by Tamera Lynn Kraft
There is a trend among Christians to try to make people feel guilty for being joyful at Christmas time. Some even say that we shouldn’t celebrate Christmas, but I refuse to allow their naysaying to rob me of my joy. Here are 10 reason to feel joyful at Christmas without feeling the slightest bit of guilt for it.
10. We can be joyful even when things aren’t great. The Bible says we should count it all joy. In other words, even if we are going through a hard time because of a death in the family or because of hard times, we can still be joyful. The word count could probably be better translated command. We can command ourselves to be joyful. What if it’s is someone else who is going through a hard time? This is often an excuse for not being joyful at Christmas. After all, look at all the terrible things happening in people’s lives. I have a suggestion for you. Are you in the right frame of mind to help someone else when you are in a place of joy or a place of depression. I would suggest we are better equipped in a place of joy.
James 1:2-3 ESV “Count it all joy, my brothers,[b] when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”
9. We owe it to those around us to be joyful. Have you ever been around somebody who suck the joy of living out of everyone around him. Joy is contagious, but so is depression. That means if you decide not to be joyful, you affect everyone around you, and if you decide you will be joyful, it will also affect your friends and family. Refuse to allow someone’s bad mood to affect you. Instead be the one who heals those who don’t have joy.
Proverbs 17:22 ESV “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”
8. Joy makes us healthy. If it’s true that stress and depression cause us harm physically, it’s also true that a joyful heart with make you healthy. That is why Proverbs 17:22 calls a joyful heart good medicine. Medical professionals have proven laughter is beneficial to our overall health. You can read more about it at this link.
7. Joy will give you spiritual and emotional strength. We receive fullness of joy in the presence of God, and His joy will give us the strength we need to do all the things that stress us out during the day.
Psalm 16:11 ESV “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
6. Who Want to Be a Scrooge? I sure don’t, but some Christians act like that’s exactly what they want. They claim they can’t celebrate Christmas because it’s too commercial and most people don’t celebrate it with the right motives. Who told you you can’t be joyful because other people have the wrong motives? That’s silly. Think about some of the people in the past who wanted to kill other people’s joy at Christmas: Scrooge and the Grinch. Do you really want to be like them? You may say they are mythical characters, and that is true, but they represent those who are like them.
The first man who wanted to destroy the joy of Christmas tried to kill Christ. His name was Herod, and he was not a joyful person. Herod killed his wife, two of his sons, and his wife’s extended family because he thought they were trying to usurp his authority as king. Talk about an unhappy person. He tried to kill Christ and Christmas by ordering all the male children of Bethlehem two years and under to be slaughtered.
Matthew 2:16 ESV “Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.”
5. The angels were joyful at Chist’s birth. They sang and proclaimed how Christ’s birth brought great joy to the Earth. Truthfully, we don’t really know what day Christ was born, and there is controversy about how December 25th was chosen. I don’t care. I know Christ was born, and I don’t know when. So unless someone comes to me with a definitive answer about what day Christ was born, I’m going to celebrate His birth on December 25th with as much exuberance and joy as the angels did.
Luke 2:20.ESV “And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.”
3. I’m happy because of presents. They don’t have to be expensive presents. They can be homemade. The thing is I love to receive presents, and I love to give presents because it reminds me of the joy the Wise Men felt when they saw Jesus and gave Him gifts. They were so joyful they worshipped Him. Our praise and worship comes from the joy we feel about Christ who is God’s gift to us.
2. I’m filled with joy when I hear Christmas hymns. Have you ever listened to the words of those hymns. They are songs of worship, and everyone sings them at Christmas – even heathens. What a great time to worship the Lord with songs.
by Tamera Lynn Kraft
Veteran’s Day is November 11th. What better time is there to honor our veterans. Here are the ten ways to thank veterans for their service.
10. Visit a national park that commemorates veterans.
9. Fly the American flag.
8. Volunteer at a VA hospital.
7. Honor veterans in your church with special services.
6. Take a veteran or soldier to lunch.
5. Thank a veteran or soldier for his or her service.
3. Find a family of a soldier who is deployed and help however you can.
2. Donate to Honor Flight Network or another charity helping veterans.
1. Pray for active military and for our veterans.
by Tamera Lynn Kraft
Clutter is an epidemic in the US. Many of us have way to much stuff to enjoy what we have, but we worry about parting with some of it for sentimental reasons or because we spent a lot of money on it. How much money we wasted is in the past. If we want a peaceful environment, room to stay organized, and a place for everything so we don’t have to spend precious time looking for it, we need to get rid of our stuff. Trust me. It will feel so good when your done.
Start at the front door of your house. Many people are paralysis when they consider where to start. I’ll make it easy for you. Start at the front door. Are there any shoes there you don’t wear? Do you have too many coats? If you have more than three winter coats, you have too many.
Go in a clockwise circle around the room and organize. Next circle the room. As you get to each place in your room, decide what you need to keep and what needs to go. Then go to the next room.
Keep four boxes and trashcan with you.
The first box is labeled “Put Away”. This is for stuff that you need to put away or find a place for. Resist the temptation to put it away now. You might have a lot more room when you’re done.
The second box is labeled “Give Away” or “Sell”. These are items that have some value but you don’t need. It’s difficult to part with something you spent money on, but if you give it to the poor or sell it, you’ll feel better about freeing up that space. After you’re done decluttering, sell this stuff on e-bay or at a garage sale and make some money, or take it to the Salvation Army or AmVets. There also might be some items family members would cherish. Consider giving some of your stuff to them.
The third box is for storage. These are items you need, but you don’t need them all the time. Christmas and Fall decorations would fall in this category. Label each storage box with what is in that box for easy reference later.
The fourth box is for keepsakes and memorials that mean a great deal to you. This box is not for the pencil your nine year old took to school his first day of Kindergarten. These keepsakes should be important and irreplaceable. Things like your wedding certificate and your children’s first teeth might go here. After you’re finished organizing, you can go back to this box and decide how to display some of these items. If you don’t have room to display them, it might be better to get rid of them. Keeping a keepsake packed away in the garage for years doesn’t help you feel any fond memories about it.
The trashcan is for everything else. Be merciless about this. You don’t need 20 pieces of string just in case. You don’t need a cleaning product you never used but bought because it looked good on QVC. You don’t need a 20 gallon drum of Spic and Span. Get rid of it and free up your space and your life. You might also want to have a recycle bag for items you can take to the recycle plant later. See, you are helping the environment by decluttering.
Evaluate your stuff. Have you used it in the last year? Do you intend to use it within a month? Does it have great sentimental value? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you can keep it. Otherwise get rid of it. You will be amazed at how much stress you can get rid of by getting rid of your stuff.
Repeat in every room.
Go through the keepsakes again. After you’re finished organizing, you can go back to this box and decide how to display some of these items. Keeping a keepsake packed away in the garage for years doesn’t help you feel any fond memories about it. One idea is to start a scrapbook or memory box for each of your children. If you have too many keepsakes to fill one memory box for each child or to display your treasures, go through them again, and try to cut them down by half.
Find a place for all your put away items. At this point, you may have to get rid of some of them. You don’t need 53 pens and 7 pairs of scissors. The first time I went through this process, I found out I had seven 99 cent turkey basters. My husband convinced me to keep two so I had a back-up, but nobody needs seven turkey basters. Get rid of excess items.
Find a place for your storage boxes. They should be easily accessible but not take up prime space in your home. A storage closet, shelves in the garage, the attic, or the basement work well for storage boxes.
Find a place for your garage sale or e-bay items and label the boxes with the date. If you don’t sell them within a year, take them to the Salvation Army. You never will get to selling them if your haven’t within a year. Do not open the boxes to look through them at this point. You’ve gone without them for this long. It’s time to let go.
Repeat decluttering process at least once a year. Enjoy the peace that comes from a decluttered house.
by Tamera Lynn Kraft
I love to add a few decorations for each season. Autumn is one of my favorite times to add some seasonal décor because of all the rich colors. Only a few additions will make a big difference. Here’s 10 tips for Fall Decorating.
1. Use a tablecloth with Autumn colors such as brown, rust, orange, or burgundy to bring color to your dining area.
2. Make or buy an Autumn centerpiece for your table. Here’s a post on How to Make a Simple Fall Centerpiece that even someone with two left thumbs can do.
3. Use pumpkins, gourds, and pinecones for decoration accents around the house.
4. Use candles and accent pieces with Autumn colors.
5. Glue different color leaves onto a poster board making a collage of color. Then frame it and hang it in a prominent place.
6. Take a hike through the woods and take photographs of the leaves changing colors. Blow up and hang the best photograph.
7. Cut holes in the top of gourds and place flowers in them for unique vases.
8. Attach dried cornhusks to porch posts or set them on either side of your front door.
9. Add a few fall colors to your flower arrangements.
10 Hang an Autumn wreath on the door.
by Tamera Lynn Kraft
Most children start back to school this month. Here are 10 tips to make the school year easier.
1. Start the school routine early. Most children stay up a little later during the summer. It takes at least a week or two for their bodies to get adjusted to the new sleep schedule. It will help them get a head start if you place them on that schedule at least a week before school starts.
2. Help your children decide a homework time. Children are more apt to follow through on homework assignments if they have a say in initiating it. Discuss with your child how much time he’ll need to do his homework, when’s the best time, and where he should work. Some children would rather do their homework as soon as they get home and get it out of the way, but other children need to unwind before they can concentrate on more work. Work with them instead of against their natural work habits.
3. Set up a homework station. Some children like to work out in the open where everybody is so they don’t feel isolated. Other children want privacy and quiet. Find out what’s best for your children.
4. Discuss extracurricular activities with your children. Most children are so overburdened with sports, dance, music, art, and other activities that they never have downtime just to play. Give your children limits about how many activities they can be involved in. Let them know they have decisions to make about which activities to participate in. They can’t do them all.
5. Schedule and limit TV, computer, video games, and other electronic devices. Let your children know that, during the school year, these activities will be limited. Tell them how much time they have on each device, and let them decide how to use that time.
6. Buy a number of easy and healthy breakfast items for your children. If they’re running late, they’re much more likely to eat breakfast if there’s a banana or breakfast food readily available.
7. Take your children to the grocery store and let them help you pick out items for their lunches. If your goal is for them to eat healthy, let them know that, and help them choose foods they’ll eat and not throw out.
8. Go school shopping. This is an exciting time. Make a day of it.
9. Visit the school your children will attend. If possible, try to meet the teacher.
10. Decide how your children will get to school. If they ride a bus, what time will the bus pick them up? If they walk, who will they walk with? Have they met the crossing guard? What route will they take? If you drive them, you might want to set up a car pool with other parents. Also give your children a secret password that you can use for anyone you might send to pick them up in an emergency.
by Tamera Lynn Kraft
I, like many of you, am praying for another great awakening to sweep over the United States. Revivals have broken out. One is happening in my local church, but we need God to send a great awakening to this land once again. Based on revivals and great awakenings in history, here are ten things we could expect if our prayers are answered in no particular order.
1. The culture will change. Movies will mostly be clean entertainment because those will be the most profitable. Sports games, movie theaters, and other entertainment venues will begin to shut down on Sundays. It wouldn’t be profitable for them to stay open since most people will be in church. People will have no problem praying for each other or talking about God in public.
It will affect elections, laws, the government, the news media, education, and the entertainment industry. People will get married instead of living together. They will have babies after getting married. Race relations will improve drastically. The crime rate will go down. Morality will become the norm. Some won’t like it, but everything will change.
2. Wild manifestations will appear, some of God and some because of emotional excitement. Miracles and healing will become commonplace. Outbursts of joy will cause laughter. Being drunk in the Spirit will occur often. People will be “slain in the Spirit, dance, and shake. Strange things will happen. Sarah Edwards, Great Awakening Jonathan Edwards’ wife, called it “being swallowed up in God.
Some preachers and church members will lament that the services are out of order and declare this is not of God. Some people will be reacting to the emotionalism, but that’s all right. It’s easier to correct someone out of order than to bring the dead to life. The churches that don’t put God in a box will be the ones that grow that fastest. Things will get messy at times, but God will have it under control.
3. People will spontaneously meet in homes during the week for prayer and worship meetings and Bible studies. There will still be organized small groups, but meetings will also spring up organically. Every time people meet, they’ll end up praying, talking about God’s Word, and worshipping.
4. Youth and children will be a major part of the Awakening and will have Bible studies and prayer meeting in school whether they were allowed or not. They will also tell their friends about Jesus and lead many of them to Christ even if they get in trouble for it.
5. People will do radical things like give all their money to the poor, decide to become missionaries, or start street preaching outside of bars. Most churches will invite homeless people and the poor to come to their churches and they will feed them and provide services.
6. The Name of Christ will be glorified and the gifts of the Holy Spirit will be emphasized. No one will pretend everyone is going to Heaven. They will preach Christ crucified, risen, and coming again. This will be verified by the baptism, gifts, and multiple fillings of the Holy Spirit.
7. An intense wave of persecution would hit because those who are resisting God will become angry. While some are coming to God in record numbers, others will do everything they can to stop it. Some of this persecution will come from the church.
9. Churches will balance the Word of God with the Spirit of God. An intense interest in the Bible will accompany a great move of God’s Spirit and a deep spirit of intercessory prayer and worship.
10. God will require a greater surrender and yielding to Him in ways we might not like. We will learn what it means to yield to Him.
by Tamera Lynn Kraft
Everyone is busy these days, but there are times in our lives a major event happens that completely overwhelms and swallows our lives for a season. Whether it be an injury or illness, a major family event, a emotional crisis, a move or major life change, or a crisis at work, these changes can swallow up our lives and leave us feeling drained.
I am currently going through one of these seasons. My elderly mom has moved to another state, and I’m helping with the move. At the same time, my husband and I are building a new house in that state. My daughter is going through a major life event. If that’s not enough, I also have a summer children’s revival schedule going on and have a deadline with my publisher. My next book is due October 1st. So, I understand what you are going through.
Here are ten things to help you, and me, when life becomes overwhelming.
Remember this is a season. Sometimes taking a breath and regaining our perspective can help immensely. This major crisis is not the new normal for your life. You will get through it.
Keep your eyes on Jesus. Peter was walking on water when he kept his eyes on Jesus, but when he focused on the waves and the storm, he sank. The larger the waves, the greater our focus needs to be on the One who commands the wind and the waves. One way to do this is to print out copies of a verse you’re holding onto and put in visible places everywhere.
Exercise: Before you say you don’t have time, I’m not telling you to spend hours at the gym, but even some exercise, like a brisk walk around the block, is beneficial. Exercise has been proven to defeat depression, offer mental clarity, and increase your energy. These are benefits you need during overwhelming times in your life.
Make a To Do List. Write down EVERYTHING you need to do. Then decide what you have to do now and what can wait. You are in crisis mode right now. You can’t do the things that can wait. You’ll get to those things after the crisis is over. For now, do only what you have to do.
Ask for help. This is hard to do, but it is essential to survive this season of your life. Friends, adult children, and your church may be able to help you with certain tasks. Also, if you can hire some temporary extra help to do daily tasks, do so. Housekeeping, laundry services, and delivery services are well worth the cost during overwhelming seasons.
Don’t take on any new projects. Even if its a project you want to do, say no. You’re no doesn’t have to be permanent, but for now, you can’t agree to do anything.
Take time for Self Care. Self care is what you do to make yourself feel better. You might enjoy reading a book, watching a movies, or doing a fun event. Whatever makes you feel good inside is something you need to take time to do. If you don’t have self care no matter how busy you are, you will end up burning out.
Get away from the situation. Sometimes getting away from a situation, even for a couple of hours, can help you feel refreshed.
Talk to a Friend. Venting to someone who will listen is vital during these overwhelming times. A good friend will let you vent when you need to, but when you are going into self-pity, she will encourage you out of it.
Be filled with the Spirit of God. The joy of the Lord is your strength, so go to the source of your strength to help you through this. Pray constantly asking God for strength, peace, and joy and allowing Him to fill you with His Spirit. Put you hand on your head and pray for yourself. This is last on the list, but it is the most important step to take.