Category Archives: Christmas

Twas the Day After Christmas

IMG_0895Twas the day after Christmas and all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

With coffee in hand I stroll quietly about,

Surveying the chaos and feeling some doubt…

Piles of dishes and glasses, boxes and bows,

All the “remnants of Christmas” every Mom knows.

The evidence of sugarplums awaits on the scales to my dread,

And a questionable vision begins dancing in my head…

IMG_0925IMG_0919IMG_0921IMG_0879IMG_0898IMG_0896IMG_0893IMG_0915After  a month of cooking and parties then once again mopping,

Decorating, preparing,  and much endless shopping —

IMG_0899I can’t help but wonder, as I look all around,

Did we celebrate well? Was the Christ-child found?

And then I search deeper — with the eyes of my heart.

I see family, friends, strangers– laughter and hugs from the start.

If Christmas is Jesus, and Jesus is Love

Then Yes! The best gift did arrive  from Above.

IMG_0907Thank you, Jesus, for blessing my crazy ideas to celebrate YOUR day,

Using all things for good is your Holy forte!

You graciously made yourself known so many times

My gratitude overflows; my wonder climbs.

Each December 26th I used to be sad when I crawled out of bed,

But now my heart knows Christmas endures, just not  from a sled!

Everything that matters is right here — every day!

Jesus, Emmanuel —  with me to stay.

IMG_0902There in the manger —  yes, I see our Savior;

He’s also with us in our tears and sickness, and forgives our misbehavior.

In loneliness, pain, struggles and sadness,

Jesus! our light in the darkness, the   promise and hope of coming gladness.

IMG_0912Jesus lives with us; there’s power in His Name.

He doesn’t withhold  hardship, but saves us just the same.

Trust Him today, tomorrow and all your days.

He is faithful forever — worthy of utmost adoration and praise!

Back in my kitchen the day after celebrating His birth,

I declare to all, “EVERYDAY is Christmas —  let’s celebrate His worth!

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Christmas isn’t Always the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

photo-114While many of us have Thanksgiving leftovers in the fridge and crumbs still on the floor, this Black Friday supposedly marks the beginning of “the most wonderful time of the year.” Between a late Thanksgiving and the fact that everyone I know feels like  the earth is spinning faster than it used to — the holidays are blurring together. I’m hosting a party  in a few days, and the fall colors of bounty are definitely clashing with the reds of Advent.

I wonder how many people have a similar battle silently occurring in their hearts today? Wonderful, faithful people who just mustered up the courage to thank God in their hardships. And now they feel they have to stuff their feelings entirely — because sometimes it feels like Christmas gives us one of two choices:  be holly jolly or be the grinch.

It feels very unChristian to be sad or lacking a festive spirit today, but feelings aren’t facts.  We all need a little help sometimes. Despite every desire to be decking the halls and spreading good cheer, some people are blue today. They just can’t muster up the energy, peace or joy to face the Christmas season. They’re looking forward to January 2nd — when things can just be normal again.

IMG_13402008 was “that year” for me. I wanted to pull myself up by the boot straps… but unfortunately, despite loving Jesus and my children with all my heart, and willing my heart to be joyful — I had a bad case of the blues.

Usually, I love Christmas but in 2008… I just wanted to curl up and let it pass me by.

If you’re so blessed that you’ve never  experienced a truly blue Christmas, let me help you understand. It doesn’t mean somebody doesn’t have faith, or that they don’t love and trust Jesus. Their heart might even be bursting with the Joy of the Lord. It’s a condition way beyond fake it til you make it, and it’s nothing like the indifference of bah humbug.

Many of these dear blue Christians care very deeply about the true meaning of Christmas. They are simultaneously in a season of long-suffering — fighting illness, loneliness, grief or any number of scenarios of brokenness. They, like us, are the hurting, weak sinners that the Christ child came to save and redeem.

IMG_1324But this Christmas — they can’t quite make themselves celebrate the way the world wants us to — the way we’ve grown so accustomed to. The warm, familiar scenes depicted in the art of Norman Rockwell and Thomas Kincade feel far away.  They are taunted by wrapping paper, store windows and the songs and carols blasting from  every retail speaker.  They are outsiders in a world smitten with  “Christmas spirit,” and it hurts.

Maybe you’re buying your tree and decorating while the gangs all here? Or visiting with family and friends? Hunting? Playing games? Watching football?  It’s great and worthy to enjoy family, friends and all the festivities. But take a minute this season to think of those around you… to look behind their eyes, and ask yourself who might be experiencing Christmas as the most difficult time of the year?

IMG_2601And DO something! What could possibly be more exciting, true and loving than to be the hands and heart of Jesus this Christmas?

One very cold morning that December of 2008, two precious sisters came to my door with two bales of pine straw,  a thermos of hot chocolate and some odds and ends to build a strawman. They coaxed me out of my PJs and into the yard to decorate. There’s nothing sacred about decorating —  with straw, snow, tinsel or anything else — but there was something holy and good about two people noticing my paralyzing blues, and caring enough to show up and do something out of love for me. They put skin on Jesus that day.IMG_0026

When I really needed it, they gave a tangible reminder of their love and of Jesus’ love. It made a big difference. Not in my faith, salvation or circumstances, but in my ability to make it through the “secular side” of Christmas. And the truth is, most of us are caught up in some of the trappings.  It just feels bad if we don’t fit in enough to “do Christmas” in some of the familiar ways, even if we know Jesus and love Him with all our hearts.

Two people loving me face to face changed Christmas of 2008 for my family, by simply bringing hugs and a warm drink and leaving behind a token of love. Would you consider adding a reminder to your Christmas list to deliver some “strawmen” this year? Whatever your circumstances and creative spin calls for —  give  the love of Jesus to someone whose name might not be on your list — except simply as Strawman.


Christmas Opportunities

IMG_1256** click on the title to expand to entire text**

I was almost ready to hit the streets to finish my Christmas shopping, when visions of a Christmas blog danced in my head. I was compelled to type. Ministers say Easter and Christmas are the toughest sermons to prepare. Dare I say anything about Christmas?

I’m not coming from a place of believing I have it right — rather this post is written from the bottom of the trail, looking up at my “Christmas path,” contemplating how I might look differently at the holidays.

I question how well I’m actually celebrating Jesus’ birth. I’m spread thin and tired. Possibly spending too much. Not giving enough to the truly needy. Is all I am doing in the name of Christmas glorifying Jesus? Is it about Him at all?  Should I be “more focused” on Jesus now than in, say February or August?

IMG_1333We’ve seen the buttons:  “Jesus is the reason for the season.” True, for a Christian. But is the message effective? Even many sincere followers of Christ find December to be a tough time to squeeze in prayer and reading the Bible. Stress can rise as we prepare for the joys of seeing extended family, squeezing in one more event, and shopping…

We try to be extra jolly and bright, but it can be hard. Sometimes we resign ourselves to the merriment and set aside being with Jesus until the calm of winter. Or possibly we begin to resent the “secular side” of Christmas and all the  traditional “trappings” we can’t seem to escape. Some of us are lonely and just wish we could skip Christmas. Others hang Christmas trees upside down and stop exchanging any gifts — all in the name of keeping Christ in Christmas. The extreme even become possessive of the Christ child, and militant toward the non Christians who are participating in our holiday.

What if we took off the well-intentioned, but slightly preachy buttons that might alienate, and simply reminded ourselves that Jesus is the reason for life in every season! Christmas is fun. It’s just the date we choose to outwardly celebrate His birth.

We  know the Gospel is our joy and our responsibility to celebrate EVERY day.  What if we took the pressure off ourselves to be more attentive to Jesus in December? Isn’t that really our everyday privilege? What if we believed that Jesus really did come for everyone, and experienced  Christmas as a unique opportunity to be a little more bold in letting Jesus shine through us to others — to strangers, our families, believers and non believers alike? What if the joy of our Christmas boldness grew into the new year?

year-round decoration in my house
year-round decoration in my house

It is open season on Christ all year long. But at Christmastime, the average person is more tolerant and celebratory  — no matter what their faith. Most people on the street know Christmas originated in Jesus’ birth, so they’re a little more tolerant of our prayer and worship. They love Santa and gift-giving. They accept our offerings and enjoy our singing — even about the little child in Bethlehem. Most Americans wave white flags around Christmas. Everyone seems to want a little more goodwill toward men. “Christmas spirit” (whatever it’s  source) is contagious.

What an opportunity! Instead of letting others see us struggle within our ranks about how to celebrate and what “should not” be the center of the Christmas celebration, let them see that Jesus always reigns in our hearts! Christmas is a great opportunity to share the One we celebrate all year long.

They may not understand our faith, but they’re watching. We can give gifts of grace as well as wrapped packages, because we’re the children of our King! His abundance is ours! We can celebrate family as one of God’s most precious gifts. We can have fun and joyfully receive and celebrate the mystery of the Gospel as little children.

Hopefully, some will ask the reason for our joy, and give us an opportunity to tell them about the Jesus who is always with us — our personal Savior. We don’t have to make heroic or divisive efforts to be sure outsiders see we’re all about Jesus in December, because we constantly surrender and accept His grace by faith — usually in the quiet of our daily prayers. Jesus knows our hearts.

IMG_2597We don’t enter God’s kingdom through debate or problem-solving, but we receive it in faith as little children.  Maybe at Christmas we need to be less pious and scholarly. As we continually open our heart, mind and soul to Jesus, we can leave it to Him to create opportunities to reveal Himself to others through us — or not. How is Christmas different from any other time of year in this regard? Only in that others are watching more intently.

We as Christians are on the world’s stage whether we like it or not.  What are we saying? Let’s reflect Him. Let’s give gifts and make merry — all with the purpose, not of preaching, but of loving. Let’s open our hearts first to Him in intentional prayer and worship. Then, to each other and our neighbors. We have a golden opportunity to share our everyday friend and Savior, Jesus, with the watching world.

IMG_2565Just how we celebrate Christmas isn’t the point. Rather we join together at Christmas and everyday to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind. And love your neighbor as yourself”  as Luke 10:27 teaches. To be thankful. To praise Him and to share what He has done in our lives.

Let’s realize that “Christmas” might not be just for Christians, but also a God-given opportunity for us to enter the world of nonbelievers, with a hall pass to share our faith and our holiday freely and generously. We can have total faith that as we open our hearts to Him and to others, the Babe of Bethlehem will be with us, and He will appreciate our celebration.