Faith Spilling Over… Into Everyday Life


Three Secrets for Hanging on to Joy

Three Secrets for hanging on to JoyJoy might be the most important ingredient for an abundant life in Christ, yet it’s the one we lose most easily. I should know. I lost mine at the mini-mart last Thursday.

I’d hoped to make a lightning-quick convenience store run to pick up a few items I needed before leaving town. As I zoomed my cart up to the check out, the woman in front of me was just paying for her order. Perfect. 

However, the lady then asked for cigarettes. She got out a bank card to pay for them, but the machine wouldn’t take it. The checker proceeded to just wait. Five minutes turned into fifteen as he kept trying her card. Only one register was working, so other customers lined up behind me.

I’d love to say that I stayed calm and smiling. Instead, I started fuming. Why doesn’t he wait on the rest of us before trying her card again? Why don’t they open another register?

Ten minutes later, I huffed out of the mini-mart. I’d left my joy behind somewhere between the candy and the batteries at the check-out line.

I bet you’ve experienced similar hassles. Life is full of trials and troubles that threaten to ruin our days if we let them. The kids fight. You burn dinner.

Paul knew all about trouble, and he wrote us this bit of advice from a Roman jail. It’s every bit as fresh today as when he wrote it 2000 years ago:


More powerful than dynamite, this one little verse contains three secrets to hanging on to joy:

1. Rejoice in the Lord

Even in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, you have reasons to rejoice if you look to the Lord to find them. If you’ve put your faith in Christ, today you’re deeply loved, completely accepted, and fully forgiven by God. ** What if we started counting God’s kindnesses instead of complaining when things go wrong?

2. Let your gentleness be evident to all.

Nothing steals our joy like encounters with problematic people. You know them. They’re the ones like me in line at mini-mart: tired and grumpy. It’s counter-intuitive, but gentleness can be the strongest weapon we have for diffusing blow-ups with difficult people during our day. When the heat is on, a gentle word and a firm refusal to take offense can cool us down and calm the atmosphere. What if we made an extra effort to be gentle the next time the kids start fighting?

3. Remember the Lord is near.

What comfort it brings to remember that God is near to us whether we’re waiting at the auto repair shop or at the funeral home.  In His presence is fullness of joy. You can rest secure knowing that no matter what comes across your path, God is just a prayer a way. He’s got you covered, and He’ll respond quicker than you can call.

No matter what snafus you stumble upon today, look to the Lord if you need reasons to rejoice. Breathe deep and let your gentleness shine. Remember God is with you.

Now it’s your turn. Do you find it harder to hang on to joy in December?

Linking up with Holly Barrett, Meredith Bernard, Holley Gerth, and Jennifer Dukes Lee today. Check out these communities for more encouragement.

**This idea is from Search for Significance by Robert McGee.


Hot Drinks

hot drinks text

A hot drink on a chilly day warms the soul and brings cheer to dark December. In the Aegean city where I live, we rarely get snow, but the last week we’ve seen lots of rain. Cold, cloudy afternoons find us inside enjoying our Christmas lights and sipping something warm. My family’s favorites are hot apple cider, spiced chai latte and peppermint white chocolate mocha.

Here are recipes for you to try. They’re just a wee bit of extra trouble, but oh-so-worth it. Continue reading


Six Steps to Avoid the Holiday Frazzles

Holiday FrazzlesHave you noticed how Mom is the one who makes the holidays happen? Mom is the one who decorates, bakes, shops for gifts, prepares holiday meals, and plans special activities. Mom is also the one most likely to end up frazzled and snappy by the time Christmas rolls around. Continue reading


Best Ever Family Tradition that Rescues Christmas

best ever family traditionWhen I was growing up, Christmas was all about Santa Claus. I still remember the year I discovered Santa wasn’t real. I was in 3rd grade, and I’d heard unbelievable rumors from bigger kids at school. Christmas morning before the crack of dawn, I raced with my brothers to the Christmas tree and saw the doll I’d found hidden in Mom’s closet the week before. The gift tag on the doll said: “From Santa.” I was horrified. The big kids at school were right.

When I had children of my own, I chose not to go the Santa route, but gifts remain a central focus of the Christmas season. Many of us expend more energy buying, wrapping, and giving gifts than we do on any other activity in December. Continue reading


Our Dearest Love Letter and Greatest Treasure

dearest love letter

Twenty five years ago I met a handsome, funny, committed Christian guy and decided three days later that I’d marry him. I only had one problem. He got on a plane and went back to El Salvador, his home country.

How were my guy and I going get to know each other? Back in the days before cell phones, WhatsApp, and internet access at home, talking on the telephone was expensive.

One day the mailman brought me a treasure: a letter from Jose! Excited, I ripped open the envelope only to find that I couldn’t read his handwriting. Like a spy working feverishly to crack a code, I spent an hour deciphering the letter. Continue reading


Can a Broken Oven Ruin Thanksgiving?


Don’t you love those little snafus that crop up just when things seem to be running smoothly? They add spice to your life and provide you with opportunities to grow in patience, whether you want to or not!

Just when I was getting ready to enjoy Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday of the year, my oven broke. I’ll have to wait until the repairman’s visit on Wednesday to find out if I’m going to be able to use it to bake turkey, dressing, dinner rolls, and 4 pies for 20 people on Thursday.

I’d love to say that I kept praising the Lord and giving thanks last night when I realized that the darned oven was not heating up. But the truth is, I almost blew a gasket. Continue reading


Real-Life Hospitality: Come on into My Mess!

real life hospitalityI’ve decided it’s okay to invite people into my mess. Nothing builds community like opening our homes to friends and family, but Pinterest images of artistic decor and scrumptious food can intimidate us. Our living rooms definitely don’t look pin-worthy, and on top of that, we’re too busy to have company.

Living in Turkey, my family and I are surrounded by people who slow down enough to make time for community.  Turks ask you all the time just to drop by, and they are genuinely happy when you do. Their hospitality varies from elaborate, formal meals to quick cups of coffee in chaotic living rooms.

Don’t Wait for Perfect

Continue reading


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