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Thriving in Real Life

What Shall We Do? | Sisters

Oh those moments when my sisters and I used to sit, stand, etc. or a combination thereof, and try to figure out what to do together! Or maybe I should say agree on what we were going to do together? It was such an issue for my sisters and I that we even made a home film out of it! Please tell me we’re not the only sisters who’ve had this problem?! :)

Put Them First: The first and foremost thing I’ve discovered about this whole ‘what do we do’ scenario – sometimes you just plain have to put yourself on the back burner and do something that is not at the top of your list!

“…but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3b-4)

Combine Ideas: The second thing I’ve discovered – sometimes you can get three birds with one stone! In our sister trio we have an artist, a musician who happens to be a splendid reader and a gal who likes to write and do just about everything from knit to nothing. Solution: One sister reads aloud (from a book or story being written) and the other two work on their projects of choice, even if that means just listening. Presto! We’re together and everyone can do something they enjoy. I’ve so many happy memories on this one!

Having said that here are some other fun things I’ve enjoyed doing with my sisters. Hope they are an inspiration as you invest in your own sisters and as you decide ‘what to do’ in those fun free moments together!

  • Playing dolls
  • Playing paper dolls
  • Dress up (I don’t think this one is age sensitive! :)
  • Playing instruments together
  • Babysitting
  • Attending a classical concert
  • Listening to an audio drama
  • Pitching in on a joint gift for our parents
  • Rooming together and talking up a storm
  • One sister makes something delicious and the other two help her eat it! :) (Someone made healthy brownies here this weekend. I know, you poor folks, you really missed out. And yes, I need to take lessons from this sister of mine!)
  • Having a ‘just us’ dinner while Dad and Mom are on the road or on a date
  • And this is a double on point 2 above, but I’m going to mention it anyway! One sister writes a story and shares it piece by piece as it’s written – talk about fun! But beware – late nights can happen easily! :)

What do you enjoy doing with your sisters?! I’d love to hear!

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” Philippians 2:5-7

 

Truths for the New Year

As 2018 gets its feet firmly on the ground and we’re jumping from the start line on New Years goals, here’s a couple truths that are encouraging my heart:

He IS our Strength. What He calls us to do, He is ready to give us the strength to do. So no matter how massive or exciting or painful your New Year may look, take heart. As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we have a reservoir of strength that never runs dry.

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

“I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)

He IS Perfect. There will be moments this year when we miss a step towards a goal or mess up. At such times it’s easy to get focused on our failures which can lead to discouragement. Instead, we need to turn our eyes to Christ and rejoice that He IS perfect – even when we aren’t. Our perfection loving hearts can be satisfied in Him.

Besides, He IS at work in us as believers (despite our mud puddles) and someday we will finally completely reflect His holiness. But until then, the next time your eyes want to stick to your tennis shoes even when the mud is forgiven and gone, turn your eyes upward to our Heavenly Father and remember that He is the Perfect One. You might be surprised to find yourself back up and running in short order! :)

“…as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48b)

“being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)

What truths are encouraging your heart this New Year? I’d love to hear! Drop a line in the comments and let me know!

What I Love About Christmas

(Special Note: Celebrations are a special part of life, but sometimes believers in Christ have differences of opinion as to which ones ought to be celebrated and how. I personally love celebrating Christmas, but I have friends in Jesus who choose not to. And I highly respect their courage to do what they feel the Lord wants their family to do and support them in that choice! If you’re family prefers not to celebrate Christmas, please just take these thoughts in context of another Christ-honoring holiday your family does celebrate! Hugs, Melanie)

Christmas! Where do I even start? Last year I was unable to do much in the way of Christmas extras due to health and it was disappointing!! But it forced me to step back and ask myself: What is Christmas for me personally?

And it boiled down to this: Remembering that Christ came and thanking Him for coming.

If I’ve done that, I’ve had Christmas in its deepest sense. And that means that wherever the Lord takes me in my journey of life, I can celebrate Christmas! In a hospital room, in a remote village in Africa, in a tiny apartment, in a castle, an airplane, an Australian island…wherever! Because it has to do with my heart and my response to the Lord, not the trimmings. Glorious thought, isn’t it?!

Having said that, the trimmings can help to remind me of core truths I do not want to forget!! Here are a few things I love about Christmas and the important things they remind me of!

Celebrating Jesus: Hold on! Let me explain here! My mother shared a fun idea with me when I was little and I’m carrying on the tradition now myself as a woman grown: Giving Jesus a birthday gift! This reminds me it is His birthday we’re celebrating! This year part of my gift to Jesus was helping fill a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child. (Isn’t this puppy adorable?! Hope he makes you smile today! :) So excited that a child somewhere in the world will not only get to hug this puppy but hear about Jesus!

Beautiful Decorations: Decorating for Christmas is such a fun opportunity to remind myself and reflect to others that God is a God of beauty and holiness. The sparkle of lights, the tasteful arrangement of a table centerpiece, the orderly design of ornaments upon a Christmas tree…

Handel’s Messiah: Attending or listening to Handel’s Messiah is something that is a real part of Christmas for me. It’s a series of Scripture verses on the life of Christ strung together in a beautiful oratorio. It reminds me that Christ is the center of all of life. (We attended as sing along version at Finney Chapel – Oberlin College – this year!)

Family Time: Family time is something I treasure over the holidays. A game by the fireside, watching/attending Christmas concerts together, picking out and bringing home the tree, audio drama listening with my sisters, gift giving, day trips…family time can be such a joy and remind me that outside of my relationship with Christ, these are the most precious relationships I have.

Time with Friends: When I’m blessed to enjoy time with friends around the holidays it can remind me afresh of what’s eternal! The Lord, His Word and people last forever – that is where I need to invest my time the most in the new year!

Giving Gifts: Selecting and giving gifts at Christmas is such a privilege! It reminds me that it is more blessed to give than to receive. The anticipation of their enjoyment when they open the package is worth waiting for! (Please tell me though I’m not the only one who can have a hard time not spilling the beans ahead of time by some random comment that tells where I went shopping?!?! :)

Festive Yumminess: And yes, let’s add this one: Tasting and seeing that He is good! Remembering that He IS good is in season any time of the year! Homemade vanilla ice cream anyone? :)

So, to sum it all up, what I love about Christmas is: Jesus Christ. I love rejoicing in what He has done, and doing things that remind me of Him, His perspective and His priorities. We are SO blessed to know Jesus Christ!

May your heart be full of joy as you celebrate Him this wonderful season and all through the year!

What is Christmas to you? What do you love about Christmas? I’d love to hear!

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” Luke 2:11-12

 

Forgiveness | Sisters

A joke of mine about our family at a recent hotel stop was that we were traveling with everything AND the kitchen sink! It was really worth a smile. :) (I won’t even tell you how much of the ‘stuff’ was mine – be assured, I’m planning for reform! :)

But something that I’m very grateful for about our family is our desire to ‘travel light’ so far as relationships go.

From an early age my mom taught my sisters and I how to ask one another’s forgiveness. We’ve continued that practice through the years. The choice to say ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘Please forgive me’ helps us to not carry emotional baggage that damages relationships. My sisters are both good forgivers (I’ve given them lots of practice!) and I definitely seek to be a good forgiver as well. After all, the Lord has forgiven me so much, how can I not extend the same to my sisters?

So be encouraged today, the painful process of asking forgiveness when you’ve wronged a sibling and the sometimes challenging choice to forgive a repentant sibling, reaps tremendous rewards!

It strengthens our relationship with our siblings and our relationship with God.

And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void to offence toward God, and toward men. Acts 24:16

Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. Matthew 5:23-24

Scripture Memory | Sisters

Something else that has had a big impact on my relationship with my sisters is Scripture Memory! For example, it helps me to radiate more joy since God’s Word actually brings joy to our heart (Psalm 19:8). And, in case you were wondering, joyful big sisters are a pretty nice idea. :)

This happened to me on our recent trip home from visiting family. At the end of a trip, it can be easy to look and feel like…I’ve been on the road awhile.

Towards the end of our ride, I took my Bible from it’s snug place in the back pocket of the chair in front of me, prayed for focus and dug in for some Scripture Memory review time. Talk about refreshing!! Let’s say my true joy levels grew. :) I was able to unload the van with a positive attitude (it was done so fast?!) and enjoy washing dishes that night. I was a more positive person to be around that evening, which does wonders for family relationships.

So be encouraged today, the time you personally invest in hiding God’s Word in your heart not only builds your relationship with God, but positively affects the way you interact with your siblings!

On a fun bonus note, sisters can provide tremendous Scripture Memory incentive too. I worked on memorizing my first ‘big’ book of the Bible because Kristen challenged me to do so. My sisters sometimes ask me ‘Where is the verse that says…’. I love nailing the verse with very little hesitation – if I can’t…oo! There’s motivation to spend more time in the Word! :)

How have you seen Scripture Memory help you in your relationship with your siblings? How have your siblings helped you with Scripture Memory? I’d love to hear!

“The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.” Psalm 19:8

Counting Blessings

As November 2017 takes it’s place on the shelves of good memories, I’m thankful for friends and family who’ve encouraged me to be thankful.

Thankfulness has changed my life because it has changed my perspective. When I focus on all that God has done and is doing, I’m filled with hope and joy! When I focus on everything that’s going wrong or what I don’t have…let’s just say that’s not a recipe for success! :)

Over five years ago my friend Miranda challenged me to write down 1,000 things I was thankful for and gave me a journal. Well, as someone who can find those sorts of spiritual challenges irresistible, I took her up on it! :) Soon my mom blessed me with another journal for writing down things I was thankful for.

My friend Sarah organized a November thanksgiving challenge – 7 things a day for a whole month. It started just a few days after I hit the ‘1,000’ milestone. I liked writing down 7 things so much I told her I was thinking of carrying it into December (or something like that! This was about five years ago!). Ooo, now I was extra committed! :)

And that, my friends, coupled with Sarah’s continuing to organize thanksgiving challenges for several years, did it.

I’m still writing and still counting! Rarely does a day go by without my writing down at least three things I’m thankful for. There’s a bunch of journals at my house to prove it!  (Not to mention notes in quiet time journals when I was traveling!) Thousands of God’s blessings have been recorded – and there are so many left unwritten!

As a result, the attitude of gratitude, of looking for things to be thankful for, has become such a special part of my life. I think that’s another reason why I haven’t quit! I’m so thankful for Miranda, for my mom and for Sarah. Their encouragement has had a life-changing impact! My levels of hope and joy are higher – and you are far more likely to catch me with a positive attitude!

How about you, friend? Thanksgiving is past but being thankful is never out of season. Could I challenge you to write down 100 things you’re thankful for? To write a few (even seven!!) a day and then take the time to thank the Lord for them?

If you do and keep doing, it just might change your life.

It’s changed mine!

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 

1 Thessalonians 5:18

A Smile for Your Day

May the Lord give us eyes to see the sweet things that can make us smile! :)

A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.

Proverbs 15:13

Bible Study | Sisters

Something that has been a huge help to me in my relationship with my sisters is Bible study. On a personal level, studying out God’s thoughts in His Word can generate peace of mind for me because I can know what’s on His heart about a particular topic. It helps me see and live with more clarity – and peace.

Then, particularly as the eldest sister, it enables me to be a better example and advisor to the precious gals I call my sisters – all three of us give advice to each other pretty frequently! :)

And third, being a part of the same Bible study group as my sisters is a fun way to both dig into God’s Word and spend time together. There’s something bonding about studying the same topic and connecting with others together. (Bonus: If you’re being challenged to bridge an age gap with a younger sister, being a part of (or starting!!) a Bible study group that includes both your ages might be a great way to start making a fresh connection between you.)

So today, be encouraged!! The time you are spending studying God’s Word and applying it to your life is a major boost to positive relationships with your sisters! 

Have a wonderful day with your sisters rejoicing in God’s Word!

Love in Him,

Melanie

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2:15

Prayer – Part 2 | Sisters

Something that has blessed me tremendously in my relationship with my sisters is praying specific Scripture verses for the three of us! Micah 6:8, Luke 2:52, and Matthew 22:37-39 are just a few of the ones I use. This particular set is on index cards in recipe card slip covers (protects them for the long term :) and I keep them in my prayer card basket. Prayer and Scripture are such a great combination!

Do you enjoy praying Scripture for your siblings?! What verses do you like to use? I’d love to hear your favorites! 

Love in Christ,

Melanie

“Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;”

Colossians 4:2

Melanie Thomsen

Melanie Thomsen

Christ-follower. Discipleship Mentor. Writer. Photographer.

Hello sister!

Welcome to the Lifestyle blog! This is where I write from my heart about walking out the five decisions in the real world of daily life and the incredible difference it makes. Won’t you join me on this journey of seeking to flourish in Christ?! Pull up a chair, drop a comment and introduce yourself. I’d love to hear from you!

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Version or the New International Version (1984).

 

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright © 1973,1978,1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.