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This is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. I’d like to enjoy every moment, yet it’s easy for it be sabotaged by being too busy and distracted—a general theme at any time of year, but especially at Christmas.

There’s the shopping, the preparations, the parties, the presents, the dinners, and time with family. All of this can be lovely (except maybe the shopping), but it can also be stressful and exhausting.

The high hopes surrounding this one day can add a lot of pressure too. I typically have a picture of how this day will shake out. I should fully engage in each moment and live out of the peace and joy ever at my disposal, but it’s easy to enter Christmas exhausted and exit it disappointed when the hype failed to match the event. I wonder if Jesus’s mother struggled this way too.

Mary had anticipated her son’s birth, and then, nearing her due date, she endured a 90 mile trek on a mule’s back to register for a census in the town of her husband’s ancestors. But the hardship didn’t end there. You know the story. When they arrived in Bethlehem, there were “No Vacancy” signs everywhere. In the Christmas rush, they must have neglected to arrange an Airbnb.

At this point, I’d be on the verge of a meltdown. Between the pregnancy hormones and “this is not what I thought it would be” emotions, my husband would be walking on eggshells. Some cross words would likely spill out to the effect of: “I thought you were dealing with this!” and the atmosphere would worsen. As expected, he’d go into fix-it mode and a stable would be a less-than-ideal solution.

It’s interesting that this first Christmas resembles our Christmas. Frenzied and imperfect. I think that’s exactly how God planned it. The census, the stable, and all that surrounded the birth of Jesus was marked by hardship. Could God be trying to show us something?

The God of the universe could have provided ideal circumstances, ensured his son be born in a palace with a grand feast prepared to fittingly celebrate the king’s birth. But in his deep compassion for humanity, not only did he come humbly in human form, he experienced all that we experience, and more. If you wonder if God can understand your pain, think of Jesus—God in the flesh.

Christmas is really a beautiful love story. It’s the continued story of God declaring his massive love and faithfulness to us. It’s him seeking us, finding us, living among us, and ultimately dying for us. It was part of his plan from the beginning. All part of his extravagant love.

It’s my prayer that we replace the scurry and worry and find lasting joy in Jesus. That our hearts will be more full than our tummies. That despite the pace we will find peace. That we will love as God does: completely, unconditionally, and sacrificially.

But most of all, I pray that we will have a deep understanding of how fully we are loved. Know this: God send his son to be born to die for you. You matter that much to him. He made a way for you, amid all your personal struggles, failures, and pain, to receive the gift of salvation through Jesus.

This Christmas, I pray you’ll take hold of this life-changing, eternity-altering, heart-healing gift, and unwrap a new life in Christ.

Merry Christmas from my home to yours!

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” 

John 15:12-13

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We use the “L” word a lot. We say we love our new shoes, love our friend’s dress, or loved the Christmas party. The passionate love we most often see depicted in movies is in the infatuation stage. But love is so much more than feeling partial to a new pair of shoes, a pretty dress, a celebration with friends, or the intense feelings at the beginning of a relationship.

Here are some examples of love I’ve noticed. I’m sure you could add a few of your own.

Love looks like the man who moves into a retirement home prematurely because his wife in the adjoining room had a stroke when they were still in the throes of living out their dreams together.

Love looks like the woman who stands firm and cares for her husband in the midst of his battle with Parkinson’s disease that arrived with aggression when many more adventures still awaited them.

Love looks like the man who daily goes to the long-term care facility and sits beside his unconscious wife who hasn’t woken up in two years. Despite what the doctor and his family says, he holds her motionless hand, praying and hoping for the miraculous.

Love looks like the man who brought his wife coffee in bed, but learned that’s not her preference. Instead, he quietly sneaks out each morning without waking her to prepare the coffee for when she gets up so they can sit on the couch and enjoy it together.

Love looks like the exhausted, nursing mother who rises numerous times a night for months to nourish and comfort her colicky baby.

Love looks like the newlywed who – though formerly a wallflower – takes dancing lessons with his wife because he knows she longs to dance with him.

Love looks like the son who – despite having better things to do – proof reads his mother’s blogs so she doesn’t make a fool of herself.

Love looks like the Man who hung on a tree for mankind though He himself had done nothing wrong. His was a love so great it was willing to come, to stay with us for a time, and teach us first-hand how to love. He healed the sick and loved the broken and unlovable. He offered hope and showed us how to enter into the kingdom of heaven. He shouldered the sin of the world and poured out love until death. Even in His last breath He loved by forgiving those who were crucifying Him. This Lover is Jesus.

Here is what the Bible tells us love looks like:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Cor 13:4-8)

Love often looks more like the mundane than the movies. It’s loving the lined face long after physical beauty has faded. It’s serving the other in sickness – and in health. It’s staying when things are tough or the situation looks hopeless. Love cheers the other on. It respects and celebrates differences. Love forgives. And for all these and many more, that makes love – though mundane in its everydayness – miraculous. In its fullness, love is the fearless laying down of our lives for another. This may look as simple as giving up our preferences and our comfort, or as difficult as overlooking an offense.

This Christmas, may you see the love of Jesus anew, feel it in your heart, and receive it fully. May you look for ways to selflessly love those in your midst, laying down your life for them. May you speak your love in words and show it by your actions. May you even give undeserved love to an offender and offer forgiveness and blessing – just as Jesus did for us.

Bless you this Christmas Season! Be filled to overflowing with God’s miraculous love! If you’re up to sharing, I’d “love” to hear some of your love stories too!

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  1. Think of some ways you can be intentional about loving those closest to you. Write them down and act on them each day leading up to Christmas.
  2. Is there a person you need to forgive? Extend love and release your offender(s).

 

 

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With the Christmas season in full swing, it’s frightfully easy to become engulfed in the Christmas frenzy. Busy and frazzled, we rush around to find the perfect presents for our loved ones, host the perfect party, amid perfect decorations, while presenting a table full of perfect food.  In all the bustle, we risk the season of love, joy, and peace passing us by along with all that really matters, like spending time with those we love.

All too soon, the season comes to a close. Once the decorations are stuffed away, our home looks as barren as our hearts feel. What went wrong? we wonder.

 

Before we get too far in, here is a practical list of 8 ways to savour the season:

  1. Be grateful. There are always things to be thankful for. Look around and you’ll find it won’t take long to see how blessed your are.
  2. Be intentional with your time. To stave off exhaustion, instead of accepting every invite, consider limiting parties and activities. By intentionally protecting your time, you’ll be less likely to reach the end of the season, or Christmas Day, completely depleted and will have more energy for those closest to you.
  3. Slow down. instead of rushing from one Christmas activity to the next, set aside enough time to fully engage in each moment.
  4. Create memorable Christmas traditions with your loved ones and take time for old traditions.
  5. Buy less stuff.  So often the plethora of things we were told we needed: the newest gadget, the latest and greatest piece of technology, the you name it toy-of-the-year doesn’t fill the space we were promised it would. Consider a memory-making trip or other activities that will outlast the many items you might have purchased.
  6. Donate time or money to a cause. Christmas is a great time to look beyond ourselves and help others. Helping those in need naturally raises our internal gratitude meter.
  7. Celebrate advent. Many Christians spend time leading up to Christmas in spiritual preparation for celebrating when Christ was born.
  8. Focus on Jesus. Let His presence – not presents – be at the centre of your celebration. With your heart and spirit full of His love, you’ll enjoy all the festivities that much more.

May you be blessed this Christmas with the fullness of God’s love.

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  1. In what ways could you be more intentional about celebrating Christ this Christmas?
  2. What new traditions could you include to help make Christ more central to your celebrations? What might you need to take away?

 

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