~Revival~ Renewed Hope~ Miracles~Joy~Love~Life~
This year, as in year's past, we spent the days leading up to the celebration of Christ's birth reading devotions specifically written to prepare our hearts for the Advent season. Some days we were not as diligent to stick to the program. Some days we didn't get enough of what I had hoped to do into our schedule. Some days we truly did not exemplify the depth of character or kindness that shows His working in our lives. And sometimes, I found myself so discouraged that I was missing something meaningful, important or necessary in our day.
Yet, at the same time... we serve in ways we forget... those times of service that we think nothing of but it is in those times when we serve without an expectation of return that we are living within that Christmas spirit.
Let's ponder some of those times:
Preparing a small plate of cookies
Fixing a meal for a friend
Fellowship with food and prayer
Handmade gifts with sincerity
Remembering his gift and grabbing a hold of that spirit of giving
Shoveling some one's walk
Taking time to email someone who has been out of contact
Writing out your family Christmas letter
Praying for each person who sends you a Christmas Card
You finish the list.....
Each year I try to make sure that my children have some tradition in their life. Something that they will think back on and smile. Those times that surpass the every day things that sometimes steal the joy from the day.
Tradition is defined as the handing down of a person's beliefs and customs from one generation to the next.
Traditions, those things we inevitably hold on to. Those moments we remember that bring that feeling of "home" back to us where ever we are in life. I want these for my children, I want to give them not only a home where they know they are loved and treasured... but a culture, a heritage of hope and faith.
Psalm 61 is a prayer of one who is seeking God. It starts out with the words..
Verse 1 & 2 ~Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer.
From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
He alone is the solid rock we can stand on. He is unchanging and immovable. Our circumstances may change but He alone remains true forever.
The psalm continues..
Verse 3 & 4 ~For you have been a shelter for me and a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the shelter of your wings.
Selah. ( this means Pause and think of that. When you read that in your Bible.. stop.. consiwer what that means.)
And then this is where I rejoice... I make this my continual thank offering to the Lord.
Verse 5~For you, O God, have heard my vows. You have given me a heritage of those that fear my name.
It is His good pleasure to work in us. He blesses those who honor him into the generations beyond.
Revival:As I have been spending my time preparing my own heart in prayer and meditation of His Word I have been reminded of the revival we have when we go to His Word. It is so full of life and miracle power, that when we read and rest in it's very core, we are changed into His likeness.
Renewed Hope: When we look to the manger we can only always be directed to the Cross. His work on the cross began in the hope of His coming, in the preparation of His birth.
Miracles: What is more miraculous than the Word being made flesh and setting aside His crown of Glory to take the flesh of man as his covering? Miracles signs and wonders in our own life as we invest ourself into another person with an expectation of nothing more than the chance to be "Jesus with skin on". Isn't that alone a miracle. Being able to share His love with someone else?
Joy: Give! Give!Give! What does that mean, really? God gave, His most precious gift to us. His one and only Son. (John 3:16) We can not out-give God, but we can give like He does. Give because it is a joy to see others blessed. I love to see someone actually surprised to receive a gift and see their hearts swell that someone has thought of them. What I have learned, is that it is the giving that means something to you. My favorite thing to do is to make things for people and pray over that gift as I am making it. Those words.. those faith filled words, cover that gift and carry promise into their lives.
Love: It is because He loves us that we can even begin to love one another. Christmas seems to be the time when we can express that love in a more tangible way. Christmas seems to be a time when we are opening our hearts more to receive that gift of unending love. Doesn't it seem timely that we are also preparing our hearts for the celebration of our Savior's birth.
Life: Our savior's entrance into this world all those years ago in a humble stable filled with gentle creatures; the display of heavenly host before the simple shepherds who with adoration of their Heavenly Father came to worship the King of Kings; and the wisdom of the ages in the symbol of the wise men who followed a star that led them to the Rising Son~ all breathe life into the majesty and beauty of the promise in the manger.
What did you find under your tree this Christmas?
What did you see in your stocking?
Did you meet Him and receive Him into your heart and life this Christmas? And did you know it is NOT too late? We can still celebrate His gift. We can still share the blessing. We can still be a part of the tradition of the celebration. Remembering the story, reuniting it in the lives of our family and creating the heritage which flows into the generations to come.
Rewrite your story to line up with His and fill your Christmas with the light of the Bethlehem Star.
Christmas Eve Dinner is one tradition in our family... we have a wonderful dinner with my family on the evening of December 24th. This year I told my mother that she was welcome to take a break from baking and preparing the food. I took the time this week to serve my family in a way that blesses me. I will share my menu for this:
Fresh Veggies and dip
Pies! ( Yumm!)
This year my girls came along side and helped me out by each making a dish. It was so much fun to don our aprons and bake together. The oldest made dishes she liked. The youngest helped to make the house beautiful. She set the table and decorated the house helping me to light the candles in each room. My sweet son was my ever present helper, running errands, carrying things up and down the stairs, and just being his lively self.
I'll share a few new recipes in an additional post.
Hand made Gifts for siblings:
Our children have been making gifts for each other for the last few years. They each wanted to give their siblings a gift but we felt it was not feasible to buy little gifts that were just an "extra" gift for the kids, so we asked them to think about what they want to give and make it for their sibling.
This year : Our youngest, the artist, made gifts out of duct tape. They were fun.
Journals made out of binders and personal art as dividers
Blankets and aprons
New tradition I started this year:
Each year I spend a lot of time looking at the Christmas Card assortment and consider what I want to send. I want my card to reflect the beauty of this celebration yet be a gentle promise deposited in the hearts of those who receive the cards. Sometimes, in the rush of the season I have found myself lacking the personal touch in my cards. Rather than just signing our names to each card and pasting a stamp to mark that box on my list.... this year I sat down with each card and considered what a blessing each person was to me. I took the time to pray over each card, asking for His blessing and life to become a reality in the lives of those who were receiving the greeting. Then as I contemplated His love for them, I wrote a specific note to each person, to remind them how much they meant to me. It took a bit more time, but what a time well spent.
Praying the joy of His love would carry through your celebrations and you will be filled with all the joy of his reviving love, renewed life and hope filled miracles!