National Popcorn Day

Happy National Popcorn Day!

Go pop yourself up some yummy buttered popcorn today. Have a great weekend.

~ XXOO Michelle Bollom

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Christ As 

  
Bright lights twinkling

Ornaments aglow.

Candy canes hanging

O’er the gifts below.

 

Bright-eyed little ones

Running to the tree.

The excitement, the wonder

Of all it could be!

 

Bright, sparkly ribbons pulled

And wrappings torn.

The joy, the laughter

Being born!

 

Bright, shiny new toys

For little hands to explore,

Not yet knowing

The need for so much more.

 

For the…

 

Bright morning light first came

To fulfill the promise of

Relief from darkness

And a proof of love.

 

 

Bright light twinkling

High in the sky,

Signaling the birth

Of The Son of The Most High.

 

Bright-eyed little ones

And big ones, too,

Take hold of the gift

That’s for me and for you!

 

Bright, sparkly ribbons

Come and they go,

And the wrappings

Are simply all for show.

 

Bright, shiny, and new

Are His mercies every day.

Open this gift

And receive today…

 

Christ as

Your Bright Morning Star!

 

“I, Jesus, sent my angel to testify these things for the churches. I’m the Root and Branch of David,

The Bright Morning Star.”

~Revelation 22:16

 

Stephanie Gable 2015

Merry Christmas from Restored Ministries 

Christmas Reboot  

  

I don’t know where this holiday season leaves you. Whether you are:

• excited about the coming celebrations

• sad because your world has been rocked by a personal trauma

• fearful or upset about something in the news

• carrying the weight of being a family event planner and/or peacemaker

• exhausted at the thought of all that needs doing, buying and making in the next few weeks

 
Keep reading. There is real hope to be had.

Just like with all the electronics we rely upon, sometimes, when things start to get off track, not running quite right, or stuck in the endless loading, scrolling feature, our first inclination is to turn them off, take a pause, reboot and then power back on. I would submit to you that this is exactly what needs to happen in your life and mine right now. 

Reboot your Christmas.  

  

 Unplug yourself from whatever has you running so hard – even for just a few minutes – even if that means hiding in the closet from all your relatives or being five minutes late for something or (gasp) not showing up with whatever baked good/gift/donation you committed to bring.  

 
1. Recognize and acknowledge that something is not working here. Turn everything off that constitutes noise for you for just a few minutes.

 

2. Take a deep breath. Count to ten as you breathe in. Count to ten as you breathe out. Repeat, repeatedly.

 

3. During the pause, concentrate on God and His goodness in your life. God intends Christmas to be the ultimate expression of His loving kindness and mercy toward us, not something to have to “get through”. Think of the emotions God went through in working out the plan of sending His Son to save us.

 

4. Rehearse and recount all the blessings He has given you – even the ones that require effort on your part (Btw, those are the ones that end up growing you).

 

5. Lay down all your fears, efforts and exhaustion. Cast your cares on Him. He, alone, knows your heart and how very hard you try. If someone else is pleased by you or what you do, well, that’s just icing on the cake. Reflect on the fact that you are really, ultimately, just trying to please Him, anyway. Jesus has been human and knows how it feels to not deliver what people are expecting. Like Him, give them the thing they need more: love.

 

6. Be brave enough to enforce “tough love” on your schedule and that of your family. Leave room for your own rest and a reasonable bed time. Just like with our phones, sometimes we have to close or delete apps to get an ultimately better performance. Power your own self off sometimes.

 

7. As your break here draws to an end, reflect and thank God for this time, this season and the people who populate it, even (especially) if it is a busy one with too much to do and not enough you. Life can turn on a dime. There is no guarantee that your life will look the same by this time next year. You may look back and think that this was one of the best times in your life and you weren’t even present enough to realize or appreciate it.  

 

8. Whisper a prayer. Pray blessings on others, extend forgiveness to an enemy and ask for strength to love others more.

 

9. Power back on by finding a promise or a verse in the Bible that exemplifies God’s character and goodness toward you in this moment. Reflect on this with a smile as you rejoin your life already in progress.

 
 

Reboot.

          ~Debbie Bouckley 

Materialism Run Amuck

I normally try to avoid the mall at all costs, but recently I had to venture out into the “Prime Shopping Madness” to make some returns. It was a few weeks before Christmas, but already I could feel the “Greedy Grasping Empty Materialism” in the air of the department stores as I entered.

I looked around at all the people buying and buying and searching and searching. So many people trying to fill a void with a bunch of stuff. I was guilty myself because there I was returning things that I had compulsively bought online weeks prior.

When they came in they had already lost their sparkle that caught my eye in the first place.

I love that I can recognize when I am being compulsive in my shopping now. I did not always recognize it or think I had an issue, and sometimes still, I can just be disobedient and do it anyway. I still try to fill a void with stuff sometimes instead of allowing God to fill me when I am feeling a little low.

As I continued to reflect on my Mall Madness experience, I was reminded of it over and over and even started to notice the same atmosphere at Costco, and Walmart, and even the Dollar Store this week. Carts so full of stuff, but the look on people’s faces were not full of happiness at all. All I saw was stress, and fear, and guilt, and pressure, and rushing. I started to wonder, where are all the happy and joyful people?

Are these people trying to fill a void? Do their spouses or families have too high of expectations for Christmas? Are their children so full of entitlement that they have to have more and more to be happy? Are they trying to impress the Jones’? Are they addicted or compulsive too? Why do so many people have to make Christmas about having more? More presents, More lights, More food, More parties, More rushing, More stressing, More More More.
Has materialism run amuck?

Just watch the news coverage on Black Friday shopping and for the riots over the Michael Jordan shoes coming out…. Yep, Materialism has run amuck!

Look at the definitions of the words:

Materialism-a tendency to consider material possessions and physical comfort as more important than spiritual values.

Amuck-wildly out of control.

Yep! When people are knocking down grannies to get their shop on-Houston we got a problem- Materialism has run amuck indeed! It is wildly out of control and spiritual values are hard to find with all the stuff filling up the baskets and drowning out lives.

This verse caught my attention as I was pondering and praying for all those unhappy people I encountered these past few weeks.

“Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from Him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.” ~ 1 John 2:15-17 The Message MSG

Love of the world does squeeze out love for God and love for others too!

What if we all celebrated differently this Christmas?

What if Christmas was not about all the “stuff” and presents, but about slowing down to rest in His Presence and with those we love?

What if instead of exchanging gifts, we share the Greatest Gift, Jesus, with a lonely, hurting, basket stuffing, mad, angry world?

~ XXOO, Michelle Bollom
© RestoredMinistries

Unwanted Houseguests

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Tis’ the season. OK, I’ll be brave enough to just say it. Yes, it’s that time of year when you get UNWANTED HOUSEGUESTS. It happened to me. They showed up unexpectedly a few weeks ago. That’s early by anyone’s standards of coming for the holidays. But I kicked them out! Yup! It felt GOOOOOOD! Let me tell you how and what happened:
A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I were in the house alone, but then, just as quickly, we weren’t. All of a sudden, this uninvited couple showed up at the door. They were sly and managed to slide in really quickly before we could get the door shut on them. I don’t think either my husband or myself intended or ever implied that they were welcome. They certainly didn’t call before and ask if they could come, we surely would have said a resounding no, but yet, there they sat on my couch, grinning.
Just like pushy in-laws sometimes do, they weren’t content to just BE at my house. They wanted more. They intended to move in and get comfortable, to stay awhile. As for us, we were too shocked at their boldness to tell them “No!” Not wanting to “put us out”, they pushed on in and insisted we just continue what we were already doing. My husband and I had been talking. He was catching me up on his week and I, him on some issues that were going on with one of our kids. I sat dumbfounded as they interrupted us and happily chimed in, helping twist the parenting issue into something bigger and much more ominous. One involving ultimatums and the angry words “always” and “never”. I was mad and confused as I sat on my side listening to them and thinking “Who do they think they are? What just happened here? How long are they staying? Can I boot them out now?!” I’ll bet by now you are wondering who they are- these unwanted houseguests of mine? Well, you will probably recognize them by the names Offense and Hurt Feelings.
Offense grew bolder and came to sit by my husband on the couch. The more they talked, the more they agreed and the stronger the bond between them grew. Hurt Feelings patted my shoulder, gave me a tissue and offered to listen to my side because I was, obviously, the injured party. Soon, my husband and I weren’t the cohesive unit, they were. He and Offense. Then, me and Hurt Feelings. The sympathy from them felt good…and the distance between me and my husband felt…right somehow. Neither my husband, nor I could understand what had just happened to drive the wedge so quickly, but our houseguests just smiled and immediately started making themselves more at home. They asked which room was theirs and began unpacking their junk.
BUT, THEN….
I was with some friends a few days later and heard Graham Cooke speak. He talked about refusing to accept someone as an enemy. A man had approached him with offense and enmity in his heart. Graham’s response to the man was shockingly Jesus-like. “No. Sorry. I’m not in the market for enemies. You can’t be my enemy unless I receive you as one.” What? Are you serious? We get to say that??? Yes! We do! We can!
I don’t know about you, but I seem to spend so much time on reacting to whatever the devil throws my way, via people I come in contact with. I feel like the little silver ball in a pinball machine some days. What should my response be to this person because they’ve said this? How do I get along with them when they are doing that? The list goes on. I am an introvert, by nature. When I take a verbal “hit” from someone, I get really quiet. I tend to spend a lot of time rehearsing and rehashing things in my head that are always better left alone. Thankfully, when I submit myself and my problems to Jesus, he helps me stop that cycle and find my voice. And, unlike what happened with my husband and our unwanted houseguests, the presence of Jesus’ voice in my home and in my conversation always brings peace. Jesus has given me the choice to just refuse to buy into or go along with whatever lie, scheme, plan or whomever the devil tries to send to hurt me. Jesus’ power is always greater. I can respond from the goodness of God and the constant presence of Emmanuel, God with us. Deep, cleansing breath here.
One of the questions I tried to mull over after hearing this new approach was: “How do I respond to this ugly situation with the sheer goodness of God?” So the first night, I concentrated on God’s goodness and how I could show that to my husband. Suddenly, it was easier to serve my husband in love without complaining and being hypocritical. I was determined as I tried to think of ways that I could go the extra mile to show him that I did not, would not, receive him as my enemy. It was easy with God’s help -kind of fun, even, when it started messing with his head. OK – I never said I was perfect…LOL.
As I put my foot down and stopped feeding Offense, he grew hungry and became angry and threatened to cause a scene. Yawn. Hurt Feelings got her feelings hurt (of course) at being ignored and threatened to leave. Excellent. Buh-Bye! I prayed for more help and Jesus provided Peace and Love Never Fails as my armed guard escorts to watch my unwanted guests pack their things and leave our house. As they left, they made one last grab at Peace, but Love Never Fails quickly overwhelmed them.
This season, you will have many opportunities to let these two thugs into your house. Be careful, they might show up using different aliases, such as “You Always” and “You Never”, but know them for what they are: Offense and Hurt Feelings. You have the choice. You don’t have to let them come in. If they’ve already wormed their way into your house, respond to them with the overwhelming goodness of God.
Please understand that I’m not saying don’t answer the doorbell when it rings this season. I’m just saying, look through the peephole first, say a prayer for wisdom, and then decide. OK, stop that! I saw you smiling! Yes, you! If it’s your in-laws, yes, you have to let them in! Really!

Whew! And it’s not even Thanksgiving yet! ~Debbie Bouckley

Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them. -Psalm 119:165

Heavenly wisdom centers on purity, peace, gentleness, deference, mercy, and other good fruits untainted by hypocrisy. The seed that flowers into righteousness will always be planted in peace by those who embrace peace. -James 3:17-18

You may think that the situation is hopeless, but God gives us more grace when we turn away from our own interests. That’s why Scripture says,God opposes the proud, but He pours out grace on the humble. So submit yourselves to the one true God and fight against the devil and his schemes.If you do, he will run away in failure. Come close to the one true God, and He will draw close to you. -James 4:6-8

But the Eternal’s goodness is not exclusive—it is offered freely to all. His mercy extends to all His creation. -Psalm 145:9

My children, you have come from God and have conquered these spirits because the One who lives within you is greater than the one in this world.- 1 John 4:4

A Beautiful Mess

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Well, I’m convinced that the first Christmas wasn’t a quiet night. Let’s review…

Luke 2:4-7 NIV
The Birth of Jesus

“So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.”

I’m bracing myself for Christmas. I know I should be telling you all about how to have a calm and peaceful Christmas Eve when kids read themselves stories and tuck themselves into bed. When shopping has been done for weeks and you have time to rest by the wood fire sipping tea and having a conversation with your hubby.

Every year I’m blessed with Christmas amnesia. I only remember the good and forget the weird, grumpy, or just plain crazy stuff that goes on in my house. Remember, just because we love Jesus and are saved doesn’t mean we are perfect or that will have the perfect Christmas. It just means that we are continually under construction.

So we seek H I M.

Just like the wisemen, we still seek Him.

We especially seek Him at Christmas time. God’s Word says He will never leave us or forsake us, so why the need to seek Him? Isn’t He already there?
Beloved, there is a place inside each one of us longing to be filled. It’s the perfect place for Jesus. Without Him we seek to fill the void with semi positive and negative behaviors. Helicopter parenting, excessive worry, additions and idols, we will seek to fill a place meant for only Jesus to occupy. Other things just don’t fit and leave us feeling empty and still searching.

At Christmastime we are seeking to have a deeper more fulfilling relationship with Him. This Christmas go deeper. Seek to know Him more and know who you are in Him. On Christmas morning my family wakes up. We sing happy birthday to Jesus. We light the Christmas candle on the advent wreath and we read the kid version of the Christmas story. That’s the important part of the celebration for me. Then chaos happens. It’s a blurred frenzy of family, friends,gifts, food and way too much screen time and garbage. My Christmas is very messy. It’s filled with Jesus, love, joy, peace and there are also tears (he just opened that …he’s not sharing …you’re not my best brother anymore…wrapping paper flying …odd comments and just a whole lotta weird.) No wonder I have Christmas amnesia each year!

It’s a beautiful mess, our beautiful mess, and I don’t mind; I know my identity in Jesus. He’s the greatest gift to me.
And the greatest gift we can give is sharing with our friends and loved ones who they are in Christ.
~Marina Wright