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Spend All Day Cleaning and Find In a Single Moment It's Undone?

Wiping off smudges and food stains from the refrigerator and kitchen table, I began to think what an endless job it was. It's like a set up for failure. By the time I have finished cleaning, someone comes right along and with a single touch the work is undone. Or what about laundry, it is NEVER done. You can't find an end. Even if all the dirty clothes are out of the basket, guess what your family is wearing. That's right dirty clothes before the day is over!

Life is much the same. We go about trying to tidy up the smudges, dirt, and imperfections of the everyday just to find that we grow weary in the endlessness of it all. With one tiny flaw life once again becomes marked with unsightly blemishes.  This never-ending cycle often brings about disappointment and feelings of failure.

Take heart because I have good news. Jesus finalized the job.  He gave His life so you can have freedom from sin and find grace. You are no longer bound by your stains and imperfections.

Stop striving and rejoice! He has done the work that we couldn't.

Go deeper in faith:
May I challenge you today to make a list of every form of bondage in your life: mindsets, guilt, shame, addictions, unhealthy relationships, failures, insecurities, or whatever it may be.
Then in prayer take the list to God. Ask for strength to overcome strongholds, healing for open wounds, grace and forgiveness from guilt and shame, and power to move forward and live free from every weight that binds you.

Remember: freedom is a process; a choice you make everyday to not be shackled by those things that through His death Christ has already set us free from.

Make a choice today to step towards freedom.

Hebrews 12:1-2 NLT
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

Let the Journey Begin

December 26, 2013 marked one year since I began blogging. I started for a number of reasons, but my greatest desire was to inspire, encourage, and challenge others in everyday life.  To do this I started sharing stories and experiences that were tied to important lessons most of us could benefit from. Along the way a greater purpose was birthed.

On December 5, 2013 I made this declaration: “I have figured out my message to the world. It is Live Free! Free from guilt, shame, fear, and insecurities. Free to enjoy peace, love, and sound mind.”

Upon that declaration a #livefree word montage formed. This is the product of freedom:
To be free from everything that binds you: fear, doubt, guilt, shame, failure, judgement, condemnation. Learning to live in truth rather than opinion. Being reminded that you have to be the best you. Secure in the life you were created to live. Measuring success according to your purpose. Being greater each day. Continual learning and growth. Never know too much to quit being a student or too selfish to be a teacher. Esteeming others with great value and worth. Able to separate truth from lies. Not bound by past mistakes or failure. Able to learn and move forward with grace. Integrity in all things. Able to move past criticism and not dwell on mean people. Secure. Powerful. Influence. Leader. Servant. Putting down addictions. Free from a negative mind. Encourager. Confident. Gracious. Strong mind. Warrior. Free from stereotypes. Knowing your worth. Believing your worth. No longer bound by _______________. (fill in the blank).

 A life of fulfillment and purpose is possible, and it starts with freedom.

Will you join me on the journey as we learn how to live free?  We will be inspired and challenged to become all we were created to be while living with hope for the future.

Santa Who?

I didn't realize this was such a hot topic, but I recently began noticing several blogs, social media posts, and other conversations about whether or not to celebrate Christmas with Santa.  I mean honestly, I thought everyone who celebrates Christmas believes in Santa ... well except me!

Beliefs, opinions, convictions or however you would like to define it can range from celebrate with 'Santa all the way' to 'nothing Santa related allowed'. Then stuck in the middle is the option of blending Santa and Jesus to make all right with the world. Of course with this chasm of differences there comes conflict and raised defenses in order to protect one's way of thinking.

 Let's get back to the thinking that everyone except me believes in Santa.  Since before my children were born, I knew we would not practice the Santa tradition. It was and is a personal conviction. Now before you tune out, please hear this. I said it is "personal". I do not push this thought process on others or stand in judgement of those who celebrate differently.  Not playing Santa has not always been easy. When Christmas is near and you have young children in any public place, you are almost always guaranteed to run into a host of people who ask the question "are you ready for Santa?"   This often caused confused looks and shy uh-huhs to come out of the mouths of my children, and left this mom weary. I learned that explaining my position never got a great response so eventually I just stopped trying. What I really wanted to do is shout "I don't judge you for telling your children that Santa is real so don't judge me for telling mine that he isn't!" I never did that, and luckily those few years are done.

Then we went to the phase of school friends and everyone talking about what Santa brought. It wasn't as difficult but still left me feeling as if I robbed my children of some Christmas magic. Then a couple years ago, I realized that Jesus Christ coming into this world, being born to a virgin, and bringing hope and salvation was enough. It is more than magical. It is awe inspiring. Now, I say that not to attack anyone who enjoys playing Santa, but rather to encourage those who may be struggling as I did in the past. I know in the years of questioning, there were so many times I wanted to leave my conviction and just say "yes, Santa is real." 

I love Christmas movies and decorating my Christmas tree. I love the "magic" in the season and giving gifts. It's just that Santa was not the way God had me do Christmas with my children.  Even when I wanted to quit, I would remember that He created my children and He knew what they needed most.  After some events in our life, particularly with the children, I have an understanding of why I was convicted as I was. 

Here is where it gets beautiful. 

I recently spoke with a newly found friend, and we came upon the subject of Christmas and Santa. Knowing that our children had become great friends and we would be enjoying some Christmas celebrations together, I had to tell her that we have never done the Santa thing. I went on to say, "It is just a personal decision for my family. I don't think other people are wrong in doing so. My children understand that it is something that children should discuss with their parents." I then rambled on for a few minutes building my case, clarifying that I wasn't a weirdo, and explaining that I didn't judge her.

After I finally finished, she was so gracious with me and gave me the affirmation and resolve I have sought for so long. She explained that she appreciated me saying that I didn't judge or look down on anyone who chose to handle Santa in a different way than I. Then she went on to say how she thought it was so beautiful and relieving to see how God works with us personally and knows what we need in every situation. 

We both love Christmas, our children, and our God. Her family celebrates with Santa and mine doesn't. That's it. No fuss. No judgement. No weirdo labels. 

Whether Santa visits your home or not, I wish you a Christmas filled with love and grace.