Really, Christmas is . . .

Christmas is for kids –

innocently believing in a Santa Claus. Believing that someone cares SO much that he wants to bring you a gift.

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A Time to Ponder – Advent Awaits

 
“Mary kept all these things, treasured the very thought of them, and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19 paraphrased)
 
Because Caesar Augustus had decreed a census, Mary traveled with her espoused Joseph, to be registered in his hometown of Bethlehem. It was undoubtedly a long, arduous journey, the weight of the unborn babe within her.
 
Shortly after arriving, Mary birthed her baby in less than desirable conditions. A very young woman without a midwife or other women supporting her as was most likely the custom. Alone with Joseph. No family. No personal care.

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Praising, Like Mary – Advent Awaits

Make praising God your second nature.

Years ago, I had written those words in my Bible, alongside “Mary’s Song,” verses 46-55 in Luke, Chapter One. Now, in this Advent season, the words remind me that Mary was a young woman who praised God! In fact, it seemed “second nature” to her!

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Let’s Get Shopping!

Need gifts for co-workers? Employees? Friends? When Life Roars, Jesus Whispers and Shh! Listen to His Whispers! are the perfect gift for you to give this Christmas because . . .

They will most likely not be a duplicate to something he/she already has.

Each is the perfect size and price, and  . . .

they may very well be a life-changing.

These last few years have been challenging for all. Certainly within chapters relating to Truth, Grace, Faith, Mercy, Hope, Comfort, and  Promise, each person gifted with either of these books will discover life-changing applications and will draw closer to God. And, isn’t that what it’s all about?

Let me tell you a bit about these publications:

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Waiting like Elizabeth – Advent Awaits

She had probably attended the births of her nieces and nephews, had rejoiced with her sisters and cousins and friends at the births of their babies, had seen their babies at breast while her own breasts yearned the suckle of a child yet unconceived. I suspect she had gone home crying, once again pleading with the Lord for a baby of her own.  I watched my sister go through this agony for years – baby showers for others, never for her own. Many of you know her pain.
 

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Advent Awaits!

This is certainly a different season than usual for me and for my family.

It is strange. Just months ago, I wrote a series of posts on my website titled “Adventure Awaits,”

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Immediate Delivery!

Friends, 

Everyone loves getting books for Christmas. This year, put  When Life Roars, Jesus Whispers and/or Shh! Listen to His Whispers! under your loved one’s tree! Let me tell you a bit about these publications:

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My 2020 Christmas Letter

This is not your typical “Christmas letter.” Instead, I’m opening up, which isn’t always easy for me, sharing  a composition of my thoughts late in this beautiful Christmas season of this dreadful year of 2020.

First, I must clarify – every year is “blessed” – none can truly be “dreadful,” if one is alive to tell about it. But we all know what 2020 has been, and it is not at all pleasant. So, even though as a Christian, I find blessedness in all the Lord has provided and brought us through this year, I also find dreadfulness in the year itself. Why? Because our enemy has twisted and maligned, and – well, Jesus stated it so well in John 10:10, when He told us that our enemy, the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. That’s just what the enemy has done this year. Every heartache, trial, illness, death, separation, loneliness, divisiveness, turmoil – all fit in the categories of at least one of those three words: steal, kill, and destroy.

Woe! And whoa! This piece of writing is becoming dreary and seemingly hopeless.

But Jesus . . .

My friend, our Jesus turns this terrible year completely around – totally inside out – from darkness into light – from death to life. It started when He was born, it continued when He saved me, and it’s happening right now. He makes all things new. He is our hope. His promises are true. He is unchanging. He is all faithful. He will never leave us or forsake us. Never. He is with us now – at the end of this dreadful 2020 – in the midst of this beautiful Christmas season.

This is our Jesus.

He came to give us life. LIFE! Not just a sense of “living” but a LIFE abundant! (Also John 10:10) Jesus refers to that life as rich and satisfying (NLT) – as full. NIV).

This is our Jesus.

So at this Christmas time, we can rejoice in singing of Jesus as Immanuel, the Prince of Peace, the Newborn King. We can rejoice in singing of the hope and peace He brings.

Recently, I saw these pictures of the Baby Jesus and as our Savior Jesus, dying for us:

He came for all. He died for all. And He rose from the grave for all. But He is not yours if He is only your Christmas Baby Jesus. He cannot be your peace and hope if you have not trusted Him as your Lord and Savior. This year – this dreadful year – may you realize the fullness of His love for you. May you realize why He truly came.

I’m sure this is a strange Christmas for many. It is different for me, too.

Ron and I were blessed to celebrate Christmas with most of our children and grandchildren in Michigan – early. They all had other plans around the actual “Christmas Day,” so my home was decorated early – and for just a short period of time. It was different. It didn’t seem like Christmas time that early, so I did not deck the house as usual.

Although the nativity was set in a prominent place, the remainder of Nana and Papa’s Michigan home didn’t change much from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Only the lighted church was set up – not the many lighted houses, the tiny ice skating pond the little ones so love, or the snow and mini fences completing the beautiful little village. No wreaths adorned my doors this year; no garlands embellished the fireplace mantles; only one tree was decorated instead of two. I’m not sure why. Was it the mindset of an altered year? Or was it because of an altered mindset?

On a Monday, nearly three weeks before Christmas Day, Ron and I “took down” Christmas and packed it away for another year. We headed south.

Once settled into our southern Florida home, we scouted the local stores in hopes of finding the perfect little Christmas tree and the most meaningful Nativity set. In hopes of establishing a new little tradition of Christmas with just the two of us. Because we must. It is different. Many of you know. More than I. You’ve been alone. Perhaps single. Perhaps divorced. Perhaps widowed. This year, isolated by the evils of a virus. It is different yet. And most often unwelcomed. You try. You bake cookies and place at another’s front door. You send cards and encourage others. You mail packages. Sometimes you cry. You often pray. You find Jesus sufficient. More so than you ever realized. You have found Christmas. 

You have probably learned what I am now discovering. The truth about Jesus. The truth of meeting him in the manger. The truth of looking ahead to His suffering and death and resurrection. The truth of peace and joy – that only He can bring. The truth of knowing why – why He came as a baby. The truth that we sometimes can only learn at the end of a dreadful year.

And it is a blessed understanding. One that needs not a lighted tree or even a beautiful Nativity. One that needs only the Word – the Carol – the Worship.

If Jesus is your Savior, as well as your Christmas baby, you understand. If you are uncertain, click here to read how to make certain – to receive Him as your Christmas gift – as your Savior.

Turn from thoughts and anxieties and pain and fear of the killing, stealing, and destroying brought by the thief – turn to the abundant, full life promised by Jesus!

Join me in the true celebration of Jesus’ birth. Together, we’ll sing,

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

And His favor rests on us, His children,

because of our Jesus.

All the more reason to celebrate Advent.

 

advent – “the coming into place, view, or being”

Things are “coming into place” for the Christmas season.

People are decorating. Shopping. Others are simply “trying.” Wreath on Fence

I join those people – the ones simply “trying.”

 Inner turmoil, trials – unknown and unseen by most, are keeping me from “feeling” Christmas – from “feeling” like decorating – from “feeling” like playing Christmas music.

And I am not alone.

The recently widowed friend writes that she is  “trying to get into the Christmas spirit.  I’m just not there this year.”

Another person says she just can’t get in the mood yet for Christmas. Perhaps if it snows, she adds, hopefully.

Hopefully. Hopefully we’ll get in the mood.

All the more reason to celebrate Advent – to consider the hope.

As a believer, I can first celebrate the hope that is in me – Christ, the hope of glory:

God has chosen to make known [to me] the glorious riches of this mystery – the word of God in its fullness – the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to [us] the saints. This mystery is Christ in me – the hope of glory. (Colossians 1: 26, 27)

Once I begin to contemplate Christ in me, the hope of glory – my hopes  rise! Turmoil, trials, loss, lack of snow! – nothing else takes precedence over the birth of Christ “coming into place.”

Believer, it’s all the more reason to celebrate Advent!

If you are not yet a Christian, click here to learn about becoming a believer!

Please let me tell you about my perfect!?!? Christmas

A Christmas past:

Ron and I celebrated Christmas with our family yesterday. Five little ones sat around our small breakfast table; two babies were in their little chairs; and twelve of us sat around my big threshing table. The table was lined with various sizes of clear and blue Ball canning jars, each filled with snow (epsom salts) and tea lights or pine cones and red berries – all on a burlap runner. (Got the idea from Pinterest.) Friendly+Village+CollectionJohnson Bros. “Friendly Village” place settings (a gift from Ron – some years ago) covered the table. The room was filled with tiny white lights on realistic but artificial pine. (One of us is allergic to real pine!) The nativity (collected from our North Woods days) was placed nearby, a ever-present reminder of why we had gathered.

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beef roastI prepared a ten-pound boneless beef rib eye roast coated with peppercorns and served with horseradish cream. It was the largest and most tender Christmas roast I’d ever prepared. The potatoes were mashed from those I had dug from my garden late in the fall. Along with the salads and vegetables my girls brought, the dinner was delicious!

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Ron (Papa) prayed; Matilyn, our 13-year-old granddaughter, read the Christmas passage from the Gospel of Luke, and the children (young and old) rejoiced in the gifts that were shared.

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Memories of the day include the “abc” wad of gum I later found stuck on the butter dish, as well as the discovery of the baby crib mattress, taken from a bedroom, which I found in a battered and torn state at the base of the stairway,  where two of the children had used it to slide down the stair steps while we adults sat talking in the dining room! Later, when they all went home, shoes and jackets and tiny pieces of toys were left behind, some small gifts remained to be exchanged, and I knew that the day had passed much too fast.

Sounds like the perfect day?

It wasn’t!

The tree was decorated just a few short days before this party! Not every planned recipe was actually prepared and served. I didn’t take the photos I wanted. (Photos of the canning jars, dishes, and rib eye roast are taken from online!) Some of the family were late; some left early. Our family has struggled with outside forces and trials throughout the last three years.

This Christmas day was not a perfect day, but it was a “turning point” day. It was the first time we were all together in a year; our hearts were joined in love for each other and unity in Christ; so I felt very blessed! It was the end of another difficult year and nearly the beginning of a new, victorious year; so I was also thankful!

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I share my “not so perfect” day because I know that many of you, my readers, have similar Christmas days – or similar Decembers – or perhaps similar, difficult last few years, as we have. Our homes do not look like the photos we see on Pinterest, nor do our lives appear similar to the vibrant postings we read on Facebook!

When I awake on Christmas morning, I think of you women who are alone. My heart aches for you. I think of you who are grieving a recent loss, the pangs of which were replayed in every Christmas carol you heard this season. Things are not always as we want them to be. Our plans do not all come to fruition at the very time we choose. But we can rejoice in our Lord and know that He is faithful all the time and know that what He tells us in His word will be accomplished!

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There will be another Christmas in the future – perhaps I’ll get a chance to take some photos. Maybe we’ll have a bit more time to relax with each other as a family. Perhaps you won’t be alone next Christmas. For some of you, another year will buffer the intensity of the grief you now so heavily bear.

Let’s speak and believe the word together – the same words spoken by Elizabeth when she met Mary. Let these words remind us that we are and will continue to be blessed:

“Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.”

(Luke 1:45)