Non-Festive ways to observe Christmas

Perhaps you are mourning this Christmas, battling health issues or depression, or Christmas just dredges up memories you’d just as soon leave behind.  Whatever the reason, here are some non-festive ways to still observe the true meaning of Christmas—our Savior’s birth.

1—Listen to an acoustic or “unplugged” Christmas CD.  Acoustic versions are often more soothing,  intimate and quiet.

2–If it helps, visit their gravesite of a loved one.

3–Attend a candlelight service.  If your church doesn’t offer one, visit another church that does.  Frequently, the more traditional denominations—Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran offer these services.

4–Give a memorial in honor of your loved one.

5—If you are feeling overwhelmed, examine your traditions.  Keep only the ones with significance.  Limit your decorations to those simple and meaningful—perhaps just a tree, nativity set, and wreath.

6—Make a special dish or dessert that the loved one especially loved or used to make.  When you serve it, tell your family why you made it and share  a story or memory about them.

7—Send a card or a small gift to a person or agency that assisted your loved one, letting them know how much you appreciate and remember their care for him or her.

8—Pick an angel from the angel tree.  There are many different ones available.  If choosing a child’s gift is difficult, many places have angel trees for seniors as well.

9—Cultivate thankfulness by quietly considering your blessings.  Remember that although you may mourn a loved one, to give thanks for the blessing they were to you and the joy they brought to your life.

10—Forgive someone.

Jesus, Our Guide

I’ve continued to think on the phrase “You are true, you are true, even in my wandering” for several days now.  I kept thinking about explorers and travelers that didn’t have maps and sophisticated equipment, such as GPS.  Sometimes they were going into an area that was uncharted and unfamiliar, possibly without even a road to lead the way.   In those cases, an experienced guide was extremely valuable.  Even today, hunters and fishermen often use a guide to assist them when in an unfamiliar area.

One of the names of Jesus is “The Good Shepherd”.   A definition of shepherd is to guide or direct in a particular direction.  Some of the synonyms were:  escort, usher, lead.

In our life’s walk, we often find ourselves in unfamiliar territory, and in need of an experienced guide—someone to walk beside us, as an escort, showing us our path.   Isn’t it comforting to know that Jesus, The Good Shepherd, is always with us–never leaving us, and never forsaking us.   Though the way may be treacherous and uncharted, we can walk in peace and confidence with Him beside us.

He is True

Sunday morning, we sang “Forever Reign” by Hillsong—a song we have sung multiple times.  This time, a certain phrase really resonated with me: “you are true, you are true, even in my wandering”.  We all wander as some point in our lives—unsure of our next step, walk off our path, or aren’t sure what our path is.  As I thought about this, I began to think about explorers of old, and how they relied upon the stars, sextants, and compasses to navigate.  The importance of accurately locating a TRUE North was a life and death issue.

God is TRUE, even in our wandering.  He is steadfast and never changes.  If you’ve wandered, rely on His Truth.  He will safely guide you home.

Let me tell you a story…..

Yesterday, I stumbled upon this scripture in Psalms 71:18 “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come.”  As the “old and gray” part of my years is getting closer, I paused at this verse.  I was draw to the last half of the scripture—a vow to tell the younger generation about Him.  I remembered Revelation 12:11 “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death.”  I have always believed it was important to tell others our personal story of what He has done in our lives.  These scriptures encourage me to not neglect in doing this.

In a few weeks, many of us will have family gathering together.  This would be a great time to tell the next generation a story—a story of a time that God moved in your life, changed the course of your life, helped you through a difficult situation, or sent someone your way when you needed it most.  Sometimes, we can be self-conscious about telling such a personal story, but I have found that most people enjoy hearing them.  In an age of dis-connectedness, a personal story from the heart very often strengthens those ties.

If you have a story you would like to share with us, please email me at Rejena@beauty-fullmusings.com.

Enough to satisfy the need

A few days ago, I posted the scripture from 2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”  When I looked up sufficient, it  simply means enough, or adequate.  I was intrigued why God would say that His grace is enough, when throughout scripture, He makes many promises to bless us “abundantly, more than we could ask for think, exceedingly above, etc.”  Why would He provide merely enough grace?

I have always been taught to interpret scripture by the scripture, so I began to think about this, and ponder where else in the Bible God had provided only enough, not the abundance that He promises elsewhere.  I admit that I was stumped for a bit, but then it came to me:  manna!   God only provided enough manna for that day (or 2 days to cover the Sabbath).  God provided for their needs on an “as-needed” basis.  And, that’s how grace is applied— as-needed.  It’s always there, and there’s always enough.  Sometimes, we need more grace than other times, but it’s always sufficient, always enough to satisfy the need.

Forgiveness

Recently, I was talking with a lady who felt frustrated and condemned about her mistakes.  She has been stressed a lot lately, and it has been manifesting in her temper.  She had raised her voice and spoken harshly to someone that didn’t deserve it, and felt awful about it.

I recalled my favorite line in Hillsong’s “What a Beautiful Name”.  It says, “My sin was great, Your love was greater.”  No matter the sin or circumstance, His love is greater, and His blood covers our sin.  We will never reach the limits of His blood; which is a good thing, because we will never get to the place where we don’t need His forgiveness and grace.

Life will be overwhelming at times.  We will make mistakes and require forgiveness.  Seek forgiveness, from both the Father and the person involved.  And, in your forgiving, remember to forgive yourself as well.

Emmanuel

I heard a sobering statement today.  Google recently published a ranking of their most commonly googled phrases or questions.  One of the most common questions in the “why do I” category was “Why do I feel so alone?”   And the ironic thing is, we all feel we are alone in googling that question!  As I was thinking about how prevalent that problem is, I heard one of my favorite Christmas songs, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”. I recalled that Emmanuel means “God with us”  And therein lies the answer.  When we really understand that God never leaves us and is always with us, we won’t feel alone, or lonely.

The answer doesn’t lie in people.  If you’ve ever been lonely (and chances are, you have), you  know that you can be in a room full of people and still feel lonely.

I don’t have some magic formula to solve this problem, but I do know where the answer lies.  It’s in Him, and Him alone.  So, turn to Him, the God who is always with you, and feel the comfort of His presence.

Sharing Jesus–An Act of Beauty

The following is an Act of Beauty that was shared by a friend.

I wanted to take a moment to encourage those who are older and wiser for a moment (some refer to them as “the elderly”).

Don’t for a second believe that you are not needed, important, or that you have nothing to give. First let me tell you about a crisp Colorado sunny day about 33 years ago.

I heard a knock at the door that changed my life forever.

If it had not of been for this elderly woman being brave enough to come to my front door that day when I was 12, I would have probably followed through with the suicide I had been contemplating for months.

I may have only lived 12 years, but in those 12 years I had suffered sexual abuse by several, rape by one, physical abuse from two and even mental abuse by another. All of these things had been at the hands of those that I should have been able to trust the most.

I was at my end.

Then this lady showed up at my door. She shared Jesus with me. I remember feeling real love for the first time. Peace. A warmth. I didn’t fully understand everything she said, I just knew I needed more.

She asked if she could pick me up Sunday for church. I said YES!

From that day until she died, she continued to drive 30 minutes to get me, 30 minutes to church, 30 minutes to take me home and then 30 back to her house.

I never saw anyone else with us. Just me and her. So how many doors were slammed in her face I wonder… how many no’s did she receive that led her to a town 30 minutes away from her own? Or maybe… maybe she was sent just for me.

I am here today because of her. I don’t even remember her name. But I do remember her heart.

I’ve gratefully been able to go on countless missions trips to tell others about Jesus, not just overseas but in my neighborhoods, and in prisons. Because that one “elderly lady” took time that day to reach out to me, a lost and scared 12 year old little girl…because of her I’m here today sharing this with you.

Over the years since then, with Gods help, I’ve been able to reach thousands more with the awesome love story she shared with me that day.

So you ARE important. You ARE very needed. You definitely have a plan and purpose for your life. Be brave, be bold, and look for that “one”. Then rewind, repeat, and finish your race with joy.

 

I’d love to share an Act of Beauty that has impacted your life.  Please feel free to send me a PM, and I can share your story anonymously.

Breathe

Been thinking about the song, “Breathe” by Johnny Diaz lately.  Sometimes, it seems like it’s the story of my life.

“90 miles an hour, going fast as I can. Trying to push a little harder, trying to get the upper hard. So much to do in so little time, it’s a crazy life. Ready, set, go, it’s another wild day.When the stress is on the rise in my heart I feel you say just

Breathe, just breathe Come and rest at my feet And be, just be Chaos calls, but all you really need Is to just breathe”

And again, my mind thinks on entering into His rest.  Trading my yoke for His.  As I think about my burdens and His yoke, which is easy and light, I wonder how many of my burdens are self-inflicted.

The song goes on to say,

“Let your weary spirit rest Lay down what’s good and find what’s best Just breathe”

Sometimes, those things that burden me aren’t necessarily bad things.  They may be the desire to have a house that is clean and tidy, the desire to make healthy meals from scratch, to recycle and reuse more, to enroll the kids in activities so that they will have a life full of experiences,  etc.  But, if those things cause stress and anxiety, perhaps I need to lay down the good things that overwhelm and find what is best—His rest.

May I encourage you to let go of some good things in your life that are keeping you overwhelmed and under pressure.  Let them go, and find the best life that He has for you—a life of peace and joy.  You will be so glad that you did!

Rest

Rest.  In this Thanksgiving week, I really assumed my thoughts would be aligned towards being thankful and counting my blessings.  Instead, “rest” has been on my heart and mind.  I looked up the word rest, and found 4 meanings, 2 as verbs, and 2 as nouns.   Both meanings have a verb/noun correlation.  The first is “to cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength”.  The related noun is “an instance or period of relaxing or ceasing to engage in strenuous or stressful activity”.  The second meaning is “to be placed or supported so as to stay in a specified position” The related noun is “an object that is used to support something”

In the midst of the hurry and rush to get everything accomplished, remember to take a moment to rest.  Perhaps, in order to do this, you need to reduce your to-do-list, or give yourself grace for having a home, table setting, or meal that is not worthy of Pinterest or a magazine spread.  But, the happy faces around the table set with paper plates and a buffet line full of Tupperware is more than enough to be thankful for!

I want to leave you with this benediction from Numbers 6:24-26.  “The Lord bless you and keep you;  The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you;  The Lord lift His countenance upon you, And give you peace”