Tag Archives: Jesus

Don’t Miss It

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Don’t Miss It

Admittedly, Christmas is my favorite time of the year. I love everything about it: family, love, food, friends, but more than that, I cherish the reason for the season: Jesus’ birth. For if He were not born, there would be no death and resurrection to save us from our sins, offering grace and pardon to live eternally with Him. Our hope is found in the birth of Jesus! We have reason to celebrate and to share the hope we have in Christ.

Somehow, some way, every year without fail it seems that the reason for our celebrating is left in the dust. Our focus turns to stuff and what we can buy to give, or to receive for ourselves. We are scurrying around to every child’s event at school, church, and the like not to mention the office parties and gatherings among friends. We find ourselves stressed out, broke, and even depressed. Then, there’s the sickness that naturally occurs as the weather cools down and germs begin to spread. We find ourselves sleeping less and going til we can’t go anymore.

I find it hard to believe that this is what Christmas was meant to be about. Why is it that we wait until December to show love for our friends and family? Why is it that we feel that gifts given somehow equate to how much we love someone? Why do we continually spend money we don’t have in fear of being perceived a grinch?

As I continue to age, I find myself tremendously scaling back. Cutting back on activities, some of which I’d rather enjoy partaking in; however, I’ve learned my limits. To me, Christmas is time invested with family and friends, quiet moments by the fireplace, sharing yummy simple food, listening to beautiful Christmas carols and hymns, finding peace amidst the chaos, simplified giving, and self-care. As much as I love sending and receiving Christmas cards, I find myself cutting back on the expense of them. We erroneously allow money and the giving of gifts to be the focus of our Christmas when we already have the best gift we could ever receive: Jesus.

When I allow my mind to wander back to Christmases past, what I have fond memories of is time spent with both sets of grandparents and extended family, traditions of baking family favorite treats (even the dreaded fruitcake!), Christmas Eve candlelight services at our church, luminaries throughout our neighborhood, finding and cutting our Christmas tree, homemade hot cocoa, roasting marshmallows and making s’mores, singing favorite Christmas songs, Christmas caroling throughout the neighborhood, unwrapping one gift on Christmas Eve, reading the Christmas story from our family Bible, opening treasured engraved ornaments from family friends, trading Christmas cards from friends and family near and far.

Pinterest and facebook didn’t exist in my treasured memories. We baked and created in the kitchen only to be compared to the recipe that had been passed down through the family. Selfies and instant posting of pictures on social media didn’t exist; we were busy living in the moment, savoring time with those we loved, enjoying being out of school and traveling to Grandma’s. Cellphones and texting weren’t a thing yet making our family time more special and less distracted. We were excited to see what gifts were under the tree and enjoyed hearing the back story of how and why each gift was chosen and purchased. Amazon didn’t exist making it exciting to actually go to the mall and wonder who you might run into while you were shopping.

It was a joyous and simple time. Even with all of today’s technology intended to make life easier and less complicated, yet distracting us like never before, we can find simplicity. We can savor the moments, find joy in simple handmade gifts and cards, and most importantly, focus our minds and thoughts on Jesus. Being present in the moment and enjoying life’s simple pleasures. Love isn’t about money spent on gifts; rather the heart that gives out of love.

Consider these thoughts as you and your family count down the days before Christmas. Don’t allow yourself to be caught up in the commercialism of the season or the comparison trap of gift giving to keep up with the Joneses; for there isn’t any love there. Demonstrate Christ’s love in a simple smile, handshake, hug, handwritten note, or even an anonymous gift given to someone in need. For here is where the joy and love of the season is found.

Wishing you and those you love a very Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

Christmas is just around the corner!

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Christmas is just around the corner!

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Are you one of those who loves a big countdown to Christmas? You know, “only 10 days until Christmas!” Or, are you one of the many who love to go out in the midst of the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping? Perhaps you are like me and rather despise the anxiety that can be brought upon us with all the marketing, countdowns, and crowds of people everywhere, fighting for the perfect gift at the perfect price.

Regardless of where you stand on the rush brought on by the holidays, one thing remains common to us all: the heart. If you’re reading this, you are living and breathing and your heart is beating. I can’t really take credit for the point I’m about to make because it isn’t original to me. A gal and I were chatting about whether or not we’d decorated our homes for Christmas. It was her goal to put her tree up that day. Since my family and I had just returned from a long car trip, my focus needed to be unpacking suitcases, doing laundry, unpacking our car & buying groceries, all the things that go with being out of town. We both agreed that the house has to be clean before we can decorate. This added some stress to our otherwise fun plans! She shared how her 5 year old loves to decorate the tree and help her put all the decor out around the house. What a lovely thought; I however, imagined doing my decorating while my son was at school.

Our conversation quickly turned to the heart. My friend simply said “if your heart isn’t in to the joy of setting out the decor and preparing your home for Christmas, it is being done with the wrong intent and motive“. This resonated with me in the season of life I’m in as I have debated whether or not to even put up a tree. Lest you think I’m the Grinch over here, let me assure you that Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. I used to look forward to getting all the decor out, unwrapping all the precious and memorable ornaments to flock my tree. I loved setting out my beautiful nativity scene, wrapping the garland around the banister, hanging our stockings and sitting back to enjoy the warm glow of the lit tree.

Where is my joy? It’s there. Down deep. I feel as if it’s yet another chore to add to my never-ending “to do” list. Sad, isn’t it? Remember, I told you I’m not the Grinch. This is where the heart comes in! Just as you would prepare your home for the Christmas holiday, so should you prepare your heart. I’ve been pondering what that means. I want to be “all in” and celebrate. What does this look like for me? I want to usher Christmas in by being in the moment. I want to put myself and my thoughts into that day so many ions ago when Christ Jesus came to earth as a babe, born of a virgin to bring joy and hope to a dying and sinful world. Jesus would live here with us as a human being before the plan was fulfilled in which Jesus would die a horrifying and tortuous death upon a cross, taking on our sin (yours and mine), yet 3 days later raise from the dead! It is during the Easter season that we celebrate the hope there is beyond the grave for those who believe and place their trust in Jesus Christ. Whew! What a humbling thought. What amazing love was displayed for you and me!

Slow down your busyness. Be intentional with your time. Take time for yourself to read the Christmas story in the book of Luke. Set out your nativity. Ponder what that day must have looked like on that day so long ago when Jesus was born. Listen to Christmas carols with meaning to help prepare your heart for the reason, the true reason, we celebrate Christmas. Quiet yourself before Him and thank Him for the gift of His Son. Share these truths with your children, as you pray for ordained moments. Help them to understand the season isn’t about Santa or presents, parties or candy. Give them a glimpse into your heart. Christ is alive and well and waiting for us to meet with Him, if we’ll give Him some time.

Merry Christmas!

Silent Night, Holy Night

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Christmas Eve is here! Christmas is just a day away….can you believe it?! It’s hard to imagine especially when there are tornado warnings where I live and 60 some odd degrees outside! Regardless, December 25th is the day we celebrate Christ’s birth.

So, have you taken some time to enjoy the season and take a break from the hustle and bustle going on all around you? Have you been able to quiet your mind to ponder that very first Christmas when Jesus, King of all kings, was born? Steeling away is the only way for me to get the silence I need to focus on the reason for our celebration.

For me, tonight was one of those nights. Our family packed into a van and traveled around town to see the beautiful Christmas lights. In between complaints from my 3 year old, who was bored with it all, I was able to focus on a short row of houses which had beautiful lights strung all about and synced to Christmas music. It was gorgeous and full of delight! There was even a man and his son who came to each car offering hot cocoa and cookies.

So, before you tear into your Christmas morning festivities, I challenge you to take a moment to just breathe. Reflect on our Savior’s birth. Enjoy some Christmas carols, take in a Christmas Eve service, sit before a roaring fire. I’ll bet you will feel a real sense of true peace and joy if you choose to focus on such things. Your heart and mind will then be able to reflect on the fact that Jesus really is the Reason for the Season.

Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

What in the World?

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What in the World?

Watching the news is so depressing and anxiety riddling. You need only to listen to the morning’s headlines before you can feel emotionally paralyzed. While the answer can not be found in burying our heads in the sand and unplugging from all things news, we need to be grounded. We need to find our hope in something, or Someone greater than ourselves. What is the answer then when all we hear is news of gloom and doom, disaster, destruction, murder, terrorist attacks and disease?

The world needs Jesus. There, I said it. We are lost, living in a fallen world. The Bible speaks of days like this. Hard, difficult, ungodly acts that we experience today and every day. Just read God’s Word; it’s full of heartache, heartbreak and difficulty. We are not immune from anything in this life. Depressing as it sounds, this life we live here is not all there is. Thank goodness! It is not and never will be our paradise. Entitlement is not reality. Whoever has the most toys in the end does not win. Obtaining the best education, securing the best job and earning the most money doesn’t guarantee us squat. Having millions of dollars will never be enough and will never buy us what is lasting or satisfy our deepest longings. Doing A + B does not always = C.

Before you decide to throw up your hands in despair and hopelessness, or worse, read on…..

What is the answer then? Rather than “What to do?” it’s “Who to follow?” The answer is found in Jesus Christ. He is our only Hope.  By choosing to follow Christ, we are promised eternal life with no more pain, no more tears, no more death or disease. While life this side of heaven can be good, fulfilling even, exciting and happy sometimes, it is fleeting and certainly not a guarantee or constant. It all boils down to this one truth: em tuoba ton s’ti, translated “it’s not about me.” Plain and simple, when we exchange our life for His, we begin to see our lives through a whole new lens. No longer is it me in the driver’s seat, but Him. While this may seem like living a life out of control, it is about Him being in control because He knows all things and His ways are higher than ours. If this seems like a huge revelation, we were never really in control of anything anyway.

Allowing Christ to  order the steps of your life and direct your path is quite freeing actually. He changes our “want to,” exchanging our thoughts, desires, plans and control for His. Remember the old TV show, “Father Knows Best”? Well, our heavenly Father really does know best. He has written your story and mine. He has great plans for your life. He loves you infinitely more than you could ever dream of loving yourself. When we see our lives through His lens, we begin to see that this life we’re living is just temporal. It’s a short, brief blip on the screen. Don’t put all your stock in this life. Invest in your future which is hidden with Christ. He gives us hope, peace, joy untold despite how we are feeling, or even what we see on the news. Don’t miss another minute worrying or stewing about tomorrow. Twila Paris’ song, “God is in Control” is true. I’m glad I don’t have to depend on my limited resources to be in control….of anything. I have and would make a complete mess of my life. Decide to let Jesus “take the wheel” of your life and choose to follow Him every day that He has given you. After all, the end of this life is only the beginning of life forever with Him.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son. Whoever puts his trust in God’s Son will not be lost but will have life that lasts forever.” (John 3:16)

If you do not know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, do not delay one. more. minute. Decide today to choose Him. He is our Hope, our Anchor, our Creator, our Savior, our Redeemer, our Healer, our Great Physician. He does all things well.

Blessings on your day!