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Less is More

Advent dec 16

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ok, it’s me.

i’m the one who wants to give the perfect gift

it’s the biggest stress-factor of my holiday

i love giving and making people happy,

but the stress of it can become a joy-zapper

i need to remember that

God has already given us the perfect gift –

when i think about that, stress leaves and joy returns

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and what about all those delicious cookies?

so tantalizing

some have special memories baked right into them –

i just HAVE to have one of each – at least!

but after eating too many, i feel less than joyful

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and my schedule?

just the other night i caught myself saying

‘there just isn’t enough time to do it all’.

well, i don’t have to do it all.

the problem is, i want to do it all.

God gives me enough time to do what’s important

i’m slowly learning to say no to some things

so that i can enjoy the more important ones.

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to find more joy,

less is more

 spend less on gifts, but spend more time with loved ones

eat less of the season’s temptations

be less busy, slow down,

be more still,

and more thankful

simplify

that’s where joy can be found

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blessings,

Tracy

 

Uncomplicated Joy

Advent dec 15

why do we make things so complicated?

decorating the house

finding the perfect gifts

making memories

keeping traditions

baking all those cookies

sending Christmas cards

attending concerts & parties –

all are joyful ways to celebrate his coming,

but when the schedule is full

 we can feel pretty tired and empty

(preaching to myself)

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when God says that he has come that we may have life to the full,

he didn’t mean a full calendar

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how about a life full of hope, peace, and JOY?

sounds good to me!

let’s focus on the simple, uncomplicated joy found in the manger

and celebrate that!

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blessings,

Tracy

 

 

 

Comfort & Joy

Advent Dec 13 Advent dec 14

this week’s focus is on one of my favorite things –

joy.

that attitude of thankfulness

and feeling of peace all wrapped up in three letters –

joy.

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repeated words from the old carol

‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’ come to mind today –

‘O tidings of comfort and joy’

each verse sharing the Christmas story

of a baby sent from heaven to save,

of angels appearing,

and shepherds seeking, finding, and rejoicing!

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there are days during this season that we may wonder

what happened to that comfort and joy?

they have never left,

they may have become buried under the two joy stealers –

stress & worry.

we may have lost our focus

but the comfort and joy that God give us through his Son

is always there for us to rediscover

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this week, let’s set our eyes on that baby born to save

let’s seek him like the shepherds

and rejoice!

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blessings,

Tracy

hoiday-house-walk-2015-link-party

Hi all,

This post is quite a bit different in nature than my usual posts. Today instead of sharing my heart and my faith, I’m sharing my home. So welcome! Here is a peek into the Hankwitz home at Christmas time.

porch 2 porch 3 porch 1

porch 4

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In the living room, my favorite color combo is white, green, and brown mixed with gold, silver, and anything rusty. The mantel is always my funnest challenge. This year I mixed corrugated metal, a chippy window, and elements of nature. The handmade pom pom garland is just for fun! And I had to try out my new chunky Christmas sign. 

mantel 1 mantel 2

The tree is decorated with paper birch garland, sprays of cotton, and handcrafted, wood slice ornaments available here. I’m a last-minute gift wrapper, so for now an old sled, baskets, and my grandfather’s old Burpee seed box are treasures tucked under the tree.

tree

tree 2

coffee table

the dining room

dining room

box

The wooden box holds mercury glass ornaments that I’ve been collecting over the years, and a special ornament with favorite scripture passages inside.

dr

a few of my favorite trees and a framed botanical by my friend, Belinda, at Nature by Design.

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a few other touches of Christmas

IMG_3629

IMG_3628

IMG_3630

tree 3

Have a blessed Christmas!

Tracy

 

Heart’s Welcome

Advent dec 12

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this week i did one of my favorite Christmas things –

i decorated.

i love adding a touch a Christmas throughout the house

the living room gets the most attention

and the front porch

always making it different than last year

wanting my home to be a warm welcome to all who enter

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 as i was hanging the garland

i got to thinking . . .

as i decorate my home, preparing for Christmas

the heart needs decorating, too

nothing fancy

just sweeping out dark corners

opening the door

and welcoming Christ as he comes to dwell here

in this humble living room of the heart

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during this time of Advent

this time of coming

we look back to when he came as a babe

we look ahead to when he will come again

and we look right now, at this moment

when he comes to our hearts

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it’s truly amazing to know that when we say

‘come and make my heart your home’

he does –

praise the wonder of it!

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blessings,

Tracy

 

 

Hope that Overflows

Some words we overuse so much that they lose their real meaning, like the words love and hope. How often do you use the word ‘hope’ in daily conversation?

Today’s post is by guest writer, retired pastor, Rob Hankwitz (my awesome brother-in-law).

Thanks for reading!

Advent dec 11

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“I hope we win the game.” 

“I hope it doesn’t rain.” 

“I hope I get an A.” 

Hope is dodgy commodity.  We invest 3 hours on a Sunday afternoon to watch football yet our team is 0-8.  Hope here is not too legitimate. 

We get all the food and picnic supplies together and drive to a picturesque spot yet the chance of showers is 90%.  Hope here is not too realistic. 

We spend time thinking how it could turn out or it might turn out and that miracles do happen yet time spent studying for a major exam was measured in minutes not hours.  Hope here is not too logical. 

For us hope is little more than a wish, a desire, a want for a certain thing to happen or to be the case.  Regardless of how sincere, hope leaves considerable room for doubt and uncertainty.  For 1st century citizens hope was much different.  Paul uses the word with precise purpose as he addresses the Christians in Rome. 

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. – Romans 15:13

Just as God is not a fond wish, so also the hope He gives is not an earnest desire.  Recall His power and providence in your life.  Remember His love and leading in days you thought there was none.  Live in the hope He offers, the certain and constant confidence He freely gives to His children.  Being absolutely sure of His grace for the present and for all eternity, be filled with the hope of God.   

A Reason to Smile

Advent Dec 9

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‘Smiling’s my favorite’.

this line from the Christmas movie ‘Elf” –

is one of many that is woven into my family’s daily conversation

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as Christmas draws nearer

are you smiling?

we should be –

there’s a lot to smile about!

so much to be thankful for

besides, ‘it’s the hap-happiest season of all’

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smiling is an outward sign of happiness

we smile when we’re happy.

 smiles can also be a sign of peace

not only peace as the world knows it,

but a different kind of peace –

the peace we have with God

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‘Peace is the smile of God reflected in the soul of the believer.’ – William Hendricksen

the peace that’s found in the manger

and on the cross

now dwells in the soul,

and that IS something to smile about!

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blessings,

Tracy

Your Joy Word

Advent Dec 7

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Advent Dec 8

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it’s easy to become distracted this time of year.

to help myself stay focused

with eyes on the manger,

I choose a Joy word

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what’s a Joy word?

it’s a word that describes the feeling you want to experience this Christmas season

words like joy, peace, cherish, family,

comfort, stillness, calm, celebration, dwell.

it’s a word that says ‘this is my priority, this is important to me’

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once you’ve chosen your joy word

write it out

place it where it will be a constant reminder

then stay focused on it now through the new year

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allow yourself to say ‘no’ to activities and demands

that conflict with your joy word

say ‘yes’ to those that will help

make your word become a reality.

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take some time today to envision the days that lie ahead

choose your word

ask the Lord to bless it and your Christmas season

He will for He is faithful

and wants nothing more than to be the focus of your heart.

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blessings,

Tracy

Illuminating Hope

Advent Dec 3

it’s the candle of hope that illuminates

this first week of Advent.

hope.

can you imagine life without it?

hope is what we cling to

when darkness consumes and overwhelms –

darkness of tragedy

darkness of illness and of disappointments

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yet it is always there –

this hope that lights that darkness

this hope wrapped in swaddling cloth

that lies there in animal trough,

a hope that never disappoints

a hope that anchors the soul

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faith may flicker, but we never should feel hopeless

for when we reach out and cling desperately

to God and his faithful promises,

He is actually reaching out and holding us.

Find joy in this hope

and share it someone who feels hopeless.

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blessings,

Tracy

Advent 2 GNL

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in between Thanksgiving and Christmas

is the forgotten season of Advent

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Advent means coming

it’s a season of waiting & growing anticipation

a season of hope and peace

as we await the coming of Jesus

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Christmas easily overshadows this special time

funny how the season’s rushings

should be more of a quiet hushing of the soul

a time to reflect

and renew the spirit

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find a few moments today to be still

light a candle

remember what we are celebrating

like Mary, ponder all these things in the heart

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blessings,

Tracy

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