From sick babies, winter storms, nursing homes and everything in-between, many people experienced a change this year in the “normal” way they celebrate Christ’s birth. Indeed, it was a different kind of Christmas for me as well.
My dear dad turned 90 on Christmas Eve and I was blessed to be with him on that special day! We celebrated a couple days early because of the winter storm that blew through. He was having a pretty good day on his 90th!
My family was separated by states, though we had planned to all be together. Part of that was the happy blessing of Whitney’s growing family that arrived just before the holiday! We were exuberant about that! The other reason we were separated was because of my dad’s continuing health crisis and the need for me to be in Kentucky the week before Christmas and up until around noon on Christmas Eve. No presents were wrapped. Only a handful of cards were mailed. My Christmas dinner was completely “laid to rest!”
This week I posted my weekly podcast regarding having a Simple Christmas. Here’s a 25 second snippet of the episode…
Do you ever wonder if the counsel given is followed by the one who gave it? I assure you that it is just as hard for me to do the right thing as it is the next person, and many times I fail. But I’m grateful that the Lord brought these truths to my heart to refresh me and encourage me. Here’s how it happened and what I did…
Are you all wrapped up on this December day? I’m not referencing your foiled paper and glitter-laden bows, I’m talking about the state of your heart and mind. I’m wondering if you’re wrapped up in hope or fear? Joy or turmoil?
I watch a gal on You Tube that is a very gifted artist, but she often talks about the fear of “something getting ready to happen.” It breaks my heart for her. All that’s going on today keeps the world in a state of panic.
But it doesn’t have to be that way!
I’m happy to say that because I know Christ, I am not afraid My hope is wrapped up in the One who came as a Babe in a manger.
Have you ever wondered what life would be like if Jesus had never come – if He had not humbled Himself to take the form of man?
I am sure that list could go on and on. When we consider all we have in Christ, we realize that our very lives each and every day are all that they are because of Christ. Even when we are experiencing the worst day or season in our lives, we know that because of Christ, this is is the worst we will ever experience. This is the only hell a believer will ever know. For one who has not trusted Christ, this is the only heaven they will ever know.
It is our choice to choose what we are wrapped up in –
Hope in Christ
Fear and depression
I’m thankful that right now at Christmas we remember that baby Jesus, but more importantly, the Savior who died on the cross and rose from the tomb victoriously! When we feel fear threatening to overwhelm us, we must remember that our hope is not wrapped up in anything in this life, but in the Lord Jesus.
Things are so different for me this year, but my one constancy is Christ. He is my anchor. He is the reason I can press on. He is my hope this Christmas. I pray He is yours, too.
Merry Christmas, my friends.
I posted this last year, in difficult 2020, and I’ll share it again in the midst of all the suffering so many are experiencing today. I pray it will encourage you.
I had the blessing this week of spending time with my parents. I go once a month to help out. I run errands, do a little housework, cook and bake and then just get to hang out with the sweetest people on the planet.
One fun thing I got to do was watch them open a care package that Whitney and her sister, Alli sent to them. My parents had received it in the mail last week and were told they could open it then, or they could open it on December 1st. It was sent to help “merry up” the Christmas season. Their thoughtfulness touched my heart, and meant so much to my parents!
Watching them open up each item, I thought about how sweet it would be to find someone near me that could use a similar package. Here’s what they included in this package that was sent from Target:
Balsam Fir candle – Smells amazing!
Shortbread cookies – Holiday shapes
Hickory Farms Summer Sausage and cheese
A chocolate Advent Calendar – They ordered a Lindt Bear calendar, but received a Star Wars one instead! We all got a good laugh out of that!
Holiday scented hand soap
Who wouldn’t want to receive such thoughtful items? I’ve been challenged, and I hope this gives you some good ideas of things you could take or send to someone who needs some cheering up this holiday season!
Different suggestions would include:
Christmas linens – tea towel or pot holders
Peppermint tea, Holiday blend coffee or Hot Chocolate
Cozy Christmas Socks
Chocolate Covered Pretzels
Who do you know that is experiencing some difficult days? It may be that they are sick, or have been sick. Perhaps they are home bound, or are lonely.
I’m sharing this idea so you can implement it where the Lord would burden your heart to do so. I also love the idea of doing it early in the Christmas season! Get their December started off with a thoughtful gesture that will remind them that they are not forgotten.
It’s a blessing to serve others, isn’t it? Paul acknowledged that the Phiippians at one time weren’t able to provide for him, but how thankful he was for the gift they sent when they could.
But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.
Do what you are able with what the Lord has entrusted to you. Refresh someone else right now when He puts them on your heart.
The last of the laundry has been folded and put away. Beds are neatly made, bathrooms have been cleaned and the floors are swept and mopped, but still there is much that lingers in the corners of my home from our recent Family Christmas. The traces that are left from the past holiday will remain in the deepest part of my heart, I pray until the day I leave this world and enter the next. I share my memories with you now, more for my own heart to press each detail into my memory for its long-term preservation.
After this long year of severed plans, pandemic panic and so much isolation, I had held very lightly our family’s hopes for gathering together at Christmas. Proverbs reminds us that man’s goings are of the Lord. I know I can trust Him, whether what I plan comes to fruition or not. But we did make plans, and asked the Lord for His will to be done. In His grace and kindness, the Lord allowed our plans to not only come to pass, but also to surpass what we had ever imagined! Here’s how I saw that happen…
Everyone was well and able to come. No one was sick or quarantined! We were all well and able to gather together!
The Lord gave us a white Christmas that began after we were all together under our roof! The snow began to fall on Christmas Eve and left us with a few inches of fluffy snow that covered the hillsides and made the holiday so festive that even a Hallmark movie couldn’t have matched the setting (now that’s saying something!).
We created a new tradition and fun memory. The Lord brought an idea to my mind to have a cookie decorating contest. I wanted something that was easy enough for even my four-year old grandsons to participate in, so I baked snowflake-shaped cookies ahead of time, and then had the counter filled with colored icings, and a plethora of sprinkles. Everyone had been informed before they arrived what they would be given two cookies to decorate so they could gather an idea on Pinterest, or bring any aid with them, if they desired. Then in order to also include other family members in another state, we made a Facetime call to my mom so she could see the cookies on the counter and be our judge for first and second place winners! I had simple treat bags for each of the two winners. My younger daughter came in first place and my husband was second place! Everyone really put their heart into the creations and we had so much fun together!
We shared our traditional foodsour family loves. I asked everyone what they felt like was important that we have for our meals on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I made sure those things were provided. We enjoyed yummy sweets, but also savory soups and sides.
We had a family sleep-over! Christmas Day continued to bring more snow, so even our local family decided to bring things so they could just pack it in at our house for the night! Pallets were made on the floor for the twins, a couch was utelized, as well as both the day bed and our guest room. The next morning as everyone arose, it was so sweet to sit near the fireplace in the living room, cups of steaming coffee warming our chilled bodies, while our sleepy eyes slowly took in the new day with dimmed lights and hushed voices. Breakfast of French Toast was made for the whole family by my husband – the King of Breakfast! No one seemed in a hurry for the day to move forward; this was our last morning together and it was another gift from our Father’s kind hand.
Sweet moments of tenderness – Gifts – Watching four-year old’s at Christmas is a gift in itself. They were so thankful and so excited! My grandsons gave me an oven mitt with their hand prints on it. A card included the tearful reminder that their prints would last while their hands continued to grow up and one day move away. I received a beautiful hand-painted picture of our house! This home is a grace gift from the Lord and such a gift, so this painting is a precious reminder of how God answered my ten year prayer! Music – My daughters are both very musical, so Whitney played the piano and Alli played her violin so we could sing carols and hymns. How wonderful to enjoy this blessing, especially after missing church for so many weeks this year! Conversations – One of my grandsons was asking about the baby Jesus and the grown up Jesus. I had the blessing of telling him how that Baby Jesus grew up, just like he was growing up. He loved us so much that He took the punishment for our sins on the cross. I could see him processing it all in his mind. Little light bulbs are coming on, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to share the Gospel with him again! One of the boys called, “Gigi, Gigi, come see! The sun is going to bed!” He took me by the hand to show me the sun setting over the hillside. Indeed, the sun was going to bed. Chats at the table, prayers uttered as a family, Scriptures were read, hearts were shared…all these conversations are such a gift.
I’m reminded of the Scripture that says,
Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
This Christmas, our Father gave us so many good gifts, and my heart is so full of thanks. I know many who were alone. Some are suffering. Some are grieving. I don’t deserve all that the Lord did for us this Christmas, that’s why they are grace gifts. I am thankful, and give praise to my loving Father for His lavish kindness that He poured out on us this Christmas of 2020.
Come back on Friday for some photos of these memories.