Christmas Catastrophe

As we look forward to celebrating Christmas and saying goodbye to 2020 it is okay to acknowledge that 2020 has been a disaster in many ways – the media has bombarded us with earthquakes, fire, floods, pandemic and political unrest. But remember the narrative of our Saviors’ birth happened under Roman occupation, forced to travel miles for a census and not being able to find a proper Inn, Mary gave birth in a stable. That seems pretty awful to me but it was part of God’s plan.

It seems an appropriate time to share one of our stories. It was early Christmas morning when my husband awoke to the smell of smoke.  The alarms hadn’t gone off yet. Thankfully it was not a fire but our furnace had “puffed back” and oily black soot was infiltrating the house. Paul shut off the heat, opened the bulkhead door and later at a decent hour called our oil company.

The children were up and opening their presents with great joy when “Dennis” arrived tool box in hand. They were wearing their footsie pajamas and had blackened little noses and toes but barely paid attention as the stranger entered the house. They didn’t notice the chill in the air or soot on their toys. I asked them to stop playing and wave good bye as we thanked him profusely and apologized for ruining his Christmas morning. While I was greatly dismayed thinking about the clean up that would come afterwards, the children were focused on their gifts. 

What takes away our attention from God’s gift? There was great joy at Jesus’ birth despite the difficult and humble beginning. If you remember, Joseph and Mary didn’t plan any of their circumstances! Maybe it will be good for us that our celebrations will be “different” this year. Missing family members, downsized celebrations and maybe a quieter day will give us time to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas.

 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14  “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
Luke 2:8-14

Christmas Day will come – whether there is a pandemic or your furnace has trouble. Most of our problems are temporary and can be cleaned, fixed or healed. Christmas is the day for remembering that God came down to earth to make His home with mankind and later to lay down His life for us. Knowing Jesus brings peace to our hearts, hope for the future and true joy. Make sure your focus is on His best gift today.

 For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

Living in Gratitude

Living in Gratitude

Throughout the month of November we hear a lot about “Thanksgiving”, as in the holiday story and being thankful for basic needs being met. But peculiar to America, the day after we nostalgically fill our stomachs we have “black Friday”, a time of racing off to shop for the best deals and display full blown commercialism and greed.  What happened?

thanksgiving-2903166__340The words gratitude, thankfulness or gratefulness  come from the Latin word gratus ‘pleasing, thankful’ , it is a feeling of appreciation . We can be grateful for something that gives us pleasure or contentment  and or supplies comfort or alleviates discomfort.  The definition of thankful is to be ; 1.conscious of benefit received or for what we are about to receive – makes us truly thankful – a feeling. 2. it is expressive or 3. we are well pleased

How do we live a life of gratitude? How we choose to look at life or our circumstances can be either dismal or hopeful. Being grateful comes from a healthier perspective. Here are some points to ponder:

  • It doesn’t matter if the glass is half empty or half full. Be thankful that you have a perspectiveglass and there is something in it.
  • Be grateful for what you have already while you pursue your goals. If you aren’t grateful for what you already have , what makes you think you would be happy with more?                  Ray T. Bennett
  • Charles Dickens said, “Reflect upon your present blessing, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”

It is so easy to get caught up in the commercialism of “I want”, “I need” ,”I gotta have it too”, while comparing ourselves to others. The marketing and media industry wants us to focus only on temporary things but God wants us to value the eternal things.

16 For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.                           1 John 2:16 (NLT)

6 Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.     1 Tim 6:6-8 (ESV)

Watching the news this past year has caused me to stop and count my many blessings more than ever.  Our country has suffered massive destruction coast to coast – storms and floods, volcanic eruptions, and massive forest fires. I pray for victims and first responders but also stop and thank God for my home and all the things I have. I have so much! We all have so much!

I believe that true gratitude comes from a heart that recognizes we deserve nothing but God gives us everything we need. We are given so many blessings every day but are entitled to none. I can learn to be content with what I have. I was recently challenged to write down one thing I am grateful for everyday over the next 30 days. Maybe that would be a good exercise for you and your family too because a thankful heart is a happy heart. Let us live with an attitude of gratitude.

 

turkeywords

What to Do About Worry?

What to Do About Worry?

A recent article in Reader’s Digest was entitled “What,Me, Worry? You Bet I Do”. A tongue worriedwomanin cheek tale by Donal Ryan on how he worries about everything from if he remembered to close the refrigerator door to nuclear proliferation. He finally oddly found a little peace when the plane he was on had landing gear trouble. Why peace? Because he let go and realized he could do absolutely nothing about the situation! Why do we worry so much? Especially in America where our most basic needs are provided for without much trouble and yet we are filled with anxiety.

Worry is like a rocking chair. You may feel like you are doing something but it doesn’t get you anywhere.

I read another article in Readers’ Digest, quite awhile ago, that profoundly spoke to me and I wish I had saved it.  A young intern was working a second job at night in the college cafeteria. He would often complain to himself about his difficult situation. He noticed the elderly janitor would sit quietly and contentedly eating a liverwurst sandwich every evening. So he took the time to talk with the man and learned he was a Holocaust survivor. In essence, the elderly man replied to the grumbling intern,  that life is a matter of perspective. “If you lose your job, then you have a situation. If you break your back, then you have a problem.”

I believe that by retraining our minds to evaluate our situation we can decrease a lot of unnecessary worry. We can do that by using what I call “God’s measuring stick” which is found in a passage in the book of Phillippians.    measuring-stick

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.9 Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.         Phil 4:6-9 (NLT)

bubble-19329_960_720We can ask ourselves,   Is it (what we are anxious about) true? Is it a worthy cause? Is it the right thing to do,time or place? Is it pure, lining up with God’s word? Is it lovely, admirable or praiseworthy?  Will this matter tomorrow, next month or year? We often waste time worrying about things that really don’t matter.  How does the situation “measure up”? Things that do matter should be brought before God in prayer and left in trust and faith in His hands. When we do this we will experience His peace.

Jesus said,   That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?….30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? …….“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.         Matt 6:25-34 (NLT)

girlpray