My Turning Page: A Christmas Devotional

a christmas devotional

This is the final devotional in our Diva Christmas Series 2018, “The Best Christmas Ever!” I can’t believe it either, but Christmas is one week away! Here is my contribution to the series, which I truly hope provided some enjoyment and intimacy with God this season for you.

Here are all of the links for this year’s series if you missed any! Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7, Day 8, Day 9(particularly relevant to my devotional today!)

If you’re craving more Christmas devotionals, feel free to use our search bar for the past 4 years of Christmas devotionals!


A little background info on our Diva Christmas Series: Every year I’ve been editor, I like to celebrate the Christmas season with a special series and theme. This is year 5!! This year’s theme is “The Best Christmas Ever.” Submissions are closed, but if you’d like to read more about the series, here is my post announcing the series!

This is my final post until next year — post baby and post international move!

I love how everyone had their own interpretation of “the best Christmas ever.” This series turned out better than I could have imagined. Every year in the late summer or fall I pray for God to give me the idea for the year’s Christmas series. It never comes right away, but He always delivers.

I’d hoped that everyone would get the idea I was introducing with this year’s series…Gifts do not necessarily a best Christmas make, but the togetherness, the generosity, the feelings.

In fact, I think the best word for what I’m describing is not an English word. What comes to mind is “hygge,” a Danish word and custom. Here’s a great explanation of hygge from Oxford Dictionaries: 

“A quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture)”

That is Christmastime, isn’t it?

The best Christmas I ever had was in 2012. It was the first Christmas in a long time that I wasn’t dealing with depression. I had been living in Chicago with my husband at our first military duty station for about 6 months. I finally found the right solutions to crawl out of my pit of depression and anxiety. For me that meant the right medication and therapy, but God placed other significant events in my life that year that healed me as well. Christmas 2012 was my turning page, and it was magic.

I went home to Iowa for a couple weeks during November 2012 for my sister-in-law’s wedding. Sadly my husband wasn’t able to go along. All of our family and friends, I think, noticed the huge difference in me. I felt good.

I remember being on the phone with my husband and mentioning that I thought I wanted to get a white Christmas tree — it would actually be our first tree together and I was so excited.

He was able to come back to Iowa for Thanksgiving, and we went home to Chicago together after that.

We listened to Christmas music on the drive home, and I was ready to get our house decorated! I made many plans in my head, including where to start looking for my dream white Christmas tree.

We arrived home, and after greeting our kitties, I saw the most perfect white Christmas tree I could have ever imagined sitting the corner of our living room.

Christmas was here. We were a new family. Together, we would decorate this tree and, maybe in a few years, decorate it with our kids. We would make new memories around this tree — and be done with bad memories. The tree was a new beginning for me, and my husband loved me enough to surprise me with it.

That Christmas season truly was my best ever. Full of new memories and traditions (and that hygge feeling!).

Merry Christmas, everyone.

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October Editor’s Note: My Big News

Hello, October!

Back in my June Editor’s Note (here), I kind of talked about surprises that change all your plans. There was a lot going on for me that time of the year, and I wasn’t prepared to share all of it then. 

As I wrote in that post, I went back to Iowa with my toddler in May after a nice deployment visit with my husband in Croatia. At that time, he was in the middle of a 6-month deployment.

Two days after we arrived in Iowa, my grandma suddenly died the day before Mother’s Day. It turned out to be a very melancholy Mother’s Day, especially for my dad. I was also putting things together for little O’s 3rd birthday party. I missed my husband, and everything just felt crazy. And it was about to get even crazier.

You might have already figured out the “big news” by now. 

On O’s third birthday, I went to the doctor for a check-up. And there, I found out we had another baby on the way. Certainly, after the loss of my grandma, this was a bright spot.

We are so happy and feel so blessed. But, as with O, I’ve had a bit of a difficult pregnancy. I would not be able to get through without our families! I am so, so grateful.

I have had to cut back on what I am doing in all areas of my life (even now that I’m back in Italy) and take care of myself. My mother-in-law is here helping me out too while Brandon is away again (again, thank God for family.)

That’s why this post will be the last until our Christmas series begins. And after Christmas, Devotional Diva will be on hiatus until sometime in the spring.

Because in addition to a new baby girl in January, we’re moving back to the US in February! 

I’m going to re-insert the scripture I included in that June Editor’s Note here. It’s the motto for my life right now!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. 

Proverbs 3:5-6
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July Editor’s Note

I enjoyed connecting with you in my June Editor’s Note, so I’m going to try to make this a regular monthly thing.

How are you? I keep comments closed on Devotional Diva now to reduce rude comments and in-fighting, but I love hearing from you guys. I’m always monitoring the Devotional Diva Facebook page and Instagram, and enjoy reading emails from you! Please feel welcome to connect with me on social media.

I never really announced comments closing, but I got real tired of comments like “too bad God isn’t real” and confusing arguments between commenters. I don’t like to feed into that. I feel like it’s less of a temptation for those people if they can’t directly comment on the post. I hope that you understand, and you don’t feel like the closed comment section means I don’t want to hear from you, or don’t appreciate your opinions. I do. Please feel free to reach out.

As for me, I’m just about done with my time back in the states. It went really quick this time. But I’m ready to go home and soon reunite with my husband, whenever he is done with this deployment!

We had a nice summer here and it’s wonderful to spend time with family and friends. I’m blessed to have a hometown to come back to when I need.

 

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June Editor’s Note

I wanted to open June with a quick note from me. I don’t check in enough, and take a backseat to editing instead.

2018 is really turning out to be a year of surprises and uncertainty for me. I really thought I knew where this year was headed, and I’m completely wrong. We plan and God laughs, right?

Without going into tons of details in this short post, stress is high. My grandmother suddenly died. My husband’s deployment is ever-changing and lengthening. And I am continually reminded of God’s commandment to rest. I may need to put less pressure on myself as I tend to do.

Even though my grand plans for this year may not be working out how I’d like…well, I’m not the one really writing the plans here.

You might have noticed I updated the DevotionalDiva logo and theme! That’s part of the #Diva10 DevotionalDiva 10th anniversary celebration. I’ll have more to share with you when DD actually turns 10 in the fall.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

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Longing for Loneliness

longing for loneliness

Longing for Loneliness 

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest story by Ann Grace. Boy, this devotional hit me hard. Ann is a remarried widow and military wife and mom of five with just an amazing story. Her heart inspires me. Look out for more devotionals from her because she’s got a lot more to her story, and a lot more to say. This devotional in particular is about “longing for loneliness.”]

I thought I knew what loneliness was, and I avoided it at all costs. Before my husband
died, there were many times I felt lonely and ran from it. I filled my schedule with errands, my days with household chores, and it seemed to help.

Life of this wife and mother of five was endless hours of cleaning and chauffeuring children to and from their schools. Don’t even get me started with helping with homework while holding a newborn and trying to cook a healthy dinner to be warm when my husband came home from work. Life was busy. It was chaotic. There was always something needing to be done. The laundry seemed like it had a vendetta against me, and orphaned socks were constantly screaming at me to find their pair!

I grew used to filling my lonely heart with the busyness of this life. I read my daily 5 minute devotionals, said my prayers before meals and went to countless Bible studies. My husband loved the Lord as much as I did, and we did our weekly ritual of attending church. We both strived to live for Christ as best as we knew how.

For years, the presence of my husband and kids seemed to be all I needed in life. Or at least that’s what I thought should be enough. I never admitted feeling lonely to anyone, myself included, unless I was ready to be judged. And I wasn’t ready. Where I grew up, being lonely was almost shameful, like you were ungrateful for your life, family, etc… It was kind of like there was something wrong with the person, you know?

The night my husband died, I asked him if he was in any pain, and he whispered ever so softly that he wasn’t. He closed his eyes and fell asleep. That would be the last time I spoke with him as he had a heart attack in his sleep. I remember thinking as I was by his side in all this, “Lord, how am I going to face being alone? Why won’t you heal him?”

I desperately feared being alone.

And in that moment of heartbreak and disbelief, loneliness once again showed up to greet me. Within minutes of his passing, friends and family arrived to comfort me. But no one knew just what to say or could understand how lonely I was feeling. And honestly, all I wanted was to be left alone.

Then the Lord allowed me into a season of loneliness.

He allowed a season of loneliness in my life to create a deeper longing for Him. Husband or no husband, my heart was crying out all these years to go deeper with my Savior. To be alone with Him. To hear His voice. I needed now more than ever to know who I was in Christ.

What was my calling? To be a wife? Mother? Widow?

My life was now being redefined in the midst of this loneliness.

My identity was so wrapped up in preventing a void of loneliness that I forgot to know my King. I let the fear of loneliness drive my life into a pit of even more loneliness. In the end, the Lord allowed heartbreak to reveal a need for Him alone. He saved me. He called me deeper. He called me to love harder. He called me to a season of widowhood so that He could save me from the pit of loneliness I’d crawled into.

In the years following his passing, the Lord has shown me many things, but maybe none more profound than the gift of loneliness. And you know what was most comforting, knowing that Jesus needed to be alone too. If Jesus needed to be alone many times in order to spend quality time with God, then why would I think a busy life, husband or quick devotion would be enough?

“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:16 NIV

Dear Lord, help our lonely hearts long for a deeper need of You. Comfort us in our times of pain and heartache. Let us bask in our season of loneliness knowing You are with us. Take our broken hearts and fill them once more with your unconditional love. Amen. 

ann grace

Ann Grace married her first husband, a Marine and Firefighter in 2002 and they were blessed with five beautiful children. She was widowed in 2015 and re-married in 2017. She had a stillbirth in 2017 and now seeks to share her passion of how Christ rescued her with other grieving women and children.

 

 

 

Thanks for reading! Blog comments are closed. You can follow Devotional Diva on Facebook here, on Instagram here @devotional_diva, on Twitter here @devotionaldiva and email me, Maggie, at editor(at)devotionaldiva(dot)com anytime. If you’d like to join our email list to receive new posts, please follow this link.

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Freestyle Faith: Breaking the Glass Ceiling

freestyle faith

[Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from Ronel Sidney’s new book, Freestyle Faith: Around the Table. I feel so blessed to share this excerpt with you today. I think all women know that there are things that happen to women in this world that just aren’t right (understatement), and the more we speak up the more things will change. We can change things. P.S. military friends, this one is for you, too!]

Freestyle Faith: Breaking the Glass Ceiling

No glass ceiling was ever shattered by a whiner.”–Melanie Hope

Struggling and pushing to breakthrough to uncharted territory can be daunting and painful. Women have been treated as less capable and valuable than men for years, and yet many people do not want to discuss the topic. Much like avoiding talks of racism, people think if we pretend it does not exist then we can continue life without making any waves. The problem with this idea is that not talking or fighting to change the stigma keeps us stuck in the cycle of labeling, marginalizing and holding women back from reaching their full potential.

Recently I heard someone describe breaking the glass ceiling in a broader sense of the phrase. Breaking the glass ceiling is when you embark on pushing outside the box of what you were told was normal or acceptable in society or even in your family of origin. This description really intrigued me and gave me words to describe how I had been feeling for years. Guilt, shame and striving for acceptance kept me from speaking out or even breaking out of the “box” I was told was good enough for me and my life.

It began in my last year of high school, when my father and brother sat down with a military recruiter and it was as if I did not exist. The whole conversation was about what the military could do for my brother. There was no mention of what it could provide me and my future. The stigma of women in the military has been fought for years before me; however, women are still fighting to gain recognition and acceptance among their male counterparts. I have been “voted out” of offices, told I could not attend school, and even told by my own recruiter that I would do fine in the Navy because I was “decent” looking. I am sure you can imagine my surprise at these words.

The way we treat woman in the military and society in general keeps them stuck and often silenced about the wrongdoing that occurs aboard ships, during deployments and in the world environment. It is much like when you leave home and realize the way you were raised was not exactly conducive for the reality of the outside world.

We all come to a point of fight or flight. In some ways, I wish I could run from the glass ceiling, and yet, I have been able to break through it enough times to know the pain is worth the reward. Dealing with the intangible barriers within society and the military was expected; however, the barriers I faced within the church and my family took me by surprise.  Fighting for a position or school in the military was much easier than fighting for a place at the table in the church. Being told I could attend classes with men at church but could only perform some of the duties because I am a woman infuriates me to no end. I tried to stay and wait patiently for change, but why do we do this to women?

Why do we tell women they aren’t equal to men or they are incapable of doing what a man can do in ministry?

Acceptance is easy. Fighting to break the mold can be depleting. While attending seminary, I realized the truth was that we allowed men to keep us from being equal in order to make them feel okay with our presence. How crazy is that? We are minimized because of their insecurities and inability to accept us as equals in work, home, life and ministry? Seems a bit old school.

I have come to accept that we have two choices. We can stay within whatever system minimizes us, or we can choose to do things differently. In the military, I had no choice but to fight. In ministry and the church, I decided not to fight and instead begin a new journey outside the Sunday morning meeting and the building we call church. Within my family of origin, I have also decided to reject the “rules” of acceptance in order to embark on a journey of healing and self-discovery.

The choice is yours. You get to navigate this life with God, and He will give you the power to make changes in whatever situation you face in life. I believe the hardest part of breaking the glass ceiling is choosing not to whine and instead to be a part of changing the way women are perceived in the world. Yes, there will be women who make choices we may not agree with. However, standing together and fighting for equality is a must for the next generation.

I do not have a daughter, but I pray my nieces have less of a fight ahead of them because of the battles I decided to fight. I pray they have more opportunities because of other women who choose to fight and stand up to the stigmas of our culture. Mostly, I pray that we as women can begin to see our worth and value together and not in competition with one another.

Excerpt from Freestyle Faith: Around the Table by Ronel Sidney 

freestyle faith around the table

ronel sidneyRonel Sidney was born and raised in Northern California but, has made San Diego home with her husband and son. She has a business degree and works as a contractor for the United States Navy. As the National Director of Praise and Coffee she has a passion for encouraging women to share life and faith outside religious obligation.

Thanks for reading! Blog comments are closed. You can follow Devotional Diva on Facebook here, on Instagram here @devotional_diva, on Twitter here @devotionaldiva and email me, Maggie, at editor(at)devotionaldiva(dot)com anytime. If you’d like to join our email list to receive new posts, please follow this link.

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Reunited

reunited military family

Reunited

I don’t always feel comfortable writing or speaking on my life as a military wife, but I’m realizing lately that it’s important.

My life as a military wife is deeply personal and for security reasons as well, I don’t share details of my life until long after it has happened.

But as the editor of Devotional Diva, I need to continue to share my story. Sharing our stories is one the most powerful ways to affect change. *PSA: Want to share your story too? See this link about guest blogging on Devotional Diva.

Due to a deployment, my husband was separated from me and my son for four months. We just recently reunited in the States (where my son and I were). To be honest, becoming a family unit once again is an adjustment. We just traveled back to Europe, too, and are whooped (a full day of flying + 11 hours of driving to get to our final destination).

I like taking a short break at the end of the summer to refresh Devotional Diva for the fall, and having a break to focus on my reunited family will be nice. I always try to keep you guys up-to-date with the posting schedule, so the rest of this week and next will be off.

 

Thank you for reading! Blog comments are closed. Join the discussion on social media: You can follow Devotional Diva on Facebook here, on Instagram here @devotional_diva, on Twitter here @devotionaldiva and email me at editor(at)devotionaldiva(dot)com anytime.

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