The Hurting Humor (#jammed daily devo, day 347)

December #jammed: Grace, gifted.

Day 347: Is it that funny?

When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say,
    and she always says it kindly.” Proverbs 31:25 (MSG)

“WHOA” I curtly interrupted, “That wasn’t funny, honey, that was mean!”DECJAM13

Her cackles came to an abrupt end as confusion set in. I can’t remember what the joke was, but it was definitely a laugh at someone else’s expense. Interesting, coming from the girl who’s so easily embarrassed by the same type of humor.

We do this, don’t we? If we can’t beat them …we join them …thinking that if we can somehow play their word game on the same level it won’t hurt as much when it’s our turn to be laughted at. That’s not what Jesus modeled for us on this earth. He was funny, but not mean funny.

The Proverb today’s verse comes from describes the character traits of a good wife ..many of which I scrolled past quickly before the conviction started to settle all at once.

“I don’t do that….”

“I’m not like that …”

“Nope …”


“Who does these things?! This woman does not exist!”

No, she doesn’t, but the wisdom inlaid in the passage is right on the money. Society’s humor aims to take a stab at everyone and everything. It’s important to know when to draw the line. This verse today is giving props to a woman who is wise and kind with her words. Listening and advising without throwing another person under the bus, or having a laugh at why they are …the way they are.

Humor is necessary to survive this life. In the spirit of Christmastime, there are a lot of people in extra need of a laugh. Practice some innocent jokes. Make the tired girl at the register smile because the last ten people have ripped her face off. Spread the love of laughter in a way that doesn’t damage.

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Father, Praise You for humor, and jokes, and laughter. You tell us in Ecclesiastes that there is a time to laugh, and I thank you so much for it! Forgive us for using laughter to lift our own spirits at the expense of others, and convict our spirits when we are doing it. IN Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 


Happy Laughing,


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25 Non-toy Gift Ideas for Your Kids This Christmas

The flight path from mailbox to front door is well worn during the Christmas season. Little feet tear out of the car after school each day to see which toy catalog was delivered while they were gone. Inside those pages are toys that they never even knew existed before glancing over glossy pages. Each with a different colored Sharpie in hand, they whir away circling and circling …“Where do think you’d even put all of those things?” I try to reason, but they are much too overtaken with glee as they imagine the possibility of holding onto all of this cool new stuff. 

Image courtesy of

Our kids need us to intervene in this annual scene of greed. One good way to do it is by teaching them to part with and pass on some of their older toys. Learning to physically part with things is a healthy habit to instill. Another way to encourage practicality in their Christmas lists is to limit the number of things they are allowed to ask for. And lastly, don’t reinforce the madness by gifting them the very things that we’ve just tried to convince them they don’t need. Here are some great gifts that exceed the value of this year’s hot toy list. To continue reading, click here. 

The Picture Pages (#jammed daily devo, day 346)

December #jammed: Grace, given.

Day 346: Picture this…

“Parents, don’t come down too hard on your children or you’ll crush their spirits.” Colossians 3:21 (Message)

Pages and pages of pictures flipped over as the newly arrived books were broken in on DECJAM12the sinking sofa cushions. Hours and hours of memories came alive off of those pages. Smiles and laughs and salty sea air. Sandy shoes and climbed dunes. Campfires and rollercoaster rides …their lives printed out.

The hours it takes to put those books together bleeds into day and weeks. Yet, all of the time and photos that are included in the final cut are a mere fraction of the fun we’ve had over that year of their lives. It’s getting harder now, as they get older, to find the time to maintain the tradition. Some of the others are fading into the background now, and time is speeding up so fast I can barely maintain the minimum requirements.

Is this how it is supposed to be? Does the feeling of being a first-time mom ever go away?

Today’s verse instructs parents not to crush their child’s spirit.  I can’t imagine a crushing moment being included in any of those volumes. Yet, they’re there. They’ve been just as much a part of our days as the smiles we fight for. And it is a fight.

Parenting is a pendulum that swings from compassion to discipline. In the middle there is the perfect mix. If anyone ever finds it, let me know. Until then, the strategy is to cope the best we can in knowing we are not going to parent perfectly. There will be crushing moments. Moments that today’s verse reminds not to let happen on our watch.

What happens when we’ve crushed a spirit? Where do we go from there?

We remember.

Remember the babe in the manger prophesied to come when He came. Remember the child raised by a mother and father, and a man who stepped into His calling at just the right time. Even Jesus had to wait on God’s will. He lived a human life for a long time before He began performing miracles and drafting apostles.

Remember Him.

There is a reason He came to earth as a baby, grew up as a child …as a teenager! We won’t walk the earth in the perfect way He did, but we can trust that He’s been here.

When a crushed spirt is looking back at us, remember Him …and that we are not Him. Apologizing to our children takes the victory out of our enemy’s hands, and back into the hands of Jesus.

Even if we have to give ourselves the same pep-talk hundreds of times daily, keep enduring the apology. Keep going back. Keep trying. In due time, if we follow Christ with all of our hearts, the harvest will follow.

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Father, Praise You for our children, and for the patience to have survived this much of parenthood so far. Thank You for the lessons that You teach us through the children we were meant to lead back to You. Forgive us for losing it -our patience, our composure, and our sanity -and crushing our childrens’ sprits. Repair what we cannot, Father, and may they always hear Your voice above all others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 


Happy Un-crushing,


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10 Holiday Movies Christians Need to Know About

The season is filled with in-your-face advertisements and doorbuster deals, get-it-now and have-to-have lists, and bombardment upon entering any retail establishment from late October on. The oncoming surge creeps into our lives a little earlier each year. Holiday content washes over all media channels, bathing us in the sound of sleigh bells and mistletoe. 

The extension of the season allows more time to reflect on what’s really important in life. For the Christian, that is the baby born in the manger to save all of humanity. But there are underlying themes that run off the original Christmas story and onto the big screen.

These ten movies shine the light of love into a dark world. Let Christmas come early, because it’s dark out there. Click here to continue reading …

The Drop-off (#jammed daily devo, day 345)

December #jammed: Grace, gifted.

Day 345: Graceful conversations.

“Do not drive your children mad, but nurture them in the discipline and teaching that come from the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4 (VOICE)

“Do you understand me?” I repeated as we rounded the elementary school drop-off curve. DECJAM 11

In a rush to get to the part where she smiled and hugged me and didn’t want to let go as I told her I’d miss her while she was at school, I wrapped up that morning’s conversation…

“I just don’t want you to make the same mistakes that I did,” I choke back, “do you understand?”

But I knew she didn’t …and wouldn’t. That’s the hardest part of motherhood besides slowly letting go …not wanting them to repeat painful mistakes. We want so badly to prevent our children prevent from going through any shred of the same pain born of the consequences of our imperfections. The unfortunate risk we run in scrambling to run defense is completely shutting down their offense.

How do we raise our children to compassionately walk in the love of Jesus when we ourselves struggle to maintain focus? From close-up, we all feel our lives are a mess. At the same time, someone is envious of our situation.

“Do not drive your children mad …”

Yet, we drive our children mad. In an effort to love the mistakes right out of their path, we drive them mad. Doors slam, words burst, feet stomp, and we’re all mad. Looking back through the highlight reel of holiday memories, it’s the joy that stands out. The memories that stick over time are the ones laced in love. If that’s what we choose to remember, why is it so hard to focus on as it’s happening?

Ephesians 6:4 begins with “Fathers.” The verse in it’s entirety is “Fathers, do not drive your children mad …” However, in a society striving to even all scores, mothers need to wary of this advice, too.

“Fathers must surrender any right they may feel they have to act unreasonably toward their children.” -NIV Notes.

We grasp for control of our kids, abut lose our grip on the lid to our mouths. Our hearts mean well, but our flesh truly fails us. If we don’t learn to surrender our children to the feet of Jesus, we will drive them mad. Just as we are the people He drafted us to be …so are they.

Instead of picking our children a part for their faults, let’s aim to focus on their triumphs and talents, their strong points and highlights. The world is negative enough in it’s attempt to squeeze our children into a mold labeled “most successful.” What even is that?  Society’s view of “success” isn’t the point of life at all. Jesus is.

If we’re going to drive them anywhere, let’s drive them there.

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Father, Praise You for our children. That we get to witness human life grow and fly in front of our eyes is a gift. Forgive us for aiming to control the paths of our children, and for driving them mad. Bless us with the patience we need to be godly parents. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 


Happy Driving,


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The Somber Explaining… (#jammed daily devo, day 344)

December #jammed: Grace, gifted.

Day 344: Grace in tragedy.

“No man knows when his hour will come.” Ecclesiastes 9:12a

“OK,” I took a deep breath as I sat down at the dinner table with my two girls, “I need to DECJAM10fill you in on what happened today.”

They looked at me wide-eyed and worried, and listened as I told them what had happened in Las Vegas that day. They didn’t understand completely, and I searched to explain just enough of something that I don’t completely understand, myself.

“I would play you a video, but I don’t want it to scare you,” I explained. Now that everyone has a cell-phone, there’s way too much footage available. Our human hearts can’t fully digest the full scope of tragedy without serious scars. I found one video that showed the singer on stage, and then gunshots and screams could be heard. I let them catch a glimpse of the singer, but pulled the screen away quickly after the gunshots started.

They saw my eyes tear up. I felt the lump in my throat.



God is not surprised at what’s going on. The intensity of everything around us is escalating. People are losing sight of God, and the earth is groaning …waiting …for Christ to return.

Christmas wasn’t a surprise. Jesus’ birth was prophesied for thousands of years in thousands of ways by many people before He lay in a manger under the blanket of angels. It was timed purposely, by the Author of time, Himself.

I don’t know what to say to my girls about Las Vegas. All I can do is repeat what I know to myself and to them. There’s no way to fully understand or explain that kind of madness. It’s pure evil stomping his feet because he’s already lost. And he’s only got so much time left to reek havoc.

Christmas. He came exactly when He was supposed to come.

He’ll come back when it’s time. But days like Vegas …like September 11th …make my heart yearn for Him to come back now.

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Father, Praise You for the promise of Jesus’ return. You keep every promise and we are so thankful and hopeful because of who You are. Forgive us for trying to explain away the world’s groaning with any kind of reason, whatsoever, and bless us to be strong ambassadors of faith in these last days on earth. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 



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The Buoyant Worries (#jammed daily devo, day 343)

December #jammed: Grace, gifted.

Day 343: Grace floats.

“Look at the birds of the air …” Matthew 6:26a

“Bloop…” Down went a loon, in search of a meal or maybe just respite from the wind that day.  Moments later …

“Bloop,” it popped up beside me again as I hastily walked down the pier with my crazy doodle dog, who scared it right back down into the safety of the river waters.

Today’s verse asks us to look at the birds. Do we look at the birds? They have these awe-inspiring survival skills built into them. Some can float. Others glide on the wind. Still more run fast on land.

There are other birds that are much less fascinating to watch. Like the seagulls that steal french fries even though there’s a lake full of food across the street. Or, geese that stay all winter long even though they can fly away to somewhere warmer.

Whether we understand all of them or not, there are a lot of them, and none seem worried about the methods to their bird madness. Maybe that’s why I”ve never been a fan. Perhaps I’m a little jealous of their carefree mind-state.


 Here is the bottom line: do not worry about your life. Don’t worry about what you will eat or what you will drink. Don’t worry about how you clothe your body. Living is about more than merely eating, and the body is about more than dressing up.  Look at the birds in the sky. They do not store food for winter. They don’t plant gardens. They do not sow or reap—and yet, they are always fed because your heavenly Father feeds them. And you are even more precious to Him than a beautiful bird. If He looks after them, of course He will look after you.  Worrying does not do any good; who here can claim to add even an hour to his life by worrying? Matthew 6: 25-27

We are always worried about something. Finances, health, our children, our parents, friendships, hardships, road trips …no matter how successful we are at suppressing it, worry will pop back up for air just assuredly as the loon to breathe.

 Nor should you worry about clothes. Consider the lilies of the field and how they grow. They do not work or weave or sew, and yet their garments are stunning. Even King Solomon, dressed in his most regal garb, was not as lovely as these lilies.  And think about grassy fields—the grasses are here now, but they will be dead by winter. And yet God adorns them so radiantly. How much more will He clothe you, you of little faith, you who have no trust? Matthew 6:28-30

When worry threatens, dive into the safe waters of God’s Word.

 So do not consume yourselves with questions: What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?  Outsiders make themselves frantic over such questions; they don’t realize that your heavenly Father knows exactly what you need.  Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and then all these things will be given to you too.  So do not worry about tomorrow. Let tomorrow worry about itself. Living faithfully is a large enough task for today. Matthew 6:31-34

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Father, Praise You for this piece of Scripture, that encourages our worry-prone minds to rest in the presence of Your promises. Thank You for rescuing us from thoughts that threaten to drown us in anxiety. Forgive us for our lack of faith and trust in Your plans for our lives, and bless us to be more responsible with the reality You have entrusted us with. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 


Happy Thought Re-Routing,


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The Tiny Windows (#jammed daily devo, day 342)

December #jammed: Grace, gifted.

Day 342: Counting down..

Teach us to number our days
    so that we may truly live and achieve wisdom. Psalm 90:12

“The counter downer!” They shrieked, “THE COUNTER DOWNER …THE CHRISTMAS DECJAM8COUNTER DOWNER!!!!”

When we open that first box in December, it seems like it will take an eternity to get to the top window where Santa is flying with his reindeer from the roof. It’s Christmas madness at it’s best, watching my two daughters fly down the stairs every morning in a race to see what’s inside the next dimly lit window of the Christmas Counter Downer House.

Every year that they let the magic of Christmas overtake them, I relish in what I will never be able to get back again. The growing up will keep happening, and though the new memories will be just as sweet, the innocence of childhood at Christmastime will move on. I’m blessed at how it’s warmed my soul through my littles’ childhoods. Blessed that we could have fun traditions and Advent Christmas trees and fill shoe boxes to go to Africa and make Happy Birthday Jesus cake …

The Christmas calendar is full, and I don’t mind that it bleeds back into November a little more each year, because I want to enjoy every Christmas story about my God who came to earth as a little babe to save us all …listen to every version of every carol about how sweet Jesus is …because with every Christmas season that passes I get little wiser.

I learn a little more.

He teaches me.

He’s showing me …through the extravagance of Christmas …how big of a deal He really is. I see Him a little more in every tradition we honor, and love the opportunity the season provides for giving even more than usual. Beyond what’s reasonable.

Every day life counts down. We are one day closer to seeing Him face to face. Can we live life like everyday is as exciting as the Christmas Counter Downer? Running down the stairs to see what kind of day He’s got waiting for us outside our window? Are we open to living life abundantly …in His abundant grace? In celebration of Him?

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Father, Praise You for CHRISTMAS. Thank You for Jesus, and the entire season dedicated to celebrating Him. Forgive us for getting caught up in the commercialism, and help us to stretch everything we do to honor You, this Christmas, and every day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 


Happy Counting,


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The Fringe (#jammed daily devo, day 341)

December #jammed: Grace, gifted.

Day 341: Knowing Grace.

These are just the beginning of all that he does,
    merely a whisper of his power.” Job 26:14a

“Mom,” my younger daughter asked, “can you read these directions to me?”DECJAM6 (1)

No, don’t think it’s cute. Kid can read. It’s not cute anymore …now, it’s laziness.

“You know how to read them,” I point out, “you just don’t feel like it.”

I heard the compliant seat-settling from the other end of the house, and a mumbling sound of directions being read. She’s right on the fringe of being a super grown up kid …and she’s not quite sure how she feels about it. She still wants to need me, sometimes.

Today’s verse states how powerful and magnificent God is. Job is wrestled, knowing  God could have ended His suffering in a heartbeat if it would have been s in His omnipotent will, too. Which he also wrestles with …why it was in God’s will for Him to suffer? Why was he allowed to suffer unjustly?

“Why won’t you just read me the directions, mom?!” came an entitled bark from a tiny desk chair.

“Because I believe you can, and it’s time you do.” I simply state.

There are times throughout Job’s massive wrestle with suffering that He was on the fringe of something …

“If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay hi hand upon us both, someone to remove God’s rod from me, so that his terror would fritter me no more. Then I would speak up without fear of him, but as it now stands with me, I cannot.” Job 9: 33-35

On the fringe.

But we know this side of the Gospel what Job was not privy to in Old Testament life.


How many times has God answered my “can’t you just do this” prayer with “I believe you can get through it, and it’s time you do.”

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Father, Praise You for being here, and planting the hope of Jesus throughout the entire Old Testament …and our lives. Thank You for the way Your word weaves in and out of our lives like the perfect song …with us every chord. Forgive us for turning a blind ear to your wisdom, and being lazily disobedient with tasks You charge us to. Bless  us and heal us and equip us with godly confidence, Lord. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 


Happy Doing,


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