Christmas Traditions

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Christmas Season

Christmas music is playing now everywhere I go and the lights are shining bright.  The season is here.  I want to enjoy and let the stress of the weeks that lead up that wonderful day that is gone so quickly.  I want to remember why we celebrate this season.  I always find myself this time of year thinking about the past.  Thinking about Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with my girls.  The fun, the laughs, the surprises, and most importantly the family traditions we have created together and continue to create over the years.  I believe that traditions are important for families and can be past down to the next generation.  Paul reminds me of the importance of traditions in 2 Thessalonians 2:15, “So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.”

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Family Traditions

My family has a few old traditions like the mouse calendar countdown to Christmas.  Our girls would almost fight to get to move the mouse each day.  They loved for the one whose turn it was to forget, so later in the day the mouse would secretly be moved. This simple purchase so many years ago has brought so much joy to our family.  Even now my husband takes pictures of Harley moving the mouse and sends it our now grown daughters.  It is a special memory and tradition in our home, and one I hope continues in the homes of our daughters one day with their children.

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Jesus Birthday Cake

Another great tradition for our family is baking Jesus’s Birthday Cake and singing Happy Birthday to him on Christmas Day.  Today my girls bake the cake and decorate the cake together instead of me, but I enjoy watching them back home together in the kitchen having fun carrying on our family tradtion.  We still gather round the cake on Christmas afternoon and sing and eat his birthday cake!  This is definitely one of my favorite Christmas memories and traditions!  “And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” Luke 2:7

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Even the Cake Decorations are important to our family.

Sharing Traditions

As an educator, I could not help but wonder about the traditions of my students, so I asked them to share favorite Christmas traditions with me on a Chalkboard in the school library.  It is engaging to hear them talk about the little things their families do together that are important to them.  Here are a few from this years board:

  1. Enchiladas for Breakfast on Christmas morning.  Why?  Her family is from Guatemala and this is just something her grandmother has always done.
  2. Crab Legs for Christmas Eve.  This student was super excited to share how much the night means getting to eat the crab legs!
  3. Lights.  One student just shared how much she enjoys lights and lots of lights.  She and I have that in common.
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These are just a few shared on the board and in discussions with my students.

Over the years I have heard some wonderful traditions that families share.  Some I wish I had even thought of.  Some that brought a great laugh but was still so important to the student.

  1.  One I wish I had thought of is only receiving three gifts for Christmas.  “And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.”  Matthew 2:11
  2. Several years ago a student shared that on Christmas Eve they had to eat their meal with a different utensil from the kitchen.  This was a long family tradition and brought lots of laughter around the table.  Who knew what you would get?  How do you eat with a whisk?

The Gift of Jesus

Traditions are important in families and even school communities.  God shows us how to celebrate him anywhere.  This is a like a tradition.  Praise the Lord in all that we do as Psalm 150:1-6 exclaims, “Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! …”

During this  Christmas season with traditions being shared and even created remembering the reason we have this season is the most important.  God loved us that he gave us the greatest gift of all.  He gave us His Son.  He gave us Life.  ““For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16.

Closing Verse: “Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you.”  1 Corinthians 11:2

Challenge: During this Christmas Season full of traditions don’t forget God’s traditions and gifts in your life.

Living in the Fog

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The Fog

Do you ever feel like you are walking through a fog in life?  You just are not living clearly day to day and things just seem blurry.  This has been the week that I have just walked through.  After the the struggles over the past two weeks, this week was to be the beginning of normal again, but then again that is not always how God works in our lives.  One moment of happiness and a sigh of relief and in the next moment chaos and the unknown.  Yet, God was there.

Blessed Struggles

Working through the good and the bad and finding the moments to stop and cherish have been important over the past few weeks in my life.  Although, God knows my struggles he continues to bless me because I know that others are struggling with more than I could bare at this moment and for that I thankful for his grace and mercy.

Searching for Answers

As I walk through the fog, I stop to wonder what I am to learn from this moment from God.  What is he teaching me in this moment?  So I search scripture for answers and once again I am driven back to a favorite reliable verse.  Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”  God is in the fog, knows the fog, and will use the fog for good.  Now, I feel the fog lifting and know that God is here and working through all the struggles.

Closing Verse:  Romans 12:9  “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.”

Challenge:  Seek His Word when you find yourself in the Fog.

Faith

God’s Gift

I woke up this morning to this verse from 2 Corinthians 5:7, “For we live by faith, not by sight.”  When I read verses like this, I wonder how some can choose not to believe there is a God because I tend to see his purposeful movements in my life.  Just when I need him near to guide or protect me, he shows himself to me with a verse like this.

Leaning on Faith

I get in the car and drive the hour plus for my father’s surgery.  A surgery where I have to have faith in the doctors and surgical team to preform the tedious operation he needs.  Without my watchful eye to know that all is well, I have been given the gift of this verse.  This verse was what I needed to start my day.  This was his gentle reminder to me that he is in control and I must be strong in faith.

God is in Control

As I sit and wait and wait, my faith is tested.  As my mind wonders to what is happening and what is going on when I should have gotten an update and hour ago.  I have to take a deep breath and realize that my faith is being tested.  God is here and in control and that is what I need when things begin feeling out of control.  Proverbs 16:9, is just one verse that reminds us of how much control God has, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”  No matter my plans or my thoughts, God is establishing the future and I must trust no matter what that he knows best.  As Romans 8: 28 firmly reads, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Good News

Jesus Christ brought the Good News into our lives so many years ago with his teachings and sacrifice for our sins.  John 1:14 reminds us that God sent his Son to walk among us and save us from ourselves, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”    The doctors have brought the good news that all is well and another step in a long journey has been taken toward healing and strength and God is good. Sometimes simple steps can be hard to take, but with God’s strength and guidance these necessary steps are easier with faith.

Closing Verse: “…faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” Romans 10:17

Challenge: Find Christ and Find Your Faith.

 

Growing Weary

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Exhaustion

As this week comes to a close, I am feeling both physically and emotionally tired and can feel my body closing down with exhaustion.  My introvert needs are on the rise.  As I find rest on my pillow to replenish my body, I turn to scripture to rejuvenate my soul.  Proverbs reminds me that God knows my condition at all times and will attend to my needs, “Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds,” Proverbs 27:23.  My body and soul will find rest in God’s arms.  Finding renewed strength from God is the only way for me to rejuvenate my body and soul and feel refreshed again in your life.  Each time I reach such exhaustion in my life I am reminded of my deeper need for scripture and that my biggest failure is not turning to him in the midst of my weariness.  Isaiah 40: 28 reads, “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.”  God is my strength.  He does not grow weary and I must seek him always first.

Rejuvenation

As scripture continues to rejuvenate my soul through his word I find myself thirsty for his strength.  God’s gift through his words brings such comfort and joy to my soul that my energy is renewed and I want to shout from the mountain top Psalm 150:6, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!” I am rejuvenated when I seek to Praise the Lord!  This rejuvenation now also saddens me in that I allowed the exhaustion to win over my body and soul and failed to seek my relationship with God to find the rest that I needed.  Moving forward now in my life, I pray that I will seek God always first even in the midst of something as simple as exhaustion creeping both spiritually and physically into my life.  Matthew 11: 28-30 reads, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” This verse reminds me that it I turn my burdens over to the Lord, I will find my burdens much lighter.

Seeking God’s Wings 

As I replenish with scripture, rest in the midst of my family and friends and enjoy the  loving arms of my husband, I realize how blessed God has been in my life.  I give him the all the glory and am reminded that walking through each day in his name that I will feel less tired and more energized.  Thank Lord for this lesson.  You will find me now under his wings as in Psalm 91:4, “He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.” As I wait under his wings for the Lord my strength is being renewed: “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

Closing Verse:  Jeremiah 31: 25, “For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.”

Challenge: Seek scripture when the challenges of life seem to be mounting.  Find refuge in God’s wings.