How to Keep Christ in Christmas

Last week I discussed Getting Through the Holidays Without Losing Your Mind. You can read that post by clicking on the link. In that article I gave four areas to look at to take care of yourself during the busy holiday season. Those areas I referred to included, figuring out what you can let go of, setting boundaries, taking care of yourself and practicing gratitude. These things are applicable to all who experience stress during the Christmas season. This week I would like to specifically speak to those who celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday.

Pixabay

Pixabay

For those of us who follow Christ, Christmas is equal in importance to the celebration of Easter. If Jesus had never been born, we wouldn’t have access to the Almighty God, who created us for His good pleasure. Christmas is the epitome of strength becoming weakness; that almighty power coming into acute focus as the baby born to Mary. He was fully God and became fully man. Imagine, a being who is so huge in our incomprehension, being made into a tiny, fertilized seed, growing for nine months in the womb and making the pressurized journey down the birth canal to explode into the light of a sin filled world. To me it is incomprehensible! Yet, I know it to be true. I also know that it was not just love for us, but love for His Father, that drove Jesus to choose obedience to that vulnerable birth and obedience to an even more vulnerable cross. It is this mentality that needs to drive us as we immerse ourselves in the festivities of the Christmas season.

Pixabay

Pixabay

We all know how easy it is to get caught up in the busyness of this season. There’s shopping and decorating, baking and cleaning, wrapping and gathering, all good things, but so often as we focus on getting our to do list checked off, we lose sight of the true meaning of this holiday. I know I do. I can easily become overwhelmed with all of the things I need to get done and fret that I don’t have more time to do them. We also, all know that fretting does not lead to peace and isn’t peace, part of what makes this season so beautiful? At least it should. So, just how can we keep the true meaning part of our focus? Here are several ideas.

Keep Jesus Close - As you shop, wrap, bake and decorate meditate on Him. Remind yourself of His birth and remember that He is with you wherever you go. You might think it is silly, but I often imagine Jesus sitting next to me in the car or standing next to me as I wash dishes. Hey, He endowed all of us with an imagination, so I have no shame in using it. Envisioning Him as a person with me, helps me to focus on the fact that He really is there even though I cannot physically see Him. It helps me to remember why I love Christmas, because it is all about Him.

Listen to Music - There is nothing better, in my mind, to help me get in the true Christmas spirit, than listening to Christmas music. It doesn’t just have to be traditional carols like The First Noel, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, or Oh Holy Night, but songs that really speak to the message of why we celebrate this season bring the truth back into focus. It is also good to listen to different versions of these Christ-focused carols. For instance my husband and I both agree that Josh Groban’s version of O Holy Night sings as if he was actually there, feeling the peace and beauty of the birth of Jesus. On the other hand, What Child is This, as portrayed by Andrea Bocelli and Mary J. Blige is the most amazing and powerful version of this song I have ever heard. The culmination of their voices is almost angelic as they usher us into the powerful glory of our Lord’s vulnerability.

Having music playing while you are in the car going to the mall, or to a party, or when you are wrapping presents or baking cookies can help to keep your mind in a state of peace and joy throughout the season, even if circumstances around you are difficult.

Watch Christmas Movies - I know a lot of people don’t like to watch the same movies over and over. My husband is one of them, but he tolerates my love for seeing these classic movies every year and occasionally watches them with me. There are fun movies like White Christmas and Jingle All the Way, but there are also movies with a message that transcends this particular holiday. Take for instance A Christmas Carol. A book originally written by Charles Dickens, it was first made into a movie in 1910. Hollywood has come a long way since then, but my two favorite versions are the 1984 version with George C. Scott and the 1992 version with the Muppets. I just finished watching the George C. Scott version the other day and these two scenes really stood out to me.

Obviously, Marely is miserable and it is his knowledge that everything he did in life was meaningless. “….mankind was my business….” Wow! If that doesn’t remind us to take a look at our priorities, I don’t know what will.

I love this scene of transformation. Scrooge was a changed man. Oh, that we would be so changed by the spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ who dwells within us and gives us the ability to be new, each and every day!

Do Something to Serve - I know this seems a bit counter intuitive, when we are so busy, why do something that makes us even busier? The point is to love and worship Jesus by showing love to others. It might be something as simple as baking cookies for your co-workers or leaving a card for your mail carrier, thanking him/her for her hard work. It can be something more complex like visiting shut ins or serving at your local soup kitchen. Often these places are inundated at the holidays, because people are thinking about serving others. Why not schedule your service for February or March, when many of these people are forgotten?

Set Up Some Sort of Memorial - This might be your nativity. Letting your children be involved in getting the pieces out and setting them up helps them to remember Christmas is about Jesus. If you don’t have a nativity and don’t want to make that purchase, decorate a jar with Christmas colors. Every day have you and your family members write down on small slips of paper things they love about Christmas, the Christmas story or things they are thankful for, then on Christmas eve or Christmas morning go through your jar, reading these things out loud. You could then spend a few minutes in prayer, praising and thanking Jesus for all He has done for you.

However you celebrate Christmas and no matter how busy you are, I hope that you will take the time, even if only for a few moments to really think about what the reason for this season really is.

Have a great day!

A Look Back at 2017 - My Favorite Faith Posts

I did this on my fashion page so I thought it would be good to do on my faith page as well. Since we are into a new year, I thought it would be fun to look back at my favorite posts from 2017. I picked one from each month. If you haven't read them and are interested, just click on the link below the picture. 

It is good to look back at where we have been, so we can get a better feel for where we need to go. As far as my faith posts are concerned, I want to keep writing and posting things that I hope will be an encouragement to you. We, as older women, are such a valuable part of society. We are capable, strong and worn, and that is just where God wants us to be. 

Here are my favorite faith posts from my blog from 2017.

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

I hope you enjoyed this look back at my favorite blog posts from 2017. As we move forward into 2018, I hope to grow my blog in various ways, while still being true to my belief and faith in Jesus Christ. 

If you have any suggestions or things you would like to see me talk about on the blog, please leave me a comment in the comments section or you can send me a message on Facebook. I appreciate all your input and support. I am looking forward to what this year will bring and hope you will join me on the blog! 

Lessons Learned from The Santa Clause

In my opinion, next to Galaxy Quest, The Santa Clause is one of Tim Allen's best movies. It is a family friendly film, that both young and old can enjoy. The basic premise of the movie finds toy maker Scott Calvin (Allen), suddenly taking on the job of being Santa Claus. The fact that their initials are the same is only one of the fun little details in this movie. 

Pixabay

Pixabay

Calvin is divorced and like so many dads in that situation has his son certain days and times. This particular Christmas, Scott has his son, Charlie, Christmas Eve over night. Being a good dad, although a bit jaded from the divorce, Scott reads Twas the Night Before Christmas, before Charlie goes to sleep. After, Scott turns off the light, strange things begin to happen that lead to a life altering event for this father and his son.

There are lessons we can glean from this comedy. These are a few of the things that I learned.

1. We Can Always Approach our Heavenly Father. Charlie knew when he started to hear strange noises on the roof that he could go wake up his dad and his dad would know what to do. This is a perfect example of child like faith. Children trust their parents to take care of them and provide for them. This is one of the reasons it is so devastating for a child when there is abuse or neglect involved. The very nature that God instilled in a child to trust their parents is the same nature that He instilled in each one of us to come to Him when we are troubled or afraid. 

Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?
— Matthew 6:26 (NASB)

A father or mother who love their children will always be looking out for them. Even when our children become adults we still want what is best for them and quite often it is hard to watch them make choices we know are not good. Letting them flounder is part of letting God care for them and bring them into a right relationship with Him. He always cares for them and always knows what is best. 

Life becomes much more complicated for Scott Calvin. When he put on the Santa suit to appease Charlie, he didn't realize he was about to have a dramatic career change. 

2. Think Through Your Actions. Scott didn't give a second thought to putting on the suit, other than shuddering that he didn't know where the suit had been. It was warm and comfy, sort of like a heavy pair of pj's. After the sleigh, lead by the famous eight is done delivering toys for the night, it heads back to the North Pole. Scott and Charlie suddenly find themselves in the middle of Santa's workshop.

While our decisions won't necessarily lead us to the North Pole, they can have long term, life changing consequences. Not only do our actions have ramifications, but our words and our thoughts. 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your body
And refreshment to your bones.
— Proverbs 3:5-8 (NASB)

God knows that we will often be tempted to make poor decisions, whether it is that second piece of pie at a Christmas gathering, or going out with a guy that is into drugs, He encouraged us to lean on Him, not on our own understanding. 

Scott Calvin, clearly believes he is wise in this movie. He thinks he has life all figured out, including how to deal with his ex-wife, her new husband and Charlie. As time goes along, and his job changes from that of toy maker to the being known as Santa, he realizes he really doesn't have it all figured out and he is willing to accept help to really see and understand.

3. Seeing Isn't Believing. Believing is Seeing. This is probably the most important message this movie makes. In a walk of faith, that is precisely what it is, faith. We don't see God, yet our belief in Him, enables us to see. Just like Judy the elf says, children don't have to see the North Pole to know that it is there, they just know. So too, in our lives as Christ followers, when we take that step to believe in Jesus, all of a sudden so many things that were hidden become perfectly clear.  We can't see God, but we just know that He is. His choice to reinforce our belief with the written Word, is a gift to us, that makes our faith even more solid. 

for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
— Romans 10:10 (NASB)

As Scott begins the journey from unbelief to belief he changes. He suddenly becomes aware of things that were unknown to him before, like the ideas of selflessness, love and sharing. He realizes that his life is changed and once he embraces that he is able to see that there is so much more to life than being the man on top. There is forgiveness, and the ability to adapt.

I hope you enjoyed hearing about the lessons I have learned from The Santa Clause. If you haven't see the movie, I hope you will give it a try. It is a fun view for the whole family. (Note: there is some language and mild suggestive elements so you may want to read a full review on IBMD.)