The Greatest Gift

Think back for a moment on the greatest gift you have ever received. How did it feel when you saw it? Did it make you want to jump for joy? Did you feel like someone loved you a whole lot?
Yes, that’s how a great gift makes you feel – like you want to share it with the world.
Now imagine the manger scene and the announcement of the birth of the Messiah. Picture the awe of the shepherds as they watched the angels singing in the skies proclaiming the good news. Feel the anticipation of the wise men who traveled such a great distance to bring their gifts to a newborn child they weren’t sure they would even find. Sense the joy and wonder Mary and Joseph felt as they watched in awe as the angelic and kingly visitors encamped around them.

Something truly miraculous was happening.  The people of Israel had not heard from God for over 400 years and then the news of Jesus burst upon the scene and the destiny of mankind was changed for eternity. Hope was born. Peace showed up and love was given to all.

As we celebrate the fourth week of Advent, let us focus on the gift of Love. True love shows itself in action, in giving. It is in giving of ourselves to one another we show love. A smile, a phone call, a thoughtful gift; these are simple ways we show we care enough to take time out of our busyness to connect. When we are just as concerned about another’s well-being and happiness as we are our own and take action towards that end, this is love.  

The gift of Jesus was the greatest expression of love God could ever give us. As the shepherds and the wise men stopped what they were doing to behold the miracle before them, so too, let us pause and reflect the miracle of Christ’s birth and what it means to us today.
When I am feeling lonely, Jesus promises he will never leave me nor forsake me. If I am hurting, he heals my wounds and my heart. When I am afraid of what the future holds, I can rest in the knowledge that He has a future so much brighter than anything I could imagine.
Jesus loves us so much that He left his royal throne in Heaven to come down to earth to bring us the most precious gifts of all: hope, peace, joy and love. This is truly something to celebrate and to proclaim. My heart overflows when I think about how much God loves me and it is out of the overflow of the heart that we are able to give to others.

Who do you know who is hurting, lonely, or perhaps joyless this season? Will you be Jesus to someone this Christmas? When we do unto the least of these we do unto God (Matt 25:40).

This Christmas may the wonder of the love of God fill you to overflow.  May you understand how wide, how long, how wide and how deep is the love of God for you (Eph 3:18) and may you share that love with those around you who need it most.
Merry Christmas and glory to God in the highest.

 

 

5 Tips to Maintaining Your Joy

The end of the year is upon us and Christmas is less than two weeks away. Many are hustling and bustling about with parties, shopping and wrapping up not only gifts, but the year at the office as well. Others may be dealing with a health issue, a job loss or a difficult relationship. Where is Joy amidst my circumstances you may ask?

Perhaps Mary asked the same question so many years ago when she, bursting with the child of God within her womb, sat upon a donkey and made the long, strenuous journey to Bethlehem to fulfill the census. Tired, in pain, and uncertain about the future she obeyed the angel of the Lord and submitted to God’s plan for her life. Sometimes life involves circumstances that try to steel our joy, but the good news is: we don’t have to let them.

This week I’m sharing on some techniques I use to maintain my joy. When things are most challenging, it’s easy to lose track of what’s really important and to keep my focus where it should be, I start each week in Advent with the lighting of the Advent candle and meditate on the gift of Christ for that week. This week the focus is on Joy.

So how can we be more joyful during times of peak stress? Here are a few tips I’ve learned over the years that help me keep my joy level up and my stress level down.

1. Learn to say that two-letter word “NO”. I only accept offers and invitations my heart is into. Say NO to everything else.

2.  Ditch the guilt.  When I say NO, I am being loving by being true to my values. I don’t need to feel guilty for declining an invitation, not sending Christmas cards or not baking a gazillion cookies. If I feel stressed doing something, it’s just not worth it.

3.  Look at the big picture. I ask myself this question “What’s really important here?” When the stress level rises, it is easy to get bent out of shape over trivial things. Our logical brains go haywire and we can’t think straight. By stepping back and refocusing on the big picture, I can find joy in any situation and act in a loving manner.

4. Overlook people’s mistakes. We are all human. People won’t always be on time, say the right thing, or give the perfect gift. Let things go quickly and don’t dwell on what someone said or did that really won’t matter tomorrow anyway. Focus on the positives of your friends and relatives.

5. Learn to lighten up. Make people laugh. Tell a funny story and a joke that doesn’t offend anyone. Laughter raises the joy level. When tensions rise, making someone laugh is a good way to diffuse the situation.

With a little forethought, it is possible to keep our joy during peak seasons. I’ve shared some tips I hope will help you keep your joy not only during the holidays but every day. Write me and share the techniques you use to maintain your joy.

Until next time, keep your focus on the true gifts of Christmas. Share the joy and above all, keep looking up!

A Christmas Poem for You

Twas the month of December and all through the house, the women were hurrying and bustling about. There is shopping, and cooking and decorating the tree. Oh, my goodness, will I ever have time for me?

Tis the season to be jolly it is said, but with these extra activities, I just plop into bed. So much to be done, so little time left. Visions of gifts and deadlines swirl in my head.

But what to my wondering eyes should appear, but an angel of peace beckoning me near. “Come now, my child, sit at my feet. Dwelling in my presence is so very sweet. Do not be afraid, all will get done for God has sent you his own precious Son.”

The true gifts of Christmas are hope, peace and joy, the angels proclaimed to the shepherd boy. Let me be like Mary, so calm and so mild. Her focus instead on the new born Christ child.

O Lord, forgive me I am such a sheep. I pray for my family in your protection to keep. It’s not the glitter or the red velvet bows, but the peace & love within my spirit that his glory shows.

Enjoy this season. Take time to relax and have fun. God loves us so much He gave us His Son.

Until next time, keep looking up!