Christmas

The Christmas Hangover

My house looks like heaps of people threw a party and didn’t clean up after themselves.  We’ve left dishes on the couch, tissue paper on the floor, trails of wrapping paper residue, cups and mugs on end tables and snacks litter the kitchen counter from us grazing types.  When I scan our family room and kitchen, it looks like we had a magnificent party, enjoying everything!  And rightfully so because we celebrated the birth of the Savior of the world!!  We celebrated that God entered human existence as a baby, along with shepherds and magi discovering God’s genuine love displayed in human skin!

How could we not celebrate and party!?!?!!!

So the day after Christmas, my house looks like a party hangover and maybe there’s also some food coma hangover from the sugar, treats and tasty delectable that we enjoy on this special celebration.

Once we get some helpful caffeine in the bloodstream, we’ll begin the clean up and recovery process, restoring order and more healthy eating choices.  And while we sweep, rinse, restore order and prevent bug infestations, I don’t want to throw out the baby with all the cleaning.   Because Jesus’ birth isn’t merely for Christmas and then it’s over.

Jesus’ birth is a great reminder of many things that we’d be wise to continue cherishing in our daily living and pondering moments.  While we clean up from Christmas, let’s keep these treasures readily accessible for our attention:

  • Genuine love:  no one expresses genuine love better than Jesus so it’s good to stay in His love which helps us stay loving.
  • Pervasive peace:  one of Jesus’ titles is the Prince of Peace.  Having Jesus in our hearts can keep us peaceful inside when the world around us could be sheer chaos or deadly silence.
  • All knowing:  having wisdom in our daily living is essential, so looking to Jesus helps us have solutions for problems, answers for questions and provisions for needs.
  • All powerful:  reading through Jesus’ life in the Gospels gives me great assurance that nothing in my life is impossible for Him, including me!
  • Ever present:  maybe one of Jesus’ greatest Christmas presents to us is His presence and He never leaves nor forsakes us!

As we wrap up this Christmas season and begin to close out this year’s activities and responsibilities, let’s be sure to carry over Jesus’ life into our daily existence.  We can do this by grabbing some time in the Bible (maybe read a Psalm per day or grab a daily Bible reading plan from a quick google search), making a playlist on our phone with our favorite Jesus songs, using red lights as reminders to look for Jesus when we’re driving, put a helpful Bible verse on the lock screen on your phone, make a pact with a friend to do daily reciprocal prayer for each other, join a small group at church and heaps more ways!  Instead of a Christmas hangover, let’s have a Jesus carry over, being purposeful to find Jesus in meaningful ways throughout each day!

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Posted by sarahbowling in busy, Christmas, cooking, family, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, Jesus Chix, listen, living, prayer, relationships, seeing Jesus, spiritual, thought life, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

Proper Care and Feeding for an Introvert at Christmas

There are many fantastic things about Christmas, including:  wonderful music, festivities, eggnog, generosity, beautiful lights and lots more!  Of course, the best thing about Christmas is thinking about Jesus coming into human existence as a newborn and the whole Christmas story.  When I ponder Jesus’ birth and the surrounding events, like the angelic visitation to the shepherds and magi following a star, I’m deeply awed when I consider all of this as a vibrant expression of God loving humanity.

But alas, sometimes Christmas can get swallowed up in the frenzy of parties, cookies, concerts, caroling, wrapping, decorating, shopping, baking and heaps more.  And coming from an introvert’s point of view, sometimes Christmas can be overwhelming.  So if you know an introvert (coworker, family member, spouse, neighbor, classmate, etc.), here might be some helpful suggestions that could sooth that introvert and keep them less prickly.

  • Space:  whenever introverts have heavy obligations or frequent demands (office parties, school programs, Christmas concerts, secret Santa exchanges), they will need space (breathing room) to offset these expectations.
  • Quiet:  loud Christmas music, raucous parties and blaring noises can necessitate some quiet for your introvert.  They can struggle if noise (background TV, carols, concerts, programs) seems to be endless.
  • Solitude:  Christmas is a social season and while introverts can be social, it’s helpful to remember that they recover and get refueled with solitude or quiet company
  • Depth:  Lots of times Christmas overflows with superficial conversations about the weather, getting shopping done, being ready for Christmas, kids activities, reindeer accessories, etc.  Introverts flourish in deep conversations and shrivel in the shallow exchanges.
  • Feeding:  sometimes you can lure an introvert from their den with a plate of cookies, or their favorite snack J

My daughter and I were talking about the whole introvert and extrovert Christmas experience and we both enjoyed chatting about these respective viewpoints and how we process Christmas.  No matter if you’re an introvert, extrovert or ambivert, Christmas is the celebration and evidence of God expressing genuine love for humanity.

And as we think about Jesus’ birth, I’m often riveted by the shepherd’s experience in Luke 2 because maybe they were introverts, keeping watch over their sheep in a field at night.  Shepherds at this time in history lived a more solitary existence, since sheep required abundant pastures for foraging, along with quiet brooks for clean water.  And when their work had become the most quiet and settled, in the night watches, they were freaked out with an angelic visit, complete with God’s glory shining around them.  Of course, the angel, Gabriel, told them not to be afraid, because they were astounded!

Furthermore, after Gabriel’s announcement, heaps more angels popped onto the scene with singing and celebration – an incredible divine interruption and display of jubilant revelry!  The shepherds responded to this experience by hustling into Bethlehem to find the baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes and laying in a manger.  I’m pretty sure that Mary, Jesus’ mom, was somewhat surprised to see these strangers celebrating her sons’ birth and maybe she was also an introvert, pondering these things in her heart.

Whatever your personality is, let’s remember that Jesus’ birth is the crosshairs for Christmas and let’s stay in grateful awe of God’s extravagant genuine love for us, personified in the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus, God’s Son.

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Posted by sarahbowling in busy, Christmas, cooking, family, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, relationships, spiritual, thought life, values, watch, 1 comment

The Jesus Thing

Now that we’ve entered December, the Christmas festivities are in full swing.  There are parties to attend, cookies to bake, packages to wrap, trees to decorate, concerts to enjoy, potlucks to cook for, school programs to assist with, . . . .  and it seems to me that the list is endless.  The truth be told, when I hear the word, “Christmas” it makes me tired before anything starts, maybe like Pavlov’s dogs who salivated when they heard a bell chime.   To make it more challenging for me, I have lots of friends and family members who love the Christmas festivities and countdown the days until the frolicking can commence.  I watch my friends and family with curiosity, perplexed and awed by their ease and grace to enjoy this season.

From their point of view, sometimes they think I’m like the Christmas Grinch, as it may seem like I’d prefer to find a quiet cave and disappear from the noise, obligations, hubbub and seasonal delicious treats.  And it’s not that I don’t like the yummy food, beautiful music or serene snow that can christen this season.

My deal is that it’s easy for Jesus’ birth to get swallowed up in the season’s bustle, hustle, duties, celebrations, cookies, wrapping paper, gifts, decorations, glitz and glam.  So I find it challenging to stay focused on Jesus in the midst of this hectic season.  In the past, I’ve tried to keep this season less hectic so I could focus on Jesus better.  That’s been a really constructive tactic to help me keep Jesus in the Christmas crosshairs.

For whatever reason, this year seems different.  I was looking at my December calendar to find some empty space for lunch with a friend and I was disheartened to see almost every day booked.  How did I let this month get away from me and it’s just the beginning of the month?  Where did Jesus go for me in this month?  Maybe I should call this month my Jesus Month instead of Christmas, as a purposeful reminder for my focus.

And maybe it would be helpful to think about Mary, Jesus’ mother, this month as we celebrate Jesus’ birth.  She was obviously the key player for Jesus’ birth, after she was overshadowed by Holy Spirit, nine months earlier.  So when I think about Mary giving birth to Jesus in this month, I’m reminded about what it was like for me in the last month of pregnancy with my three kids.  I was tired and trying to keep my focus on the finish line of giving each of my babies a healthy and safe delivery / introduction to their separate existence.

I suspect that Mary, being away from her family to register in Bethlehem with Joseph her husband, maybe she was a little jittery or possibly overwhelmed with the unknown (child birth) looming in her immediate future.  Or maybe Holy Spirit helped her all the way through her pregnancy, so that she didn’t deliver Jesus in a completely frazzled and unraveled experience.

So when I think about Holy Spirit helping Mary through her pregnancy to deliver the only begotten Son of God, it encourages me to focus on Holy Spirit to help me through this season to stay focused on Jesus.

This is my prayer for you, as you finish this blog.  May Holy Spirit overshadow you throughout this season so that Jesus’ birth is fresh in your heart and outlook, not just on Christmas day, but for each day that leads to December 25th.  Let’s remember that Christmas is the Jesus thing 🙂

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Posted by sarahbowling in busy, Christmas, cooking, enemies to intimacy, family, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, seeing Jesus, spiritual, thought life, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

Not Ready

The week between Christmas & New Year’s feels like a “not ready” week, maybe because of all the festivities, bustle & frenzy leading up to Christmas, . . . . . And then we pause 🙂

And for such a pause, I’m abundantly grateful. I don’t have to get ready for anything – no dinner guests, no events, no sermons, no parties, no gift wrapping or last minute presents to buy. In this week, it’s ok to be “not ready.” So I appreciate the opportunity to lounge in pjs, take time for reflection, watch birds and squirrels eat berries off the tree outside my window, get my vacuum into the shop for a much needed tune-up, sleep in a little bit and be entirely comfortable with being “not ready.”

Maybe this idea goes back to the concept of Sabbath, when we pause from our work and take a day of rest. I sincerely believe that such a pause is an essential ingredient for growing in our intimacy with God 🙂

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Posted by Sarah in busy, Christmas, enemies to intimacy, family, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

In Between the Holidays

Have you ever been in the middle of something & felt like you’re kind of in limbo?  Sometimes, I feel like this between Christmas and New Years.  There’s a nice exhale after all the frenzied Christmas flurry but I can also feel the New Year coming into focus, even though I’m not quite ready for that yet.

Limbo land is kind of a weird place.  It’s the middle area between starting & finishing, so it can be a short little jaunt, like a quick trip to the grocery store, or the entirety of life between birth & death.  When I think about this middle space, I’m reminded of lots of Bible folk who found themselves in this experience:

  • David in his flight from Saul lived for many years in this middle space, where God cultivated strength, committment & maturity in him.
  • Moses lived in limbo land between his flight from Pharoah and the burning bush, where it looks like some of his youthful hubris was deflated over the course of 40 years, making him ready for the burning bush experience that launched his destiny to liberate the Israelites from slavery and so much more!
  • Peter had some limbo time between when he betrayed Jesus and was reconciled to Him after Jesus’ resurrection;  perhaps those days helped Peter see his utter dependence on Jesus in sharp contrast to his frail flesh, being reconciled through the loving interaction with Jesus in the Q&A session about Peter’s love for Jesus

Let’s be sure to keep a laser focus on Jesus in between the holidays 🙂

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Posted by Sarah in busy, enemies to intimacy, family, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, seeing Jesus, spiritual, thought life, travel, values, watch, 2 comments

Wrapping Presence

It’s defintely true that I can struggle with the right spelling of words from time to time.  But in this situation, the title for my blog isn’t a misspelling.  Instead, it’s an intentional play on words to catch your attention & maybe challenge you to some ongoing generosity with Jesus.

How so?  What Jesus likes more than your words, money, service, clothing, church attendance, etc. is your self.  When we give all of ourselves to Jesus, it seems to me that this gives Jesus the greatest pleasure!  So here are some wrapping ideas for your presence with Jesus:

  • time:  we can give Jesus time in all kinds of ways – as we drive, in those unexpected moments of pause with a cancelled appointment and in the morning / night to be present
  • words:  it’s always good to give thanks to Jesus (for daily things, miracles, unexpected blessings, rich conversations, etc ), as well as some worship for who Jesus is
  • attention:  let’s ask the Holy Spirit to increase our awareness of Jesus’ presence, since He said He’d never leave nor forsake us.  I ask, throughout the day, for help with my focus and attention to sense Jesus

Be sure to wrap your presence with time, words and attention, to give your self wholly to Jesus!

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Posted by Sarah in Christmas, family, Genuine love, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, seeing Jesus, spiritual, thought life, values, watch, 0 comments

Late Wrappers

Wrapping Christmas presents isn’t in my top 5 thrilling adventures. So I’m a late wrapper. In addition to being a late wrapper, I’m also not a very good wrapper. I have the “get ‘er Done” mindset. But lest we miss the whole point, keep in mind that we’re endeavoring to express genuine love & generosity, regardless of the wrapping or when we wrap our presents
I’d propose that our Heavenly Father wants to let us a know a few things this Christmas to reinforce His genuine love & generosity to us:

  • Wrapping: Jesus, the Fathers ultimate gift to us, came wrapped in human garb, as a newborn
  • Timing: Paul says that in the fullness of time, Jesus became flesh to live among us. God’s timing is perfect!
  • Spectacular: despite being wrapped in human garb, Jesus’ arrival was announced with splendor, grandiose display & jubilant celebration.

It’s ok if you’re a late wrapper, a crummy wrapper or if you’re a timely & spectacular wrapper! No matter what, let’s keep genuine love & generosity our primary goal!

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Posted by Sarah in busy, Christmas, enemies to intimacy, family, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, values, watch, 0 comments

Christmas Shopping

Do you have people for whom it’s very difficult to buy gifts? What do you get the person who has everything? Or even more importantly, what do we give Jesus in this Christmas season?
Here are a few ideas:
Presents – the Wise Men brought Jesus gold, frankincense & myrrh, gifts befitting a King, from the resources they had. Let’s be generous with our resources!
Fame – the shepherds, upon finding Jesus lying in a manger, went out & spread the news about His birth & heavens announcement to them via the angles. Let’s be committed to promoting Jesus more than anything or anyone else!
Presence – never diminish the truth that Jesus enjoys your company, so don’t overlook the pauses & moments throughout this season to give your attention & your self to Jesus 🙂

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Posted by Sarah in busy, Christmas, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, Jesus Chix, listen, living, prayer, relationships, seeing Jesus, spiritual, thought life, values, 0 comments

Ready for Christmas?

Now that Thanksgiving is in the rear view mirror, Christmas is ready to take center stage. And with Christmas , come all the associated activities: decorating, parties, concerts, shopping, cookies, wrapping, etc. In the midst of the hub bub, let’s keep our hearts & focus attentive to Jesus. He’s a really quick video that could help you keep your focus on Jesus throughout this holiday season:

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Posted by Sarah in busy, Christmas, cooking, family, fasting, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, travel, values, watch, YouTube, 1 comment

Fruit, Gifts or Fruitcake?

I’m trying my hand at making fruitcake, since were on the cusp of the holiday season. Most people don’t like fruit cake, but my husband says that’s because they haven’t had “good fruitcake”. So we’ll see how this goes.

In the meantime, take a quick minute to watch this short clip about fruits & gifts – maybe something helpful for the holidays 🙂

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Posted by Sarah in busy, family, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, seeing Jesus, spiritual, thought life, travel, values, watch, YouTube, 0 comments