Christmas 2021 is almost upon us. Where has this year gone? Everything seems like one big blur and yet, as I reflect, I am more aware this Christmas than ever before of God’s amazing blessings in my life. He truly is “the reason for the season“.
This season I have found myself reminiscing about former Christmas’s. Growing up my family lived overseas, and then as a young adult and raising my own family, we lived in the Midwest of America. Seven years ago my husband and I moved to South Florida. Our kids live in Nebraska and Colorado and have commitments that keep them close to home on most holidays. So being together every holiday is not always possible.
I’ve been trying to pick out some common denominators that have made each Christmas significant to me. As I did this I realized that it hasn’t been the gifts or even where I happened to be. It hasn’t been because certain foods were served or even who was there. Some were in hot climates and some in cold. None of those things added or took away from how special this holiday always was to me and my family.
What makes CHRISTMAS more significant than any other holiday is that we never made it about things or cercumstances. Christmas was always all about JESUS whose birth was the whole reason we were celebrating.
Focusing on Jesus causes me to see the many blessings in my life that come from being His child. As you read my list of just a few of the blessings I am remembering this Christmas, I pray it will open your eyes to look around you and see His goodness this season.
LIFE. And Jesus promises it “more abundantly” John 10:10. Life itself is amazing but abundant life is spectacular. Every morning I get to breath because He gave me life. When you choose to live this life with Him it gives you so much more than the things around us could ever provide.
HOPE. God’s promises are sure and that gives me the knowledge that even though this life can have loneliness and empitiness and sickness and disappointment, He promises something better in eternity. In Hebrews 6 vs 19 it says “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, …..” And IJohn 2 vs 25 says “And this is the promise that He has promised us–eternal life.”
PEACE. This peace isn’t anything you can buy. In fact, trying to find fulfillment and peace in this life is futile. True peace can only be found as you place your life in the hands of Jesus and accept Him as your Lord and Savour.
My prayer this Christmas is that MANY will look for Jesus in the manger and find Him and begin to see the many gifts and blessings He has for them. I challenge each of you who have already found Him to give someone that gift and invite them to meet Him this year.
In the last few weeks I have been asking myself questions like “how do I stay strong in this fear driven world?” And “what if I get this virus?” And even “what if my income is affected by this shaky economy?” I’m sure you have found yourself asking the same questions. There is so much unknown and the ‘what ifs’ are constantly on my mind.
This is when talking to myself becomes a healthy thing to do.
I remind myself of other seasons of uncertainty that I have lived through (and survived) and have seen God provide for me and my family in miraculous ways. The Bible is full of these kinds of stories but they are even more real when they are your own and come out of real-life experiences.
When I was 16 I lived in war-torn Nigeria with my missionary parents and three brothers. We were in our third term when we found ourselves caught in the middle of civil war. There was a time when our area was taken over and we were cut off from all communication with the outside world for 6 weeks. (This was before computers and cell phones, so being cut off was really that.) Our families back home didn’t know if we were dead or alive. Altogether there were three families, consisting of 6 children (the youngest being four years old) and 8 adults. Stores were closed and food was scarce as there were no trucks bringing in supplies. The roads out of the area were blocked so we had no other recourse but to stay put.
My dad and several of the men decided to drive 30 miles into the nearest town. We knew there were some American oil bases in the area and we hoped that some of their people had remained to watch over their equipment.
When they arrived at the American oil base a large man in his Texan hat came out to greet them. When it was explained that we lived 30 miles away and there were children and more adults the man said: “If you guys are staying around then you need to come with me.” They got in his Land Rover and he drove them to a huge warehouse. As they drove up my dad said: “This is the warehouse I saw in my dream last night!”
Long story short, we were given as much food as we wanted and also given a movie projector and movies to watch (that was well before home movies were even heard of). I remember eating canned pie filling and steaks, food that was fit for a king (in my mind)!
Not only did God provide but He provided more than we needed. It was a miracle provision I WILL NEVER FORGET!!!
As a young adult, this made a huge impression on my life. I can honestly say that I have never doubted that the God I serve will ever let me down. I know He loves me and cares not only for my needs but goes above and beyond my needs to take care of me. He is a miracle-working God and it’s during seasons like we are living in that He shines. If we can trust Him and depend on Him and remind ourselves that He will take care of us, I believe we will see and hear miraculous stories of provision and healing come out of this season. The scripture below challenged me today.
PS. I would love to hear some of your stories of God’s goodness during this season of quarantine and self-distancing as we share with each other in the comments. Look for the good and let’s encourage each other!
Choosing a word, one word, to describe what I am anticipating for this new year is not an easy thing to do….usually. But this year it came to me in such a simple way that I couldn’t ignore it.
Change is alwayschallenging and these last four years have been all about navigating a lot of changes in my life. 2019 begins year number five and as it was nearing a close in December a lightness and anticipation began inside of me. There wasn’t any one thing I can identify that made me realize my “word” for the year but this “lightness” was so noticeable it made me pay attention to it. The last few years I have felt the exact opposite. A heaviness has seemed to envelope me in so many ways and affected my everyday life in a way I had never experienced before. So feeling “light” was such a change it was easy to notice. No one around me commented about it but it was something inside that made me realize there is a change in the air and I began to be excited about it.
Some people say it takes up to five years to begin to adjust to a lot of change and maybe that is true. I just know that I like it….whatever it is. I wouldn’t trade all that I have experienced, in 2018 especially. It wasn’t the easiest year, that is for sure. But easy isn’t always the best and I know I have benefited from the difficulties and have become a stronger, more secure person because of it. There is good in everything….especially when you trust God with your life. His faithfulness and goodness never ends and I experienced so much from those attributes last year.
This year I am excited to experience whatever He brings my way. My word for the year is ENJOY! Enjoy life, enjoy God, enjoy my family, enjoy my friends, just ENJOY. I know that isn’t deep or necessarily profound but in my practical, ordinary way it means so much to me. God has been so good to me and I have ignored His goodness because it wasn’t what I wanted or necessarily expected. There is so much enjoyment to be had in my everyday living and I have been one who has not taken the time to even consider enjoying them. Well, this year is different!
So….my word for 2019 is to ENJOY EVERYTHING THAT COMES MY WAY, EVERY DAY AND IN EVERY WAY I POSSIBLY CAN! This picture says it all!!
Fall (Autumn) is upon us. Summer of 2018 is gone. Here in Florida the leaves don’t change and even though it might look colder outside because it is raining, it is still hot and humid. Our Fall is our hurricane season and it was one year ago that we lived through Hurricane Irma. Every hurricane brings loss to those who go through it. We lost our electricity for 4 days and thus lost food in our fridge. Fortunately, we had no other loss but others in the path of that storm did.
Seasons of life experience their storms as well and this season of life seems to be full of storms that bring huge change. The hardest storm is experiencing the loss of close relationships. Loss is so difficult whether it’s your parents or your best friend. My husband and I have lost a father, a brother, very close friends and several people we looked to as mentors and advisors in the last six years. My heart breaks for the husbands, wives, children, grandchildren, parents, siblings and friends who find themselves walking this road of loss. Trusting in God takes on a whole new meaning when you are faced with living in the season of loss.
How do you live in change when the familiar is gone? It seems to happen a lot in this season of life. Your job changes, you downsize your living space, your children leave home, you move away from familiar surroundings, and you lose loved ones. Sometimes you feel like you have been struck by a wave in the ocean of life and it took your feet out from under you. What do you do? How do you cope?
I’m learning that the best thing to do is to step into your tomorrow one day at a time. Don’t sit in the shadows but choose to step into the light. Every day brings a little more insight into the future. Each day God provides the hope that His plan for your life is still the same. His provision and care for you has not changed. In fact, I am convinced that since He is not surprised by the changes in your life, He has already gone ahead and made provision for you. He is ready to be what you need as you live in this new season. A friend of mine who recently lost her husband said it this way:
“I have to step out of my comfort zone so I can experience all that God has for me in the days ahead.”
This is my prayer for me and for anyone else who finds themselves in a season of change and loss:
“Lord, open my eyes and my heart to see Your goodness in this season. Give me a glimpse of the other side of this feeling of loss and sadness so I can live with joy all that you have for me. I don’t want to regret this time of my life. I trust you Lord!”
Remembering those we love, treasuring the memories and missing them every day!
I am in Lincoln, NE this week where I lived for 25 years and where my daughter and son-in-law and their 8 children live now and also where my 90-year-old mom decided to settle for her final years. So, even though I moved from Lincoln to South Florida 4 years ago, I find myself back here often. On Monday we remembered my dad who passed away 5 years ago. I happened to spend the afternoon with my mom and she was asked to play the piano (she has played by ear for a long time) for the Memory Care Center in the complex she lives. She is living in the Independent Living side. These patients love her piano playing and she loves playing the old hymns for them. As she played I could see my dad standing next to her singing harmony….as they often did when he was alive. All of a sudden I was crying….and I could hardly speak. It totally took me off guard. She wasn’t crying at all. But I was a basket case. And I am not typically an emotional person.
This season of change and transition has opened up a part of me that is very vulnerable. I cry easily. I laugh easily. I feel lonely at times. I don’t know if I particularly like this “feeling so much” me. But, I have noticed that it has made me think of others more. I’m not as critical as I have been in the past. I forgive and allow for mistakes in me and others when I have always been hard on myself and others in the past. Maybe this is a good thing. I’m beginning to realize I will never be perfect and I can’t expect others to be perfect. Without God’s help, I would actually be nothing!! I’ve always known that but now I feel it!!
Maybe that is what this season is all about.…tenderizing….marinating….a time when the seasoning that comes from life’s experiences is finally getting into my spirit and making me full of flavor so God can use me more than ever before. You know….”salt of the earth”. Marinating takes time and tenderizing has to be beaten into you. I guess it depends on how tough your piece of meat is. God knows how much we need.
When I first arrived here in Lincoln my 7-year-old granddaughter gave me a card she had made just for me. The front of the card read: To: Nana From: Tori. She had drawn a picture of earth with a moon and stars. When I opened up the card it read…..You will do one big thing. She had a picture of me with a helmet on and the moon. Of course it made me cry and laugh. (The thought of me going to the moon made me laugh!)
The Rev. Billy Graham died this week at the age of 99 and we were all reminded that our lives will count if we just do what God asks of us and no more. THAT ONE BIG THING!