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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