Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to you from the Crouse family! Today I pray the God of peace and joy fills your heart whether you are packed in a house full of family, or tucked away all cozy with your favorite blanket and Christmas movie.

2022 carries the promise of a new year and I am so excited for it. I always ask God for what His word is for the year and then I agree with it.

Last year’s word was “Harvest” and knowing that could go in lots of directions, I simply blessed God’s harvest plans for 2021. Little did I know, this would be the year I signed a contract to publish the prayers I had written seven years ago. And by November 2021, Tired Mamas Pray was released.

If you are thinking about and planning 2022 already, here is a prayer for this coming year:

Father of Lights, in your book are written all the days ordained for me, before one of them came to be. I bless and come into agreement with your will and purposes you have ordained for me in 2022. Show me how to align myself with your purposes. What word would you give me for this next year?

Merry Christmas friends, and a Happy New Year!

Leslie

Danger in Bethlehem

12 Weeks of Christmas: #2

by Leslie Crouse

The Shekinah led the Magi to a humble house in a town mentioned by Herod. When it rested over top they moved past. Surely this was not the house. But the Shekinah did not move with them. It stayed, rooted above the little home. Though small, it was clean and well cared for.

Their entourage had overwhelmed Bethlehem. All the people were terrified. Belteshazzar wondered, Of us? Or of Herod’s retribution? Either way, they settled the soldiers, servants and food suppliers outside the city limits, in the Judean foothills. There were shepherds there keeping watch over their flocks.

As he crossed toward Bethlehem, he saw a shepherd carefully watching him. A wooly man who looked very much like his sheep, but it was the man’s sword that caught his attention. What was it about that sword? Beyond being out of place on a shepherd, Belteshazzar sensed there was something powerful at work here. He must be close. His senses were never wrong.

His servant knocked on the door of the small house and a young, pregnant woman no older than sixteen opened the door. She bounced a baby that was around 6 months old on her hip. He explained himself and she calmly welcomed him in.

Had she expected them? Or, perhaps she simply knew who she held. Her husband also walked in, presumably from work as his hair was covered in wood shavings. But he had a kind, welcoming smile.

Since the home was small, only three of them came in carrying the most important gifts they had brought. Suddenly, the Shekinah Glory of the LORD filled the room and all the Magi fell down trembling and worshipping. Hours passed as they humbled themselves in pure worship. Then, it was gone.

They slowly arose and looked around. The man introduced himself as Joseph son of Jacob, his wife as Mary and the baby as Jesus saying, “His name means that he will save us from our sins.”

Belteshazzar presented their gifts. Gold. Frankincense. Myrrh. Kingly spices used for anointing and embalming. But surely, an Eternal King would have no need of embalming.

He explained, “Outside, there are also horses and wagons. Silver woven tapestries and our best food offerings from Parthia as well. We are here to recognize the true King of the Jews and offer our friendship. If you ever need to call for reinforcements or aid, please call upon the Parthian Empire as it would be our greatest honor to serve the Eternal King.”

Mary approached Belteshazzar and offered he hold the child. At first, he hesitated. It was not done! But this was no royal palace. He wrapped his arms awkwardly around the floppy baby. Then he thought lightening had hit him. So much power! He had never experienced such overwhelming glory! He was undone.

Of all the kings he had met, of all the throne rooms he had stood in, they had all been just men. Never had he lost control. Yet, tears ran down his face and he began to shake with the weight of glory. What would this king grow to become? Would people be healed by simply touching his clothes? Or hearing his voice?

When baby Jesus looked into Belteshazzar’s eyes and his tiny hand touched his beard he saw such intense glory. As if all of Shekinah dwelled in him. Yes! Yes! That is, it! The fire in his eyes is the same living fire that led us here! He would not mistake it for the world. And as he gazed into this baby’s deep brown eyes, he saw the unmistakable glitter of gold flakes as well. The glory they had followed now dwelled in this child!

Mary broke the silence. She waved her hand at what they had all seen and said, “In our language, Shekinah means to dwell. We use it to describe God’s glory coming down to dwell among us. Until now, God’s glory would only come for a time and then leave. But now, his glory is here to stay,” she stroked Jesus’ brown hair lovingly, “He is Immanuel, God with us.”

All his life, Belteshazzar had worshiped wealth. Strived for infamy and greatness. No longer. If God had abandoned his throne, humble himself and enter the brokenness of humanity, then so would he. He thought, From now on, I will serve not strive.

Later that night, an angel appeared to Belteshazzar in his sleep warning him not to return to Herod. Suspicions confirmed, he informed the entourage to prepare for the journey home without delay.

~~~~

Herod paced like a caged lion. “It has been a week! Where are they?!” He whirled toward his captain of the guard. “Your incompetence has cost us everything! What happened?” The Captain’s face was ashen with fear. “Sire, we trailed them as you directed. But the Shekinah Glory both went before them and behind them, as a rear guard. We could not see them through the cloud and if we got close our men died.”

Belial hissed in Herod’s ear, “Herod, you were always a worthless counterfeit.” He sneered. “The Glory of the LORD has chosen another king. A Jewish king. The LORD rejected your father Esau and he has rejected you too. You must kill them all. Teach them a lesson they will never forget.” His worst fears had come true. Now, theirs would as well.

Herod stroked his beard and thought to himself, I will eliminate this new king. But, the people must be taught a lesson. I am sick of their constant pandering for a new king. Streets will run with rivers of blood from my enemies. I will show them what I think of their LORD GOD and his glory.

Herod called for the captain of the guard. In the morning, he would begin the genocide. When the Captain arrived, Herod said, “I want it done in daylight so all will see the extent of my wrath.”

~~~~

Joseph stared at the gold, wagons, horses, food and other gifts they had left Jesus. It was unbelievable. Where could he hide it all? Herod’s spies would know and come for the boy. He prayed. He sensed danger in his spirit.

That night, Joseph was tossing in a fitful sleep when Gabriel appeared to him and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.”

Joseph woke Mary. “Come Mary, we must flee to Egypt. Tonight.” He laid his hand on her pregnant belly and said, “I hate to ask a long journey of you when you are again with child, but we must go. There is no time to waste. The LORD has provided everything we need.”

Together, they packed the wagons, horses, food and gold the Magi had miraculously brought the day before. Joseph marveled at God’s provision. The Magi’s gifts would aid in their fight to Egypt and even help them create a home there. Joseph had yet to tell Mary they may be there for years.

As they fled in the night, Joseph paused only briefly to warn their dear friends Hananiah and Evie of the coming wrath. After Mary said her goodbyes, she climbed into the wagon and through tear blurred eyes took a final look at the little stable hidden in the hillside.

~~~~

Don’t miss last post of the Christmas Series next week!

Tired Mamas Pray is Here!!

Order NOW for great Christmas gifts!

I am SO excited to share with you all, my brand new book, Tired Mamas Pray. This book will revolutionize your prayer life, even as a tired mama. It was written for you!

Seven years ago, when my twin boys were one year old and my daughter was not yet two, I sat down three nights a week and I wrote ten prayers at a time.

Taking scriptures that had leapt off the pages of my Bible, I turned them into prayers for my babies. Seven years later, I am seeing the fruition of this dream come to pass. It is such an exciting time to finally share them with you.

These prayers, inspired by a doctor’s diagnosis over my son by a maternal fetal medicine specialist, I learned first hand the POWER of praying scripture.

Today, I hand this powerful tool over to you and to all the women in the world who are just as tired as me.

As a gift for your friends and family for Christmas, Mothers’ day or a baby shower – or for yourself – this book will be a blessing to all the tired mamas out there who long to pray while wondering where they will find the time.

Here is a quick peek at the back cover:

Sleep-Deprived. Overstimulated. Overwhelmed.

As a tired mama, it can be hard to balance family life with your ideal prayer life. Laundry, chores, cleaning, school runs, screaming, and snuggles all contribute to the day’s pressing concerns to choke out your deepest desire: to pray for your children.

If you become overwhelmed just thinking about it because you have no idea where to start, what to say, or how to fit it in to your mama schedule, Tired Mamas Pray was written for you.

By keeping it simple, author Leslie N. Crouse shares her secret to a vivacious prayer life as a busy mama. Tired Mamas Pray takes the timeless strategy of praying biblical scripture and makes it so easy you need less than sixty seconds to do it. No more struggling to find the time. No more searching for the words to pray.

Tired Mamas Pray provides 90 daily prayers for your children that will keep you praying for their:

  • Relationship with God
  • Character development
  • Discernment
  • Friendships and relationships
  • Relationship with the Church
  • Purpose

Powerful, effective prayers are within your reach. No more overthinking this. Just focus on two to three scriptures each day and personalize them to your children in less than sixty seconds.

Buy it today at any of these stores:

Cultivating Hope in the Home

As parents, it is our honor to cultivate the hope of Jesus in our homes and in the hearts of our children. What if during this holiday season, friends and family who stepped over the threshold of our homes encountered the life-changing power of hope? Would they leave changed? Would they feel they had stepped into the presence of God and yearn for more?

Yet, what do we say most often? I do not want to get my hopes up. Or, Well, I do not want to Jinx it. We dare not hope because we want to protect our hearts from disappointment. But what if most disappointments are ushered into existence simply because we refuse to allow the power of God’s hope to take effect? Job said, “That which I have feared has come upon me.”

Did you know the Hebrew word for hope literally means a rope? A tangible lifeline in the turbulent sea of life. God gave us hope to carry us through the heartaches and heartbreaks, the seasons of silent waiting, a rope to grab onto as we fix our eyes on His faithfulness.

The very reason God gives us Hope is to preserve us from fear and defeat, to see us through dark times, to raise us up out of the ashes to conquer. To pursue the victory. As the world and all it’s worries fade away, Hope is one of three that remain.

Stop and think about that for a moment. When all else fades away faith, hope, and love remain. Which means there is a life-changing, eternal power in hope we should be tapping into.

God’s Word has much to say on all that is accomplished by hope. Here are a few:


Hope

Steadfast Anchor

Unashamed

God’s Full Attention

Fearless

Source of Joy

Strength

Tree of Life

Victory


Christmas fast approaches and there will be many coffee mugs, pillows, and ornaments with the word hope written in calligraphy. Commercialism desensitizes us. But, this Christmas I challenge you to take hold of the lifeline God has forged for you and hold tight to the faith we profess and meditate on the power of Jesus, our living hope. Let hope sink deep into your heart and home.

Teach hope to your children. Teach them to be in awe of the miracle that gives us access to this powerful four letter word: the Creator of heaven and earth abandoning his throne of eternal splendor to sacrifice himself for us so that we might awaken from our ashen slumber and come alive once again. That we might live with hope.

For afterall, if nothing is impossible with God, who else has more authority to possess an unrealistic hope than a Christian?

Fun facts:

If you are of a curious nature like me, you have likely wondered, What is a Jinx? And why must I be afraid of it?

Loosely paraphrased, a “Jinx” is rooted in Arabian culture and legends. It is a demonic spirit that preys upon, steals, deceives, kills and tortures people. Much effort was spent in this culture avoiding any contact with or attention from a Jinx.

Which means that we, by denying God’s hope in an effort to avoid drawing attention from a Jinx to our situation, proclaim the boundaries of our faith and declare through action who we believe is more powerful.

Do I credit the legend of the Jinx? Well, I am less concerned about legends as I am cultivating faith. I am however, fully aware of the spiritual battle my family and I fight constantly and how it is effected by our words and actions. As Paul said, our “fight is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” I do not care what name it goes by or what myths it has wrapped itself in.

If God’s hope is a powerful weapon that guards our hearts against one on a mission to kill, steal and destroy, I’ll take God’s hope and I will fly his banner high.