Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas is Love

"And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger."
Luke 2:16

I am so thankful we are nearing Christmas!
That wonderful, favorite time of the year that so warms our hearts and home.
I am so grateful to God for sending His only begotten Son into this sin-darkened world
to build a bridge between Himself and us.

Is it just me, or did this year pass incredibly quickly?
I don't ever remember Christmas coming around so soon....
not that anyone at our house is complaining!

We all three dearly love Christmas....
especially Zachary.

And since his birthday is the day after, 
well, that's just icing on the cake for him!
He is counting down the days....until the special day is here.  

We started our Christmas decorating back before Thanksgiving.
Zach just could not wait any longer.
We don't do anything too elaborate, but he loves having everything as festive as possible!
If you were to walk up the steps towards our front door, 
this is what you would see.

We have some lights and greenery woven throughout the porch railing,
and two beautiful stars Aunt Joyce gave us hanging in the two living room windows.

I love seeing the stars at night.
They remind me of the beautiful Star of Bethlehem,
and how His love still shines all these years after that first holy night of His earthly life.

Thankfully, God blessed us to do a lot of our shopping for this Christmas
during the after-Christmas sales last year.
Also throughout this year,
I have been able to pick up things here and there as I found them,
so there has been very little hustle and bustle this Christmas.
I have learned that when I find a good deal,
it is best to go ahead and secure it while it is available, if I possibly can.  :)

We have also trimmed back considerably, 
which has relieved a ton load of stress.

Zachary and I sat down one night several weeks ago
and got everything sorted out and put into gift bags or wrapped,
so I have mainly just been working on gifts for Kevin and Zach lately.

I have dearly loved being able to stay home more this Christmas...
for truly that is where my heart is.

Kevin and I decided to cut way back on our gift-giving to each other for the first time this Christmas.
He kept asking me what I wanted or what I needed,
and it occurred to me how content and beyond-blessed I truly am.

I really couldn't think of much to even ask for....
just everyday things I need throughout the year....
my favorite shampoo and shower gels,
that sort of thing.

This way, I won't have to buy it through the year, 
and our money spent on Christmas gift-giving is more sensibly and practically placed.
I am now using my last bottle of shampoo Kevin and Zach bought for me last Christmas!

I think we self-inflict so much pressure at this most-blessed time of the year.
We feel obligated to meet demands that God doesn't even make of us.
We get caught in the trap of trying to please everyone,
attending every event we are invited to,
participating in every available project and function,
and, in our continual running and doing,
 we get completely lost somewhere in the shuffle and lose the whole meaning of Christmas.
I spent so many years doing just that.
Through so many circumstances, God has brought me to a much calmer place...
a place where I am completely okay with gracefully saying "no"
when I begin to feel the warning signs of spreading myself too thin.

I don't think that is what God intended that first Christmas night, do you?

Jesus came to bring faith, hope, and love...
and the greatest of these is love.
Love is what Christmas is all about.

Can you picture a scene anywhere that is more tranquil than the one envisioned
of Joseph and Mary in love, huddled close in an off-the-beaten-path shelter,
holding their newborn baby tightly between them?

When I picture them, I see no stress.
No pressure.
No pretense or trying to please impossible demands.

I see love....written all over both of their faces and shining clear in both of their expressions.
I see their eyes turned upon One...
in one accord, simultaneously, entirely focused.

For it was the day of His birth!
He was the reason.
Everything was about Him.

It still is.

I think the stress comes when we lose our focus...
when we take our eyes off Him...
and the real reason He came to earth.

Today, Zachary and I tried to figure out just what it is about Christmas
that warms our hearts so much.

"Do you think Jesus was really born at this time of year?" he asked.

I told him I really don't know for sure.
There is much debate on the exact date,
but I am just so thankful we celebrate it and recognize it....
even if the celebration isn't during the precise time of year that He actually came.

I am so happy to see the stores that are so supportive of Christmas this year.
Wal-mart has the word "Christmas" all over the place!
I love it!
It blesses my heart each time I see it,
and I make sure I email them each year to let them know how much I appreciate it.

Why not click here to be re-directed to their corporate feedback page,
and take a moment to drop them a short note thanking them for their support of Christmas?
Your feedback matters!
They read these letters....
believe me, I've written more than my share through the years....
both to thank the ones who celebrate and promote Christmas
and to voice my disappointment to those who don't.
These companies care about profit and loss,
and they realize that pleasing their customers is the very thing that determines their bottom line.

The unbelieving crowd have no problem voicing their opinions, right?
Why not voice ours?
Let them know you are thankful they recognize Christ at Christmas.

There is a local radio station that plays Christmas music 24/7.
They play the Christian Christmas carols, too.
And they actually say "Merry Christmas" often in their advertising.
Last night, I took the time to email the program director and tell him,
for the 2nd year in a row how very much I appreciate his stand for Christmas.

I am so grateful for those who have a backbone and who refuse to succumb and cave
to those of an unbelieving and atheistic mindset.

Remember this song?
I shared it last Christmas and wanted to share it again.
I hope you enjoy it!

Click here if video doesn't load.

The American Family Association has published their annual "Naughty & Nice" list
based on several national chains and whether or not they do or do not support Christmas.

How grateful I am for the AFA and the stand they take!

Please take the time to visit here to read the list, 
and I hope you will take a stand, also....
not only at Christmas, but all through the year.

They are asking for a complete Boycott of Radio Shack.
Radio Shack is blatantly against Christmas.
I can personally vouch, as I had extensive email correspondence last year
with their home office after walking into one of their stores and sensing the anti-Christmas atmosphere.
After several exchanges back and forth and with me explaining that in their quest to not offend
those who do not believe in Christmas, they are offending those of us who do,
I was met with cold, unaccommodating resistance.
It was obvious they really didn't care about my business at all.
At the conclusion, we came to the decision that we will never give them another dime
of Kevin's hard-earned money...ever again.
They don't deserve it.

Think of the impact we could make if all of us took a firm stand!
Whether stores like to admit it or not, Christians make up a huge demographic block
and a large percentage of the reason
their stores have such an increase in sales every November and December.

As you will see on the AFA list, Family Dollar is against Christmas,
and Dollar General is supportive of it....
so if we have the choice, shouldn't we patronize the store that most closely supports
our Christian convictions?
There are always choices, no matter where we live, right?

Forgive me.
I know this is a soapbox I get on every Christmas,
but it is really important to me!  :)
Thanks for your patience and tolerance of my ranting!
The more I say it, and the more you read it,
the more likely it is to stick with you, right?  :)

I love the sights and sounds and warm feelings I always have at this time of year...
as Christmas cards steadily trickle in,
packages arrive that must be quickly wrapped before curious eyes discover them,
and my mind continually goes back to that first Christmas night.

Thank God for Christmas!
How grateful I am that He came!
That He still every open heart.
That He is ever-present with me...each and every day.

I bow my head and heart to the precious One Who gave up all He had
to condescend to the lowliest of circumstances....
to become one of become our Savior.
To me, Christmas is all about Jesus and His love.

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