God is with us in … our inter-generational relationships and our decorations🎄

God is with us in our … inter-generational friendships and our decorations 🎄

The theme for the Hope Women’s Ministry Christmas dinner and the devotional series that followed was subtitled:

Finding Peace During this Christmas Season.

I prayed about this topic and each of these words. As I contemplated Christmas as a “season”, the vision that came to my mind was an Advent wreath of my youth; 4 candles orderly marking the weeks of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity (birth) of Jesus. {yes, I looked that up}
Which in turn brought up thoughts of decorating my house for the season. I do not have the decorating gift but I like to fill the house with decorations during December. I have several nativities and wreaths that are reminders of Jesus’ presence in this season. Oh and a gigantic pre-lit, fake tree. I sit and gaze at it in the dark with only the lights of the tree in the room. That quiet time at night is peaceful and filled with God’s presence as I gaze at ornaments representing so many memories. (side note: the tree is covered in souvenir ornaments from our travels, the kids’ handmade items, gifts from friends and ornament exchanges, hobbies and sports teams representations, mini nutcrackers collected by our son, etc. It is our knick-knack display to keep the house clutter free the other 11 months ;-))

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As I continue to think on this as a “season” of waiting to celebrate Jesus’ birth, my thoughts turn to the expectant Mary. I used to sing Silent Night as a lullaby to my babies and felt a kinship with Mary. I sang it year round along with another song, Baby Beluga (that ended nicely with “Good-nightlittle whale, good-night”). In retrospect, I may have really been inspired to sing Silent Night because it has the line “sleep in heavenly peace” and isn’t that what every Momma is hoping for in that nighttime rocker!
I opened my bible app and searched for the story of Mary’s pregnancy. I was looking for what brought her peace in this “season”. Having an Angel say, “do not be afraid” and tell you that you have favor with God (Luke 1:30) should be comforting.

BUT the virgin birth idea would have freaked me out!!

The Angel assured her that the Holy Spirit would come upon her and that nothing was impossible with God. And by her faith and obedience she seemed to be peaceful to me. How awesome is it that we also have the Holy Spirit in us as believers and we can find peace in the assurance that all things are possible with God!

I continued to read on in Luke 1. I was reminded of the relationship between elderly Elizabeth (pregnant with John) and her teenage cousin, Mary (pregnant with Jesus). They were not close in age but they were definitely connected in circumstance. I can imagine they shared a lot, especially because in verse 56 it says:
“Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.”

(Sidenote: That was way over the Ben Franklin limit we often follow  … “Fish and visitors stink after 3 days.” hehe)

I have enjoyed inter-generational relationships and found peace there (but I never moved in).

When I was in my 30’s, I was part of a formal “Titus 2” group. I was a younger woman…
Titus 2:3-5 NIV
3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God
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I now find myself loving the older woman role at this stage of my life while still enjoying my relationships with the older-than-me women too. I find peace in these Godly relationships. And the wisdom shared with me by the mentors in my life has been a way that God has shown himself to be present.

I have one particular example from the Christmas season that has stuck with me. My older friend, Cindy, hosted a potluck lunch for our bible study group at the end of a fall semester. I knew Cindy well as she was one of my original Titus 2 women years ago. But this was the first time I was back in her charming house since I had moved away for 7 years. Her house was decorated for Christmas. Cindy loves Christmas. She had shared many of her families’ traditions with us over the years. Our family collected nutcrackers because of her but I never quite mastered gingerbread houses like the stories of their elaborate family collaborations. (We have done a few of the premade ones from Walmart).

(Added interest: I just saw this on Instagram this week… Cindy now has grandchildren to continue the traditions with … another encouragement to me as my teens are “over” some of our traditions) img_5731

During the fellowship lunch, Cindy told us that she would like each of us to look around at her decorations and pick one to take home with us!! (with the exception of homemade items by her kids or grandkids).

She seriously was going to let us take whatever we wanted! In fact, she insisted!!

I was overwhelmed with her generous offer and impacted by her “teaching” that material things are not our treasures.

I selected a glass church ornament from the small tree in her sunroom. It is one of my favorite “memories” and is still hanging from our pre-lit, fake, non-decorator, knick-knack tree and I hope that I would give it to you, if you asked.

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God is with us in… (guest blogging at Hope Women’s Ministry: Can’t See the Forest for the Trees)

Hope Women’s Ministry is doing an advent blog: I was humbled to write some thoughts on the topic of  :

Can’t See the Forest for the Trees ~ Finding Peace During the Christmas Season.

God is with us in …

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http://www.hopepres.com/hope-womens

God is with us in the … shopping!

Let me just say it… I don’t like shopping! This may sound Un-American or you may be thinking I am putting on the appearance that I am completely free from the love of “stuff”.  But believe me our house is full of stuff, and yes, we do continue to acquire more. However, the process of going in and out of stores, of making decisions and then parting with my money is not fun for me.

But shopping IS part of our life. We need food, clothing and shelter, right?! In fact, one of my stay-at-home Mom friends once told me that the main part of her job description was: Procurement Specialist. Costco and Target have helped me overcome some of my shopping stress. Food, clothing and shelter (well, furniture and the decorative parts of the shelter) are all under one roof, for a fair price and can be easily returned. I can now fulfill the family role of procurement.

Until Christmas comes around… Somehow I get overwhelmed again trying to think of perfect, thoughtful gifts, put together beautifully, wrapped and mailed to family all over the country. I impose all kinds of expectations on myself. And I fall deep into the materialistic trap of what the entire month of December has turned into (and sometimes sooner… I felt a panic seeing Christmas decorations filling the Target seasonal section, the day after Halloween).
I need to take a step back and keep Jesus in this season with me. Cause He is the Reason for the Season, right?
In Romans 13:5 we are reminded:
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have…
Yes… I want to do this, I want to have this perspective, but it is hard!
The second part of the verse is so helpful to me…
because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

Yes!! God is with us! We are not alone. He will never leave us! I can admit my struggles and issues and He will not leave me. And a couple years ago, He reminded me that He will even go shopping with me!

It was the week after the Hope Women’s Christmas dinner. Kim Hill had been the featured guest and I bought her CD: “Real Christmas” and put it in my only remaining CD player, the one in my car.
Kim’s voice took me back to my childhood and a memory of my Mom and I listening to Anne Murray on the Mike Douglas show! (that was long before Ipods or CD’s. I think it was even before my first 8 track tape player!). And Kim sang songs of praise right in my car. Songs like: Angels We Have Heard On High, O Come All Ye Faithful, O Holy Night, What Child is This?, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Silent Night, O Come, O Come Emmanuel.
Oh yes! Come Emmanuel (which is translated “God with us”). Hop in the minivan with me while I navigate parking lots and errands and shopping! And my new friend, Kim and I will sing to you.

The need to purchase gifts hasn’t disappeared. And I don’t buy everything on Costco.com and have it delivered. But I have continued the tradition of shopping with Jesus and singing in the car. It brings me peace, perspective and a renewed attitude.

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Hope only blogged words but if you follow me, you know I am a photo blogger!  So here is a pic of me when I met Kim Hill and she signed my CD! And a peek at my dashboard in shopping center parking lot …. this year… and I no longer have a minivan or that CD.

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Shopping

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But I still have God and I can get back to a good perspective.

Plus Pandora!!

I took it one step further than shopping … used it in packing yesterday! One of my anxiety triggers. I carried my phone around with me as I packed everything 😉 I need for 3 car trips, Christmas at the Grandparents’ house, and a ski trip with meals in the condo.

 

 

 

A “Wonder” full Gift

 

Shepherds     Angels    The Lord     Good News     Joy    Savior    Messiah    Baby    Glory    God   Praise    Peace

Luke 2:8-14

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

I read this passage today and was filled with wonder,

Yes, WONDER

once again at the message. Not only does it contain some of my favorite words and images:

Shepherds, Angels, The Lord, Good News, Joy, Savior, Messiah, Baby, Glory, God, Praise, Peace

And a truth I need to be reminded of:

“Do not be afraid”

But most amazingly …  the incredible good news that our Savior, the Messiah, the Lord, was humbly born as a human on earth.  Oh, and the hope we have of being saved by grace through Him.

Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV)   ” For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—  not by works, so that no one can boast.”


May we be filled with childlike wonder and give glory to God for His incredible Christmas gift!

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