My family had a really wonderful Christmas break full of fun, snuggling, coziness, time, laughing, great food and a well needed exhale. I’m extremely happy that God gives us exactly what we need, when we need it! As an interesting side note, one of my kids had to do some extra school work for catching up in class. This child seemed to think that putting in 20% effort would be enough to squeeze by. Needless to say after checking this homework, I helped this child to have an education revelation related to effort, quality and general work ethic
I’m learning a lot from my kids that I probably should have learned much earlier in my life – but alas, better late than never! So here’s a great lesson from the education revelation over Christmas break:
I’d rather deal with the pain that can come from truth than the destruction than can come from deception.
I wanted to write up a quick post yesterday but I had more work than time – sorry!
I’m particularly fond of the few days immediately following Christmas because they feel like an exhale to me. The days leading up to Christmas can sometimes be a frenzied collection of meal preparation, last minute wrapping, gifts, holiday bustle and manic hustle. But the days after Christmas seem to be more peaceful to me. Everything seems to get more calm, peaceful and manageable. Let me encourage you to take some time in these days to pause, reflect and rejuvenate. Drink deeply of God’s presence and nestle into God’s unlimited love for you. Jesus was born for us out of no other motivation than genuine love
On a quickie side note, please remember to pray for South Sudan – they’ve had close to 2 weeks of intense conflict and thousands have been killed there in the last 10 days.
During Christmas, it seems like we are frequently aware of the whole gift thing & sometimes that can be kind of tricky. Here are some ideas for gifts that could be really useful:
encouragement: Christmas is a great time to put into words (even on a card) how important someone is to you, to let someone know how wonderful they are or what you admire / respect about them
hugs: some people really appreciate a genuine hug during Christmas without getting sketchy
time: I took one of my kids skiing yesterday & we totally enjoyed lots of time together, without phones, email, FB, etc – just being together
extra effort: doing something nice for someone (bring them a cup of coffee, offer to clean their garage, run errands, etc) can be super meaningful – even creating coupons for work can be a nice gift
gift: gifts don’t have to be expensive to be meaningful
The ideas listed above are from Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages book – a super helpful way to express love in ways that are meaningful to the person receiving the gift & not just the person giving the gift
Once upon a time, there was a master painter whose works were without equal. Whenever he had a canvas and paint available, he would create masterpieces of such magnificence that no words could be found to describe the beauty, extravagance, grace and splendor of his work. He lived to paint and anyone who had the privilege of seeing his work was immediately captivated by his craft and talent. One day, he found himself thoroughly engrossed in one of his paintings, so much that he found himself walking around inside the painting, limited to the world that he had painted! As he strolled through his painting, he met the people that he had painted. They were dressed with nice clothes and had bright smiles, but as he talked with them, he came to see that they were broken and lacked the vibrant life to which he was accustomed outside of the painting. As he thought about this dilemma, he decided to go the extra mile and give them some of his life. As he breathed his life on them, the individuals who received his breath became whole and well, even three dimensional!
The painter was well pleased that he could enjoy the company of his creation
I was reading this morning about how Jesus hung out with tax collectors, sinners, prostitutes and disreputable people. In their best moments, the religious leaders of Jesus’ day thought that His choices for social interactions was weird. More often, the religious leaders were “unhappy” with Jesus’ social choices. Clearly, Jesus didn’t fit in with the religious leaders & was weird by their estimation.
On the flip side, it seems to me that Jesus was more accepted & fit in better with the people who were more obviously broken (sinners, tax collectors, prostitutes, etc). Maybe these disreputable people liked Jesus because He was weird. He was different from them, offering them genuine love that they had possibly never experienced.
When Jesus lived on earth, He modeled for us how to be good in a weird way – loving people genuinely. In my thinking, the work we do with Saving Moses and nightcare is wonderfully different & even weird because it’s an overtly tangible expression of genuine love
My kids have been working on their Christmas wish lists & I asked one of them yesterday if world peace was on his list – he chuckled
When I was growing up, I always wondered about the whole thing of Santa coming down the chimney & how he stayed so clean coming down so many dirty chimneys. Maybe he wore a haz-mat suit for the chimney dives
But when I’ve been thinking about what might be on God’s wish list, if God has such a thing. Perhaps God would like the inside of our lives to be clean, of course with God’s help. It seems to me that particularly during this season, we often dress up, fix our hair to be pretty & look good on the outside, but let’s not forget to let God help us to clean & fix up the inside of our lives as well. Cleaning out bitterness, strife, unforgiveness, animosity, impatience, . . . . cleaning out some junk in our hearts so that Jesus has room & space to maneuver in our lives without alot of clutter or interference
Sometimes I think that comfort can be debilitating. Comfort can be the path of least resistance, the lack of stretching and sometimes the lack of growing. It’s definitely possible that when Jesus, the Son of God, was a newborn that He was uncomfortable – but all to our benefit!
I find that when I get in uncomfortable situations, if I lean into the Holy Spirit, I’m not nearly as uncomfortable. I may be stretched, pushed to grow, improve and get stronger. But ultimately if I have to make a choice, I’d rather grow, get stronger, improve and mature than remain comfortable, even in this busy Christmas season
Whenever I go snowboarding, I’ve learned to check the weather forecast so I can be appropriately dressed. If it’s snowing, it helps to wear water repellant gear. If it’s cloudy, I try to remember to bring my flat light goggles. While you may find this to be boring, the principle remains that we need to prepare in advance for things that we know could be challenging or difficult. Sometimes if we know that we’re going to be in some tricky family situations (with Christmas around the corner), it helps to do some mental coaching ahead of time about the things we should or should not discuss. It helps to coach ourselves about our attitudes and some of our thinking so that when we get in some potential hotspots, we have done some preparation work ahead of time to help us with our words, actions and attitudes. Gear up my friends, in constructive ways, there could be some hotspots on the horizon in the next few weeks
Since we’re in the middle of the Christmas season, my kids have organized, refined, amended & advertised their wish lists version 4.5. Here’s an interesting twist: what if Santa had a wish list? What would Santa’s wish list look like? Perhaps Santa would like a chia pet or a vegamatic chopper ,)
More likely, Santa probably wants his reindeer & elves to work together without strife & division. If you think about it, both the reindeer & elves have some hefty responsibilities & the last thing Santa would want to deal with would be conflict among the elves or dissension with the reindeer. Perhaps our Heavenly Father has the same thing on His wish list this Christmas – maybe our Heavenly Father would be super pleased if the strife & conflict with His children was reduced or even eliminated. Let’s you & me make this goal (harmony with each other) one of our priorities so God can check this one off of His wish list – peace on earth & good will among men
During this Christmas season, I’ve been really thinking about Jesus being a newborn & it’s totally rocking my world. I’ve been thinking about Mary having labor in a room where the sheep, goats, cattle, etc were kept. I’ve been thinking about what it was like for her to go through labor for her first time, not at home and maybe not in a very comfortable place. I’ve been thinking about Jesus being a newborn – what a TOTALLY CRAZY thought. The Son of God, present at the creation of the world, prophesied to Adam & Eve, the Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace, Mighty God, Everlasting Father (Is 9:6) and eagerly anticipated for thousands of years being a newborn baby.
Having had three newborn babies (I have three kids) and getting to work first hand with babies with Saving Moses, I’m blown away to think about the second person of the Trinity being a newborn baby – it takes my breath away to think of Jesus as a newborn
We are all very popular. Everyone wants to get our attention. But ultimately, what businesses want even more than our attention is our money & they go to elaborate efforts to engage us for this treasure.
But here’s God’s crazy advertising scheme: send His only son, “disguise” Him as a human, empower Him to express genuinely transformational love & then let Him be brutally murdered. To secure humanity’s attention, God raised His son from the dead – now that’s some premier marketing & advertising. But God’s ultimate goal isn’t your money but rather your heart for a deeply satisfying & fulfilling relationship with the Creator of the universe. Skip the marketing hype & surrender to real love
Christmas brings out the best & the worst in us. We tend to be more generous & compassionate but at the same time more impatient and cranky. Christmas motivates us to see the needs of people around us, like Saving Moses, but because of the increased pressure & work that can come with this season, we can also be more self-centered and less flexible. In the next few weeks, I’m planning to do some really practical & honest blogs about dealing with Christmas. Below are a few ideas about handling cranky people in the Christmas season:
remember that Christmas isn’t an easy season for many people to navigate (deaths in family, difficult memories, loneliness, financial pressures, etc)
if someone is cranky, don’t let their behavior & attitude infect your words or attitude
plan ahead to be extra patient, gracious & kind (pre-planning our attitudes is a great tool to have available when the need arises)
gain satisfaction from being generous & kind, not from the person’s reaction (internal versus external fulfillment)
If the truth be known, I have to really mind my attitude in the holiday season. Unfortunately, I find it easy to get cranky, impatient & snarky. I tend to try & justify this stuff saying I’m tired, I have lots of extra work, etc. But I want to do better this year & I want to manage my attitude more than letting it manage me. For me, the best way to accomplish this is to ask God for help as frequently as possible, along w memorizing a few Bible verses. Attitude affects altitude