Preparing Our Hearts

Several years ago I discovered the tradition of the Jesse Tree, a tradition of using ornaments that represent the people, prophesies, and events leading up to the promised Savior. This has been life changing for me.

I am one of those people who struggle emotionally at Christmas. I stress over choosing gifts that I think others will like, I worry about finances, I become irritated as stores become crowded with holiday shoppers. I simply didn’t enjoy Christmas for many, many years.

Thankfully, I discovered the Jesse Tree. The first year I created ornaments out of Shrinky Dinks to hang on a little wooden tree. I used a guide that I found online and each night we read the corresponding scripture and hung the ornament on our tree. It was simple but effective. I felt a weight being lifted off of me as Christmas approached and I found myself actually enjoying Christmas for the first time in years.

Each year our ornaments have been improved a little and we’ve used different reading plans, some with devotions to accompany the scriptures each day.

Last year I purchased The Greatest Gift by Ann Vonskamp. I have to say this is one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. This book is beautifully written and the daily devotions that go along with the scriptures helped me focus on the true meaning of Christmas, the promise of a Savior. I can honestly say that last year was the best Christmas I have had in years.

My circumstances didn’t change. There was the ever present traffic that comes along on Black Friday and hangs around with us until the New Year, the stores were crowded with shoppers, I had a full schedule of events that surround Christmas, the indecision of holiday gifts still plagued me and yet, my heart was at peace. The things surrounding me weren’t changed, I was. My heart was prepared for my Savior.

This year I decided to share my secret with others. I am hosting a Jesse Tree Ornament Swap. I started very late and haven’t found the required number of participants but I have adapted the plan so that we can still complete the swap. This year I have 7 friends each making 8 copies of 3 different ornaments in the set, and I will be making the remaining 4 ornaments in the set.

I am very excited about this event. It’s added one more thing to my already full plate but somehow it is already making life easier. I’m busier than ever but more intently focused on Christ. That is the magic of the Jesse Tree. Each day we are focused on Jesus and that makes all the difference in the world.

I hope you find a way to focus your heart more intently on Christ this holiday season. Don’t forget to stop, step back, and make time to spend with The Lord during this busy time of year. I promise, you won’t regret it.


Wow! Today has been a big God day and He has revealed so much to me. It’s probably because I have spent more time with Him in recent days and have contemplated some things that I’ve read about and heard from others. I recently finished reading the book What She Left For Me by Tracie Peterson. It’s a story about a woman who is abandoned by her a husband who is a pastor. I’ve also been reading the book Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul by John and Stasi Eldredge.

Captivating has pulled me into its pages in a way that I have not experienced before. In fact, I started reading it a couple of years ago with a group of women from church and didn’t get very far before I gave up. It just didn’t speak to me at the time but now I can’t put it down. I read and reread each chapter, underlining, marking and highlighting almost every word. I am so excited to meet with a group of young women each week to discuss it. It has already brought me so much understanding into the mind and heart of women in two chapters!

I recently heard a story that reminded me of the events in Tracie Peterson’s book as well as the teaching in Captivating. John and Stasi Eldredge explain that a woman has a God-given desire to be romanced, to play an irreplaceable part in a great adventure and that every woman has a beauty to unveil. In the counterpart book for men, Wild at Heart, John describes a man’s basic needs as wanting a battle to fight, a longing for adventure, and that he longs for a beauty to rescue. Satan wants nothing more than to twist those desires into something perverse and sinful. We have to be vigilant in keeping watch over our marriages to make sure to prevent Satan from gaining a foothold in our lives. It is so easy for satan to take a man’s desire to rescue and twist it so that he believes it’s a husband’s place to rescue a woman besides his wife. It’s equally as easy for a woman to see the wrong man as her rescuer.

Our small group started studying Guardrails by Andy Stanley the last time we met. He talks about the importance of setting up guard rails in our lives so that when we encounter them they are a danger sign that we are close to sinning. If only we were always so careful to do that, but unfortunately we aren’t. We allow ourselves to be put into positions that are potentially dangerous and without that guard rail we can so easily slip into the abyss of sin.

In the book What She Left for Me the Pastor put himself in a situation where he was counseling a woman alone. He should have had a guard rail that he never met or counseled a woman alone. It started innocently but his desire to rescue paired with her desire to be seen and romanced was a lethal mixture in their marriages and soon they were seeking these things from each other instead of from their own spouses as God intended.

As I was riding in my car this afternoon I began to think about these things. A woman’s desire to be pursued is an attribute of God. He wants to be pursued by His children. I thought about how easily it is for us to get that mixed up in our earthly relationships and thought about how devastating it would be to me if my husband sought after another woman more than he does me. I would be crushed. Then I realized that I do that to God everyday. My most important relationship should be with Him! The person I long to spend the most time with should be Jesus, not my husband, my children, or my friends. He desires to be pursued by me! What an awesome thought! The Creator of the universe desires me to seek Him out.

It is my prayer that as I continue in these studies that I am ever mindful of the role I give God in my life. I adore my husband but he cannot hold first place in my life. That place is for a God alone. My children need me and desire my attention but not like that of my Creator. God help me get the right balance in my life. Help me put You in the place of importance You alone deserve. Help me to seek You above ALL things.


Awareness is a wonderful thing. I think it’s great to see people come together for a common cause and try to bring change. But at the same time I find myself questioning whether most understand the issues they say they support. The ice bucket challenge is one of those instances where I think people have gotten caught up in the trendiness of the challenge without understanding what it is they are supporting.

I first noticed on my Facebook newsfeed that lots of individuals were videoing themselves having ice water dumped on them. In the beginning I didn’t even watch the videos because I figured it was just another crazy Facebook stunt that would quickly fade away. After several days, I finally became curious. I watched a video and although the person stated that they were doing the ice bucket challenge for ALS that was all the information they gave. Video after video I watched was much the same with no information about the disease so I finally became curious enought to start gathering my own information about ALS and was devastated by what I found.

ALS is a debilitating neurological disease that destroys the body’s ability to transmitt messages to the muscles of its victim. (This is my very elementary, simple definition.) The patient looses all muscle function and in the end they basically suffocate because their muscles atrophy to the point that the lungs cannot receive oxygen. They lose the ability to speak, eat, and do anything for themselves. The patient has a healthy mind trapped in a non-functioning body. It is a horrible disease and it breaks my heart that so many people suffer from its effects.

During my digging I found that the ALSA are doing research using human embryonic cells. That began to change my thinking on what I wanted to do to help this cause. As a Christian who believes that life begins at conception should I give money to help fund research that uses aborted babies to harvest stem cells? My decision was that I could not in good conscience do that. What about if the fetus had not been aborted but had been fertilized in a Petri dish for the purpose of creating stem cells? Was I okay with that option? Again, my personal conviction told me that it was morally wrong.

I am not trying to belittle the efforts of those who have done the challenge and I don’t stand in judgement of those who sent money to the ALS. These are simply my personal convictions. But, I also feel that there are many people just like me who are totally unaware of the practices of the ALS research being done. Just as those completing the challenge have the right to bring awareness to ALS I also have a right to bring awareness to how the ALS chooses to spend the funds being raised.

My family has chosen to make a contribution to an individual with ALS. Their medical costs are extreme and they struggle with not only the disease but the side effects of no income, medical costs, transportation costs, and many other things. There is more than one way to be a part of this cause. We simply choose to give on a personal level.

Our family knows the struggles of having a family member with a chronic medical condition. My youngest son has cerebral palsy which affects him in much the same way that ALS effects individuals. Thankfully, my son’s condition is not progressive but he has suffered with it since birth. He doesn’t know what it is to run and play like a typical child. He is very dependent on others for most everything. I understand what it is to live the life of a caregiver. There are hard days when you are exhausted both physically and mentally. My heart goes out to the families of ALS.

My son could possibly benefit from the same type research that an ALS patient could. Stem cell research is being done to try to lessen or eliminate the effect cerebral palsy has on a person. Even so, my family chooses not to support stem cell research done using embryonic cells of any kind. There are other types of stem cell research that have actually proven to be more promising that do not use embryonic cells.

I pray that my heart is heard from anyone who might come across this blog post. I have so much compassion for those suffering from ALS. I support community awareness and I pray that a cure or a treatment will be found. I simply chose to give in an alternative way that I feel makes a personal impact on an individual until such time that the current research practices change.

Long Time Coming

Long Time ComingLong Time Coming by Edie Claire
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Long Time Coming is not a book I’d typically choose to read but I loaded my Kindle up with lots of free books and this one intrigued me enough to give it a try. I usually find it hard to read contemporary literature but this book kept my interest from the beginning. I enjoyed the mysterious addition to the book and found the plot very believable. I liked the characters and being from a small town myself had no problem believing that one small town could be home to so many quirky people. I loved the backstory and think the author did a good job leading the characters to a healthy acceptance of the past tragedy. I’m glad I gave this one a chance.

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Lady in the Mist

Lady in the Mist (The Midwives #1)Lady in the Mist by Laurie Alice Eakes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mystery of missing men, espionage, danger, and romance. This book is filled with everything. Laurie Alice Eakes is a masterful storyteller. Her ability to ignite your senses and put you right in the middle of the story is unbelievable. I loved her descriptive writing and found myself transplanted to the seaside in colonial America. The story had me guessing from the beginning to the end, trying to determine the good guys from the bad guys. The love triangle was nerve wrecking but wonderful. I would suggest this book to anyone who enjoys a good romance and historical fiction.

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Heir to the Everlasting

<img alt=”Heir To The Everlasting” border=”0″ src=”” />Heir To The Everlasting by 2012 copyright/ Janice Daugharty

My rating: <a href=”″>4 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
Heir to the Everlasting is a book set in southern Georgia and spans the twentieth century. The main character is May Alexander and the book basically tells her life story in two parts. The first half of the book details May’s life and relationship with her maternal grandmother who is known as Pinky. Pinky is a high spirited,independent, non-traditional, take-charge woman. May is raised by her grandmother following her mother’s death and becomes like a little shadow always close at her grandmother’s heels, and so she is known as Little Pinky for much of her youth. The second half of the book surrounds the relationship of an adult May and her granddaughter Sara Ann, whom she is raising.

The first half of the book is filled with lots of characters and I found it hard to keep track of all of them and their relationships to others. At times the book was fast moving only to turn almost deathly slow in sections. The long time period the book spanned was another difficult thing to get used to but I found it interesting to see how the life of May changed so much in her lifetime of almost 100 years.

If you enjoy historical fiction or southern literature you should give this book a try. I found it to be a very unique read.
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His Love Endures Forever


Title: His love Endures Forever
Author: Beth Wiseman
Publish Date: October 2, 2012
Post Date: October 2, 2012
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His Love Endures Forever is a wonderful story of forgiveness. Danielle is a troubled young English woman who is involved with two young Amish men. She has a close friendship with Levi and is romantically involved with Matthew who is planning to leave the Amish faith. After finding Danielle is pregnant Matthew leaves the Amish community and Danielle behind. Danielle turns to Levi and Levi turns to God for direction. Although Levi has always held firm to the Amish faith, he finds God leading him to marry Danielle and provide for her and her unborn child.

The couple meets with resistance from the Amish community and Levi’s interfering mother but they are determined to create a family and meet their struggles with grace. This is a book filled with love, forgiveness, and healing.

I loved this book and recommend it to anyone looking for an enjoyable read

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I have not been compensated in any way. The opinions stated in this review are my own and I give them freely without bias.