by Jana Kennedy-Spicer on December 16th, 2017

" She will bear a son, & you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
Matthew 1:21
​Oh Jesus truly is the greatest gift of all! He was born with a specific purpose, to save us from our sin. To be a substitution for each of us, to bear the weight of the punishment of our sin, so that we would not have to.

Just as God has assigned a special unique purpose to Jesus before he was ever born, so has He done the same for you and for me. Yes, we each have our own very special purpose. And we too, are a gift to the people in our lives.

Jeremiah 1:5 tells how the prophet was assigned his purpose, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.".

God knew Jeremiah before he was formed in his mother's womb, God knew Jesus before he was formed in Mary's womb, and God knew you before you were formed in your mother's womb. And just as God assigned their purpose, He has also assigned your purpose, and my purpose, and every single person's purpose... all before we were ever a blip on our parent's radar.

Oh friend, you are so precious and so valuable! God knows you and sees you and knew you before you ever had a heartbeat. And know this without a doubt, YOU ARE A GIFT!

Can I admit, so many days I don't feel like it, a gift. I feel more like a failure, or sometimes a burden, or clueless as to what my God purpose is! Some days, I think I know, and then doubt sweeps in. The enemy loves to sprinkle doubt on our hearts, it can be so debilitating! Stopping us in our tracks, getting us off course and preventing us from realizing and achieving our true purpose.

But God's truth is more powerful than our doubt!!

And God's truth is this:
"___________ (insert your name), before I formed you in the womb, I KNEW YOU.
____________(insert your name), before you were born,  I SET YOU APART.
____________ (insert your name), I ANOINTED YOU as ______________________________“

Yes, that last blank is a big one. It's your purpose. It's why God has given you as a gift to this world. And only God can fill it in. Spend some time with Him in prayer, open up His word, ask Him for wisdom and seek His direction. He will provide it friend!! Your purpose, just as Jesus's purpose, was never meant to be a secret! Ask God, He will reveal your true purpose, He will fill in that blank!!

Now, go live out your God given purpose and be the beautiful gift that you are!

Blessings Soul Friends,
I journaled today's scripture using the ornament and red transparent washi strip from our printable. Printing these elements on clear label (sticker) paper makes them easy to include - just peel the back off and stick! And allows the print of the Bible to remain visible. 
Today's blog post is part of our Soul Inspired Mini Series - #EveryGoodGift
​You can download the 7-day Devotional and Journaling printable HERE

by Jana Kennedy-Spicer on December 11th, 2017

"And the angel said to them,
"Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of
great joy that will be for all the people.“

 - Luke 2:10
​It has always been interesting to me that when an angel appears in  the Bible, , it is almost always accompanied by a message to “fear not”, oh what a sight these angels of God must be. Surely they don’t look like the cute little cherubs we portray them to be.

But the angels main message was not about bravery, but rather a message of the “good tidings” which had come.

In this situation, the word used for “good tidings” actually translates to “gospel”. The angel is not only telling of the good news of Christ’s birth but also the good news, or gospel, of who Christ is and what he is here on Earth to do.

But let's don't overlook those last 3 words... this amazing gift of Christ is "for all people".  Initially intended for God’s chosen people, the people of Israel, but not actually for everyone. Let me explain.

You see, the good news of Christ is available to everyone, but sadly this gift is not received by everyone. And in that day, not even all of God’s chosen people accepted Jesus for who he was. So while Jesus came for their salvation, it was a gift that many never received because they turned their back on Christ.

We’ll talk more about receiving this gift on day 4.

Another interesting point I read from a commentary talked about how the angels appeared to these humble, pious shepherds who were just doing their job. It’s a great reminder that we are not out of the way of receiving God’s messages when we are working in our calling and abiding with God. This too is good news for us!

Lord, thank you for the gift of this good news. Thank you that you communicate with us to share your will and plans. Thank you for the gift of your communicators and may our hearts stay in tune with you so that we are ready to receive your messages of good news. In Jesus name, Amen.

Blessings Soul Friends, 
To add my angel to my Bible, I first sketched out her outline. Then painted in her face and skin using watercolors.  (sadly some of the artwork on the previous page continued to bleed through.) 

Then I cut her dress from some Christmas scrapbook paper and cut her wings from a hymn page. Next I used a glue stick to add both to my page. I also tested the placement first because I knew I would need to trim the right wing down to be able to read the scripture.

​I wanted her wings and dress to really sparkle so I painted over them both using my Gelatos and a waterbrush. 

​Next came her hair. I penciled in her hair then painted it with acrylic paint. I used acrylic (craft paint) because her hair flowed over her wing and dress and I wanted good coverage.

​Before adding her flowers to her hair, I painted the night sky background, again using my gelatos, and 3 shades of blue. I added the stars with a white Uniball Signo pen (my fav!).

​Lastly for her came her halo of flowers. These are actually apart of this month's free Every Good Gift printable. So just print, fussy cut, and add with a bit of glue stick or double sided tape. 

​The word bits are also part of the printable, they are the Luke 2:10 scripture card, which I cut in bits then adhered with double stick tape. 

​After she was all put together, I added a bit of beige to the rest of the page and the word bits to tone down the white abit. 

You can download the full 7-day devotional and journaling pieces for FREE through December 31, 2017 RIGHT HERE
Today's devotional is part of our FREE 7-Day Devotional Every Good Gift -
Download your copy by adding your email address HERE.

by Lisa Appelo on December 7th, 2017

​Christmas has become nearly synonymous with presents. We’ve barely even cleared the Thanksgiving leftovers before I’m making a long list of the people I need to buy for.

And maybe like me your list keeps growing. This year I’ll shop for my family but I also need teacher gifts, something for our Sunday school Yankee swap and hostess gifts to bring to parties.

I’ve always thought one of the gifts we can give back to God is our time. They say love is spelled t-i-m-e and so any good girl, any good Christian girl, should give God her time by reading the Bible. Before the rest of the house is awake. Even before coffee (or at least Facebook).

And I’ve spent way too many days, way too many weeks – even whole months if I think back on it – feeling guilty that I wasn’t giving God enough Bible time.

Now maybe you’re not there, but I have been.

There was the season in college, where I enthusiastically began owning my faith, meeting friends in my dorm for prayer and our concordance-led Bible studies, but the time came in fits and spurts.

There was a dryer season as a busy professional, where I was in church on Sundays and listened to Bible teaching on my car radio, but didn’t really open the Word for myself.

There was the season as a young mom of babies and toddlers, when nights merged into days, naps were for catching up on the house and alone time was a misty memory.

But then came another season. A season when life as I knew it collapsed and I was left a widow and single mom to seven kids. In that season, I needed God like I needed my next breath.

God’s Word became my food as He reminded me over and over of His promises made and promises kept. Each day, no matter where I was reading in the Bible, God would lift my head and my heavy despair. Every day, through His Word, I made a daily exchange – laying down my fear and taking hold of faith.

After all those years, I saw something for the first time.

Time in God’s Word isn’t my gift to Him. It’s His gift to me.

When we read God’s Word we see Him revealed. We’re reminded of God’s character, the way He responds to man and – more than that – we realize God’s Presence.

Now we’re in another season, when the shopping and baking, parties and plans of Christmas can pull us from time with God. Quiet time won’t just happen in this busy season. We’ll have to purposely carve out and guard our time in God’s Word. I’ve already seen that.

But advent helps us prepare. Advent helps pause the busyness and noise of December to focus on Jesus.

Because it won’t be the shopping and presents that prepare us for Christmas. It’s only the gift of His Word and God’s Presence that can prepare us for Christmas.

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

Blessings Soul Friends,

​Lisa Appelo is an author and speaker, a widow and single mom to seven who loves to share the faithfulness of God. Her new book, Countdown to Christmas, is a 15-day family advent devotional that brings the real Christmas story to light in a new way with scripture and your Nativity. You can find more about the book here. 
Lisa has a great new book out just in time for this year's Advent season and today we are giving away a copy. To enter the giveaway, just share with us below about one of your favorite Christmas traditions. A name will be randomly selected on Friday evening to receive Lisa's new book

by Jana Kennedy-Spicer on November 30th, 2017

Soul Friends, I would love for you to enjoy this 7-Day Devotional for FREE this December.

​To download your printable devotional, scripture cards and journaling elements, just follow the link below and add your email address and Every Good Gift will be delivered directly to your inbox. 

​Every Good Gift is a printable 7-day Devotional and Journal which focuses on the best gift of all - Jesus our Lord and Savior. 

​Included for each day is a devotional, a study journal page and a blank journal page. 

​Also included are scripture memory cards and Bible journaling elements and phrases. 

Let me show you how I am using this devotional printable during the month of December:

Print your devotional journal

After you receive your welcome email, you will want to click on the link in the email and download Every Good Gift to your computer. 

Next you'll want to print out all of the pages, here is how I printed mine:
The Cover page, Scripture Cards and Scripture List I printed in color and on card stock. This heavier weight paper will hold up great with these pages which get handled a lot. It also gives a nice weight to the Scripture List if you want to display for your family to meditate on during December.

by Jodie Barrett on November 10th, 2017

Give-a-way and Soul Inspired Project

​1 Thessalonians 3:9 
For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God,
​Dreary. Rain was falling by the buckets with no end in sight. A special outdoor photography session had to be cancelled for a second time. The whole day looked like a wash and I was filled with JOY!

One look around the room and I could see four long, lazy bodies stretched out on the couch after a satisfying lunch. That lunch was prepared by many hands the day before at a family event and then my daughter helped set the table after we put on the finishing touches.

I sat in my chair, with a warm blanket across my lap and counted this very dreary day as a Son-shine moment. Many years ago while going through a very bleak season in my marriage I resolved that I could either stay stuck in the circumstances, overwhelmed with sadness, anger, and discontent, or I could look for the blessings in everyday and see the joy that was present even in the difficult. I named this process looking for Son-shine.

Each night while reflecting, journaling my prayers, and reading scripture I would draw a sun at the bottom of the page and record blessings. Some days it felt like looking for a needle in a haystack. One night I wrote next to my sun that I was grateful to hear my husband snore! Really, I did. It wasn’t the snoring that I was overjoyed about, but his mere presence. When I say this was a difficult time in our marriage I was being quite real and his snoring reminded me that we were still together, still married, and still pressing forward.

Have you ever been there? Are you there now? In a place where every day seems filled with storms?

You dread getting up out of bed. You want to run as far from your life as you can because it seems, well, hopeless. I was.

In Psalm 143 David proclaims, “I am losing all hope”. But he doesn’t stop there. He continues with the words that became my mantra:
“Come quickly, Lord, and answer me,    
for my depression deepens.
Don’t turn away from me, or I will die.
 Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning,
    for I am trusting you.”

Psalm 143:7-8 (NLT)

When we face the darkest, most desperate of times we can be honest with God and ask for His help. Ask to see and hear Him every morning. Ask him to help you find the Son-shine moments all along the way.

Being intentional to search for His goodness each day will strengthen you and change your perspective. I can say this after of watching for the Son to break through the darkest days. The more I searched, the more aware of His blessings I became and everyday there is something to be grateful for.

Let me encourage you with this prayer:

We live in a broken world and we need you. Every day we need to see you. Help us become aware of the blessings that you pour out every day. Let us hear of your unfailing love every morning. 

(Keep reading to enter our fabulous Give-A-Way!! You don't want to miss it!)

Collecting SONshine In a Jar 

Today I want to share a fun Everyday Thanksgiving Project with you.

Do you ever keep score? You know, within your relationships. Sadly, there have been times that I have.  Maybe I didn’t do it on purpose, but it seems that whenever I am in a conflict with someone, recounting any little hurtful thing they have said or done just pops up like an unwelcome weed!

And just like weeds in our garden can choke beautiful flowers, these emotional weeds can choke a good relationship.
But what if we changed our scorekeeping and instead of keeping a tally of hurtful things, we began to  count and collect thoughtful and kind and loving things. Or like our friend Jodie says: “SONshine”.
Jodie shared above,
“While walking through a difficult season in our marriage, I began counting SONshine moments each day. INTENTIONALLY looking for the small blessings during a hard time. In my prayer journal I would end my page by drawing a sun and listing my SONshine blessing that I was thankful for. One day it was hearing my husband snore— it was a really hard day but we were still together!”
I love this idea! And I am taking on this challenge! Will y’all join us?
SONshine In A Jar Project Steps:
​1. Find a large jar - one that will hold lots of SONshine!
2. Decorate as desired. 
3. Keep a pen and pieces of paper, or post it pad, next to your jar for easy access.
4. Place the jar in a prominent location, you will see each day.
5. Everyday, intentionally look for the blessings in your day.
6. Write your SONshine on a piece of paper, fold it up and place it in the jar.
7. Select a date  -  or multiple dates  -   for your family to get together and read the SONshine notes with each other.
Here's my SONshine jar our family will be using this year. 

​You can download this FREE printable to use in decorating your SONshine jar. 

1. Download to your computer
​2. Print on label (sticker) paper - I used white label paper
3. Cut out each design and decorate as desired!
Jodie and I would love to see your SONshine Jar! Share with us on social media and tag Sweet To The Soul and Faithfully Following, and use the hashtag #SONshineInAJar.

Blessings Soul Friends, 

Mary & Martha Gratitude Canister Give-A-Way

Oh goodness yall, I am so excited about our giveaway today!!!

How would you like to receive this Mary & Martha Gratitude Canister for FREE??!


​Yes please!

​All you have to do to enter this drawing is leave us a comment below and share something you have been thankful for especially in a difficult time. 

That's it!
​We would love to see your comments encourage others, so comment on other's comments for extra entries. And invite your friends!  At the top of this blog post are buttons you can just click to share to social media and to your friends. 

We want to give a shout out and HUGE THANK YOU to friend and Mary & Martha consultant, Laura Blackburn.   You can visit Laura's Mary & Martha page at ​  or connect with her on Facebook.  

Leave your comments and share through the weekend. A name will be picked at random Sunday night November 12, 2017, 10:00pn cst. 

​Today's blog is part of our #SoulInspired Scripture Reading Series : #EverydayThanksgiving

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