Over the years I have discovered that Christmas is one of those things that means something a little different to everyone – even people who celebrate for essentially the same reason.
Obviously I cannot list all of those reasons because… well… 7.3 billion + people… But I’m going to list some of the general reasons. I have a point – I promise.
To some, Christmas is a very serious season – meant to be revered, solemn, quiet, still… Some of these people may decorate a tree, where others want nothing to do with trees because they feel so commercial.
To some, Christmas is all about the fun – meant for sleigh riding, snowball fights, ripping into wrapping paper and hanging out with friends. You’ll find that most of these people decorate a tree, bake tons of cookies, shop endlessly and watch every Christmas special they can. I did say most though… there are always exceptions.
To some, Christmas is just about family – baking together, making one of a kind gifts, doing a secret Santa drawing so you can really personalize and pour all your energy into that one perfect gift, and of course… traveling to visit family.
But where do I fall? What does Christmas mean to me?
Well, I am – like so many others – one of a kind.
I cherish CHRISTmas because of what the holiday originally stood for – the birth of our Lord and Savior; JESUS CHRIST! And there is reverence in holding this dear.
I value my family during this time – because without JESUS’ sacrifice and Saving Grace, would any of us be here now?
And of course, I focus on having fun with my family – because I believe it is what JESUS would want me to do this time of year… in reality… every time of year. JESUS blessed me with my two children – two little miracles all my own – and I intend to do everything I can to show them how rare and precious they are; not just to me but to their Heavenly Father as well.
We will watch Christmas specials that focus on all these things; A Charlie Brown Christmas, The Nativity Story, Christmas comes to Canaan, etc… because the most important thing about Christmas isn’t the tree… or the presents… or the food… or the movies you watch… or even the people you watch with… it’s remembering WHY all of that is important – because JESUS gave his LIFE to save us and HE deserves ALL THE PRAISE for blessing us this season and every other!
Of course, I deleted it and started over when I realized just how whiny and annoying I sounded – and I decided I was going to try again, with the RIGHT attitude!
Yes, most of my family thinks I’m a freak, a sponge, a big fat cow…
Yes, the people in most churches we visit look at me with their head tilted to the side and a look of intense pity on their face…
Yes, I pay A LOT of money to belong to an organization that is supposed to be full of other authors who are there to support each other – and when I need something, most of the others don’t have time for me…
NONE OF THAT MATTERS!
1 Thessalonians 5:18 – In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
Psalms 107:1 – O give thanks unto the LORD, for [he is] good: for his mercy [endureth] for ever.
Ephesians 5:20 – Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
Psalms 20:4 – Grant thee according to thine own heart, and fulfil all thy counsel.
Psalms 30:12 – To the end that [my] glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.
Colossians 3:17 – And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, [do] all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
Romans 1:21 – Because that, when they knew God, they glorified [him] not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
I AM THANKFUL for the WONDERFUL author and friend who has shared her time and her expertise and her experience so we would not have to learn these things the hard way (the way she had to with a lot of things). She has encouraged me on every step of this crazy and wild journey through writing and publishing and I would not be where I am… right now… if it were not for her! Bless you Rachel! I could not ask for a better friend or mentor!
I AM THANKFUL for the AMAZING author who not only gave of her time but her own praise – and not just to my mother’s book (which is AMAZING and TOTALLY deserves all every single bit of praise it gets) but to me, for being such a great daughter. Suzanne, you are AWESOME! and such a blessing!
I AM THANKFUL for the wonderful readers who have jumped at the opportunity to read my mother’s upcoming release and I can never adequately express my thanks for how much you are appreciated!
I AM THANKFUL for our wonderful and amazing friend who sent us to our very first writer’s workshop! Without that, we would never have embarked on this particular branch of the journey and we would not be about to release a book- in just 11 days – WOW! Thank you Pam! You are an amazing friend, a terrific “adopted” grandma and we are so blessed just to know you!
I AM THANKFUL for preachers who are not afraid to speak TRUTH! I pray God continues to bless their ministries and that they reach countless lives and plant the seeds that God needs to work in people’s lives!
I AM THANKFUL for the opportunity to reach out and share my thoughts and my feelings and my FAITH with anyone who happens across my blog.
I’m sure…REALLY sure there are so many more things I could list. I could probably write forever and never list everything!
One of my favorite singing groups sings a song about counting your blessings. They say when you get to the end, just start again – but I don’t think we can ever really get to the end. God is boundless and His LOVE flows over and around us each and every day.
His blessings are over us, under us, next to us, and right in front of us and there is absolutely no way we could ever list every single one… and especially no way we would be able to start over and count them all again.
so the last thing is this:
I AM THANKFUL for JESUS! He gave me life. He gave me rebirth! He has had more patience and affection and understanding of me than anyone else is capable of and I would not be here today without HIS saving grace!
Have you accepted HIS saving grace?
YOU HAVE TIME! …but only so much. DON’T WAIT! DO IT NOW… TODAY!
Around this time of year we tend to hear a lot of arguing alongside the ringing of so many bells and it’s not hard to figure out why…
We have become lost – not necesarily lost as in we need to be saved – but lost in that we have lost sight of what is important, the big picture, the goal of our very lives.
We stress about “going green”.
Do we worry… honestly… that God – the God who “… made the stars also.” is unable to keep our planet from being destroyed? Do we truly believe that we have the power to destroy anything that God created – and has a very specific plan for?
Do we do it because we want to be good stewards?
The Bible charges us to be good stewards of what God has given us – so it follows that some of us might actually be recycling and trying to “save the planet” just because we are trying to be good stewards of this planet God has allowed us to live on temporarily.
But I think that most of us who feel a desperate need to “go green” (yes, even Christians) do so because they are following the crowd. They are doing what their parents did or what their friends are doing or what society has hammered away at them – telling them that it is their duty to the planet!
Before you get mad, please keep reading. I am not knocking the concept. It is a good thing to be a good steward. And we should certainly teach our children to do everything they can to take proper care of the things God has entrusted to our care while on this Earth… but we do tend to take it a bit too far – not all of us, but certainly too many of us. We are lost… caught up in the tidal wave, swept along in the wake of environmentalism.
In the grand scheme of life, in the history of this tiny planet, this little 6,000 year old planet – we really won’t make much of a dent either way.
The same could be said of “living naturally”.
I read articles and cartoons and rants every day about the devastating effects of irradiation, pest controls and hormone therapy on the food we eat.
You can’t even buy regular honey at the store anymore without running the risk of getting honey made by bees that have been fed high fructose corn syrup. Now it’s not technically in the honey so they don’t have to tell you about it – but it is in the bee’s food so any mother who ever nursed her baby after having coffee or spicy food can tell you – it is in the honey!
But again – in our tiny blip of a life on this planet that is rapidly spinning through our vast Universe – does it really make such a tremendous impact? Is it truly more important than so many other things that can make for a better day-to-day life with our families?
And now… the thing that started this article in my mind – the great debate! CHRISTmas vs Xmas…
The person who wrote that article made the point that X in the original Greek actually symbolizes Christ. So technically speaking, when someone says “Xmas” – they’re really saying CHRISTmas… right?
Does it matter and… is that really the point?
Does it matter? Well let’s see…
If even one person thinks that you are saying Xmas to erase CHRIST from Christmas – then YES! It matters very much! You are presenting that person with the perspective that you don’t care to keep CHRIST in Christmas! In their mind, you are taking Christ out of Christmas!
No, we can’t really control other people’s perspective but we can do small things to help with the amount of confusion we may or may not cause in our own day to day journey.
And really, if you knew saying Xmas was going to keep even one person from being saved or having a blessed Christmas, would you ever allow the words to slip between your lips?
So is it really that point? Yes, I think it is very much the point.
Too many of us have lost sight of what the point is in this life!
We are not here to have as much fun as we can, collect the most stuff and make the most money!
We are here to be a light – a bright shining beacon for God! We are here to live out our lives – to the best of our ability – like Jesus’ life!
We are here to help show the other lost people – the ones who do need to be saved – the path, the way, the answer!
How can we do that if we look no different from the world we are trying so desperately to rise above?
The bad thing about sweeping clean your past is that, sometimes, you lose things …
About a year ago, I deleted several of my old blogs because I just hadn’t been using them and along with that went a really great post I had written about 9/11.
It’s been more than two years since I’ve even looked at that post so I don’t remember all that I said and that is one of the reasons I have started saving the text from all of my posts now.
I’m not going to imitate that post, I’m not even going to try but I am going to try to do justice to the spirit of it all…
Thirteen years ago – tomorrow, I was standing in the electronics department of Target, trying to figure out what crazy person would make a movie about such an unthinkable event… when I realized it wasn’t a movie preview at all but a REAL NEWS REPORT.
I stood there for probably an hour before I thought to even look away from the screen – and only then because they took a commercial break… which, to be honest, I was shocked they would do that but I guess even news people need a bathroom break now and then.
By that time, the first tower had already gone down (about two minutes after I had started watching, the second tower had been hit) and I was in a state of shock.
My aunt and uncle had been planning a visit to New York… were they even now, trapped in one of the burning towers?
A friend of my mom’s had recently started a job as a flight attendant, working out of New York… had one of those planes been hers?
Someone I went to high school with had moved here from New York and went back frequently to visit family… could he be in one of the towers right this minute?
Your mind, well my mind anyway… can come up with some pretty wild and crazy ideas when under duress and my imagination was working overtime.
I left about the time they started showing closeups tower two… if you don’t know what was going on at that time, I’m not going to be the one to tell you but it was too much for me. Yes I know… to say that something like that could be too much for me when you consider what was watching at that moment.
I was not alive when President Kennedy was shot. I was very young when Challenger exploded and I really didn’t understand the implications of Operation Desert Storm and all that went with it.
But this… this was something I was watching with my own two eyes on LIVE television and it really hit home for me.
This was an act of war. This was an attack on my country. This was a tragedy of epic proportions. This was an experience that would leave me forever changed, heart-broken, angry for months… Something that would bring tears to my eyes every time I looked at the word September on a calendar, something that would stay with me forever – changing the way I look at everything.
And now, as a mother of two children who were born three years and six years after this unthinkable horror took place, how do I explain to them what that meant to this country? How do I explain to them how horrific the experience was? How do they ever understand the state of the country now… and how is it ever supposed to make sense to them?
Sadly enough, there will be events that happen in their lifetimes that will impact them in the same way as 9/11 changed my own life… it’s just human nature. And, until Jesus comes to take us home, we will continue to see war, cruelty and the inhumane acts of evil men (and women) everywhere.
But as for me and my house, we continue to pray and hope for the day when we no longer have to watch children being mistreated or killed, the day when human beings treat each other with love, the day when we all become one big family and eternity begins.
Until then, we will continue to pray for our country and the people who live in it. We will continue to pray that the amazing words of Jesus reach as many hearts as possible before that last day for so many of us arrives.
Psalms 1: 1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. 3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. 4 The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. 5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. 6 For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.
Recently we were watching David Gibbs Jr.’s talk at a previous ATI conference about Psalm 1 – Whatever You Do Will Prosper and I realized something as I was listening.
Psalm 1 explains why the Amish are so staunch in their faith… at least it does for me. I don’t know if it is their explanation or not but each of the three challenges that God puts forth to us in the Psalm go along with Amish philosophy so it makes sense.
“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly…”
David Gibbs explained this in a way that I’ve never truly thought about it. When the Bible says “ungodly” here, it doesn’t mean the worst of the worst – even though that is what it has come to mean in our society. It simply means anything/one that is not of God or following God – anyone who is not doing it God’s way, in other words.
The Amish purposely keep themselves apart. They don’t do it to be mean or secretive or because they think they’re better than us. They do it because they do not want to be tempted. And that’s really all there is to it. They do not want to be tempted by the “ungodly” things of this world.
“nor standeth in the way of sinners…”
Again, this has been twisted and misunderstood for many years. It doesn’t mean we get in their way and it doesn’t mean we follow their path. It means we do not allow ourselves to appear like sinners. Obviously we are all sinners. We are none of us perfect. But we don’t have to look like the sin or the other people who are happily wallowing in it.
And that is why the Amish are so adamant to look different, and to put forth their best. They aren’t looking down their nose at us. They just want to show the world what it looks like to be a child of God.
Another of my favorite preachers who speaks at the ATI conferences is Tom Harmon. He said in one of his sessions that “The world is sick of our theology. They want to see our faith.” – Tom Harmon. And he is absolutely right. The world is so tired of hearing us say that God expects us to do things and say things a certain way – and then those same people see us out in public somewhere doing or saying the very things we just said we weren’t supposed to.
So the Amish LIVE their faith. They live it, breathe it and show it to the world!
and this next one was what really got me…
“nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful…”
I thought that meant to make fun or judge other people openly. And, while I admit freely that I’m not perfect and I slip and do that very thing sometimes, I thought I had that one down. Wrong again! That’s not at all what it means. It means we are not to complain, gripe, whine or moan about anything.
Well the Amish certainly have that one. Someone loses a spouse – they THANK GOD. Someone loses a child – they THANK GOD. Someone loses their home – they THANK GOD. The Amish are astonishing. And WOW wouldn’t I LOVE to have their perseverance.
I’m not there yet… far far far from it in fact – but I’m working on it. And God is working on me too. He always will be and I am extremely thankful for that!
1 Thessalonians 5:18
King James Version (KJV)
18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.