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Missing link? Open this email for the answer!

Friends! THANK YOU for letting me know that the link in the Advent blog–the one that talked about how adoration is the antidote to anxiety–didn’t work.

(It’s actually kind of hilarious. An antidote to anxiety that you cannot download? Can’t make this stuff up.)

Anyhow.

It’s much better this way. Because now I can share both the blog with a link that (please God!) will work AND I can show you some pix.

Click here for the link to the original post. (And if the bots or whatever are still conspiring against us, head to JodieBerndt.com to download it that way.)

Advent printable on the blog

Once you download the file (and I promise, it’s easy), you can display the cards however you want. Here are a few creative ideas from our email friend group:

Advent Calendar display board

Creative Advent calendar

Advent cards with nativity

 

Tilly the cat and advent cards

Advent cards on mantel

See? It’s super easy. All you do is download, print, cut, and fold.

Folded Advent card

Jodie displaying Advent Cards

Every card features a different name or attribute of the Lord, plus a Scripture reference for context. (And if you’re wondering what any of this has to do with how we handle anxiety, read the blog to discover how praise has the power to change not just our attitudes but our actual brain!)

Advent begins tomorrow, November 27, but don’t let that timeline stress you out. The cards in this printable calendar begin on December 1–which means that you still have plenty of time to join us!

And y’all. I share a lot of printable resources during the year, but this one is my favorite. I’m not at all ready for Christmas, but I seriously cannot wait to adore God in a fresh way every day in December! Hope you’ll join me.

xo – Jodie

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Advent calendar offers anxiety antidote

Advent begins on Sunday.

I know. That feels fast. We haven’t even popped the turkey in the oven (and okay, some of us may still be at the grocery store), but I’m sliding into your inbox today, breaking my own once-a-month-ish newsletter rule, because if you’re feeling at all anxious about the holiday season (or, for that matter, if you’re stressed about anything), I’ve got good news—plus a printable (and pretty) resource designed just for you.

Adoration is the anxiety antidote.

Now, I’m not making light of the worries, even panic attacks, that can color our days. These joy-stealers are real. (Ask me how I know.)

But what’s also real—what is scientifically proven—is that when we praise God, our brains release dopamine, the chemical that makes us feel good.

Worship can change. your. brain.

It’s true. And just a few minutes of worship—making an intentional choice to praise God every day—can change your brain. If you’ve got time between peeling potatoes and prepping the stuffing (and you don’t mind reading words like “cingulate cortex”), you can click here for the research download. But if you want my quick take on the topic, it’s simply this:

Worship, in a nutshell, means giving honor and glory to God. And when we look at our lives through the lens of God’s character, everything shifts. Problems that once loomed impossibly scary or large start to shrink. Everything finds its place in light of God’s splendor. His holiness reveals our flaws; his mercy allows us to confess them; his faithfulness emboldens us to come before him with our every need.

As Ann Voskamp puts it in The Greatest Gift (a book that happens to be my FAVORITE Advent devotional), “When the King rules your world, you cease to rule or worry. All worry dethrones God.”

"All worry dethrones God."

All worry dethrones God.

I agree—and I desperately want God to be on his throne in my life. But sometimes (especially in the middle of the night when “darkness seems to hide his face“), I can feel my chest start to tighten. Maybe it’s the crush-rush of the Christmas to-do list. Maybe it’s the “what-if’s” as I try to trust God with my children. Or maybe it’s just COVID again. I feel like they haven’t given us an expiration date on the symptoms; could the creak in my knees be a long-haul side effect?

I don’t know.

But what I do know is that there is a very real thief whose mission is to steal and kill and destroy—and worship is the way we counter his attacks.

A plan to praise

Emboldened by verses like Psalm 9:10 (“Those who know your name trust in you”), I’m putting Psalm 63:6 into practice:

On my bed I remember you;
    I think of you through the watches of the night.

Now, when I wake up at night and my trust starts to falter, I have a plan. Instead of counting sheep, I’m calling God’s name—alphabetically. “God,” I whisper, “you are Awesome. Beautiful. You are my Comforter. Deliverer. Everlasting Father…”

(I’ve got more letters lined up—Faithful, Good, Holy—but honestly? I rarely need them. The simple practice of adoration opens the door to peace and I drift off to sleep, secure in the fact that the One who watches over me is still awake. He will neither slumber nor sleep, the Bible says.)

If you’d like to join me in Advent Adoration this year, you don’t have to stay awake in order to do it. Instead, you can draw near to God—you can come into his presence with praise—with this DIY Advent calendar. We designed it last year exclusively for our email community, and it was so well-received that we’re bringing it back.

Advent Cards on table

Just print, cut, and fold

The Advent printable includes 25 cards, each one highlighting a different one of God’s character traits. They’re super easy to access—just print, cut, and fold! 

Cut Advent Printable

Display the cards with the numbers facing out as you welcome December, and then flip them over discover a new facet of God’s nature every day. You can hang the cards on a strand of twine, prop them on a mantle, or keep them in a bedside box as a reminder of God’s lavish love.

Advent Printable on mantle

Advent Printable on twine

Advent Printable on Mantle 1

Again, this resource is a Christmas gift for our email friend group; you won’t find the cards available elsewhere. As a current subscriber, you don’t need any special code to access the Advent printable; simply click here and follow the prompts to download. (If you have friends who’d enjoy this printable or the monthly newsletter, please encourage them to visit jodieberndt.com to subscribe and join us—everyone’s welcome!)

And as you consider each card, talk about God’s character with your children. Ask questions, even if you don’t know all the answers. For instance…

  • God is our COUNSELOR. Where do you need his wisdom or guidance today?
  • God is SOVEREIGN. How does it make you feel to know that he is in control?
  • God is IMMANUEL. What difference does it make to know that he is with us?

Advent Attribute - God is our counselor

God is Immanuel…and so much more. Whatever your need, wherever you are, you can anchor your trust in God’s name. May you sense his nearness, his love, and his grace in increasing measure in the month ahead.

Now go get that turkey in the oven—and I’ll see you back here next month with a Christmas giveaway of my most-favorite resource!

Happy Thanksgiving!

❤️

P.S. Starting December 1st, I’ll be sharing these Advent attributes along with discussion prompts in my Instagram and Facebook stories. So even if you don’t want to download the calendar, you can follow along and use the daily prompts as an easy Advent devotional your whole family can enjoy!

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“Don’t feed your own face” (and other Thanksgiving helps)

It’s almost turkey time! And while I love pretty much everything Thanksgiving brings—the counting of blessings, the watching of football, even the holding of noses as I prepare Robbie’s must-have sauerkraut—I know that wherever two or more are gathered, conversation can happen.

Maybe it’s an as-yet-undiscovered tryptophan side-effect, but Thanksgiving can bring out all the opinions. The brother who’s positive you voted wrong. The aunt who wonders if you’ve gained weight (and should you really eat all that pie?). The child who comes home from college and proclaims herself vegan so “can we please have something besides turkey this year?”

Truth be told, it’s not just holiday gatherings that highlight our differences. We’ve been at odds with each other since…well, since Abel and Cain. And yet, as believers, we are called to love one another. To value others above ourselves. To make “every effort” to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.

All of these passages—and countless others—underscore the fact that God wants his children to get along. And I know the holiday wasn’t even invented when he was writing, but I can’t help but think Paul might have had some sort of prophetic foretaste of Thanksgiving when he reached out to the Romans:

Let’s agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don’t drag them down by finding fault.

When you sit down to a meal, your primary concern should not be to feed your own face but to share the life of Jesus. So be sensitive and courteous to the others who are eating. Don’t eat or say or do things that might interfere with the free exchange of love. (Romans 14:19-21)

Get along with each other. Use encouraging words. Don’t feed your own face, but share Jesus with love.

Don’t feed your own face.

A helpful Thanksgiving hint, to be sure. But how do we do all of this in real life, with real people? How do we (quoting Paul again) “welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department”? (Romans 14:1) How do we ensure that our conversations—at Thanksgiving and throughout the year—are colored by kindness instead of the “gotcha” mindset that listens not with a desire to understand, but with the intent to counter or correct?

I’m sure there are plenty of biblically based steps we might take, but here are three tried-and-true strategies for having good conversations  with people who don’t always think like we do.

First, we can remember that when Jesus asked God to bring us to “complete unity”, he didn’t mean we’d all be the same. Unity allows for plenty of differences (everything from political ideologies to preferences in cranberry sauce; anybody else’s husband think it “has” to come out of a can?), while recognizing that those things don’t define us. What defines us is our identity as God’s beloved. As his image-bearers. As people who can love, 1 John 4:19 reminds us, because God first loved us.

Second, we can do the Philippians 2:3-4 thing and be humble. There’s nothing wrong with holding strong opinions. But let’s value the interests of others, knowing that additional information might sharpen or enhance our own perspective. And if we remain unconvinced about a particular topic, we can borrow a line from my friend’s ever-diplomatic grandmother: “You may be right.” (That’s a great way to wrap a discussion, especially when served with a smile and followed with something like, “Would you care for some more pumpkin pie?”)

And finally (you knew this was coming), we can pray. We can ask God to keep us mindful of verses like Proverbs 18:2 (“Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions). We can trust him to “set a guard over our lips” (Psalm 141:3) And we can pray for an extra helping of grace and peace as we gather together.

Which is, in fact, how Peter began one of his letters. “Grace and peace,” he wrote, “be yours in abundance.”

grace and peace be yours in abundance

If you’d like a visible reminder of that little—but powerful!—prayer, pop over to Instagram or Facebook, where you can screenshot that graphic in my stories and use it as a Lock Screen for your phone:

iPhone with 2 Peter 1:2 lock screen

May grace and peace be yours in abundance. (2 Peter 1:2)

Happy Thanksgiving!

❤️

P.S. Every year, people ask me to share the recipe for Robbie’s sauerkraut. And every year, I start with a warning:  You’ll need one hand to fix the “beloved” side dish and the other to get a firm grip on your nose.

Hold your nose at Thanksgiving

Here you go:

Fill a saucepan about one-third of the way up with water.

Drain one or two cans of sauerkraut and add them to the pot.

Mix in a spoonful of bacon drippings, a splashy of Worcester sauce, some salt and pepper, and ¼ cup of brown sugar.

Cover and simmer for several hours, stirring occasionally (and adding more water if needed) until the entire house reeks.

Enjoy!

sauerkraut

(And pssst. If you want more prayers you can use to love wellnot just at Thanksgiving, but throughout the yearyou’ll find an entire chapter on the subject in Praying the Scriptures for Your LifeNo time to read during the holiday rush? Download an easy-to-use prayer calendar here.)

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Prayer Journal Giveaway (just for my email friends)

Friends, the new Praying the Scriptures Journal released this week!

Prayer Journal giveaway

To celebrate, I’m sliding into your inbox with a mid-week prayer journal GIVEAWAY exclusively for my email subscribers. We’ll be picking THREE winners to receive signed copies, hot off the press! Details below, but first here’s a question we tossed out earlier this week over at Club31Women.com

“Do you think most moms know how to pray for their kids?”

It was a fair question. A group of us were talking about how we approach God, and our hang-ups seemed to outnumber our how-tos. One mom said she wanted to pray for her children, but she worried she’d ask for the wrong thing. Another said she wasn’t sure where to begin or how to stay focused. (“I feel like I just sit there and ramble,” was how she put it.) And a third gal confessed to not being sure God was listening. “I’ve had prayers go unanswered before,” she said. “I’m not sure I have enough faith.”

Me, I spent a lot of years thinking that prayer was basically a one-way conversation where I would ask God for what I thought would be good and then see what happened. If my relationships or my circumstances lined up with my requests, I would know that God said “yes.” And if not, he said “no.” I didn’t begrudge God when he turned me down—I knew verses like Isaiah 55:9 and that God’s ways are higher than ours—but I much preferred it when I’d put in a prayer and get the answer I wanted.

I liked it when prayer worked like a vending machine.

But that’s not how Jesus sees prayer.

Christ’s model for prayer is based on connection. On relationship. On the promise that if we lean into him and allow his words to soak into our soul—not just shaping our desires but even creating them—we can pray with the full and wholehearted expectation that God will answer. “If you remain in me,” he says in John 15:7, “and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given to you.”

Christ's model for prayer quote

That’s an incredible promise. But how, practically speaking, do we take Jesus up on his offer? How do we throw off the things that hinder our prayers—our uncertainty, our tendency toward distraction, our past disappointment—and really lean into God? How can we know how to pray?

That’s a mouthful of questions—more than this space can answer—but two bite-sized answers can help.

An animated conversation with God

The first answer is to use Scripture a springboard for prayer. Instead of just reading the Bible, consider it a conversation starter. For instance, if you read a verse like Ephesians 4:2“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love”—you can turn it around, making it not just a directive from God, but a request from your own heart: “Help me…” you might say, or “Help my children be completely humble, gentle, and patient, bearing with each other in love.” When you pray like this, letting God’s word animate your perspective, you don’t need to worry about finding the words or doing it “wrong.” You can be confident that your prayers will line up with God’s plans.

The second strategy is to use a prayer journal as an anchor. Whether you write long paragraphs, short sentences, or just bullet points, having a record of your conversations with God comes with at least three benefits: It helps you stay focused. It gives you space to write what the Holy Spirit reveals in the pages of Scripture. And it allows you to stay alert to the ways you see God’s hand at work in your life and in the lives of the people you love.

prayer journal for the people you love

A tether for your trust

In Bible times, people often built altars as a way to remind them of God’s promises and of what he had done. Noah built one after the flood; Abraham built one after God said he would bless the whole earth through him; Moses built one after God took the Israelites safely through the Red Sea. In each of these instances—and in numerous others—the altar signified the time and place where God showed up and proved his love.

We can do the same thing with a journal. We can tether our trust to God’s promises, letting the words we read in the Bible give shape to our prayers. And, over time, we can go back and see what God has done: The places where we’ve seen spiritual, physical, or emotional growth in our children. The friendships forged or restored. The challenging circumstances where God is proving his love through his presence—even if the answer to prayer has not yet appeared, or it doesn’t look anything like what we expected.

A prayer journal doesn’t have to be fancy (I used a spiral notebook for years), but if you’d like help getting started, or you just need some fresh encouragement or inspiration, the new Praying the Scriptures Journal can help. The book offers journaling prompts, biblical insights, and specific prayers you can use to talk with God about your child’s faith, character, relationships, decisions, and more. (Plus, with a linen cover, elegantly designed pages, and a satin ribbon to mark your place, it’s really pretty 😊).

Journal cover

We might think we don’t know how to pray. But as we turn our hearts toward God, telling him our needs and thanking him for what he has done, our prayers release his provision. We find freedom from things like worry and fear in our parenting. And, as Philippians 4:6-7 promises, we experience his peace, knowing that no matter how far away our children may be, they are never out of God’s reach.

❤️

The Giveaway Scoop:  Email subscribers can enter to win a copy of the journal on Instagram or Facebook. All you have to do is “like” the post and tag a friend in the comments. (And psst…if you win and you want me to sign the book for your friend as a gift, just let me know–this prayer journal is my new go-to for baby showers, birthdays, and the moms & grandmoms on my Christmas list! 😊)

We’ll announce the winner in my Stories on Sunday (and we’ll DM you to let you know if it’s you!). In the meantime, here’s a quick peek at the prayer journal and why I think you’ll like it!

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Make Your Home in God’s Love

“Home.”

At its most basic level, your home is the place where you live:  your house, your apartment, even your city or town. But the word carries a deeper meaning as well. The dictionary defines home as the place where our “domestic affections are centered.” Our home is a big part of what forms us. What fills us. What captures our heart.

In John 15:9, Jesus offers a remarkable invitation. He says we can live in his love. Some translations use the word abide. Others say remain. A few say continue, or dwell. I like how The Message puts Jesus’ words: “Make yourselves at home in my love.”

Make yourselves at home in my love

Christ’s love, in other words, can be what forms us and fills us. It can be what captures our heart. Just like the Father delights in the Son, Jesus delights in our company. It doesn’t matter who we are or what we’ve done; nothing can separate us from God’s love! (Romans 8:38-39)

And yet…we hang back. We have the opportunity to relish our status as Christ’s beloved, but we don’t. Why not?

Three Barriers to Receiving God’s Love

There may be any number of reasons why we don’t abide in Christ’s love—why we fail to settle down, relax, and make ourselves at home there—but here are three of the biggest barriers to our thriving in connection with Christ.

For one thing, we know ourselves. We know where we’ve blown it. We know how unworthy we are. And so, unwilling to step out from under our shame, we (mistakenly) conclude that Christ’s invitation is not meant for us.

Or maybe our stumbling block is that we think we have to earn God’s approval. Sure, it is his grace that saves us, but what about after that? We think it’s up to us to please God by what we think, say, and do—and when we slip up or fall short, we figure we’ll fall out of God’s favor and forfeit his love.

Then, too, we may find it easier to give love than to receive it. Giving makes us feel valuable and important; receiving puts us in a more vulnerable position. Receiving requires a type of surrender—which can be kind of awkward. We don’t like feeling needy; we’d rather be self-sufficient. We want to be in control.

All of these things—the shadow of shame, the sense that we need to earn God’s approval, and the desire for sufficiency instead of surrender—are lies that can keep us from experiencing the fullness of joy God wants us to have. But when we stop and consider the glorious weight of Christ’s words—“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you”—everything changes. We see the truth.

The truth is this: Jesus knows you. Jesus loves you. And the moment you turn in his direction, he flings wide the door, opens his arms, and says, “Welcome home.”

So what about you?

Where have you struggled to receive Christ’s love? How might embracing his affection—believing that you truly are his beloved—impact how you think about yourself? About others?

Take some time this week to reflect on God’s lavish affection for you. Ask him to open your heart to receive all that he wants to give. And trust him to come and settle you down as you make your home in his love.

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for your promise that nothing in all creation can separate me from your love. (Romans 8:38-39)

Show me how to shape my worries into prayers, letting you know my concerns. Settle me down and teach me to live in the truth as I make my home in your love. (Philippians 4:6-7; John 15:9)

Amen

❤️

Note: A version of this post appeared earlier this week at Club31Women, a place you’ll find books, blogs, and resources designed to strengthen your faith and enrich your family life. Click here to read a recent post about how we can turn our hearts toward God, and here for five strategies you can use to make your physical home a more peaceful and welcoming place. And if you want to know more about making your home in God’s love, you’ll find 31 different entry points in this easy-read book: Praying the Scriptures for Your Life:  31 Days of Abiding in the Presence, Provision, and Power of God

praying the scriptures for your life

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