Tag Archives: Christmas

December

Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!

2 Corinthians 9:15 (NLT)

December. It’s usually my favorite month of the year. I love “dressing’ the house with decorations and lights, making cookies, wrapping presents, entertaining family and friends, lighting the Advent wreath, singing the Messiah.  I don’t send out Christmas cards anymore but I did for many years.

But this year is different, more sober less frivolity. Moving to an apartment cut way down on my decorating. I saved only my favorite things. But as I look around the rooms, I see different eras of my lie represented. Nativity figures chosen in times of travel, needlepoint items made by my mother, a Christmas picture frame filled with my grandgirlies, a bell made by my mother so many years ago. I had to buy a new tree because the movers destroyed my old one. But, it’s up and decorated with ornaments of meaning and memory.

I’ve been listening to my playlist of Christmas songs on iTunes. Each one wraps itself around my heart and I remember playing it again and again over the years. I listen to an early morning talk show (I mean really early) which is hosted by four people: a man about my age, a woman in her later 40’s and two women who are millennials. They have been playing the top 100 Christmas carols, a chunk at a time. What is amazing to me is the number of songs that are totally unfamiliar to the millennials. I wonder what legacy they will leave to their grandchildren with the music produced in this day and age?

But, the greater feelings of wistfulness come from so many of my friends who are ill either at home or in the hospital. Mark broke his foot this week. A family member needs a job. The past merriment of parties, concerts, and  caroling aren’t carved out on my calendar this year. I decided it was time to change that picture and have invited my small group over for a Christmas gathering. Everyone brings something to eat that reminds them of Christmas. We will have a very eclectic meal but the fellowship will be warm and sweet. I need this for nourishment for my soul.

What says Christmas to you? I encourage you to be pro-active with those who are in your circle. Check in on them. Send a text or email or note of encouragement. We all need hope and what better season then now. The baby Jesus was born and hope was unfurled.

Be of good cheer.

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Festive or Frantic?

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)

The countdown is on and Christmas is fast approaching. Are you ready?

With all that there is to do, I wondered if you have heard the word “lament?” Sure, I’ve read it in the Bible but considered it a King James word, not one for this day and age. But I sure can lament about the things that are still not done. A dictionary definition of lament reads: 1. A passionate expression of grief or sorrow. 2. A complaint.

I read a book by Esther Fleece, No More Faking Fine, which really explains how as Christians, lamenting can be good for the soul and our relationship with God. In studying the life of David in our Bible study at church, I noticed that he was a great lamenter. Just read the Psalms where David poured out his fears and complaints to God on a regular basis. He held nothing back and God could take it. Yet, in the end, he always gave praise and thanksgiving for who God is and what He does because God was always there to take care of him.

Mark had deep brain stimulation surgery in September and the recovery has not gone as we expected. The brain is a complicated organ and mixed in with all of the other health issues that Mark battles, the doctors continue to tell us that it just takes time. In the meantime, much of the work falls on my shoulders because he is now very unstable, falling easily.

A friend commented that I was too anxious. Anxious?  I thought about it as I lay on my couch one afternoon and had a long lamenting (complaining) session with God about who was going to take care of Mark if I didn’t. I had reason for anxiety. But in His still, small voice, God spoke to my heart and said, “I will take care of him,” followed with “and I will take care of you.” Peace flooded my soul and I lifted up that anxiety and let it go to the One who cares so much for me.

The Christmas season is notorious for bringing anxiety to life. As much fun as it is, the pressure we put on ourselves to meet everyone’s needs and desires can be overwhelming. This Christmas, let’s purposely lay those expectations of ourselves and our family at the feet of Jesus. He delights in meeting our needs and giving us peace.

 

 

 

 

 

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Missing Piece

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.

Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)

The Christmas check list seems unending. From decorating the house, shopping and wrapping presents, making cookies, parties and Christmas cards—there always seems to be one more thing to do. If you had known me in my full “go Christmas” mode, it would have just made you tired.

And then life feel apart. Divorce hit and it happened near Christmas. I wanted to ignore the whole season and pretty much did. Long time friends knew that something must be up because they didn’t receive my Christmas card the first week of December. All the joy was drained out and I was left with little hope that Christmas would ever be special again.

I knew that Jesus was with me and He even met me very personally during an especially difficult time. But Christmas…

The traditions had to change and I’m not particularly fond of change. But each year was a little bit better—not great but tolerable. My kids made sure that we kept many of the old traditions and then added new ones. But there was always a little hole in my heart.

Until the big news — I was going to be a grandmother and the baby was due the day after Christmas. Joy, anticipation, and excitement filled my heart.

A good friend said to me one day in early December as I waited for the birth of that baby, “Isn’t it just like God to give you a grandchild now so you can celebrate the birth of two babies at Christmas?”

That was certainly the missing piece for this holiday but it reminded me that the real missing piece was allowing Jesus to fill me with hope and joy every day. He knew what the road ahead looked like and promised to never leave me or let go of my hand.

A funny situation occurred this week when I stopped to get a latte at a new local cafe. It was filled with decorations for purchase and as I perused the shelves, I noticed a tiny nativity set with miniature pieces. I have collected nativity sets all over the word and thought this would be a perfect addition.

When I got home and unwrapped the pieces and placed them in the miniature stable, all were present but one.

I called the manager and told him the story.

“Mmmm, the baby Jesus. Let me check,” he said.

“I found him. He’d been moved to another shelf.”

I picked up my missing piece and the tableau is now complete.

But are you missing something this Christmas? Are you feeling like you’ve been moved to another shelf? Has grief left you wrung out? An injury sidelined you for all the festivities? Depression’s pit just around the corner? No paycheck to cover the gifts you want to give your kids?

Remember that the missing piece is Jesus. Happiness and joy are two different emotions.  Jesus will give you joy even in the darkness because of the flicker of light that was lit on Christmas morn.

That missing piece?

He’s now your Prince of Peace.

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Do Good to All

 We ask you, Christian brothers (and sisters), speak to those who do not want to work. Comfort those who feel they cannot keep going on. Help the weak. Understand and be willing to wait for all men. Do not let anyone pay back for the bad he received. But look for ways to do good to each other and to all people. 1 Thessalonians 5:14-15 (NLV)

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From childhood, Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. I love every part of it…from the decorations, to the Christmas carols, sparkly lights and yummy cookies. Christmas parties, choir concerts, family gatherings — it is all the very best.

Yet, this year, there is a pall over my heart. The Paris and San Bernardino shootings, a friend whose son attempted suicide, another in the hospital with congestive heart failure, a neighbor who hurts all the time from a fall and broken hip, family members struggling with anxiety and depression.

If this is supposed to be the “most wonderful time of the year,” what happened? Unlike the headline from the New York Daily News, “God isn’t fixing this,” I know that He is. We don’t know what is going on the heavenlies but we do know we have a God who is not surprised, is greatly saddened, and is in control.

So what are we to do in this time of upheaval, fear, sorrow and anger? The verses quoted today give us some ideas.

Many are out of work and can’t find a job. They may be friends or family and this is about the worst time of year to look for a job or have Christmas less than two weeks away. But you can look them in the eye and speak to them. Let them know they are not invisible to you. Encourage them with a smile and squeeze on the arm.

Some are so discouraged and downhearted. Life is messy and not what was expected. Too much time spent in doctor’s offices or hospitals. No energy to do shopping or make cookies. The phone is silent. Pain lurks and and then erupts. Offer them a ride and have a latte and bit of conversation at a favorite coffee bar. Stop by and wrap some of their presents or take them for mailing. Send an email or text of hope and cheer. Smile and give them a hug.

Be patient. Waiting is the hardest work of hope. We live in a world of instant gratification so that we assume no response or delayed response means no. But that isn’t always the case. Hope gives us the courage to keep on, to trust God with the hard stuff — the parts that don’t make sense — and know that He loves and cares more than we can ever fully understand.

Be on the lookout for someone who is hurting and be that little bit of light and hope. And SMILE. Christmas is coming!

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