Not My Will: Finding Peace with Things You Can’t Change

Many Christians don’t like to talk about things that are unchangeable. We’re positive people, ever optimistic about the future. But if we are honest, some of us wrestle with things we can’t change but wish we could. How do we prayerfully deal with unchangeables and find peace? Jesus’ prayer life shows us how. If we walk with Jesus from His baptism to the cross as outlined in Not My Will, we’ll gain insight, inspiration and guidance for coming to terms with things we can’t change.

Jesus said, “He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12b).  When we walk with Jesus, He will light up our path, show us how to cope, and restore our hope. He’ll help us make peace with what we can’t change.

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An Exercise for Studying Jesus’ Inferred Prayers

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An Easter Egg Activity

When my husband and I wanted our young sons to know what Easter was really about, we brainstormed about what symbols we could put in some plastic Easter eggs. I had read a small article in Evangelizing Today’s Child magazine about how a teacher used plastic Easter eggs to quiz her students about Jesus’ last week and crucifixion. She placed representative symbols inside the eggs. She then asked each student to open an egg, take out the symbol, and tell what it stood for. Bob and I thought, What a good idea for our family!

The article, though, didn’t list the symbols so Bob and I talked about different items we could use and scoured the house for them. Here’s what we discovered and used:

A small donkey from the children’s play farm animals.  Jesus made his Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem on a donkey (Matt. 21:1-9, Mark 11:1-10, Luke 19:28-38, and John 12:15-15).

Plastic leaves resembling palm leaves.  The cheering crowd spread palm leaves before Jesus when he entered Jerusalem (Matthew 21:9-9, Mark 11:1-10, and John 12:12-13).

Tiny bottle of perfume.  Jesus was anointed for burial by a woman who lovingly poured out expensive perfume on him (Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 4:3-9, and John 12:1-8).

A dime.  Judas received thirty pieces of silver for delivering Jesus over to his enemies.  (Matthew 26:14-16, Luke 22:3-6).

A small piece of bread.  Bread was used as a symbol of Jesus’ body when he held The Last Supper.  (Matthew 26:26-30, Mark 14:22-26, and Luke 22:19).

Some plastic grapes.  Wine, made from grapes, was the symbol for Jesus’ blood that he introduced at The Last Supper.  (Matthew 26:26-30, Mark 14:22-26, Luke 22:17-20)

Small rooster from children’s farm animals.  Jesus predicted Peter would deny him three times before the rooster crowed.  (Matthew 26:31-34, 74-75; Mark 14:27-31,66-72; Luke 22:31-34, 54-62; and John 13:36-38, 18:15-18,25-27)

Plastic toothpick shaped like a sword.  Peter used a sword to cut off the ear of one of those who came to arrest Jesus (Matt. 26:47-56, Mark 14:43-50, Luke 22:47-53, and John 18:3-12) and a soldier plunged a sword into Jesus’ side (John 19:31-37).

A chain.  Jesus was led in chains to appear before the Pilate, the Roman governor (Matt. 27:1-2, Mark 15:1)

Thorns from a rose bush.  Pilate’s solders made a crown of thorns and placed it on his head.  (Matthew 27:29, Mark 15:17, and John 19:2,5)

A pair of dice.  The soldiers gambled for Jesus’ clothes at the foot of the cross.  (Matthew 27:35, Mark 15:24, Luke 23:34b, and John 19:23-24)

Small metal cross.  Jesus was crucified on a cross.  (Matthew 27:31-35, Mark 15:20-24, Luke 23:32-33, John 19:16, and Philippians 2:8)

Small sponge.  When Jesus was thirsty while on the cross, someone lifted a sponge, soaked with cheap wine, up to him.  (Matthew 27:48, Mark 15:36, and John 19:28-30)

Small piece of linen cloth.  Joseph of Arimathea wrapped Jesus’ body in linen.  (Matthew 27:59-60, Mark 15:46, Luke 23:53, John 19:40, 20:4-7).

Rock. A stone was placed in front of the tomb (Matthew 27:60, Mark 15:46, 16:3-4) and was rolled away by an angel of the Lord (Matthew 28:2).

A lamb from children’s farm animals.  Jesus celebrated the Feast of Unleavened bread with his disciples, the day the lambs for the Passover were killed (Mark 14:12, Luke 22:7-8,14-16).  Jesus became the sacrificial lamb for our sins.

Whole cloves.  Faithful women took spices to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body (Mark 16:1).   Nicodemus and Joseph prepared his body for burial with spices (John 19:39-41).

Leather shoestring with sharp pieces of metal tied in the ends.  Jesus was scourged with a whip with metal sharpened bits of metal in the ends.  (John 19:1, Mark 15:19)

Purple piece of cloth.  In mockery, Roman soldiers put a purple robe on Jesus (John 19:2-5 and Mark 15:17)

Nail.  When Jesus was crucified, nails were driven into his hands.  (John 20:24-25)

An empty egg.  It symbolizes the empty tomb (Mark 16:5-7, and Luke 24:2-3).

We put the symbol-filled eggs in a basket and passed it around at lunch and dinner. Everyday during Holy Week, we opened eggs and talked about the symbols inside. Perhaps it was putting our minds to work, perhaps it was reading Bible verses, or maybe it was touching the thorns and the nails, but something happened to us. When our family got up on Easter Sunday, we spontaneously and enthusiastically greeted each other with, “He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!”

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Holiday Living: Using Year-round Celebrations to Build Faith and Family

Consciously or unconsciously, we peg our lives around holidays. They are a part of the rhythm of life. We can make the most of these holidays by turning them into holy days, with an emphasis on God, on what pleases Him, on our faith, and on our values.

The challenge for families is finding ways to do this. Already busy with work, child care and numerous other responsibilities, it is hard to be ready for the next holiday let alone think of spiritual ways to celebrate. Here’s where Holiday Living can help. This book focuses on 19 special days observed in the United States. A chapter is devoted to each one giving some background information and then giving ideas for putting the holy into holidays. With a variety of ideas, each family can choose what best suits their situation.

Using the ideas in Holiday Living, your holidays can be occasions for connecting with God and building faith plus providing enjoyable, memorable times for your family. It can be an indispensable guide for putting the holy into holidays so they can be special, set apart days for instruction and worship just as the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Ingathering were for God’s Chosen People.

Price: $15.00


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Unwrapping Martha’s Joy: Creating a Mary Christmas in Your Heart and Home

My friends say with a name like Poinsett (almost a flower!), I’m a natural for celebrating Christmas, and indeed I am. I love to have people in my home to celebrate Jesus’ birth, but this is not to say, I don’t get frustrated at times. In this way I’m like Martha—the woman in the Bible who invited Jesus into her home and then got upset by all the work she had to do. Yes, I’m an imperfect host but I’ve learned imperfection doesn’t stand in the way of having a “Mary” Christmas. That’s why I wrote Unwrapping Martha’s Joy: Creating a Mary Christmas in Your Heart and Home.

In this book, I write about Christmas from a homemaker’s point of view. I know, I know, not many women refer to themselves as homemakers these days, but I do. My home is an extension of who I am. If my kitchen is in disarray, then I’m in disarray!

I like to invite others into my home especially at Christmas, and I want Jesus to be present too. I want both a Martha (company’s coming!) and a Mary Christmas. Mary was Martha’s sister who got to sit at Jesus’ feet and learn from him. I want to see him and to experience him, and this book reflects on some of my experiences. The reflections will assure you that you don’t have to be perfect to have a Mary Christmas.

Here’s what Page, a woman who lives in Kentucky, said about Unwrapping Martha’s Joy: “It is super relevant to all women whether they are working, working at home, retired or anticipating a new season of life. It is so easy to get wrapped up in our “real life” and miss what God is doing right around us. I loved the illustrations from Brenda’s ‘real life’ that allowed me to hurt with her and others as well as rejoice in all God was and is doing. As a “party girl” like Brenda, I praise God that He reveals Himself to plain ole girls seeking Him.”

Page connects with me because we’re both “party girls” and “plain ole girls.” Yes, we’re both homemakers who like to entertain, and we both make sure we invite Jesus to join our celebrations.

Price: $12





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Study Guide for Reaching Heaven

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An International Christmas

 

My little internationals.

I have an  international family, and we’re having  an international Christmas celebration. On Christmas Eve we’re having an African meal in honor of Ben’s son Christophe who was born in Chad. We’ll have a Japanese meal on Christmas Day (son Joel’s wife Eri is Japanese) and an “East Coast” breakfast on Monday morning. I know, I know, the East Coast is not a foreign country but it does reflect how widespread are family is! Jim, our oldest son, lives in the Philadelphia area where he pastors a church. Because he has to preach on Sunday morning, he won’t be getting here until late on Sunday evening. By featuring the “East Coast” on Monday morning, Jim can share his life and ministry with us before Joel’s family leaves midday for home in California. We may round out this celebration by singing Feliz Navidad just to add another international touch! Whether we do or not, the song is in my thoughts as I cook meals, do dishes, talk  with family members and watch grandchildren play!  Like the song says, I want to wish everyone a merry Christmas.

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Make Christmas Merry – for Less Money

Creative gift wrap

Recycle gift wrap and gift bags. If gift wrap is wrinkled, iron it. For gifts within the family, I’ve used The Wall Street Journal financial pages—the black and white print looks great with a red or green bow. I’ve used the Sunday funny papers—a gold bow works well. A friend of mine did all of her gifts with brown paper bags and red and green bows. They looked great sitting under her homespun Christmas tree.

Think small when entertaining

The smaller your gathering, the less food you will need to buy. Don’t feel you have to outdo every other hostess this time of year. Neither attempt to repay a whole year’s social obligations in a single holiday event. A dinner party of six or eight can be just as enjoyable than a party of thirty or forty, sometimes more so because it doesn’t require as much energy and the group is more cohesive. A dinner menu is often less time consuming and less expensive to prepare than a buffet of finger foods.

Go potluck

Some guests actually feel guilty if they don’t bring something, so plan a meal or buffet where everyone brings a contribution. Not only does this save money, but it is the best time saver there is.

Serve brunch

Popular brunch foods such as egg dishes and coffeecakes cost considerably less than dinner menus and it just may be the right time spot for get togethers—a time not usually taken up with other commitments and elaborate fare is usually not expected.

Prune your greeting card list

Miss Manners advises dropping from your list anyone of whom you have no mental picture. An out of date picture is okay, but if you cannot conjure up a face, then you needn’t send greetings even if they send you one! I pruned my list by asking myself why I was sending Christmas cards. With some I had to admit, I was sending cards to them because they sent one to me so I eliminated those. With others, I was sending Christmas cards because I wanted to stay in touch. I decided I could do that on their birthdays when I had time to write a personal letter to include with the card. This saved me time at Christmas and reduced a large one-time postage bill as it was a stamp here and a stamp there.

Give fewer gifts

If you have ever ended your family’s Christmas gift exchange with a room full of gift room and a heart full of stress, perhaps it is time to talk with family members and decide to give each other fewer, more thoughtful gifts at Christmas. One wise family decided when their children were small to give three gifts to each other—three because that is the number that baby Jesus received from the Wise Men, and they have stayed with that through the years.

Give coupons with promise

Give a gift of time and friendship by promising to baby-sit, clean house, wallpaper a room, plant a garden, or provide some other needed service. Make an attractive coupon that the recipient can “redeem” sometime during the coming year. Another woman gave her husband his favorite cake with a note, “You’ll get one of these every month.” For years she had been promising to bake him a cake “some day.” He was thrilled to know that “some day” had arrived!

Give less expensive gifts

Instead of continually raising the bar each year on gift exchanges, lower it. The challenge can be part of the fun. I know a group of women who have been meeting for lunch and a gift exchange for years. They buy each other $1.00 gifts and have a fun and creative time doing it. For parties, give white elephant gifts. For more on this idea, see the Green party idea under Four Party Ideas.

Give gifts that don’t cost money

Could you put together a scrapbook of memories for your friends, children or parents? I collected quotes from one son’s letters and put them in a book as a gift. One mother wrote a letter written on Christmas stationery in which she revealed her personal feelings, thoughts, and hopes for each of her children.

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Tips for Simplifying Christmas

Decide what’s most important

Make a list of what your family does to celebrate Christmas. Ask family members which preparations and events are meaningful to them. Arrange list items in order of importance and ask them to consider eliminating those at the bottom. As the family members discuss changes that could be made, you may be amazed that some of the things you were knocking yourself out for really aren’t important to the rest of the family.

Share the load

Ask other family members to help you prepare for Christmas. Divvy up the tasks. Using the talent of family members can make them feel special. One woman had her ten-year-old daughter to design their family Christmas card. The girl drew the original and then they photocopied the card. Then she and her brother addressed and stamped all the cards. In my book Can Martha Have a Mary Christmas?, I wrote about sharing the work load at Christmas with my sons. I gave them jobs to do and paid them in multiples of dimes (to make it easy to divide!). I had them give half of what they earned to Jesus (an offering for international missions). We put the collected dimes in paper stockings and placed the stockings in the church offering plate.

Cut back on décor

Is it really necessary to have several Christmas trees in your house? Must you decorate every room in the house, including changing the kitchen clock to one with Santa on it? Is your goal to win decorating awards or to have a meaningful Christmas? If it is the latter you want, then you need just enough decorations to indicate that something special is happening and to provide a warm ambiance. One tree and lots of candles will provide that!

Prune your gift list

Even if you can afford to buy gifts for numerous people, it still requires time and effort to buy, to wrap them and to sometimes return them. Simplify your Christmas list so you will have fewer to buy and to wrap. You’ll enjoy the process more and find you can really focus on making the recipient happy. If you regularly exchange gifts with certain individuals, don’t wait until December to tell them you would rather not exchange gifts. Bring this up earlier in the year, say in July, and discuss it before gifts have been bought.

Save time by being practical

I wanted to spend time with my young adult sons and I also wanted to buy them gifts they would like. There wasn’t time to do both so I chose time over gift-pleasing efforts. I arranged a “date” with one son at a time and took him shopping. I hold him how much I had to spend for his gifts and let him decide how we would spend it. We shopped together, did a lot of conversing while we looked, and he made the final selections. I took the gifts home and wrapped them, and when each opened their gifts, he said, “What a surprise! And it’s just what I wanted!”

Learn to say “No, thank you”

There’s no rule written anywhere that says you have to accept all the party invitations that come your way. Select a few significant activities—ones that will enhance your celebration—and decline the other activities. This is especially important if you have young children. Their Christmas will mean more if they have parents who are present in body and spirit.

Plan simple activities

Many people see getting together with others as one of the things they appreciate most about holidays but they don’t have to be elaborate affairs. Plan a soup party. Friends and family love the informality of a homemade soup party. You can ask your guests to bring various kinds of breads, crackers and cheeses. Soup is also a stretcher in case you add extra guests at the last minute.

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The Friendship Factor: Why Women Need Other Women

The Friendship Factor
If a woman wants to understand herself better, or understand other women, if she wants to relate to them, minister to them and with them—and receive from them!—then she’ll want to understand the power of conversation in women’s lives which is what this book is about. Throughout the adult woman’s life span—the exploratory years, the young adult years, the middle years, and the later years, the power of conversation is a sustaining force.

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