Is Christmas over yet?

christmasMaybe this is your first Christmas without a loved one. Or the seventh. And you are thankful for all that you have. Family, children, friends. But you can’t stop thinking about the one(s) not here. Because they should be.

Maybe you are looking over the last year…or years…and you just don’t understand how you ended up here. Still…again. The way life didn’t turn out. The work you put in didn’t pay off. The job you dreamed about didn’t come through. The child who struggles still struggles.

Or the test results you are waiting on…or maybe you have already heard, and you are waiting until Christmas is over to break the news. The marriage that hasn’t come…or came and now is over.

And this time of year…with all its joy and presents and parties and light…illuminates the dark we may be feeling and we long for January 2 so that we can get back to normal.

Friend, there is Hope. Yeah…it’s trite, its cliche, but it’s also true. I’m not talking religion. I’m talking Emmanuel…God with us. Or my favorite name Jesus calls Himself in Revelation 22:16, Bright Morning Star. He is what Christmas is all about. He will renew our strength, and His plan is to give us hope and strength.

I wish I could assure you that having hope in Him always brings us physical healing and always means that things will turn out as we want. I can’t because it doesn’t always. But this I know to be true: He loves you and me…all in…unconditionally…yesterday, today, and tomorrow into eternity. And when we call out to Him in desperation, in grief, in fear, in hope…He answers.

Merry Christmas, beloved.

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Heart Shares.

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?” (Psalm 22:1 – NIV)

The words of the Psalmist, David, ring so true for me this morning. In fact, the first sentence in my journal entry this morning is, “Where are You? I feel so alone!”

I realized this morning that I am the cause for the loneliness, not God. I have totally pushed Him aside these last few months and have focused on me. All about me. What I think. What I want. How I feel. Sure…I’ve been doing my “quiet time” each morning. A time I say I reserve each morning for God. To discover what He thinks of me. What He wants of me. How He feels about me. Except I left the He out and focused on the me. I have to admit I haven’t even had my Bible alongside of me for much of these mornings.

So, I’ve lost my jam. It happens. Pretty regularly to me, I must confess.

Today, I had set aside as Day 1 (for the 268th time, I believe) to really get back to taking care of me. Focusing on healthy eating and the discipline and commitment of daily exercise and not focusing as much on pounds lost. As I sat down this morning to tweak my plan, that’s when it really hit me. Again…still…it was all about me. I had already failed because I left out the winning equation…He is my strength and I can do nothing without Him.

Hopefully, y’all are still reading at this point. I’ve never made it a secret that I am a Christian woman; that I am the Church Administrator/Manager at our church home; and Jesus is life. I’m also a sarcastic and fiery-tempered wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt and friend. For every word about Jesus, there are references to the funny things in life; my (sarcastic) take on things; my family; as well as pain and loss.

But I want you to know what I had temporarily set aside: I am first a child of God. Nothing about who I am, what I say, or what I write is going to change with that pronouncement. It was already true; has always been true. I am who He created me to be…from the sarcasm down to the daily heartbreak of the losses our family has endured. But I also needed you to know…I needed to get it out there as a reminder to me, I suppose…that just like everyone else in this world, I need Jesus. And so do you.

the porch

Reading back through this post, my heart has definitely lifted. The heaviness and darkness I felt sitting down on The Porch this morning is gone. Time to get back to work. Absolutely taking better care of myself and making exercise a consistent part of my day again. All the while remembering where my strength and discipline actually comes from.

Blessings.