Saturday, December 20, 2014

What Holiday Cheer?

I know that many of us, especially Moms, can struggle with the Holidays - and our attitudes about them. I have had years when I went sailing with delight from Thanksgiving through the New Year, and others when I was awful. . . and I think I made other people feel awful too. If you were one of those who took the brunt of my bad attitude - I'm sorry.

Because I know I've struggled in years past to keep a good attitude through the Holidays, I just wanted to share a little hope with you. 

You don't have to be cheerful to spread holiday cheer, but you DO have to make a choice to not ruin other people's celebrations with your bad attitude. If you're struggling today, know that God knows your heart and He sees what you're going through. Whether you're stressed out by family relationships (or lack thereof,) a recent job loss, loss of a loved one, or just a general feeling of being overwhelmed at the holidays. There is hope.

That hope is found in Christ alone.

For those of us who celebrate Christmas, has our celebration strayed from the birth of Christ, our Messiah? We should be celebrating His coming, because without His birth we could not accept His gift of forgiveness when He gave His life for our sins. Without Christ's birth, there would be no Easter. If you are feeling depressed about Christmas, your ideas about the Holiday have shifted somewhere else. Jesus' birth brought rejoicing, not sorrow.

It matters not if there is a tree, or stockings, or presents to give. What matters is the gift of Jesus. In our family we have had years of plenty, and years of scarcity, yet we have never had a year when God forsook us. There has been food to eat, clothes to wear, and a place to sleep every year. Is that not enough reason to rejoice? Is the gift of Jesus not enough reason to celebrate?! Psalm 42:5 reminds us:

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation  and my God.

If your struggle this holiday season is with a loss, family member, friends, a job, know this - God sees all you are going through, and He wants you to depend on Him alone. His mercies are new every morning, and He desires to have a closer relationship with you. It matters not how long we have known God, it matters that we trust Him to be the ruler of the Universe, and the Lord of our lives.

Psalm 20:6-7
Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed;
    he will answer him from his holy heaven
    with the saving might of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
    but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

What are you choosing for today? Are you choosing to trust? Are you choosing to join in with others to celebrate the Holidays? Are you choosing to make a good memory, however small, of time spent together with friends and loved ones?

Whether you live on top of a mountain, or in the bottom of a pit, only YOU can choose your attitude for today. May you choose one of joy and share it with the hurting and needy around you.

Choose today to be thankful for all you have already received. Choose today to not focus on the decorations or the food or the presents. . . choose today to focus on the GIFT of Christ Jesus!

May your heart rejoice in Christ our Savior, may you join in the mighty chorus of praise. May God open your heart to His wonderful gifts.

Will you join me in singing?

Joy to the world, the Lord has come!

Friday, December 19, 2014 update

Hello blog land! I've just posted a way-overdue update to my review of It's over in the right sidebar, under the pages section. . .  or you can just click here!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Thankful Thursdays - Celebrating Hanukkah with Friends

Hanukkah blessings, rejoicing

In the book of Romans, Chapter 12, verse 15, we are told to "Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep." 

After many days of prayer on behalf of a friend who has suffered great loss, we had the opportunity to rejoice with friends on Tuesday evening. Both commands are great, and call us to support those around us with love. They show the heart of Jesus to those whom we share with. They offer both His comfort and His encouragement.

Tuesday night we celebrated the first night of Hanukkah with friends. Hanukkah means dedication, and is a Jewish holiday that remembers when the Temple was freed from the control of the Syrian Greeks in 165 B.C. and the Jews re-dedicated it to purify it from what the Greeks had used it for (worshipping false gods and unholy practices.) While I am no Hebrew scholar, I think I understand enough to know why our friends of Jewish heritage celebrate. Their hearts are overflowing with thankfulness of the miracle God wrought on their behalf by allowing the dedication oil (that appeared to be only enough for one night) to last for all eight nights of purification. 

In the grand scheme of Jewish Holidays, Hanukkah is often considered only a medium holiday, yet one which our friends freely share with us. There is joy is rejoicing with those who rejoice! There is also great joy on our behalf, knowing that these particular friends of ours are Messianic Jews, who also worship Christ as their Savior.

For myself, this simple celebration with our friends reminds me of how God has grafted me into the vine of His people through Christ's redeeming grace. Celebrating Hanukkah with our friends reminds me that God does still work miracles of provision in our lives. His great hand that provided for the Widow of Zarephath so she could feed Elijah in 1 Kings 17, also provided the oil for the temple purification celebrated at Hanukkah. We have often seen that same great hand provide for all of our family's needs when there just didn't appear to be enough.

We know that God created all that there is (Genesis 1:1,) and He still owns all the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10,) there is no need too great for Him to provide (Philippians 4:19.) Whether you have spent your week mourning with those who mourn, or rejoicing with those who rejoice. . . please choose to join us in offering a thankful heart to the God who continues to provide for us all!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Christmas decorations

Several friends have posted recently about their Christmas decorations. I like Christmas decorations, I always have. For me, they point me to the manger, where Christ was laid as our newborn King. Christmas decorations can be big or small, or none at all. Whatever you choose, I pray you look to the manger, find a Savior, and be like the shepherds who pointed others to Christ.

This year our decorations are small. Our tree is a ceramic one my Dad painted when I was little, before it sits the tiny manger scene I painted when our girls were little. We are celebrating our Savior's birth. The baby Jesus will be added Christmas morning. 

I celebrate Christmas because it constantly reminds me of Jesus' purpose in coming to earth, to give his life as a ransom for mine. We celebrate His victory over death at Easter, but today, we're celebrating His birth.

Christmas is abut Jesus

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Thankful Thursdays - 12/11/14 - The Stars Have Names

Psalm 147:7 tells us that God named all of the stars. 

I live in a small city, there are a decent amount of streetlights, so most mights there are only a few dozen stars visible. I grew up out in the country, where on a clear night you can see hundreds of stars over the open fields. When I look at the pictures taken by telescopes, I see thousands of stars.

I am thankful for a God who can give the stars each their own name. I am thankful for a God who is big enough to remember all their names, and still remembers me. I am thankful for His grace and mercy, and I am reminded of them every time I look at the night sky.

Even in the winter, when the wind is cold and blows the snow clouds across the moon and stars, I can look up to the heavens and know the stars are there. Even when I can't see the stars, they still have names. 

God knows their names, and He knows my name. What blessed thought!