Thursday, December 22, 2016

How to Share a Simple Nativity Devotion

I love surprises. And I received a very blessed surprise at a women’s Christmas gathering a couple of weeks ago.

One of the women on our ministry leadership team is a walking Pinterest app when it comes to ideas. Seriously. When someone on our team says, “We should _____,” Conni immediately responds with 2-3 amazing ideas on how to make it happen. Our meetings are a lot of fun, to be sure.

As we planned our women’s gathering and began to discuss providing a Christmas devotion, it didn’t surprise me a lick when she shared an idea. On the evening of the event, the devotion went off without a hitch. That didn’t surprise me either.

The surprise is that I am still meditating on the devotion, weeks later.  I continue to think through our simple, easy discussion. It’s glory and wonder still linger in my heart and mind.

I’ll share with you what we did. This is a great idea to use in your family gatherings this Christmas. The idea originated from Conni’s years as a middle school teacher, so it's easily doable with all ages. I’ll also share my continued musings if you’ll be so kind as to indulge me in that.

The Nativity Devotion 

We joined together and sat around a Nativity scene that was set out as a Christmas decoration. Conni wrote the individual elements of the Nativity set on slips of paper that she put them into a bowl. Then we each drew one of the slips. For example, on the slips were written:  Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Manger, Livestock, 3 Kings, The Star, etc.

Our group then took turns sharing – very basically – our understanding about the significance of the piece that was on our slip of paper. No one was consulting Scripture. We didn't over-intellectualize. We just spoke from the heart and shared either what we’d learned in the past, or musings that developed as we talked. I’d drawn Jesus, so it was easy to share what He means to me and the importance of a baby in a manger that Christmas morning.  Another woman drew the word “Livestock.” Surely that was a little more difficult, yet when it was her turn to speak, what she shared blessed us all.

The beauty of this devotion is its simplicity. Sometimes we overcomplicate spiritual things, forgetting the wonder and amazement of this pure, holy, and uncluttered scene.

My Simple Reflection

As I mentioned, I’ve continued to ponder the characters and elements of the manger scene for a few weeks. Thanks for allowing me a few moments to share my heart.  In the comments section, or on Facebook or Twitter, I would love to hear your thoughts as well. What significance do you consider as you meditate on the meaning of each feature of this glorious scene? We know God is not wasteful. Each component had reason and importance. Join me in slowing down and contemplating the joy and wonder of that first Christmas . . .

Jesus: As I consider our Savior, what strikes me each Christmas is his name, Emmanuel. It means “God with us.” This was a choice for Him – to leave His throne, His royal position, His heavenly dwelling, and live on earth as first an infant, then a growing boy, and then as a man who would give His life for us. His desire for relationship resonates. He wants to be with me. With you. Revel in that with me.

Mary: She was willing. When the angel disclosed God’s plan for her, she replied, “let it be as you have said.” Would I have responded with such trust and faith? Nothing about Mary or her life was ever the same. She surrendered all she was to follow God’s lead. May I have a similar willingness to follow Him.

Joseph: His trust was not immediate, but it did finally come. Joseph faced a profound trial and a crossroads: leave and protect himself, or stand firm and endure scorn, questions, and ridicule. He chose to trust God when things were most difficult. He stood firm. Help me, Lord, to stand with you and trust – even when life is difficult.

The Shepherds: The angel said, “Come and see.” And so they did. When God called, they responded, leaving behind their work and tasks. I’m a task-oriented person, so I fear I often miss God’s invitations through my busyness. Help me, Lord, to respond each time you summon. Father, give me ears to hear and the willingness to engage.

The Kings: They searched for Jesus in the sky and found Him through a star. Where do we search? Are we even looking? God is in everything and will reveal Himself to us wherever we look. Will we, too, have eyes to see? Lord, reveal yourself to those who seek You this Christmas.

The Donkey:  A donkey is “a beast of burden,” used to carry heavy loads. The heavy load that this donkey carried was a young woman with child. What a privilege. Jesus, as our Protector and Provider offers to carry our burdens. Lord, give me the willingness to accept Your help. You promise to bear the burden of my struggle if I will allow it. Thank you.

The Angel:  A messenger of great news, accompanied by a multitude of heavenly host who praised God. They were sent ones. A gift from God above who had news to share. He didn’t want us to miss this news, so He sent the angel to proclaim great joy for all the people. All. The. People. Help us, Lord, to not keep this good news to ourselves, but to share it with others.

The Manger:  Mary gave birth to Jesus in a barn because there was no room for them in the inn. Do we have room for Jesus in our own hearts? Will we allow Him in? I pray we will – during this Christmas and forevermore.

Merry Christmas, my friends. May God make His face to shine upon you and give you great peace.



Monday, December 5, 2016

Stop Nagging!

a Guest Post

by Lauren C. Moye

“Better to live on a roof,” my husband quipped.
My mind filled in the rest of Proverbs 21:9, “...than to live with a nagging wife.

Don’t Nag Your Husband to the Roof

My lifestyle changed back in August when my husband took a new job that paid the same amount as both of our former jobs. The trade-off? We were no longer able to trade work days around to keep our infant daughter in a regular routine at home. I made the decision to become a stay-at-home mom.
This also meant that I took complete control of household chores. Since we married as working undergrad students, we had always divided chores equally between us. I quickly realized that, after three and half years of marriage, I still had no idea how my husband folded his laundry. In my defense, we rarely had time to fold laundry with our previous chaotic lifestyle.
It turns out my husband had a very unique organizational method. All button-up shirts hung. Everything else was left up to whatever category he placed it in. There was a line between t-shirts that were supposed to hang and t-shirts that were supposed to be folded. In my eyes, they were all t-shirts. I struggled to learn what he saw in them to make the difference.
Things didn’t get easier for me when I attempted to figure out his system for jeans. “Oh,” he said, “Don’t bother with those. Some of them need to be given away.”
It took me two weeks to tame the massive laundry monster that had been lurking in our room. During those two weeks, I gave him almost daily status updates on where he could find the clothes that needed to be sorted through. My organization methods changed anytime I touched the clothes, so I wanted to keep him aware. Which brings us back to the incident we started with.
“Okay, I’ve really done everything that I can do without your help,” I said. “So maybe if you have some time this weekend, you can sort through the clothes so I can finish the process?” It was an honest suggestion. We both knew he was busy as both a full-time employee and a full-time grad student.
“Better to live on a roof,” he quipped.
Even when I knew he was joking, I still felt irritated. Call it a guilty conscience if you want. You see, I never thought of myself as a nagger until I got married. After all, nagging is intentionally pestering somebody to get your way, right? That’s different than giving friendly reminders. But after marriage, I quickly realized one very simple truth about myself:
I had a propensity to nag.
You see, I never noticed it in my previous teamwork settings. The projects were either too short-lived for people to procrastinate or people just accepted my direction without complaint. Marriage was a twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and fifty-two weeks a year teamwork environment. In addition, I had a very strong-willed partner. Strong-willed men make their own decisions, including when and how they do something.
It was then, when my will conflicted with his, that I realized that I could be the woman in Proverbs 21:9. 
During our first married year, we both learned valuable lessons: 
·      It’s easier to approach things from a humble attitude instead of commanding; “I’m feeling really stressed out. Do you think you can take over the dishes for me so I can work on blank?” instead of “Please wash the dishes.”
·      Strong-willed men have little grace for nagging. This includes reminders on tasks that are not time sensitive, even if he really did forget about it. In fact, it’s better just to write the task down on a marker board and let the board do the reminding.
·      If I told him to do something for me in the kitchen, it was because I was in the middle of a cooking emergency. Procrastinating assistance could very well mean a burnt supper.
You think I would have remembered those early lessons on how to cooperate peacefully with each other. Instead, I toyed with the idea of truly nagging him. I became even more irritated when I discovered that all the clothes I had sorted out were now mixed in with a freshly laundered load. “If he’s going to undo all of my hard work and call me a nagger, then I’m going to show him what nagging is really like,” I thought.
When he came home from work, I gave him a hug. Then I said, “I pulled the clothes back out that you need to sort. It would be great if you could do that.” The next day when he came home, I reminded him again.
The day after that, his eyes flashed with anger. But all he said in reply was, “I know about the clothes.”
There was a brief pain of regret in my chest. I shook it away. My once-a-day reminders continued for another few nights. It was when he turned his body away from me that I felt the full force of my actions. No matter my original motivation - whether it was right or wrong, to prove a point, or a horrible way of expressing my own hurt - I had truly become the woman in the proverb. I was driving him up the metaphorical wall and to the roof as I squandered our little bit of time on a foolish pile of clothes.

As I reflected on my actions, I came to the conclusion that there was no way on earth that he would truly forget the clothes at this point. And, since we had lived for an entire year with the clothes piled up, we could last a little bit longer with a much smaller pile in the way. I dropped the nagging.
In its place, I looked for ways to help him relax and unwind between work and schoolwork. We settled into a peaceful routine. We’ve spent that little bit of free time together as a family, playing with our daughter or reading the Bible together. There’s no sleeping bag on our roof and – although it took a few months – there’s no longer a pile of his clothes to sort through!

Biography: Lauren C. Moye is a stay-at-home mom, but in another life, she majored in Communications. She writes at, where she is dedicated to helping busy Christian Moms manage life. For more relationship advice written by Lauren, see her post on “The Simple Way to Stop Fights from Defining Your Relationship.”