Holly Furtick

Tips for giving a good gift

Every year around this time, I like to do a post about gift giving.

There’s nothing like receiving a meaningful gift.  But giving a meaningful gift is even better.  I think sometimes people get lazy when it comes to Christmas shopping.  We have too many people to buy for so we just go out and buy stuff that will do.  But what if the goal of giving a Christmas gift was not to just give a present but to give a present that says, “I thought of you.” or “I know you.”  Sure every gift cannot be perfect but we all have at least one person on our list that we want to put our best effort towards.

Here are a few pointers in gift giving that I posted here on the blog last Christmas…

1.  Don’t make it about you.  I knew a woman who got a pool table for mother’s day one year.  She had never played pool a day in her life. When giving a gift to someone, start by thinking about the things that they love.  They love hunting?  Go to Bass Pro Shop and ask for help and get a gift receipt for everything you buy.  They love cooking?  Go to Sur La Table, make a gift basket and just remember to get a gift receipt.  Don’t let your likes and dislikes and opinions keep you from getting someone else what they really want.

2.  Replace something.  Maybe they lost a pocket knife that got taken by TSA  or a pair of favorite earrings that they left in a hotel.  It could be something they broke like a favorite mug or pair of shoes that got ruined.

3.  Give a blast from the past.  Find a t-shirt from a concert you attended years ago.  Or an old cd you used to love together.  Maybe a copy of a movie you saw together.

4.  Do something nostalgic.  Frame an old picture or an old letter.  One of my favorite gifts my mom ever gave me is in my kitchen.  It is a framed recipe card for my Grandma’s eye round roast (my favorite thing she cooked).  My mom saved it when she was cleaning out my Grandma’s house after she moved to an assisted living home.  It is not even in a nice frame but I don’t care, it’s special.  It reminds me that cooking is about expressing my love to my family (for me, no pressure if you hate cooking).

5.  Be a good listener.  If your wife goes on and on to her friend about how beautiful her new purse is, take notes!  If your husband talks about how he wishes he had a universal remote, pay attention!  If your daughter goes on and on about sparkly UGGS take the hint!

When you give a really thoughtful gift you take a big risk.  Maybe they won’t get it.  Maybe they won’t think it is as special as you do.  Maybe you tried really hard but just fell short.  But maybe you gave them a gift that says, “I know you,” or “I pay attention to you,” or “I remember the great times we have had together,” and that speaks volumes.  And listen, if you need to throw in a gift card with your framed recipe card, that’s icing on your, I-put-thought-into-this gift.

Here are 3 don’ts of gift giving…

Don’t equate gifts with need.  That’s why socks and underwear from your grandma never meant much.
Don’t believe the lie that it is all about money.  Resourcefulness after a tough financial year could be the best gift you ever gave your spouse.
Don’t give up.  Just because you gave a gift that bombed last year doesn’t mean you throw in the towel this year.  It means you try harder this year.

And finally, here are a few tips for searching on the internet for gift ideas…

-Try one Googling a list like, “best gifts for guys” or “best cooking gadgets”
-One of my favorite sites for unique gifts is uncommongoods.com
-Gift ideas on Etsy.com is also one of my go-to websites
-Go to Amazon.com and search best-selling lists (book, toys, tech etc…)
Only a few days left!  Happy Hunting!

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Monday Morning Commentary

We wrapped our series, Surround, today with the year end offering we have been building up to.  My husband preached on the classic Bible story, the feeding of the 5,000 found in Mark 6.  The message was called, “Don’t get stuck in the bubble.”

He  used the illustration of the bubbles when text messaging on the iPhone.  He told us that bubbles in this message can be defined as the time between when the message is received and when the actual response is given.

He talked about the 3 bubbles we can get stuck in as Christians…

  1. the bubble of comfort.  You will never see a miracle from inside of your comfort zone.
  2. the bubble of certainty.  Certainty is the opposite of faith.  God does not have to give me all the details.
  3. the bubble of calculation.  The miracle of the feeding of the 5000 came from an uncalculated source.
I love watching people worship through giving.  The worship experiences this weekend were so special at all of our campuses.  I cannot wait to hear the total of how much we have sacrificed together.

You can watch the message later today on the Elevation Network, in our archive and on our podcast. And don’t forget, every sermon is also available on the Elevation App for your smart phone.

Have a great Monday!

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Monday Morning Commentary

We continued our series, Surround, this weekend with an inspiring message on generosity based on 2 Corinthians 8:1-13.  The message was called, “Bring it Full Circle.”

Here are a few of my favorite lines from the message…

  • A generous heart will always find a way while a greedy heart will always find an excuse.
  • My scarcity enables me to see God’s sufficiency.
  • Tough times are good ground for God’s provision.
  • The privilege of generosity is always greater than the price.
We learned that good intentions do not get the gospel out.  Personal initiative does.  God does not measure the size of my circle, He measures the size of my sacrifice.  I am excited for our end of year offering next weekend.  My husband and I have prayed over our gift and we are excited to bring it.   I sat down with our kids last night and helped them decide what they are going to give too.  It is never easy to give generously but we know that God takes our seed and He multiplies it.  And when I understand the potential of the harvest, I am happy to plant my seed.

You can watch it later today on the Elevation Network, in our archive and on our podcast. And don’t forget, every sermon is also available on the Elevation App for your smart phone.

Have a great Monday!

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Great resources… Fearless Mom

When I read a great book or stumble across a resource that has helped me, I love to share it.

My good friend Julie Richard launched an incredible ministry a few months ago.  I kept thinking that I wanted to watch her teaching because honestly, Julie is the best mom I know.  Yesterday I finally checked out her website, fearlessmom.com.  What an amazing resource for moms.

In Julie’s introductory message she says the worst thing you can do as a mom is isolate yourself.  She says isolation leads to shame which leads to depression.  She encourages moms to draw strength from each other.

The website has a place for you to subscribe to her weekly videos.  They also provide their entire curriculum free for you to download and go through with whatever group you are a part of.  Click below to visit their site!

 

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A peaceful heart during a hectic holiday

Isaiah 9:6 prophesied the birth of Jesus.

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Have you ever felt like the Christmas season is anything but peaceful?  My holiday seasons often feel chaotic and hectic and busy, not peaceful.

The thing is, peacefulness is a state of mind, not necessarily present circumstance.  If I go into the Christmas season thinking I am supposed to feel like I am on a beach vacation, I am going to be sorely disappointed.  There are gifts to buy, parties to plan, cards to mail, dinners to attend.

As the woman of the house, I set the tone.  If I am stressed, everyone else will be.  I can choose to create a peaceful atmosphere. I have the power to ruin a dinner before it even starts if I am fussing and stressing in my preparation.

And while I cannot control the mood and the attitude of those around me, I can control my own.  I love how Romans puts it, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Rom 12:18).   I can let the Prince of Peace rule in my heart.  I can determine that I will keep my perspective straight when things get crazy.   Colossians 3:15 “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”

And the secret is found in that last verse… and be thankful.

When my house is dirty
When gifts need to be purchased
When my Christmas card needs to be mailed out
When presents need to be wrapped
When meals need to be prepared
When decorations need to be hung
When I feel overcommitted

I will be thankful for the people in my life.  I will be thankful for the resources I do have.  I will be thankful I can help others.  I will be thankful that I get to live in a country where I can worship freely.  I can be thankful for the heated home I get to decorate and the car I drive to run my errands.  I will be thankful for Jesus, my Prince of Peace who always pours out grace on my the moment I need Him the most.

I will choose to have a peaceful heart, even when my holiday is hectic.

 

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Monday Morning Commentary

We continued our series Surround this weekend and we also celebrated the release of our worship team’s latest album (released everywhere Tuesday).  The sermon was based on Ezekiel 37:1-10 and it was called, “Catch your breath!”

My husband taught us that what continually surrounds you will eventually seep into your soul.  In Ezekiel 37, Ezekiel prophesied to dead bones.  He preached to what God said, not what he saw.  We can shift our perspective when we stop describing our problems, and start declaring God’s promises.

When Ezekiel prophesied to the bones, they came to life.  But then he had to prophesy to the breath.  There are situations in my life that are dead and look dead (bones).  But then there are situations that on the outside look alive but have not life inside.  The enemy wants to take my breath away.

The Hebrew word for breath is Spirit.  Acts 1:8 tells us that we will receive power then the Holy Spirit comes on us.  The power is in the breath.

This sermon was amazing.  One of my favorites of the year.  You can watch it later today on the Elevation Network, in our archive and on our podcast. And don’t forget, every sermon is also available on the Elevation App for your smart phone.  And don’t forget about Tuesday (the worship album release).

Have a great Monday!

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Monday Morning Commentary

We began our new series, Surround, this weekend.  The series is based on Isaiah 48:5

Therefore I told you these things long ago;
    before they happened I announced them to you
so that you could not say,
    ‘My images brought them about;
    my wooden image and metal god ordained them.’

The message was titled, “I told you so.”   And it was based on the premise that God that we are surrounded with the evidence of God’s faithfulness.  Throughout the message we took a look back at God’s faithfulness over the life of our church.  My husband reminded us that God wants us to believe even when we cannot see what He is doing.  The message was so inspiring for us to give and to sacrifice in order to be a part of what God is doing in our church, and our city and our world.

If you have never heard the story of our church, you will love this message.  You can watch it today on the Elevation Network, in our archive and on our podcast. And don’t forget, every sermon is also available on the Elevation App for your smart phone.

Have a great Monday!

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Ghosts of Halloweens Past

I know Halloween isn’t for everyone.  My family did not celebrate it growing up.  For us Halloween is about family and community and about sharing.  Whether you go to a trunk or treat or a trick or treat or a fall festival, it is a great time to be together and have fun.

When I put these pictures together, I suddenly felt very old and grown up and also very thankful for the family I have been blessed with.  The days are long but the years are short!

Happy Fall!

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Monday Morning Commentary

We finished our series, How to be Brave, this weekend with probably my favorite message of the series.  The title of the sermon was, “See It Through.”

The message was came from Philippians 4:12-19 and 2 Kings 6:15-19.  In 2 Kings 6 we find the story of Elisha and the chariots of fire surrounding him.  Elisha was surrounded by the enemy who wanted to kill him but the enemy was surrounded by the Lord’s army.  Elisha prayed that his servant’s eyes would be opened to see the Lord’s protection.

The enemy was surrounding Elisha but the Lord was surrounding the enemy.  We learned that help is not on the way, help is here.  I simply must look through my enemy to the protection from the Lord.  I must see His protection through the attack.  I must see His supply through my need.  My weakness, my need, is the lens God wants me to look through to see His love.  I must see His faithfulness through my failure and His provision through my need.

My strength is directly connected to what I see.  Psalm 121 says, I will look to the hills where my help comes from.  Maker of heaven and earth.  I must learn to see it through.

What and incredible series.  If you missed any of the weeks, you can watch it today on the Elevation Network, in our archive and on our podcast.  And don’t forget, every sermon is also available on the Elevation App for your smart phone.

Have a great Monday!

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Extraordinary courage in my ordinary day

When I was studying to be a teacher we learned about integration, taking a topic and teaching it through all the subjects.  So maybe you are learning about Africa in Social Studies, you might read a novel that takes place there for Language Arts, and study the animals that live there for science etc…  Have you ever noticed that God uses the same technique in our lives? We are in a series at church about every day bravery, and it feels like God affirms and echoes these teachings all around me.

I was reading Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest the other day.  He was talking about how it is not necessarily difficult to follow God in the big things, but rather in the small things.  He pointed out that Peter had the faith and the courage to easily jump out of the boat and follow Christ on the water, but when it came time to stand with him on dry land, when Jesus went to the cross, Peter followed at a distance.  Chambers went on to say we must learn to have extraordinary courage in our ordinary lives.

It got me thinking, what ordinary thing can I do  in an extraordinary way?

Is there someone I need to treat with kindness?

Is there a mundane task I can do with joy?

Is there a child I need to have patience with?

Is there a family member I need to forgive again?

How is my attitude towards the responsibilities I have been giving?

Am I grateful for the blessings I have been given?

My family will not be impressed if I minister to crowds on stage but cannot be patient and loving with them at home.  I want to have the courage to do the small things well, remembering that Jesus said if I am faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones (Luke 16:10).

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