting and persuaded her fellow citizens of the best action to take to save the city. The townspeople had the discernment to recognize wise counsel when they heard it.”

They followed her advice. One wise woman used her wisdom to save the destiny of many and it was so significant that the Lord made sure it was written in His book!

So… here are the questions:

Is there a wise woman who has shown you the way, pointed you toward God’s will, and even given you a push when you needed it?

And…who are you praying for? Your child?  Your grandchild? Your daughter-in-law? A friend?

Will you be ‘one wise woman’ and speak loving truth to her?

Never, ever, underestimate the power and influence of one wise woman AND of a praying, truth-telling grandmother!

Many Blessings,

laura

Be A Fruit Inspector

Hi There, Girlfriends!

There’s a new video on the blog today! I have a short little series of thoughts on judging others and learning to be fruit inspectors! I know it sounds weird, but I promise it will make sense. 🙂

I’m in the thick of a busy speaking season and our Sisters in Faith Fall Conference is this Friday and Saturday! It is the first time in 18 years we have had a conference actually come to us. The She Laughs team is arriving on Friday afternoon and will treat us to two days of in depth teaching, fun and encouragement from God’s Word. They have planned and executed the entire event. Tickets will be sold at the door and I would LOVE to see you there. To learn more, about Sisters in Faith and She Laughs, go to: www.sistersinfaithministries.org.

Here’s the video ( and a lovely freeze frame! Ugh!):

 

Many Blessings,

 

"The first time I heard Laura communicate, my exact response was 'Wow'! Laura's teaching style is passionate, relatable, and hope-filled. She radiates warmth, kindness and a genuine interest in those around her -- on and off the platform. Her amazing story of transformation, coupled with her solid biblical teaching, will leave you also saying "wow!" If you're looking for a dynamic communicator, Laura has my highest recommendation!"

- Cindy Bultema, International Speaker and author of Red Hot Faith: Lessons from a Lukewarm Church and Live Full, Walk Free: Set Apart in a Sin Soaked World