Candy blogs: Are you enjoying the Christmas spirit yet? Are you loving the music and the snow and the chill in the air and the warmth of friends and family and the JOY of the Lord? Yes? Wonderful! No? What is keeping you from a joy-filled Christmas?
Are you grieving?
♥ … the loss of loved ones
Does Christmas mark a difficult anniversary of the passing of someone close to you? Let the memories come up. Let them stay awhile and remember how much they added to your life. But don’t dwell there. Allowing yourself to wallow in grief can be toxic in so many ways. Instead choose to celebrate the precious lives of those you miss. This is how they would want to be remembered, don’t you think?
♥ … the loss of relationships
This time of year is for spending time with loved ones. Perhaps your loved one rejected you through a break up or a divorce. Maybe a close friend has moved away and you can’t share daily life together anymore. Or you have allowed a rift to develop between you and your parents or your child. Let the hurt come up. Let it stay awhile. But don’t dwell there. Wallowing in the hurt only intensifies the pain. Choose to keep moving forward toward healing. Learn to let go.
♥ … the loss of a job
This has been a truly difficult year economically for our country. I have been unemployed for nine long months myself. Many have lost their homes and possessions. Along with the loss of a job comes the loss of self worth and feelings of powerlessness. Marriages can become tense; children can become afraid of the future. As the months have gone by, my husband and I have discovered that we really can live on a lot less than we thought we needed. Our needs have changed, become more basic. We have watched God provide for our needs. We have chosen to draw closer to each other. Do all you can, and let God be God of your finances.
Troubled about the money you may or may not be spending?
♥ … embarrassed that you can’t buy gifts for all the people you usually do?
This troublesome attitude usually comes more from our own heads than from anyone we usually buy gifts for.
♥ … buying gifts even though you may not have the money?
Think of tomorrow and how painful it will be when the bills come due. Think of what you’re teaching your children by spending money you don’t have. There are many other ways to celebrate the Christmas spirit than overspending on things that will be broken or laid aside in short order.
♥ … using Christmas and sales and great deals to feed your shopping habit because “it’s for other people” and not yourself?
Hanging on to issues you have no control over?
♥ … hurt or unresolved feelings
These things won’t go away on their own. They won’t go away if we pretend they don’t exist. Communicate, for heaven’s sake! We can’t read each other’s minds. We get “stuck” when we choose not to work through differences and misunderstandings. Who wants to be stuck?!
♥ … unforgiveness
Unforgiveness only hurts ourselves. It does not affect the offender. Forgiving doesn’t mean you are denying a wrong done to you. It only means that you release its hold on your ability to function in a healthy way. I believe forgiveness is a choice, not an emotion. You may still have feelings of pain but you don’t dwell there anymore, and you don’t have to let your feelings dictate your state of mind and your hope for the future.
“Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again … my lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you.” Psalm 71:20, 23
♥ … pride
Our pride keeps us from being the one to move toward reconciliation. Perhaps you’re the wronged one. Maybe you are right. It should be THEIR place to come to ME to apologize. Our pride keeps us holding on to hurt feelings or being right. Is your pride worth the loss of relationship?
First things first …
♥ … Jesus is the reason for the season
Jesus came to earth as one of us, a baby. But He is God and we worship Him today, just as they worshiped Him when He was born. His love and grace are poured into us so we can pour it out onto our loved ones especially in this season. We celebrate His coming!
♥ … time spent with loved ones building relationship
Is being right worth broken relationships? Are hurt feelings worth withholding ourselves from each? Do material things or lack of them truly represent and/or build relationship? Nothing is worth broken relationships. Nothing. Come together with your loved ones.
♥ … the choice is yours … why wait? Are you hanging on to that familiar lump of coal when you could be having bouquets of roses, messages of joy and a praising heart?
“He sent me to preach good news to the poor,
heal the heartbroken,
Announce freedom to all captives,
pardon all prisoners.
God sent me to announce the year of his grace—
a celebration of God’s destruction of our enemies—
and to comfort all who mourn,
To care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion,
give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes,
Messages of joy instead of news of doom,
a praising heart instead of a languid spirit.”
There is plenty of time for healing and celebrating this Christmas!
Joy awaits you!
Candy Blogs: I have Fridays off. Today I went to water aerobics, the dentist, breakfast and the bank. At each place I was greeted cheerfully by name. (granted, the bank teller only knew my name because my account was on her screen) But as I was driving home, I was very aware that my life had some kind of impact in many different circles of my life. How did they all know my name? I admit that it felt very nice to be greeted by name.
I have an inner circle of family and friends, and several circles beyond. It’s comfortable and intimate inside that inner circle. We all need one. The world is a big, lonely place without one. We don’t usually do well outside of “community.” God made us relational. But each extending circle or level of relationship is also important. We have extended family, acquaintances, contacts. In my Creative Memories business we have a FRANK list; it stands for friends, relatives, acquaintances, neighbors and kids (people we know because of our kids). It’s a good representation of the mix of relationships in our normal life. Today I started out in my inner circle with my husband … comfortable and loving. At water aerobics, we have developed some new friendships, over the last almost two years, just by consistently being in the same place at the same time. We’ve gradually learned more about each other and enjoy a very pleasant but on the surface relationship.
At breakfast, Scott and I are welcomed enthusiastically because we’ve been going to the same restaurant for breakfast for the last five years, maybe longer. I can’t really remember when we first started going there. We’re told that we’re always friendly and kind to the staff and tell them how great our experience is there. We don’t really think about it, we’re just being, what to us is, “normal.” And we’ve been banking at our bank for more than ten years. We like them because they’re local and personal and friendly. So we’re personal and friendly when we interact with them.
9 Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their work:
10 If one falls down,
his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls
and has no one to help him up!
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
We put a physical touch to how God relates to human beings. We’re His hands and feet and mouth and hugs. We need the interaction with others, and others need the interaction with us. We are not an island. We’re part of something bigger. We need the gifts and strengths of others, and others need what we have to offer. It works both directions. Most of the time we don’t even realize the impact our life is having on others … in all the circles of our lives. God’s plan is that we build relationships so we can build the Kingdom and enjoy being “citizens” once we’re a part of it. But most of all, to enjoy being citizens of the heavenly Kingdom that will never end!
Every action of our lives touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity.
E. H. Chapin
A psalm of David.
1 O LORD, hear my prayer,
listen to my cry for mercy;
in your faithfulness and righteousness
come to my relief.
2 Do not bring your servant into judgment,
for no one living is righteous before you.
3 The enemy pursues me,
he crushes me to the ground;
he makes me dwell in darkness
like those long dead.
4 So my spirit grows faint within me;
my heart within me is dismayed.
5 I remember the days of long ago;
I meditate on all your works
and consider what your hands have done.
6 I spread out my hands to you;
my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.
7 Answer me quickly, O LORD;
my spirit fails.
Do not hide your face from me
or I will be like those who go down to the pit.
8 Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.
9 Rescue me from my enemies, O LORD,
for I hide myself in you.
10 Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God;
may your good Spirit
lead me on level ground.
11 For your name’s sake, O LORD, preserve my life;
in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble.
12 In your unfailing love, silence my enemies;
destroy all my foes,
for I am your servant.
A few things I’ve learned from being in pain:
~ isolation keeps us in our pain and from moving forward
When I avoided contact with others, I was the loser. I was keeping myself from moving past the pain. Yes, there is risk in revealing shame and imperfection. But we rarely experience growth outside of “community.”
~ accountability (liable to being called to account; answerable)
Accountability is key to growth. Having trusted, wise people in our lives to help us stay on the path leads to health. We must be willing to be open and honest with at least one other person, and be willing to hear the truth about ourselves. We can’t see ourselves as others see us; we have blind spots. We have to get outside our own thoughts and opinions and pain.
~ woman in the mirror
We have to be willing to take an honest look at ourselves, ugliness and all. We can’t change anyone else, but we can allow God to change us. Most of the time it’s a painful process. When we finally get down to the underlying issues of our pain, we then have to begin the process of change.
God is more concerned with our character than our comfort. We spend too much energy on making sure we are always comfortable; we think there is something wrong if we experience discomfort. God’s purpose for our lives isn’t that we’re happy, but that we are godly. Happiness is solely dependent on ever-changing outside circumstances. Our godliness comes from God … from the inside. How does a godly woman think and behave? Tantrums? Blame? Manipulation? Unreasonable expectations? Retaliation? Denial? Co-dependency? Silence? Taking and not giving?
~ freedom is on the other side of the door
The most important thing I learned through pain is that freedom is just on the other side of the door. But I have to be willing to walk through the door to get to it. As long as I continue to fight God’s best for me instead of yield to it, I will remain on the wrong side of the door. The pain will continue to intensify and it will become “familiar.” And it’s easier to stay in the familiar mode than do the hard work to move past it. I often say “change will only happen when the pain gets greater than the fear.”
9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:9-11
Jesus loves us. He came into time and space as a baby to intersect with our lives. His love transcends any circumstance, any condition, any economy, any broken relationship. He came to give life, light and hope. Take hold of it.