Practical Planning Before the Holidays

imageIf you’re like me, the holidays can sneak up on you, and before you know it, they are dragging you and your family around by your shirt collars. By the time New Years hits, you need rest before you can even think about resolutions.

I’m not a planner, but a few years back, God led me to start being more intentional about how to keep the Lord front and center during the holidays. To rethink some of our traditions, to pray through necessities of time and money, service and giving. As a result, this handout was born. I can’t think of a better time to start brainstorming than this month before Thanksgiving, especially since the retailers go straight from Halloween to Christmas. 

Please feel free to download this and pass it on:

Practical Ways to Let Your Light Shine at Christmas by LauraLee Shaw






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How Can I Give Thanks?


No, this isn’t a Thanksgiving post. And yes, this is a thanksgiving post!

Some time ago, I did an exercise in brevity as a prompt from a writers’ group. Using only six words, one of mine went like this…

Got troubles?
Got heartaches?
Get God!

On the same day as the prompt, one of my devotional books used the Scripture Philippians 4:6 for its basis, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” (NKJV)

Do we really think about and obey this verse?
With all the stress that bombards us these days, it is sometimes difficult to stay on track with the Word, isn’t it?

With all the issues going on in our family and extended family at that time, the highest thing on my mind was, and still is: Be anxious for nothing. May no distracting thoughts drain my focus away from the Lord.

I learned a long time ago to praise the Lord when anything begins to stir up the still waters of my heart and mind.

Praise and thanksgiving form the foundation of our prayers.
Every trifling tremor of turmoil attempting to upset our harmony is to be brought to the foot of the Throne…and left there! Praising God for His hand at work in whatever it is we need.

If we obey that verse, what does the next verse promise us? “Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:7 NLT)

You may be having tremendous difficulties in your life right now, but I pray that you will give the Lord your praise and gratitude, revealing to Him your trust and faith.

May you experience the Lord’s peace as you give Him praise this Thanksgiving!

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Expectant devotions for new and expectant moms

How far is the distance between your parenting expectations  and your reality? Becoming a mom has a way of surpassing and squashing our expectations at the same time. It’s a weird and wonderful thing, this journey of growing into a mama. For those just starting out, it helps to have a guide for growing your own life while growing your family. EXPECTANT, 40 devotions for new and expectant moms, is that guide.

Whether we join the adventure biologically or through adoption, experience has a way of changing our expectations. Honest moms who can remember will admit to announcing they would never use TV as a babysitter, never let a child play with (or suck on?) a cell phone, and never host a food fight in a restaurant. But then we receive our children from God’s sufficient and slightly humorous hands, humbling us and showing us how much we have to learn. We find that being a mom is as much about giving grace to our children as it has been about receiving it as a woman.

Every heart is Expectant

God has a tender heart towards moms balancing their young ones, and He promises a gentle leading when we need it most. After all, most of us could park a mini-van in the space between our expectations of being a mom and the realities! God’s word has hope for the heart of an expectant mom.

“He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.” (Isaiah 40:11 - ESV)

Every journey into motherhood is unique, and every mother’s heart is Expectant. The 40 practical devotions tackle real issues like changes in your body, your marriage, your work, and your schedule. Expectant helps new moms think through necessary transitions to find hope and confidence right there on the changing table or playground. Moms say this devotional should be read before the baby arrives and AGAIN, after the baby arrives!

Features of Expectant

  • Sections for You, Other Grown-Ups, the Baby, and Your New Normal
  • Biblical wisdom for every mom’s real needs
  • Short passages of scripture, just right for when you’re feeding or before you fall asleep
  • Questions to use with a friend, partner, or small group

Holding on to Hope author Nancy Guthrie says, “In Expectant, Julie Sanders is somehow able to capture the realities of real-life pregnancy and motherhood without crushing the wonder of it all. Filled with insight and wisdom, this book will turn nine months of growing bigger into nine months of going deeper with God, preparing you to be the godly mother you really want to be.”

Do you have a new mom or a mom-to-be on your Christmas list this year? Look for ways to encourage her heart and help her on the new and unfamiliar journey of motherhood.

  1. Stop by to pray with her and give her a hand massage
  2. Clean her house for her as she gets close to “go time”
  3. Send her a card with scriptures assuring her of God’s gentle care
  4. Ask her how SHE is doing and how she feels in her heart
  5. Choose a gift book like Expectant to feed her spirit and soul

In this season of giving thanks, let’s celebrate knowing that every journey into motherhood is unique, and every mother’s heart is Expectant.
Like a lot of babies, EXPECTANT is a little overdue ;) It is available NOW for pre-order through Barnes and Noble or as an ebook through Amazon. Look here for news about the anticipated arrival of EXPECTANT on December 1st.

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3 Things Our Kids Learn When We Aren’t Thankful

3 Things Our Kids Learn When We Aren't Thankful - The MOM Initaitive

photo courtesy: unsplash

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, many of us are making conscious efforts to be more thankful. This is such a great thing because unfortunately, there is an epidemic of ingratitude in America.

Even though we have SO much for which to be thankful, we many times fail to see our blessings and can only think about the hard things in life.

One of the major problems with this epidemic among adults is that our kids are learning from us.

Here are 3 things our kids learn when we fail to practice thanksgiving.

3 Things Our Kids Learn When We Aren’t Thankful:

 1. They learn they don’t need to be thankful. 

Wouldn’t it be nice if simply telling our kids to be thankful was enough for them to learn gratitude? 

Unfortunately, we all know that’s not how it works. 

The old saying, “More is caught than taught,” is true. Our  kids are much more likely to learn thankfulness if they see it lived out in our lives and vice versa. If we aren’t thankful, they will likely learn to be ungrateful too. 

2. They learn to focus on the negative. 

Life is hard enough as it is. Our children don’t need to go into adulthood expecting the worst to happen to them. 

Instead, they need to enter adulthood knowing that even though hard things sometimes happen, they can still have joy in the midst of pain because of their Savior and His presence in their lives. 

We can’t control everything that happens to us (and neither can our kids), but we (and they) can control how we react to our circumstances…and whether we seek to find joy in the midst of it or not. 

3. They learn Jesus isn’t enough. 

Ouch…this one hurts, doesn’t it? But it’s true.

When our children fail to see thankfulness in our  lives, they learn that stuff and circumstances determine joy, rather than Jesus. If we can only be thankful when everything is going well in our lives, then we’re teaching our kids that those are the things that make someone happy. 

On the other hand, when our kids see us praising Jesus through our storms, they learn thankfulness in all things. They learn gratitude is possible, even in the hard. And they learn Jesus is enough for joy. 

What other things do you think we teach our kids when we fail to be thankful? 

*photo courtesy: unsplash

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Praying Deuteronomy 5:29 for Your Kids


Just on the heels of receiving the 10 Commandments, Moses read them to God’s people and they were afraid to go near to God so they sent Moses to go meet with God instead of going for themselves and it was then and there that the Lord spoke to Moses and said, “Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!” (Deuteronomy 5)

God longs for His people to long for Him.

May your children and mine long for Him…

Oh that they would have such a heart that they would fear God and always keep all of His commandments, that it would be well with them and their children.

That’s my prayer for my sons. That’s my prayer for your sons and daughters. 

How can we pray for you and your children today?