Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Just Like Her

I walked into her home with my two preschoolers expecting her house to be ‘perfect’.  When I left my house that morning there were toys laying all around, dishes in the sink, laundry piled up screaming to be folded and put away, but for some reason I thought her home would be ‘perfect’.  That’s because I watched her at church.  She had that sweet, genuine smile that drew others to her.  She always knew the right things to say.  She was forever doing the right things.  Her husband was successful in the ministry.  From a distance…she seemed to have it all together. She seemed like the ‘perfect’ ministry wife. She would never have left her house in the condition I had just left mine.  And I wanted to be just like her.  I wanted her life.

What joy filled my heart as I entered her home and saw very familiar surroundings!!  Things were ‘perfect’ alright!!!  Perfectly imperfect!!  Messes.  Lunch that was not fancy nor a table that was all fixed up.  I still remember the Sunday that she brought her children to church in their pajamas!!  Dirty pajamas at that!  It thrilled my soul!!  She was becoming mature in Christ...not perfect.  Again, I wanted to be just like her.  I wanted her life.

That was in San Antonio, Texas.  Fast forward more years than I can count and several other churches and we both find ourselves in Indianapolis, Indiana.  God has renewed friendships and memories and I am grateful.  And, yet, I begin to watch her once again.  Yep!  She is still saying and doing all of the right things.  She still has that beautiful, genuine smile that warms the hearts of all who see it.  She serves right alongside her husband faithfully and joyfully and, in my eyes, perfectly!!  And I want to be just like her.  I want her life.

Then I hear her story.  One of those sons had walked away from the Lord and the heartache that followed for many years was devastating.  I don't want her life.
And it occurs to me….I am doing it again!!  I am looking at another ministry wife, watching from a distance and making assumptions that may or may not be true!!  What in the world!!  I really, really dislike it when others do that to me….and yet, here I am doing the same thing!!!  In fact...I even do it with you!  Yes, you!  I hear the amazing things you are doing serving with your husband and how you are ministering in so many ways in your church and I begin to want to be just like you.  I start to want your life.  Yikes!  Terrible!  Stop it Dana!

Something very meaningful happened in my heart that day as I stepped into that home many years ago that I must never forget…stop comparing.  Stop assuming.  Stop wanting to be just like her!  Stop wanting her life.  Even though my life is super far from being 'perfect'.  Even though there are a lot of things about my life I would like to change and even though I am a huge mess and it is exhausting being me...I want my life.The truth is...I have one life to live...I must live it with my eyes on Him and not anyone else. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Savior

“Shh, can you hear it?  The sound is so soft and airy.  It’s almost like a whispered breath,” whispered one shepherd to the other as he looked to see if the sheep were safe.

“What are you singing under your breath?” stated the second shepherd to his companion. 

Can you imagine the conversation between the shepherds on this quiet, starry night? They are weary from walking their flock yet they cannot be caught off guard to the enemy that may be lurking.  Yet on this special night over 2000 years ago, the world’s greatest announcement was made by an angel of the Lord. 

“I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11

After the announcement, life really got interesting for the shepherds. They packed up their simple belongings and went in search of the Christ child.  They did not question the message.  They just had simple faith.

On this Christmas Eve, I pray that each of us believes with simple faith that Jesus is the Savior.  Sometimes as ministers’ wives we forget that the Savior came for us too.  Oh dear sisters, we are sinners just like everyone else in the world. 

Tonight after you have settled everyone in their warm beds take a moment to step outdoors.  Stare up at the stars and listen.  Shh, can you hear it?  The sound is so soft and airy.  It’s almost like a whispered breath.  God is saying, “I love you, my dear child.  I gave up my heavenly throne for a humble manger bed so that you may have eternal life.  Yes, my child, I love you.  I presented the world the greatest gift known to man, eternal life and salvation.”

Merry Christmas dear sisters!  

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Quiet Christmas

“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone went to his own town to register.

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.  He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”  Luke 2:1-7

This passage is the simple Christmas message. There are no frills, no fancy trees, no rushing to find the perfect gifts.  It is the simple message of the humble birth of the Savior of the world, Jesus.

We are now in the midst of the Christmas season.  There is so much commercialism that Christians forget the true message of Christmas. We are bombarded with advertisements that flash fun and excitement before our eyes.  Our children are begging for the latest toy or game system.  Ladies, even our eyes sparkle with the dream of having a special gift under the tree.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with celebrating the Christmas season.  We each have our special traditions to follow. Gift giving is not wrong if done within your budget.  However, are we truly remembering the reason for the season?  Are you making Christ the center of your Christmas celebration?

If you do not already do so, this Christmas start a new tradition. Before the kids look for Santa gifts, the presents are unwrapped, and you fill your tummies with all the delicious yummies, have a quiet, simple Christmas moment.  Gather your entire family together and read the true Christmas story from Luke 2.  Discuss what each character may have felt and what you may have experienced if you had been at the birth of Jesus.  Who knows, dear sisters?  There may be one person in your family who does not know Jesus as their Savior.  This simple Christmas tradition could open the way for them to ask him into their heart.  Now there is a cause for celebration!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Come Let Us Adore Him

By now, we are all in high gear when it comes to our busy activities of the Christmas season. We can get caught up in all the festivities and rituals that whiz by us this time of year. There are parties, presents, preparations, programs, and before we realize it, the joy of the season gets replaced by frustration from all the frenzy.

Stop! Let’s put the brakes on! Let’s remember the true meaning of this divine season.

It’s not about having the perfect Christmas tree, but about One who would one day die on a tree for our sins. It’s about a grand announcement that the angel proclaimed on that holy night, “For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11.
This season is about the Christ child whose coming was foretold by the prophets hundreds of years before His advent:

The prophet Micah proclaimed that He would be born in Bethlehem.

The prophet Isaiah told us that He would be born of a virgin and that he would be called Immanuel, which means that God is with us.

The prophet Isaiah also announced that a child would be born to us, a son would be given to us and among His glorious names are Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Christmas is totally about Jesus; His name means Savior, for He would save His people from their sins (Halleluiah!).

Moreover, He is the true Light that came into the world, and in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form. May we worship Him as we are reminded of who He is: God of Very God!

Of course, all the blogs in the world would not be sufficient to list all of His wondrous attributes, just as the gospel writer John told us that the world itself would not have room to contain all the books that would be written if all that Jesus did was recorded (John 21:25).

So as we wrap and place our gifts under the tree, may we all reflect on the fact that Christmas is about God sending the greatest gift the world will ever know; He sent His Son, Our Messiah!!! “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:15

Come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

God Is In Control Of Our Days

“I can’t change the past, but I can strive to do better and maintain a positive attitude in the future.”

The words above have become an anthem of sorts for me as I look back over the past year, and prepare to transfer (Lord willing) into a brand new year. Some things happened in 2014 that I wish had not happened, a few (bad) things that could have happened did not come to fruition, and there were many things that happened that brought me great joy!

Life is full of surprises, some we consider good, some not so good, and some are terribly awful! But as each day passes, I am grateful and thankful that God is the One who gives us each day; He is the “Manufacturer of Days” as I read once in a devotional book. Knowing this fact, should make all of want to live out all of our predetermined days for Him. How quickly we forget that when we belong to Him, we are to live for Him!

One thing that I have come to really appreciate this year is the Total Absolute Sovereignty of God! Everything that happens in my life, your life, the lives of those closest to us is no accident, is not by chance, and most certainly is not a matter of “luck”, but a working of His divine providence, so He can accomplish whatever He desires to accomplish in all of our lives.

I don’t know about you, but knowing that the Lord is always in control helps me to have a sense of joy and peace that literally passes “all comprehension” according to Philippians 4:7. I can trust my God to never be caught off guard by anything that happens to me. I may not totally understand it all, but I can be sure He has a purpose in it.

Sometimes we are allowed to go through things that are directly for our benefit, but some things are allowed in our lives to be a benefit to others. As those around us see how we handle hard situations, we are able to be a witness for the Lord in showing how He strengthens us in the storms of life, OR perhaps we can used by Christ to comfort and encourage others who have difficult trials of their own.

I want to learn to develop a steadfast attitude of learning from whatever the Lord has me to endure, whether good or bad. In regards to the year 2014:

I want to be thankful for the successes, accomplishments, blessings, and undeserved mercies.

I want to leave behind all the mistakes, failures, disappointments, heartbreaks, and missed opportunities (learning from them, of course).

I don’t want to wallow in what could have been or should have been, but appreciate what has taken place in my life.

My sisters, join me in thanking the Lord for this last year, and joyfully anticipate a brand new year, full of unchartered waters. A new start always brings hope, for we serve a God of hope!

We can’t change the past, but we can press on in Jesus’ name, confident that He is in control of all our days!

“But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead.” Philippians 3:13

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Our daughter-in-law's mother had a biopsy on a lump in her breast yesterday.  Today, they got the dreaded news....it is CANCER.

She meets with the surgeon tomorrow to schedule surgery, possibly even before Christmas.

She is a single mom of three grown girls.  (Dad walked out on all of them when the girls were very young.)  Mom is scared and all three girls are scared.

We all know the power of prayer.............so, I am asking you, PLEASE PRAY URGENTLY.  Thank you in advance.  Her name is Debbie Tollett.

Friday, December 12, 2014

True Meaning of Christmas

True meaning of Christmas

This year, we gave our grand-babies an early Christmas present;  we gave them the Fisher Price Little People Nativity Set (with Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, the wise men, the shepherds, the angel and several animals:  purchased from Sam's Club.)  Although they are only 24 months and 10 months old, we wanted to start NOW getting them familiar with the true meaning of Christmas.  

Kinley is so young that she enjoys crawling over and destroying the scene and putting the pieces in her mouth.  Cameron, loves playing with all of the pieces.  He does not understand the story yet, but he knows which one is baby Jesus and he will kiss him and place him in the manger.

My 2-4 year old children at church are celebrating Jesus' Birthday all this month.

In the hustle and bustle of the holidays, let us ALWAYS remember the true meaning of Christmas.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Enjoy the Moment

I mentioned earlier that this year I am trying to let go of stress.  It is working.  Had I not made some major changes in the holidays, this year could have been more stressful than ever.

On top of the normal stuff....shopping, wrapping presents, baking, too many engagements....this year we are adding Physical Therapy 35 minutes from my house three times a week....AND a fun trip.

When going to my doctor for my routine physical I mentioned that I get cramps in my upper abdominal area when I turn funny or bend funny, he immediately was full of tons of questions.  I explained that the right side had done that for 29 years, since our daughter was born.  But the left side was more severe and had just started a few months ago.  To shorten the story....he sent me for an MRI to rule out the "bad stuff".  Then, he sent me for Physical Therapy to try to strengthen the muscles to prevent it from happening.  Not just ANY physical therapy.  He wanted me to go to a specific one in Hixson.  (It is only 35 minutes from home, but a little over an hour from my work.)  For two weeks, I go three times a week.  BINGO...there goes THAT day.  By the time I make a couple of stops and get home, there is very little time left in the day.

Our son and daughter-in-law that lived with us for a little over a year, gave us an early Christmas Present/Thank You Present "for allowing them to live with us for a year, etc.  On Dec. 21-23, we will be in Nashville.  They purchased us the Opryland Hotel Country Christmas Package:  Restless Heart dinner show; General Jackson holiday cruise, Rockettes, Ice show, Craft show, etc.  We are VERY excited to take this "Fun Trip". 

However....had we NOT chilled this year, we may have not so much enjoyed the trip.  Usually the last few days before Christmas is crunch-time.  NOT this year.  We are going to sit back and enjoy it.

Instead of cooking a big Christmas meal for my kids, we are going to grill steaks and have baked potatoes and salads.  Simple....and probably a welcome change after all of the casseroles, etc. 

Also...I am happy to report that the Physical Therapy that seemed so impossible at first, has allowed me to grab a couple of gifts each trip I make to Chattanooga..........and I have been VERY impressed and the doctors have been even more impressed with the results.

Let's enjoy the moment...........even if changes need to be made.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Last Minute Christmas Gift

If you are like me....there are ALWAYS those little gifts you need the last minute.  If you need a quick, simple gift......you may have already seen this or may have even made this before, but....thinking of Vicki.....I thought I would post it anyway as a reminder.

Print off the little story.....attack it to a bag of Christmas M & M's and BINGO....your instant gift.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


Okay...I am trying my best to reverse the feeling of "stressed" this year and turning it into "desserts".  

Every year...about this time, I begin to get stressed.  There is soooo much to do and so little time.  This year, I am trying to take a different approach.  (Notice I typed TRYING and not I AM TAKING).

Roger and I, over the years have discussed what we were getting everyone for Christmas, but, in the end, it was always my job to follow through.  I was the one that shopped, wrapped, etc.  Last year, right before Christmas, Roger looked at me and said, "I know you always buy the presents, but have you ever stopped to think that MAYBE I would like to do more too?"  Well....one of my flaws or gifts (whichever way you want to interpret it) is I remember....

So, this year, after discussing suggestions, I have bought for our "girls" and he has for the "guys".  We have both taken the time to buy for the babies.

Wow.  A simple little task like that has taken tons of stress off me.  I have NO problems finding things for the girls, but the guys are always much harder for me.

Initially, I begin to stress....what IF he (being Roger) does not "get it done".  Then, I "Let it Go" and decided that Christmas would not end if the guys received gift cards at the end.  
And, guess what?   The guys will actually have presents too.

Not only have I let go of some duties...........this year, Roger and I have learned to say "NO" to some engagements.  

We always enjoy attending the Associational Pastor's Banquet, but this year we are double-booked and that is not possible.  

Our younger couples decided they wanted to enter a float into the Rockwood Christmas Parade, which fell on a night that did not work with our schedule.  I am PROUD to announce that Our Church had a BEAUTIFUL float.....an EXTRA LONG flat-bed trailer pulled by a large 18-wheeler......with lights, etc.  AND....the float was FULL of our church members, where they road and sang Christmas Carols and Praise Music...........all without US.  (I don't know about you, but when we first came to this church where there was 12 in Sunday School and 32 for preaching and if ANYTHING got done, we did it......................it makes my heart smile to see how not only has our church grown in numbers....grown together...they have grown in the Lord and everyone chimes in and is excited to work for the Lord.  Praise the Lord.)

The last several years I have been so stressed and our calendars have been so full that we do not even get our tree up until the last minute. 

The tree is up this year.  Most gifts have been purchased.  I am wrapping as I go.  We are having an early Christmas in Alabama with both "families and moms" on Dec. 13th. 

NOW....it looks like I am going to have time to actually sit back and enjoy some DESSERTS since I am not so STRESSED.

My advice to you is:
  • Let it go.
  • Delegate jobs
  • Share responsibilities
  • Remember............Christmas will happen REGARDLESS.
  • Sit back and enjoy some desserts.  You can always loose the extra pounds in January when EVERYONE will be dieting.  Smile.
  • JESUS IS THE REASON for the season and nothing else really matters.
Now....enjoy your holidays.  I sure plan to.  And, remember...stressed is desserts spelled backwards.

Merry Christmas

 Merry Christmas from the Britton's!!!

Here is a picture of our "kid appealing" Snowman tree.  Time changes everything.  Smile.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Perfect Christmas

I could blame Pinterest. I could say it was all Facebook's fault. The magazines Real Simple and Southern Living could be given at least part of the credit.

As I scroll through pretty pins and polished posts online or turn the glossy pages of perfected photographs in the printed publications, I think to myself, "I could do that, " and "Wouldn't it be great if my house, kids and husband looked like that?".

These thoughts start innocent enough. The next thing I know however, I am anything but joyous and peaceful.  My contentment is gone and bitterness comes creeping. Jealousy and insecurity take over.

My to-do list grows proportionally with the stress of trying to measure up to some fabricated view of no body's reality. My expectations of what the perfect Christmas ought to be, becomes skewed and unattainable.

Satan must laugh at me while I imagine my Heavenly Father patiently sighs as He calls me to His arms, gently telling me to be still.

No matter what I might try to do to make this the perfect Christmas, all my attempts will fall far short. I am imperfect. I cannot do or even fake my way to meet all my expectations. I can accept all this because of the fact that the perfect Christmas came 2000 years ago when my perfect Christ came to accept and save an imperfect me.

So I may lay off the Pinterest and the Facebook for awhile. The shiny magazines may just collect a little dust. I get into enough trouble with my silly expectations without their help. I don't want to be the butt of Satan's jokes. I am intentionally choosing to be still and celebrate the birth of my perfect Christ.

As a result, I know I will have the perfect Christmas.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Would It Still Be Christmas?

As I blogged earlier this week, I have really been fighting the feelings of being overwhelmed and stressed this December. I am daily taking on my self-assumed expectations of what I want this holiday season to look like. In my quiet times I am begging God to keep my Christ in Christmas this year.

Besides working, parenting and ministering this week (you know, my normal, everyday activities), I've been trying to prep for Christmas - shopping for and buying gifts and decorating our home, etc. Despite feeling two weeks behind, God has been faithful to keep me focused on Him and not my notorious to-do lists.

As I've thought through things and tried to prayerfully approach my responsibilities one-at-a-time, I have found myself with the same question on repeat in my head:

"Would it still be Christmas if ________?"

Would it still be Christmas if we only put up one tree this year instead of two?
Would it still be Christmas if I don't put out all the Nativity scenes?
Would it still be Christmas if we don't track down the toy that she said she wanted?
Would it still be Christmas if I don't mail out Christmas cards, or put lights outside or hand make the girls' teachers' gifts?

Each time I ask myself the question, the Holy Spirit gently whispers, "yes" into my heart.

Jesus will still be celebrated in my heart and in our home no matter if any or all of these things happen or not. My husband and I have that decisively clear in our priorities. These items will not take precedent over the true meaning of the holiday.

If I allow all these things to be so distracting to me, what message am I sending to my daughters? I do not want them to experience me overwhelmed and stressed by these frivolous details that they miss what Christmas really is. If that were to happen, then Christ wouldn't be in Christmas for us.

Even if by some Christmas miracle all my unrealistic, Martha Stewart expectations are met but I have failed to keep Him first, then it would not be Christmas at all - not for us, not for me. Christmas is so much more than that. My daughters need to see through my actions and attitudes what Christmas is all about. By God's grace, this will happen in how I approach my crazy lists and voices in my own head.

Regardless of how I approach this holiday season, it will be Christmas. Jesus' incarnation, Immanuel's arrival will be marked and celebrated. It will still be Christmas. Praise Him - it will be Christmas.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Christmas Influence

I can’t tell you how many times I have rewritten this little article.

Honestly, I am simply overwhelmed. December has begun and I feel so very, very behind. My mind is swimming with all the things I feel like I have to do. I feel the anxiety growing with each item I add to my ever-increasing to-do list.

My feelings have already gotten the best of me and I have the whole month ahead of me.

When I rose early this morning for my time alone with God, the advent devotional I read really convicted me. In all the preparations I feel like I must make for Christmas, I realized that I must prepare myself.

John the Baptist was sent to prepare the people for Jesus’ arrival. God had thousands of years of history in place before the time was “full” for His birth.

And like the lesson of every animated Christmas special or holiday movie ever made, Christmas is not about the wrappings, presents or decorations. As Christians we know that it is so much deeper than Hollywood puts forth.

I need to prepare myself to celebrate the coming of Christ. The gifts will get bought and wrapped. The baking may be done by Publix, but it will be done none-the-less. The house may not be as festively put together as I had envisioned. But, I will stop daily this month to reflect on what Christmas truly means to me personally.

As a momma, I am well aware that my tone, my mood, my outlook directly influences that of every member of our home, right down to the two Yorkies. I want my children to have a great Christmas. However, more importantly, I want them to remember how Christ’s arrival was celebrated. I know that this begins with me.

So with every decoration placed, gift desire discussed and holiday event prepped for, I am asking God that my feelings will reflect His arrival in my heart. As a result, I can let Him use this “happiest time of the year” to truly help my house keep Christ the center of Christmas.

As a minister's wife, I also know that my attitude is reflected in the ministry that my husband and I have as well. Christmas and how it is celebrated is influenced in my approach far beyond even the walls of my own home. It is a part of every conversation and event at our church as well. 

Would you pray for me that I will have a positive influence of Christmas in our ministry? Would you pray for me that I could do this in the Vinson home too? I will be praying for you!