ABC’s of a Christ-Centered Christmas

Aim your eyes at Him and you will experience the joy that only He can give.

Be Merry by rejoicing in His goodness!

Come to Him as you are, frazzled and all. He doesn’t care. He just wants you, 

Do everything as if you are doing it for the Lord-all the shopping, all the wrapping, all the cleaning, all the cooking, all the honey-do lists-all of it.

Every good thing in your life, thank Him for. Make a gratitude garland by cutting out paper shaped Christmas lights, coloring them, and writing down something you are thankful for each day on the individual lights.

Find others to serve. Someone is always in need. 

Give with a cheerful heart. This year, cheerfully give a gift to your least favorite person.

Have a birthday party for Jesus and don’t forget to bake Him a cake!

Illuminate others through acts of kindness, like filling Christmas socks full of candy, tying them with shiny ribbon, attaching a Christmas verse and dropping them at your neighbor’s doorstep.

Jam to Christian Christmas music. Hillsong, For King and Country, and Matthew West are some of my faves. Pentatonix also has some amazing Christian Christmas songs.

Keep Him at the center of your celebrations. Pray before meals and have each person thank Jesus for something or pass around the Christmas story and have each family member read a short section. 

Love with all your heart. Don’t hold back.

Make memories with crafts, games, and stories that include Jesus. Pinterest has many nativity crafts and ornaments that are fun to make. 

Nurture your relationship with Jesus by making time for Him, and wrap yourself in His peace. 

Order faith-based Christian gifts for others or better yet, make something and attach a card with something you love or appreciate about them.

Pray for a friend or family member. There are a lot of people struggling right now.  

Quench your thirst by reading the Word. Hop onto the YouVersion Bible app and begin a Christmas devotional.

Rest in Him by setting aside moments throughout each day where you pause, close your eyes and breathe in His peace.

Seek Him in everything you do and commit all your plans to Him. He will help you to not burn out.  

Teach someone about Jesus’s love by telling them what He has done in your life. 

Use Jesus as the talking point in your conversations. Be bold and bring others to Christ. 

View forgiveness as a gift to not only the other person, but yourself, and forgive someone who hurt you. Give yourself and someone else the gift of forgiveness this Christmas!

Worship the Prince of Peace by praising Him, singing to Him and dancing in His presence.   

eXplain the Christmas story to a neighbor or friend. 

Yield to Him. Surrender it all-all your stress, all the busyness, all your hurts and hangups-bring it all to Him. 

Zap any negativity as soon as it enters your mind. Change the channel in your head to more positive thoughts by thinking about what is lovely, beautiful and true.

Tested to Purify

So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold–though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. -1 Peter 1:6-7

When the storms are raging all around us, and the trials are piling up in heaps, how to we hold onto our faith and how do we count it all joy? These are the questions I am asking myself right now.

If faith is believing even when we cannot see, and we are supposed to walk by faith, not by sight, maybe I’m just not seeing yet. Yet is the key word. I may be blinded right now to what’s up ahead, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. Maybe, just maybe, He has something waiting around the bend that is far better than I can imagine. This is faith and hope and I’m going to hold onto it. Just because I can’t see, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. He knows the plans He has for us, and He tells us that they are plans to prosper us and not harm us, plans to give us a hope and a future. We can clutch onto this piece of Truth. But, that isn’t to say that we aren’t in the fiery furnace right now or that it’s easy to hang onto our faith.

As the hurricane of life sweeps in, He tells us to continue to be faithful. How though, when it’s all so heavy and it hurts? And then when we become flooded with doubts? One way we do this is by nourishing ourselves in the Word and soaking up His teachings, so that we can keep putting one foot in front of the other in a Christlike manner. His Word is refreshment for our souls. We read and we memorize. We tuck His words deep into our hearts so we don’t forget them. His Word is a lifeline to the One who carries us, the One who is hope.

We put our hope in our Father and we realize that He is doing something bigger here-He is training us and growing our faith during these times. And if we are afraid of the unknown or we can’t see a way out of the flames, we rise above our fear and we choose to trust. We make that choice and act as if we trust, even when it appears that the dark clouds will never make way for the sun to shine again. We continue to stand firm in Him, trusting that He knows what’s best for us and that He has our best interests in mind. Because He does.

And the joy part. This is where I stumble. How do we consider these trials joy? And how do we feel some joy in the inferno?

For one, we keep our eye on the prize. We will have trouble this side of Heaven. This is a given. Yet, Heaven is our reward and we have to continue to persevere and run the race for Him. We have to sacrifice our comforts now, by accepting the pain and suffering, and knowing that we will be blessed beyond measure later. We remember that this agony we are enduring in this moment will be nothing compared to the joy we will experience when we receive the crown that He has for us. So we look up and keep our focus on what is waiting for us. We can do something else though, too.

Phillipians 4:8 tells us “…whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” We think about the things in front of us that are lovely and praiseworthy and true and right. These are things that can give us joy now.

And worshiping Him in the pain will also bring us joy and peace. We raise our hands, crank up the Christian jams and we sing and dance through the pain and frustration, rejoicing in Him. He will comfort our hearts and give us the gift of joy, despite our circumstances.

In 1 Timothy 4: 8-10, Paul writes to Timothy, “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” Then he states “This is why we work hard and continue to struggle, for our HOPE is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people.” The struggles will be there. He says that, but so is He, because where He is, our hope lies. And He never wavers.

He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. -Psalms 112:7

Acceptance for the Win

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God can bring peace to your past, purpose to your present and hope to your future. -John 14:27

During this crazy, isolating pandemic, I needed a way to serve and God put it on my heart to share my story. Tired of posting snippets of my life on social media, where lives are made to look picture perfect, I took a break and God spoke. So, here I am! And I’m going to be real here, y’all. I want to show the messy, the imperfect, and the struggle in the journey. My journey has never been a straight line or even just a little crooked. It’s been a full on three steps forward, two steps back–again and again, twirls and zigzags, abrupt stops and detours, a cliff drop here and there where I’m hanging by a thread, a long crawl back up, and yet another stumble. I’ve battled abandonment issues, food addiction, chronic illness, postpartum depression and more. I often wonder why I was put on this Earth to begin with, because compared to the amount of suffering I’ve endured, I’ve experienced much less joy in my life. Maybe this blog is why. Maybe it’s not. I don’t know, but I have to believe that He has a purpose for my suffering. Maybe that purpose is telling my story to let others know they are not alone or maybe it’s to bring hope to those who are currently enduring hardships and need some light shed in their lives. Right now, I’m needing some light too. I’ll be honest. Today, I don’t have a lot of hope myself, but perhaps, as I write, I’ll find some in this blog as well, because this last week-heck this last year—or three, have been really, really rough.

A couple of weeks ago, the waves of life came crashing down yet again, just when we were beginning to get settled into our cozy little cabin in Alaska. This cabin, we found out, had toxic mold, so we had to move a second time. Not only that though, less than a week moved in and we have run into problem after problem with this newest abode. I noticed I was becoming REALLY angry-like blood boiling angry, and I know there is always something more behind the anger so I started digging around and realized that I’m struggling with acceptance. I have been in a full blown boxing match fighting with reality because I don’t like the temporary living situation we are currently in and since I haven’t been able to accept it, it’s causing me more suffering and more frustration. I don’t know why our lives have been full of trials-so many, many trials. But as I write this, I can see how exhausting and futile it has been to fight against the things I cannot change, so I must accept our current circumstances as they are for the moment. This doesn’t mean I have to like them or approve of them or that these circumstances are what I’m choosing, but they are what they are for right now. The more I resist, the more I will suffer, so I will choose the less painful road this time. I will be thankful for the things I do have and look for the lesson, while continuing to hope in the One who has carried me this far.

Tonight, as I wrestled with anger and acceptance, I remembered a passage from the A.A. Big Book that had helped me in the past. I pray that this will help you too:

“And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation-some fact of my life-unacceptable to me. I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake…unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and my attitudes.” Alcoholics Anonymous (Big Book), 4th Edition P. 417