Does Christmas Interrupt Your Routine?

I am sure you read that headline and responded, “Uhm, yes! It is a constant presence hanging over my head!”

But I mean something a little different. Part of the the fun of Christmas is that it interrupts the status quo. Its coming is to be watched and anticipated. Think of the angels watching as all the world was about to be turned on its head. It requires action and preparation. Think of the wise men who had to travel far to be part of this life-changing event. Christmas shifts our priorities. Think of Joseph trying to find a place for his laboring wife. Christmas changes things. It changes us.

It has been fun to watch Charis piece this reality together. She has gleefully watched the house be transformed with lights and glitterings. She has giggled over packages under the tree. And the star on the proverbial tree was her question yesterday.  Every Saturday at our house is cleaning day, and Saturday is Christmas. So with great concern and seriousness she asked, “Do we have to clean the house on Saturday since it is Christmas?”
“No, this Saturday is different, ” we laughed.

Christmas does interrupt our lives, just like Jesus interrupts our existence. We can’t do Christmas and stay the same. We can’t do Jesus and stay the same either.

So allow yourself the freedom to get swept up into the glory of the season. Sure, there is madness and mayhem. But there is also the wind of God that drives the whole world to one quiet little stable, to pause in awe and wonder.

Jesus, interrupt our lives today and always.

Bringing the Family Together

This time of year stirs up a lot of emotions. Good and bad. You know why? Because we have good and bad relationships, that’s why. Family gatherings for some are like the home and hearth story of the Waltons but others feel more like being caught in the Gaza strip after curfew.

Somewhere , somehow we have to adjust to new definitions of family, kindred spirits and blood relations. For example, in my family my girls have a lot of “aunts.”  I didn’t realize what was happening until Charis started trying to piece my family tree together.

“So is she your sister, ’cause we call her Aunt Nan?”
“Yes, she is my sister in Jesus.”
“So is Aunt Lou Ann your sister in Jesus?”
“Well yes, because she is a believer too, but Aunt Lou Ann is also my real sister. Well, Aunt Nan is my real sister too. Aunt Lou Ann is my blood sister. Oh (sigh) well, Aunt Nan is my “Blood” sister.” I tried to explain.
“Mama, you got Aunt Nan and Aunt Lou Ann, and the girl group and Miss Betsy and Miss Kate…Mama, you sure have a lot of sisters.”

You know, I do!  That’s just how God’s Family is. It doesn’t always make a lot of sense. We don’t always look alike. But the Family grows and expands in and through the seasons. And the Family doesn’t end, because one day we will all have one big Family party. Only at this party there will be no one left out, or isolated, or rejected. No one will be “not speaking” to each other.  Being separated by offenses and wounds will be impossible because we will have such joy in the One who called us all into His Family.

Let me give you the most beautiful picture of this. My friends the Morrells just came home with their third child from the Phillippines. All of them are children of promise.  All of them are children of designation, specifically chosen to be part of this family. Three grueling trips after years and years of prayer and preparation, and the anguish of the waiting.

Look at the picture. Look at their faces. Related completely, but not. Ordained together but not from the world’s perspective. Look at the future they have now been afforded and the very real risks these children have been rescued from.

All because God stirred a man and a woman who wanted to adopt to find each other and build a marriage and a home. All because God heard the prayers of the saints, an altogether “other” family has been born. All because God’s blood is stronger than any other bond, we rejoice in what He has done. God has a way of creating beautiful families. Rejoice this year in the “kinfolk” He has given to you.

You know what Mark said as he was traveling home with Abby in his arms? “I miss my boys. I can’t wait to get my family all together.”  I wonder, I just wonder, if God doesn’t say the same thing…

“I can’t wait to get My Family all together.”

When God Gets His Way

It is so fun to see God continue to surprise and wow and provide. He is quite the show-off you know. What I love is His tender call to step out, to feel His nudges. He is relentless in His invitations to trust.

And then His reassurances, provision and promises come to life. The book “Dine with Me” was only a whisper at the beginning of the year. The “Real. Love. Life.” Worship cd was only a point of reluctant whining in January.

And now reviewing how God has persuaded and cajoled and inspired and honestly, how God has Done the work is awe-inspiring.

What have I learned?  That it is childish folly to resist Him. And it is childlike abandon that brings the peace that passes understanding. When I looked down the road at the beginning of the year, I could only say, “You want to do what? And how???”

And now looking back, I can only say, “You did what? And how???”

It is the way of God. Unpredicatable in His methods, Unchanging in His love. Unstoppable in His plans.

This Christmas season look at Jesus with new eyes. God’s unpredictable method to show His unchanging love in His unstoppable plan to be with you.

‘Tis the Season to Celebrate

Did you miss us?  Jana has been in the thick of recording her new worship CD, Real. Love. Life., and is working hard on her next treat for you: her book by the same name! We’re planning to release both at the Unhindered Encounter on February 12th.

You’re going to love the CD. I got a sneak peak at some of the songs since I was part of the WGR choir that sang in the background.  Each song is excellent, but “Prayer for Zimbabwe” really hit home for me. Jana took one of the songs that the Zim kids sang to us on our mission trip and put words around our heart’s cry for them – our brothers and sisters.

As I listened and sang, I was struck by the way my heart soared in worship – both when they sang it in Shona (I can’t understand a word!) and when we sang it in English.  It was like our hearts were joined in one voice to our One Father.  Truly thrilling. You’ll get to hear it both ways, too…

Please keep Jana and the team in your prayers, as we keep you in ours.  There’s a lot coming up:

  • Real. Love. Life. Book and a CD to be finished and released by February 12th.
  • WGR Christmas Celebration this Tuesday! Join us live at Fellowship Church or via Livestream, 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm.
  • True Intimacy Marriage Retreat, January 14 – 16. Yippee! The registration deadline has been extended to December 15th. Sign up here.
  • Unhindered Encounter 2.0, February 12th. Early registration ends December 15th, so sign up here to get the best price!

Your voice is heard in Heaven and your prayers keep us going.


Laura Jones for the WGR team

P.S.  Need a stocking stuffer?  Jana’s new yearly devotional, Dine with Me, Real Food for the Hungry Spirit, is available for shipping December 14th.

No Reindeer Games

Are you hoping there’s more to Christmas than gifts galore, frenzied schedules and the empty exhaution that follows? Do you find yourself trying to unearth Jesus from under the Christmas cards, shopping lists, and wrapping paper? Do you just really not  have time to care?

Why not try something new this Christmas? Come join the Women Getting Real Christmas Celebration. It promises great food without the reindeer games. Caroling regardless of vocal ability. And a sassy look at why Jesus beats Santa at paper, rocks, and scissors.  This event is open to everyone – guys and girls. Invite your family, friends, and neighbors. It’s free and everyone is welcome. Just RSVP here so we know how much food to make.

Mary Did You Know? ~ by Mark Lowry and Buddy Greene

Mary Did You Know?

“Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you.

Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when you kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God.

The blind will see, the deaf will hear and the dead will live again.
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the lamb.

Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you’re holding is the great I AM.”

May each of us know Him more closely.  Merry Christmas!


Shared Traditions

In the spirit of passing down traditions from generation to generation, the Women Getting Real class shared our own family traditions with each other.  Now we want to share the list with you. 


It’s a Wonderful Life

The Grinch

Nativity Story  (Side funny – when Chuck called Blockbuster about renting the Nativity Story, Charis overheard the clerk ask, “Who’s in it?” Without skipping a beat, she replied, “Mary and Joseph!”)


Have a “Happy Birthday Jesus” cake.

Institute pizza and milkshake night on Christmas Eve – it keeps things simple!

Have a family cookie bake.


We give of our kids three gifts – just like the wise men gave three gifts to Jesus.

Make handmade gifts for important family members – we want to teach them to use their hands to bless others. 


Find a Christmas event to go to – for example, the Living Christmas Tree, the Nativity Pageant, your church’s program.

Attend the Christmas parade.

Decorate with friends or family.


Find a way to serve – a soup kitchen, the angel tree, Operation Christmas Child.

Take cookies to the office or your local police or fire station.

Sing at or take stuffed animals to a nursing home.


Use an advent wreath or advent calendar.

Give Christmas blessings to each family member (see Birthday posts for how this works).

Act out part of the Christmas story. 

” Before the kids get up, we go into their room while it is dark and dress them like the shepherds.  Then Dad comes in as the angel and tells them that a Savior has been born! We all run down to see the nativity scene and read the Christmas story before we open our presents.”

Spend time at home and putter quietly before you hurry and scurry over to family festivities. This is especially great for singles.

Sing carols around the piano as a family.

Make it it an all night affair. 

“Our family goes to church around 6 or 7, then we go to the biggest house we can and have worship – we play the guitar, pray, sing.  At midnight, we all exchange gifts and we eat.  Then we worship some more until dawn.”


May God shine brightly on you and through you this Christmas.

~Jana and the Women Getting Real Team

Traditions and Blessings

I am sitting in Starbucks on the eve of Christmas Eve. You can feel the tingle in the air. It is the feel of hope, the expectancy of gifts, family, friends, familiar foods, new beginnings.

But in the midst of the tingle, I have a challenge for you this year. Celebrate with intention. Invest more of your heart than swiping a card.

What I am thinking involves two words: tradition and blessing.

The word tradition means “the handing down of information, beliefs, and customs by word of mouth or by example from one generation to another without written instruction.” Beliefs passed from one generation to another without written instruction…. This is a tall order to me, but I am going to go for it.  I want the loved ones in my life to know WHY we do WHAT we do.

So this Christmas focus on passing down the truths of God to those around you. Don’t worry about their reactions, just cast out seeds of truth.  Be creative, either through game, song, food, decoration, or reading aloud, just tell the wonderful story of God come to dwell among us.

In like manner, the word blessing means “to communicate encouragement or approval, to give thanks for, or to ask favor to be poured out upon.” We talked about this in conjunction with birthday blessings, but my challenge to myself, the WGR class, and now you, is for you to bless your family and friends. Consciously, purposely speak words of thanks, encouragement and blessing on those you love. It may be a card or face to face, but let the words of blessing flow.

Again, don’t worry about the reactions. Jesus was ever blessing people, even those who rejected Him. But Jesus trusted his Father to take care of the seeds He cast out. Just like with Him, some of our kinds words may fall to the ground, rejected. But what joy we have when some of our seeds are planted in the hearts of those who desperately need a loving word.

Speak the truths of God. Bless those around you. May this be our Christmas gift to our loving Father.

“From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.” John 1:6

Not as the World Gives

Have you ever noticed how the Lord will direct your attention to something, and then He repeats the message again and again?  I love that about Him.  He is so insistent that I “get it” that He doesn’t mind repeating Himself.

I mentioned in a previous blog about God’s deposit of supernatural peace. Jesus said in John 14:26-27:

But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name,
will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.

The phrase, “not as the world gives,”  has been rumbling around in my head. Peace in God’s economy is radically different than the world’s. I have been thinking about how we look, strive, long for peace through the world’s ways but are always frustrated and denied. Why? The world’s peace usually comes by way of consumption. Think food, sex, power, money. We think if we have “enough” of one of those things we will have peace. Or we escape to one those places because we lack peace. There is no relationship, no intimacy, no trust. No God.

Jesus didn’t stutter when He said that what He gives is altogether unlike the world’s version. The peace that Jesus gives is rooted in truth. Earlier in this conversation, Jesus has just told them that He is “the way, the truth and the life.”

This whole passage is loaded, but for today, I notice that I am most at peace when I am at peace with God; when I am  conscious, connected and dependent on Him. For everything. I am most at rest when I am most leaning back on the God of Truth. His way, His truth, His life.

You can’t buy that in a store. Hear again what the angels declared, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.” Luke 2:14

No Exchanges, No Returns

An unplanned baby is not always a  welcomed gift.  It is not a gift you can return, or use once and then pass on to Goodwill. For sure you cannot “re-gift” a baby. And even if you felt the overwhelming glee of something “new,” changing diapers and wearing spit up would douse those warm fuzzies pretty quick.

Which makes me wonder what Mary thought.  Do you ever ponder the reality of Jesus as a baby?  I know we get all wrapped up in the story of them, but let’s make it more real than that.  When they were getting up in the middle of the night, or trying to figure out how to be married and parent the Son of God, did they ever just flat have a meltdown?

It is much easier, though still taxing, to love a child you long for. But a child that is thrust upon you, perhaps is a different story.

We went to the Living Christmas Tree last night.

Two years ago, Charis accepted Christ at this event, so it holds a sentimental place for us. But last night  as we sat on the side we could see much of the before and after happenings of each scene.  Mary and Joseph were about to enter stage left and a woman walked briskly up to them, laid Baby Jesus in Mary’s arms and walked away.  This very young woman’s eyes widened and she cuddled and jostled him, trying to position him so that he wouldn’t cry. Then they entered the spotlight and the camera zoomed in on Baby Jesus.

Well, first let me just say that I was glad Baby Jesus was a real baby. (See post Plastic Baby Jesus.) But second, the absolute magnitude of God in the form of an infant hit me radically differently this year. He was vulnerable, at risk, 100% needy, and not necessarily a “wanted child.”

I was overwhelmed at how God timed everything so perfectly, but also all that God entrusted to this young couple, even to us.  He was so confident in His ability in them to complete this world changing plan. It wasn’t about THEIR perfection, but God’s sustaining power.

Hmmmm. Let me see, what was that petty thing I was worrying about again?  If God can handle His Son being in the hands of humans like me, maybe He can handle my freak out too.

In a round about way, seeing Jesus up close on the screen made me think about giving gifts. Sometimes you just buy what you can afford. Sometimes you buy what you hope they will like. But sometimes you buy what you know is an absolute home-run gift.  That person has either expressed need or interest or you just know that they will be delighted at your thoughtfulness, effort or expense.

God really set the perfect model for gift giving. He knew not only we needed—salvation, forgiveness, but also we desperately wanted— unfailing relationship, eternal peace, unshakable hope.  And sparing no expense, He packed all this into one tiny little package.

So my question today is, how are you receiving His Gift this Christmas?