Fear Not! Finding Faith in the Stress of Christmas Monday Week 1

Fear Not! Finding Faith in the Stress of Christmas Sunday Week 1

 

“When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. Luke 1:12-13

Lesson Verse Luke 1:5-25

Introduction

Key Points

Zechariah & Elizabeth just like Abraham & Sarah

Like Abraham’s son, Zechariah’s son ushered in a new age

Time is not a factor with God

 

Time & our lack of it causes a tremendous amount of fear for women during Christmas. We worry we will not have enough time to accomplish all the things we believe we must get done. How can we calm our fear over a lack of time? How can we keep faith that we can accomplish our tasks?

Fear Not! Finding Faith in the Stress of Christmas Advent Series Introduction

We may not associate fear with Christmas but it’s there nonetheless. We are so afraid we won’t get everything done, we might forget something, we might mess something up, and on and on and on. We want everything to be perfect while knowing that we can only do so much. No wonder our stress level goes through the roof as we prepare for Christmas!

This year, I want to help you enjoy Christmas more. I know God didn’t send His Son to cause any of us stress. He wants us to celebrate the birth of His Son with great joy in our hearts. To help you accomplish this, I have created a new Advent series. Fear Not! Finding Faith in the Stress of Christmas is designed to help you eliminate the fear that spoils your Christmas and help you fill your life with faith and joy.

Each Sunday, I offer a detailed lesson for my daily Advent lesson that accompanies the lighting of the Advent candle of the week. Each of these Sunday lessons is taken from the birth story, the four times an angel brought a message of hope to an individual and the world.

To help you strengthen your joy during the week, I am offering a brief daily podcast, on this channel, sharing a verse to help eliminate your fear and offering my thoughts on the daily verse.

I LOVE Christmas. I also know, however, how incredibly stressful it can be for women. This season, let’s celebrate together, strengthening one another in faith and joy!

Give Teach Train: 3 Steps to Help Women Grow

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Step 1: Give

They say if you give a woman a fish, you feed her for a day. If you teach her to fish, you feed her for a lifetime. At Simple Joy, we go a step farther. If you train to teach others how to fish, you feed the world. However, you must often give her a fish before you proceed.

I agree. Feeding a woman day after day does nothing to help her grow in the long run. Unfortunately, some women (myself included at times in my life) are in such a weakened condition that we must be fed first. We must regain our strength before we are in any shape to be taught anything.

Scripture tells us that we must feed new believers mother’s milk before they can move on to solid food. Like babies, they must begin with simple food, then move on to something more substantial. Babies need to grow, they need to become stronger & what they are fed helps move this process along.

The Scripture verse is telling us that we need to begin slowly with someone who is just beginning the process. We need to feed them simple information, rather than overwhelming them right off. We also must see to their immediate needs before we begin teaching them anything.

Soup kitchens & other organizations that feed the homeless & hungry often share a faith-based message with those that come to eat. I think it’s interesting that they wait to begin preaching until people have eaten. They know people can’t focus on your message when they are hungry. So many women are starving today. Many feel overwhelmed. They feel hopeless. They think they have no value. Too many are literally starving. Before we can teach them to fish, we must understand what emotional, physical or spiritual hunger is starving them & see to those needs first. Once we have moved them from “mother’s milk” to “solid food” once we have strengthened them enough, THEN we can begin teaching them to fish. However, as long as they are hungry, we are simply wasting everyone’s time & possibly doing even more damage.

Our first step must be helping women regain their strength emotionally & spiritually. We must help them recognize their worth, build their confidence, boost their self esteem. We must strengthen them deep within their core so there is a solid foundation on which to build. Only then can we move on to teaching them ways to sustain themselves for life!

Offer women the food they need & watch them grow in ways you never thought possible!

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Today’s Featured Book: Caregivers Devotions to Go

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The Scriptures and stories in this book encourage the caregiver as they receive a blessing from the Lord for having a servant’s heart. It helps caregivers know they are not alone in the task set before them. It uses Scripture to help the caregiver see those in their care through the eyes of God – as fearfully and wonderfully made individuals.

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Today’s Featured Book: Busy Moms’ Devotions to Go

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Busy Moms’ DTG offers insights into God’s wisdom and faithfulness gleaned during practical experience in the trenches.

Download for only $3.

Social Media & Small Groups Part 2: Twitter

Social Media & Small Groups Part 2: Twitter

I remember when I first tried using Twitter many years ago. Try as I might, I couldn’t limit myself to 140 characters. I couldn’t even THINK what I could possible share with such a tiny post. What in the world can you say using only 140 characters, including punctuation & spaces? I turned to social media, asking for help & a friend, Susan M. Heim helped me. She offered me ideas for effectively using Twitter. I took her advice & still use her advice today.

The thing to remember about social media is it constantly changes. How people use it today may not be the same as it was 6 months ago. You must keep an eye on social media & evolve along with it. However, you don’t need to make yourself crazy. You just want to find the most effective ways to use social media for your group.

That being said, let’s look at Twitter. You do only have 140 characters for each post. If you need to say more, you must use multiple posts to express your message. I would seriously think twice before doing this. Twitter’s greatest feature is its brevity. Short & sweet bursts of information to create excitement & a sense of urgency.

Your group should have a Twitter account specifically for your group with a name that represents your group. Your social media person should be the one responsible for this account. She is the one adding Tweets to the page. You also want to create a hashtag # that is specific to your group. This can be a very short abbreviation of the group name. Short because you want to add it to every Tweet. Before choosing a hashtag, do a search on Twitter to be sure this isn’t a tag already being used. When someone clicks on your hashtag, only Tweets made by your group should come up. Keep trying hashtags until you have a unique one just for your group.

How & why should you use Twitter in your small group?

  1. Create excitement when your gathering is about to begin. Post early that your group is meeting that day. Add new posts as the meeting time draws near. Have group members add their own post on their own Twitter pages using your group’s hashtag in their post. You want your hashtag to come up frequently as your meeting time approaches.
  2. Share information about the lesson.
  3. Share photos from your gathering as the meeting is taking place. This allows other women in your area to see what they are missing. Encourage women to join you.
  4. Share links to your other social media sites, the Gathering Hearts site & other information.
  5. Have members, especially your social media coordinator, add Meerkat to their phone. Meerkat creates a streaming video that streams live & directly to Twitter. So, for example, your group is creating a craft or having a special celebration, you do a short live feed showing your Twitter followers what you do at your meetings, how much fun you have. This allows them to feel as if they are right there. Then, encourage local women to join you; encourage women in other locations to form their own groups.

You want to have Tweets added to the page throughout your meeting without it becoming a distraction. Give women a sense of your activities, a sense that they are there. Twitter has an immediacy to it that I feel other social media sites lack. Facebook is great for upcoming events & to share events that have occurred (among other things.) Twitter is great for showing what is happening RIGHT NOW!

Group member should be encouraged to create their own Twitter accounts & share info about your group. You might need to hold training to help members learn how to use Twitter, follow people, add Tweets & understand terms, like hashtag. You can have a short presentation every meeting to help them gain a better understanding.

Twitter is a great tool with many uses. Take time to discover ways it can be used to help your group grow & used to reach women with the Gospel.

Take Time to Pamper Yourself Everyday

Breakfast on my porch
Breakfast on my porch

A year or so ago, I was chatting online with a group of young moms. Someone asked if any of us had done something special for ourselves that morning, something simple. Everyone gave a variety of answers but my response caused the greatest uproar. Ok. Maybe uproar is going a bit far but WOW! I was surprised by the comments made by the other women in the chat. What did I say I had done for myself? I told them I had enjoyed my breakfast on my front porch!

You were expecting something more dramatic, weren’t you? Nope, just breakfast. Now I admit, I fix things up a bit, as you can see in the photo above.  I put a cloth napkin on my small table. I use my glass plate, cup & saucer. But you will not my meal is not elaborate. I believe the day in question, I had yogurt with berries, juice, croissant & coffee. I put layered the yogurt & berries in a parfait glass. I put my juice in a wine glass. Big deal! I had to put them in something, didn’t I? By the response I received, you would have thought I had my breakfast catered! What did the women say? Most of them felt they simply didn’t have the time to do something this extravagant. Hey! It’s just breakfast on my front porch!

How sad that we are so driven these days that something as simply as taking your food out onto your front porch seems like an extravagance! You can’t allow yourself the pleasure of sitting outside with the meal you are going to eat anyway & enjoy nature, the neighborhood, your thoughts? We all need some down time. We all need a few moments throughout the day to slow down & consider “What’s Next?” As women, I believe we need to pamper ourselves each & every day. Don’t wait for someone else to do it for you. If they do, GREAT! Extra pampering! Otherwise, you must take time to treat yourself well.

For me, breakfast on the porch, with a few special touches, is a simple, low stress way for me to pamper myself. Rather than bolting down my food in front of my computer (& later being unable to remember just what I ate!) I can relax for a moment, gather my thoughts, prepare for my day & enjoy my yard, neighborhood, nature & most important, myself. BTW, don’t tell anyone but I’ve even been known to eat my DINNER on the front porch!

How have you pampered yourself today? You say you haven’t! Well, no time like the present. It takes so little to treat yourself well! And it’s such a Simple Joy!

Basic Muffins

Fresh Strawberry & Blueberry Muffins
Fresh Strawberry & Blueberry Muffins

I love a basic muffin recipe. Even a basic muffin mix. This allows me to make any kind of muffin. I am now making fresh muffins on Saturday for our continental breakfast at church (FPCO) on Sunday. Today, I used a basic mix someone found for me. I haven’t been able fond a basic mix in a few years. Fortunately, I have a recipe from my grandmother, the Infamous Lena B. I can use to make a variety of muffins. Having to mix the muffins from scratch in messy & time consuming. Really like the mix better. If you know where I can find basic (plain) muffin mix, PLEASE let me know!

When making from scratch, I prefer to make enough for at least 2 weeks. Thus, I only have the mess for one week. Messy but worth it. I LOVE the people at my church so my baking is a labor of love!

Basic batter with fresh blueberries
Basic batter with fresh blueberries

Here is my recipe:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup melted butter

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Sift dry ingredients together. Combine liquids. Add liquids to dry ingredients. Stir until dry ingredients are just wet but not smooth. Batter will be lumpy. Fill greased muffin pan (or pan lined with muffin liners) 2/3 full. Bake for 25 minutes. Makes one dozen muffins. You can mix the dry ingredients together ahead of time & store in plastic bags. Only put one batch per bag. Saves on the confusion!

This is a basic recipe. To it, I add a variety of fruit, flavors & nuts. Today, I added fresh strawberries & fresh blueberries. I also use dried fruit. I like cherry/almond muffins, blueberry/pecan muffins, apricot/pecan muffins. I plan to make orange/pineapple & oatmeal/cranberry muffins.

I also make an incredibly easy pumpkin muffin but…. I plan to share that another day!

Fresh Strawberry Muffins hot from the oven
Fresh Strawberry Muffins hot from the oven

Mix up a batch for a week-end morning. Serve with juice, fresh fruit, yogurt, coffee for an wonderfully relaxing morning! I like them on my front porch!

Ah, I LOVE  my Simple Joy Life!